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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

13 Surprising Things About Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)

In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan.  It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends!  Her name?  Hello Kitty!  And yes she is a lady and not a cat.  Make sure you tell your friends that,  I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat.  😉  She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.

You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid.  So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!

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  • Take the train.  It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station.  You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂

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  • Buy your tickets beforehand.  I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan.  We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website.  Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.

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  • It’s indoors.   One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors!  I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan.  You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂

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  • It’s kind of small.  Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big.  It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator.  But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs.  They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
  • The details are amazing!  No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here.  You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
  • Even the food is themed!  There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park.  They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream.  But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
  • There are rides.  Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park.  One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms.  We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
  • There’s an arcade.  If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that.  The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.

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  • There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets.  If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!

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  • Catch the parade.  There are a few shows that happen throughout the day.  You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade!  They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early.  They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance.  Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
  • She’s worth the wait.  You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself!  She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical!  We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times.  You can also skip the line with the PuroPass.  Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house.  There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful!  Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her.  You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting.  In exchange she will give you a gift as well.  We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort.  Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed.  We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
  • There’s SWAG!  If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park.  They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date.  Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday.  It really made her day extra special!  They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out.  Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.

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  • Everyone is super friendly!  Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all.  But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too.  It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him.  Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.

Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land!  If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything.  And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem.  We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered.  🙂

Have you been to Sanrio Puroland?  What did you think?  Would you go if you had the chance?

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I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

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6 Things to Know about the Home Depot Kids Workshop

If you’re looking for a fun event to keep the kiddos busy, then check out the Home Depot Kids Workshop! It’s offered the first Saturday of every month and it’s fun for the whole family!  Here are some things you should know before you go!

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  • It’s FREE! – Yep, Home Depot Kids Workshops are free!  You will want to register at homedepotkidsworkshop.com so that the store can prepare for all of the kids.  But one important thing to note: Registering does not guarantee materials.  It’s possible your local store could run out of the materials for the advertised monthly project, but I’ve heard that they may offer a previous month’s project so that your kids don’t leave empty-handed.

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  • Arrive Early! – The event is held between 9am-12pm or until they run out of supplies.  Also, some stores hold the event indoors while others set it up outside.  My local store held the event outdoors and fortunately we never had any issues with running out of the monthly project regardless of our arrival time. I have, however, seen them run out of paintbrushes and paint but that was closer to the noon timeframe.   So I do recommend arriving early to get a feel for your store and to guarantee that your kids get all of the materials.  Also, dress appropriately in case your store holds the workshop outside as well.

 

  • Be Patient! – Especially with the younger kids!  The workshop is geared for kids around the 5-12 age range, but I’ve seen kids and adults of all ages enjoying the project.  The instructions include step-by-step details with illustrations and the projects are pretty basic so don’t think you have to build an entire house or something.  But the nails can be kind of small and you probably don’t want your two or three-year-old swinging around a hammer, so you will have to do some work if you plan to bring the younger kids.  My 3 (almost 4) year old had fun helping with the building process and then I gave her full creative control with the paint and stickers.  Also, you will be sharing tools and possibly paint/paintbrushes with others at your table so have some patience with the other kids, too!
  • There’s a Facebook Group! –  I mean, there’s a group for everything…right?! 😉 Someone (not Home Depot) created a Facebook group to connect people around the country and so that everyone can share their workshop experiences and finished projects.  And if you are searching for a particular project from a previous month, you can request that someone send you something that you missed.  They usually request that you send money for shipping, but nobody should ever ask you to send money for the project itself.  If you see anyone selling these projects or pins, please report them to the admin.  These projects are free and nobody should be making a profit from it.  And if you’d like to know what exactly you will be creating each month, you can also find the annual calendar along with the bonus holiday events posted within the group.  You can find the group here.

 

  • There’s SWAG! – Every kid receives an apron with their name on it; a unique pin that illustrates the project; and a certificate of completion!  If you forget your apron the next month, don’t worry, they’ll give you another…but it’s fun to see how many pins you can collect on your apron!  I’ve seen some aprons completely covered!

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  • Have Fun! – Most importantly, just have fun…because learning is fun!  Even if you arrive late and they run out of some supplies, just make the best of it!  You’ll enjoy watching your little builders focus on their projects and really showing their creativity!  Join in the fun and get messy too! (Most stores will have wipes on the table.) The employees really enjoy the event too so be sure to thank them for their kindness and positivity!  You’ll create lasting memories with your kids and they’ll love showing off their completed projects to their family and friends!

