10 Movies To Watch With Your Tweens This Summer

It has been raining for weeks here in Florida! WEEKS! We miss the sun. So I thought this was the perfect time to write about movies since I’m spending a bunch of time indoors with my kiddos.

I sat down with my son and daughter (ages 9 and 10) to compile this list. These are movies that parents won’t mind watching either. There are fun classics (I love my 80s!) mixed with some contemporary favs.

The one rule I had: No Animated Movies. Happy Watching!

1. School of Rock (2003, PG-13)

My favorite Jack Black movie of all time! It totally ROCKS! Jack’s character mistakenly becomes an elementary school teacher and starts a band with the kids in his class. There are a few bad words here and there, but overall it’s a lot of fun with some seriously catchy music. (Not sure why there’s the PG-13 rating.) This movie also has important lessons for tweens like opening yourself up to trying new things and accepting others for who they are.

2. E.T. : The Extra Terrestrial (1982, PG)

I could not wait to show my kids this one. This Steven Spielberg classic truly stands the test of time. It has humor, mystery, and suspense. It also has messages about loyalty and trust: Between Elliott and E.T. as well as the three siblings. Drew Barrymore, who plays baby sis Gertie, is the cutest thing ever. Even though E.T. lacks today’s advanced special effects, my tweens were still mesmerized by it all.

3. The Karate Kid (1984, PG)

This classic taught my kids the very important lesson of standing up for yourself. It’s also about creating a goal and then working hard (I mean, REALLY hard) so you can achieve it. You remember the “wax on, wax off and painting the fence” scenes, right? The innocent love story between Daniel and Ali is adorable. There are a few bloody noses and bruised eyes, but it’s all worth it to witness the central relationship between Daniel and Mr Miyagi. “You’re my best friend” makes me choke up every time.

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001, PG)

My son has read the first five Harry Potter books so we started watching the movies after he finished each one. You should start with this first, but we also highly recommend continuing on with the rest. The entire series is great and the movies make the books come to life. The movies do change into PG-13 ratings, but your tweens will be able to handle all those scarier moments if they are big fans of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

5. Back to the Future (1985, PG)

I adore Michael J. Fox and this movie is a great way to introduce your tweens to one of the coolest actors of the 80s. It’s about time travel and family relationships. My kids loved Doc and all the weird science. There are some awkward moments with the mom liking her son from the future and some bully violence, but the rest is classic 80s fun. Side note: Unlike Harry Potter, all the other Back to the Future movies are terrible. Check out old episodes of Family Ties instead.

6. Holes (2003, PG)

This movie grew on me. My kids loved it from start to finish, but be warned: it’s a little…strange. Holes is about a bunch of teen boys who are sent to dig holes at a detention camp. It’s based on the book of the same name. The visuals are pretty amazing. The young actors (including Shia LaBeouf before he hated acting) are the center of the story and they are all terrific. There are also some great lessons about racial tolerance, determination, and the power of friendship.

7. Freaky Friday (2003, PG)

I love this 2003 remake of the 1976 classic. It stars Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as mom and daughter who switch identities after a crazy spell is placed upon them. They are both so entertaining and charming. You can tell they are having fun. This movie also sheds a nice light on the complexity of parent and tween relationships. You will also understand how we all fell in love with Lindsay Lohan. She’s so great in this.

8. Night at the Museum (2006, PG)

I love any movie that mixes a history lesson with lots of laughs. Ben Stiller stars in this high adventure flick. He’s the night watchman at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and magically interacts with all the exhibits when the museum is closed at night. This movie is great for your tween’s imagination and I bet they will beg you to take them to a museum this summer. Not a bad thing at all.

9. Rudy (1993, PG)

There is some salty language in this one, but the bigger message made it worth watching with my kids. It’s about Rudy, a young college student who’s one goal in life is to play football for Notre Dame. He is the underdog who never gives up on his dream. Rudy will remind you and your tweens that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Love!

