Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It's here: Studio Movie Grill Marietta is open! #ATL

Our family of four was treated to a free screening of Pixar's Coco with appetizers and drinks at the brand new Studio Movie Grill Marietta for the purpose of sharing our experience with you. All opinions are 100% mine.

Studio Movie Grill Marietta is open!


studio movie grill marietta

The innovative thinkers at Studio Movie Grill opened their 29th location last week with the grand opening of Studio Movie Grill Marietta, just a quick drive up I-75 from the city of Atlanta. The 49,000-square-foot space has 11 dine-in auditoriums. In addition, you can relax before or after the movie in the well-stocked bar or on the outdoor patio lined with cozy fire columns. The drink menu includes wine, beer, liquor, and soft drinks.


studio movie grill marietta bar


My family enjoyed the crispy chicken bites, soft pretzel bites with queso dip, and popcorn during our visit. The kids stayed refreshed with water while the husband and I each had a complimentary beer (complimentary only during our media event; menu prices will apply). The food came out hot and tasty and everyone was happy with their movie munchies.You can preview the Studio Movie Grill menu here




The theater was very comfortable. We enjoyed the custom-made leather recliners. The theater seats have swiveling table tops with a cup holder and a push button for service. The wait staff was attentive and friendly, and they did not distract us from the movie at all. They are very careful to duck down and move quickly within the aisles when serving. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Coming soon to DVD! #NutJob2 (Win a copy here!)

Cold weather has arrived, so here is a DVD giveaway that is perfect for family movie night!

Surly Squirrel and the gang are back, returning to Liberty Park after they are forced to leave their easy life at the nut store. Getting back to nature is the last thing Surly wants to do, but when a greedy mayor decides to destroy the park to build an amusement park, Surly and his ragtag critter friends must band together to save the place they call home.


Cast:  Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl, Bobby Moynihan, Bobby Cannavale, Isabela Moner, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Igelsias

* * * * *
WIN a DVD combo pack of THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE and a few other goodies right here on this Facebook post. Click to the Facebook post and leave a comment for your chance to win. 
* * * * *

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheNutJobMovie  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNutJobMovie 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thenutjobmovie  



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Unique Halloween costumes for tweens who want to stand out

Halloween costumes for tweens, kids, and adults are everywhere beginning as early as September 25th. Does your family have have their Halloween costumes selected yet?  This year, the usual super heroes, princesses, and witches are joined with Minecraft and LEGO characters as some of the most popular. 

Tweens are at the age where they want to be cool and Mom and Dad do not want them to be too grown up (sexy tweens... not cool). So what if your 9-12 year old wants to choose from unique Halloween costumes for tweens? Where can you look? 

Most likely, Halloween superstores pop up in your area (or a nearby city) before the calendar reads October.  Take some time to walk around one of these stores or browse websites if you have time for shipping. You can find some great ideas that are unique for kids and fun-loving adults as well. 

Here are a few favorites that were approved by me (mom) and my daughter (tween):

Unique Halloween costumes for tweens  

Spirit Halloween and Halloween Megastore are two costume and decor themed shops that appear in the southeast US for holiday needs. We fell in love with these unique costume ideas:

This one from Spirit Halloween is a perfect mix of fantasy and toughness, with the hooded cloak and bow and arrow. This girl doesn't need a dress for a royal ball! She's outdoorsy and strong.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Coupons to save money on books and school supplies

This post was written in conjunction with a US Family Guide media effort on behalf of Groupon Coupons. All opinions in this article are 100% mine. 



Kids are expensive; do you use coupons to save money?

The K-12 students in our area have been in school for almost a month now, and I think the rest of the country is finally catching up and getting back to class. While the initial school supply lists are probably completed, you can usually expect to have more on your shopping list within those first few months. We usually end up with additional classroom requests, holiday celebration prep, or fiction and non-fiction books to purchase from a reading list. Our nine-year-old daughter is an avid reader, and Barnes and Noble is one of her favorite places. School and soccer season are busy here, but I always make sure to have her stocked with great books to read. Reading is ideal for resting her body before a big game and giving her down time before bed on a long school day.


