Kubo and the Two Strings: A Magical, Stop-Motion Marvel

There is an exciting new movie in theaters, and I’m excited to tell you about it! Kubo and the Two Strings is a new stop-motion film by the companies behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls. It features voices from a cast including Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and more. Kubo has been getting rave reviews, and it deserves them.

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Poster

Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of a young, kind-hearted boy named Kubo, who lives by meager means while caring for his mother. When a spirit from the past comes around to enact an ancient vendetta, Kubo has to go on the run and fight for survival. Guided and protected by a monkey transformed from his wooden monkey charm, Kubo embarks on an epic journey. Along the way they meet a new friend, and the three of them go forward to track down three important pieces of magical armor once owned by Kubo’s father. Without the armor, Kubo cannot defeat his enemies and win the battles that will end the vendetta.

Kubo and the Two Strings

My family and I really liked Kubo and the Two Strings. The movie takes place in Japan and gives kids a chance to peek inside a culture they may not know well.  It’s an intriguing and engrossing story, full of fantasy and action, and I love that.  Kubo is a real hero, and I personally adore the character, as do my children.  It makes me so happy to see my kids excited about the story itself, not just flashy animation or crude jokes.

The animation does, however, deserve some serious praise too.  I’ve always been impressed by stop-motion animation, but this one blows everything else way out of the water.  The creators of Kubo and the Two Strings have resurrected the nearly lost art of stop-motion by combining it with newer technology to bring us some of the most beautiful and detailed work I’ve ever seen.

Kubo - Garden of Eyes

Another strong focus in the film is the music, which really adds another layer of depth and gives the movie a unique touch. In fact, one of my favorite things was the music, including a beautiful song performed by Regina Spektor. For Kubo and the Two Strings, she covered While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which you probably know was originally written by George Harrison and performed by The Beatles. Since The Beatles are one of my all-time favorite bands, I’m incredibly picky about other musicians covering their music, but I think Spektor did a beautiful job and made the song a perfect fit for the movie.  Make sure you stay through the credits to hear the full song and see some fascinating behind-the-scenes footage.

I’ll make note of my one hesitation regarding Kubo and the Two Strings: this movie did have a bit more violence than I expected, and certain aspects may be a little creepy for younger children. My kids liked it, but if your children are especially sensitive to darker material, it’s something to keep in mind.  Also, without giving anything away, I’ll just say that I would have preferred a happier ending.  Aside from that, I highly suggest seeing Kubo and the Two Strings on the big screen.  I also suggest you take me with you, because I’d love to see it again.

If you’d like to learn more about Kubo and the Two Strings, you can watch the trailer:

 

For even more fun, check out the special Inside the Film features over at KuboTheMovie.com.  When you’re ready to buy tickets, you can easily purchase them from Fandango and skip the line! If you’ve never used Fandango, now is the time to start. I haven’t purchased a movie ticket at the kiosk in probably 2 years, and I love it. I never have to worry about being late because of long lines and I can choose my seats ahead of time, which really takes the pressure off when you’re attending with children! To get tickets for Kubo and the Two Strings, you can easily grab them at Fandango.com.


Packing a Waste-Free Lunch + Trudeau Fuel Giveaway

Packing a Waste-Free Lunch

We’re still busy getting ready for school to start, and now we’re working on lunch supplies. As you know, we aim to be as “green” as possible when it comes to the products we use, and I always try to pack my kids a waste-free lunch. It’s easier to do than it sounds, and I’ve assembled a collection of lunch box essentials that will help both you and your children be less wasteful and even save you some money in the process.

Contigo

Contigo Reusable Cups

Reusable drink bottles should really be the default at this point, but I’m frequently amazed by how many people don’t use them. We always have, but finding one that lasts and doesn’t leak has been a challenge. (I can’t tell you how many times the kids have come home with soggy backpacks.) We’re big fans of the Contigo Autospout bottles because they’re easy for me to clean and easy for the kids to operate. They come in a variety of fun colors and designs, some are insulated, and all are BPA-free. My favorite part? We haven’t had a single spill or leak!