10. Little Manhattan (2005, PG)

I had to add this sweet little gem that I’m sure many of you have never heard of. My daughter loved it more than my son because it does deal with a “whole lot of feelings.” (My son’s words.) It’s the story of two school friends living in Near York City and what happens when the boy develops a big crush on the girl. It’s a bit like When Harry met Sally for tweens. It’s full of heart and a great way to open up the conversation about love and those “feelings.” (But I could do without the opening vomiting number – you’ve been warned.)

Are there other movies for tweens that you recommend? Comment below!

Teen Movies

Tween Movies

Why I Love “America’s Got Talent”

Every summer we pick a television show to watch as a family.

It has be a TV show we all agree on. It can’t be inappropriate. (Some of the sitcoms can be a little on the risque side.) America’s Got Talent is the show that we loved last year, so we started watching it again last week.

This is why I love it so much:

It’s so inspiring.

My son wants to be a ventriloquist. He would have no idea what ventriloquism is without America’s Got Talent. He found an old cow puppet in our playroom and walks around practicing a comedy and singing routine. He’s also mentioned how he wants to work harder and be better on the piano. My daughter is always talking about the amazing girl singers and how she wants to be like them one day. It really lights a fire under their creative dreams.

There’s diversity.

My kids get to see performers in all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, and backgrounds. We had a big discussion about being deaf on Monday because of the amazing woman who sang brilliantly after losing her hearing. They asked a lot of great questions and we talked about how you can do anything you want in life no matter what.

It starts the conversation.

Some of the youngest contestants talk about being bullied. Some talk about their life in poverty and violence. One beautiful girl last year survived ovarian cancer. America’s Got Talent does a good job with backstories so my kids can understand the struggles many of the contestants have endured. It opens the door to start the discussion on some of these tougher subjects.

The judges have great chemistry.

Annabel is a Heidi person. I love Mel B. Daniel thinks Howie is the coolest. And my husband loves Simon. The judges are so funny and make the show really entertaining. And those “golden buzzer” moments make it even more exciting. We try to guess when our favorite judge will hit that big button and make the confetti fly.

It’s family bonding at its best.

My son said, “We could do that!” when he saw a mother and son dance together last year.  Not so much, Daniel, but it was still so sweet that he would think that. My kids have also talked about creating a magic show. I’ve always wanted them to do something together for our school talent show. I’m hoping that dream of mine will come true one day. Thanks, AGT!

 

Top 10 Disney Vacation Must-Haves

We always go to Disney World in Orlando on the last day of school as a way to treat the kiddos and kick off the summer. I’m so blessed to live only two hours away from “the happiest place on earth.” I’ve been to Disney World over fifteen times and I’ve learned to pack efficiently and effectively through the years. Some of my must-have items have changed because my babies grew up (no more Pack ‘n Plays!), but these ten items stay on my Disney Vacation packing list every time. I’ve linked to some of my favorite items in each category.

1.  A light-weight backpack

You have to carry a lot of items around the Disney parks. These are important items that will save you time and money. You don’t want to put them in your nice purse. You need a simple, light-weight backpack that is durable and ready to be thrown on the dirty floor of those ride seats. It should have side pockets for your water bottles and not too many zippers. That security line can be a pain if your guard has to unzip and look inside a bunch of hidden areas. I bought a basic navy backpack on Amazon that I’ve used for a few years now. I love it.

Amazon Classic Backpack

2. Sneakers (x2)

I tried to look cute one year and wear my Steve Madden sandals, but that was a bad move. No one cares how you look. You need to be comfortable. Your family needs to be comfortable. You don’t want your child complaining about their blisters or sore feet. Always bring sneakers for every member of your family and make sure they have a ton of support. Then, pack an extra pair for everyone. If you soak through one pair of sneakers because of a sudden downpour or wet ride, it will take them a very long time to dry out. You will definitely want a backup.

My Favorite, Comfy Sneaker

3. Sunscreen

This seems like a given, but you would be surprised how many burnt faces I see around Disney. I always notice that stuff and it makes me sad. I would suggest you apply sunscreen to everyone before you hit the park. They need to be slathered up before you see those entry gates or you might have a wiggly kid battle on your hands. Be sure to reapply every two hours or sooner if you go on a water ride that washes away the protection.

