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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp Week in Review

Disclosure: I was provided a free camper registration in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Rebekah had a busy week last week. She was so excited to get to particiapte in the Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp. What a whirlwind week it was. Challenger brings in soccer coaches from England (we had two from London and one from Yorkshire) to coach the kids. Rebekah said she learned a lot about better dribbling and ball control/footwork. I noticed that having a different 'coach' gives her a different perspective and that these coaches focused on some different skills than her season coach.

To keep the kids motivated and having fun, they are put on a "World Cup Team" for the week. Rebekah was on the Cuban team (Go Cuba!) Different activities and homework gave the team points and at the end of camp, one team was awarded the World Cup Trophy. Last week, at our camp, France won. Congratulations to the French team from camp.

Monday they received their soccer balls (included with the cost of camp) and were told to decorate and bring every day.
Tuesday, Rebekah won for the most decorated ball.
Wednesday was "Wacky Wednesday" and they dressed crazy.
Wacky Wednesday
(Note she is wearing someone from our
home's boxer shorts...they were clean.)

Wacky Hair for Wacky Wednesday
More Wacky Wednesday Participants
For Thursday, they learned 3-4 fun facts about their country.
Friday, they brought their country's flag to camp. (Prizes for largest, smallest and most creative.)
PLUS - Friday is Fun Day Friday so they did lots of games during camp which culminated in a big water fight.

Water Fight Rules

Coaches get ready to take the 
first wave of water (poor things)

Coaches don't get mad...
they get even. LOL!
Here's my video of the water fight - I crack up everytime I watch it. Listen to Coach Katie scream as someone hits her with ICY cold water. 

Here's what I saw as a parent:
  • I had a child excited to go to soccer camp (when she's not always keen to go to soccer practice). 
  • I had a child with a soccer ball between her feet and who started practicing moves again each night. 
  • She is still doing drills almost every day. 
  • She had fun, got exercise and brushed up on her skills before fall ball starts.
  • She even learned some fun information about other countries and got to ask coaches from England about their home country. 
  • Did I mention how much fun she had? 
I wasn't sure if going through the Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp was something that we would find valuable. It was so much more than just a skills camp. There was a lot of teamwork taught, integrity on and off the field reinforced, and they had fun while learning the skills. It is something she thoroughly enjoyed and looks forward to doing again next year. 

Notes from the coaches at the end of one of the days of camp. 

There are still camps available both in Omaha and around the country. Even some rual Nebraska towns will have camps in August. For more information and to register, please visit the Challenger Sports website. In various areas around the country, they also have fall and spring ball. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tom+Chee Omaha Location - Check out Summer Delights and #Giveaway

Disclaimer: I was given free samples and vouchers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Who here loves Shark Tank? I know I do and our family watches regularly. So we were extra-excited when Tom+Chee (as seen on Shark Tank) opened a franchise in Omaha. Hubby and I couldn't wait to try it out and LOVED the food. But, I'll admit, as summer came along, we sort of dwindled on our visits because I think of the food as 'winter only'. After being invited to blog about Tom+Chee and attending the blogger tasting, I've learned how wrong I am! You can't believe how much summer fare is on the menu.

A few important things to note that really impressed me. 

  • There is no microwave, no freezer, and no fryer. Everything is made fresh.
  • KIDS NIGHT - Kids eat for 99 cents on Tuesday's after 4:00 p.m.
  • They have gluten free options, vegetarian choices and vegan options including vegan cheese. 
  • The pesto is nut-free. It's made from sunflower seeds so people with nut allergies can still enjoy. 

While I did eat main menu items, let's skip to dessert first. Have you tried the Strawberry Lemonade Donut? You will NOT regret it. The lemons are candied in house and the strawberries are fresh. The whipped cream is not fake and the combo with the grilled cheese donut is over the top. It is sweet enough to hit the spot, but is light and so flavorful that summer is the perfect time to experience it.

Strawberry Lemonade Donut
And I should not forget the donut that started it all, the Grilled Cheese Donut. I must admit that after trying the Strawberry Lemonade Donut, I wasn't sure I'd like the plain Grilled Cheese Donut. Let me tell you, the taste was out of this world. Yum, Yum, Yum!!!

