Thursday, May 22, 2014

Movie review: "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return"

Even though I've never been a huge fan of the "Wizard of Oz", I do know the story and I'm quite familiar with its characters. I will say that this movie didn't make me very curious but when Olivia was invited to the theater to celebrate her friend Alba's birthday, we couldn't pass it up.
I will start by saying that the spin the movie gives the famous Oz characters (Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man) is just great; for some reason they are funkier, prettier and more colorful...there are also other cute characters such as the China Princess, Marshall Mallow and a few others that make the movie a success.
The movie revolves around Dorothy's return to Oz, where she is called to save the land she once defended from the evil domination of the Jester, who happens to be the forgotten brother of the Wicked Witch.
Dorothy embarks on a journey to get to Emerald City, where all of her friends are suffering at the hands of the evil Jester, who commands an army of flying monkeys.  She meets some great people along the way and even sings a few songs in the process (thank you Leah Michelle for lending your wonderful voice to this!).  In the end (and after quite a few obstacles) she faces the Jester who is killed by his power obsession.  Oz is once again saved by Dorothy and all the characters learn valuable lessons on life and friendship.
I thought the movie was carried out very well and the characters were very likable; the singing wasn't too annoying and the song lyrics were actually cute and contagious! I appreciate the fact that the story didn't deviate much from the original "Wizard of Oz", even though Dorothy wore cowboy boots instead of red sparkly flats! :)
Some of the scenes were a bit too intense for young children, especially the evil faces made by Jester and a few other fight sequences (the flying monkeys were also kind of creepy!).  There were some references that felt more like adult humor, but I guess every children's movie has some of that...
The length of the film was perfect and the storyline was engaging enough to keep the kids entertained for the whole duration of the movie.  All in all I give it 3.5 out 4 stars (I took some points off because of the intense scenes)... this one is worth a trip to the movie theater. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: "Around the Clubhouse World" DVD release (review)

NOTE: I will be giving away this (previously viewed) DVD (minus the passport) to the first commenter on this post. Just leave your email address in the comment section!
When I was approached to participate in this DVD promotion I was bit hesitant since my kids are already old(er) and I thought that maybe they wouldn't bee that "into" Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, after all, the target audience for that show is assumed to be kids under 4, right?
Well, I received the DVD in the mail today and since we're fresh off a Europe trip I saw it fit to show them the DVD, which features 4 episodes including (of course) the one where Mickey and friends visit four iconic places (Paris, Venice, Egypt and China) in attempts to collect stamps for their special passport. The episode is fun, colorful and very entertaining and surprisingly the kids really enjoyed it; it's very engaging even for older kids since it features geographical icons that are appealing to everyone.  The girls really got a kick out of seeing the Eiffel Tower in the "Clubhouse World" and enjoyed hearing the French words that were thrown around.  It was definitely cute and funny!

I particularly liked the fact that the DVD comes with an official "Clubhouse Passport" with a bunch of stickers; the passport can be personalized since it has room for the child's picture and biographical information and a few other cute's such a creative way to develop an episode.  I will also point out that the official passport is printed on high quality card stock and it is very colorful...the kids really loved it!

So..for those of you out there with young children who like Mickey Mouse, this DVD is definitely worth being part of the home movie collection; definitely one of my favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes!  I'm glad to be part of this great promotion! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

End of school year madness!

I feel like my blog has been "dormant" for a while, even though it has only been 10 days since my last post!
It's not easy to keep a blog! It requires commitment and especially A LOT of time, which I'm lacking lately...but I will do it because I truly love it and I feel like it will be a legacy for the kids! :)
Things have been CRAZY lately...ever since we came back from the trip I feel like I'm always busy...I stress over everything and I have a lot frustrations when I feel like I'm losing control over any situation..
There are only 13 days left of this school year and I still can't believe my girls are going to Kindergarten and 2nd grade next year.. (or in a few months, I should say!).. it feels like yesterday I was in the hospital delivering them and now we're talking about reading, math, science and some other crazy school subjects....
They have made friends, met wonderful teachers, developed specific likes and interests and sometimes I feel like I can't keep up with how fast they learn and do things....
Here I am standing at the end of yet another school year, running around in school affairs, collecting all art masterpieces and math worksheets...and yes, I'm trying to keep calm, I'm trying not to think and focus on what fun is coming in the summer... I know the kids need me and I need to clear my mind to cater to them...
I know I'm not the only mom that struggles to survive this end of year madness and I am glad I have so many friends that go through the same and come out stronger on the other side!
I feel like this blog post makes no sense at all, my mind is so scattered....
I will post a photo dump tomorrow and write about a few things I've been wanting to talk about!

Happy blogging! :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Last stop: Barcelona

With the end of the school year upon us, I've been incredibly busy and my last blog post about our Europe trip has fallen through the cracks!
But... better late than never, so here is my synopsis of the last stop during our Europe trip, one of my favorite cities in the world...beautiful Barcelona!

