Family * Travel * Food

How To Go on a Long Bike Ride With Kids

In recent years, several suburbs, towns and cities have created new bike-routes within their borders as a means to provide safe spaces for cyclists. At the same time, recreationally-minded groups have worked to form vast miles of smooth limestone and dirt trails nationwide. These developments expand opportunities for family bike rides that can include all ages. However, how do you prepare kids for relatively long days cycling, either as a passenger or pedaler? If you want to be sure your young child can stay on the saddle for a few hours, get into gear with these child-friendly cycling tips. 

Situating the Youngest Passenger

If you are planning to take an infant on a ride, age becomes the primary factor in whether you and they are ready for the first journey. You can place older infants in a trailer that you pull behind your bike if you are comfortable and they are physically ready. You should choose relatively smooth surfaces to avoid too much head jostling, and you should practice pulling the empty trailer several times before your baby’s first ride. Keep in mind, good comfort bikes can help you dramatically increase your trailer-pulling mileage. 

Carrying the Toddler

An older child may enthusiastically sit in a kids bike seat; options include those that attach to your handlebars, the middle of your bike or behind your seat. Any one of these seats can be a platform for creating a wonderful shared cycling experience. These choices require that your passenger has sufficient neck strength to keep the head stable and wears a helmet. And as with the trailer, practice riding with the bike seat empty initially.

Pulling the Young Child

As your child grows and develops leg strength, bump your cycling partner up to a co-pilot bike arrangement. Co-pilots, which look like bikes with the front wheel and fork removed, attach to the adult rider’s seat post. Because you pull these appendages, your child can pedal as much or as little as desired while keeping up. You can teach and encourage proper cadence, and your child will gradually adjust to sitting on a bike seat for an extended period of time. 

Riding With the Older Child

At some point, your child will be ready for the next bicycling stage. Whether you are considering hybrid bikes for sale or already have a comfortable cruiser, you can choose a kid’s model that can go the distance with your own cycle. To make sure your child can partner with you and other older riders on a long ride, follow some preparation guidelines:
  • Fit the bike appropriately to your child’s size
  • Purchase a multi-gear bike for hilly conditions
  • Teach proper pedaling cadence
  • Build endurance by systematically increasing distance
  • Pack water and snacks for any lengthy rides
The goal is to ensure your child embraces cycling without facing significant frustration along the way.
Bicycling is a natural family activity. It provides exercise, recreation and bonding experiences within a fun framework. If you manage cycling appropriately during each stage of a child’s development, you can ensure your youngsters will remain enthusiastic about family cycling for years to come.

Top 9 Missed Experiences in Key West

Photo by Hayden Dunsel on Unsplash
If you’re looking for sun, fun, and excitement, Key West, Florida, is the place to be. Located just a few hours south of Miami, you can drive, fly or even boat your way to Key West. Visitors rave about the snorkeling, fishing, and of course, the Key Lime Pie. If you’re ready to book a week-long or weekend getaway, here are 9 excursions that should make it onto your itinerary.

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

This is a gem of the National Park System that sits around 70 miles off the coast of Key West. You’ll need to book a ferry ticket to get there but it’s worth it. The park includes multiple small islands as well as a significant underwater acreage. Snorkeling is a huge draw here, whether you’re new to the sport or highly experienced. Dry Tortugas National Park offers a variety of dive sites, from coral reefs to old shipwrecks, wooden pilings, a moat wall, and more. There’s even a night snorkeling opportunity to see nocturnal sea animals in action.

2. Conch Tour Train

Sometimes you just want to let someone else do the driving, and this is where the Conch Tour Train comes in. This charming hop-on/hop-off shuttle moves among 3 stops along Front Street, Flagler Station, and Truval Village. It’s a great activity for your first day in Key West, where you can scope out lots of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars, and more. The guides provide conversational insight about the people, places, and history that make Key West stand out.

3. Sunset Celebration

Every night’s a party here so gather with others at the waterfront on Duval Street. There are food, drink, and craft vendors, along with musicians and performers. Show up a few hours before the sun goes down to stake out the best spot for sunset viewing. It’s a great activity for families with young kids because it lets the children feel like they’re staying out late even though it’s only early evening, and a wonderful prequel for adults heading out to restaurants and bars for a late meal or drinks afterward. 

4. Latitudes Restaurant

If you want a night on the town, start with dinner at the upscale Latitudes Restaurant. Gorgeous gulf views and luxury decor complement impeccably prepared dishes whether you’re enjoying a romantic dinner for two or a special celebration. The menu features snapper, grouper, lobster tail, and scallops, plus steaks, pasta, and chicken served by a friendly and knowledgeable team dedicated to your satisfaction.

5. Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden

The lush greenery of the trees, flowers, and shrubs found here represent many native Key West plants that are hard to see anywhere else. This botanical garden is the only one like it in the continental United States, and one of the best places for birding in Key West. Planked walking paths allow for easy exploration, and there’s a picnic area so bring your lunch and make a full day of it.
Photo by Mathieu Le Roux on Unsplash
6. Charter Fishing

The waters around Key West are known for grouper, tuna, mackerel, and dozens of other fish; with a charter fishing expedition, your charter boat captain and his team take care of all the details. Any permits, licenses or gear are arranged in advance. You only need to choose a half or full-day tour and pick what kind of fishing you’d like to do. Novice and experienced guests are welcome for wreck, reef, deep water, and flats fishing. Some local restaurants even offer to cook your catch,

7. Easton Street Seafood Market

Enjoying freshly-caught seafood is one of the big draws of visiting Key West, and Easton Street Seafood Market is the best place to do it. The art deco-inspired market may not look big from the outside but inside, there are cases gleaming with fresh fish and shellfish. Make your selection to take home and prepare or choose one of their menu items and sit outdoors to feast right away. Don’t miss the lobster roll and the fried conch strip basket for a true Key West experience.

8. Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum

If you’ve ever wondered what it would have been like to operate a lighthouse, this is your chance. Test yourself and climb all 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse for an authentic view of the sea, and see how the lighthouse keepers -- essential workers in their day -- protected ships along with their crew and cargo with warning lights.
Photo by Thomas Besseling on Unsplash
9. Local Beaches

While Key West may not be known for expansive beaches with miles of sand, it’s city beaches are charming and well worth the visit. Relax under the palm trees at Smathers Beach or if you travel with your dog, visit Higgs Beach, which welcomes beachgoers and their pups. As with most beaches, the earlier in the day you can get there, the better. Beach space fills up fast come afternoon. Beach vendors sell food and drink, and often additional gear like snorkels.

Key West has a world of cultural, historic, and outdoors experiences to enjoy. Building your itinerary in advance helps focus your planning and give you things to look forward to as you prepare for your trip. These experiences in particular showcase the best that Key West has to offer visitors.

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Free Printable Games From Welch’s Fruit Snacks

At this time, we know it can be challenging for most parents adjusting to the new normal, balancing working from home, and homeschooling the kids. No one was prepared for any of this!

To help keep the family a bit more entertained, Welch’s Fruit Snacks has released a number of printable games as a resource for kids and parents to enjoy during this time. From fruit snack themed bingo to crossword puzzles and word searches, we hope these games can bring a little fun to every household.

Check out the games here:

Stay home, cozy up, and spark some fruitful fun with activities that’ll entertain the whole family. Check out the links to print out games and coloring pages that’ll bring the gang together for a good time! Break out a pack of Welch’s® Fruit Snacks and let the games begin!
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10 Tips for RVing With Kids

Going on an RV trip can be a fun experience with children. You can have a great time traveling together on an adventure and also help instill a love for the outdoors in them. However, to have the best experience, it will take some planning and organization. Here are 10 tips to take note of when RVing with kids.

1. Explain That Everyone Will Have a Job
If you have children that are old enough to accept responsibilities, then you need to let them know ahead of time what they will be responsible for doing. Setting up and taking down camp in an RV takes time, and older children can definitely help.

Other tasks will need to be done as well such as taking the trash to the dumpster, making beds and washing dishes. Make it easier on yourself while RVing by enlisting the children’s help.

2. Designate a Storage Space for Kids’ Items
Kids like to bring along all sorts of things on trips, such as toys, books, electronics and games. Designate a space for them to put their belongings where they will stay neat and organized when not in use. Otherwise, the RV will become cluttered in no time. Oh, and don't forget the Car Seats!

3. Designate a Living Space for Kids
Everyone needs his or her own personal space — including kids. In RVs beds often double as dining room or living area seating. At a certain time of the evening, the space might be assigned to a child or two.

4. Let Your Kids Work With a Paper Map
Even though GPS installed in your vehicle or on your phone is the way most people navigate nowadays, it might be interesting for you to hand your children a map and ask them to highlight your route to your destination. You might need to give them a little direction on reading a map first, however.

You can also show them how to determine how many miles are between each town on the map. As you’re traveling, your children can consult the map instead of saying “Are we there yet?”

