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Travel Trends & Tips

14 May

With a little over a month of school left and Spring classes coming to an end, it marks one of our favorite times of year…SUMMER.  During the summer we plan lots of fun adventures and spend a lot of time exploring the South.  We hit the beaches, go to the parks, check out museums and take day trips. We also like to take time to explore the parks of NYC before we head back to school.

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Recently, I attended a Travel Event hosted by Momtrends.  The showcased many great tips and products for upcoming adventures near or far.

Adventure:

Eric Messinger from New York Family, reminded me that travel doesn’t have to be to an exotic place or for an extended period.  It could be an adventure somewhere local or a short drive away.  There are two new indoor water parks opening in the Poconos; Camelback’s Aquatopia and Kalahari Resorts.  One our our favorite local adventures is a simple walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (see an old post here).  Every time, regardless of how many times we do it, the girls ask if we are still in NY and there is always something new to discover.

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Picnics On the Beach or In The Park:

During the Spring and Summer months, we love to picnic.  When we are down south we head to the beach and when back in NYC we check out a new park.  Momtrends introduced me to Bark Thins; delicious non-gmo& fair-trade chocolate covered pretzels.  Unfortunately, my nut allergy daughter can’t have them but they are a great snack for mom and dad or to share with friends.  Xo, G wine  by Giuliana Rancic is perfect for your next picnic. It has a lid to make carrying it around easier.  If you don’t finish your glass, you can easily cover it and bring it home.

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Bugs can be a problem for my youngest daughter.  She is always getting bit by something and the bites always swell and get really red.  Since we spend so much time outdoors, I always have to carry bug repellent.  Guardian’s DEET- free will be my go-to this summer.

Image from Momtrends

Image from Momtrends

Fashion:

Miraclesuit is one of my favorite bathing suit companies, especially since I’ve become a mom and my body isn’t the same as it once was.  Not only are the suits gorgeous, they make you feel good about being in one.  There are so many wonderful styles of suits and cover ups for this Summer at the pool or beach.  Fashion Tip: The Suba Suit is in.

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Over packing is something I’m very good at.  Yamis & Dawni is such a wonderful concept. Eight pieces creates over 50 different styles.  Add some accessories and you are set to go.  Not to mention, it feels like it would be very comfortable to go from all day traveling to dinner at night.

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Beauty:

Glam Squad, an on-demand beauty service with the use of an App,  provided beauty tips and shared which beauty products to keep handy when traveling, especially after a long flight.

  1. Eyeliner: Apply on inner rim and over bottom lid.  When you close your eyes it will transfer to the upper lid.
  2. Cream Blush: This can be used for a nude lip as well.
  3. Dry Shampoo: Eliminates oils from hair.
  4. Texturizing Spray with a hold

For more information about the night, see the Momtrends write-up here.  Happy Traveling and I hope these tips and trends are as helpful for you as they were for me.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  i received a gift bag for attending the event.

 

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Child Passenger Safety Week Tips From Britax

18 Sep
When my youngest was born, we decided it was best to have a car in the city.  I made several road trips with my girls to visit family in DC and we made weekend trip to visit friends and family in NJ.  I always had to double check their car seats to make sure they were tight because driving on the Turnpike with trucks flying by is a little intimidating.  Not only that, I know that anything can happen at any time and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to my two little girls.  As they grew older, it became a little tricky because they wanted  out of their convertible and into a booster.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week. Did you know that  three out of four kids are not properly secured in a vehicle because their car seats are not correctly installed. Sarah Tilton, Britax Child Passenger Safety Advocacy Manager, provides tips below to ensure your child is safe on your next journey.
Image from Britax