My Favorite Cream Sunscreen

My Favorite Spray Sunscreen

4. Cooling Towel

Now that I’ve tried the cooling towel, I will never go back. These things are genius! You will need to dip them in running water and shake to activate. They are a life saver when waiting in long lines or when someone like me is waiting an hour for everyone else to get done with the Tower of Terror.

The Original Chill Pal

5. Hats

You will need some type of hat to help with the sun protection. Bonus: Your ready time in the morning will be cut in half when all you have to do is throw your hair up in a hat. You can find super stylish ones (I love the straw fedoras) or go for the classic baseball. Annabel and I put our Minnie ear headbands over our baseball caps to add a little more fun and sparkle.

My Favorite Fedora

Simple Baseball Cap

Minnie Sequin Headband

6. Water Bottles

All Disney Parks let you bring in water bottles. You can refill it at water fountains throughout the day. This is a must because buying water at the park will definitely cost you. You can find a water bottle with a filter if you don’t love that metallic Florida water taste. I’m still not used to it.

Brita Water Filter Bottle in Pink

7. A White Noise Machine

I still have the same white noise machine I bought when my kids were toddlers.  We use it for every Disney trip to wash away the loud hallway noises at the resort. It’s also great to drown out the late night fireworks if you have babies that need to get to sleep before 9 pm.

Sound Spa Machine – Flat and Easy to Pack

8. Snacks

My kids always beg for a snack when we are in the middle of our really long ride wait times. You want to pack small snacks like granola bars or pretzel bags. I also highly recommend organic lollipops. They take a little longer to consume and add a little sugar rush when needed. I love them too!

YumEarth Organic Lollipops

9. Rain ponchos

It’s Florida. You never know when it’s going to rain and it usually rains every day in the summer months. You should have a poncho for every member of your family. They are small and easy to shove into your backpack. You can also use them on those “you will get soaked” water rides if you’re a wimp, like me.

Reusable Rain Ponchos in Family Packs

10. Cell Phone Charger

You don’t want to finally grab that selfie with Gaston in front of Belle’s castle and your iPhone dies. You should pack a small cell phone charger in your back pack. When you’re waiting in those long ride lines, you can charge your phone and be ready for your next Instagram post.

Anker Portable Charger in Pink

 

My Gender Reveal Party! (It’s Not What You Think)

My gender reveal party had three people in attendance. And it wasn’t actually a party. It was me, my husband, and the sonogram tech. “Congrats, it’s a boy!”  I had the same party a year later. “Congrats, it’s a girl!” That was it.

Don’t get me wrong. We were thrilled! We were overcome with emotion! I cried. My husband fist pumped. It was a memorable moment. For the three of us. In a tiny dark room during my husband’s lunch break.

As a mom to older kiddos (9 and 10), I’m realizing I missed out on a lot of these cool, new mommy trends. When I was pregnant with my son Daniel, there was no such thing as a “gender reveal” anything. I missed out on the party where all your friends and family gather at your house to enjoy a taco bar and mango margaritas while you hit at a piñata until blue confetti pours out. A son! Or maybe you go on Facebook Live! to cut into a giant white cake to reveal a strawberry pink middle. A daughter! I’ve even seen the YouTube video where the happy couple opens a giant cardboard box and pink AND blue balloons fly out. Twins! One of each! How awesome!

I love planning parties. I would have really annoyed my family and friends with an obnoxious gender reveal party. I could have done an 80’s theme. A Michael Jackson impersonator moonwalks into the room and tosses us a pink or blue Rubik’s cube. Or since it was 2006 when I was pregnant, maybe I would have jumped on the popularity of American Idol which was the number one TV show at the time.  Everyone would sing karaoke, drink Coke, and eat star-shaped food until it was time for the grand finale. Hubby and I would stand on a stage while blue or pink confetti poured down on us.

A girl can dream.

I’m done having kids so there are no gender reveal parties in my future. But that’s okay. I have two amazing, healthy little ones who I love and adore. And I do have a photo from each of their gender reveal moments that I cherish with all of my heart.

Did you have a gender reveal party? Tell me about it below!

