LEGO KidFest New England 2016

legokidsfestlogoWe had the opportunity Friday night to go to the final stop of the Lego Kid’s Fest in Hartford, CT. We didn’t mention much about it to the kids prior to attending because in all honesty I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I just wasn’t sure I could answer all of their potential questions. So we kept it pretty hush hush. My husband came home from work Friday evening and we piled the two little ones in the car and left the two older ones to fend for themselves for the evenings. And then we got stuck in traffic on 84 heading into Hartford of course.

We finally arrived at the convention center about an hour and a half after it started. Honestly, I think it was good that we were so late. We weren’t fighting a crowd to actually get in. They sure made you walk to get in though. As soon as we walked in we saw life size figures made out of Legos in the middle of the room. Chewbacca was there. My five year old’s Kindergarten teacher loves Chewbacca and tells all the kids all about her love of Star Wars and Chewbacca so it wasn’t much of a shock when she ran up to Chewbacca and said, “Mommy, take a picture!”

Lego Chewbacca

Lego Chewbacca

It was all a bit overwhelming for the kids at first. My son didn’t want any pictures taken of him. We began walking around to see what there was. There were Lego battles happening and presentations and Lego building stations. Finally, my son decided he wanted to build a car and race it. Great! So we went to a station. Meanwhile my daughter was complaining about them being “boy” Legos. Yes, I apparently have failed as a mother because my daughter is one of those girls who actually likes the Legos that are designed just for girls. Don’t worry though, she still built with the boy Legos. Here were their first masterpieces:

Building the fastest race car

Building the fastest race car

Here's the finished product

Here’s the finished product

It's an ambulance

It’s an ambulance

After that was done everyone seemed a little irritable. We decided to grab a bight to eat and to regroup a little. Once that was done the kids were much more agreeable and really getting into it.

kids-lego-fest-colage

And then it happened. They wanted to go into the biggest parent nightmare ever. A mountain of Legos on the floor – Ouch!

That's a lot of Legos on the floor. Glad I didn't have to clean that up!

That’s a lot of Legos on the floor. Glad I didn’t have to clean that up!

But they built. We must have missed the rules though. Nothing higher than their waist – Whoops!

The tower's taller than he is

The tower’s taller than he is

And while he was building that tower, his sister (you know the one who wanted “girl” Lego’s was busy making a helicopter with missals on the front.

She built a helicopter and told me it has missals on it

She built a helicopter and told me it has missals on it

And since my son got busted for building his tower too high, he improvised and turned the one giant tower into two…

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Next, it was off to find those oh so coveted “girl” Lego’s. She built a house with some help from her brother and dad.

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She even saw a friend from school there. Once she completed it she brought it up for display and they gave her a choice of her own Lego pack. You know she could have gotten some of those “girl” Lego’s or Star Wars. She chose Star Wars as did her brother.

By this time it was after 8:00 and the place was closing at 8:30. We went to the little Lego store and purchased them each some Lego’s which they happily put together the next day. All in all it was a fun experience and the kids had a blast. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re playing with Lego’s. There was so much more to see and do, but we never got the chance. I know this was the last stop on the tour, but I do hope they’ll be touring again.

Lyman Orchard Corn Maze

lyman6Have you ever been to Lyman Orchard in Middlefield CT? It’s our go to apple picking place for some beautiful views and tasty apples. We’ve actually already gone once this year. It’s tons us fun for the whole family and I know my kids always ask if we can go there. If you’re in CT or are planning a trip here, then I highly recommend you check out Lyman Orchards. They aren’t just good for apple picking, we go during the summer for berries and peaches. You can even do a sunflower maze during the summer months. In the fall they have apples and pumpkins too. And then there’s the ever popular corn maze.

You also do not want to miss the Apple Barrel when you go to Lyman. A nice little country store that has all sorts of locally grown fruits and veggies and the cupcakes are to die for. Check out all there is to offer at Lyman’s.

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Lyman Orchard with a view

Get lost in the Corn Maze this year and help the Lyman Family celebrate 275 years of farming the land here in Middlefield. It’s a fun-filled adventure nearly three centuries years in the making. Challenge yourself to our special 275th anniversary corn maze featuring of the historic Lyman Orchards’ Homestead.

* 4 acres of towering corn
* 2 miles of pathways
* Challenging design
* Fun trivia questions
* Corn Cops help guide the way

$1 of every admission is donated to the American Cancer Society. In 16 Maze seasons, you’ve helped us donate $507,127 to the ACS!

The Corn Maze is open Weekdays 3-6pm, Weekends and holidays 10am-6pm. Last entry at 5:30pm. Pick Your Own is open 9am-5pm daily and the Apple Barrel market is open 9am-7pm daily.

Lyman Orchards Corn Maze September 3rd – November 6th! Connecticut’s Maze of Historic Proportions!

Amazon Studios Brings Annedroids Into Your Home


Annedroids 2When I read about the program from Amazon studios known as Annedroids I knew it was something my six year old son would be interested in.  This sort of sci-fi drama all played out with kids, sounded right up his alley. Here’s a little snippet about the premise of the show:

Annedroids is a science based-action adventure series that follows eleven-old genius and kid-scientist Anne, who has invented and built her own amazing androids, and her friends and kid assistants Nick and Shania. Together the kid trio make amazing scientific discoveries while undertaking the biggest experiment of all: growing up.