Image from Britax

  • Select a car seat that fits your baby and your vehicle(s). Also, be sure that you can use it correctly each and every time.
  • Be sure your car seat fits your growing child. Seated shoulder height is often overlooked.
  • Belt-Positioning Boosters are for big kids. Don’t transition out of a 5-point harness prematurely.
  • When using LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), be aware that your vehicle’s lower anchors have weigh limits. You must switch to vehicle seat belt installation when the weight of the car seat and the child exceed 65 lbs.
  • A snug harness strap should not allow any slack. If you’re able to pinch the strap, the harness is too loose. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing.
  • For children 12 years of age and under, remember — the backseat is always the safest place for them to ride. Be sure to check your child seat and vehicle user guides for available seating positions.
  • Britax recommends that the use of a child seat be discontinued if it has been in a moderate to severe crash. Also, never purchase a used car seat if you don’t know its history.
  • Did you know that your car seat has an expiration date? Double check the manufacturer’s tag to be sure your seat is still safe.
  • Vehicles can become very hot, especially in the warm summer months. Never leave your child in a vehicle unattended.
  • Be sure your child’s harness is tight enough, especially in the winter months when children are bundled up in thick layers and bulky outerwear.
  • After buying a car seat, be sure to register your product either by visiting the manufacturer’s website, mailing the registration card or by calling their Customer Service department. That way you can be contacted in the event of a recall.
  • Always refer to your child restraint user guide or call your car seat’s customer service about installation and proper use questions you might have.

Check out my post about the new ClickTight Technology from Britax, making installation easier and safer.  Wishing you and your family safe travels on your next journey!

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  Information was provided by Britax.

Five Favorites To Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

15 Jul

The girls and I headed down South a couple of weeks ago to spend the Summer with family. My girls have only flown once but I had my husband with me to help. I have to admit I was a little nervous going without my him this trip, especially when I received a text message on my way to the airport that my flight had been delayed. Thank goodness for these five activities packed in their Boost-A-Paks, featured below, because the delay and flight were a piece of cake.

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Boogie Board: An eWriter that allows kids to draw and simply push a button to erase. My girls spent majority of the time using this while we waited and on our flight. They drew pictures, wrote notes, and played tic tac toe. Definitely worth purchasing if you have any travel plans this summer. No marker or pen marks all over your car and you won’t have to worry about picking up several crayons off the floor. It’s also great to bring to restaurants to keep the little ones busy.

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Melissa and Doug Scratch Art: All you need is your wooden pencil/ stick to scratch off and discover beautiful colors below. There are several different activities, notebooks or stickers to choose from. My girls love their sketch books but their favorite on the plane was the window glass scratch art. The girls would scratch a design then stick it on the plane window and see the light shine through.

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Images from Melissa and Doug

Tegu Pocket Pouch Blocks: I got a set for each of my girls. They worked together to create and build.

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Image from Tegu

iHome Disney MiniMouse Headphones: My girls were so excited to see their favorite shows playing on the screen in front them. They also enjoyed listening to music while they drew and built their creations. The iHome headphones stay on their head and have in-line volume control. Also, great to plug into an iPad, tablet or phone when using Apps or watching downloaded movies on a car ride, train ride or next flight.

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Image from ToysRUs

Travel Wind Up Fishing Game: I used to love this game as a kid. I found it in an isle at a grocery store, also available on Amazon. The girls loved playing and we took turns playing against each other. Keep it stored in a ziplock and place fish back in the bag to keep from losing the pieces.

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image from Amazon

 

Happy Traveling this Summer!

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Adventures to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center

13 Jun

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My girls look forward to the weekends.  It means a new adventure.  The other weekend we jumped in the car and headed to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, just outside of NYC. My girls LOVE building with their LEGO DUPLO and LEGO Friends sets so they were VERY excited to check out the Discovery Center.

Upon arriving, we picked up our tickets and were guided into the LEGO Factory.  The girls had a hands on experience making LEGO’s.

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Next, you walk into a dark room which is the LEGO Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.  I think the girls would have enjoyed the ride but the darkness and the music scared them a little, so we quickly moved past this experience.  If your child gets scared easily, talk to them before your enter the room and talk about the ride (you use a laser to zap trolls and skeletons who are hiding).

After our quick pass through the  we visited our favorite NYC sights.  It’s amazing the time and craftsmanship that went to building these amazing models. It was beautiful.  The girls were in awe too.  A while back we attended a LEGO event, where my  girls met Master Model Builder Gary.  I was able to point out METLIFE stadium, a model he helped build.  The girls thought that was so cool.