My Kids’ First Concert: Taylor Swift (Of Course)

It’s no secret I’m a HUGE fan of T-Swift. Love her! She’s my spirit animal. I know I’m a forty-something mother of two but she inspires me. Her style, her love of home decorating, her kindness, her loyalty, her business-saavy, I could go on and on. She’s a great role model in a world of questionable teenage role models, so I was thrilled when it worked out that Taylor’s “1989” world tour would be my kids’ very first concert experience.

We had to fly from Jacksonville to Atlanta to make it work. She wasn’t coming here and her Tampa show was on Halloween night. Personally I would have loved to see Tay on Halloween, but my two kiddos were not going to give up their trick-or-treating for anyone. Not even Taylor.

To prepare, Annabel and I bought T-shirts from the Taylor Swift website. She got the adorable “I heart Taylor” shirt and mine was the “1989” muscle tee.  We packed our bags and off we went to the ATL. I love to travel with my family and discover new cities. We had already been to Atlanta once before for Annabel’s 6th birthday and her first visit to the American Girl store. This time we stayed downtown and had the chance to check out the World of Coca-Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame. Both were a blast and I’ll post more about that later.

But on to the big event! The Atlanta “1989” Tour Stop was at the giant Georgia Dome. My son was thrilled to be hanging where the Atlanta Falcons football team plays. Annabel and I were ready to party!

We had the chance to meet up with some school friends who also made the trip from Jacksonville. Then it was off to the merch booth. We bought some T-shirts, glow sticks, and a pair of cute “1989” pink sunglasses. At our seats we also had a light-up bracelet. Everyone received one. We couldn’t wait to see them light up during the concert.

And that was definitely a highlight. Every song had a different color light show from our bracelets. They played along to the beat. The bracelet will also be a fun item for Annabel’s memory box. My son Daniel had a great time, but Annabel was the one who was up and singing along to every song with me. Taylor sang all the hits from her “1989” album plus some cool remixes for older songs. She looked amazing in all her sparkling dresses and jumpsuits. The cool part was this giant stage “arm” that was able to swing her all around the stadium. We could get a good look at her. The giant video screens helped too. It was most definitely the best Taylor concert I’ve ever seen.

The concert was over around 10:40 PM and we all left with huge smiles and ringing ears. Both kiddos said it was awesome. I totally agree.


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Disney’s “Frozen Fever” Short

I don’t know which I was more excited to see last week: Disney’s live-action Cinderella or the new Frozen Fever short which was playing right in front of it. Frozen is officially my daughter Annabel’s favorite Disney animated movie (mine too!), so we were both excited to see our friends Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf back on the big screen.

It was awesome! It features the new song, “Making Today a Perfect Day!” which will seriously get stuck in your head. (A new “Let It Go?”) Elsa wants to create the perfect day for Anna’s birthday. My daughter and I both loved the new princess dresses. Elsa has exchanged her icy blue dress for spring green! With sparkly pink flowers! Anna is rocking yellow sunflowers. LOVE!

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One of the funniest moments of Frozen Fever was when Olaf messed up the “Happy Birthday Anna” banner and it turned into this:

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My kids were saying, “Dry Banana Hippy Hat” all the way home in the car. And Annabel is begging me for one of those mini Olaf “snowgies.” They appeared every time Elsa sneezed! She is the one with the “Frozen Fever.” Anna has to take care of her sister Elsa’s cold instead of attending her own surprise party and that ends up being Anna’s favorite birthday present of all. Ahhh…so sweet.

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Those cute baby “snowgies” are available in an Olaf plush set at area Disney Stores and will be returning soon to DisneyStore.com. And don’t forget about the Frozen Fever “2 in 1” costume set. Start saving now for your little one’s birthday. You will not be able to resist the cuteness.

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I’ve been adding to my “Disney Frozen and Frozen Fever Party Ideas” Pinterest board all week so be sure to check it out for some really fun craft, decor, snack, and game ideas! The video below has some of my “coolest” highlights. Enjoy!

Disney’s Cinderella: Have Courage and Be Kind

We finally had the chance to check out Disney’s live-action Cinderella movie this weekend and it was SO worth the wait!

