Affordable & Adorable Kids’ Spring Fashion Line #MixAndMatchValue #Garanimals

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Kids go through clothes at warp speed. From babyhood to around 6 or 7 years old, you have to buy kids new clothes every season because they literally outgrow last year’s wardrobe. At about 6 or 7 years old, Lucas’ clothing started fitting for longer periods, but it didn’t matter anyways because most of his clothes would get destroyed during school recess or sports practice. It’s the same situation with Amelia now! I buy her a new wardrobe every season. EVERY SEASON. And look…it’s fun. She’s a girl and there are so many cute things, but…it can be expensive. That’s why I have always loved the Garanimals line of clothing at Walmart. It’s cute, affordable and lasts!

Today, I want to show you how affordable and cute Garanimals really is! With each piece priced between $3-$5, I was able to put together about fifteen outfits from the nine pieces (five tops/4 bottoms) I received for $40. Repeat after me…FIFTEEN outfits for $40. That’s crazy, right?!

Garanimals Collage

Beyond being AFFORDABLE, Garanimals is also super cute and on-trend. I love the bright colors and sweet details like bows, ruffles, and glitter – all of the things that little girls love. Plus, everything is also age appropriate, which is so important to me as a parent.

About Garanimals:

Garanimals was born in 1972 out of the idea that there is a positive connection between how children dress and how they feel about themselves.

Garanimals was founded on a simple but unique concept: to help parents affordably dress their young children in comfortable clothing that is easy to mix and match. Each Garanimals line may be mixed and matched as separates, and the color and style mix and match with any piece within that line.

Where To Purchase:

The Garanimals line can be found exclusively at Walmart.com or at Walmart stores. Visit walmart.com for additional information.

NOTE: This is not a promotion but rather an approximation of how many outfits can be created for $40.

Walt Disney World is Not Just for Preschoolers – Tweens Love It Too! #DisneyTweens

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As the years race by, it’s hard to realize how fast my first baby is growing up. Apparently, he is a tween. How did that happen? I guess I should have noticed the clues. The video games, the headphones attached to his neck, the newfound love for Top 40 hits, the desire to fit in or be “cool”, and yes – even the little bit of attitude I’ve been seeing appear every now and again. As much as I hate to admit it, my baby – my 8 year old Lucas – is growing up right before my eyes and I want to do everything I can to press pause on every moment we get to spend together. That’s why we all jumped at the chance to visit Walt Disney World Resort and experience everything the parks have to offer tweens and families.

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We were ready for 3 days of jam-packed Disney tween fun! After arriving and checking into our Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah Room (complete with views of animals like giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and so much more – Lucas was amazed), we met up with a group of influencers and friends that would be joining us for the press trip.

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We quickly headed to dinner and then our first ride…Test Track at Epcot. Lucas was able to create his own custom car on a computer terminal before boarding. The ride will then test the abilities of the car you designed and show you the results. The ride was so fast and so much fun. It is officially one of our favorite rides at Walt Disney World and definitely tween approved. As Lucas said, “Best ride of my life!”

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The next day we were off early to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After breakfast we boarded the Kilimanjaro Safari. Guys, this ride is one of a kind. You truly get a close encounter with real wild life – rhinos, elephants, lions, monkeys, and more. Lucas – and all of us – were in awe. Lucas especially loved the driver who was doling out cool facts and trivia tidbits (did you know that a giraffe only sleeps for a total of about 30 min a day, in no more than 5 minute increments? That’s insane. And I thought I didn’t getting enough sleep!).

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After the safari we rode Dinosaur, which is a thrilling adventure ride that takes you back in time to experience dinosaurs right at the time the asteroid hit. We also rode Expedition Everest which is by far one of the coolest roller coaster rides we have been on and is Lucas’ favorite. The coaster shoots up a mountain and before you know it, you are headed backwards in the dark and brings you up close and personal with the dangerous yeti. Scary and fun all rolled into one!!

Later that afternoon we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and headed straight to Star Tours, of course. If you haven’t ridden Star Tours, it is a 3D simulator ride that puts you right into the heat of battle in a galaxy far far away. This is without a doubt Lucas’ and Mike’s favorite ride. Ever. They are huge Star Wars fans and this ride is like being inside the movies. They would literally ride it all day if I let them lol.