5. Have a System for Dirty Shoes or Feet
If you’re not proactive and you don’t take the time to let children now that coming inside the RV with dirty shoes or feet is unacceptable, it won’t be long until you have dirt, mud, sand and water all over the floors.

Require everyone to remove their shoes before coming inside. Keep a doormat at the entrance. Make a rule that if a child’s bare feet or dirty or muddy, they need to wash them off and dry them before coming inside. Keep a jug of water and a towel right next to the steps for this purpose.

6. Make Sure Someone Is Always Watching the Youngest Children in the Group
Never assume that someone will keep on eye on a baby, toddler or young child that needs constant supervision. Other people traveling with you might also assume that someone else is watching the child or children and that’s when accidents can occur. If you’re not able to watch your children yourself, then you need to ask someone else and get a confirmation that the person will watch the children.

7. Bring Entertainment
Although you’ll likely spend tons of time outdoors while on an RV trip, there will be times that you will be hanging out at the campsite. Bring entertaining items for children like kid-friendly board games, bubbles, movies, coloring books or arts and crafts supplies.

8. Bring Bicycles
RV campgrounds offer a great opportunity for kids to ride their bikes, so pack them. Once you get to the campground, go over some bicycling safety rules and make sure the children know where they can and can’t ride. Also, don’t forget to pack helmets.

During busy arrival times, such as a Friday or Saturday evening, you might want to keep children off their bikes until the campground settles down.

9. Do Traditional Activities
Don’t discount traditional activities. Even though you might not like eating s’mores, your children will likely be delighted to participate in this decades-old camping tradition. Other traditional activities are sitting around the campfire telling scary stories.

Or you can come up with a new tradition of your own. For example, you could plan a scavenger hunt for your children by making a list of 10 to 50 things they have to find and cross off during your trip.

10. Have a Plan for Mechanical Emergencies
Anything can happen out on the road or at a campground with your vehicle or RV, so it makes sense to have a service plan in place. Check the Good Sam website for extended service plans for your vehicle and/or your RV, which you can purchase for an affordable price. Such a plan will give tremendous peace of mind and will keep you and the children from being stranded indefinitely.

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Great Wolf Lodge's Spring-A-Palooza 2019

Great Wolf Lodge is springing into 2019 with the return of its fun-filled Spring-A-Palooza celebration. Families staying at any Great Wolf Lodge between March 16 – April 28, 2019, are sure to have a pawesome time as the resort comes into full bloom with a collection of exclusive spring-inspired events such as bubble dance parties and a special character-led tea party.  Guests will splish and splash in the 84-degree waterpark and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Along with a vibrant and colorful transformation of the lobby, here are some additional entertainment options for families to enjoy during the six-week Spring-a-Palooza event.

Northwood’s Tea Party with Violet & Friends: New for 2019, beloved wolf Violet will host a tea party on select days of the week. Violet and friends’ tea party will feature songs, dances, cookie decorating, crafts, and games. Of course, no party would be complete without a special character meet and greet.

Bubble Dance Party: This special Spring-a-Palooza event fills the Grand Lobby with cascading bubbles while Great Wolf Lodge’s Ambassadors of Fun keep energy-levels high with a family-friendly dance party.

Spring-a-Palooza Story Time: Great Wolf Lodge’s nightly Story Time takes on a spring theme with a new tale featuring the Great Wolf Lodge characters called “Natural Wonders.” Kids are encouraged to wear their favorite jammies to the Grand Lobby for this event and will have the opportunity to meet one of the Great Wolf Lodge characters in person.

Jelly Bean Guessing Game: A gigantic jar filled to the brim with jelly bean candies sits in the Grand Lobby and guests are invited to enter a contest guessing how many delicious treats are within the jar. The guests closest to the correct number without going over will be entered for a chance to win a Great Wolf Lodge Gift Card.

Spring Themed Crafts: During Spring-a-Palooza, the resort’s Ambassadors of Fun will host several spring-inspired craft-making events for kids of all ages. Character-themed crafting projects include Oliver’s Crazy About Bugs Jar, Violet’s Springtime Noodle Doodle, Brinley’s Don’t Blow Away Kite and Wiley’s Can You Spot It Binoculars.

Along with the always complimentary waterpark entry for all overnight guests, all Spring-a-Palooza events are complimentary for guests staying at the resort. A complete listing of daily activities and times can be found in the Lodge Life event schedule provided to guests upon check-in.

For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its brands of indoor water park resorts, visit
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The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part – In Theaters February 8

The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city.  It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are now facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than it can be rebuilt.

