Aug 302015
 

Tips For Visiting Hersheypark

Many years ago, I took a road trip with three friends.  We made several stops along the way and Hersheypark was one of them. That road trip was long before I had kids or was even married for that matter, so when the kids saw a commercial for Hersheypark recently and asked to go, I couldn’t say no.  I remember loving it when I went all those years ago, so I knew they’d have a great time there.

So, a few weeks ago, we took a road trip to Pennsylvania and Hersheypark was one of our first stops once we got there.

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With that being said, we are a Disney family.  We go every year and we are very familiar and comfortable in big amusement parks.  Hersheypark is smaller and quite a bit different from Disney, so navigating it was a bit different than bigger amusement parks. We spent two days at Hersheypark and we wanted to share our best tips for getting the most out of your day at the park.

Disclaimer: My family received complimentary passes to Hersheypark, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Aug 272015
 

Tips For Making Homework Less Stressful

Homework has a way of being incredibly stressful on the whole family; however, there are things you can do to make it a whole lot less nerve-racking. Here are some tips for making homework time less stressful on the whole family.

Plan Ahead

It’s always nice to know what kind of homework will be coming home and when. I always try and communicate with the teacher when it comes to homework. Most teachers send an idea of what will be coming down the pipeline, which helps us prepare. It’s also nice to know if homework won’t be assigned on a particular day because this could be made into a “special” day!

Rewards are Always Welcome

Think about how many times in a day adult’s award themselves with something. It’s time to allow kids to award themselves for a job well done too! A week without fighting about homework? Let them pick their prize! Choose a reward system that works for your family and stick with it.

Stay on Schedule

It’s easy to remain stress free about homework when you know when it’s going to be done. Staying on schedule at a specific time with homework can help make this process a lot less stressful. Pick a time during the week that works every night. When a child knows what time they will be doing their homework it also takes a lot of guesswork out of their day. They know at 6 o’clock they’ll be doing homework so there’s no need to even question it. Continue reading »

Aug 252015
 

As a kid, I always looked forward to going back to school shopping with my mom.  It was so much fun going from store to store picking out a whole new wardrobe for the upcoming school year.  Now that I have my own children to shop for, I love that I get to spend some time with them picking out some new duds for them to go to school.  My oldest is going into the middle school this year and he’s really coming into his own when it comes to fashion.  He definitely knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like.

**Thanks to Simon for sponsoring our back to school shopping trip at Merrimack Premium Outlets.  As always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

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I decided to take my boys up the the Merrimack Premium Outlets up in Merrimack, NH this past weekend to do their back to school shopping. Heading to an outlet mall can bring about a lot of adventure, especially in the back to school shopping department. I love heading to the outlets for things like back to school shopping because in addition to already discounted prices, they usually have lots of great deals for all the back to school shopping season.  Here are some tips for back to school shopping at an outlet mall!

Premium Outlets brings together the finest brands, unique outdoor settings, and savings of 25 to 65 percent every day. Continue reading »

Aug 232015
 

8 Things You Must do When You're in Philadelphia

I have wanted to visit Boston’s sister city, Philadelphia, for years and a few weeks ago I finally got a chance to spend two amazing days in the city of brotherly love.  Philly is only a little over 5 hours from my house, so now I am scratching my head about why I had never gone there before.

The first thing I want to mention about my time in Philly is that the streets of Philadelphia are much easier to navigate than the streets of Boston are.  The next thing I want to say is that as much as I love Boston, and I really do, I think I loved Philadelphia almost as much.  It’s a city rich in culture and history – not to mention cheesesteaks.  We had so much fun exploring Philly and if you are planning on going anytime soon, I have narrowed down a few things you just have to do while you’re there.

1.  Climb the Rocky steps!

Running up the Rocky steps (AKA East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) is a must-do on your visit to Philadelphia.  While we were there, we saw a bunch of people recreate the scene from the movie & since I was in flip-flops that day, I sent my boys to do it, too.

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At the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will find the bronze statue of Rocky Balboa.  The statue was made for Rocky III and after filming for the movie completed, Sly Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. Continue reading »

Aug 202015
 

Keeping Cool at Disney World

Staying cool at Disney World during a hot Florida summer isn’t so easy when you are surrounded by hundreds of acres of pavement. Trust me, I know from experience.   Four out of the last six of my family’s Disney trips were during the month of August, so I can definitely attest to how hot & humid it can be down there in the summer. Still, there are plenty of ways to stay cool, cool down and get wet during the park’s hottest summer days. The best part is that keeping cool takes what could be an almost ruined day and turns it into one of the best days you and the kids can have at the parks. There are tons of indoor options, water rides and even a pair of really exciting water parks that can easily take an entire day to enjoy.

If you end up at Disney World during one of Florida’s notoriously hot days, try one of these great ideas to keep everyone cool and happy.