***Contact your local store to confirm time and availability!

Have you attended a Home Depot Kids Workshop?  What did you think?!

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

PAW Patrol is on a Roll!

If you have tiny humans that LOVE Paw Patrol then you’ll want to load them up and head to the nearest Roll Patrol Road Tour!  This is different than the PAW Patrol Live! Tour and bonus: It’s free!  So if it’s not in your budget to attend the PAW Patrol Live! Tour then I definitely recommend checking out the Road Tour.  Here’s a little preview of what awaits you and your little PAW Patrollers at the Roll Patrol Road Tour!

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If you want to guarantee an entry into Adventure Bay and save yourself a little time, then preregister your family online.  If not, you may have to wait in a longer line and register on a tablet at the actual event.

You will then be given a wristband and the fun will be begin!

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The kids will love spending oodles of time in this life size and interactive PAW Patroller!  They can spend time in the command center, look out upon Adventure Bay, pose for photo ops, take a spin on the slide, and much more!

They can also pick their favorite PAW Patrol car and pedal along a kid-sized track!

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Then head over to the play table area to try out the newest PAW Patrol toys!

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And have a blast at the kinetic sand table!  I really loved this stuff!

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And keep a lookout for an opportunity to meet your fave PAW Patrol characters!

Every location is a bit different, but at our event: Chase was on the case, Skye took to the sky, and Marshall was all fired up!  You will also receive a free printed photo at your meet and greet to commemorate your day!

So was there any SWAG?!

Well the event was free so it’s kind of swag in itself.  BUT we did get photos and some sweet headwear!

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A couple of things to know:

  • Plenty of staff were on hand to keep things safe and organized.
  • The event is outside so prep for the elements.  It was really hot the day we attended.
  • The event is free – but preregister to guarantee entry!  Also, many of the Roll Patrol events are held within another event.  For example, this event was an attraction within the county fair.  So fair admission prices were still in place.
  • It can get crowded so be prepared!
  • There’s a lot of interaction on the tour, but nothing to actually purchase (i.e. toys).
  • Every location could be a little different, so what you see here may be slightly different than what would be at your event.  Check the event page for more details!

Ready to hit the road?  Check here for the 2017 dates and locations!

And checkout #RollPatrolTour on Instagram to see more pics of last year’s event!

Overall, I really enjoyed the event and my daughter had a blast!  So I would say…mission accomplished!!

Have you experienced the PAW Patrol Roll Patrol Tour?  What did you think?!

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

 

 

8 Awesome Things About the LEGOLAND Hotel!

It’s summertime!  Which means it’s time for some family vacations and staycations.  Last summer we stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel in California and it was the most unique hotel I’ve ever experienced!  Combined with the awesomeness of LEGOLAND itself, this is one summer vacation you’ll never forget!  Here are some AWESOME things you should expect during your LEGOLAND hotel adventure!

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Legos!  – Well there’s the obvious…not only does LEGOLAND have lots of Lego building opportunities, so does the hotel!  There’s a pool of Legos when you first walk in the door and lots of Lego displays all throughout the hotel.  There’s even more Lego opportunities in the playhouse that’s also in the lobby!  And stick around because there will be fun performances and even a Lego building contest.  And parents, all of this is conveniently located within a few feet of the hotel bar – which also offers a happy hour. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Dancing! – Next, you’ll find that the LEGOLAND hotel really appreciates dancing!  They offer nightly dancing events just for kiddos (or kids at heart).  It will feel just like a nightclub with a real DJ, strobe lights, and family friendly dancing music!  Your kids can let loose on the dance floor while you sit back with a nice beverage, or of course you could show off your moves, too. 😉   Then hop in the elevator up to your room for another fun disco-dancing experience!

Themed Rooms! – After all that dancing, you’ll want to check out your room.  After all, this is basically the biggest perk of reserving a room here.  When booking your stay, you can choose from a Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, Ninjago, or Lego Friends themed room.  We chose the Pirate themed room and it did not disappoint!  It included a separate area for the kids with a bunk-bed, TV, and lots of space to play.  And there’s also a queen-sized bed for adults with another TV!  No detail was missed!

Even the fitness center is Lego themed!

Early Entry and Special Parking! – When you check- in you are given a nifty little wristband which grants you entry into the park an hour early.