So I was very excited to get the opportunity to actually watch this with my son. He seemed hesitant about it, but as soon as I put it on for him I would say he was hooked!

One of the Annedroids

One of the Annedroids

What My Son Thought Of Annedroids

I asked me six year old what he thought of Annedroids and he said, “I liked the robot, they were cool!” My son really enjoyed watching the six episodes we were given.  It kept his interest. He kept asking me if he could watch more Annedroids.  He liked how some of the other Annedroids helped the other Annedroid come alive. I’m pretty sure he wants to live in Anne’s lab now too. He thought all of her little inventions were really cool.

What Did I Think Of Annedroids

In all honesty this program did not hold my interest at all.  Not that it was supposed to hold my interest.  I found the acting to be poor though.  And personally I felt the girl who played Shania was particularly obnoxious.  Nick and Anne were okay characters though.  I did like the little scientific educational teachings they had in there though.  Like learning about what a hypothesis is and how to conduct an experiment and how the voltage from one lighting strike would give enough power to charge up one of the Annedroids when all of the batteries and electricity at their disposal would not. And of course I also liked that my son was enjoying it so much.  After all, that’s what really makes all kid’s programs tolerable, if the kids are enjoying it. I’ve watched more than my fair share of annoying programs over the years because it made the kids happy. Annedroids isn’t the absolute most obnoxious kid’s program I have been subjected to over the years.

All in all I think this is a great program for kids between the ages of 4 and 7 as it’s being advertised for. I’m not sure that older kids would be interested in it, but my 3 year old would have enjoyed it.  Parents will like it for their kids because it’s educational and kids like it because it’s cool, at least according to my son.  You should definitely check out Annedroids from Amazon studios with your kids though. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Hood. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

1975122_10151890039752653_1452684590_nWhen I think about winter foods I think comfort foods.  Roasts and soups and stews.  Good hearty meals to get you through the cold winter months.  And there has been no shortness of cold in much of the US this winter.  So anything that warms the house and warms the heart this winter has been great.

And when I was offered a chance to create an original recipe highlighting Hood sour cream I couldn’t pass this up.  My head swirled with ideas.  I thought about going with a cookie recipe because baking really is my forte, but I decided traditional would be best.  And what’s more traditional than sour cream and potatoes?

Of course it wouldn’t be very original to just slap some sour cream on top of a baked potato.  I had to take it to a new level.  So since we were having a roast chicken and I usually make mashed potatoes I decided to save my milk for drinking and to use the sour cream in them instead, but I did not stop there.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Hood IngredientsIngredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • Bacon bits
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters.  Place them in a pot of water and put on the stove to boil.  Cook until they are fork tender.
  2. Drain the water and mash the potatoes.  If you have a potato masher that’s great.  I do not so I put them in my stand mixer and mix.  mashed potatoes
  3. Add the sour cream and continue to mash, it should get creamy.  Add more sour cream for creamier mashed potatoes if you’d like.  Add in the salt and pepper to taste, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese.  Mix it all until nicely incorporated.Loaded Mashed Potatoes

DinnerWe had this as a side with roast chicken and broccoli.  I also made gravy, but these mashed potatoes were so tasty it didn’t even need the gravy.  However, they were good with the gravy too.  You can add all sorts of things to these mashed potatoes and really make a meal out of them.  A little bit was very filling.  Add some scallions or chives to the potatoes or even broccoli pieces to make it a well balanced lunch.

These were a hit in our house, although more so with the older kids and the adults.  I think perhaps next time I do this I’ll either keep the bacon bits out entirely or just for the little ones portion of mashed potatoes as I think that was the part they disliked about the potatoes.  But my husband couldn’t stop talking about them.  He said it tasted like a baked potato.  I don’t generally get much response out of him over something like potatoes though so I guess it went over really well with him.

Just a few points about Hood Sour Cream:

  • Hood sour cream has a rich creamy taste.
  • Their full fat variety sour cream is all natural.
  • Hood sour cream has been used in households for 160 years.

And here is the nutritional information on the different varieties of Hood sour cream:

Hood sour cream

What is your favorite way to use sour cream?

Mobile Devices Don’t Fail Me Now With Powerocks Magicstick

I was given a Powerocks Magicstick 2800mAh for free to facilitate a review. All opinions expressed below are true to how I feel about the product.

We’re all busy, right?  Who has time for charging their mobile devices?  I know this can be a serious problem for me especially when we’re out and about.  Sure, I have a charger for my phone in my car, but I don’t spend a lot of constant time in my car.  When I go out it’s usually to pick someone up or drop someone off somewhere which requires me to get in and out of the car.  Not the ideal situation for continuous charging of my phone.  And while I remember very vividly a time in my life where I could leave my house without a phone attached to me to be in touch with everyone I know and then some 24/7 this just is not my reality today.

Aside from the safety implications of not having a phone on you (hello, where are the pay phones people?) I also often times am needed to be reached in an emergency by one of my children or their school or even things having to do with work.  So leaving home without my phone is not an option.  But getting it charged can also be very difficult.  With the in and out nature of my life charging is only possible overnight.  But sometimes I forget it needs to be charged and some days my phone gets more use than others.