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Carry Beverage Bottles Continue reading »

Aug 192015
 

Everything You Need for a Date Night at the Drive-In

We have a list of things we do every single summer.  They’re kind of like traditions in our family and we always make sure we do them at least once every summer. One of the things on our list is going to the drive-in.  It’s such a fun way to watch a movie and it’s always a hit with the husband and kids.   When you’re planning a night at the drive-in, there are some things you will definitley need to bring with you to make your night a success. Whether you’re going on a date night with your hubby (or wife) or your whole family is in tow, don’t forget these essentials.

**Disclosure: Thanks to Breyers for sponsoring this conversation.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

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Lawn Chairs Continue reading »

Aug 182015
 

If you have ever heard of a “Cirque” show, you probably have an idea of what to expect during a show – especially if you watch America’s Got Talent.  But did you know that there are different “Cirque” groups?  Up until last week, I had no idea.  We’ve all heard of Cirque du Soleil, but for the last 20 years, Cirque Éloize has been taking people by storm in more than 440 cities around the world.

Cirque Éloize was founded in Montreal in 1993, over a decade after Cirque du Soleil and for the month of August, Cirque Éloize’s iD is playing at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods.

Cirque Éloize’s iD blends old-school acrobatics with street dance and hip hop. I got a chance to see the show last week and trust me, it’s not like any circus you’ve ever seen before.

But before I tell you what I thought of the show, I wanted to share a little bit about a fun opportunity I had the afternoon before the show.

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have followed along with the fun last Friday when I joined several other local bloggers for an exclusive behind-the-scenes blogger workshop with some of the cast members of Cirque Éloize’s iD.

Pretty cool, right?

As soon as I entered the Fox Theater at Foxwoods,  I couldn’t help but notice the impressive set.  As you can see, it’s massive and as I would find out a little while later, it’s even more complex than it looks.  The set features about 10 doors & windows that the performers use throughout the show to come & go through – plus a quite a few moving parts. Continue reading »

Aug 182015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelForSchool #CollectiveBias

5 Ways to Help Your Child Transition from Elementary to Middle School

Is your child headed from elementary school to middle school this year?  In the town we live in, our middle school has grades 6-8 and my oldest son is transitioning in to 6th grade at the middle school this year.  It seems like there are a million things to do to prepare for the switch, but I have come up with a list of things that can help both you and  your child make sure you’re ready without causing any extra stress. Just keep in mind that middle school is a more complex environment than elementary school.

1. Visit the middle school

I know this isn’t an “aha” moment but you might be surprised at what visiting a middle school can do for the middle schooler’s brain. Also, ensuring your child knows how the school works is important. Nothing raises anxiety more than the first day of school than not understanding where classrooms are. Sometimes it’s also nice to see a school that’s not crowded with a ton of children in the hallways. If your school doesn’t hold an open house or walk-through day like ours does, call up the school and see if there is a time when you can take your child in to tour the school. Continue reading »

Aug 162015
 

Touring The Eastern State Penitentiary

The first time I had ever heard of the Eastern State Penitentiary was on an episode of Ghost Adventures a few years ago.  I’m a life-long Boston girl who had never been to Philadelphia before, so I really didn’t know anything about Philly other than the fact that Rocky ran up some stairs there.  But over the past few years I have seen a few other ghost hunting type shows that were filmed there, so when I knew that I was going to be spending a few days in Philly last month, the ESP was on my short list of places to go see.

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Each year approximately 60 paranormal investigation teams explore the site, capturing extensive evidence of ghosts within the penitentiary walls.  There were never any executions carried out at Eastern State, but over the years, the prison was home to its fair share of murders. In addition to many inmates that were killed there, at least two guards were murdered as well. Hundreds of others prisoners died from disease and/or old age. Admittedly, I really, really wanted to have a paranormal experience there the day I visited. Sadly, I didn’t, but touring the grounds was by far the highlight of my two days in Philadelphia. Continue reading »

Aug 122015
 

My stepson is heading off to college in just a few short weeks.  Since this is his first time away from home, I want to make sure that we send him off prepared for life on his own.  I have been spending the summer picking up things to make him a big care package so that he will have everything he needs.  In addition to a whole slew of personal care type products that I am including in the care package, I am sending him off with some SanDisk products, too.  I want to make sure he has everything he needs to do well in school as well as taking care of himself,too.

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Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free!

If you head to Best Buy, you can get a memory card to support safe storage for all of your devices.  Visit the site to learn what card is right for you.

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SanDisk for Digital Imaging: SanDisk products, from professional-grade camera memory to point-and-shoot SD cards to microSD cards, deliver industry-leading performance and reliability. SanDisk SD cards are also designed to meet the security, capacity, performance, and environmental requirements of next generation devices—because your stories span generations and your memory solutions should too. Continue reading »

Aug 112015
 

A Visit to America's First Zoo  The philadelphia zoo

In 1859, Philadelphia became home to America’s first zoo.

