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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review of Babies Suzuki Music Class at Clifton Center in Louisville, Ky

 photo img_0288_zps626d2cab.jpgRecently I took my 2-year-old to check out a babies Suzuki music class taught by members of the Louisville Orchestra. I know one of the teachers through my daughter's school (she teaches Suzuki violin there). I wanted to see what this babies/toddlers class was all about so she invited me to try it for free. That option is available to anyone who would like to get a feel for this type of class.

We met on a Saturday morning back in the fall at the Clifton Center on Payne Street. The classes typically run for 45 minutes to an hour on Saturdays at 9am and 10:30am. My 2-year-old was exposed to music in a variety of ways. This was a bit different from a music class we're typically used to. The children don't necessarily sing songs the entire time. They are exposed to musical instruments and get an opportunity to play a scale on different instruments. At the class we attended they played on rain sticks, drums, a triangle, and a xylophone. The Suzuki Steps baby/toddler music class is based on Suzuki early childhood education and delves into listening, sequencing, pitch skills, number/motor/vocabulary skills, etc. It was very interesting.

Classes for the winter session begin on January 11. You can contact the instructor at blaise.poth@gmail.com for more information. It is an intimate setting with just 12 participants. She advised that children do not normally begin musical instrumentation until age 3. This class is designed to really help babies and younger toddlers focus and learn pitch and other musical elements.

By guest contributor: Erin

Monday, December 30, 2013

Contest! Win tickets to Sesame Street Live in Louisville - Discount coupon code too!

 photo CSS_Horizontal_422x225_zps05bc2635.jpgWhen Elmo gets his furry fingers on Abby Cadabby’s magic wand, there’s something in the air - and Sesame Street becomes a nonstop, all-singing, all-dancing musical montage! Grover and Baby Bear sing their highs and lows, Cookie Monster sings fast and slow, Bert and Ernie converse in song and Murray makes mouth music for all to sing along! Learn why it feels good to sing a song, but why it feels good to stop, too! What will Elmo learn about the power of musical magic? Join the conga line of fun to find out!

Sesame Street Live is a larger-than-life, musical touring stage production featuring Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie…and more. Each performance is 90 minutes of singing, dancing and audience participation, including a 15-minute intermission. The perfect length for very young children!

Six (6) delightful performances! Tickets on-sale August 18 at the box office and online at www.kentuckycenter.org or to charge by phone, call 800-775-7777.

• Ticket prices: $15, $22, $32 (Gold Circle) & $52 (Sunny Seats).
• Opening Night (Friday, February 21, 6:30 PM)—All seats $10 (excluding Gold Circle and Sunny Seats).
• Group savings available. Groups 10+ call 502-584-7777.
• Get the ultimate fan experience with Sunny Seats!

The Sunny Seats Package includes a VIP Seat and a pre-show Meet & Greet photo opportunity with two Sesame Street Live friends.
*Additional fees/surcharges may apply.


$3 OFF EACH TICKET! 
Sesame Street Live “Can’t Stop Singing” is playing at the Brown Theatre, February 21 – 23! 
Use the passcode ERNIE at KentuckyCenter.org to receive the special offer.
 (Offer excludes Gold Circle & Sunny Seats. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. Cannot be combined with any other offer.)

Good luck!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Talk About You - A Message from Heartland Music Together

This is a sponsored post

Recently our Heartland Music Together staff gathered together for a holiday meal and celebration. And while we were together, we talked about you. This is not a surprise, because we talk about you all the time when we’re together, whether we mention you by name or not.

 photo heartinhands_zps2210f3e7.jpgWe talk about you because we love you, and because we love you, we can’t help sharing stories about you and all of our HMT families when we’re together. We compare notes on the children who started with one teacher and are now with a different teacher. We celebrate those graduates we know who are now playing piano or guitar, and we remember what they were like as babies. We talk about the amazing moms, dads, and other adults who make each class into a community. Our Heartland staff get-togethers are filled with joy and laughter, and it’s because you are there with us in spirit, even if you’re not seated at the table.

It’s a funny thing. The Music Together® curriculum is designed to help you keep the music going all through the week. We want the classes to become a part of your life, even when you’re not in class. But as successful as the program may be in that direction, it works just as well in the other direction. We may spend only 45 minutes with you and your child once a week, but you’re a part of our lives all the time too.

As teachers, we can measure our work in the 45-minute span it takes to get from the Hello Song to the Goodbye Song. But that’s just the smallest piece of what we do. What we do, what we truly do, is love you and your children through the vehicle of music. And we give you the tools so you can love your child the same way. How lucky we all are that we get to share this experience together!

 photo hmtLOGOCOLORFINALadjusted.jpgI wish you and your family a happy, music-filled, and heart-filled new year. Thanks for the great year you gave to us!

Miriam Klein, Director

NEW for 2014: Afternoon classes in Crescent Hill for ages 0-5, and Big Kids classes in the Highlands for ages 5-7. Visit www.heartlandmusictogether.com for more information.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things to do this weekend around Louisville - December 27,28,29

First, I truly hope that you had a wonderful holiday.  Our website traffic was at an annual low on Christmas this year and I consider that a great success - that means you were so busy enjoying the joys that your family brings by just being together that you didn't need to seek other entertainment!  YES!

Now, if you are in hibernation mode between Christmas and New Year's Eve - some good family game nights and playing with new toys are in order for the weekend.  Or, you are itching to get back to being out and about. If it's the latter, I have some ideas - of course!  So do our writers.

Here is our post about New Year's Eve family events!
Click here

Looking for indoor option? LouFamFun Writer Maggie and I discuss indoor family fun on this podcast.


Friday
Bundle up and head to The Avenue for their trolley hop between 6pm and 10:30pm.  Use your Kids Eat Free VIP Card to get a special deal at Clifton's Pizza, ride the trolley around for free and end your night at The Comfy Cow for dessert.

Saturday
It might be in the 50s on Saturday, the Louisville Zoo is calling your name! Did you know you can bring a canned good per person and they will give you a $5 discount off admission. They are running that promotion to benefit Dare to Care Food Bank through February 28th.  Details here.

Sunday
Head to the KFC Yum! Center to cheer on the UofL women's basketball team - they play Southern Methodist University at 3pm and tickets are just $10.