Lets face it, waiting anywhere with a 2 year old is going to require some level of distraction and in all honesty as bad as screen time might be for small children, sometimes it’s just the best way to settle them down when they have reached their breaking point.  And we all know the more your phone is used the more battery power it goes through and sometimes my phone just isn’t going to last an entire day without being charged.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced it. The quick put the phone on the charger for 5 minutes just to get the battery life out of the red zone and then run out the door only to have it back in the red zone after one quick text to your husband reminding him to pick up something for dinner.  So you get in the car and put it on the car charger for the five minutes it takes you to drive to the school and then you have to take it off to go in and pick up the kids.  Sure, you could leave it there on the charger, but the car’s not running, it’s not charging.  So you run into the same problem.

But what if there was a device that was compact and could provide the charging capacity of your wall outlet and car without actually needing the wall or the car?  Well, there is.

Powerocks Magicstick 2800mAh

Powerocks Magicstick fully charged.

Powerocks Magicstick fully charged.

Powerocks is a company which has created charging devices for your mobile products.  They make a device called Magic Cube (to charge multiple mobile devices at once), Power Tree (a car charger that charges 2 devices at once), Tarot (the thinnest powerbank like a business card), Stone 3 (mobile power specifically designed for Apple products), Tetris (a travel charger that can be used in many different countries), and Magicstick.  The Magicstick is what I had a chance to review. It is a very lightweight charging device that you can attach to your mobile devices with just a USB cord that it provides and charge your mobile devices while on the go.  No need to lug around any heavy charges and cords or find an electrical outlet.  So long as your Magicstick is charged you can charge your mobile devices discretely while on the go. When I was asked to review this I knew I had to give it a try.

Technical Stuff

I’m going to go getting all technical now and I have no idea what this stuff means, but here are the specs for the Powerocks Magicstick.

  • capacity: 2800mAh
  • input: 5V/0.55A
  • output: 5V/1A
  • dimension: 21.7 (diameter) *86mm( height)
  • weight: 80g

Here are some other important bits of information about Magistick from Powerock:

  1. Charges standard smartphone and other digital devices such as Bluetooth headsets, cameras, GPS, e-readers, and more
  2. 2800mAh battery capacity provides up to 2 full charges before needing recharging
  3. Lightweight & Powerful: Perfect for work, vacation, and every day on-the-go
  4. Engineered with smart chip technology to prevent damage or over charging
  5. Aluminum housing for durability & safety
  6. Fun color assortment for personal style expression
  7. Charges as fast as a standard wall charger in an electrical outlet
  8. Check power status with a push of button
  9. Easy and intuitive use
  10. Included carrying pouch

All of this for the price of $49.99.

My Non Technical Interpretations Of Magicstick

So for those of you who look at this stuff and think okay but that doesn’t tell me anything, what does it do?  Well, that’s me so here’s my non technical review of it.  The Powerocks Magicstick charges a single device at least one time while you’re on the go.  It has a sleek mini mag light design and it comes in many different colors.  It also comes with a USB cable and small carry bag to carry the cord and Magicstick in.  Just toss it in your diaper bag, purse, or back pocket and take it where you go to charge mobile devices.

What Did I Think

Honestly, while this is extremely useful to me and convenient as it’s easy to carry I wouldn’t say I’m in love with it or think it’s a must have for everyone.  I might be interested in trying some of Powerocks other products.  My problem with the Magicstick is two fold. One is that it can’t charge all of my mobile devices.  It can charge everyone on the family’s phone, but it couldn’t be used to charge my digital camera.  I also cannot charge my husbands tablet with it.  While my phone might be the most important thing I’ll need to charge on the go it’s not the only thing.  I guess as long as I do have my phone I don’t have to worry about missing any pictures if my camera’s battery dies.

All in all though I really like this for charging my phone when I’m on the go now.  It’s so easy to hook it up.  And the little drawstring bag is convenient as well.  I can even talk on and use the phone still while it’s charging with this device.

The only improvements I would like to see with it is more options for charging different devices and that it would last longer.  I’m not sure I have ever gotten a complete charge out of this for my phone.  It is slow to charge and slow to be charged.  I also have to use my computer and a USB connection to get it to charge.  I can’t plug it into the wall.  This isn’t a problem for me per se, but some might prefer charging directly on the wall.

All this to say, having this Powerocks Magicstick has been very helpful for my on the go mom lifestyle, so long as I remember to charge the Magicstick that is.  I do find it helpful, but I think I would also like to try the magic cube.

Travels With Gannon And Wyatt Review And Giveaway


Reading BotswanaMy eleven year old daughter struggles with reading. She loves doing it, but it’s also very hard for her. I love encouraging her to read with a new series though. So when I got the opportunity to review Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series with her I jumped on it. We received our books in the mail at the beginning of the month.

It’s a 3 book adventure series written for middle grade children. The first in the series is titled Botswana which was released May 2013. It obviously is about Gannon and Wyatt’s trip to Botswana Africa. The next book to be released was Great Bear Rainforest which came out October of 2013. This book is about Gannon and Wyatt’s trek into the great bear rainforest searching for a mythical bear and surviving insurmountable odds in the process. And finally, the yet to be released book of Egypt which is to come out in January of 2014.

What an amazing series. I’m going to have a very quick giveaway at the bottom of this post for the entire series which is valued at $38.85 so be sure to stick around and enter that giveaway. I promise you won’t be disappointed in this series.