Grilled Cheese Donut

For the sandwiches, we tried quite a few. The most popular is the Flying Pig which is roasted turkey, bacon, pickles, gouda on sourdough. Liked it a lot (and I normally pick pickles off everything). The pickles really rounded out the flavor explosion of this sandwich.

Flying Pig
Then came the Grilled Mac and Cheese with a sample of the Creamy Tomato Basil soup. Loved the sandwich and the soup was incredible. Later, I did try the Classic Tomato and the Chunky Tomato Basil soups. Liked the chunky a lot...although the Creamy Tomato Basil soup will be my favorite forever. The Classic Tomato soup is heart healthy and was a little more bland. I thought it would be great for my kids who don't want a 'flavor explosion' in their mouth. This was also a fun combo because the soup offsets the sandwich and I felt like it was a terrific summer duo. (I must admit that you HAVE to dip the sandwich in the soup, me.)

Grilled Mac and Cheese with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

After trying all of these other sandwiches, we got to try out the Hippie Chee. It's a vegetarian option that can be made vegan if they use the vegan cheese (yes, they have vegan cheese). I didn't think I'd like it--not a big veggie fan. Knocked my socks off and this may be my new favorite sandwich. Since I was so busy eating it, I forgot to take a photo. Thanks to Lisa, from The Walking Tourists who allowed me to use her photo.
Hippie Chee

Then came out the salads. And I'm saying, "You have salads?" These salads are HUGE! I don't think you can get a sense of how big those platters were. And the dressings were really delicious. I may or may not have dipped one of my sandwiches in the dressing left at the bottom of my sample bowl to make sure I soaked up every, single drop.

Caprese Salad

Green Goat

Overall, I had a wonderful time getting to know the menu even better at Tom+Chee on West Maple in Omaha. I've always gotten the same items every time I have visited and it was so much fun to try things that might be out of my 'normal' choices. I found out some of my favorites really aren't my favorite. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to try the various items. I'm so happy to have a 'year round' dining place since I now know that there is so many summer offerings. I hope you'll enter my giveaway below and I have also listed the other bloggers in Omaha doing a Tom+Chee giveaway on their blogs.

My Tom+Chee Selfie

Please enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. And be sure to check out the additional giveaay links at the bottom of the post.

Must be able to travel to Omaha, NE in order to redeem.
Two winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants.
Only one winner per household/address.

The Omaha Bloggers at this Event
Thanks to my fellow Omaha Blogger friends who are also doing Tom+Chee Omaha giveways on their blogs. Be sure to hop over and enter!

The Walking Tourists

Oh My Omaha!


Bakes in Slippers

Happy Sammy

Making Mine

Sarah Eats Omaha

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pizza Ranch Living Hope CD - Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the Living Hope CD in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Have you been to Pizza Ranch? We are blessed to have several in Omaha and I found it interesting that as I was being selected for the Living Hope CD project, my daughter and her Bible-reading church friends were picking Pizza Ranch for their celebration lunch. They had no idea that I was trying to participate in this project and I had no idea that the three of them were picking Pizza Ranch. 

My daughter is reading "A Chapter a Day" in the Bible. By doing one chapter a day (M-F), she will read the entire New Testament in a year. She's completed this twice and is looking for a third year in a row. Every couple of months, our youth pastors take the kids who have read every day out for a special lunch. So last week, it was Pizza Ranch. When I asked why they picked that restaurant, one of the girls piped up and said, "Because they play Christian music there."

Interesting to me that our children pick up on things that seem so small or insignificant, but have Kingdom impact. I love that Pizza Ranch has taken a stand and plays uplifing music while we eat there. And from that interest in uplifting people comes the "Living Hope CD". Wait until you hear the music on this CD. It has been absolutely wonderful to listen to as we drive around town. We are learning the songs we didn't previously know and we all sing along together on the familiar songs. All of our favorite Christian artists have a song somewhere on this CD. It's amazing!

If you would like to hear from the artists of the album the reason for the songs and get a little more 'insider information' about the CD, be sure to check out the Pizza Ranch Music You Tube Channel. 

And as a very important side note, we have so many friends with autism who follow a gluten-free diet. That's how I found Pizza Ranch for the first time when they initially opened in Omaha. They offer Gluten Free menu items (that actually taste good). For anyone needing to follow a Gluten Free diet, Pizza Ranch allows you that flexibility in a restaurant.