Have a fabuLOUs last weekend of 2013!
Stephanie



PS - Thanks for reading!  Want me to send you a little something from Heine Brothers and LouFamFun?  Just email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net with the subject "December 27" with your mailing address by Sunday 12/29 at 5pm.  I'll randomly select 5 emails and send you some treats!

Monday, December 23, 2013

December Family Book Review

 photo IMG_4422_zpsb1a43bf2.jpgPrincess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu by Ylleya Fields, illustrated by Michael LaDuca - This is a lovely story for a little girl. Frilly, pink, and full of glam, but this princess likes catching bugs, flipping cartwheels, and painting pictures. Princess Cupcake Jones has lost her tutu, and it's got to be found! She spends the entire story looking for her lost treasure, and upon doing the one thing that all parents ask their children to do, she finds it: by cleaning up her room! It's got a great African-American character, girl-power theme to it as well.

 photo IMG_4421_zps654bc08d.jpgShimmer & Splash by Jim Arnosky - This beautiful book is all about the sparkling world of sea life. What's lurking in the water? Stingrays, dolphins, jellyfish, sailfish, sharks and more. Gorgeous fold-out pages throughout, this book will delight any child who is enamored with life throughout the ocean world.

 photo IMG_4423_zps41a58efe.jpgThe World Almanac and Book of Facts: 2014 - The perfect addition for your factoid-loving child's book shelf, this is the newest edition of the famous Almanac. This reference book is a great addition for a middle or high school student as well, as it's got great information about various things, including tips on preparing for the November 2014 elections. I especially love the photo montage on the cover, including one of One World Trade Center, and one inside of Louisville's own Jennifer Lawrence! It's full of all sorts of tidbits of information! Look for it wherever you find books!

As we usually do, LouFamFun will be giving away some books to lucky readers down the road! Keep checking back for more info! In the meantime, curl up with a good book!

By guest contributor: Erin

Sunday, December 22, 2013

WINNER! Fresh Beat Band Live at the Louisville Palace tickets

 photo 011514-Fresh-850px100_zps2d16eb4d.jpeg

Who wants to take the kids to jam with the Fresh Beat Band?  
We had a contest last week for a family 4 pack of tickets 

The show is January 15th at the Louisville Palace.

About the show: The Fresh Beat Band is a live-action preschool musical sitcom, airing on Nick Jr., set to original pop songs with preschool-friendly lyrics. Marina, Kiki, Twist, and Shout are the Fresh Beats--four best friends in a band who go to music school together and love to sing and dance. 

For the Fresh Beats, just about any situation can lead to a full-blown song-and-dance performance. From the moment they wake up, everything that the Fresh Beats do is infused with musical fun. All songs embody an upbeat, contemporary format with preschool-friendly lyrics that the whole family will enjoy.

The winner is: Kristen Vest
To claim: please email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net from the email address with which you entered the contest!

LouFamFun's Budget-friendly things to do with families during winter break

The LouFamFun writers got together to think outside of the box and come up with some budget-friendly ideas to share with our readers. Don't sit around on your winter break! Try out these super-fun activities!

Brandy: Have a "fancy" tea party. Serve finger foods and flavored decaf tea. Gather the whole family to work on a large puzzle. Family game night/day. A younger child can "pair up" with mom, dad or a sibling if he/she is not able to read or play on their own. Look through old photo albums or create a new album or scrapbook together.

Caryn: We once stayed at a nearby hotel with a pool so we could swim in the winter. Indoor tent camping complete with sleeping bags, microwave s'mores, board games, and NO computers/smart phones/tv! Make cards and then hand them out at a nursing home.

 photo lff_zps7932f281.jpgErin: Put up a tent in the living room and fill it with blankets, pillows, flashlights, books, coloring books, drawing paper, pens/markers, and our favorite stuffed animals. Spend a whole afternoon unplugged. Make a fun lunch together like roasting hotdogs or a hobo lunch using an indoors campfire over a safe fire in your fireplace or over a few candles. Make this simple and yummy foil potato snack in your oven. Eat in the tent and tell stories! Make flannelboard stories with felt and an old wallpaper book. Tell magnetic stories on your refrigerator! We have also done a staycation across the river in Southern Indiana. Stayed at the Sheraton on the river and pretended like we were tourists!

Jackie: Stair sledding. Take a crib mattress or couch cushion and ride down the stairs.. LOL. ..but besides utter chaos, and awesome winter day at home during break a winter day for us would involve snow ice cream, hot chocolate, and movies with stove made pop corn.

Jeanette: Backwards day. Eat dinner first and breakfast last. Even eat under your kitchen table if you can.

Jennifer: A day at the beach(house): let kids "swim" in bathtub with suits on, seashell hunt around the house, sensory sandbox indoors, picnic indoors, let kids wear a summer outfit and sunglasses, Pandora Bob Marley station playing in the background...

Lauren: We love baking together on a rainy/snowy day! Have a picnic - get out a blanket and eat on the floor. Have food you would normally have on a picnic. Simple, but fun!

Maggie: Sledding! Provided the weather cooperates, sledding is a fun way to get out in the snow as a family. And my kids really love it because I make homemade hot cocoa when we're done!

Stephanie: Head to the Planetarium! The cost of a family of four to go to the Planetarium is about as much as you would spend on going to the movies...why not try something completely different and unique for a change! They have great shows and are a great option for families with older children. Check out our Louisville.am podcast!

Review of Trapeze Workshop with the Louisville Turners Circus

 photo photo1_zpsa0e3f835.jpgI found out about the drop-in trapeze workshop on their Facebook page. It said no trapeze experienced needed and was a nice workout prior to all the upcoming festival food - all that applied to me. Having my third baby 15 months ago and only picked up running again routinely about 7 months ago, I knew it was going to be challenging. However, I was hoping that the fun element would carry me through the workout.


 photo photo2_zps5de81e3d.jpgSo after a pep talk from my husband to calm my nerves, I drove off to my first circus class. I arrived several minutes early at  Louisville Turners on River Road near Zorn not knowing truly what to expect. Fortunately, I saw a mom and daughter walking to the building as I did not see any ‘Enter Here’ signs. The entrance is to the left of the parking lot towards the river, under the building. Once in the building the signs direct you up to the 3rd floor for Louisville Turners. I saw a handful of people taking classes and talking, but I was not for sure who worked here. So I sat down and watched the kids’ static trapeze class. Once the class ended, a few more people showed up and I asked one of them about the trapeze class, and they introduced me to the instructor, Clayton. He had traveled with a circus for 8 years before settling back down in his hometown, here, so he knew what he was doing!


 photo photo3_zpsb56121bb.jpgThere were 3 students (including me) in the workshop. I was the only ‘newbie’ to the circus. The other two had silks and other training, but have not venture into the trapeze area. We started the class with 9min of cardio from the Insanity program followed by stretching and ab workout. It was go your own pace during this time and do as much as you can. In theory, each time you return, you would get stronger from the previous class.