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The Philadelphia Zoo sits on 42-acres of land and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and/or endangered. With animals such as Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and so many more, the Philadelphia Zoo is one of the leading family attractions in the city and it brought in over 1.35 million visitors last year alone.

One of the things I love the most about the Philadelphia Zoo is that has focused on educating the public about exotic animals and that it actively promotes and participates in worldwide conservation efforts for endangered wildlife. The zoo features many state-of-the-art animal exhibits and that is one of the reasons they truly stand out. Continue reading »

Aug 102015
 

7 Tips for Packing Successfully For a Move With Kids - massholemommy.comAt the end of August we are moving, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Where we live right now is pretty toxic (not literally, but the lack of respect and issues we’ve had to deal with the past 2+ years would make make your jaw drop!)

So, we’ve had to start getting things ready to go. I’ve had to figure out some tricks to get things moving along, get the kids to help and organize what we need, what we don’t need and how to deal with the stress that comes along with a move, finding a new place, securing the new place, changing addresses, making arrangements for hook ups, etc etc!

I wanted to share with you, just in case you need to move sometime in the near future what I’ve learned that will hopefully make the moving process for us go a lot smoother from here on out, and maybe you too!

Arm Yourself With a Good Plan:
I need a plan for everything in life, moving was a big one. Sit down and write out a plan to tackle your budget, boxes, rooms, junk and where you will start and finish. Anything you think you may need to plan for, do it. Even if small, or silly. You just never know and costs add up quickly especially those unexpected ones! Continue reading »

Aug 092015
 

Boston Red Sox Baseball Summer Camp

I love living in the Boston area.  I always tell people that this is the best place in the country to live and I honestly mean it. One of the things I love the most about living here is our awesome sports teams. I love them all, but when I tell you that there is nothing like spending a day at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox play is one of the best ways to spend three hours in the city, I speak the truth. Sure, the Sox have their ups and downs, but whether they are winning or losing, they always put on a great show.  I learned something new about the Red Sox this year, though.  They hold a summer camp for ballplayers ages 5-13 every summer.  How did I not know about this before?

**Disclosure:  Both of my boys attended Red Sox Camp at no charge in order to share our experiences with you.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

I am happy to say that my boys recently had the opportunity to attend Red Sox Baseball Summer Camp.

The Red Sox Camps curriculum is highly organized based on age & ability and is infused with lots positive energy to get kids excited about baseball. Along with instruction, the camps include: Continue reading »

Aug 062015
 

At any given time around my house, you’ll hear words like Iron Ore, smelting, Creeper, spawning, nether-portal and parkour.  If you have kids obsessed with Minecraft like my boys are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Imagine how excited those little Minecraft fans would be to get the opportunity to play the game on a big screen in a movie theater.

**Thanks to Super League Gaming for sponsoring this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

That’s exactly what Super League Gaming gives kids the chance to do. Super League Gaming is the first in-theater gaming league set inside major movie theaters across the country.  It gives gamers a chance socialize, move around the theater, and compete in a recreational setting.

Every week gamers bring a laptop and friends to a nearby Regal, AMC, Cinemark or iPic. Super League creates the best entertaining gameplay experience – ever.  And they are coming to Boston this month!

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Super League’s summer tour is already underway.  They have been busy visiting 23 markets across the country since mid June and they will be in Boston this month! Limited seats available per theater, so if you want your kids to get the chance to attend, buy your tickets now.  Continue reading »

Aug 052015
 

Buy Local Produce with Stop & Shop

**Thanks to Stop & Shop for sponsoring this conversation.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

This month marks both of my boys birthdays.  This year they are turning 8 and 11 years old, which I almost cannot believe. Where the heck did time go?  I love having two boys and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but there is one thing about being an all boy mom that I never really realized until recently – they eat non-stop.  The phrase eating me out of house and home really rings true in our house and since my growing boys go though so much food, I always keep the house stocked.  I am very happy to report that not one, but both of my boys both love fruits and vegetables and that makes me one happy mama. Continue reading »

Aug 052015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CloudPetsForever #CollectiveBias

Staying Connected With Cloudpets

If you’re a regular around here, you’ve probably read about my mom and how she’s been in failing health.  If you haven’t heard about my mom yet, she has been sick for really, really long time.  In addition to being a melanoma survivor (4+ years), she has a liver that practically doesn’t work anymore (she’s on the transplant list), she’s a diabetic and on top of all that, she literally has no immune system.  There are quite a few other things, but those are the biggies.

Because of all her ailments, mostly the diabetes, she gets these wounds on her legs that just don’t heal.  She has really bad varicose veins which make her skin susceptible to skin irritations. The smallest skin irritation can turn into a big one in her case and because these wounds take months and even years (yes, years) to start to get better, she’s in and out of the hospital with constant infections – and because of the infections, she’s in constant pain.

