Medieval Times: An Experience Fit For Your King and Queen

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You don’t need a time machine to travel back to the era of Kings and Queens, just venture over to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament’s majestic castle in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, where you’ll be greeted as “my lady” (or “my lord”) inside the 11th-century inspired restaurant.

Our Gallant Knight’s recent 7th birthday piqued our interests in experiencing the two-hour show as a family.  We brought our excitement (and our appetites) and got to rooting for our assigned Knight as soon as we were adorned with cardboard crowns!

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We took some family photos, checked out the castle’s interior, grabbed adult beverages and two light-up swords, and found our seats in our color assigned section. In an arena full of sand, complete with soon to be revealed characters including a wise King, Princess, Royal Falconer, and Knights upon their chargers – visitors cheered as the tale blasted across the loudspeakers.

We were given two booster seats for the kids (and, yes, one for me!) and were then set to dig into a hearty feast consumed without utensils.  We joined in the eruption of cheers as the six Knights were introduced in the impressive battle.  The Knights threw handfuls of flowers into their designated sections and competed in exceptional physical combat – complete with jousting, sparks, special effects and even dives off of horses! Our little birthday boy was all fired-up screaming for his Knight as they thwacked each other and smashed spears to smithereens inside the arena.

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Much to our surprise, our Knight won the tournament! My husband broke into hysterics watching me jump out of my seat in voracious cheers. We all rooted until our faces hurt and couldn’t believe the events that unfolded when our winning Knight came out of the arena and crowded our girl “the Queen of Love and Beauty!”.

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We’ll be back with the grandparents and cousins in the future as the experience proved fit for a royal celebration.  We also left with a few helpful tips to share:

  • Arrive Early: There’s a lot to experience inside the castle, from fun photo-ops – to cool gift shops, a great bar, a dungeon and more. Also, regular seating is first-come-first-serve inside the assigned arena sections.
  • Consider Purchasing the Celebration Package add-on: For an additional $18 per person you’ll get VIP seating (we had our own table), priority castle entry, VIP lanyards, Knight’s rally towels, cheering banners, framed entrance group photos, slices of cake and best of all: a personalized announcement during the tournament! We had them give a shout-out to our son on his birthday, and he hasn’t stopped saying, “but HOW DID THEY KNOW?!!!”.
  • Bring Your Energy!: The collective excitement of visitors in the arena elevates the experience. So come ready to cheer and share your fun on social media with the hashtag #MTFan!

 

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Luckily, you don’t have to live close to New Jersey to experience this epic battle of steel and steed since Medieval Times has nine locations nationwide.

Special thanks to Medieval Times for hosting us.  Opinions, as always, are my own. 

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Protect Like a Mother Installation Comes to Brooklyn

This post sharing details on the Protect Like a Mother exhibit in Brooklyn is sponsored by Lysol. Thank you for reading.

When my children were toddlers and had difficulty separating from me, a little storytelling ritual began.  I’d form the shape of a heart with my hands, and recite a made up story reminding them that our hearts and souls are connected forever.  The consistency seemed to calm all of our nerves, and years later I still find myself including that story in my parenting toolkit.  Motherhood continues to show me the absolute truth in that metaphorical heart.  Motherhood is hardwired to the very core of my being in the most profound and powerful ways.  I’m inextricably connected to my children and have learned to trust my gut, motivated by being my babies greatest protector and nurturer.

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I was so excited to venture over to Brooklyn Bridge Park today with my family to check out Lysol’s “Protect Like a Mother” exhibit featuring a larger-than-life art installation of a trio of animals, honoring both human and animal mothers alike. On the heels of mother’s day weekend, it felt fitting to work with Lysol in celebration of a mother’s innate protective instinct.  After all, they help moms like me protect against germs in my home, in ways that mirror how animals defend their own babies.

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The cool interactive installation features gargantuan sculptures of a golden eagle, a 24-foot-tall orangutan, and an octopus.  Amidst bubbles, kids are allowed to play on the large animals, and a fantastic photo booth captures great quality family photos.  There’s also a cool educational component with several facts about the animal mothers and ways in which they protect their offspring from predators. The protective instinct is a universal truth of motherhood – in both the animal kingdom and in our own. Different species demonstrate amazing feats to protect their young, including us human mothers, right?!

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No one protects quite like a mom, and nothing helps mothers protect against germs like Lysol, a leader in germ killing for over 100 years, with products that kill 99.9% of germs to help moms protect their kids from passing germs and getting sick.  Lysol has created a fun analogy and expereince that families can certainly relate to and enjoy together during the weekend.  Best of all this free exhibit is still open to the public.  Check it out tomorrow, Sunday, May 21st from 9 am to 6 pm.  You may even leave feeling a bit more loved than ever:

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“My mom protects me like a unicorn because she is magic.” – L.P – age nine. 