Now we moved on to the fun part, but most difficult part - trapeze work. Clayton demonstrated several more core workouts using the trapeze bar. Fortunately, he showed me modified versions since I was not even close to doing the full blown versions of what he was showing. The other students were beasts who were super encouraging. You could tell they had more abdominal and upper body strength. They had been taking classes with Louisville Turners for about 2 years. It was cool to see how the classes have given them overall fitness and strength. Near the end, Clayton showed us how to get up on the bar and a few tricks. This was a highlight of the class, but also still very challenging.


 photo photo5_zps38471055.jpg photo photo4_zps9e526e9e.jpgClayton was a great instructor. He made sure to assist you when needed to feel safe. The drop-in trapeze workshop is just a temporary offering - Monday/Thursdays through January 2. The kids class is at 5pm and the adults (13 and up) starts at 6pm. The cost is $15 for non-members - definitely worth the experience - how often do you get to take a class using a trapeze instructed by someone who toured with a circus!


The American Louisville Turners seemed like a tight knit community with lots of camaraderie - open to all levels. If you are looking for a fun way to feel like you are not working out - check them out! 

By guest contributor: Jeanette

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Things to do this weekend around Louisville - December 20,21,22

Seriously. Is your to-do list as long as mine?  I'm not complaining, I am happy to have things to do because I love being busy - I'll take busy over bored any day.

 photo IMG_1105smaller_zps53c6cf62.jpg 
However, some days I do think I should follow my LouFamFun dog's lead 
and veg out and just watch everyone else run around.

Do you have room for fun this weekend?  My family has no room for extra fun this weekend outside of our normal routine.  Two birthday parties to take my son to, my weekend date with the treadmill at the YMCA at Norton Commons so as to even out the chocolate I have eaten all week, church and tackling my to-do list.  I *might* be able to squeeze in some time to decorate a gingerbread house or two but I definitely plan on snuggling with the kids for a holiday flick on Saturday night.

Maybe you planned better than me and have time to go somewhere?  I returned to work full-time two months ago and being the first year of having restrictions on my schedule....let's just say, I'm getting it done but not gracefully (like I am typing this while eating an oh-so-gourmet PB&J sandwich for dinner, halfway folding laundry that has been fluffed twice in the dryer while helping my son with subtraction and trying to keep my daughter from dumping all of her beads on the floor as she makes a bracelet).  Getting it done.

Here are some ideas:
  • Take a drive to see the Toyland Christmas display, stop somewhere to get hot chocolate first.  Hmmm, that sounds tempting.
  • Pre-burn off your cookie eating pounds by taking at Hike at Bernheim.  They have a hot chocolate challenge on Saturday that you can do on your own or take the hike of the day with a guide.  Details here.  
  • The Louisville Skating Academy puts on two performances of The Nutcracker on Ice this Saturday.  Sounds mighty festive!  Details here.

That's the basic list of picks I could throw together, if I type more, the bath might overflow because I just turned it on for my daughter and .......................
OK, I got there in time.  Yeah, you have to turn the faucet off - you can't just walk away!

Embrace the busy! Laugh! Smile! Take a deep breath!
Enjoy every aspect of this season and have a fabuLOUs weekend!

Stephanie
(Sorry for all of the !!!!, I had caffeine after 5pm)

 photo IMG_1131smaller_zps5b47eb29.jpgPsssssssssssssst:
Friday is LouFamFun's official birthday

Go LouFamFun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekend Getaway to Santa Claus, IN - Review of Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort

LouFamFun's Santa Claus Indiana album on Photobucket

 photo 18_zps3ea9f77f.jpgWe recently had the privilege of a hosted stay in a cabin at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort, right next door to Holiday World. Usually, I think of this location for summers, but it was terrific for Christmas time! While you may not use the pool and water slides on site, they do include Breakfast with Santa and the Land of Lights around Rudolph Lake as part of your stay. Then there is the town of Santa Claus - it is very cute, inexpensive, and goes all out for Christmas.

LAKE RUDOLPH CAMPGROUND AND RV RESORT: We arrived at the camp ground on Friday night. If you don't mind driving in the dark, it's a great time to arrive. Not only do you see Lake Rudolph's lights from the road, but you also see a lit Christmas tree on the porch of every cabin. It's a beautiful sight! The cabin was cute, and everything looked new and well maintained. There was 1 bedroom downstairs and an upstairs loft that my kids loved! They felt like it was their own space, and it came with 5 mattresses to choose from. The cabin also has a full kitchen, bathroom, and all-purpose room too. The website tells you what the cabin has, and what you need to bring, but I was still pleasantly surprised. Little things like cable on the flat screen TVs, bedside tables, reading lights by the bed, and plentiful outlets made it easy to relax and enjoy the weekend. It was well stocked with everything it promised to provide. There was also a well organized binder that described everything from area attractions to how to work the free WiFi.

Here's the events and attractions we went to over the weekend. We were not able to do everything, but here's our tips on what we did see.

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA AT LAKE RUDOLPH: (Free with your stay at Lake Rudolph, crafts extra). They hosted Santa in the garage this year with heaters (last year was in a cold tent). "Breakfast" is pushing it - it's more like an early morning snack, but they tell you that up front, we weren't surprised. Santa was MARVELOUS! The atmosphere was very relaxed, and there was plenty of time for everyone to chat with Santa. They also had a table of several inexpensive crafts set up that my kids loved making. We had plenty of room and supplies to do our crafts.

OPEN HOUSE AT TOWN HALL: (Free event). Might not be worth stopping by - just refreshments and a raffle, but good photo op outside.

