Getting Closer to Our Scholastic #SummerReading Goal!

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Scholastic. All opinions remain 100% mine.

So, this is it. The very last week of summer. Can you hear the collective tears of my kids? Our summer has been full of fun and even a few learning opportunities so none of us are ready to see it go. But I am happy to report that my girls have kept up their reading skills through the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

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My oldest has become hooked on Harry Potter (yes, I know we are late to the game on this one) and I love watching her get excited about turning every page. Not to be outdone by her sister, my youngest is reading her very first chapter books and has read multiple Judy Moody books over the past few weeks….even on vacation! I am so proud that they both have made a significant contribution to breaking the world record for summer reading!

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If you want to get your child involved, there’s still time! Simply sign up for Scholastic’s “Power Up & Read” challenge powered by Energizer and start reading. It doesn’t matter if your child is reading independently or together with you, you can build momentum by joining in the #MondayMinutesGoal. Here’s how it works:

  • Each Monday, Scholastic will announce the #MondayMinutesGoal which is the goal for the number of minutes for kids to read together in one week.
  • Encourage your child to read alone or with you in order to contribute to the goal.
  • Have your child log their minutes in the Summer Reading Challenge website or on a piece of paper.
  • Take a picture of your child proudly displaying their minutes read.
  • Share the picture on social media using #MondayMinutesGoal and #SummerReading

Need more inspiration? Parents can enter a weekly sweepstakes to win a “Power Up & Read Kit” to keep you “innovative” all summer long. The prize pack includes: Scholastic tote bag, water bottle, a copy of Reading Unbound by Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith, $10 gift certificate to Scholastic Store Online, Energizer® brand batteries, Scholastic books, and more. Learn more at the Energizer Instant Win website.  And to make sure you stay on track, make sure to check out Scholastic’s Resource page, too!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 8.01.21 PMSince my girls have done such a great job with this program, I want another child to be just as successful. One of my lucky readers will win the Innovation Book prize pack below:

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  • The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  • Extreme Science Careers
  • Extreme Experiments
  • Plus Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge materials including reading logs, pledges, bookmarks, and more!

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Celebrating 41 with #DennysDiners

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Denny’s Restaurants. All opinions remain 100% my own.

After surviving topping the metaphorical “hill” when I turned 40, this birthday seemed like a breeze. Turning the Big 4-0 was such a big deal, that I was looking forward to a more relaxed way to greet 41. I requested a low key, family focused, offline, relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of day and I am so happy that my message was heard loud and clear.

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After sleeping in a bit, I headed to my favorite day spa for a full body massage which can only be described as heavenly. Stopping for my favorite sweet tea, I met up with the family for some window shopping (ok, maybe I splurged on a thing or two) and a delicious lunch. When we returned home, my littles surprised me with a homemade chocolate cake and plenty of very thoughtful gifts when we returned home.

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When time for dinner, I remembered that at Denny’s, not only would the kids be thrilled, but this birthday girl could get a free Grand Slam! Score! I simply could not have asked for a more perfect day. While the hoopla of 40 was certainly fun and memorable, the quality time with my family wins every single time.

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

How a Dermatologist Chooses Sunscreen #ChooseSkinHealth

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Neutrogena. All opinions remain 100% my own.
It’s the middle of summer and for my family it’s time to be outside in the pool, a water park, a theme park or just a simple family picnic. We try to soak up every ounce of quality family time during the summer before the craziness of back to school begins. But to ensure a successful outing (and as an obsessive list maker), planning is key. Everything from a change of clothes to a first aid kit and snacks to sunglasses, I triple check the bag before leaving home.
With all of these outdoor activities, the first thing on my list is always sunscreen. But lately their has been a lot of confusion circulating about sunscreen leaving me staring at the plethora of options wondering which is best for me and my kids.  As with most of my skin health questions, I seek the advice of a dermatologist so I was thrilled to see that Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist in New York City, recently created a video to explain how he chooses sunscreen for his own family.

