Water Country USA: The Ultimate Summer Family Vacation

Underwater-photography-kids-GoPro-Hero5We hope you’ll find some helpful tips to plan the ultimate summer family vacation at Busch Gardens VA and Water Country USA.

A trip to Busch Gardens VA was already on our family bucket list.  It’s a popular family destination for New Yorkers, whether traveling by car or by plane.  So when we had the chance to experience Water Country USA (just down the road from Busch Gardens), we knew it would be a memorable way to mark the official kick-off to summer!

After a fun vacation, full of whipping down water slides like an exploding-mom-cannon, hearing chants of “ONE MORE TIME!” on repeat, and waiting at the bottom of rides for my super-enthusiastic kiddos, we have a few helpful tips to share.

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UNLEASH YOUR INNER CHILD: When my kids immediately expressed their love for the Nitro Racer freeway, I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as I hightailed it up the line and then came sliding down like an out-of-control belly-down-mom-torpedo.  And the kids continue to talk about the funny expressions and noises that their dad made while rafting together down the adrenaline-packed rides (“He was more scared than we were!!!”).  In our experience, the kiddos love to see their parents let loose and dive head first into fun.  While many of the rides can accommodate for all four of us, there were plenty of times when my husband and I playfully argued about who could go first.  Bring your inner child; the rides are that much fun!

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Map Out a Plan: With a ton of thrilling rides and attractions, it’s great to have a plan. Our do-not-miss favorites include Big Daddy Falls, Aquazoid, Hubba Hubba Highway, Colossal Curl, Nitro Racer and more.

Our kids are on the cusp of being tall enough for many of the thrilling rides while still appreciating the kid-friendly attractions for ages nine and younger.  If you have little ones, there’s plenty of areas designed for their fun at Kritter Korral, H20 UFO, Cow-A-Bunga, and many others.

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GO FOR THE QUICK QUEUE: The option of purchasing Quick Queue will grant you access to short lines and even shorter walks to the top of a few rides. Although your day will certainly still be a blast sans Quick Queue, the passes spit our kids out of the bottom of their favorite rides faster than we could have imagined.

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DINE IT:  With a bunch of delicious dining options, our group consensus led us to Tex-Mex at Hot Spots Cafe.  The kiddos went for chicken tacos, while my husband and I filled up on salads.  The kids will never let a promised vacation-treat be missed, and there are so many fun options for dessert, other than what I assumed they’d go for (ice cream!). Also, don’t forget to purchase a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.

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RENT A CABANA:  Elevate your park experience with your own private shaded area to settle in, store your belongings, hydrate and relax.  A cabana rental comes with a private attendant, locker rental, two drinks per person and even towels to take home as souvenirs.   Even though the park is packed with ample loungers and locker rentals, there’s nothing like having a central (and private!) VIP spot to rest sun-tired bodies after the important work of splish-splashing down water slides.

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GRAB A SOUVENIR: While we’re big on choosing experiences over things, allowing the kids to select a small souvenir is a fun way to add to the vacation memories. In addition to every possible water park necessity, all of the shops are filled with fun trinkets galore.  The kids each chose a goodie from Wipeout Gifts and Apparel.  This is also the spot to grab a new suit and cover-up if you need one! They’ve got you styled with options from Roxy, Quicksilver, Salt Life, and more.

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Get in the Picture:  Special vacation memories quickly become an important part of our collective family story.  And while I’m often on the other side of the lens (like a lot of parents), family photos are important! Our trip to Williamsburg VA is certainly one for the memory books. We can’t wait to return!

Win It! The generous team at Busch Gardens VA wants to set your summer off to a fantastic start with a $100 VISA Gift Card Giveaway for one lucky winner.  Entry is simply: Just leave a comment on this post telling us what you’re looking forward to this summer and follow the official rules below.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post (let us know what you’re looking forward to this summer!).