SANTAS LODGE: (Free unless you buy food or items).
Very cute hotel with incredible decorations, a good restaurant in the bottom level, and a kid's craft room with a few light crafts set out. There was a Craft Show the weekend we were there. It wasn't big, but it looked like all local artists and had great prices.
(FYI - there are several craft shows in town the weekend we were there)

ST NIKOLAUSFEST: (Free unless you buy something). Cute little German festival in a church with delicious food (slightly high prices, but I felt worth it for the delicious German foods). Lots of baked goods for sale and free kids crafts.

KRINGLE PLACE SHOPPING CENTER: (Free unless you buy something). Main road in town with stores including SANTA CLAUS CHRISTMAS STORE, SANTAS ORNAMENT SHOP, and HOLLY TREE CHRISTMAS STORE. Cute, but crowded stores. Prices seemed on the mid to high side. Santa and Rudolph visit during select times for photos.

SANTA CLAUS CHRISTMAS PARADE: (Free event). Typical small town parade, very cute and friendly. My kids got TONS of candy - don't forget a bag to hold it all!

SANTA CLAUS MUSEUM AND VILLAGE: (Free event, but they welcome donations for postage costs).
Definitely worth stopping by for a photo op with the giant Santa statue and writing a letter to Santa. They have a team of volunteers who answer every letter written to Santa, and pay for letters to be sent all over the world. My kids loved this, and they'll love it even more when they get a letter from Santa this December!

SANTA'S CANDY CASTLE: (Free unless you buy something). Cute candy shop just outside of town. I can't stress how friendly the staff is here. You can chat with an elf on the North Pole Network for under $10 (there are several computers in one of the rooms, but at times they were all taken). The questions are all about good health and behavior habits. Kids are presented with a nice certificate inside a thick sleeve after agreeing to work on any need areas. A wood carving with chain saw demonstration was advertised, but was cancelled due to rain. In the evening, you can go to the outdoor chestnut roasting. It is a cute area with an open fire. I'd definitely add these to your list.

SANTA CLAUS FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AT CHRISTMAS LAKE VILLAGE: (Free with donation welcome)
This is a residential neighborhood right nearby. Many of the home owners go all out in decorating their houses. They are well organized, from donations taken by Santa at the entrance, to arrow signs and people with flashlights that lead you all over the neighborhood. This took a LOT longer than I expected with lots of slow traffic. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and an empty bladder! There is a place to stop for refreshments and restrooms mid-way through, but my kids were ready to leave long before we reached it. Best to go right at dark or late to avoid heavy traffic.

SANTA CLAUS LAND OF LIGHTS AT LAKE RUDOLPH: (Free with your stay at Lake Rudolph). Well worth it! This was my kids' favorite part of the weekend. It's a 1.2 mile drive of Christmas lights that tell Rudolph's story. It gets really full right at 5pm when it opens, and everyone that goes through gets a coupon for a free photo with Rudolph at a nearby store. Rudolph's line forms quickly. You may want to go to the Land of Lights early and wait in line for it to open, or go late and hope the line for Rudolph has gone down. I felt the Rudolph photo was worth the wait.

This was a TERRIFIC weekend. It is the perfect getaway for families of any age group. The cabin was wonderful, relaxing, there were so many things to do, and everything was close by. And the town is so friendly! I can't wait to come back - I may try a weekend around Halloween or in the summer next time!

By guest contributor: Caryn

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do It Yourself (DIY) Art options around Louisville, KY

 photo art_zpsxyh0wndk.png

1. Libraries in and around Kentuckiana
Louisville Free Public Library - I am most familiar with LFPL and their 18 library locations all over the city of Louisville. There are completely free (isn't that the best part about public libraries!) DIY projects, 4-H groups, art classes, tween and teen programs, knitting for kids, evening family/craft storytimes, photography sessions, etc. You name it, there is a kid-infused, family-friendly do it yourself opportunity every week, and that's why it is #1 for my family! Check out your local library, here are the links to the surrounding counties:

Oldham County Public Library / Shelby County Public Library / Bullitt County Public Library / Spencer County Public Library / Charleston/Clark County Public Library / Jeffersonville Township Public Library

2. J.B. Speed Art Museum is free on Sundays!
Free. Free. Free. Cool art projects and learning. Check it out

3. Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA)
Their website has so many different, unique offerings of programs and camps.

4. Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC)
They are constantly offering educational programs plus, you can drop in for free and they have a creating space in the back.

 photo SmArt2_zps1effea23.jpg5. Whet Your Palette has drop in art in a very creative space. And, it's not just painting canvases - they sometimes offer different things to paint.  And, it's super affordable so check out their specials.

6. Side by Side Studio is always up to something.  Definitely follow them on Facebook to find out about the variety of events they have from screen printing shirts to bracelet-making to hand warmer crafts........ totally unique.

7. Oldham County Arts Center has classes for elementary school age kids and up along with some workshops (like for ceramics or their maker-Mondays) that you can do once or multiple times. The ceramics workshops are super fun for seasonal holiday projects and no mess at home.

8. Love City in Portland has art club weekly from 4:30-6 pm on Thursdays. Get creative and make new friends!

9. The Carnegie Centers in New Albany has a family fun schedule and it features different thematic art projects for each event. These events are free and require pre-registration. Generally recommended for kids ages 2-12, parents stay.

Have additions?  Email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net

Monday, December 16, 2013

CONTEST! 4 Tickets to see the FRESH BEAT BAND!

 photo 011514-Fresh-850px100_zps2d16eb4d.jpeg

Who wants to take the kids to jam with the Fresh Beat Band?  
We have a family 4 pack of tickets to giveaway for their 
January 15th show at the Louisville Palace.

About the show: The Fresh Beat Band is a live-action preschool musical sitcom, airing on Nick Jr., set to original pop songs with preschool-friendly lyrics. Marina, Kiki, Twist, and Shout are the Fresh Beats--four best friends in a band who go to music school together and love to sing and dance. 

For the Fresh Beats, just about any situation can lead to a full-blown song-and-dance performance. From the moment they wake up, everything that the Fresh Beats do is infused with musical fun. All songs embody an upbeat, contemporary format with preschool-friendly lyrics that the whole family will enjoy.

Winner will have their name placed at will call for 4 tickets.


Good luck!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

WINNER! Salsarita's Gift Card

 photo holidaygiftpromo_zps4d86e3f4.jpgSalsarita's wants to take some of the stress our of your life by awarding one lucky winner with a $50 gift card to use at the two Salsarita's locations (Middletown and St. Matthews). The contest ran last week and the winner is....... DENA SMITH

To claim the prize, please email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net from the email address with which you entered the contest.