The battle to defeat the invaders and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.

Reprising their starring roles from the first film are Chris Pratt as Emmet, Elizabeth Banks as Lucy (aka Wyldstyle), Will Arnett as LEGO Batman, Charlie Day as Benny, Alison Brie as Unikitty, and Nick Offerman as Metal Beard.  They are joined by Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, and Arturo Castro as, respectively, new characters Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, Sweet Mayhem and Ice Cream Cone, and by Maya Rudolph.

“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” is directed by Mike Mitchell (“Shrek Ever After,” “Trolls,” “Sky High”).  It is produced by Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Roy Lee, the team behind the LEGO film franchise since “The LEGO Movie” debuted in 2014, and by Jinko Gotoh.  The screenplay is written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO Construction Toys.

Serving as executive producers are Jill Wilfert, Keith Malone, Matthew Ashton, Chris McKay, Zareh Nalbandian, Ryan Halprin, Will Allegra, and Chris Leahy. Patrick Marc Hanenberger (“Rise of the Guardians”) is the production designer, and Claire Knight is the editor.  The music is composed by Mark Mothersbaugh (“Thor: Ragnorak,” “The LEGO Movie”).  Trisha Gum is the animation director.

The film opens nationwide in 2D and 3D on Friday, February 8, 2019.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group present, in association with LEGO System A/S, a Rideback/Lord Miller/Vertigo Entertainment Production, “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

LEGO, DUPLO, the LEGO logo, the minifigure and the brick and knob configuration are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2018/2019 The LEGO Group. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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‘Tis the Season for Great Wolf Lodge’s Snowland Extravaganza

Great Wolf Lodge rings in the holiday season with its annual Snowland celebration from November 24, 2018 to January 4, 2019. The Lodge is spreading cheer to families this year with daily snow showers in the Grand Lobby, and visits from Santa Claus along with a life-sized Gingerbread House and more. Families will get into the spirit of Christmas, splash in the 84-degree waterpark, and create memories together that will last a lifetime.

Adults and children alike will be merry and bright as they arrive at Great Wolf Lodge’s winter wonderland complete with hundreds of twinkling lights, Christmas trees, and other jolly decorations in the Grand Lobby. The centerpiece of the Snowland celebration is the life-sized Gingerbread House constructed from more than 600 pounds of gingerbread dough, 1,300 pounds of sugar and hundreds of candies. For a truly delectable experience, guests can also dine in the life-sized gingerbread house with a small donation to the Ronald McDonald House. For reservations, visit

Snowland returns this year with guests favorite complimentary activities including Hot Cocoa with a Great Wolf Kid, the weather outside might be frightful, but the Lodge’s delicious hot cocoa bar will warm even the chilliest of guests up; Cookies with Mrs. Claus, where children have the opportunity to decorate cookies in the Gingerbread House with Santa’s leading lady; the Polar Wolf Walk, a tour of the lobby that teaches children about polar bears penguins and more. Families can wind the night down by cozying up to watch a holiday movie in the Grand Lobby during Festive Family Flicks.

Snowland’s most popular offerings are available including visits from Santa Claus; Santa’s Letter Depot, where kids can mail a letter to Santa in the Grand Lobby; and North Pole University, where kids complete fun, holiday-themed assignments around the resort for the chance to earn a Snowploma. During the howl-iday season, children’s activities such as Story Time, Yoga Tails and Paws on Projects will also get dash of Christmas cheer.

In addition to two days of play in the water park for each night stayed at Great Wolf Lodge, all of the Snowland activities are included complimentary as part of an overnight stay. Activities vary daily and based on location.  A complete listing of daily activities and times can be found in the Lodge Life event schedule provided to guests upon check-in, or verified in advance by calling the location directly.

For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its brands of indoor water park resorts, visit
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4 Fun Earth-Friendly Projects To Complete With Your Family

It is never too early to start planning in advance for the winter or spring breaks. Schools will be out, and you'll be searching for activities to keep the whole family busy and happy. If your goal is to go green, invest some time into eco-friendly projects that reuse materials you already have. Look for ways to conserve energy around the house too. Check out these green projects you can complete this holiday.

Upcycle Plastic Grocery Bags
Image via Flickr by groundsel

Each time you go grocery shopping, you bring home several plastic bags. Instead of recycling your bags, turn them into something new. Grab a crochet hook to make plastic yarn, known as plarn. Weave or crochet the plarn into hats, handbags or decorative coasters. 

During the holidays, turn plastic bags into festive decorations including wreaths and pom-poms. Flowers made from plastic bags make beautiful accents you can use any time of year.