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You also have access to a special parking lot which is super close to the park entrance and, or course the hotel.  Gaining entry to the park early allows you to beat some of the crowds and get going on the fun!  Here are a few things you can experience while you are at the park…

Duplo Playtown is a great spot for tiny tots and there are lots of rides for younger kids all throughout the park.  Make sure to stop by Miniland to check out the awesome city displays including replicas of the World’s Tallest buildings.  The replica of Manhattan’s One World Trade Center is absolutely amazing so make some time in your trip for a little visit! 😉

You’ll probably get hungry during the day, so there are lots of healthy restaurants throughout the park as well as specials for kids.  I highly recommend picking up a souvenir cup and refilling it during your stay – it will save money in the long run.  You also gotta try the apple fries!  Apples, cinnamon, and whipped cream make for a delicious treat!

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Once you’ve fueled up you can sit and relax during a 4D movie, LEGO friends show, or pose with a LEGO character!

After the shows you could hang out and ride some more rides, or you could head back to your hotel room.  Which brings me to my next point…

The Pool! – The LEGOLAND hotel has an awesome pool so you’ll want to make some time to relax and enjoy it a bit.  They also provide life vests for the kids and towels for all.  Lifeguards are on duty and they do a good job of keeping everyone safe.  On some evenings, they play a movie that you can enjoy while hanging in the shallow end or lying in a chair.  We went in August and the pool was FREEZING in the evening!  The kids didn’t seem to mind, but I didn’t last very long!  We also had a nice view of the pool from our hotel room!

You’ll most likely be wiped out from the day and you’ll probably hit up your pirate bed pretty early.  But you’ll want to wake up early to get started on the next day’s adventures!

Breakfast! – One of my fave things about this hotel is the breakfast!  Hotel guests can enjoy a free breakfast buffet and it doesn’t disappoint! A hostess will ask your name to make sure you are a legit guest and then seat you at a table.  You are free to indulge on all of the breakfast goodies while a server ensures you have all the utensils and drinks that you need.  Again, the breakfast is free but you’ll want to leave a tip for your server/busser.

The Aquarium! –  So technically, this isn’t associated with the hotel but I thought it was something I should mention.  Last time we visited LEGOLAND we hit up the water park, but because we spent time at the pool we decided to check out the aquarium.  It’s not very big, but it was kind of nice that it wasn’t super overwhelming and it was the perfect size for my littles.  And they had Legos all throughout the aquarium!

There’s also some extra fun for the kiddos!  They can pick up a Log Book and pencil and document their discoveries at different stations throughout the aquarium.

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After you spend some time under the sea, you can head back to the park to enjoy some more fun or back to your hotel for dancing and swimming.

And don’t forget to bring your minifigures along for the vacation!  You can trade them at various spots all throughout the park.  You can even build your own!

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And we can’t forget about the…

SWAG!! 🙂

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The hotel toiletries are Coconut-Lime Verbena scented and they smell delicious!  The room is also full of snacks, drinks, hot chocolate, and coffee. Score!  And the hotel will give you a badge to celebrate your special occasion.  You can also collect Pop Badges for completing different challenges.  These are different than the occasion badges and you can learn more about those here.

There’s also secret swag hidden in your hotel room.  At check-in you are given a scavenger hunt sheet and your room contains a safe that requires a special code.  Complete your scavenger hunt to find the code and unlock your safe!  I won’t ruin the surprise for some of you…but if you are curious as to what’s inside the box, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a pic. 😉  Plus you may get a coupon for a free picture book from Shutterfly!  I took advantage and received my free book!  So it’s legit you just pay a few dollars for shipping!

Pricing: Since it was the summer, we paid around $250 for a one-night stay.  The rates are little bit lower during the off-months.  They also offer a military discount, but we found that booking online was cheaper.  Keep in mind, this is not a normal hotel stay so the pricing isn’t all that crazy.  The hotel itself is a unique experience and you will spend a lot of your time enjoying the amenities.  The price also included an internet and parking fee.  Be sure to check the website for vacation package deals and learn how to save if you bundle with admission tickets.

So bring the fam, sunscreen, and plenty of water and come enjoy the place where EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

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I’m off to review the next adventure! 🙂

~SM

Have you stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel?  What did you think?!

Not All Heroes (or Heroines) Wear Capes

What does the word “hero” mean to you?  Maybe you think of someone who fights crime, dresses in costume, or someone with an intimidating name.  Or maybe you think of someone who saves people, stands up for what is right or acts selflessly.  Either way, whether we know it or not, real life heroes and heroines are a big part of history and now we have books that highlight these special people.