Salsarita's is locally owned and operated and committed to their community.

For the holiday season, they have a special gift card offer. Buy at least $25 in Gift Cards and receive a card for a free 2 taco combo!



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hey Families! Things to do this weekend around Louisville with kids - December 13,14,15

 photo IMG_1093_zps36516e5d.jpgI think my main focus for the weekend will be shopping.  I have a few items to round out my shopping for the holiday season and I want to be able to say I am finished come Sunday night!  Also, I don't know how recently I have posted a picture of myself, but I am really long hair now and I am chopping it off to donate - this FRIDAY night with the co-founder of this website and my good friend, Jeanette.  I'll be sure to post a photo.

Speaking of shopping: Do you get Earth Fare coupons via email?  I do and they are really great coupons - sometime free stuff! They told me they will send out 5 coupons via email beginning this Saturday, Dec. 14th. Each coupon will only be good for a few days and they are “while supplies last.” Sign up for their email coupons by clicking here. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Start your weekend off with a listen to our Louisville.am podcast, most downloaded podcast of the bunch.  I chat with Dr. Korie Acord of Derby City Pediatric Dentistry - a LouFamFun Sponsor and my children's dentist.  Entertaining podcast about teeth?  I think so.


Don't forget, the LouFamFun Holiday list is still full of great ideas!

Here are my picks:

 photo revolutionchurch_zps5b68cadb.pngFriday:
It's the Revolution Church Holiday Art + Craft Fair from 6:30-9pm.  More details here.

Also, Locust Grove has their Christmastide event. It is both Friday and Saturday nights.  There's music, storytelling and refreshments in the beautiful, historic setting of this wonderful Louisville treasure. The fee is adults $6, children $3 ($18 family max)

Saturday:
Old Tyme Christmas on the Avenue - Frankfort Ave.  It's exactly what it sounds like, they try to take you back in time.  Events essentially take place all day from a breakfast, to a dog costume contest to visits to Santa and horse drawn carriage rides for 50 cents!

From 10am-noon, The Carnegie Center in New Albany has a family fun workshop - Snowy Owls (bring a pine cone)! It is free but pre-registration is required - call (812) 944-7336 to register It is a drop-in workshop but arrive no later than 11:30am. Registration is limited, suggested ages are 2-12.

Sunday:
How much fun does this sound? From the Tom Sawyer Park website "In 2013, there were a lot of very good boys and girls and the elves had trouble stuffing all of those gifts into Santa’s sleigh! Some of the gifts have fallen out and landed right here in our park! Use your GPS device to locate each “gift”. Once you have found all of the “gifts”, return to the registration table to claim a gift of your own! Register from 12pm-3pm at Activities Building Cost: $5.00 per participant

Have a fabuLOUs weekend!
Stephanie

Pssssst:  Thanks for reading!  Email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net to be entered to win some freebies from Heine Brothers, LouFamFun and McDonald's valued at over $40!  Just put "DECEMBER 13" in the subject and send it before 9pm on Friday 12/13.  Winner selected at random, notified via email. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review of Shack in the Back BBQ in Louisville, KY

 photo IMG_20131109_171113_zpsf7d11c38.jpgI don’t know about you, but every now and then I get a craving for Bar-B-Que. Not just plain ol’ Bar-B- Que- but the good stuff. When I was asked by LFF to check out a new local Bar-B-Que joint, I was super psyched. So, one bright fall evening, my family of four hopped into the car, and off we went to Shack in the Back BBQ in Fairdale (406 Mt Holly Rd). Whooo Boy, let me tell you, we were excited. (Hubby likes good food almost as much as he loves us!)

We decided on a Saturday night, a bit earlier than the dinner rush, so we could take our time. When we pulled in, we smiled—it really is a shack (or at least a small building). How cool was that? We were one of the few cars in the lot (it was early…remember?) and our family sauntered inside. Once we walked in, we were welcomed right away. It made me remember my growing up years and spending holiday times with my aunt and uncle in the country. We stepped right up to the counter and placed our order. The cashier was super sweet and patient with our chatty boys. While we looked over the menu, more people arrived. Some were loyal fans, and others were like us who were there for the first time. We ordered our food and had a seat.

The restaurant is set up like 2 buildings. The main shack where the kitchen and cashier counter is, with a few cozy tables. Just outside is another “shack” with plenty of picnic tables and also bar style tables. It made me think of hanging out with my family and friends at a great picnic. If you’re worried about temps, there was a heater in there too!

 photo IMG_20131109_171146_zps023a115a.jpgWe grabbed our table, and a highchair (there was only one of those that we could see) and we waited for our food. My husband ordered a pork chop sandwich, skillet fried corn, and French fries. I ordered a quarter rack of ribs, baked beans, and potato salad. The kids were super happy with their hot dogs and fries, although when we ordered, the waitress also told us that we could get mini versions of the pork, chicken, and brisket sandwiches if they wanted them. 

We chowed down, and let me tell you that was some GREAT food. The ribs fell off the bone (no, really they did) and my husband actually couldn’t finish his sandwich it was so huge! The sides were yummy, and made me think of my grandma’s country cooking.  As we ate, a family behind us was having a great time, and ordered dessert. They were HUGE! We, on the other hand had no room left for any food. We were stuffed!   

Our entire family of four ate for about $25. That is about as much as we spend at a fast food place, and about $10 or $15 cheaper than a place with food of equal quality and yumminess. Yet another point worth mentioning is that my kids were very comfortable there, and even though they were silly, I would be shocked to get the “look of shame” that comes from kids being a bit loud in a restaurant. You know the one I mean… like “Can’t you control your kid?” You should also know that by the time we left, the parking lot was packed!

Now remember my husband and I said that we like BBQ. In fact, we passed up 2 of our favorite BBQ restaurants on the way. So, now we have a new favorite. In fact, we made plans to eat there again next week. Get your Kids Eat Free VIP card and take advantage of the kids eat free deal for Shack in the Back! We are sold, and you should check it out! 

