A Family Getaway to Woodloch Pines Resort With Evenflo

The perfect antidote to a jam packed family schedule is a weekend away to spend valuable time together and return home with a sense of reconnection.  A jaunt to Woodloch Pines Resort in the Poconos Mountains with the Moms and Evenflo turned out to be the sort of memorable respite that my family needed.

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There is something about being in the heart of nature on a picturesque lake that immediately made us all exhale – even in the rain.

Upon arrival, it took significant coaxing to get the kids to actually leave the room.  They were pretty thrilled with their new accommodations complete with two bathrooms and a lake-view balcony.

woodlochwoodloch resortWoodloch Pines Resort

The true charm in this all inclusive resort is definitely found in its family-focused atmosphere.  Along with friends – we took the kids on non-stopped activities including indoor kiddie vehicle rides, bumper cars, a play forest and an indoor-pool with a sprawling splash zone safely designed for little water lovers.  Those seeking a different pace can indulge in the nearby spa, workout room, and rejuvenating amenities.

woodloch pines resort splash zone woodloch for families

I even had a chance to meet my beloved Miss Piggy, at an 80’s themed dinner complete with an interesting array of characters.  I loved that she presented in her full-on 80’s glory –  and imagine that modernized costumes would have taken away from the true time-trip back to my early childhood.  With set family meal times – it was lovely to connect with fellow blogging friends and their sweet families.  And the Woodloch staff quickly accommodated for a larger family table to dine with friends.   As usual, the kids went bonkers for characters including a teenage mutant Ninja Turtle and Ariel.

miss piggy at woodloch

Our biggest little-traveler, Lucia, tested out the new Evenflo Platimum Protection Series Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat courtesy of Evenflo.  She’s often an ideal tester for these sorts of things because if she doesn’t like something we will all be made aware (swiftly and loudly!).  Although I stay on top of car seat safety standards, I immediately called Evenflo to speak to a product specialist.  I received exceptional personal customer service and installed the seat with my husband.  Although I don’t have a car of my own – it’s important for me to learn how to install my children’s seats properly.  At just 35 pounds, my six-year-old fits the frame of a much younger child and I believe that it will be quite some time until she meets the requirements to transition into booster mode.  Lucia loved her new chair (complete with cup-holders) and styled herself accordingly for her weekend getaway:

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In addition to meetings my daughter’s rigorous comfort factor – I’m most interested in the car seats safety features.  Evenflo’s Platinum Protection series is designed with e3Side Impact Protection to significantly reduce the forces in side impact crashes through advanced energy absorption and an expanded zone-of-protection.  I’m pleased with the numerous safety features which far exceed federal crash test standards.  I like how the versatile design can accommodate baby from birth through harnessed booster mode (5-110 pounds!)  In addition, the seat boasts many specialty features including buckle pockets to tuck buckles away from getting hot and innovative temperature regulating fabric.  I can’t wait to see how the fabric performs during the hotter months.

Evenflo Platinum Protection Series Car Seats are newly available at Babies R Us and select stores nationwide. To learn more about Woodloch Pines Resorts visit www.woodloch.com and to learn more about the Moms visit www.themoms.com.

Special thanks to The Moms, Woodloch Pines Resort and Evenflo for an incredibly memorable weekend.  All accommodations and car seat were provided. Opinions, as always, are strictly my own.

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Introducing Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

My family’s recent memories of Universal Orlando are filled with cherished experiences – and my little guy is still drawing pictures of the time that he met a minion.  As true beach lovers, Universal Orlando continues to tempt us with another visit as they just welcomed the on-site Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  The resort is modeled upon the iconic beach resorts from the 1950’s and 60’s – evoking a nostalgic-retro beach resort experience.  Boasting stunning views, retro-inspired architecture and sweeping vistas – guests are treated to incredible amenities in a relaxing family-focused atmosphere.

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Beach Resort

This moderately-priced property offering many amenities including:

      • a 10-lane Galaxy Bowl bowling alley
      • A state of the art Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio
      • A dive tower waterslide and 10,000 square foot zero-entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard
      • retro-themed lounges with specialty cocktail menus
      • A delicious Bayliner Diner featuring both healthy food, hearty burgers and grab-and-go items
      • More incredible amenities arriving this summer including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suite and value priced standard guest rooms.  At completion, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will feature a total of 1,800 rooms – 900 family suite and 900 standard guest rooms.