Barcelona is such a gorgeous city; surrounded by beaches and wonderful architecture, this is such a picturesque place with such an amazing vibe and hip life style.  Even though I have been to Barcelona before, this place never ceases to amaze me. The views are incredible and I found it to be the most "kid-friendly" place we visited this time around.

Of course our visit to Barcelona was made extra special since we got to stay with my dear cousin Renato and his fiancee Anastasia and I also got to see some of my friends who live in Barcelona. 
The kids really enjoyed their time in this Spanish city; they seemed to find a playground everywhere they looked so of course they thought this was the coolest place on earth. The food in Barcelona (and in all of Spain) is wonderful; you will find tastes you never thought existed and will most likely be delighted with everything you put in your mouth.. 

The weather around this time of the year is simply perfect too; not a cloud in the sky and the breeze is fresh all throughout the day; such a perfect season to travel!

Here are some of our pictures from Barcelona. 
Here I am at Parc Güell, one of the most famous spots in Barcelona; the views from this place are breathtaking!

This wasn't there the last time I visited! This sign is near the Barcelona Cathedral, an amazing gothic style building, which can be visited at any time.  If you happen to go during mass time, you can enter for free! ;) 

This is Sagrada Familia, one of Gaudi's *unfinished* famous masterpieces; it is quite the sight to say the least...

Our visit coincided with the feast of Sant Jordi, a famous event in Barcelona which is the equivalent to our Valentine's Day.  I had never heard of this feast before but it was so nice to be part of this city-wide celebration, where women are gifted beautiful roses while men are gifted books.  The city was in a great celebratory mood all day and the streets were crowded with onlookers who were also enjoying the contagious party atmosphere.  What a great experience! :)

Here is the Barcelona Cathedral, where I attended mass in honor of my Grandma's 1st month of was a very special service!

And here are pictures with my friend Keily who lives in Barcelona with her family and my cousin Renato, who turned 31 while we were there.  We got to celebrate his birthday on the rooftop of his building and had a blast dancing and eating cake! We were so happy to be there with him on his special day!

All in all, our trip to Europe was an excellent experience; the girls did incredibly well and I got inspired to take them back whenever possible; they really enjoyed learning about different cultures, trying out different foods, walking around and getting to know new places.  We are so lucky to be able to travel around the world and to show the kids what these places are all about!

Happy blogging! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Europe with kids: Our visit to Helsinki

The second city we visited during our European trip was Helsinki, Finland. 
Even though I am aware that Helsinki isn't necessarily a "popular" vacation spot, we had a very specific purpose of visiting family members and I am very glad we did!
Helsinki is such a beautiful city, filled with wonderful architecture and beautiful scenery. 
Since we were visiting family, this part of the trip was much more relaxed; we were able to take it easy and spend some time at home enjoying the company of our cousin Enrique and his wonderful family. 
Helsinki is COLD! Wow! For us Floridians the weather was definitely extreme, but thankfully we were prepared with jackets and winter gear! :)

We walked around town and visited some of the most famous spots; by this stage of the trip the girls were already used to walking around and didn't whine as much (yay for no whining!). They seemed to be rather interested on the history of the building and enjoyed taking was quite the feast for this photo addicted mommy! :)

Here are pictures of some of the most interesting buildings we saw in Helsinki.  
The first one is the Kamppi Chapel of Silence, which is non-denominational praying chapel located in the center of Helsinki; I really enjoyed our time in this cute building....

Here I am in front of one of the buildings by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto; he is a huge part of the history of Helsinki as far as architecture goes... his buildings were quite impressive....

These two are Morris and Mascot, two hairless cats who are the sweetest pets anyone could ever have. I had such a great time playing with these buddies!

Here's Iggy with his cousin Enrique aka Poika... He and his family were such great hosts, we really had a wonderful time in their home!

Here are some other pictures of us in Helsinki.  Even though it was cold, the days were sunny and extremely beautiful so this made for awesome pictures!

Us in front of the Helsinki Cathedral, one of the most iconic spots in Finland.

Souvenirs (and everything!) were SO expensive.  This is probably THE most expensive place I've ever visited. I'm talking 5 euros for a cup of coffee...I was seriously alarmed at the prices of everything... :/

Here we are at the Sibelius Monument, one of the most interesting structures we saw in Helsinki; it is located in a beautiful park where the kids could play and run around.  

Here are the kids at the "Angry Birds" park near Espoo, Finland; in case you didn't know, this popular game is actually from Finland so the Angry Birds are very famous in that country!

...and here are the kids saying good bye to their cousin Alex, who is one of the sweetest kids out there.  They were definitely so happy to spend so much time with him....

Thank you, Peña family for this amazing experience and thank you Finland for the wonderful memories! :)

Happy blogging.. more to come.. next stop.. BARCELONA!