The Three Book Series

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt is somewhat fact based.  There really is a Gannon and Wyatt who are twin brothers that went on these adventures around the world with their flight attendant mother and their father was an international businessman.    They have shared perhaps their stories or the stories they have heard of others around the campfire to help the authors, Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet, put together this series of books.  The whole idea behind sharing these stories is to teach children about cultures, animals, and lifestyles of other people in a fun and exciting way. Lets face it, no one likes reading a text book.  But you put some real life people kids can relate to into a story and set them out on an adventure and suddenly learning about the lives of bushmen and people in another country who have a different culture than yours just becomes much more interesting. A great reminder in these books from Gannon and Wyatt is “The world is our classroom, and we’re bringing you along.”  So come along for the adventures.  I’m going to focus on the book Botswana for brevity purposes.

Botswana

Travels with Gannon and Wyatt_ BotswanaThe first book in the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series is Botswana.  In this book we read the journal entries of two young twin brothers and their homeschooling adventure to Africa.  They were filled with the typical excitement of two young boys about to embark on an adventure, but had no idea what kind of tests the bonds of brotherhood would be put through.

My daughter immediately related to the relationship of the brothers as they were complete opposites much like her and her sister.  They tease each other much in the same way as well.  While that seemed to be where their similarities ended for her she still found it interesting. 

She did have trouble reading it though.  She had some trouble getting into it.  In the beginning it starts out interesting with some good descriptions, but then it gets a little dull after they get off the plane.  It picks up though once they have their first run in with wildlife.  And if they thought that their run in with a rhino was going to be bad, then they really hadn’t seen anything yet.

Their adventure takes them on a trek to find a hurt mama lion and her cubs.  The lion was shot by a poacher, but got away and now it was a race to see who could get to her first.  The poacher to finish off the job he started or Gannon and Wyatt and their team of a native of African and a bushman who knew those woods better than anyone.

Along the way they see many wildlife and really have to step out of their comfort zone in trying some new foods and encountering animals close up that most of us have and will only ever see in a zoo.

The story jumps back and forth between the two different viewpoints of Gannon and Wyatt as they explain each situation they experience through their journal entries.  I think this might have been a little confusing for my daughter bouncing back and forth between the two viewpoints, but we discussed how interesting it is how two people can view the same exact situation.  That when her sister tells us a story that is slightly different than hers even though they experienced the same thing it’s those different points of view and personalities that make the story even slightly different of the same situation.

I think this is a great series to read together with your children.  They might not pick up on these little nuances.  It also would be a great series to read as a class.  My daughter actually brought the books in to show her Social Studies teacher and she was very interested in the series.  Perhaps it’s something we’ll see on the reading list in schools before too long.

They learn about so many different cultures and animals.  It was very easy to get lost in these adventures and imagine yourself in these same situations.  Both my daughter and I felt that if faced with the same challenges that Gannon and Wyatt faced in Botswana that we wouldn’t have handled it nearly as well as Gannon and Wyatt did.  I think we both would have been wetting our pants.  I sure was happy to be in the safety and comfort of my own home while reading this. 

We got to read about how the bushman just naturally jumped into situations that most people would be running from fear from.  It really makes you wonder what would a bushman do if faced with our day to day challenges. To us getting on a bus everyday or jogging through traffic and driving a car are just a part of our every day.  Would a native of Botswana person quiver in fear at the 9-5 drive of our day?  Definitely something I would love to see how he would handle life in an American city. Once you read Botswana you are going to want to dive right in to Great Bear Rainforest and Egypt.  So maybe you can win your own copy of these three books today.

Giveaway

Now it’s time for the giveaway.  You have a chance to win all three books, Botswana, Great Bear Rainforest, and Egypt today.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance of winning all three books.  This giveaway will run quick.  It will end Monday November 25, 2013 at midnight.  The winner will be chosen and announced that day.  You will have 24 hours to respond to your email before another name is chosen as I need to get the winner’s information to the publisher. Odds of winning are based on how many entries are received.  The winner will receive their books straight from the publisher. So enter today.

And check out the Travels With Gannon And Wyatt Facebook page.  They are giving away 3 Kindle Fires this month only.  So many chances to win something.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

An Evening At Sundae Spa

Sundae SpaA few weeks ago I had shared some great deals at Sundae Spa, a local kid’s spa that has all sorts of fun activities including, but not limited to, manicures, make your own lip gloss, and glam strands for your hair.  And well, lets not forget, ice cream too.

A few years ago my middle daughter had been invited to a birthday party there, but she was really disappointed when we were unable to go.  When she went back to school she had found all of her friends had made some really great memories there.  And I have been feeling bad that we haven’t had a chance to try it out for ourselves.  So when this opportunity to bring two of my children to Sundae Spa arose I had to take it.  The only problem was who do I take?

I knew it would have to be my middle daughter.  Not only is this stuff (creating her own lip gloss) right up her artsy alley, but she had missed out on a birthday party there a few years ago.  So then it was a matter of do I make it a big girl outing or bring my toddler.  I wasn’t too sure that my fourteen year old was going to enjoy this because it says it’s for ages 3-14.  So I wasn’t sure if she’d find this to be boring. And when I asked her if she wanted to go she wasn’t all that enthusiastic so I was really beginning to wonder if I made the right choice or not.

Turns out I did, but my 2 year old would have really enjoyed it too.  So last Thursday evening we headed out to Sundae Spa.  I had a hard time finding it.  I mean GPS took me right there, but I didn’t see a sign for it and even as I pulled into the parking lot it wasn’t immediately screaming Sundae Spa is right here.  But we were in the right spot and as I pulled up to the building one look in the window made it clear we had to be there.  Lots of bright colors.