Everyone knows Groupon, right? The site/app with 70,000 deals on over 9,000 retailers also has coupons! Groupon Coupons offers a multitude of coupons, both printable and online, for hundreds of your favorite go-to retailers. Save money on books with Barnes and Noble coupons.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Lessons for first-time car buyers

This post was written in conjunction with a US Family Guide media effort on behalf of Cars.com. All opinions in this article are 100% mine. 



I just purchased car #3 in my lifetime. I had a good experience using the convenience of email and sites/apps like Cars.com for searching and pricing. I am thrilled with my sapphire blue Honda Pilot and the fantastic price I was able to get by driving about 30 minutes out of the major metro area. 

For first-time car purchasers, the buying process and early ownership can cause worry. But do not fear! You can purchase a vehicle and ensure a fair price with the right research and effort. Taking care of your new vehicle is a matter of three steps. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cirque du Soleil LUZIA in Atlanta

LUZIA, the newest Big Top show from Cirque du Soleil will be opening on September 14 at Atlantic Station in Atlanta. Experience water inside the big top, jaw dropping acts and larger than life props in this unique production unlike any show you have seen before. LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul.


LUZIA opens on September 14 at Atlantic Station and runs through November 19. Get ready to be transported to a surreal world of wonders! 

Giveaway!
I have four (4) tickets to the LUZIA show on Thursday, October 5th at 8pm. To enter, like this BalancingMama Facebook post and leave a comment telling me who you will bring with you if you win. The giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook.

Do you want to go on another date and save a bit of cash? Right now, you can buy your tickets with a special 20% offer now before they sell out! Offer is valid on select show dates and times while supplies last.  This offer may not be combined with other offers or applied to previously purchased tickets. To see the shows and seats available at 20% off, visit Cirque LUZIA Atlanta Deals. But hurry, this back-to-school Cirque du Soleil LUZIA discount ends on September 8th.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Awesome preschool apps: Grandma and Grandpa

This post is not sponsored by Fairlady Media

Favorite preschooler apps


Have you discovered the Fairlady Media "Grandpa" and "Grandma" apps for your 3-6 year old yet? I stumbled upon these educational preschool games recently when my 3 1/2 year old had a case of "I'm bored" syndrome. I was trying to finish up a work project, so we downloaded a couple new apps on the family iPad. 

preschool apps

We started with Fishing With Grandpa (ages 3-6) and Grandma's Preschool (also for ages 3-6). My preschooler was "hooked" right away... fish pun intended. 

The Fairlady Media Grandma and Grandpa apps are loaded with educational mini games, puzzles, and short videos on each topic. There are no penalties for making a mistake in a game, which I always prefer for younger children. They simply try again until they get it right. This makes for a game the little ones can enjoy independently. And we all know that today's kids love videos. (Because let's face it, sometimes screen time is for Mom!) 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sid the Science Kid is coming to Atlanta!

I have an inquisitive boy who would love to go on a Sid the Science kid adventure! This new exhibit is coming in mid-September 2017 to the Children's Museum of Atlanta. 



Here is what the creative folks at the museum have to say about the new Super-Duper exhibit, coming soon!

This exciting new traveling exhibit brings the award-winning PBS KIDS TV series Sid the Science Kid to life. For the first time ever, kids will be able to step into Sid’s world and become “science kids” themselves as they discover and investigate everyday science questions around Sid’s home, at school in the Super Fab Lab and on the playground. Through fun, hands-on activities, kids will use scientific tools to learn about simple machines, the laws of motion, magnetism, air power and the five senses.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Painted rocks: inexpensive summer fun

Thousands of families all over the country are getting into the painted rocks movement. Find a rock, hide a rock, paint a rock, leave a rock... it's a lot of fun! The painted rocks movement provides a perfect opportunity to step away from technology and have quality creative time with the kids. Your rocks can be found anywhere outdoors, so the only cost is that of paint and brushes.

Painted rocks: how to join the fun

Organized by state, county or town, painted rocks groups often launch on Facebook. These groups are made up of local members who join in the fun of this movement. Rocks often include words of wisdom or comfort. The joy of finding handmade art spreads happiness, so there really are no restrictions on what you create.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dinosaur roadside attraction near Palm Springs, California #travelwithkids

The silliest stop on our southern California adventure was also one of the most memorable. We took the family to meet the large and amazing Cabazon Dinosaurs! 