RETHINK Water

RETHINK Water

There are occasions when reusable bottles, unfortunately, do not work. Every time the kids have had a field trip or other event when the school has requested disposable bottles only, I cringed as I imagined landfills overflowing with single-use containers. I could hope they’d end up in a recycle bin, but I know that isn’t always going to happen. I recently discovered a better solution in RETHINK Water. The package is recyclable and it’s also biodegradable, so instead of taking up space in a landfill for thousands of years, it will compress and break down over time. This is one disposable option I don’t feel guilty about using.

Funkins

Funkins Napkins

As adorable as my son looks with jelly smeared all over his face, it’s not really something I want to see when he’s walking out of school at 3 PM. This year, we have a waste-free, reusable napkin that he actually wants to use. Funkins are super soft, double as placemats, and come in lots of colorful patterns. I definitely prefer washing and reusing napkins over throwing them in the trash, and the kids have never had more fun cleaning themselves up.

Bumkins

Bumkins

Ditch those disposable plastic baggies and opt for eco-friendly Bumkins reusable snack bags instead. They’re machine-washable and dishwasher-safe, so maintenance is a breeze. The zip closure keeps all the food and even the crumbs in the bag where they belong. You can get them in both snack and sandwich sizes to accommodate a variety of lunch foods. Bumkins are great for school or on-the-go, and they’re so much cuter than those disposable baggies.

Trudeau Fuel

Trudeau Fuel

You probably already know the Trudeau name from their innovative kitchen tools. (I’m a big fan of their Stress Less collection.) This summer, I was introduced to Trudeau Fuel–a line of environmentally-friendly food and beverage storage containers. Not only are the items in this collection reusable and recyclable, but the eco-design logic and materials used to create them earned Trudeau Fuel the prestigious “Sustainable Development” award. The collection features large selection of durable, BPS-free containers designed to be easily portable and keep your food fresh, plus each items comes with a lifetime warranty. Some of our favorites:

  • Classic Lunch Bag – More durable and less wasteful than traditional brown bags. A velcro strip keeps your food and drink secure, and the BPA-free material is easy to clean.
  • Condiment Set – These little containers are perfect for salad dressings, sauces, dips, and more. Best of all, they won’t leak!
  • Food to Go Container – When you need something that can hold more than a sandwich, this is the way to go. It’s easy to take a real meal to school or work with this microwaveable, dishwasher-safe, and very sturdy container. A nice bonus is the equally sturdy the built-in fork and knife set. This container is going to help us save so much plastic!

Dabbawalla

Dabbawalla Lunch Bags

This is another product that’s new to me, and I’m so glad I found it. These bags are roomy, insulated, and about as cute as can be. They’re made from a stain-resistant material that’s 100% free of toxins like BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalates. Dabbawalla bags are made to be used over and over again, and once you are finally finished with it–and this is the best part–it’s completely biodegradable. We love Dabbawalla so much that we’ll be featuring them again soon–and with a giveaway, so stay tuned!

And that is how we’ll be doing lunch for the upcoming school year. My children have never known what it’s like to finish their lunches and leave behind a pile of garbage, and we owe that to all of the amazing brands that are dedicated to providing useful and innovative solutions that have a lighter impact on our environment.  I hope this list helps you have a waste-free school year too!

Thanks to Trudeau, one lucky Game On Mom reader is going to get a head start by winning our giveaway for the Trudeau Fuel Classic Lunch Bag, the Fuel Snack’n Dip, and a Fuel Cutlery Set! (Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter!) Open to US residents who are 18 and older.  Ends 9/9/16 at 11:59 PM ET. Good luck!