There was no one else there though.  We walked in and were greeted right away.  I gave the girl at the desk my name and she was all ready and waiting for us (probably because we were late).  She introduced herself to us as Skittles.  She had two things set up on the counter for the girls to start making their lip gloss.  They got to choose their scent.  As we were looking through the samples trying to decide which one smelled the best I spotted this scent:

Sundae SpaDo you see that?  It says Monkey Farts.  And that right there is why I immediately thought my 2 year old would have loved this too.  She loves monkeys.  I was hoping one of the girls would pick it, but they did not and I can’t blame them.  As my oldest says, “It smelled like real monkey farts.”  Lets not get into how she knows what real monkey farts smell like.  It wasn’t the greatest scent.  I think it was more of a banana scent, but I probably wouldn’t want that on my lips either.  But a two year old who loves monkeys just might really like this one.

But my oldest picked out raspberry and my middle daughter picked out cotton candy.  Then they got to choose the color they wanted for their lip gloss and if they wanted shimmer or glitter.  They mixed everything together and poured it into a container and added a roller and label.

Sundae Spa

Then it was time for their manicure.  First they had to pick out a bath salt scent they liked, then a lotion, and a hand cream.  Then it was off to pick out their color nail polish and if they wanted sparkle or crackle or nothing at all.  My oldest picked sparkle and middle picked crackle.  Sure looked nice the treatment they got too.

Sundae Spa

Doesn’t that look heavenly?  The girls who painted their nails (Skittles and Pez) were both very nice.  They got the girls to open up and talk.  I must admit it’s much better than the usual place we go to get a manicure where the women barely speak English and the girls look at me like, “What are they saying?”

Once their nails were all prettied up it was under the dryer and finally they got to pick out if they wanted a hair extension, feather, or glam strand.  So many choices, I think my girls would have taken all three.  But my middle daughter opted for the feather and my oldest went for the hair extension in purple.

Sundae Spa

Look really close at my oldest daughter’s hair.  It’s hard to see, but there is a purple strand there.  We were wondering if a lighter color would have been better with her dark hair.  I’m not sure, I’m thinking she has so much hair that it just gets lost in all that hair.

And finally it was time for the ice cream.  They got their choice of ice cream flavor and two toppings plus whip cream and chocolate sauce.

After we left my oldest daughter declared that was the best day ever.  Although, that might have had something to do with the trip to Moe’s afterwards for chips and queso (one of her favorite treats), but she did say she was pleasantly surprised by Sundae Spa.  Both girls gave it two big thumbs up and want to go back.  And they even want to bring their little sister.

It is something I’m considering.  It is a little pricey I feel.  The manicure alone would have been $20.  Doing all of that for 3 girls would have been expensive.  But maybe for a special birthday celebration we can do it again.

I liked going in the middle of the week.  We had the whole place to ourselves.  It sounds like weekends are far more busy.  For something fun to do with the girls on occasion though I think this will be great.  And I could include my son.  They do have some things for boys (I’m thinking Monkey Farts is to appeal to the boys).  I don’t know that my son would enjoy this though. Maybe a few years ago, but lately he has been very concerned with that’s for boys and that’s for girls.  So I might just make it a girls only special thing.

I thought I was going to be included in on the things too, but it was just the girls.  It’s probably better, it’s not like they could have put a feather in my hair.

Would you like to go to Sundae Spa?

I was provided with this package to Sundae Spa for free as a part of US Family Guide Blogger in order to faciliatate my review.  All opinions expressed here are my own and true to what I believe based on this visit.

Classic Harbor Cruise New York City

Luxury YachtPerhaps you remember over a month ago our family sailing trip aboard the Adirondack schooner boat in Boston, MA?  Well, we had the opportunity to do just about the same thing in New York a week later.  And yes, I am just now getting to writing up my review about it.  Every time I sat down to do it there were a million other things that needed to be done.  And well, there are still a million other things that need to be done, but this finally made it to the top of my to do list.

So a month ago we took the train into NYC and then we walked the two miles from Grand Central Station to Chelsea Piers because we’re just that crazy.  We made it there just in the nick of time too.  There was a line of people standing in front of a small building which said Classic Harbor Cruise, so I assumed they were waiting for their tickets, but really they were lined up to get on the Yacht Manhattan.  I realized that pretty quick though and quickly got our tickets which were waiting for us in that small building marked Classic Harbor Cruise.

We handed our tickets to the ticket taker and walked down the ramp to get on the boat.  We were assisted onto the boat and this time someone offered to take the stroller for us.  That didn’t happen on our last cruise, so that was nice.

This boat was set up very different from the schooner boat we had been on the previous week.  There was a viewing deck which was inside and air conditioned where we could sit with tables.  We could have gone out on deck, but we chose to stay below in the viewing deck.

Immediately my whole family said they liked this boat better than the schooner we had taken in Boston.  However, I’m not entirely sold.  While I did like that there was a place to be indoors and out of the elements (and away from the spray on the deck because people did end up wet that were standing outside) I felt less connected to any of the crew.  I mean they were nice and all and the captain had a microphone which he did use to talk to everyone and explain the sights along the way that we were seeing.  And perhaps it was a different experience if we had ventured out onto the deck, but I also found it to be very rocky.  More so than the schooner.