These huge dinosaurs are an easy road trip from the Palm Springs, California area. The drive was about 22 minutes on Interstate 10. My husband surprised the kids with a stop to visit the dinosaurs on our way to Joshua Tree National Park. Parking was plentiful and we were able to snap some photos of the California dinosaurs and visit the gift shop. The Cabazon Dinosaurs roadside attraction is a must for dinosaur lovers! (And I know many of you remember the movie Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure, whether you will admit it or not.)

roadside attraction california dinosaurs

The kids, ages 3 and 9, thought the dinosaurs were funny and we had a good time snapping photos and waving hello to these giants, way up high. If you are near Palm Springs, California, do not forget to drive the kids over to this entertaining attraction. The Cabazon Dinosaurs certainly make a BIG impression!
california dinosaurs palm springs

cabazon dinosaurs california

This post was not sponsored, I just think you should visit! Especially if you have kids along on your adventures. Roar!



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Food for summer! Applebee's Big Bold Grill Combos

My family was treated to a complimentary meal at our local Applebee's in the metro Atlanta area so we could share our experience with the new Big and Bold Grill Combos. All opinions are 100% mine. 


Summertime food... grilled, fresh, and flavorful. I enjoy eating out with my family, and we had a great experience tasting the Big and Bold Grill Combos at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar®. These combos are priced well and offer a lot of selection. The Applebee's Big and Bold Grill Combos start at $12.99 and diners can choose from various combinations of two grilled entrees and two sides. 


I had the honey BBQ half rack of ribs and grilled chicken with pico de gallo.  The ribs were tender and the sauce had just the right amount of smoky flavor and sweetness. I paired my entrees with the new Applebee's garlicky bacon green beans - which I really enjoyed. Who doesn't like veggies with bacon?! I also complimented my meal with a hot basket of french fries. The meal was large and the variety of flavors worked together well.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Have a super summer in Atlanta at World of Coca-Cola #giveaway

Have you visited the unique and refreshing World of Coca-Cola? Or the jaw-dropping Georgia Aquarium? How about the Atlanta Zoo? Atlanta is an exciting destination packed with family attractions and summer fun. We live here, and enjoy playing tourist at some of the best attractions in the USA. 

The team at World of Coca-Cola put together a list of five ways to savor summer at World of Coca-Cola.... check out some of the summer 2017 happenings!


World of Coca-Cola unveiled a new exhibit called “10 Artists, 10 Bottles” on Friday, May 19. The exhibit celebrates Atlanta’s creative community by featuring the work of 10 local artists who transformed four-foot sculpted Coke bottles into unique pieces of art.
In search of refreshing destinations for summertime fun? World of Coca-Cola is uncapping new experiences for everyone to enjoy – just in time for summer! With interactive exhibits celebrating everything from Atlanta artists to soccer around the world, World of Coca-Cola is bubbling with exciting ways for families and friends to create memorable moments together. 
 
1.    ICE COLD Summer Fun. When you arrive at Pemberton Place on July 15 and 16, expect a warm welcome with a cold beverage. During the “Share an ICE COLD Coke” experience, sip on free customized mini cans of Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero before interacting with the Bubble-izer, one-of-a-kind technology that virtually transforms you into an effervescent fizzy form. Be sure to snap a photo and share your new look with your friends!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ka-chow! Disney Pixar Cars 3 is coming soon!

Cars 3 opens in theaters everywhere on June 16th! 

"Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez , with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns."  

Find more trailers and activities on the Disney Movies Cars 3 website.



Like CARS on Facebook 

Follow CARS 3 on Twitter 

Follow CARS 3 on Instagram

Subscribe to the Disney/Pixar YouTube channel

Monday, April 10, 2017

A royal birthday celebration at Medieval Times

My family received complimentary tickets and royalty upgrade for the purposes of this review. All opinions are 100% mine. 


Have you ever dined while watching an epic battle with fantastic horsemanship, shining armor, and sparks flying? Medieval Times dinner and show offers just that. 