 

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Kids & Coughs + Mom’s Secret Weapon

There have been many times in motherhood when I’ve yearned for ways to soothe my kids when they’ve fallen sick. It’s never easy to watch your child’s discomfort when they don’t feel well.  And I only hope that I’m comforting my kids through their illnesses in ways that emulate how my mother tenderly cared for me as a child. I remember how she’d change my sheets, give me a warm bath, and carefully rub Vicks® VapoRub™ on my chest when I had a cough.  Just the mere scent transports me back to my childhood – and I’ve naturally kept it in my arsenal of go-to remedies to combat nighttime coughing ever since my babies were two-years-old.

Attending Vicks® VapoRub™ 8 Hour Playdate along with my eager kiddos at Recess Dumbo in Brooklyn was a perfect fit for us!

The kids had a blast playing in a vibrant indoor play space while I gleaned info on how to keep kids healthy and comforted when colds and coughs strike.  It’s always helpful to have healthy habit reminders reinforced by a registered nurse – especially the points shared below!
  • Did you know that many people only wash their hands for six seconds?  Did you know that the recommended time for hand washing is actually 20 seconds?  I immediately implemented the advice of singing a song with my six-year-old son to ensure that the hand washing is, in fact, effective.
  • Those beloved stuffed animals can be serious germ harbors! We like to toss ours in the washing machine (usually while the kids are at school) to get any funk off of them since the kids often tuck them into their beds.
  • Sufficient rest is crucial especially during sickness because those resting hours allow the immune system to restore and reset – and even protect the body from illness.
  • The leading cause of poor rest among children during colds is nighttime coughing.  Vicks® VapoRub™ – the #1-selling branded children’s cough-cold product, appropriate for ages two and up—is a topical cough medicine with medicated vapors*.  It works quickly for adults as well to help relieve cough symptoms.
Above Image: Andrea Klerides
 

I have a lot of stories about my mom’s belief in Vicks® VapoRub™ – as do others who grew up in Latin households! It’s helped me through rotten coughs – while providing my kids with that layer of comfort during illness.  As a parent, there’s security in knowing that Vicks® VapoRub™ vapors last up to eight hours, allowing my little ones (and me!) to get crucial rest. I imagine that my children will too grow up with ingrained memories of their mama singing special nighttime songs and carefully rubbing their chests to help soothe, calm and relax.

*P&G calculation based in part on value sales data by The Nielsen Company through its Retail Scantrack Services in the US market to which P&G subscribes for the Respiratory Care Category for the 52 week period ending 06/04/16

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Kids’ Spring Crafting + Healthy Snacking

Spending one-on-one time with my kids is a priority that always has a way of making them feel special.  And I cherish our alone time just as much as they do!  My six-year-old son and I were due for a date, and I knew that a full day at the Children’s Museum of the Arts would be a blast for us both. Over the weekend we hightailed it on the train to SOHO to begin the day at Momtrends bash in partnerships with Wonderful Halos – the sweet, juicy mandarins that everyone loves – and even the littlest of hands can peel.

Alongside CMA instructors, the kids crafted adorable little spring creatures including bunnies, chicks and whatever their creative hearts desired out of Halos.  All the crafts were easy enough to replicate  – utilizing basic crafting supplies like googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and paper.

I loved seeing all of the crafty goodness because I’ve consistently brought loads of Halos to the kid’s school parties.  I’m OK with my children having treats, but I find the level of sugary overload to be out-of-control in the classroom celebrations.  And when I drop Halos on the kids’ plates, the majority are gobbled right up! Since the extent of my crafty fun only includes sticking celery sticks in the mandarin centers to create mini pumpkins at Halloween parties – I gleaned tons of super fun (and much more creative!) ideas to get kids excited about healthy snacking. I’ll definitely have the little ones replicate the ideas at our family Easter party instead of the usual jelly bean overload.

The event also featured tons of delicious snack and party food ideas incorporating Halos.  From smoothies to salads and my favorite: chocolate dipped mandarins, with a drizzle of sea salt on top.

After the fun party, my little guy and I spent the entire day at the museum. He was lucky enough to get a coveted spot in the clay bar, made totally cool stop motion videos, painted a ton, and created re-imagined artwork inspired by Martin Kippenburger.

We both declared it “the best day ever!” and our thoughtful friends at Momtrends were kind enough to pack away a box of supplies for big sister to get in on the action when we returned home!

 

This is a sponsored post.

 

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Cranberry Classroom: A Visit To Ocean Spray®’s Cranberry Bog

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This post is sponsored by Ocean Spray®. Opinions, as always, are my own.