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National Geographic Kids has compiled a list of real life heroes and heroines and conveys them in a way that is relatable to kids!  These hardcover books are aimed at kids aged 8-12, but I did try and discuss them a little with my almost 4-year-old.  And my almost 2-year-old enjoyed flipping through the books and looking at all of the colorful pictures.

And something else awesome happened….I enjoyed reading the books myself!  History is probably my least favorite subject, but I liked how the book was organized in a way where you could easily read all of the facts about each person.  I was familiar with most of the people in the book, but I was introduced to some new heroes and heroines as well!  I was also intrigued by many of the men and women in each book and it inspired me to learn more about their stories.

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I liked that the books highlighted important people from all genres, backgrounds and categories.  Some I had never even thought of as heroes and heroines before…like animals!  Yes, there is an animal section and I love it!

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Within the Heroes Book, there is a little section that highlights “Gutsy Gals” and within the Heroines Book, there is a “Daring Dudes” section.  I think this is an interesting aspect of the books that highlights the importance of each gender.

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And my daughter was super excited to see her favorite superhero showcased in the book!

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Yep, Wonder Woman!  She has a Wonder Woman costume from a couple of Halloweens ago, but she loves putting the costume on sometimes and pretending to save the day!

Another cool thing about the books is that they each end with an “Action Plan”.  Basically there are suggestions for kids about simple ways they can be real life heroes and heroines in their own community.

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While my kids are still a bit too young to really understand these books, I think they are good to have on hand so I can show them how real life heroes and heroines can be present in our everyday lives.

Overall, I think these books are a great learning tool and educational resources for kids.  They are great to keep in your book collection and they would also make great gifts!

What qualities do you look for in a hero or heroine? Try asking your kiddos and see what types of responses you get!

Each book retails for $14.99 and can be found in most bookstores and on Amazon: Book of Heroes and Book of Heroines.

*Disclaimer:  I received this product for free from Moms Meet , May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I have agreed to use this product and post my honest opinion. The opinions posted are my own.

Can’t wait to review the next product!

~SM

 

 

Be a Real Life Superhero!

Do your kids love dressing up and role playing?  Well if they enjoy being superheroes and saving the day, then checkout Superfly Kids!  It’s a place where you can create custom capes for both yourself and your littles.  Yes, you can play dress up along with the kiddos!  These are great for both everyday fun and parties or special occasions.

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The steps are simple to follow to create a unique cape:

First you pick a size – I picked “sidekick” for my almost 4-year-old.

Then you pick a color – I picked “purple” out of 12 options.

Choose an emblem – I picked “heart” out of 8 options.

Then an emblem color, cape letter, and cape letter color.  I let my daughter help pick all of these options since she was the one that was gonna be rockin’ it.

Then you get to preview your creation and make any changes!

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My cape arrived about a week later, although per the website, it says it takes about 2-3 weeks.

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Then it was time to see my creation in person!

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Ta-da!  Pretty rad, huh?

Then it was time to put my cape into action and my tiny hero couldn’t wait to test it out!

This is her superhero stance by the way.  And she’s about 37 inches to give you an idea on the size.  She’s kind of a smaller 3-year-old so it was a little big, but not enough to slow her down.  She also really loved the colors and that it had her initial on it.  She ran around in it all day without it falling off so I was pretty impressed as well.

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That’s her “flying” stance by the way.  Overall, we both really loved the cape and I think it would make a great gift for any hero in your life, big or small!

The best part about Superfly Kids is that they offer “Cause Capes”. You can create, donate, or fundraise for a cape that will support a various cause.  You can learn more about these capes and the supported causes here.  If you are interested in being a real life hero then I definitely recommend getting involved with Cause Capes!  You will bring joy and happiness to a child who is going through a difficult situation.  If you love scoring swag like me, then you’ll definitely love giving some back to a deserving child!  Generosity is a fantastic superpower! 😉

Another way you can get involved is to donate or participate in The Super Run!  I actually ran this 5k earlier this year and thought it was a fun event for the whole family.  Check it out and look for a Super Run event at a city near you! You can refresh your memory on my experience (and the swag) at The Super Run with my previous blog post here.

I think the Cause Capes as well as the custom capes from Superfly Kids are a fun and creative way to turn the whole family into real life superheroes!

**Disclaimer: I received a free custom cape from Superfly Kids in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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