About the Living Hope CD Project:
On June 2, 2015, Pizza Ranch released a CD called Living Hope containing twelve songs from many of their favorite Christian artists.  Most of the songs are brand-new and written exclusively for this CD around the theme of Hope.  Artists include Colton Dixon, Francesca Batistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Sidewalk Prophets, Kevin Max, Bart Millard, Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill, Michael W. Smith, and Mark Schultz.
The CD will be available to purchase for $5 plus tax exclusively in Pizza Ranch restaurants or for download at through August 31.
From Adrie Groeneweg, President & CEO of Pizza Ranch, Inc.:  "This album has a very special meaning for Pizza Ranch.  Although Pizza Ranch is not in the music business, many things have been happening, conversations have been taking place and doors have been opening for this album.  Through these events, I believe it was obvious that God has been behind this for His specific purpose and putting it on our hearts to collectively create this project.  As such, we call this our miracle album, Living Hope."
About Pizza Ranch:
Adrie Groeneweg had a dream that started in Hull, IA, in 1981, when he was just 19 years old.  It was simple.  Why does everyone have to drive out of town to get a pizza?  With just six specialty and single topping pizza recipes developed by Adrie's mother, Lorraine, Pizza Ranch was born.  Pizza Ranch's vision and mission is to glorify God by positively impacting the world and to give every guest a legendary experience.  They have 190+ locations across 13 states including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. 
The Giveaway:

I'm so excited that Pizza Ranch and Propeller Consulting have agreed to give one of my readers their own Living Hope CD. To enter, please read the rules and use the Giveaway Tools form below. Good luck!
  • Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. 
  • If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. 
  • If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. .
  • Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
  • Winner must reside in US or Canada. 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

AMC Announces Expansion of Sensory Program #SensoryBlogHop

When I attended the Autism Society of Anerica National Convention, I was thrilled to hear from AMC Officials that they will be expanding their Sensory Friemdly Movie program later this year.

If you've never heard of the program, AMC was the first movie theater chain to launch "sensory friendly" film showings. Currently held on specific Saturday's at 10:00 am, the movie is shown without trailers, the lights are left up a little bit, and the sound is turned down. Wandering is allowed and while we are working to teach our kids when you can (and can't) talk in a theater, the atmosphere is more relaxed. Currently the program includes G or PG films. They are all geared at younger children. The next film will be August 22 when they will show "Underdogs." To see the titles and participating locations, click here for the listing.

But as the population with sensory needs is growing (and aging), AMC realizes they need to add to what they have. Coming this fall, there will be a second date added each month and they will be showing films that are gears towards a little big older audience and they will include some PG13 films in the series. Since my son with autism is now 13, I was thankful to hear this news. He's managaed to move from sensory friendly to a regular movie, but he has friends who still can't do it. I'm grateful to AMC for recognizing the need and expanding the program.

Did you know about the Sensory Friendly Films? And what do you think about the expansion?

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month's Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Did this just happen? #BlackDayBook and My Reality Check

Anyone else feel like the older you get, the more out of body 'surreal' moments you experience? I had one such experience tonight that still gives me goosebumps.

Let's go back to the beginning - 25 years ago. My BFF from high school was the first of all of us friends to be pregnant. We were all still in college so it was exciting to think we'd all have a little niece or nephew to dote on. (I know we're not related by blood, but you KNEW we were all going to be aunts to this baby.) Then comes the call--I have a beautiful baby boy named Marcus...pause...and he has Down syndrome. In that moment, all I could say was congrats--and it's going to be ok. Even though I didn't really know much about Down syndrome and we all knew many things were not ok.

Fast forward to the elementary years. There were some ups and downs along the way, but the boy who was obsessed with puppets and had every Disney movie memorized was starting to come out of his shell. He would repeat complicated passages from multiple movies and act them out. If you didn't spend much time around him, you probably had no idea what he was saying because it was garbled and almost impossible to understand unless you knew the movie he was parroting.

Then came the teen years where Marcus started creating stories - sometimes quite elaborate ones - where he would weave different favorite characters together into one place and one new story. Then he started assigning his friends and family parts in those crazy shows--that were always going to be musicals. So the @MarcusMusical twitter handle was born.