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After you walk through the mini NYC replicas, you enter the main room with smaller sections.  You can start by putting together race cars and challenging your friends on the “race tracks”.  Little ones can head to DUPLO village for fun in a small play gym and ball pit.  My girls had a lot of fun over at the LEGO Friends house. They built their own creations, sang karaoke and played in the kitchen.  The favorite part of the day was their ride on Merlin’s Apprentice.  Unfortunately, my girls don’t do well with 3D so we skipped the 15 minute 4D LEGO Chima move experience and went to the giant play land in the center.  They had fun climbing and sliding.   In addition to all the great attractions, LEGO fans can learn to create models from Master Builders at the LEGO Master Builder Academy.  Be sure to check out what times the classes run.

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The LEGOLAND cafe was perfect for grabbing a drink and snack.  We ate before we left but if your little one hasn’t had lunch, a kids meal is available in a cool LEGO lunch box (pictured below).

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As you exit, you walk through a gift shop on the way out so be prepared to have your child pulling on your arm asking for something. So decide beforehand if you want them to get something or not.  There are items in a variety of price ranges so you could get something small or spend a lot on something large.

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Schools are letting out soon and finding activities to keep the kids busy can be challenging.  The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is a great outing on the hot summer days when you break from the heat.  It’s also a fun, rainy day adventure. Every Friday in June is Free Friend Friday, so grab a friend for lots of fun and building.

For more on ticket pricing and more event information, visit http://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/westchester/.

Family Fun On Board The Norwegian Getaway!

30 Jan

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Every once in a while, the girls will catch a cruise ship out of the corner of their eye while walking along the Hudson or they”ll catch a glimpse as one passing by our living room window.  They have so many questions about the ship passing by.  As I was walking by the Hudson River, partly covered in ice (pictured above), all I could think about was a vacation to a warm destination.  Although the girls have asked to go on a cruise as they watched ships pass by, I never thought about taking a cruise for our family vacation. Partly, because I never realized how much they have to offer for families but also because my husband has only heard negative media so wasn’t a huge fan of the idea.  When I got the invite from  The MOMS to spend the day on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Getaway, I couldn’t say no. I was anxious to see the girls reactions when they saw a ship similar to the ones they would look at in the distance but I also wanted to see all the cruise ship has to offer.

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We watched as the Norwegian Breakaway sailed past our building last summer!

The Getaway recently sailed across the Atlantic from Germany,where it was built, to its temporary port of New York City. The Getaway transform into a Bud Light Hotel during the Super Bowl. After the Super Bowl, it will make its way to it’s new home in Miami, Florida.  Beginning in early February, the Norwegian Getaway will set sail all year-long from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean (yes, get me out of this freezing cold weather and take me to sunny beaches).  There are two itineraries to choose from:

  1. Embark in Miami, with stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Nassau, Bahamas, then Disembark Miami
  2. Embark in Miami, with stops in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Tortola, Nassau, Bahamas, then Disembark Miami

Getaway to Paradise

As we pulled up to Pier 88, for our outing with TheMOMS, my girls were mesmerized by the size of the ship. When your small, everything seems so much BIGGER, so I can only imagine what was going through their head. I heard “wow”, “oh boy”, “it’s soooo big”.  I was excited to see my girls reaction when they saw a ship up close and personal.  Throughout the day we got to experience a sample of activities, services, and amenities offered on board the Getaway.

NCLGetaway Dining

The Norwegian Getaway offers many dining options.  There are complimentary options which include three main dining rooms with brand new menus as well as O’Seehans Bar and Lounge which is open 24 hrs.   Finer dining is also available for a cover charge. Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurant Ocean Blue is on the Getaway with a chance for a dining experience with him on select cruises!