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The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is newly open as of yesterday –  for guest to create additional memories outside of the theme park.  Guest can enjoy many on-site hotel benefits including early park admission to The popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To learn more about Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort visit www.universalorlando.com and follow along on Facebook and Twitter

I was not compensated for this post  – I recently collaborated with Universal Orlando on theme park and Blue Man Group reviews. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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Walt Disney World – A First Family Vacation

Seven and a half years ago, my husband and I traveled to Walt Disney World to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary.  We meshed together memories of our own childhood Disney vacations and imagined a distant trip with our future children.

disney_edited-1Celebrating one year of marriage in June 2006

Bringing Lucia and Adrian to Walt Disney World has been a family dream, and this past December our wishes came true.  We managed to contain the big surprise by using a code word, and I burned the midnight oil designing and sewing a Queen Elsa costume, and packing while little ones were sleeping.  We will forever cherish the video of letting the kids in on our immediate travel plans.  After presenting Lucia with her mama-made Elsa dress and giving the boy a set of Mickey ears, we were off to collect more memories than we could possibly imagine.

traveling to Walt Disney World

I don’t think that there’s a way to accurately describe the sort of palpable magic that exists at Walt Disney World – or the incomparable feeling of seeing your children burst with excitement.

At ages 3 and 6, Adrian and Lucia are in the height of character adoration and the amount of attention that the cast members gave to each child was unbelievable.

In lieu of a birthday party back home in NYC, we surprised the kids with a special character lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate Lucia’s upcoming sixth birthday.  The experience was absolutely unforgettable, as the beloved Disney Princesses master being present with each child in a way that makes them feel incredibly special.   It was truly childhood enchantment at its finest – described by Lucia as the best day of her life.

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Venturing to Epcot to find Queen Elsa and Anna at Norway Pavilion was also a top priority!  The children have been Frozen obsessed ever since we were lucky enough to attend a Frozen Movie screening with Idina Menzel.   Meeting Elsa and Anna was an absolute dream moment for Lucia and Adrian.

frozen Epcot Centerfrozen at epcotphoto(14)visiting Elsa and Anna at Epcot Center

There was so much joy in exploring The Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Adrian loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and driving a car around the race track at Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic KingdomLucia’s Magic Kingdom favorites were Under The Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid, and dancing with Stitch at Club 626 Stitch’s Dance Party.  The kids met Mickey and friends at the Epcot Character Spot in Epcot, and we all loved venturing through Epcot’s enchanting international pavilions.

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Even stolen moments of parental rest and recharge time were memorable.

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We experienced many acts of over the top kindness – that exemplified the kind of beauty that is inherent with being a part of Disney.  Amidst an incredible line to visit Merida at Fairytale Gardens – we watched staff members direct visitors to clear a path for Merida to escort a child all the way out of Fairytale Gardens.  Merida chatted with the little girl the entire time and her parents had tears streaming down their faces.  These sorts of magical moments are not few and far between at Disney.

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I’ll forever remember my children’s wide-eyed wonder in experiencing the beauty of Cinderella’s illuminated castle and seeing Tinkerbell fly through the night sky.  Our long list of treasured moments is filled with holding hands through elaborate parades, sensational performances and spectacular fireworks.  I shed tons of happy tears.  We were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected perspective that Walt Disney World gave us.  In a place of lines and business, every single Disney team member was incredibly kind, patient and welcoming. From Kathy P. at Cinderella’s Royal Table to the present and gracious cast members – Walt Disney World treated us in ways that we want to emulate.

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There isn’t a day that has since passed when the children don’t speak of Disney.  Adrian repeatedly asks if he’s woken up tall enough to go on the rocket ship ride and Lucia greatest hope is to return again someday.  In a few whirlwind days, we stored up an incredible amount of cherished family memories.

Memories of enchantment and real life magic that are a treasured piece of our family story.

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Special thanks to Walt Disney World for providing two one-day park-hopper tickets for review purposes.  Opinions, as always, are strictly my own.