The video is easy to understand and has some really helpful tips for navigating the sunscreen section of your local store. Dr. Zeichner explains:

It can be really challenging to understand sunscreen labels. What I do, is go to the drugstore and look for a trusted brand. Make sure that it is labeled as broad spectrum and turn the bottle over and look for ingredients such as avobenzone or oxybenzone. For those with sensitive skin, look for a mineral sunscreen that only contains ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

As a Mom, I always want to do what is best for my kids which can cause some stress when trying to choose the correct product for their skin. Dr. Zeichner put my mind at ease by explaining that while choosing a quality product is important, you should focus on applying the product correctly. If using a spray sunscreen, you want to hold the spray 1-2 inches from the skin, spray the sunscreen for 1-2 seconds until the skin glistens, and then rub in the sunscreen. If using a lotion, make sure you are using a golf ball size amount for all sun-exposed areas. He explains:

When it comes to Labor Day, if you still have the same bottle of sunscreen that you have been using since Memorial Day, then you are not using enough.

As a scientist myself, I know the every day long-term, harmful affects of sun exposure on the skin. And with skin cancer in my family, I am extra cautious about protecting our skin. For this reason, I have been a huge advocate of the Neutrogena #ChooseSkinHealth program which is a partnership between NEUTROGENA® and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery to fight skin cancer and save lives through education, early detection, and the empowerment to follow sun safe behaviors. To-date, this campaign has completed more than 13,000 free screenings and helped diagnose 1,300 cases of skin cancer.

This summer, NEUTROGENA® partners and brand ambassadors such as Bella Thorne have displayed how they #ChooseSkinHealth on social media throughout the summer in effort to bring attention to the skin cancer epidemic and inspire others to practice safe sun habits.

What are you doing to protect your family’s skin this summer? Share your tips in the comments and then enter to win 5 bottles of Neutrogena sunscreen below!

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Top 5 Things to Know Before Heading to Dollywood’s Splash Country

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While tickets were received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

On a recent trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, my family and I decided to cool off at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Below are a few tips based on our experience.

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1. Pack it: While I am sure you won’t forget your sunscreen, you should know that the park does not provide towels. Since we did not pack any in our luggage, we chose to purchase beach towels at the park. We were able to get 2 towels for $25 which not only served their purpose but doubled as excellent souvenirs as well. Bonus tip: the sidewalk gets hot, consider wearing water shoes to protect little sensitive feet!

2. Climb it: To this below sea level, flat terrain Louisiana girl, the hills of Tennessee are no joke! Do yourself a favor and do some cardio training before you visit especially if you have kids that want to ride the slides again and again and again……

Dollywood Splash Country River Retreat

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3. Rent it: By far, the best money we spent on this entire vacation was on the River Retreat at Splash Country. Nestled against the lazy river, our private retreat featured patio table and 6 chairs, 4 lounge chairs, flat screen TV (with the Disney Channel), two ceiling fans, a locker and wait for it……ROOM SERVICE. That’s right, no standing in long lines for lunch and fighting for a covered table. We ordered food from our retreat phone, designated a time for delivery, and went on our way to enjoy the park. When we returned, our food had been delivered for no extra charge and no extra hassle. As a Mom, this little hideaway in the middle of a bustling theme park made a World of difference in the mood of the kids and stress level of the parents. Worth EVERY penny!!

Bonus Tip: TimeSaver passes are available for $20 per person. This wristband allows you to schedule times to experience popular slides without waiting in line. For us, the lines were not unbearably long when we arrived and a team member told us bands could be purchased at any point in the day. So we decided to wait it out and see if we needed to take the leap. Crowds did not pick up so we opted against the bands which saved us $80!

4. Buy it: We opted to buy the refillable drink mugs the day before when we went to the Dollywood theme park. In the heat, it is important to stay hydrated and the mugs cost us $35 for 4 mugs. With the mug, refills are only $0.99 and we were excited to learn that we could use the Dollywood mugs in Splash Country, too.

5. Conquer it: With all the things you need to pack, I can recommend one thing to leave at home…fear. Let it go and experience new things! What an incredible feeling it was to see my girls conquer their fears of the unknown and truly enjoy life. Splash Country provides quality time (read: no electronic devices) together with my whole family.  The staff was incredibly friendly, the facilities were clean, the food was yummy and a fun time was had by all!

Have you been to Splash Country?