This could have to do with the waters we were in of course or the traffic on the water or even the winds from that day.  But I found it very difficult to maneuver around the boat even though there was much more room to do so than on the schooner.  That did end up being a plus for the little kids though.  The added space, that is.

As a matter of fact, my little ones weren’t the littlest passengers on this boat.  There were several small children which my little ones buddied up with on the boat.  While we were closer to the sights and got a more intimate view in Boston we did have a more comfortable place to be where I wasn’t too concerned about the kids bouncing about the boat because they couldn’t end up overboard.  And the bathroom got my 5 year old’s seal of approval on this one as well.  We did have to take a trip to the head on this boat.  It was only one trip; probably because he was more free to get up and move about the boat than he was in Boston.

They do offer complimentary beverages on this yacht as well.  Your first drink was free, but after that you had to pay.  I think the prices varied based on what you got, but it wasn’t just soft drinks which were free on this boat, alcohol was free too, for the first beverage.  We did not get cute little can cozies for our drinks this time.  Actually for me and my husband and the big kids we got nice glasses and the two little ones got paper cups.  So I was sort of bummed that we didn’t leave with a small token from the boat like we did in Boston.

The captain was very knowledgeable about the area and what he was showing us.  I must admit, I had a hard time figuring out where he was telling us to look though.  He took a slow pass by the statue of liberty so we could get plenty of shots.  That had just reopened a month prior after Hurricane Sandy, but Ellis Island remains closed.  I sure hope they open that back up.  We have been up to the top of the Statue Of Liberty, but we didn’t get to do Ellis Island when we went to NY last time.   That’s something I sure would like to do, especially since my husband’s mother and grandmother came over from England and went through Ellis Island.

Let me share some pictures from our trip to New York and aboard the yacht.

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See no evil speak no evil. Where’s hear no evil?

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Can we go already?

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Not another picture mom…

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Pulling out of the pier

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So long Chelsea Pier

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On the water.

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She picked this spot and claimed it, all of the pillows too.

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The Statue of Liberty and all her glory.

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Now this is interesting under the table.

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His favorite spot, under the table.

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Just chillin’ with the Statue of Liberty behind her.

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Enjoying the ride.

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It’s the Domino Sugar factory.

And that concludes our tour of New York Harbor.  This was a really fun experience we got to have and I’m glad we got to see both Boston and NY in this way.  There were pluses and minuses to both boats, but all in all I think they were both a win.  I must admit, I definitely liked the schooner in Boston better than the yacht, but I am outnumbered by my family on that.  Every one of them preferred this New York harbor tour better than the Boston one.

I received free tickets to facilitate a review of this New York City Classic Harbor Cruises.  I was not compensated in any other way to give a positive review.  All opinions expressed here are my own and that of my family’s.

Cruising Boston Harbor With Classic Harbor Cruises

Schooner Adirondack III

Schooner Adirondack III

So you know one of the perks of living in New England is the ability to take day trips in another state, right? Well, that continues to be our vacation with my husband on vacation. Yesterday we headed off to Boston for the day. All thanks to US Family Guide Bloggers and Classic Harbor Cruises that trip to Boston was made even more special because we got to cruise the harbor on a schooner boat.

We got a ride on the Adirondack III schooner boat for two hours on the harbor. I was worried of how our cruise would go when we were looking at a weather forecast with rain in it, but we headed to Boston anyways. We weren’t cruising until 3:30, but we wanted to make a day of it so we first went to Quincy Market where we had lunch at Cheers. I have to say I was not all that impressed with that by the way. It was pricy and the food wasn’t that great. My husband had a chili dog, but what they put on that hot dog could hardly be considered chili. It was simply ground meat, with some peppers, and beans.

But that’s besides the point. We did some shopping in Quincy Market and then decided to go find Rowes Wharf. It was only half an hour until we could check in so we figured we’d go sit by the water. And Rowes Wharf is a beautiful place to just sit by the water and get a bite to eat too.

Here were my kids hanging out by the water.

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My beautiful oldest sitting by the water.

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My beautiful middle daughter.

My son, always inquisitive, looking at the water.

My youngest was napping in the stroller at the point so I didn’t get any pictures of her.

Ready To Set Sail

After relaxing and enjoying the view of the wharf and taking a few trips to the potty we were ready to check in.  When you walk through the arches at the wharf if you go to the right and down the stairs there is a building where you can go to check in.  I wasn’t sure exactly where to go at first because nothing said Classic Harbor Cruises, but when I went into the building that said Oasis there was a desk to check in.  I was handed 6 heavy plastic boarding passes which were pretty neat.  I had never seen a ticket like that before.

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We waited by gate B for the captain to come let us board.  He took our tickets and commented about our t-shirts.  Did I mention, we all wore matching shirts which was a huge hit with the people of Boston?  People all over kept commenting about how they loved our shirts, or what a great idea it was to wear matching shirts.

We were helped aboard the boat and took a seat near the captain.  I have to say, as far as learning about what we were looking at I think that was the best place to sit.  Chat up the captain, he has a lot to say.  I don’t know if the rest of the crew was as chatty on the boat.  They might have had a less obstructed view than we did, but I thought we had a good spot.

The cruise is two hours around the harbor on a beautiful sailboat.  We had a great day for sailing too with some good strong winds pushing us along the harbor.  The sails looked gorgeous on the sail boat.  I had never been on a sail boat before.

They also offered complimentary soft drinks and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages which cost $5 a piece.  We did not partake in the alcohol, just the soft drinks.  The crew was all very generous and willing to help out or get us more to drink if we wanted it.