By guest contributor: Jackie

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review of That Art Place and SmART art classes in Louisville, KY

 photo SmART_zps86b2ee11.jpg photo SmArt5_zps2929f7e4.jpgWe arrived at the Mellwood Art Center for our 9:30am SmART (Saturday Morning Art) class. We left time to find That Art Place shop in the midst of the many businesses in the Mellwood Center. My kids put on one of the big shirts provided to protect their clothes and sat at a table. Mrs. Melissa Wood started the class by talking about the difference between crayons and pastels, and continued to instruct the class in different art techniques and information as the kids created their craft. The kids were taught how to draw a pumpkin from the inside out, how to use your hand to create a leaf shape, learned about primary versus secondary colors, and much more. Melissa did a great job engaging the kids, asking questions, and teaching about art. The kids used pastels, paint, scissors, and glue to create a cute pumpkin scene this particular Saturday. The kids had a great time learning about art while creating something they could be proud of and take home. There was another mom besides me who stayed with her kids, but you are welcome to leave your kids and come back at the end of the art class. 

 photo SmArt2_zps1effea23.jpg photo SmArt1_zps4ccc369a.jpgI love that SmART is more than just a babysitting service, it's an opportunity for kids to learn as well. Melissa seems very caring, and you can tell she has a degree in teaching and art. She was very good with my inquisitive 7 year old, my inexperienced 4 year old, and balancing a small class with other distractions going on. It's easy to look at the calendar on the website, check the age groups, and theme, and reserve your spot. You don't need to pay until you arrive at the art class. There are some great half price deals on the website - be sure to check it out!

 photo SmArt4_zps071d97d3.jpg photo SmArt3_zpscf0b4e58.jpgThere are several different instructors that work out of That Art Place space, so feel free to check out the calendar and other types of art classes going on for adults and kids. We were able to observe a birthday party while at That Art Place on the other end of the room. While there are a lot of smaller parties, this party had about 30 kids. There was plenty of room, and the instructor, Tracy, did a great job of instructing and working with the large group. It looked very organized and the kids looked like they were having a great time. That Art Place looks like a great place to host indoor, unique, fun parties and play groups!

By guest contributor: Caryn

Monday, December 9, 2013

CONTEST! $50 Gift Card to Salsarita's

 photo photo98_zps9102ac8d.jpgIt's a busy time of year and LouFamFun and Salsarita's want to take some of the stress our of your life by awarding one lucky winner with a $50 gift card to use at the two Salsarita's locations (Middletown and St. Matthews).  Salsarita's is locally owned and operated and committed to their community.

Families are rushing around at this time of the year and they want you to know that they are there for a tasty, affordable and fresh meal option for their family. Not only are their restaurants inviting but they have take home options so there is something for every family's needs.

 photo holidaygiftpromo_zps4d86e3f4.jpgFor the holiday season, they have a special gift card offer. Buy at least $25 in Gift Cards and receive a card for a free 2 taco combo!

This is a great gift for anyone that works or lives around these Salsarita's locations or anyone that's a big fan of queso!  Who isn't a fan of queso?!?



Better than that, Salsarita's is giving one lucky reader a $50 gift card. That's a LOT of free food for your family (and nights off from cooking!!).

Good luck!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Top 10 Places to Volunteer together as a family in Louisville, KY

10. Conduct a food drive for Dare to Care Food Bank, Kentucky Harvest, or Life Bridge at Southeast Christian Church.

9.  Conduct a coat drive for a Louisville-based shelter: drop them off at Wayside Christian Mission, The Healing Place, or The Salvation Army.

8. Serve at a Neighborhood House Kids' Cafe meal or at The Lord's Kitchen. They are always looking for people and families to help out.

 photo toys_zpsd3148a07.jpg7. Support The Salvation Army Angel Tree and give a child gifts of the season that brighten beyond belief. You can also support many other toy drives such as Home of the Innocents. My daughter and I did this as part of our 24 days of giving for our Advent calendar and it was so wonderful.

6. Support the work being done through the organization No Kill Louisville. They have wish lists listed on their website; as a family you could help them out by making a family trip to the store and purchasing some items that they need, then deliver them together to the site.

5. Collect teddy bears and other stuffed animals, new or very gently used, and donate them to the Bears on Patrol project.

4. Help others by buying foods or prepare and make food baskets together for several ministries in our community. Open Hand Kitchen (through St. Vincent de Paul) and Southeast Christian Church are two local charities that I know of who are giving food baskets to people in need.

3. Volunteer with ministries such as Jeffersontown Area Ministries, Fern Creek/Highview Area Ministries, or United Crescent Hill Ministries. Many of them partner with their local communities to offer weekly hot meals to anyone who needs one. Two that I am familiar with are at Beulah Presbyterian Church and Jeffersontown United Methodist Church.

2. Help prepare a meal for Ronald McDonald House. Doing this activity together as a family is on our family bucket list for sure. I have had this idea in my head for a long time and we will be doing it very soon!

 photo IMG_4332_zps64277061.jpg photo IMG_4331_zpsbf948952.jpg1. Burrito Riders of Louisville - Make a batch of burritos together as a family service project. My family and I just recently did this together and I highly encourage you to do the same! You will benefit greatly from it! Families can sign up to make burritos for the riders, and even go on rides with them on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Check out their Facebook page and read more about it here!

By guest contributor: Erin

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Things to do this weekend around Louisville - December 6,7,8

Who has fired up the stove to make some hot chocolate?  Temps in the 20s make me want an iv of warm chocolate goodness!

Please help us support these two charitable organizations!
THIS WEEKEND
It'll be WARM and COZY in the YMCA SI!
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Click the image for details
So much fun!  Join us so I can load you up with gifts - it's not just swimming, there's fun for everyone!
YMCA SI is conveniently located in New Albany right off of 64

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Need some ideas for indoor things to do with the kids?  Tune into our LouFamFun podcast on Louisville.am! It's the top podcast on Louisville.am!



Picks for the weekend - There's no boredom when there's LouFamFun - be sure to check out Holiday Post too!

Friday:  
Highview Holiday Fest or Light Up Norton Commons are sure to please if the weather cooperates.  Both are on Friday night and offer all of the quintessential good things for the season like sighting Santa, horse drawn carriage rides and more. However, according to WHAS11 Weather, Friday evening is going to be miserable so I see snuggling on the couch watching a movie in your near future!