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#Sweeps” and “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post. Example tweetEnter to win a $100 VISA GC #sweeps via @MarinoBambinos & check out Water Country USA travel tips #SweepstakesEntry http://www.marinobambinos.com/2017/07/water-country-usa-the-ultimate-summer-family-vacation/

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from SheKnows via the sweeps@sheknows email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/13-9/30/2017

Be sure to visit the brand page on SheKnows.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Your Own Personal Minion: Meet Minion MiP Turbo Dave + Giveaway

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Who wouldn’t want their own personal Minion (adults included!) to help bring all your mischievous schemes to fruition?  Especially now that Despicable Me 3 movie has hit theaters!  We’re long time fans of WowWee toys, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at their Minion MiP™ Turbo Dave robot several months ago at TTPM’s spring/summer toy showcase.  It’s no surprise that this fun, intuitive, and hysterical toy earned a spot of the coveted Most Wanted Toys of Summer list.

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Minion MiP™ Turbo Dave is so cool! With over 140 original sounds and phrases he’s packed with endless play.  Turbo Dave is able to respond to hand gestures using GestureSense(TM) technology and can even learn to navigate your kiddo’s room. By downloading the Turbo Dave App, his owner can control their own personal Minion remotely; plan paths for him to self-navigate, add Minion emotions, and even have him interact with other characters and props from the Despicable Me™ franchise.  We love that a coding platform is also included for high-tech programming fun.
When desperate times call for DESPICABLE measures, WowWee’s Turbo Dave can bring in the mischievous fun! 
Check him out in action below and grab this hot toy now for $79.99 on sale at Best Buy, Amazon, Target, TRU and other major retailers.

Win It! Our kind friends at WowWee want to get Minion MiP™ Turbo Dave into the hands of one lucky MB reader! Enter to win via the rafflecopter below (U.S. only) and check back to see if your name pops up as the randomly selected winner!  Best of luck and thanks for visiting.  Happy Summer friends!

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Meet Z Yang: American Girl’s Korean-American Filmmaker Doll + Giveaway

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Introducing Z Yang: American Girl’s first Korean-American doll!  Z (short for Suzie) launched today as part of American Girl’s new line of contemporary characters – representing more diverse backgrounds and creative interests. This adorable doll is an imaginative young filmmaker from Seattle who loves to make stop-motion videos. She’s already racked up a ton of fans (hello, millions of views!) via her “Z’s Crew” web series on American Girl’s YouTube page.

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Z’s stop-motion vlogging adventures are told in a two-book series, The Real Z, and Z on location. She also has a line of fun accessories available for purchase including video making supplies and a cute accessory set with glasses.

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Z loves staying connected with friends and sharing stories through her stop-motion videos.  And to celebrate Z’s launch, American Girl is hosting Z debut events at its retail locations nationwide the weekend of April 28th (this weekend!).  On May 6th, American Girl’s stores in NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, and DC will host meet-up events to introduce fans to real girls who, like Z, have gained a strong online following based on their creative passion for photography and stop motion videos. They are:

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Inspired by Z, my kids gave stop-motion video making a go.  Check out their first video below!

Win It! American Girl is kindly sending a Z Yang doll + book to one lucky winner. Enter this giveaway via the below widget.  Best of luck and thanks for visiting!
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My Everything Bag + Giveaway

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When life seems to be in disarray – there are a few things that I try to keep organized – my bedroom, my work space, and my go-to bag.  Now and then, I connect with a band that meshes perfectly with my life. I’m currently on year four of packing my days into Lily Jade designer diaper bags, and I’m absolutely a loyalist.  Even though I no longer have tiny babies, I love how the bags have proven to evolve along with the changing shape of motherhood – making them suitable for anyone who craves functionality, quality and versatile style in her bag.

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The backpack carry option is among the features that I love most about Lily Jade – taking the strain off of my shoulders and neck on days when I’m traveling all over the city.  All of  Lily Jade’s backpack diaper bags convert to a handbag or messenger carry option, and the removable baby bag (with 12 pockets!) keeps things organized and secure.  My current new favorite is Lily Jade’s Rosie. The beautiful structure, super luxe leather, and multiple carry options set it apart from any bag that I’ve every owned.