Marcus today.
Now fast forward to last night. Marcus is 25. Marcus still dreams up musicals and plays. He wrote a One Act play that I got to see performed. And today, for his birthday party, we celebrated the release of Marcus Sikora's first book, Black Day: The Monster Rock Band. And what I saw was an absolutely surreal, out of body moment in my life. My baby boy, the shy one who couldn't, then wouldn't talk, reading his part of the book that he authored. And we saw the preview for the DVD which is coming soon.

Marcus & Mardra Sikora reading the Black Day Book

The kids were enthralled.

Then I got to purchase my own real live copies. And I got them autographed. The boy that we prayed so hard for when he had open heart surgery as a baby, the one we walked the floor with as his first babysitters, the boy who so many people in society believed would never amount to anything is a pubished author signing his autograph. Be sure to head over to and get your copy. 

And a big shout out to Kitchen Sink Cookie Company for making the official monster cookie for Black Day. (They are delicious!)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Village at Copper Mountain Activity Pass Fun Times

Disclosure: I was provided free passes in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever tried to plan a vacation that appeals to an elementary aged, a middle school aged, a high schooler, adults and senior adults? Might I tell you up front--good luck! Good news for me, we booked a vacation at Copper Mountain in Colorado. We were able to stay in a condo at "The Villages." Our condo happened to be in East Village, but it's a 4 minute walk (or take the free shuttle) to Center Village where all the main action and attractions are located.

We got the summer activity passes (you can purchase daily passes for $49 or season passes for $109). My readers can save $10 off a daily pass or $20 off a season pass with this coupon. We used daily passes which gives unlimited lake activities (bumper boats and lake bikes), lift rides, Diggler, mini golf, equiptment hauling, and climbing wall. You also get 3 Bungee jumps (trampoline), 1 Zip Line, and 1 GoKart ride. There's more fun in a pass than you can imagine. And there was something for each one of the age brackets on our trip.

Zipline & Water Activities:

Almost all of us tried out the zipline. It goes over the (shallow) lake and the folks in the water boats may try to squirt you with water. But, thankfully, no matter how close they are, they can't reach you. Phew. The water boats and water bikes were a big hit. We managed to get there early on a couple of days and were able to spend almost an hour on the boats/bikes with nobody else in the water. When other familes would arrive, we would graciously give up our boats and move to the next activity. But the water activities were our go-to favorite at all times. 


A diggler is an all terrain scooter. The base is a little wider (more like a skateboard) and the wheels are thicker and can go over dirt as well as cememt. The younger kids loved riding these (although we saw many teens & adults on them, too). One quiet afternoon, Rebekah even got to race Ben--the man in charge of digglers. It was a strong race, but Rebekah prevailed. 

Bungee Jump:

The bungee jump was not what I expected. It is really a trampoline jump with bungees to help you go higher and be able to do acrobatics that you might not normally be able to do. It was a lot of fun and Rebekah's #1 favorite activity. She bounced as many times in a day as she could and she mastered the backflip. All three of my kids and dad & I did the bungee jump. Lots of fun!

Go Karts:

Copper Mountain boasts of having the only go kart track in Summit County. And what a fun track it is. With 7 minute rides, you can really get some racing in during a go kart race. We could be found at the track every day. Sean & I are go kart kids at heart so we made sure to use all of our kart passes. 

Rock Wall & Mini-Golf:

The rock wall looked like fun, but not one of us is truly a climber so we may have gotten a photo or two, but left the climbing to those with real skills. We did spend time on the golf course repeatedly. It's a fun little 18 hole course with some unique hazards and traps built in. We did a lot of laughing and made great memories on the links. 

Ski Lift and Center Village Open Air Park Area:

The ski lift runs year round in Center Village. The American Eagle lift is smooth and relaxing. It's about a 15 minute ride each way and when you reach the top, you can learn about the equiptment used on the mountain, stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant, or you can have your bike hauled up on the lift so you can take the amazing mountain bike trails down. Lots of choices. We went on the ride to catch the views and they were spectacular!

Ski Lift View
Ski Lift View of Center Village

"The Square" and playground in Center Village

All in all, our time spent at Copper Mountain made us feel like kings on top of the world. We look forward to returning soon for another relaxing mountain getaway. 

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