Saturday:
LOUFAMFUN BLOG PARTY LOUFAMFUN BLOG PARTY
LOUFAMFUN BLOG PARTY LOUFAMFUN BLOG PARTY

Earlier in the day, we recommend Nature of Christmas in Goshen at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve (12-3pm, free. UPDATE- THIS EVENT HAS BEEN MOVED TO 12/14) or the Holiday Party at the Rauch Planetarium (1-4pm, $5/person).

Check out our calendar above as well, this Saturday is incredibly packed with events.

Sunday:  
It's a "Holiday Shopportunity" at Tom Sawyer Park.  (also on Saturday)  It's for children ages 6-12: holiday activities; including a Winter hike, ornament making, decorating the park's holiday tree, and more all while enjoying a nice glass of hot cocoa!  12:30pm-3:30pm at the Activities Building, $8/child ; $10 at the door (space permitting) Call 502-429-7270 to register. Space is limited!
Drop the kids off at this event and head to the Parent-Teacher Store & Toys Too, it's right around the corner!

Have a fabuLOUs weekend!

Stephanie

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review of Nord's Bakery in Louisville

Along Preston Rd. just before you hit Eastern Parkway, there's a little inks bakery on the corner that can't keep the door shut. As I drove by Nord's Bakery (2118 S Preston St Louisville, KY 40217) and pulled over to park, I was amazed at how many people were coming and going with their boxes and bags of goodies.

On Fridays when school is not in session, the kids join me early at the Lite 106.9 studio downtown for my radio segment. If they behave, we head out for a park or treat after I'm finished - a new park, special activity or something yummy.  So on one summer Friday, I decided that doughnuts were going to be the reward of choice!

Nord's Bakery is small but perfectly sweet. The staff bustles behind the case filling orders as an informal line forms.  The kind of hole-in-the-wall place where a line isn't really necessary - you just get yourself up to the counter and order! They do have pies and cookies but most people were focused on the doughnuts.  Everything is moderately priced - we bought 3 doughnuts and a large juice for less than $5.  My daughter chose a chocolate iced doughnut with sprinkles, I chose a cream filled one with chocolate icing and my son chose the bacon maple doughnut.  We sat in the small, cutely decorated space in the back and chatted as we gobbled our doughnuts and shared the big bottled juice.  It was all delicious!

We will definitely go back.  I think I prefer Plehn's in St. Matthews because it's a bit closer to me and there's such a huge variety all of the time but Nord's is definitely a little gem to check out!

Stephanie

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hadley Pottery in Louisville to Host Annual Holiday Open House

This is a sponsored post.

DOORS OPEN AT 9AM on SATURDAY, December 7th: First 50 Customers Receive a FREE 2013 Ornament 
(With A $25 Purchase)

 photo Hadleyimage_zpsae3b5e27.jpg

Everyone is invited to the Annual Holiday Open House at Hadley Pottery this Saturday, December 7th. There are countless gifts for everyone on your list, from baby and kids, to mom, dad and pets, too.

Visit the Hadley Pottery Factory Outlet and shop the Hadley collections of hand-made pottery during this festive time of year. The event will feature home-made goodies, hourly giveaways and great discounts. See all the new pieces and new designs from traditional to contemporary. You will find Pie Plates, a Children’s Collection of Woodland Creatures tableware and Personalized Plates; Specialty Pitchers; Holiday Keepsakes and more.

This Saturday, December 7, 2013, from 9am to 3pm.

Hadley Pottery Louisville Factory Outlet, 1570 Story Avenue, Louisville, KY.
For directions, please visit www.hadleypottery.com.
For more information, call 502.584.2171 or 866.584.2171.

Inspired by the designs of renowned artist Mary Alice Hadley, Hadley Pottery is an American classic, cherished by everyday users, enthusiasts, and collectors across the United Sates and around the world. Hadley stoneware is extremely durable, and is often used as everyday china. An artist trained by a protégé of Mary Alice Hadley signs each handcrafted piece. The hand painted signature is the mark of genuine Hadley stoneware. Since Hadley Pottery’s beginning in 1940, its founder’s unique vision and style have been widely imitated. But the original spirit and creative energy of Mary Alice Hadley is still alive in the historic pottery on Story Avenue in Louisville. 

Birthday ideas on a budget: great how-to tips

My daughter recently had her 8th birthday, and although she's a social butterfly, we struggled with what to do for her big day. I didn’t have the time, nor the energy, to plan an extravaganza. And, honestly, I didn’t really have the budget for it either. So what’s a mom to do? Birthday on a Budget, it is!

We decided on a camping themed slumber party. Since I am not a camper, I have no camping supplies. In fact, my idea of camping is the Hilton closest to the woods. I love to sleep with the windows open, and in theory, sleeping out under the stars is great! But I can’t do it. So I hit Pinterest. I searched for “slumber party”. I found a mom who had transformed her back porch into a “tent”. It was gorgeous. She had yards upon yards of tulle strung up with flowers made of out of tulle and all sorts of lanterns. 

 photo IMG_20130907_221412_zps7bfe50ed.jpgThe bad news was, as someone who sews, I know tulle is not only a complete pain to work with, but it’s also expensive.  The good news was I already have a screened in back porch. A pretty decent sized one at that. So, the girls would be safe and bug free. II substituted old sheets for the tulle. I cut them into quarter panels and draped them down the columns and up through the middle to meet at a point by the ceiling fan. I took strands of Christmas lights and ran them down the middle of each section. The girls loved it! In addition to that, my daughter’s Poppy bought some of those huge balloons with the rubber bands on them, I think they’re called Punch Balloons. We blew those up and had them all over the porch too. They were a huge hit and you get 3 for $1 at the Dollar Store!

We had 12 girls total including my daughter. We took one of those big bouncy balls you can get at any store (Target, Kroger, Meijer) for $2.50 and wrote on it. Favorite Food? Band? Singer? Color? Dogs or Cats?, Cake or Cookies? Crush? Future Career? You get the point. When the ball was thrown to one of the girls she had to answer whatever question her right thumb landed on. It was a huge success! The only downside was they all wanted to answer right away. So, there was a lot of “pick me” going on. We even had a dare section so whomever threw the ball got to tell the person who caught the ball what their dare was. One of the girls ended up running down our street yelling, “I love Justin Bieber”. The rest of them thought this was hilarious so they all joined in too. Good thing I warned my neighbors…

Next, it was time to feed them. We didn’t start the party until 7 so most of them came fed, but as one of my friends warned me, they eat nonstop. I made a popcorn bar which went over very well. I popped real popcorn ($1.50/bag) and colored some of it blue and left some normal. I took bowls and filled them with various additives: chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces, Sno Caps, Twizzler bites, Goobers, and honey roasted peanuts. The girls got to make their own popcorn trail mix. Most of the candies were available at Kroger for $1 a box. So, I spent maybe $10 on the popcorn bar in total. They were all very impressed with the blue popcorn.