Start a Green Energy Project

Let the kids pitch in with a summer research project. School-age children can study eco-friendly power sources including solar and geothermal energy. The finished report could be a head start on this year's science fair project. Review the information together as a family to decide if any of these green energy solutions can work in your home. 

One thing you can do now to make your home eco-friendly is to complete an energy audit. Check for drafty windows and doors and use a programmable thermostat to control the home's temperature. Also, ensure that your heating and cooling system is running as efficiently as possible. 

Consistent HVAC maintenance is an essential step in conserving energy at home. Schedule appointments to have a professional technician change your filters and clean your home's air ducts regularly.

Reuse Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles provide durable craft material that you can use to make cute planters for your home or garden. Simply cut off the tops and paint on a design. Another idea is to take off the bottoms to create hanging lights for the patio or den. 

If you have a few extra wooden spoons and a plastic bottle, help your feathered friends and build a birdfeeder for the backyard. Poke a few small holes in a soda bottle, attach a hose and you have yourself a homemade sprinkler to help the kids cool off during a hot summer day. 
Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash

Give Old T-Shirts a Second Life

Your favorite T-shirt you've worn hundreds of times may have seen better days, but it's still hard to let go and throw it out. Not to worry, that old shirt with a hole in it can still be useful. Cut more holes in it to make a reusable produce bag

You can also fashion worn-out cotton shirts into onesies or bibs for infants. If a shirt has stains on the front, salvage the sleeves and turn them into soft baby hats or socks.

Try these green project ideas this summer and see how you can recycle old materials and find ways to save energy. You'll have fun and feel good about going green and protecting the environment all year long.
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Things To Do In Orlando That Are Cheaper Than Theme Parks

Are you considering a trip to the Central Florida/Orlando, Florida area this coming Spring Break? You might want to check out these great ideas for places to visit and things to do that won't break the bank they way the theme parks can easily do. 


When planning a Spring Break getaway to the Central Florida theme parks you can save more and double the fun by selecting lodgings and add-on recreation in “Orlando North, Seminole County.”  Here your guestroom averages 40% less than those by the attractions, all hotels offer free parking, there are no long restaurant waits, and you're a short drive away from: 
  • Walt Disney World® - 45 minutes
  • Universal Orlando® - 30 minutes
  • Sea World® - 30 minutes
  • Wet ‘N Wild® - 30 minutes
  • Kennedy Space Center - 60 minutes
  • Daytona Beach - 45 minutes
  • Downtown Orlando - 20 minutes

And throughout Orlando North Seminole County there’s lots of family-friendly fun that’s a fractional cost of a day at the theme parks:
  • At Planet Obstacle, kid-friendly activities include a kids’ ninja course, trampolines, bungees, ball pits and bumper cars, while adults can enjoy an aerial ropes course, an extreme zip-line, an adult ninja course, a giant rock-climbing wall and more. Planet Obstacle, 1150 Emma Oaks Trail, Lake Mary, FL.
  • Little girls will love Judy’s Dolls Middleton Newborn Nursery Adoption Center, with an adoption ceremony providing a chance to bond with her new infant baby doll, pick out its first outfit and feel the joy, of becoming a new “parent.” Judy’s Dolls, 280 W. Warren Ave. Longwood, FL.  
  • Stargazing and interactive shows at the Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford. For info on planetarium events visit
  • U-Pick Strawberries at Pappy’s Patch. 700 Florida Ave., Oviedo, FL. Check out their Facebook page: Pappys-Patch-U-Pick-Strawberries.
  • Reach new heights at the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center. 999 Charles St., Longwood, FL.
  • Artistic talents emerge at Hot Pots, where kids paint and decorate their own ceramics, from piggy banks to figurines, cups, vases and more. Hot Pots, 1071 WP Ball Blvd., Sanford, FL.
  • Enjoy a thrilling airboat ride with Black Hammock Adventures, on Lake Jesup and learn about the eco system and the birds and beasts who call it home. 2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd., Oviedo, FL.
  • Cool down at Wekiva Island where the river is a constant 72 degrees. Swim, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, volleyball, fish or just plain relax. Wekiva Island, 1014 Miami Springs Rd., Longwood, FL
  • Get up close and personal with wildlife at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, where you can even participate in giraffe feedings. Also at the zoo is ZOOm Air Adventures a zip line adventure course that allows guests to explore perfect natural habitats from an animal’s perspective—in the air traveling from tree to tree by zip lines and suspended rope bridges. 3755 US 17, Sanford, FL.
  • Enjoy the playground and watch youth, collegiate and non-professional teams playing at the 102-acre Boombah Sports Complex at Seminole County. 3450 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford, FL.
  • Seminole County is also home to some of Florida’s best natural attractions, including the Wekiva River, one of only two National & Wild Scenic Rivers in the entire state of Florida, the St. Johns River, Wekiva Springs State Park and Lake Jesup to name just a few. With more than 30 parks and preserves the area is a favorite destination for hiking, biking, bird watching, wildlife study, nature photography and more. There’s something for everyone whether you are a nature lover or adventure seeker.