And, finally Lucas and Mike rode Tomorrowland Speedway several times. They love this ride!

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After dinner, we rode Aerosmith’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster, which is super cool and super fast. You take off going 0 – 60 in less than 3 seconds as you shoot into a loop and head off into the neon and black light filled room. Why so fast? Because if you don’t hurry you will miss Aerosmith’s rock concert!

That evening we had front row seats to what I have to believe is the single greatest fireworks show on earth. I have never seen anything like Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. This awesome new show is actually a precursor to another show coming later this year (more on that in another post). Fireworks are set off to the music and sounds of Star Wars. You really have to see it to believe it. The music is beautiful and the fireworks are breathtaking. Literally breathtaking. 

On our last day we went to Magic Kingdom where we rode just about every thrill ride at the park. We rode Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is a relatively new coaster that is fun for the whole family. Even our 2 year old Amelia rode it! The Seven Dwarves Mine Train combines the thrill of a coaster with the magical animatronics that Disney is known for. We rode it twice!

Another tween-approved ride is Space Mountain. This coaster is an oldie but goodie! I can remember riding Space Mountain when I was a kid! Space Mountain takes you flying around in the dark with stars projected all around you. It’s like being in outer space.

To finish the day we headed over to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Mike and the kids did some shopping while I got to see first hand, the big changes that are coming to Disney Springs (again, more on that in another post). We all got to do a little shopping, which is always fun and there were plenty of stores for each of us – even the boys – to enjoy!

 

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We ended the evening with a relaxing ride around the Disney Springs lake in an Amphicar (which is a car and a boat in one) and dinner at Boathouse. The Amphicar was a pretty sweet ride! The driver was hilarious and the view was gorgeous. This is a must-do at Disney Springs.

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By the end of the trip, here’s what I knew for sure. Disney just gets it. They understand the intricacies of families. They understand the challenges that parents of little ones face so they provide stroller rentals and baby care stations and rider switch passes and more. Disney understands that tweens and teens are looking for a cool experience at the parks and they provide it through thrill rides and shopping and magical experiences. The world that Disney creates for their customers and the service they provide is second to none. Disney makes it easy for families of all ages – from young families with newborns to families with tweens and teens to families with all grown-up “kids” – to reconnect with one another and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Lots of New Disney Experiences this Summer!

Not only do packages start under $2,000, but this year’s Awaken Summer event will debut new experiences across all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks with an epic array of shows and attractions to open throughout summer, creating exciting new guest experiences across all Disney theme parks and entertainment venues. A new Magic Kingdom castle show will bring favorite characters from “Tangled” and “Princess and the Frog” for the first time to the grandest stage in Walt Disney World. Stars of the runaway Disney hit, “Frozen,” will take a bow in multiple Disney parks, and the first Frozen-themed attraction will sail into guests’ hearts at Epcot. Even more Star Wars-themed original entertainment, nighttime Animal Kingdom experiences and Disney Springs openings will set the stage for endless summertime fun. Visit DisneyWorld.com for more info.

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Personalized Gifts

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Women's Cashmere ScarfShe is Fierce Porcelain Catchall

Bath CaddyLetter

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Sparkle & ShineSleepy Fox Nightgown

FrogHappy Dancer Jewelry Box

MedalJust for Me Backpack

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Mens CatchallCuff Links

Secret Message Collar StaysTri-Fold Hanging Leather Excursion

GrowlerCooler

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ChalkboardPersonalized Ornaments

Family Movie Night Popcorn TinWine Service2

PicnicPerfect Sip Wine Decanter

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Educational S.T.E.M. Toys for the Holidays

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This holiday season, give the gift of learning and fun with the new Blaze and the Monster Machines line of toys. These toys are fun and cute, just like the beloved Nickelodeon show! Plus, they teach kids educational STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts like acceleration, sound waves, speed, momentum, and more. Below are three of our favorites!