My family visited the Medieval Times Atlanta castle (in Lawrenceville, GA) this past weekend. It happened to be our spring break and my daughter's 9th birthday. We had the royalty upgrade, which allowed us to skip the line at the entrance and gave us some perks for showtime. Each member of our party received a cheering banner, a knight's rally towel, a VIP lanyard, early entrance to our seats, and VIP seating. I think this upgrade is really worth it. If you are going to Medieval Times, make it even better with an upgrade package. I also added on a birthday scroll and announcement for our birthday girl. She was thrilled to hear her name called during the show and her personalized scroll made her an official guest of the kingdom! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Safest SUVs and Family Cars for 2017

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Blue Springs Ford 

Family vehicles for 2017 


Year after year, family cars are becoming safer. The IIHS tests all family vehicles with a barrage of crash tests and considers the advanced safety features that can be purchased to offer Top Safety Pick+ ratings. In 2015, there were 33 cars awarded the Top Safety Pick+ designation, and in 2016 this jumped to 50 cars.

Ford did particularly well, with the mighty Ford F-150 being one of the vehicles awarded a Top Safety Pick+ for “Large Pickups”. It’s important to note too that crash tests have been steadily getting harder, so this is no mean feat.

So, when looking to purchase a safe family vehicle in 2017, you’re spoiled for choice. We’ve put together a list of some of the safest vehicles available to you today, independently tested by the IIHS and the NHTSA.

1 - 2017 Ford Fusion 

The first 2017 midsize sedan to be awarded the Top Safety Pick+ denomination, the 2017 Ford Fusion can be equipped with a front crash prevention system that has been rated as ‘Superior” by the IIHS. It also managed to ace all crash tests, getting the highest possible score. This beats its high score from last year and sees the 2017 Ford Fusion as a top choice for families looking for a midsize sedan.

2 – 2017 Kia Sorento 

Midsize SUVs are highly popular with families in 2017, and the Kia Sorento is a good choice if you’re looking for one of the safest out there. It got the highest possible score in IIHS testing when the optional front crash prevention system is included. Starting at around $25,000, it’s not too hard on the wallet, either.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Atlanta family attractions: special offers for spring

Whether you are driving or flying to the ATL or having a staycation in your hometown city, Atlanta has many attractions to offer. As you plan your activities, do not forget to browse each website for special offers. Many of the best Atlanta attractions have spring break offers and savings right now.


The Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
If you want to visit the Georgia Aquarium in the evening, check out the Imagination Nights offer for 30% off admission after 4pm. This offer is valid Monday-Sunday after 4pm. Subject to exclusion dates.If you have young children, the Me and Mommy weekday offer is a tremendous deal. Georgia Aquarium's Me and Mommy ticket offer provides one adult General Admission ticket and up to 4 children's General Admission tickets (for ages 5 and under) for only only $44.95 plus tax. The aquarium also has Military Mondays and early bird pricing for visits prior to 11 am.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring cleaning tips for busy parents

Do you have the spring cleaning itch yet? Life is hectic here, especially in the spring. Soccer season starts up again and the kids want more time to play outdoors. Also, the sunlight consistently streams through my windows - illuminating dust, sticky kid fingerprints, and crummy floors. I would love to be able to keep up with a spotless home, but the reality of kids and activities just doesn't let that happen.
spring cleaning tips

When I do have some time to clean up the place, I like to focus on one task at a time. Helpful cleaning tips are always welcome - anything to save me time.

Spring-cleaning tips for parents

Toys and art supplies
I get overwhelmed when I enter the kids' messy spaces. It is much easier to focus on one task at a time. One spring-cleaning day may include sorting through the books. Another may be tackling the creative explosion in their art area. By concentrating on a small, themed task, I am less likely to run screaming from the room. Of course, getting the kids to help can (sometimes) be beneficial as well. Just make sure they are prepared for a lot of donating and purging.

Sticky fridge
Mix salt and soda water for an awesome refrigerator cleaner. It's like a facial scrub, but for the inside of the fridge! While things are getting removed for de-gunking, take the opportunity to throw away those hidden items that are well past their expiration date. Re-stock the shelves and drawers in an organized manner.