About Orlando North, Seminole County:
A short drive from all the major attractions of Central Florida and home to Orlando Sanford International Airport, Orlando North, Seminole County offers first-rate accommodations for less, varied meeting & event venues, and diverse dining and shopping in its charming communities. Known as “Orlando’s Natural Oasis,” the destination offers visitors a wide array of thrilling outdoor activities from an aerial adventure course with zip lining to paddling alongside manatees in clear freshwater springs and rivers. Long known as an exciting and affordable meetings/groups destination, Orlando North also offers an array of sports and training facilities, including the new 102-acre Seminole County Sports Complex. For destination information call 1-800-800-7832 or 407-665-2900 or visit
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South Carolina Is The Hot Spot For The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

In a couple short weeks, school will resume around these parts. My middle girl will begin junior year at the University Of South Carolina, the husband will be in grad school working on his MBA, and the littlest one will start fourth grade in his third year being a home schooler. We are all so sad that the summer break is coming to an end. We are planning to have one last hurrah by having an Ismail Party of Five-Total Eclipse Party. Okay, okay, it's not as fancy as I'm making it sound. We will be here at the house waiting in anticipation of viewing the eclipse. It will be the perfect time for the five of us to hang out and witness what will be a historical event.

It turns out that Columbia, South Carolina is one of the top spots in the country where the view is slated to be at 100%! Our local news has estimated over 1 million people will make their way to our state to partake in seeing the eclipse. Hotels are sold out everywhere and they say traffic will be crazy all over. That's a great thing for South Carolina businesses, for sure. If you aren't sure if your area will be able to catch any of the action, you can check here by entering your zip code.

The most important thing we did to prepare for the eclipse was to first purchase eclipse safe glasses, which we did a month ago. Little William was listening to a news report in regards to viewing the eclipse safely and insisted we must have the proper eye-wear. Here are the ones we got. Lucky for us, they came in a pack of 5. Perfect for our family!
Since we purchased them early, they were very inexpensive. I have noticed a big rise in the cost all over. I guess people are recognizing how dangerous it can be to your eyes if you get too much exposure to the direct sun. Let's hope these glasses work because when you put them on, you can't see a thing! Of course William had to be the first to try them on. 

We are so excited to have the opportunity to view the total solar eclipse together. I hope that you live in an area so you can catch a glimpse, too. Now we will keep our fingers crossed that the weather will hold up! Will you be participating in this big event? 

*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made gives me a little pocket change. 
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7 Ways to Have a Happy "No-Screen" Holiday with Your Family

For the modern family, it's not unusual for family members to spend a majority of time physically together, although staring at their phone, tablet, computer or TV screen — the "parallel play" of technology. This holiday season is an opportunity to overhaul your family's technological habits and truly enjoy family time together. The following no-screen family activities can pull your family away from their gadgets, and instead create special memories and happy moments this holiday season.

Indoor Snowball Fight
A blanket of fresh-fallen snow creates a magical winter wonderland for building a snowman or snuggling up inside with hot cocoa near the fireplace. Are you without snow but looking to get into the spirit of the season? Create your own gentle blizzard indoors by crafting glittery paper snowflakes to string and hang. Spread artificial fake snow along the floors and start a snowball fight with indoor stuffed snowballs — like right out of "A Christmas Story."

Family Cookie Car
Spread holiday cheer to those in need, starting right in your kitchen. Baking with your kids is a sweet holiday tradition that creates memories for a lifetime. And Christmas cookies are a heartwarming way to give back. Your family can bake cookies and turn your car into a mobile cookie delivery vehicle for delivering gift-wrapped cookies to the community with joy.

Name That Christmas Carol
Put a fun "Name That Tune" twist on Christmas caroling and sing holiday tunes as a family. Split into two teams in which one caroler from one team hums a Christmas carol. The first person between both teams who correctly guesses the song earns a point for their team.