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  1. Talking Blaze (RV $5.49) brings to life the STEM concept of sound waves! Press the button on the hood and Blaze says different lines from the show and makes sounds.
  2. Blaze Monster Dome Playset (RV $29.99) is a race track that allows kids to create side-by-side races between Blaze and Crusher. The STEM concepts learned via the Blaze Monster Dome, include speed and momentum, which are illustrated by using the two launchers. Kids place the two vehicles on the launchers, push down, and off they go! Two children can race the two vehicles or one child can play on their own. Kids can even take the set apart and piece together their own stunt set.
  3. Super Stunts Blaze (RV $39.99) is full of action – just like on the TV show – and is A LOT of fun. This toy can do some really impressive stunts that will wow kids. Super Stunts Blaze speeds up, does side and back-wheelies, and completes a 360 degree spin on his rear tires. Kids can press Blaze’s side to choose his stunt and push down on the spoiler to give Blaze more and more power Blaze. The Super Stunts Blaze teaches kids all about acceleration.

Buy It!

All of the toys featured above can be found at Target and other major toy retailers. To see the rest of the Blaze and the Monster Machines line, visit Target.com/Blaze.

Magic Reindeer Food Recipe and Free Printable

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A fun activity to do with the kids this year is to make magic reindeer food that can be sprinkled on the yard on Christmas Eve. The sparkle will draw the reindeer to your house on Christmas Eve.

Reindeer Food

Making it is super easy! Lucas and I made a large batch using Kellogg’s All Bran Flakes so that we could pass them out to all of the cousins before Christmas.

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Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Kellogg’s All-Bran Flakes, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals
  • 1/4 cup Christmas sprinkles

Directions: Place all ingredients in a large zip-top bag and gently shake. Pour into small mason jars and add label with poem.

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Magic Reindeer Poem

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
Santa’s reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home

 

FREE PRINTABLE

Just right click on the image below, save to your computer and print to whatever size you need.

 

 

Reindeer Food Printable Tag

 

 

 

 

 

Blaze Play Date Ideas & FREE Play Date Pack

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As you know, we (as all parents) are big proponents of utilizing toys to teach kids important concepts such as language, math, science, etc. The best way to learn is through FUN. That is true for all of us – adults include. That’s why we love Nickelodeon’s Blaze and the Monster Machines and the NEW toys available at Target and other major toy retailers. Through the show and toys, Blaze and his buds teach kids about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) concepts. I’m very excited that Target is also offering a FREE Play Date Pack for download at Target.com/Blaze that is the perfect reason to get young Blaze fans together for some learning fun! We had our own little play date recently and it was a hit!

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The Play Date Pack has recipes like this delicious smoothie, which the kids LOVED.

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even cute cut-out invitations…

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activity sheets for the kiddos…

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and various STEM concepts that we introduced about during the play date!

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It was so much fun for the kids!

Download Your Blaze Play Date Pack and More!

To download your FREE Blaze Play Date Pack available exclusively via Target, head on over to Target.com/Blaze. Make sure to also visit  www.blazePlay Date.com where you can upload a photo of your kiddos Blaze play date and enter for a chance to win a $100.00 Target GiftCard! They are giving out one (1) GiftCard per month from now until December. Plus, everyone who uploads a photo will receive a 10% coupon offer for Blaze at Target via email!

Kids’ Playroom Design Inspiration

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If you follow me on social media, you probably know that we moved to a new house a few weeks ago. We are so happy to be in our new house and starting a new chapter in our life. While we are still unpacking boxes and getting settled in, I have had the best time decorating our new space. One of the rooms I was the most excited about was the kids’ playroom. I scoured Pinterest and the web for inspiration and was able to pull together a room that I think is both beautiful and functional. The kids love it too!

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We started by installing built-in cabinets along the entire back wall. It is filled with toys, art supplies, puzzles, and books. The walls were painted with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. This color is so popular on the web and I can totally see why! It is a gorgeous “greige” color that is neutral and warm. The color scheme in the room is bright and colorful with pops of yellow and blue.

The kids have an expansive art table with bright yellow chairs and lots of art supplies. They have spent countless hours creating works of art at this table already!

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We wanted the room to feel positive and inspire creativity and imagination so all of the artwork in the room has inspirational messages.

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Playroom Rules Canvas from Personal Creations

The comfy gray couch is also brimming with feel good messages via the throw pillows.

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Perfect Equation Throw Pillow from Personal Creations

Even though they have a couch, you can usually find Lucas and Amelia sitting in either the Takealong Chair or the Bean Bag though! Both have been personalized with inspirational messages too! The Chair says “Dream Big” and the Bean Bag says “Believe”.