Trudeau Fuel Giveaway

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Baby Registry Wish List Giveaway

Are you expecting a new baby? Moms know babies need lots of stuff, but how do you decide which items are most needed? We are excited to feature some of Mommy Scene’s Baby Registry Essentials and a wonderful giveaway filled with beautiful AND essential products for moms with babies!

Baby Registry Wish List Giveaway

 

Babee Talk offers organic crib bedding and plush toys designed with health, safety, and style in mind. Proudly made in the USA with soft organic cotton, this cozy bedding collection includes a patented organic crib rail cover, fitted crib sheet, matching crib skirt, and two Eco-Buds Take-Along Pals. (crib and side rail covers not included)

The Yummy Mitt is the first patented glow-in-the-dark teething mitten for newborns and infants 3-12 months. It secures to baby’s hand to provide teething relief while simultaneously preventing gagging without the need for constant parental assistance and without dropping of the teether. Made with 100% food grade silicone and 100% cotton, the Yummy Mitt is BPA, latex, PVC, lead, and phthalates-free.

Revelae Kids makes innovative solutions for playtime, snack time, and nap time. Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches are ideal for holding homemade baby food and allow older kids to easily take healthy snacks to the playground. Cozy Sleeper swaddle transition blankets and Cozy Blanket Pouches keep babies snug and warm within a safe and secure sleep space, perfect for slumber and lounging. Cozy Sleepers and Blanket Pouches also fit in a car seat or stroller!

Surround your child with comfort and luxury! More than a floor pillow: designed with both parents and baby in mind, the Dakota Aqua Pello Luxe Floor Pillow is the ultimate multi-use floor pillow and play mat to keep a baby comforted, safe, and secure. The unique design and materials make this a perfect resting spot for baby and ideal for your child’s ever-changing needs.

Buttons Diapers 100% cotton muslin burp cloths & bibs are the perfect baby essential. Works as a contoured over-the-shoulder burp cloth for baby, an large coverage bib during meals, and a handy cloth to wipe up messes. Muslin is a soft, breathable, absorbent, natural material that gets even softer & fluffier each time you wash it. The burp cloth easily converts to a bib by using the sewn-in snap. Set of 2.

Margaux & May is proud to use GOTS 100% certified organic cotton with all their swaddle blankets. These luxuriously soft muslin blankets are decorated with unique stunning prints, perfect for nursery sets and baby gifts. Set of 2.

This giveaway is coordinated by Mommy Scene, sponsored by the participating brands, and is open to US entries ages 18 and older. No purchase required to enter. One winner will be randomly chosen and displayed on the giveaway widget after the giveaway ends on Sept. 7, 2016. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand.

Enter now via the Rafflecopter below.  GOOD LUCK!

Baby Registry Giveaway

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Van’s National Waffle Day Giveaway

This is a sponsored post by Van’s International Foods and facilitated by Conservamom.

You know how much we love Van’s around here.  (In fact, we just had some of their waffles for breakfast this morning.)  It’s a brand we rely on a lot throughout the school year because I love their ingredients, my kids love the taste, and their foods are quick and convenient to prepare.  So yes, I’m a big fan, and I love sharing the products with other people. That’s why I’m delighted to be part of this fun giveaway event.  Enjoy!

In celebration of National Waffle Day, Van’s Foods is sharing some easy and delicious breakfast recipes to make busy school mornings happier for the whole family. Quick and wholesome options like Van’s waffles offer protein and whole grains moms can feel great about serving and are so delicious kids love eating them. Van’s is also offering a chance to win FREE Van’s waffles, a deluxe brushed stainless convection/toaster oven, and $100 gift card.