Holidays for Heroes
Check out your local Red Cross office to see how your family can participate in the Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program. This program encourages Americans to "Give Something That Means Something" during this holiday season. Participating in a variety of activities can help recognize and thank military members, veterans and their families.

Polar Express Adventure Night
"All aboard!" Bring the classic storybook to life at home with a "Polar Express" party for your kids and their friends. Ask all guests to wear their pajamas and hand them a golden ticket once they arrive. Then you (or another adult) can play conductor and invite the kids to hop aboard the (imaginary) Polar Express. As the movie soundtrack plays, hand out hot hot! hot! hot chocolate and cookies. During the train ride, read the story aloud and give the kids each a Santa's sleigh bell ornament as a party favor.

Holiday Journaling
This time of year is full of joy, happiness and love — which is why this special season is a great opportunity for your family to start a holiday journal. Throughout the month of December, set aside a few days a week for journaling based on a themed prompt such as:

  • What does gratitude mean to you?
  • What are you thankful for?
  • What's your favorite holiday tradition and memory?
  • What would you do if you were "Home Alone" on Christmas?
  • If you were one of Santa's elves, what would a typical workday be like for you?

DIY Ugly Sweater Holiday Party
The ugly sweater party has moved from holiday trend into annual tradition. Host a kid-friendly party for young family friends centered around creating your own ugly sweater using materials like festive felt cutouts, jingle bells, garland and gift wrapping bows. For food, drink and dessert, go potluck style. Then unleash your Christmas creativity and get silly while munching on bites and sweet treats.

Need more holiday fun inspiration?

  • Go on a festive doggy outing. Get your pup's photo with Santa and go shopping for stocking stuffers.
  • Teach the lesson of giving and benevolence by helping your kids donate brand-new and old toys.
  • Make holiday treats for your child's classroom and teacher


The Kid Files- When Your Child Has An Old Soul

Do you have a kid with an old soul? My son thinks and speaks like a 50 year old man most days. I guess when you're the youngest in a house full of adults, this is to be expected. The other day he was in his room with the door closed most of the way, and I knocked and asked him what he was doing. He told me he was playing with his toys. That seems like normal kid behavior, right? Well I noticed he had his radio on and a Zig Ziglar CD was playing. I said, "Did you feel like listening to Zig?". He responds, "Yes, I really needed some motivation". I was just like OH. I mean what do you even say?

This morning I was getting his breakfast cooked and he tells me that I need to eat too. I told him I wasn't quite hungry yet and he said, "It doesn't matter, you still need to eat now". I was also told that I had no excuse. Ugh, he's annoying 😅 Seriously, there's never a dull day around here. William always has something wise to say. I tell him almost daily that you're 8. Not 38, 48, or 58. Just eight. His favorite description of himself is that he is a 'professional man'. I fully blame his dad for that.

It's not unusual for him to walk up to me and put both hands on my cheeks and tell me, "Always believe in yourself". The funny thing is he does it at the time I really need it. It's like his spirit is in line with other people's feelings. He is a very special child. The bad part is when he loses his mind and has to be disciplined. I have to muster up all of my strength to be serious and not laugh. He asks for you to explain or elaborate when you are yelling telling him to cut out his foolishness.

As I am typing this post, he just yelled out from his room that his hand is itchy and he will be getting some money. You know what that means if you are old school. HA! William is a good trash talker. He will try to out talk anyone. He loves winning at everything. Don't watch sports with him. He gets super animated and yells at the TV. Also playing UNO with him is a trip. I don't know how he stays beating all of us and his celebrations are ridiculous. When he wins he says things like, "boom shakka-lakka, I am the champion!" and then does the whole superman shirt ripping thing and a victory dance.

Then there's the whole third child thing he has going on. This kid likes to ask about taking vacations and what resort we will stay at. He's very particular too. I think I can take the blame for that one. 😀 There are times where he attends gatherings with us, and any adult who comes in contact with him is usually blown away with William's words and mannerisms. Everyone agrees that he is most certainly not your average kid in any way.

William is an absolute joy and I couldn't imagine my days without having him around (even if it is 24/7 because of home school). Does your child have an old soul? I'm sure we aren't the only ones with an old man-child!

Get myCharge Portable Charger For Your Small Digital Devices

I am sure that most everyone is familiar with or owns a wearable fitness device that tracks your physical activity. We are a Fitbit family and we all try our best to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Okay, I lied a little. We love to compete and talk trash over who took the most steps each day. Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little family competition that contributes to better physical health! 😉

The one downside to fitness trackers is when you are running low on battery power. Now there is a convenient, portable item that will charge and store your devices and cords with ease. Introducing the PowerGear Sport by myCharge. The PowerGear Sport has a built-in USB port so that a variety of devices can be charged, including most smartphones as well as wearables. So this item is a must if you’re always on the go and find your devices are in need of extra battery life. 

