Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Orkin: Fact Or Fake #sponsored #Orkin

“Daddy longlegs are poisonous.” 
“Mosquitoes prefer adults over children.”

“Ants can survive underwater.”

Which of the above statements are fact? Which ones are fiction?

Friday, August 15, 2014

National Lemonade Day at Red Robin #sponsored #RedRobin

Disclosure: The Red Robingift card, information, and additional gift card have been provided by Red Robin.

Today the kids and I enjoyed a great meal at Red Robin after my son showed off his latest horsemanship skills!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Matzo Ball Soup at Manny's Deli

Today I took my daughter to Manny's Deli after her morning ballet class.


Autumn is inching its way towards us, and we woke up to what felt like a crisp fall day. The matzo ball soup was so comforting. My daughter is turning five and it is now an absolute pleasure to have her as dining company; she enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Manny's and the cafeteria style service.

I don't want summer to end (at all!) but I do look forward to fall, a time of year when I love to both cook at home and try out new (and old) dining spots, and I can't wait to take this little gal with me as company. But that's enough about fall. Here's to a few more weeks of summer!



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gudrun Sjödén Fall 2014 Collection

Disclosure: Special thanks to Gudrun Sjödén for sponsoring this post. 

In my longstanding question for comfortable fashions that will carry me from work to play and fit my very active lifestyle, I've found an answer: Gudrun Sjödén creates clothes in unique, colorful designs and natural materials – for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Vibrant and sustainable, this is a brand that honors women who appreciate individual style and comfortable, organic materials. 


For Fall 2014, Gudrun Sjödén  dives into the rich beauty, color and patterns of the Burkina Faso. The color palette ranges from rich shades of ecru to warm and saturated colors inspired by Africa, to a variety of blacks and grays. The catalog features stunning photos from Burkina Faso. I was especially struck by the decorated adobe homes in Tiebele. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Long Weekend in Indianapolis #FamilyTravel #VisitIndy

This post originally appeared on ChicagoParent.comSee more of my Chicago Parent stories here.


Two weekends ago, our family set off to discover Indianapolis. We had two Indy missions in mind: to hang out a bit with some orangutans and to stare down some warriors made of terra cotta. Along the way, we discovered that Indy - located less than three hours from Chicago - makes for a quick, easy, educational and fun family getaway.

PLAY

We spent almost an entire day at the world's largest children's museum - the Indianapolis Children's Museum - to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. This army of thousands of warriors, sculplted from terra cotta, was buried for centuries, protecting an emperor’s tomb. This beautifully presented exhibit (on display until November 2, 2014) tells the astounding story of the tomb complex of China’s first emperor, and features real Terra Cotta Warriors -- considered by many to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. We examined more than 100 ancient artifacts and enjoyed hands-on interactives which gave us the chance to pretend that we, too, were part of the archeological research team. My kids, ages four and 13, sculpted mini terra cotta warriors of their own, pieced together broken warriors and looked the warriors themselves in the eyes. This is the first time the Shaanxi provincial government is allowing this particular exhibit with eight of the Terra Cotta Warriors out of the country and this fantastic exhibit is not to be missed.

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My kids make terra cotta warriors of their own at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Be sure to explore the other exhibits at the museum, including the thought provoking Power of Children exhibit, which highlights the powerful stories of three extraordinary 20th-century children -- Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White -- and the Dinosphere, which will transport you back over 65 million years ago to the land of dinosaurs.

White River State Park, a 250 acre park located in downtown Indianapolis, was where we spent day two in Indy. This sprawling state park contains the Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theater, the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions, the Medal of Honor Memorial, Victory Field (home of Indianapolis Indians’ baseball), Military Park, the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn Concert Series and the Indiana Cross Country Arena.

We chose to explore by bicycle, renting bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals: the 13-year-old boys opted to cruise around on choppers, while my four-year-old daughter and I hopped on a surrey. From Wheel Fun Rentals, we zipped around the park then parked our wheels outside the Indianapolis Zoo.

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Exploring White River State Park by surrey!

Organized around the concept of biomes - areas of the planet with similar climate, plants and animals, the Indianapolis Zoo is the only institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums as a zoo, an aquarium and as a botanical garden. The recently inaugurated Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is the new home to one of the largest groups of orangutans in any American zoo. We were able to literally stare into the eyes of these amazing animals, and we took the time to learn more about their plight as an endangered species thanks to the interactive exhibits and zoo staff on hand to answer questions.

EAT

Our number one dining pick in Indy is Punch Burger (137 East Ohio St.), where you can build your own gourmet burger. Punch Burger makes a point of using only local grass-fed Angus beef raised in Indiana. Give some of the more adventurous combos a try! Bazbeaux Pizza (333 Massachusetts Ave.), located in the heart of the Mass Ave cultural district, is another family-friendly Indy staple for some of the best pies in town.