Baseboards and crown moulding
Our white baseboards and moulding love to collect dust, and I hate to stretch and bend to clean it off. Try this hack: Wrap a lightly damp hand towel around the bristles of a standard broom. Secure it on the broom with a rubber band, then walk your way around the house to wipe the dust away.


Clutter containment
My husband cannot understand why I love to bring home new baskets, bins, and shelves. As our family clutter grows, it becomes more and more important to have a place for everything. Obviously, we do not put everything away neatly all the time; but when it is time to straighten up, knowing where to toss each item is a big time saver.

Vinegar can be your spring-cleaning (or all-year-round) friend. To discover my favorite cleaning uses for vinegar, click over here: vinegar for cleaning

The sun is coming back soon! If you need to clean, do it quickly and efficiently. Then get outside to play.


Monday, February 6, 2017

1st place science fair project for 3rd grade

My daughter and her friend are headed to the district science fair! We are very excited and proud of their first place accomplishment and a smart science project. If you are looking for science fair project ideas for elementary grades, feel free to start with this idea.

Now, each school is different and nothing guarantees a first place science fair win. But I am happy to share the girls' third grade science fair project idea and basic steps. The project was based on their fall science curriculum, which may have earned bonus points with the judges. The project was controlled and fully documented in the science fair project log. In addition, their board was attractive and neat.


3rd grade science fair project


Stupendous Soil Absorption
a third grade science fair project

(that happened to win first place!) 

Please keep in mind that these are basic steps. Don't simply copy; make sure your child learns something as they work!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Parenting Magazine's best family travel tips

Family travel can be a lot of fun and a lot of work but hopefully, everyone ends up with some memories and photos to cherish for years.


Cruising for the first time? Taking non-skiiers to a ski resort? Stumped about spring break? I have shared my thoughts and experiences on a lot of destinations with kid-friendly tips (BalancingMama family travel), but don't just take my word for it.


Parenting.com is an informative and entertaining source for all things family: pregnancy, baby, toddler, family travel, fun and activities, and food. Here are some of their posts that may come in handy when you are in the mood for some family travel:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Peanut allergies: some guidelines have changed

Unless you live under a parenting rock, you know that peanut allergies are quite common in today's schools. A person with peanut allergies could have a mild or dangerous severe reaction. Reactions can cause rash, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory distress. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, life-threatening allergic reaction that has, heartbreakingly, taken the life of too many children.

peanut allergies

Did you know that recent studies show that pediatrician's may have influenced the rise in peanut allergies? When my youngest was about 9 months old, our pediatrician instructed me to give him a tiny bit of peanut butter around 11 months of age. Then again a few days later if he had no reaction. Previously, parents had been strongly warned to keep all peanut and peanut butter products far away from children until at least age three.

Working Mother magazine shared information about the new guidelines late last week:

"For most babies, you should introduce peanut-containing foods as young as four months old.
The guidelines differ based on a baby’s likelihood of developing a peanut allergy."

Read the full article (Clear Up Confusion on the Best Time to Introduce Peanuts) to understand the guidelines and how to determine your child's risk level.

 red sneakers oakley
To learn more about a tragic peanut allergy death and how you can support the family's movement, follow Red Sneakers for Oakley on Facebook. Inspired by the life of Oakley Debbs and his red sneakers, this movement wants to ensure that no other child loses their life from asthma and allergies.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Ford Explorer: long haul road test

This is my second time reviewing a Ford Explorer Platinum, thanks to the team at Ford Southeast & Performance Logistics. My family used the vehicle at no charge for 11 days. All opinions are exclusively mine (or my daughter's). 

Nine months ago, I shared my thoughts about the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum edition. Our family reviewed the vehicle during a 4 1/2 hour road trip to Charlotte, NC for a theme park and the Great Wolf Lodge. This time, we happily received a shiny new 2017 Ford Explorer Platinum for a much longer road test. Our destination? Sunny Florida for a Christmas vacation with family. 


When we chose a sunny destination this year, Christmas travel became extreme travel. We packed the trunk space full (really full) with gifts, luggage, snacks, and a cooler. We set off bright and early with sleepy children then endured holiday traffic later in the afternoon. Our travel day ended up around 10 1/2 hours from home to accommodations.
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