Mini Chicken Waffle Sliders by Kim’s Cravings:mini waffles

 

Fruit Waffle Pizza by Nutritious Eatswaffle pizza 2

waffle pizza

Triple Coconut Waffles by Peanut Butter Fingers:

coconut waffles

And if you’re looking for a sure fire way to get a breakfast-time smile from your kiddos, check out this awesome video on how to make sunshine waffles: https://infinit.io/_/bGMUKCA.

sunshine waffles

There’s a Van’s waffle for every member of the family celebrating National Waffle Day–from kid-favorite Van’s Minis (with 27 grams of whole grain per serving) to Van’s Gluten-Free Waffles (free of gluten, dairy, and egg) to Van’s 8 Whole Grains Waffles (with 7 grams of fiber).

For more easy recipe ideas and to learn more about Van’s Foods, please visit http://www.vansfoods.com/. Van’s waffles are available at grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and natural food retailers nationwide. To find Van’s waffles in a store near you, visit: http://www.vansfoods.com/store-locator.

To enter to win some delicious Van’s waffles along with a deluxe convection toaster oven and $100 gift card and a few other goodies, fill out the entry form below! Giveaway open to US residents only. Ends on 9/10/16 at 11:59 PM EST. You can find the complete list of Sweepstake Rules here.

vanssimplyb2S

Disclosure: All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other social media network.  All opinions and experiences are Conservamom’s. Open to Continental US residents only, must be 18+.  Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted through email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law.  The sponsor will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway.  The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  For questions or to see your product featured in an event you can contact Elia At Conservamom.

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Allergy-Friendly Snack Options for Kids

As a BJ’s Ambassador, I’m proud to share this information on their allergy-friendly snack options.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Finding healthy snacks that your kids want to eat can be difficult, and when your kids have allergies, it’s an even greater challenge.  BJ’s Wholesale Club is working hard to simplify allergy labeling on their own Wellsley Farms products, and they’ve also been working with their suppliers to do the same.  They know that the parents of kids with allergies and food sensitivities are concerned about the safety of their food, and they want it to be easy for them to make the right choices.

To make it even easier, BJ’s has also come up with some fantastic allergy-friendly snack pairings that your kids will love!

Snack Stock Up Options for Allergies

My daughter’s favorite combination is the Yogurt and Berries.  She can’t get enough of Stonyfield Farms Organic Yogurt, and our BJ’s carries the YoKids Pouches, Squeezers, and regular yogurt cups.  (You’ll frequently find all three products in our fridge.)  She’ll happily eat the yogurt with fresh, organic strawberries or raspberries every day.

Organic Yogurt and Berries

My son will eat it up too, but if you asked him which is his very favorite, he’d say the apple slices and Pirate’s Booty.  BJ’s has bags of organic apples as well as organic apple slices, and the Pirate’s Booty can be found in the large bags as well as the individual ones.  My son really enjoys crunchy snacks whether they’re sweet or savory, and this combo fits the bill perfectly.

Crispy and Crunchy Snacks

If you explore your local store, you’ll come across lots of other great options.  You know we like to stick with organic foods when we can, and some of our other favorites are carrot sticks and the Wellsley Farms Organic White Cheddar Popcorn.  They usually have a great selection of organic fruits too, so those are always on the menu for us.

Which options are best for you will depend on your specific allergy concerns, so just make sure you read the labels. The new Wellsley Farms labels have allergens listed in bold so you can spot them without any trouble.  Of course, you should always check with your doctor to see if a food is safe for you child.

Wellsley Farms Allergy Labels

Stock up on these yummy snacks, and you’ll always have allergy-friendly lunch options that your kids won’t trade away.  What are your favorite allergy-friendly snacks?

Box Tops Sweepstakes

Note:  If you collect Box Tops for your school, you’ll want to check out BJ’s Box Tops Back-to-School Sweepstakes.  Right now, you’ll find specially marked General Mills items with regular Box Tops plus a Bonus Certificate that make it worth a total of 8 Box Tops.  Purchase 5 participating products and submit your receipt to be entered to win 5000 eBoxTops.  Each club will have a winner, so that’s over 200 schools that will benefit from the promotion!  Learn more at BTFE.com/BJsBoxTops.