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Annabel and I bought matching Cinderella sweatshirts from the Disney Store to wear to the theatre. They were sparkly and cute and kept us cozy warm. (Why are movie theaters always so cold??)

My whole family loved the movie. It was beautiful to watch. I especially loved the important theme of “Have Courage and Be Kind” that was woven throughout the entire film. Lily James was perfect as Cinderella and her wedding dress at the end was to die for! (Colorful flowers and butterflies and swoon!) Disney Store has the costume version for the little ones and it has also been recreated for all brides-to-be!

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Cate Blanchett was brilliant as the evil stepmother. As soon as she appeared on the big screen, Annabel turned to me and whispered, “Whoa, Mama, she’s super pretty.” Cate has the most striking features. And, man, is she good at being bad.

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New Disney movies always inspire me to create a Pinterest board, so be sure to visit my “Disney Cinderella Party Ideas” board or check out my YouTube video below! Have you seen Cinderella yet? Comment below!

White Hot Night: Oscars 2015

I noticed a trend last night after I starting posting my favorite dresses from the Oscars red carpet on social media. The ladies were gorgeous in WHITE!

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Wow. I loved them all. But my top favs were definitely Reece Witherspoon’s Tom Ford column gown and Lupita Nyongo’s Calvin Klein pearly sensation. And super props to Lady Gaga for rocking those red leather gloves.

I also have to throw these non-white showstoppers into the “best dressed” ring. Can you even believe Emma Stone in that green sparkly dress? Not worthy. Cate Blanchett never makes a red carpet mistake. I love the bold turquoise necklace with the simple black gown. And Gwenyth Paltrow looked pretty in pink with a big shoulder flower.

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And I can’t leave without posting this “white” moment:

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Ahem. We see you NPH. This look was an homage to the Birdman movie which took home the big prize for “Best Picture.” Neil Patrick Harris earned a B- last night as host. I adore him and thought the opening number was sensational, but some of the jokes puttered out towards the end. Or maybe it was the haze I was in because the show went on past midnight. Phew. Time for more coffee. Cheers to all the winners!

Best Picture: Birdman

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Original Song: John Legend and Common, Glory from Selma

Best Animated Feature: Big Hero 6

Grammys 2015: All About That Pink (No, Not Her. She Wasn’t There.)

You know I have to start with my girl, Taylor, looking absolutely gorgeous in her Elie Saab turquoise dress with pink shoes and pink clutch. Perfection!

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One of Tay’s besties, Ed Sheeran, played a beautiful version of his song, “Thinking Out Loud” with John Mayer, Tay’s ex, on guitar. Did you catch all that? It was such a weird and wonderful pairing. I was giddy.

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Hello, John Mayer’s guitar. Have you met Taylor’s shoes?

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Or Ri Ri’s dress?

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I can’t decide whether she looks uncomfortable and doll-like or it’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever seen. Miranda Lambert walked the red carpet in a black gown with some sexy pink straps. LOVE!

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And I seriously love her music too. She rocked her new single, “Little Red Wagon” last night and even earned some censors from CBS. Work it.

Sam Smith ran away with “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year” for his monster hit, “Stay with Me.” Beck won for “Album of the Year” which really annoyed Kanye West again. Sigh.

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But then he made up with Taylor after he did the exact same thing to her at the VMAs back in 2009 when Pink performed that amazing high wire act. So we’ve come full circle. I wonder what song Taylor will write about this awkward moment. We’ll have to wait until next year’s Grammys to find out.

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AWKWARD.

Tom Brady, Katy Perry and Dancing Sharks: Super Bowl 2015

Yesterday was my birthday! There was also this little game on TV between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The game was crazy! An interception by the Patriots in the last 20 seconds basically changed the whole thing. The Patriots won! Yay! I just wanted to see the cute family pics with QB Tom Brady and his supermodel wife Giselle.

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Awww. Adorable. But the real reason I was roaring on the couch was thanks to Katy Perry and her fun halftime performance featuring dancing sharks! What a cool birthday treat! Thanks, Katy!

I asked my future singing star Annabel if she’d like to do that one day and she said she’d rather be the dancing beach ball.