STAY

We stayed at the J.W. Marriot, a 1,000+ room luxe hotel located in downtown Indy and walking distance to White River State Park. Sophisticated yet family-friendly, we loved our room with a stunning view of the White River State Park. jwindy.com



Friday, July 25, 2014

#Sponsored: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: In theaters August 8and RealD 3D #TMNTmovie

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Paramount Pictures blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.




The blockbuster of the summer is finally here! 

Are you ready to watch as a team of four teenage anthropomorphic turtles battle crime while attempting to remain isolated from society?

The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES are here to save the world! And on August 8, they'll be appearing in theaters and RealD 3D!

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Indiana

This post originally appeared on ChicagoParent.com.

The spirit of St. Nick is alive and well in a corner of southern Indiana. You’ll also experience living history at Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home, dramatic roller coaster drops, a splashin' safari and even a hike into the deep depths of a cave. A driving trip to Santa Claus, Indiana, will offer something to delight every member of your family, from the history buff to the spelunker, from the water park aficionado to the mini-golf enthusiast. Just 360 miles and six hours from Chicago, it’s well worth a long weekend trip.

Pack a picnic and head south on Interstate 65, reaching your first stop in time for lunch at the park that stands on the site of the Lincoln family farm: Abraham Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Lincoln spent 14 years on the Indiana farm, from ages 7 to 21. Hike the historic trail of Twelve Stones; each stone marks a significant event in Lincoln’s life. The trail passes over the farmhouse site and past his mother’s gravestone (Nancy Lincoln died after drinking the milk of a cow infected by the toxic white snakeroot plant when Abe was just nine years old). Take a moment to reflect with your children on what it must have been like to set off as a pioneer family into the wilderness and build a farm from practically nothing, as the Lincoln family did when they arrived at this 160-acre claim near the Little Pigeon Creek in frigid December 1816.

Just a short scenic drive through the forest is Santa Claus, Indiana. The main attraction of this small vacationers village is Holiday World, the world’s first-ever theme park, family-run since 1946. Relive a year of holidays in a single day by visiting each block of the park: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and Christmas.

I visited Holiday World with my gang of two teens and a 4-year-old, and there was something for everyone - including me! - at this fun theme park. The teens had a blast on the theme rides, especially the three wooden coasters located around the park - The RavenThe Legend and The Voyage.

Amy_train
All aboard the Holidog Expresss

My 4-year-old daughter was delighted to see Santa Claus in the middle of June, strolling around the park; she adored, above all, the many Christmas-themed rides, including Santa's sleighs, as well as Holidog's FunTown, a mini park within the park that offered rides for the preschool/toddler set, as well as a splash area to cool off on hot summer days.

Splashin’ Safari, the park’s on-site water attraction rounded out the festive fun for everyone in our family. Don’t miss the three-story drop on Liberty Launch, a log ride down Frightful Falls, a whiz around the sky on Blitzer’s Airplanes and of course, a 154-foot drop at 67 mph and 2.4 seconds of "air time" on the best wooden roller coaster in the world, The Voyage.

Don’t forget to stop and visit with Santa Claus. He’s available for chats with both good and bad boys and girls all day long, in Christmasland.

Holiday World is a first-class theme park: affordable, bright, safe and enjoyable for children and adults, minus packed-to-the-brim crowds. Free sunscreen and soft drinks make for a more affordable (and comfortable) day.

You’ll find more signs of the bearded man in red and his accomplices throughout Santa Claus. Visit the local Santa Claus Museum and send a Santa Claus-postmarked, Christmas-themed postcard to your friends from the post office next door. Play a round of mini-golf at a course that circles around a melting snowman at Frosty’s Fun Center and grab a frozen hot chocolate and a variety of colorful candy canes at Santa’s Candy Castle.

We spent the night at the Lake Rudolph Campground in a deluxe family cabin. Adjacent to Holiday World (free shuttle service to the theme park is provided), the campground features family cabins, as well as tent and RV sites. With its kitchen, master bedroom, comfy living room and upper level sleeping loft just right for the kids, our cabin was roomy, clean and comfortable.

The kids especially got a kick out of the holiday decor. Lake Rudolph's playground, pool, water slides, rental golf carts, game room, lake with rental kayaks and paddleboats, s’mores on a campfire and a wide starry sky rounded out the fun.

Before heading home, we headed underground. At 4.6 miles in length, with upper-level passages and two parallel underground rivers formed more than a million years ago, a visit to the Marengo Caves is both educational and exciting. Choose from a variety of underground tours, with itineraries for both claustrophobes (the 35-minute long Crystal Palace Tour) and the ambitious spelunker (the five-hours-long Marengo Explorer adventure; helmets, lights and back-up lights are provided). Even my 4-year-old had a blast exploring the deep, dark caverns, with their stunning stalactites and stalagmites. After our cave hike, the kids mined for gems.

Amy_Mining
Mining for gems at Marengo Caves

A trip to Santa Claus is a fun adventure for families looking for a theme park experience that's affordable and a bit closer to home. The educational stops along the way turn the trip into an interesting learning experience for all.