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The room just makes you smile. It feels good to be in this room. 

 

Five Time-Out Tips for Toddlers

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You guys. Amelia is a totally different kid than her brother, Lucas. Amelia is like a hurricane. She is into everything and wants to do everything. It’s like she has forgotten that she is a toddler. She wants to be a big kid. I love her spunk and independence, but sometimes it’s also a battle to get her to follow directions or rules. Let’s just say that we have become very experienced with “time-outs”. Today, I wanted to share with you a few time-out tips that have worked really well with us!

Choose a time-out spot. One of the most important things to consider when putting your child in time-out is the place. Pick one spot in your house and consistently use the same spot. It should be a place that you can easily keep an eye on your child and that is free of all distraction and noise. We use a personalized time-out with love stool from Personal Creations that is typically placed in the foyer hall. What I like about using a stool is that it’s movable just in case the time-out spot has to change in a pinch. Once you have the spot, show your child and explain the type of behavior that will result in a time-out. Also, explain what good behavior looks like.

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Time Out with Love Stool from Personal Creations

Timing. You know what they say…timing is everything and that rings true for time-outs too. Time-outs that are either too short or too long are not effective. Pediatricians recommend one minute per year of your child’s age. Amelia is 2 years old so her time-out time is 2 minutes. We set a timer in the kitchen and she knows that when the timer goes off – time-out is over. And…when time out is over…time out is over. It’s a clean slate for the child.

Be Swift and Consistent. If your child is misbehaving, give her a warning and remind her what good behavior looks like. If the bad behavior continues after the warning, immediately take her to time-out. It’s important that you don’t wait until after she finishes dinner or you get back home, etc. It has to be right away and it has to be consistent to be effective. If you’re out and your child needs a time-out, improvise by coming up with a new time-out spot that is safe (of course!) and away from as many distractions as possible.

Keep Your Cool. It’s important that when your child is given a time-out that you get down to their eye level and use a firm, calm voice without yelling or losing your cool. Look, I get it. Your child is misbehaving and it’s their tenth trip to time-out and you’re frustrated…been there! However, it’s important to show your child that you are in control – this will model good behavior for your kids too!

Praise Your Child. Just like when you let your child know when they are misbehaving, praise your child when they are being good! Make sure to be specific! EX. “Amelia, you are being so nice to your brother! I love to see you both play so nicely and share your toys.”

Our Summer Yurt Camping Trip & Campfire Hot Dogs Recipe

We love camping because it gives us the perfect opportunity to truly disconnect and spend quality time with each other as a family and with nature. It’s a moment to breathe and find some stillness in a world that has gotten way too fast paced. This past month, we packed up the car and headed only 30 minutes away to Fort Yargo State Park in Georgia to do some yurt camping. This is our third time camping in a yurt and let me tell you…it’s a much easier way to camp with young kids.

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We had a great time! We did lots of goofing off…

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and hiking…

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and canoeing…

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and crafts…

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and reading…

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and sleeping…

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and swinging in the hammock…

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and eating, of course! No camping trip is complete without s’mores which we packed into a container. Unwrapping all of the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers and placing them in a big container makes the whole process of making s’mores much easier so you can just enjoy each other’s company around the fire.

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Oh and eating them is nice too! 🙂

We also made Campfire Dogs, which are a twist on the boring hot dog and so much fun to make! Here’s how you make them.

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Campfire Crescent Hot Dogs

Ingredients

  • 1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (8 count)
  • 8 hot dogs
  • Condiments (mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc)

Directions
1. Unroll the crescent rolls into separate triangles along the perforations. 2. Place the hot dog on the edge of the widest part of the triangle and roll the hotdog.

Campfire Dogs

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3. Skewer your crescent dog and roast it over the fire until golden brown. We like to roast over indirect heat (not directly over the fire) so the crescent can completely bake through and then at the end we place it over the fire to get it a little crispy. 4. Serve immediately with mayo, ketchup, mustard or other condiments.

If you want to read more camping with kids tips activity ideas, make sure to read my Camping with Preschoolers post too!

 

Celebrate the Great American Campout

The summer is a great time to take the family camping. Plus, the Great American Campout Day is in a few days on June 27th! Below are some fabulous ways to celebrate Great American Campout Day in Georgia or make sure to visit National Wildlife Federation for additional ideas throughout the country.