And the kids enjoyed it, including my youngest.  My older ones were worried they would be spending their summer vacation learning stuff, but it wasn’t that kind of tour where all of the history was explained.  The captain just pointed out some stuff to those of us in ear shot.  Nothing too educational for them.

And as soon as the motor started for us to get out of port my youngest was saying, “Wheeeeeeee!”  I tried to get her on video doing that, but of course as soon as I got the camera on she stopped, but she was looking everywhere and talking about everything so here’s a cute video of a very small portion of our cruise.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the cruise.

Ready to go.

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Boats on the water.

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Just thought this was appropriate since my husband sells seafood.

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The Harbor

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My son enjoying his complimentary beverage.

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Castle Island.

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An island.

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A barge.

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Boston Skyline

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Nantucket boat.

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Me and two of my girls, one looking at pictures on my phone.

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A wonderful view of the buildings on the harbor.

We really enjoyed our entire day in Boston, but finishing it on this relaxing two hour cruise of the harbor was a great way to end.

Final Thoughts

Be prepared for it to be a little chilly on the boat.  But fear not, there are blankets aboard and you can always go below deck to warm up.

My oldest daughter does tend to get a touch of motion sickness.  She was feeling a little funny shortly into the trip, but the ginger ale settled things right down.  So if you tend to get motion sickness do come prepared for that.

We got to watch many planes land at the airport that’s right by the harbor.  My little ones loved it, but it was a little loud with the engines flying over head.  Nothing that required ear plugs, but if you have children who are afraid of loud noises, just be warned.  My children were only upset when they couldn’t see the planes anymore.

Towards the end the two little ones were definitely getting fidgety.  Two hours is a while to ask them to stay in one place.  While you can walk around the boat there’s not a whole lot of room like a ferry boat or cruise ship of course.  My son made three trips to the bathroom below deck while we were on the boat for a whopping two hours though.  I think that was the most trips to the bathroom he made all day long.  You’ll probably want things to entertain little ones with though.

My youngest two were the youngest on the boat.  However, it wasn’t something that I feel was inappropriate for them.  They really enjoyed seeing all of the sites and being on the water.  My two year old is still talking about going on the water.  So all in all I think it makes for a nice romantic trip for a couple, or a family excursion like we did.  A great way to see an historical city like Boston.

The boat appeared to be very well taken care of and was also very clean.  The crew was knowledgeable and hard working.  I felt safe the entire time.  While we were not provided with life jackets there were plenty on board.  All in all it was a great experience and I would love to do it again someday.  Perhaps their sunset cruise with just my husband when my children get older.

Definitely check it out if you’re going to be in Boston.

Disclaimer: I was provided free tickets to take this cruise and facilitate this review.  However, all opinions expressed here are my own and I have not been paid to give a certain kind of review.

Where’d You Go Monica

0722131033So yes, I was MIA yesterday. My husband is on vacation for the next two weeks. While we have no plans to go anywhere and stay this year we have been planning little day trips. Yesterday we went to New Hampshire for the day.

I saw something on Facebook the other day about living in New England that was so true. It was a whole list of things, but one of the things I couldn’t get out of my head yesterday was the part that says, “You can drive two hours in any direction and be in another state.” It’s totally true. As a matter of fact, we made it through 2 states in a matter of 3 hours.

We headed north for a trip to a little water park called Liquid Planet. Here’s the part where I give a little disclosure. I received free passes to try out this water park. This isn’t my full review of the park because we did not get the full experience of it. But I wanted to take the time to tell you my thoughts on it so far because some of you in the area, or who are going to be vacationing in New England this summer, might want to check this out.

Our Trip To Liquid Planet, Part I

We left CT all bright and sunny, got into MA and it was getting cloudy, and by the time we were in New Hampshire we were getting rain. Now mind you I checked the weather forecast before we left. I checked it on our way up there. All it was saying was it was cloudy. I even checked the radar when it started to rain because I wanted to see what happened. There was this little tiny patch of green and a few yellows right over where we were in NH. So I figured, it will blow by in a little while, the weather forecast after all was still just saying cloudy.

So we arrived at the water park and boy was it cold. Hey, 70 degrees, with no sun, and rain doesn’t feel too warm. But, we had driven all this way so we went to get our tickets.

You know when you go to most amusement parks or water parks you practically need to get a trolley to make it to the main gate? That’s not the case here which was it’s first plus. Because anyone who has had to lug the water/beach belongings of six people, two of which can’t really carry much of anything, knows that’s a feat in and of itself that is. And if you forget anything? Well, forget about it, no one wants to trek all the way back to the car. Here at Liquid Planet when you pull into the parking lot, you are staring at the main gate. It’s about as far of a walk as you would have when you went to the grocery store to get to the main gate.

They did not have my name at the gate as I was told they would, but that was okay. The girl behind the counter just called her manager. I was slightly disappointed that they weren’t expecting me because I had discussed getting a cabana with their marketing person and even spoke to him through text message on the way there. He said he would let them know I was coming from a distance. I actually forgot to ask about the cabana, they probably would have given us one because they were just taking my word for what I told them I was supposed to have.

So we got the full ride, the Big Dipper package which includes access to the water park, 1 zipline ride, and a round of mini golf. Right now, with this coupon the Big Dipper only costs $19 (a $40 value) until August 31.  And you can use this coupon for as many tickets as you need.