This case is so great because you can keep your charging cords and extra bands organized and easy to find when you need it! This is a must-have if you travel a lot.

We have a few road trips to go on before the year is over, and I will be taking this along for the ride. It is so convenient and is rechargeable too! All you have to do is insert the included USB cord into the side of case and then into an electric power plug. It will juice it back up in no time.

I love how my charging case matches my Fitbit 

The PowerGear Sport retails for $29.99 and would make a great gift for teens, college students, fitness lovers, gadget geeks or just about anyone on your holiday list. I believe practical and useful gifts are the way to go! You can purchase one here. They come in either grey or grey/pink. I'm confident the recipient will LOVE this gift. 😍

Disclosure: I received a product sample in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own as always. 

Become the Ninja When LEGO NINJAGO World Opens Jan. 12, 2017 at LEGOLAND Florida Resort

I wanted to pass along some exciting news to all my readers who are LEGO® NINJAGO® fans. Starting Jan. 12, 2017, kids are invited to enter a magical martial arts kingdom where you become the ninja in your very own LEGO® NINJAGO® [NIN-JAH-GO] adventure when a whole new theme park land opens at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.

LEGO NINJAGO World will add an immersive area filled with several hands-on, outdoor activities where kids can sharpen their ninja skills before the ultimate showdown on LEGO NINJAGO The Ride, a dazzling new attraction that blends 3D computer animation, “4D” effects and groundbreaking technology never seen outside a LEGOLAND theme park.

Inspired by the popular LEGO building sets and the “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu” TV show, LEGO NINJAGO World puts guests at the center of the action in lots of fun ways:

LEGO NINJAGO The Ride — a state-of-the-art “dark ride” where guests score points using ninja hand moves to blast animated fireballs, lightning and more at waves of 3D villains
Zane’s Temple Build — a giant LEGO building experience where kids can contribute to a model of a mountaintop NINJAGO monastery
Kai’s Spinners — master the ancient art of Spinjitzu at these twirling, whirling, single-person platforms
Cole’s Rock Climb — an outdoor climbing wall to test kids’ balance and endurance
Jay’s Lightning Drill — measure your reflexes with these “lightning fast” light-up targets

The lushly landscaped area also will feature daily meet-and-greet opportunities with sibling ninjas Kai and Nya [NEE-AH], and Wu’s Warehouse, a themed retail shop stuffed with LEGO NINJAGO building sets, toys, clothing, souvenirs and more.

LEGO NINJAGO The RideAssisted by Kai and Nya, LEGOLAND Florida Resort General Manager Adrian Jones announced the land’s grand opening date on the eve of the resort’s fifth birthday, continuing the largest period of growth and expansion in its history.

Since opening Oct. 15, 2011, the place #BuiltForKids has added LEGOLAND Water Park (May 2012), LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display (November 2012), LEGO World of Chima™ (July 2013), DUPLO® Valley (May 2014), LEGOLAND Hotel (May 2015) and Heartlake City (June 2015). In addition, the resort has unveiled several phased restorations of the historic Cypress Gardens, which celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year.

Along with LEGO NINJAGO World, construction continues on LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, which will more than double the resort’s on-site accommodations when its whimsically themed bungalows open in mid-2017. Guests currently can make reservations for stays from June 1-Sept. 4, 2017, with rates starting at $182 per night. A grand opening date and associated festivities will be announced at a later date, along with additional amenities.

For more information about visiting LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including savings on advance purchase of admission tickets, multi-tier annual passes, special events, VIP experiences, educational programs, services for guests with disabilities, on-site accommodations and much more, visit

About LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Built for kids 2-12, this multi-day vacation destination located just 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa includes an interactive, 150-acre theme park with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, a world-famous botanical garden and the 5-acre LEGOLAND Water Park. LEGOLAND Hotel, located just steps from the theme park entrance, features 152 rooms and suites, each with its own LEGO® theme and some with beautiful views of nearby Lake Eloise. Opening in 2017 is LEGO NINJAGO World, an immersive theme park land with a groundbreaking, interactive ride inspired by the popular LEGO building sets and TV show, and LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, a lakefront resort with 83 themed bungalows offering 166 separate accommodations. LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a part of the Merlin Entertainments Group (LONDON: MERL).

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