Our day on board began with a three-course meal in the Illusionarium.  The starter was prosciutto with mozzarella, tomato, balsamic vinaigrette, and gourmet young mesclun greens.  The main course was a surf and turf with jumbo coconut shrimp, roasted beef tenderloin, double baked potato, broccoli and a demi-glaze sauce.   The dessert included a trilogy of sweets: red velvet cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting, vanilla crème caramel with wild berries, and a flourless chocolate cake with praline crème. The children had a separate menu that included macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders with a banana cup cake for dessert.  Not only was the food delicious but the service and staff onboard was phenomenal. I was very impressed with our waitress, Donie.  She was very accomodating when my youngest couldn’t decide what she wanted so she brought her both, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Before we even looked at the menu she asked about any food allergies. As a mom of a daughter, with a peanut/ tree nut allergy, I can’t tell you how appreciative I was. It’s rare a waitress or waiter at a restaurant asks, I’ve always had to tell them about my daughters allergy.

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During our experience on board we got a little sample of the entertainment on board. All the performances we saw took place in the Illusionarium however there are separate theaters onboard when on vacation. My girls were in awe of the performances by the Burn the Floor dance group.  They also loved watching Legally Blonde the Musical and seeing their favorite characters (Dora, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants & Patrick Star) during a performance by Nick Junior.  The magic show was unbelievable. They were amazed to see a table float through the air. It was an incredible experience just watching the shortened, condensed version so I can only imagine what they would think of the full shows.

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The recreational activities for kids and families are endless.  There is a Nickelodeon Jr theme aqua zone for kids to splash around.  In the aqua park there are 2 pools, 4 hot tubs, and 5 water slides.  The Free Fall water slide is one of the fastest at sea and one of two drop slides that floor comes out from underneath you and drops you down the slide in 6 seconds.   The sports complex features a miniature golf course, a basketball court, a rock climbing wall, a bungee trampoline and a ropes course.  At the end of the ropes course, those brave enough can walk an 8 foot plank off the side of the ship with a photo opportunity at the end.  Other activities include an arcade, pool parties and opportunities to meet Dora, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star.

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Splash Academy provides complimentary drop-off activities for ages 3-12  onboard the ship from 9:00 am – 10:30 pm, closing during meal times.  Once on board you can get the full schedule of activities and classes offered.  Each themed activity is two hours.  Themes and activities change daily.  Whether it’s free-style play, a Turtle’s Luau Party or super sports, your child will make new friends and have tons of fun.  While my husband and I were on a tour of the ship, both of my girls spent some time in Splash Academy.  They came out with art projects, balloons, and a huge smile on their face from all the fun they were having.  The supervisors were extremely friendly and engaging with the children.  Each child was assigned a number upon entering.  To pick up your child, parents we required to return the corresponding number.  Because of food allergies, Splash Academy is free of food.  A late-night zone with fun activities like fort making and Nintendo Wii action is available from 10:30 pm until 1:30 am at a reasonable rate ($6 for the first child and $4 for siblings).

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After you drop the kids off at Splash Academy, don’t feel guilty their having fun, you can head to the spa for a dip in the thermal pool or for a relaxing massage.  There are also many adult only areas to enjoy a beverage, a bite to eat, or soak up a few uninterrupted rays!  While on international waters you can also take an hour (or more) for duty-free shopping or chancing your luck in the largest casino at sea!  At night, you can visit the dueling piano bar, Howel At The Moon or cool off after a day of fun in the sun for a unique experience in the SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar.  While onboard, don’t miss The Grammy Experience.  The first headliner will be Nestor Torres.  I could go on forever with the entertainment, bars, and activities you can take part in if you need a date day or night while on vacation.

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While we were onboard we got to peek into a few staterooms.  For families, there are suites with pull-out sofas, adjoining rooms, or rooms with two single beds and 1 or 2 pull down beds above.  The Haven Suite is incredible, my daughters couldn’t get over the closet and the spa bathtub filled with roses. Budget friendly options are available as well!

You may have seen the recent news about the recent outbreak of a virus leaving 600 passengers onboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise.   When you hear news like that you may be skeptical of jumping aboard, I know my husband was in the past. We were discussing the news and my husband, the skeptic, pointed out how extremely impressed he was with Norwegians proactive efforts to make sure cleanliness and hygiene were a priority aboard the Getaway.  There were hand sanitizing stations almost everywhere you turned. In the bathrooms there were signs reminding guests to wash hands and use a paper towel to open the door.  The sink, soap dispenser, and trash can had sensors so you didn’t have to touch anything.  The trash can had a reminder note on top letting you know not to touch.