Upon entering the park you really can see it all.  Right in the middle they have sort of a large splash pad.  Well, it’s a little more than a splash pad because there is a pool of water that’s about two feet deep.  But there are little slides and water canons all around it.  A see saw that squirts water.  My five year old was immediately drawn there, but the water was freezing.  It did not seem to bother him though, but no one else really wanted to play with him there.

My 5 year old hanging out in the splash pad at Liquid Planet.

My 5 year old hanging out in the splash pad at Liquid Planet.

My 11 year old giving the splash pad a try.

My 11 year old giving the splash pad a try.

My 2 year old trying to keep up with her big brother.

My 2 year old trying to keep up with her big brother.

They have bathrooms and changing rooms as soon as you walk in.  There are chairs all over for sitting.  As you walk past the splash area there’s a small four foot deep pool and beyond that are the two giant water slides they have.  If you go to the right you are brought down to the beach and lake.  It’s a very small beach and the water is orange.  Well, really it’s more of a rust color.  There’s a sign which explains that the water is clean and completely harmless.  Something about the rock in the water.  The lake was also surprisingly warm.  On the lake they have a bunch of blow up things to climb on.  You really need to be able to swim to get out to it though.

I took my 5 year old out there with my 11 year old.  My son insisted on getting up on the raft thing, but it was really hard because you can’t touch the ground, so I was trying to hoist him up there.  I got him up and he started walking on it, but was having a hard time and when he had gotten to a part where there was a gap in the tubes he couldn’t go any further.  Probably a good thing because I’m really not sure what he was planning on doing if he got all the way to the end where he would have had to climb this mammoth latter to the top of a slide and slide into the water.  That, I did not see happening.  So I had to help him back down because he refused to jump in the water and had to swim him back to the shore.

At this point my oldest and my husband decided they wanted to try the zipline.  The baby was also in a mood.  While I had swam out with my son and she stayed behind with my husband, she had slipped and fallen into the lake so she was not too happy with the water.  My son wanted to go back into the splash pad, so we tried to do that, but my youngest wanted nothing to do with it and quite frankly it was cold.  So I convinced them to go into the little 4 foot pool.  That pool was actually warm.  It felt nice in there.  We tried to swim around, but the two little ones weren’t too interested in any of it.

I was also trying to watch for my oldest and my husband to come down the zipline.  The zipline goes right over the park and the pool we were in.  I never saw them and before I knew it they were in the pool with us.  They had gotten out of the zipline line because it wasn’t moving and they heard they were closing the park early because of the weather.  My husband took the two little ones who were not happy in the pool out and over to our chairs.  My son went back to his favorite place and the baby sat moping on the chair.  Me and my two older daughters got to play around in the pool a little.  I rarely get to swim with them because of the little ones so this was nice.

When we were swum out we decided to get out and see what everyone else was up to.  It was noon at this point (we had been there 2 hours) and the park was closing in an hour.  We decided to take some time to dry off and then hit up the gift shop.

Mopey baby girl.

Mopey baby girl.

He looks freezing, but he still wanted to go back in the water.

He looks freezing, but he still wanted to go back in the water.

They offered everyone in the park a chance to come back because they were closing early, free of charge.  This was great because we didn’t have time to try everything, but of course the fact that 3 hours into our trip we were already done was a bit of a bummer.  We had to try to find something else to do, which we weren’t planning on.

But it is what it is, and the policy they have for rain dates is really quite amazing.  We can use these tickets whenever we want and they don’t expire.  So we could go back next year if we wanted to.  The girls wanted us to get a hotel and stay the night and go back today, but I didn’t think the weather was going to be better today and my husband has a doctor’s appointment today.  The good news is, he still has plenty of vacation left.  The bad news is that’s another six hours round trip to get there.  I definitely want to use these as soon as possible so I can give this park a full review.  It’s also kind of nice that now that I have been there I have a better plan of attack for our next visit.

My Recommendations For Visiting Liquid Planet

If you are going to do the zipline, get that over with first.  The line moves very slow so it’s probably best if you get there for when the park opens at 10:00 to get right in line for that and do it first.  Then you’ll probably be ready to cool off in the water when it’s all said and done.

There are limited cabanas, but even though there wasn’t any sun for us yesterday I think it would be worth it.  More privacy and you’re stuff isn’t out in the open.  They do have lockers you can rent.  I forgot to check how much those were.

You can bring food, but not inside the park.  There is a little picnic area by the main gate.  Whether you bring your own food, or eat inside the park I think after lunch will be the perfect time to go do the mini golf.  Once you get all heated up from that it’s back in the water you go.

Don’t go there expecting a whole lot of thrills.  This isn’t the place for that.  It’s just a small family park.  If your family is like mine with a huge age range, then this really is perfect for you.  My older ones can do the zipline, but the little ones can’t.  They can also do the water slides, but the little ones need an adult to go down them.  We can easily split up and meet back up without having a specific meeting time or destination though because of the size of this park.

That’s my plan of attack for the next time we go.  Hopefully we pick a more sunny day with no sudden rain showers that causes the park to close.  I’m not sure how they come up with this decision because as we were leaving the sun came out and it didn’t rain on us the rest of the day there, but again it is what it is.  Considering how cold everyone was in the water, it’s probably better that we ended early.

Be sure to check back for a full review of the park, hopefully with lots of bright sun shiny pictures.