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Middle School, B.L.A.A.R., and Lessons from Bug

I’d like to thank Click Communications for sending us Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life so that I could share with you my feelings on standardized testing, my Bug’s journey as a square peg, and our feelings in general on this movie.


“Rafe has an epic imagination…and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to a rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do’s and don’ts, Rafe and his best friend Leo hatch a plan to expose the principal by breaking every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. As the principal strikes back, Rafe’s world, at home and at school, explodes into hilarious chaos (both real and imagined) in this laugh-filled family comedy based on James Patterson’s best-selling book series.” 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

When I was first presented with the opportunity to watch Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, I really had no interest. I mean, for real, I still have kids in elementary school, I’ve watched others of mine go through middle school and high school, I’ve LIVED the drama. Why watch it again, from an author’s/script writer’s standpoint?

But then I thought better of my decision.

You see, Bug is about to enter middle school next year (the HECK you say?) and as you know, she’s pretty much a square peg in our round society so these years, indeed, are the worst years of her life (or so it seems). So, of course I rethought my initial scoff and happily agreed to watch the movie with her, and I’m so glad I did.

The books? Apparently my older kids were too old for these (sigh), and my babies were too young. But the movie, well it hit home in many ways. Where to begin…

The B.L.A.A.R. as they call it in the movie, or standardized (forced) testing as we all know it, is by far the centerpiece of this movie and it’s the very bane of my existence. We, as a society, teach our children these days to learn to pass tests rather than just LEARN. I hate it. I’m vocal about it. I truly feel that standardized testing will be the demise of this nation; and I feel that it has caused a nation (sorry millennials, but have you ever watched yourselves function without technology?) of “kids” that can’t function without a cell phone, a laptop, or their favorite apps. Like, if they were stranded on a deserted island, they’d likely be looking for the answers to A) How can I Google how to survive?, B) How can I call my mom on my cell phone to figure out how to survive?, C) Can Instagram show me how to survive?, or D) HOLY SHIT, none of my crap works anymore…now what?

I have many non-family-friendly terms for how I feel about the B.L.A.A.R. testing that goes on in today’s world that I’ll spare you, but I will say, I’m glad that I actually LEARNED before this was a thing. I’m glad this movie called that out! I’m just going to assume the writers weren’t millennials and leave that at that. (GET OFF MY LAWN!)

Next, the imagination, animation, and general family and friends ties in the movie were moving. Mom kind of lost her way through the first part, as most single moms do, but in the end (spoiler alert), she did what all good moms do and chose her family, her kids, above all else, as she should. Good job and very heart warming.

The personal loss portion of the movie (OMG…another spoiler alert, but near the end, Bug said, ‘DON’T mom, I know that look’ because she knew I was about to lose it) was touching, AND REAL. All of our lives are so full of loss these days, and although my children, thankfully, haven’t had to feel personal loss just yet, I know they, Bug in particular, felt the pain and totally got it.

SO…in a nutshell…this movie is basically a must-see from my perspective as the mom of six. It’s a great combination of present-world frustrations from parents, teachers, and kids alike. It’s funny, it’s heart warming at times, and the imaginative nature of the whole thing is quite entertaining. It’s a great way to show all of the conformists that the square pegs, the “remedials”, can actually rule the world again one day…despite their “failure” on stupid standardized testing.

Einstein was dyslexic. Lincoln had very little formal education. I never graduated college (because I kept having KIDS). None of us ever had to deal with B.L.A.A.R., we all did OK (yes, I just put myself in that company…don’t judge). I loved this movie SO hard. Bug loved it more.

Because we should. And so should you.


Have you seen it yet? If so, what’s your take? If not, WHAT are you waiting for? The DVD and Blu-ray is available in stores January 3, 2017, and if you have a preteen or tween in your house, you totally want this one in your video library!

Rock On with The Beatrix Girls: One for Bug and One for Your Future Star!

Just so you’re aware, Bug received a Beatrix Doll for this post from the Web Success Team in exchange for a review and giveaway. As always, all opinion, ideas, and photos (except for the one showing all of the dolls because we don’t have them all…YET) are entirely my own!


Before I get into this any further, let’s get a few things straight:

  1. Bug is a beautiful little being that has blessed my life in many ways.
  2. Bug loves music and dancing with a passion like no child I’ve ever met.
  3. Bug is determined to drive me insane at least a million times a week.
  4. Bug is destined to be famous and I want to encourage all of the above (except for that drive me insane part)