Explore

There is so much to do and explore.  By the end of our day on board the Getaway, I had to drag my girls off the ship. They were ready to move onto the beautiful ship, permanently.  My oldest said “This is a beau-ti-ful ship! Mommy, can we move here?”  When I told her that a cruise ship is for vacations and not for living she said “Can we go on vacation NOW?” My husband even changed his mind about taking a cruise and is ready to book for an exciting and entertaining adventure for all at sea.

Can’t make it to the port of Miami, the Getaway’s sister ship Breakaway embarks from NYC and sails to Bermuda!

Watching the Norwegian Breakaway sail by!

Watching the Norwegian Breakaway sail by!

Thank you to The MOMS and Norwegian Cruise Line for an awesome day for my family.  For more information visis www.ncl.com, follow on Instagram: NorwegianCruiseLine , on twitter: @cruisenorwegian and be sure to like Norwegian Cruise Line on Facebook!
Follow the Getaway’s journey at #UltimateGetaway.

To learn more about The MOMS visit http://themoms.com

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I received a day on board the Norwegian Getaway and complimentary services and meals as part of the Family Media Day with The MOMS.

Make Traveling Easier, Especially This Holiday Season!

6 Nov

It’s hard to believe Halloween is over and Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.  Every year we travel to see family.  We are in the process of figuring out how we are getting to and from.  Traveling by train and plane can get tricky because we have to think  about a car seat and booster seat to help us get to and from.  If  booking last-minute, renting from a car rental company be an option because they could be sold out.  It also gets tricky when traveling alone because I need hands to help my girls and can’t carry the booster, push a stroller and carry the luggage.  The less I have to carry, the better!

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We recently had the opportunity to try the BoostAPak, a booster seat and back pack in one created by Safety 1st and Trunki.   Did you know the law requires all children under 12 years old or 135cm in height to use a booster seat? This backless booster is for ages 4- 12 and 40-80 poundsIt is great for car pools or travel as it moves easily from car to car and fits into an overhead aircraft bin. It also has a unique, patented fold-out seat belt guides, and a durable plastic shell. Retails for $69.99 at BuyBuyBaby (click link to purchase)!

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Why we love it:

  • Easy to install
  • Small, compact and easy to store in small city apartments.
  • My daughter thinks it’s “cool”.  She WANTS to carry it on her back, making it easier for me so I have free hands to help her and her sister.
  • She can fit a pair of PJ’s, her teddy, and an outfit or two, and her toothbrush and rainbow loom for an overnight trip to visit her godmother on LI or to visit relatives in NJ.
  • My parents relocated to South Carolina.  I know I will be flying alone this summer, the BoostAPak will be great for my daughter to bring coloring books, crayons, and other toys to keep busy and I won’t have to buy multiple booster seats for cars.

Traveling this Holiday season? Here are Travel Safety tips from Julie Vallese, Consumer Safety Expert for Safety 1st:

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75% of car seats on the road are installed incorrectly.
  • The safest place to install a car seat is typically in the center of the rear seat.
  • Check in with a local Child Passenger Safety Technician to ensure your child’s seat is installed correctly. You can visit a local police station, fire station, AAA office or Safe Kids Chapter for guidance.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • Don’t leave a child alone in the car. Hyperthermia is a severe form of heat stroke and last year 32 children died after being left or trapped in a hot vehicle. You can learn more about this issue and easy tips to prevent it here.
  • Childproof the inside of the car and eliminate projectiles. Anything in the car that is not secured is a possible projectile – even a child’s toy, or a water bottle. In a crash, objects take on greater weight due to crash forces.
  • Make sure unused shoulder belts are not in reach of children as they can pose strangulation risk.
  • Car seats expire! You can find the expiration date on the back of the car seat. Also, another very important tip – once a car seat has been in a crash you should not use it, plastic can warp and materials can fray. To properly dispose of a car seat check with your local waste management facility to see if they recycle number 5 plastic.

Safe travels this Holiday season!

Disclaimer:  I received a BoostAPak for review.  All images and opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from a press release or the BoostApak website.