Amicalola Falls State Park- The Hike Inn

A five-mile hike from the top of Amicolola Falls will bring visitors to the 20-guest room Hike Inn. Guests have access to hot showers, but there are no outlets at this backcountry getaway. The Hike Inn serves breakfast and dinner every day in a family-style setting and is perfect for Appalachian Trail hikers or families looking for a wilder kind of vacation. gastateparks.org/AmicalolaFalls

Smithgall Woods State Park- Luxury Cottage Camping

If you have never seen a chandelier in the middle of the woods, stay a night at Smithgall Woods State Park’s Smithgall Cottage. Rustically opulent and built of smooth Montana lodge pole pines, the cottage features immaculately decorated rooms, including a great room with a large stone fireplace, an exercise room, a kitchen, a dining room and four bedrooms (2 Kings; 1 Queen; 1 Double/Double) with private baths. Nestled at the heart of the park, the cottage’s large decks overlook the surrounding bubbling brooks and gorgeous forest scenery. gastateparks.org/SmithgallWoods

Stephen C. Foster State Park- Suwanee River Eco-Lodge

Run by Stephen C. Foster State Park, the Suwanee River Eco-Lodge in Fargo, Ga., consists of 10 cottages and a conference room that can seat up to 100 people. Perfect for hunting or paddling vacations, business meetings, retreats, reunions and weddings, the eco-lodge sits just 18 miles from the beautiful Okefenokee Swamp. gastateparks.org/StephenCFoster

Yurt “Glamping”

There’s no need to pitch a tent when High Falls, Tugaloo, Red Top Mountain, Fort Yargo and Cloudland Canyon State Parks offer the glamorous camping (“glamping”) option of yurts. Made of wood and canvas, yurts sleep up to six people and come with beds, futons, screened windows and locking doors, as well as an outside deck, picnic table and grill/fire ring. Yurts will also soon be added to Sweetwater Creek State Park. http://gastateparks.org/Yurts

First-Time Camper Program

For those who have never ventured into the woods, 13 state parks offer loaner gear through the First-Time Camper program. The program’s equipment was donated to the parks by Coleman, REI and The North Face, and, for just $50, first-time adventure seekers can spend two nights in a modern campground with a tent, sleeping pads, chairs, a camp stove, lantern and marshmallow-roasting sticks. Park staff and volunteers can help set up the tents and provide “Camping 101” instructions. http://gastateparks.org/FirstTimeCamper

 

Baseball Snack and Goody Bag Ideas & Free Printable

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Spring baseball is in full swing and we are soaking up every glorious moment at the ball field with Lucas and his PeeWee baseball team. There’s nothing like spending a breezy, sunny afternoon on the ball field. Win or lose…I just love watching my kid play. His intensity and passion for the game is truly inspiring.

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While we always do some sort of end-of-year party with goody bags for the team, I also like to bring a special snack for the kids at some point during the season. It’s a fun way of recognizing the kids efforts and hard work throughout the season!

Baseball Goody Bag Ideas

The snacks don’t have to be difficult, but they do have to be yummy! We like to include Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies Treats® – these are a classic treat beloved by kids and adults. The packaged ones make it easy to include in snack/goody bags for the team without spending time in the kitchen. They are the perfect “on-the-go” treat!

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Along with the Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies Treats®, I like to add a couple fun things like baseball bounce balls and temporary tattoos, sunflower seeds, and a sports drink.

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Today, I want to share with you a cute printable that you can use for your own child’s baseball or softball snack bags. The tags say “Great Game!” Just download, print, cut out, and attach to the snack or goody bag.

Download Printable

To download your FREE printable, click HERE.

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Enter to win! Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies Treats® presents MLB Play Catch with Cal Online Instant Win Game. To enter, click HERE.

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Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies Treats®, Major League Baseball® and legendary shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr., are teaming up to help families unlock the fun this baseball season with their favorite snack! Prizes include playing catch with Cal Ripken, Jr. during the MLB 2015 All Star Week, signed baseballs and more! Plus make sure to find year-round inspiration for family fun with Rice Krispies Treats® at www.KelloggsFamilyRewards.com. You can also vote for your favorite creations for the chance to win more exciting prizes.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies Treats®.