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Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando

After an incredibly exciting day at Universal Studios Orlando, we had the opportunity to see the Blue Man Group perform at the Sharp-Aquos Theatre located at Universal CityWalk.  My husband and I have always wanted to see the production – and we love experiencing live theater as a family.

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As soon as the blue-skinned trio appeared on stage, we were all intrigued by the highly creative, playfully peculiar and interactive events that unfolded.  That being said, I anticipated both kids to conk out (or at least show clear signs of overstimulation/tiredness) after a full day at Universal Studios.  Much to my surprise Lucia and Adrian were mesmerized for the show duration.  The kids went wild for the colorful effects, paint explosions and audience interactions including flying toilet paper.  Front row patrons donned protective paint splatter plastic-wear and latecomers arrived to an unexpected surprise.   Adrian (3.5 years) played the air-drums in his seat for a great portion of the show, and was especially intrigued with a percussion instrument that looked like a vibraphone fashioned out of plumbing parts.

While the kiddos related to the messy cereal stuffing, flying marshmallows and of course the references to their current favorite word: butt – the Blue Man Group’s deeper premise really spoke to me.  Through the use of GiPads (giant size tablets) and 2D/3D technology – the blue men comically uncover how modern devices and social media create an inherent disconnect in today’s society.  The production aims to bring people together to examine their own use of technology and collectively create something much larger through interactive theater.  They absolutely accomplish that.  My family’s experience was incredibly entertaining and unlike any other  – right down to the final moments of my husband lifting each child into giant color-changing air balloons released from the ceiling during the audience dance party.

Blue Man Group Universal Orlando, Blue Man Group, Univeral Studios Orlando Blue Man Group,

Special thanks to Blue Man Group for providing tickets for review purposes.  As always, opinions are strictly my own.

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Universal Studios Orlando {Review}

Last month, Lucia and Adrian awoke to a monstrous surprise upon hearing that we were heading to the airport to take our first family vacation to Orlando, Florida.  If only I could freeze that moment in time.  Amidst screams of joy and serious bed jumping, I managed to share a bit of info about our destinations.  Adrian’s first questions were: “Can I come?” and “Can  I meet a minion?”.  We were beyond excited to spend our first full vacation day at Universal Studios Orlando.

Universal Studios Orlando review

We entered the gates armed with express passes and quickly spotted the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.  Lucia and Adrian studied the structure in wide-eyed amazement and were quite content staring at their favorite Despicable Me characters plastered everywhere in gargantuan size.  When we finally convinced the kids to make our way over to the line, we moved rather quickly thanks to our express passes.  Although Adrian (3.5 years) didn’t make the height requirement of 40″ – Universal Studios makes the ride accessible to everyone – with a stationary seating option.  After receiving some pretty spiffy glasses, we found ourselves in “minion training” entranced on a 3-D adventure alongside Minions, Gru and his beloved daughters.  My almost six-year-old enjoyed the action-packed motion, and I appreciated my stationary seating next to my son (as I’m prone to motion sickness!).  Adrian loved going to Gru’s house to help save Margo, Edith and Agnes, and best of all his dream came true – he met a real Minion!

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After another round on Minion Mayhem, Adrian took a massive stroller nap, and we had to time to focus on the big girl. She asked to go on the Transformers: The Ride 3D – which her father described as a high speed battle zone featuring well know Transformers including Optimus Prime and the Decepticons.  My husband had Lucia close her eyes several times when he perceived the battle scenes to be too much for her. She was a bit scared (although it was my husband’s favorite ride!), and we imagine that it will be a huge hit when our kiddos are a bit older.

Transformers The Ride 3D Universal Studios

I explored the park with my napping boy and enjoyed spotting the Blues Brothers before catching their performance.  I experienced a touch of home while strolling around the (meticulously clean!) New York City, and the extravagant Holiday decorations injected our vacation with a special Christmas spirit.  When I caught up with my other two companions, I even climbed a wall (just to show my big girl that I could!).  And unbeknownst to Adrian, the adventures continued in the Springfield area – even while he was sleeping.