The doctors have tried everything with her to get those darn wound to heal.  She’s been on many different medications, antibiotics and tried pretty much every wound care technique there is.  Two weeks ago she ended up in the hospital for the second time this year.

She got admitted about two weeks ago and hasn’t been home since. Continue reading »

Aug 042015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PowerInProtein #CollectiveBias

My Journey Towards a Black Belt

You’re familiar with the famous movie quote “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.”, right? Well, what a lot of you may not know is that I am actually in a fight club of sorts. Yes, really.

For the past three years or so, I have been taking Krav Maga classes.  Krav Maga is a form of self-defense, which was first developed by the Israeli army.  It combines techniques and philosophies from various martial arts and fight training by using quick, explosive movements. In addition to learning fighting skills and how to defend against things like punches, kicks, choke holds and headlocks, we learn defenses against weapons such as sticks, knives, and guns.

I love Krav because it’s realistic fight training.  We train to know how save our own lives and the lives of the people we love should a situation arise in which we need to do so (and I hope it never does).  Krav Maga is perfect for any age, shape, or size and you do earn belts and move up in rank (if you can demonstrate that you know your techniques) along the way.

Eventually, there comes a time in your training when you know everything there is to know. Once that time comes, it’s time to through the process of testing for your black belt.  I am going through that process now.

At my dojo, there is a very well thought out process designed to help the people testing do their best during the actual tests, of which there are three.  Twice a year they hold boot camp qualifications and if you pass, you move on to boot camp. Once you’re in boot camp, you attend extra training with the instructors once a week where you learn what specific techniques they want to see on which phase of the black belt testing (there are a lot of different techniques, so they break it up over the three tests).  Then ,once a month over three months, you test. Continue reading »

Aug 022015
 

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Coupons.com, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Today is a special day here in our house.  It’s my oldest son’s birthday.  It’s mind-blowing to me that he is ELEVEN years old today – how the heck did that happen?

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I asked him last week what he wanted for his birthday this year and before I could even finish my sentence, he blurted out “a phone”. I had always told him that he could get a phone when he went into middle school & that happens to be this September, but somehow 11 still seems a little young to me to have his own phone.  That’s why I love T-Mobile’s Simple Prepaid Plans.

Simple is good, right? The Simple Choice North America Plan starts out at just $40 for unlimited talk, text, and 1GB of 4G LTE data!

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The plan includes: Continue reading »

Jul 312015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipYourWay #CollectiveBias

Minecraft Creeper Veggie Tray

Are you one of those parents that faces a major challenge in getting their kids to eat their veggies?  I am.  My oldest son is the exception when it comes to veggies – he can’t get enough.  On the other hand, my little guy will almost never put a vegetable in to his mouth willingly. Talk about complete opposites.  So with my youngest, sometimes I have to get a little fun and creative when it comes to getting him to eat his veggies.  I have tried lots of different things ranging from sneaking them into other foods (my pasta sauce for example) to buying delicious Kraft Dips to help encourage my son to eat his veggies!

Here are some of the things I’ve tried over the years to get him to eat his veggies. These ideas are so convincing that you might even start eating your veggies, too.

Bake Amazing Meals

Okay, so looking at veggies, it’s pretty clear as to why kids don’t want to eat them – they look boring. So why not take those veggies to the next level?  Try making dishes like stuffed peppers or bright and colorful salads to help convince your children to eat their veggies.

Sneak Them Into Other Foods

I have been known to mix some cauliflower into my mashed potatoes or chop up some veggies really finely to put into my pasta sauce. I love that the kids don’t even realize they’re eating veggies and as long as you tell them at some point when they’re are older, like when they’re 50, it’s not considered lying!

Make Sure They’re Hungry

One of my favorite ways to get my kids to eat their veggies is to make sure they’re hungry. It’s one of the first things I feed my kids when it’s time for a snack. They are more likely to eat their veggies if they are hungry and trust me on this one, I know from experience. Continue reading »

Jul 292015
 

Small Disclosure

This is my dining room:

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I love this room.  In fact it’s one of my favorite rooms in the house.  Partly because it’s where we eat (and I do love to eat) and the other part is because our family spends a lot of time in this room bonding over dinner. I love sitting down to eat with the family and just talking about our days.

The thing is, the main door to our house is in our kitchen and the kitchen and dining room are attached.  That means they are the first rooms you see when you enter my house.  Since we entertain quite a bit, it makes me feel better when my house looks good.

Despite the fact that I love the food my family eats and the memories we make in the dining room, something has always bothered me about the room.  I’ve always felt like something was missing and recently a light bulb went off.  I finally figured out exactly what the room needed.

Here, have a closer look. Can you guess what I was thinking? Continue reading »