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Once packed with sippy cups and pull ups – my Lily Jade bags now safely carry cameras, delicate lenses, my laptop, (sometimes kid’s stuff!) and more – making it suitable for the baby years and beyond.

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Lily Jade is generously giving away a $350 credit to cover the cost of one lucky winner’s diaper bag of choice! Just leave a comment on this blog post and then enter the giveaway over on our Instagram (post below!). xo

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Ditch That Bra! + VISA Gift Card Giveaway

While waiting for the snow to dissipate and the flowers to bloom – I can’t seem to spring clean fast enough.  Along with scheduling donations – there is plenty of purging that needs to be done – including a reevaluation of that underwear and bra drawer.

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From the dreaded uni-boob – to spilling out of a bra’s top, sides, or bottom (hello quadruple-boob!) – your bra should not be an ani-breathing device –  and it should not be unflattering in any way.

Solution? Ditch that ill-fitting bra that you’ve been hanging onto for wAAAAAy too long and replace it with a comfortable, supportive bra that won’t cost a wasteful small fortune.

I had a revelation, two years ago, when I had a proper bra-fitting with Hanes – a sponsor at Disney’s Social Media Mom’s Conference.  I left with several comfortable bras that made me ditch the ill-fitting underwire, push-up nonsense that I had a been purchasing for over a decade.  Having experienced a wide range of bra sizes (from breast reduction surgery – to nursing, weight changes and more) – I’m at a point where I want my bra to be comfortable and flattering.

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Since the past year was my first year wearing Hanes, I looked forward to hearing about their latest innovations while meeting with them again this year at DisneySMMC (more on that later!).  I found a new favorite in their new Oh So Light Comfort Wirefree Bra. It really is so light that I don’t even have to think about the fact that I’m wearing a bra. And the super soft fabrics, flexible light foam cups with comfort band, work in all the right ways. Available in sizes S-3X, it’s only $15.99 at Hanes.com, Target, and Walmart.

Hanes-oh-so-light-bra-wirelessWin It: Enter to win a $50 Visa Gift Card along with a Hanes Oh So Light Bra! Enter via the below widget.

Use Code: HappyInHanes20 through April15th for $20 off and free standard shipping with purchase of $100 more at Hanes.com.OFFER DETAILS: $20 off and free standard shipping with purchase of $100 or more (offer excludes the Champion Life Collection and all clearance items. Promotion may not be combined with other promotions. U.S. delivery addresses only.)
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This post is sponsored by Hanes. Thanks for your support of Marino Bambinos.

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Logan Everett: American Girl’s First Boy Doll + Giveaway!

Did you all hear the exciting news from American Girl?  Along with a diverse set of new dolls for 2017, American Girl recently introduced their first-ever boy doll, named Logan Everett. Logan-Everett-American-Girl-Boy-doll.jpgWe’re so excited about this adorable boy character and the opportunities for all children to creatively play with dolls.  We love toys that give our boy the chance to explore nurturing roles and relationship-building through play – and parents have been requesting a boy character from the iconic brand for decades.  American Girl’s inclusion of a new boy character is simply wonderful, and it’s no surprise that Logan has been flying off of store shelves!

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With an un-tucked plaid shirt, cool jeans and sneakers, Logan Everett is a fun drum-playing boy, with unique hand positioning to help him hold his instruments (rhythmic drum set sold separately).  Like the other American girl dolls, his gray eyes open and close – and he has adorable short brown hair.  Logan is also the buddy and band mate of Tenney Grant, another new doll character from Nashville. As a singer and songwriter, Tenney has her own book series and original music available for purchase.

We’re so excited to partner with American Girl again, to giveaway their first-ever boy doll, Logan Everett to one lucky winner! In addition to the Logan doll, the generous team at American Girl is also including the first two books in Teeney Grant’s series! To enter visit the widget below. Please note that all entries are verified.  Best of luck and thanks for visiting!
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