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When Adrian woke we ventured to Krusty Burger and Moe’s Tavern to dine Simpson’s style.  The Simpson’s themed restaurants and decor truly look like replicas from the animated television series.  My husband enjoyed their specially brewed Duff Beer, and I was pleased with the healthy food options (I had a salad, the kids had fish, fruit and hummus).

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After meeting a bunch of Simpson’s characters, the kids’ energy levels seemed to skyrocket, so off we went to Fievel’s Playland to run around. They jumped, climbed and ran through ball pits, netted climbing structures and gigantic props from the films American Tale and Fievel Goes West.  Although Bob and I were intently watching Lucia and Adrian, it gave us a bit of a break to converse alone about the day’s adventures.  We literally had to carry our kids out of the play area to pack in more rides.

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We finally made our way over to E.T. Adventure –  a ride that is incredibly nostalgic of my own (and Bob’s) 80’s childhood.  I loved that the ride didn’t feel modernized (there are no advanced motion-simulation elements) and transported us back a few decades with real props and magnificent scenery.  After handing in our Interplanetary Passports, we all enjoyed riding side by side bikes on a truly magical adventure.

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The express passes cut down on our wait times considerably, allowing us to enjoy rides without wasting time in lengthy lines.  We found the park to be incredibly clean, and the staff was warm and welcoming.  We packed so many adventures into one day, and there were still things that we didn’t have the chance to squeeze in.  Our entire vacation was made much easier by renting a double stroller via Kingdom strollers. Although I had qualms about giving my near six year old the option of sitting in a stroller, she absolutely needed it during lengthy days at the parks.  Kingdom strollers gave us a seamless experience with an on-location drop-off and pick-up.  Furthermore, our City Mini Double had ample storage space to haul all of our gear and the single hand fold made for easy transports.

Kingdom Strollers Review Florida

We ended our memory-filled day by taking in an intensely creative Blue Man Group performance (catch my full review within the next few day).  I’m hanging on to memories of my kids excitement during the Minion ride and while spotting their favorite characters in the parade.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget riding  bicycles into the moonlit sky with my family on E.T’s Adventure, and we hope to return with plans to spend a few more days at both of Universal Orlando’s parks.  We left with an incredible amount of memories packed into one day and can’t recommend Universal Orlando enough – It is truly a memory making destination full of endless family adventures.

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Special thanks to Universal Orlando for providing my family with park tickets/express passes for review purposes – our family experiences were incredible.  And thank you to Kingdom Strollers for providing a stroller for review as well.  As always, opinions are strictly my own.

 

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NYC Cruise

My husband and I met during our first year of college when we were 19 years old.  We often talk about our early years.  Together, our meshed memories become crystal clear, but in many ways they feel like a lifetime ago.  It’s important to give time and attention to marriage, and we were both feeling in need of quality time together.  I’m so excited to share our Sunday date because we had the chance to take in New York City unlike we ever had before.  We boarded Entertainment Cruises, Bateaux New York, a European-inspired, glass enclosed vessel for a gourmet brunch cruise along New York’s harbor.

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This unparalleled experience was set up via Xperience Days, a company that makes booking dates and gifting unique experiences simple as they cater to a variety of price ranges and experiences.  Although I was tempted to arrange something more adventurous, our date gave us the sort of  respite that we were looking for – time together.  We spent a great deal of time outside on the deck as we cruised the Hudson and East Rivers, past the Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park City, The South Street Seaport, The Verrazano Bridge, Governor’s Island and Ellis Island.  We cruised passed skyscrapers, enjoyed champagne, a delicious meal and stunning views.  So many of our memory-making locations were incredibly different from our perspective on the water.  I couldn’t help but tear up (which I pretty much do all the time) when we pulled right up to the Statue of Liberty.  I hadn’t been that close to Lady Liberty since the 8o’s, and the sun was shinning on her in a way that felt purposeful.  I’m happy to report that I didn’t once feel like I was going to get sick (I’m ridiculously prone to motion sickness) and the two hour excursion felt like the perfect time allotment.  I don’t think that we would have considered a harbor cruise for a date on our own accord and are grateful to have had what now feels like a lasting memory.

Tickets were provided via Xperience Days. As always, opinions are solely my own.

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