After the sun went down I brought them inside to watch Teen Beach Movie. On the invites, I had requested each girl bring a bottle of her favorite color nail polish. I dug a spinner out of one of my daughter’s  games and had them all sit in a circle where we played “Spin the Bottle”. But not the kind we know! They all took turns spinning and whomever the pointer landed on, she got one of her nails painted with the favorite color polish of the girl who won. Each girl let with 10 different colored fingers and toes! They all thought this was fun, but it got out of hand very quickly. It definitely required the most supervision. Not to mention, there were incessant dancing/singing breaks for Teen Beach Movie.

After we watched Teen Beach Movie AND Pitch Perfect we went outside to settle down. While I’m blowing up my air mattress, I sat the girls in a circle and we told scary stories. I started the story and when I stopped, the girl next to me picked up and so on. They enjoyed doing this. My only regret is that I didn’t record it somehow so I could type it up for them. After the first story I had them all get in their sleeping bags for the next one. They started dropping off and a few of them, I had to just cut off and tell them it was time to go to sleep once we got the story over with.

 photo photo3_zpsa873d4a4.jpgI’m sure you’re wondering at this point, where in the hairy heck is the birthday cake? GREAT question. My daughter doesn’t like cake. Hmmm…what does she like? Donuts. She loves donuts. Preferably glazed. So, I called up Jeff of Jeff’s Bakery in Jeffersonville. Man, that’s a lot of Jeff going on there… and found out that he does a Texas glazed donut for $8. This thing is a behemoth. It was at least a foot in circumference. He slathered it with chocolate frosting and wrote Happy Birthday, Katie Grace on the top of it and it was only $8. And delicious. The girls thought it was cool to see this huge donut.  I also had him whip me up some donut holes, which I put on skewers and mixed with fresh fruit. So we had a glazed donut and breakfast kabobs along with sausage bars. Sausage bars aren’t actually bars of sausage, they’re crescent roll dough, sausage, cream cheese, cheddar cheeses, and more crescent roll dough. They are scrumdeliumptious!

 photo photo2_zpse77a4d9c.jpgThe best part of breakfast however, and here’s where I totally cheated, was the pastry plate catered by Adrienne’s. I am SO glad I cheated, because come Sunday morning, I was one worn out mom. If you didn’t know, or haven’t heard of, Adrienne’s & Co. in Jeffersonville, you are absolutely missing out. They are well known for the masterpieces Adrienne creates cake-wise, but most people don’t realize they not only serve a full breakfast and lunch, they also cater. The muffins were bigger than my fist. The cinnamon rolls were huge and delicious. The scones didn’t go over so well with the kids (because they were all fighting over cinnamon rolls) but my grandmother loved them. I cannot thank Adrienne’s enough for making my life simple and edible.

After breakfast was over the girls parents started picking them. We had a lot of fun, but I was exhausted, KG was exhausted, and all the girls from school had volleyball games that afternoon. It was definitely time for a nap! However, we can’t forget the parting gift, now can we? We took brown paper bags (left over from the popcorn bar) and put in a pack of crayons and individual packs of marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. On the outside my daughter wrote: “Thank you for spending my birthday with me. I had a colorful time! Can’t wait to hang out s’more.  Love, Katie Grace”.

All in all, I’d say the Birthday on a Budget was a huge success. My bank account is thanking me. When all was said and done, I spent less than $75. I also created a Pinterest board where you can see all the ideas that arose, but weren’t implemented. Need some ideas for a birthday party? Check out our list of the best options around Louisville here!

By guest contributor: Heather

Monday, December 2, 2013

LouFamFun $10 Challenge - November/Holiday Season

 photo IMG_4314_zpsecd5d2b1.jpg photo IMG_4313_zps7c83cbde.jpgDecember is known as "The Giving Month." I hope what my children and I did with our $10 is a great holiday season idea for your family!

 photo IMG_4315_zpsa3b65532.jpgTo put it simply: we took our $10 and bought a couple of toys for a child in need. There are so many ways your family can contribute to these types of toy drives. I see them posted all over the place on Facebook. Of course there is the Angel Tree that is done through The Salvation Army. You can find more information about Angel Tree here. Mama to Mama (run through Mama's Hip) is always looking for donations of gently used maternity clothes and diapers and other items for infants). There is also Toys for Tots as well as collections done through community area ministries, such as Jeffersontown Area Ministries.

 photo IMG_4312_zps09b01e3d.jpgMy children and I took the $10 and bought these toys and gave them to the toy drive run through the Home of the Innocents. I looked up on their Facebook page and found that they were conducting various toy drives throughout each weekend in December and they happened to have one near us this past Sunday, so we took the toys to that drop-off location which made it super easy on us as well. My 2-year-old really has no idea, but for my 10-year-old, it was a nice reminder of how much we already have and how easy it is for our loved ones to give us gifts, and what it means when we in turn give gifts to others. She reflected back over the day and really thought about all that she has and that many children throughout the world have virtually nothing. I think it was beneficial for her to see that this small token of love will help a child here in Louisville, and I love pairing things we do with a local twist. We're also changing up the way we do our 24 day Advent calendar and are going to put a little tip in each box that will remind us to do something for someone else every day leading up to Christmas Day this season. We had $2.84 left over from our toy purchase so we will use that toward one of our RAK ideas, leaving some spare change on a vending machine as a surprise. We have 24 days of Random Acts of Kindness lined up!

 photo toydrive_zpse11f9f23.jpg photo IMG_4311_zps2cb09fe3.jpgDuring our Thanksgiving family gathering, my children and their cousins decided that in lieu of receiving gifts this year from their great-aunts and other cousins, we would all get together and buy gifts to give to needy children. We will be making a day to get together and go shopping for those children some time in December. I think it's going to be a great opportunity to reduce our receiving and focus more on giving this holiday season!

By guest contributor: Erin