My mother had this wonderful, old-fashioned metal food grinder which she’d clamp onto the kitchen table to make cranberry relish on Thanksgiving day.  As a kid, I always enjoyed watching the mashed up cranberries with a touch of orange ooze out the grinder’s bottom-end.   To this day, I can mentally taste her cranberry “sauce” with just a mere glimpse of a bag of Ocean Spray® Cranberries. And I’ll always appreciate how food has the ability to transport us back to specific times in our lives – carrying ties to the people and places we love.  My kids are quite fond of their abuela’s cranberry sauce – and of the cranberry in general (hello Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries!).  They eagerly joined in my excitement of celebrating the official start of the autumnal season with a visit to Ocean Spray®‘s iconic fresh cranberry bog right here in New York City’s bustling Rockefeller Center®.  As part of Ocean Spray®‘s Bogs Across America Tour, we joined in learning all about the cranberry and met multi-generational Ocean Spray® farmers in celebration of America’s favorite fruit and the bicentennial of the first cultivated cranberry harvest.  This is that 12th year that Ocean Spray® has brought their 1,500 sq. ft. cranberry bog back into Rockefeller Center® – and up until this time, we had only seen it on the news!

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Complete with report cards, the kids enlisted in Ocean Spray®‘s “Cranberry Classroom” and learned all about the cranberry from the inside out – including its amazing story of taste, health, and heritage in a fun, immersive and fruitful way.  The kids and I were fascinated to learn about how cranberries grow on low-lying vines and develop four hollow air chambers making them float when removed from the vine. And I loved chatting with families of farmers growing Ocean Spray® cranberries right here in neighboring New Jersey.  Equally as cool, was The Most Beautiful Harvest experience, in which the kids had their first go at Google Cardboard – transporting them through a beautiful Massachusetts-based cranberry bog.  This incredible, virtual-reality experience celebrates the beauty of the cranberry harvest – while showcasing the fruit’s journey from bog to bottle.  No worries if you missed this event – just visit www.OSharvest.com to check out fully immersive, 360-degree views of a bog. It’s the next best thing to being there!

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Little minds were hard at work as they made mini bogs-in-a-cup with molding clay, gravel, Peat Moss, sand, and cranberry vines.  This fun lesson taught young participants all about how cranberries are grown and also gave them the chance to contextualize what they would soon experience inside Ocean Spray’s® real-life cranberry bog!

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With some serious excitement, we donned waders to get inside the beautifully vibrant bog amidst 2,000 pounds of fresh floating cranberries!

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The boy was super interested in applying lessons learned. Here he is digging for clay, sand and gravel!

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While the girl couldn’t resist an opportunity to dump fresh cranberries on her little brother’s head.

 

A photo posted by Monica (@marinobambinos) on



All this hard work stirred up pint-sized appetites!

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And reminded me that Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries never fail to please!  These Ladybugs On a Log make a great after-school snack.

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Thanks so much to Ocean Spray® for having us join in this unforgettable experience.

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Wishing you all the goodness of this new fall season – and do share your favorite cranberry recipes below!  Thank you to Ocean Spray® for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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All About The 2016 Dumpling Festival in NYC

Dumpling fans rejoice!  The 6th Annual Dumpling Festival is coming back to NYC, this Saturday, September 24th and you bet we’ll be hightailing it to Sara D. Roosevelt Park (noon-5pm), again this year, to catch all the action and chomp away at delicious dumplings made fresh in Chef One’s Brooklyn-based location.

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With a fitting theme of “There is a Chef in Everyone” -a $20 ticket will get you four tastings of dumplings with varieties including Kung Pao Chicken, Pork & Kimchi, Kale & Vegetable, Buffalo Chicken, Edamame and more. Tickets will also provide an entry into the raffle drawing for airfare from Delta Air Lines and a Year’s Supply of Chef One Dumplings.

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Hosted by Youtubers Mike Chen and Dan Chen of Strictly Dumpling and Double Chen – the event will also hold the 13th Annual Dumpling Eating Contest moderated by ESPN sports announcer Larry Hardesty.

KobayashiThe 2015 record holder,Takeru Kobayashi, consumed 93 dumpings in 2 minutes time.

Stop by to catch incredible performances, snap a photo with “Dumpling Mama”  join in a dumpling making class (kids welcome!), and so much more!

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Best of all, this is a feast to feel good about! Proceeds from the event help support our city’s food-insecure population with 100% of proceeds donated to The Food Bank for NYC.

Follow the buzz on social media with #Dumplingfest2016 and stay connected to all of Chef One’s Dumpling goodness on Facebook.

This is a sponsored post. Opinions, as always are my own. Image number one via Chef One. 

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