So with that said, any time an opportunity poses itself where I can help spark Bug’s imagination and fuel her love of music, I’m all over it. And that’s exactly what I found when I discovered The Beatrix Girls. Sure, they’re just dolls. But just dolls is an understatement. These dolls empower little girls and make them believe in their dreams. Through role play and interactive play on their website with song, video, and stories, The Beatrix Girls encourage my daughter and make her believe that she can follow her dreams. 
Bug received the Brayden doll before she was available in stores. Good news is, now Brayden, the lead guitar and singer, plus all of her friends, Lark, the bass player; Ainsley, the drummer; and Chantal, the keyboard player, are all available at Toys ‘R Us so you can own them today or buy the whole set for holiday giving. The one thing that bothered Bug, the only thing, is that Brayden didn’t come with a guitar. Luckily for Brayden, Bug had a doll-sized guitar here for the lending. She strapped her up and they were ready for some imaginative play.
There was staging of course. Because obviously no good rock show starts without the proper staging.
And there was singing and dancing, along with the music I was playing from the website of course. Since then, Bug has brought Brayden along to school for show and tell. She’s been to the grocery store with us. She even went to the park with us one night. Yes, these two were fast friends because they have a lot in common. Brayden’s already made the big stage and Bug is working her way toward that goal (watch out American Idol 2022…this girl’s got some mad singing skills)
We’re planning on getting the whole band for Bug for Christmas. I plan to purchase online because with the purchase of each doll at $24.99 each, you get a free gift. That gift is their instrument! That’s a good thing because we don’t have a spare doll-sized drum set, keyboard, or bass guitar lying around. 

So do you have a little aspiring rock star in your house and you agree that imaginative play is a great way to encourage this positive role playing? If so, I’ve got some great news for you. No need to head to Toys ‘R Us. No need to purchase online. Why? Because I can send you the doll of your choice for your aspiring rock star. All you have to do is enter the simple giveaway below.
One lucky winner will win one of the dolls above, the doll of your choice, just by entering this giveaway. The holidays are just around the corner and I’m sure your little girl, or a little girl in your life, would love one of these dolls. So what are you waiting for? Easy entry below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Under The Sea: Bug’s The Little Mermaid Birthday Party

I really should tell you, I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop, and Bug’s party, has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. All ideas, opinions, and photos are entirely my own. #DisneyPrincessPlay #shop
My Bug, my little hot mess, my princess, turned 7 last weekend. SEVEN! Where does the time go? I love this little girl. She makes me lose sleep at night. She makes me pull my hair out. And she makes my heart happy. She’s royalty…did you know that? Just ask her. She is a princess and she deserved a Disney Princess party fit for a…well…a princess. Since Ariel is her favorite, the party planning was a no-brainer.
My #1 party tip to anyone listening…don’t over work! You’ll stress the whole time and not be able to enjoy all of the smiles and giggles that should come with every celebration. You don’t have to bake everything, you don’t have to serve elaborate food, and you don’t have to craft all of the decorations yourself. Little toys like The Little Mermaid Playset I bought make for a fun tablescape that the kids enjoy seeing upon arrival and can play with throughout the party.

Bug got exactly what she wanted! There were cupcakes. There were bubbles (because what’s a party without bubbles?). There was frolicking at the pool. And there were presents. I didn’t have to fuss much at all. My one stop shop at Walmart provided me with everything I would need and I didn’t have to break the bank for this regal gala.
You might be asking yourself if I made this fabulous cupcake, cake combo. I should lie. I really should. I want to impress you. But that’s not how I roll. Why would I bother to bake when there are professionals that will do all of the work for me? Seriously? I’m not stupid. I’m no baker. These lovelies came from the Walmart Bakery and they were a huge hit at the party.

After hot dogs and potato chips (What? Birthday parties don’t have to be healthy like everything else. These calories don’t count.), the kids couldn’t wait to dig in.
And dig in they did!
Kid tested.
Bubby approved!
After lunch and cupcakes, it was time for presents…PRESENTS! This is Bug’s favorite part of any party. OK, any kid’s favorite part of any party. She got Disney Princess toys galore. It was a good day and I was happy to see her smile the whole time. My princess deserves to smile.
Seriously, her Disney Princess toy collection just got AWESOME! As though it wasn’t awesome enough. This kid is one lucky girl and I’m happy she has such a good life. She is a princess after all, just ask her. She tells us daily! I encourage it too. Feeling like a princess builds her confidence and that’s so important for little girls. 
Does your little princess have all of the gear she needs to shine, feel confident, and use her imagination under, over, or near the sea? If not, you need to head to Walmart right now to help her out. Every little girl deserves to feel like a princess. 

Be sure to check out all of the merchandise available to help your princess shine. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for all things happening at Disney. And if you don’t own the original The Little Mermaid on VHS tape (yes I’m dating myself because I actually bought this for my oldest daughter way back when), your little princess will be excited to hear that the Collector’s Edition will be available on BluRay and DVD on October 1st at your local Walmart. Now if you’ll excuse me, my little princess and I have a movie to watch. Want to guess which one?

Want to get more ideas on how to build your child’s confidence through Disney Princess play? Be sure to head over to the Under the Sea Pinterest board for some amazing party and craft ideas.