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Travel

First time skiing at Camelback Mountain Resort

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We were invited and hosted by Momtrends and Camelback Mountain Resort. 

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Our kids love the snow and I can’t believe it took us this long to take them skiing, and when Momtrends invites you for a special ski day, YOU GO! There are a lot of things that went through my mind before the day trip. The first thing was getting ready. I hadn’t been skiing in over 10 years so this felt like the first time and the kids had never been. immediately I set off to get us ready clothing wise. After our gear was ready and I packed away our stuff we headed of to Camelback Mountain Resort. It took about an hour and 45 minutes to get there from Queens, NY (which is awesome because is really all highway).

When we arrived we received our packed with the schedule of things and passes an all. First thing, was get our boots and skis. NOT going to lie, getting boots for 3 kids and 2 adults and skis for all was EXHAUSTING. If it’s your first time, please pack lightly and don’t have a lot of things with you because you will probably end up carrying about 3 pairs of skis. Something else to keep in mind is, if this is your first time, is that the equipment is heavy. Boots are very heavy, so be ready for some slight pain when you first walk with them. Don’t worry you get use to them and won’t bother you. Once we got our equipment we headed to the kids lesson.

The ski lessons are awesome, I watched the kids for about an hour. The teachers they have are so caring and really take care of the kids. It was excited to see that the kids were paying attention and really enjoying the class. During the class, they teach them different things like how to set up the skis, going down and turning around. The class was an hour and a half and they were so tired by the time they got out it was totally worth it, it was perfect for a first timer. While they were in class, I took a chance and went up the hill myself. OMG, so much fun but physically demanding. Never thought skiing would be so physically challenging. Keep in mind, If you have a child 3 and younger they will need private lessons. After our ski adventure, we headed up to have lunch.

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THEMOMMYELF

 

After lunch, we returned our equipment and headed to the snow tubes. OMG I think this was the most fun-filled part of the day. Not because snow tubbing is fun, but because we were able to do it all together. There are 2 snow tube mountains and the sessions are 3 hours long. We were able to tie 3 tubes together so the boys were together and Grace and I on the other side. At first, I thought she would be terrified, but she absolutely had a blast. She wanted to keep going up and down over and over again. My favorite was to hear the kids laughing. Such a joyful moment for them. What I also loved, was at night they have a light show, which is super cool and also have some fire pits! The spot is perfect to have some waffles and hot apple cider.

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The last stop for the day was at Aquatopia Indoor Water Park. And, how excited where the kids? They couldn’t even believe that they were going to a water park after all the skiing and snow tubbing fun. This was our first time at this water park and the kids were pretty impressed. Their favorite part? The wave pool for sure! We didn’t get a chance to stay at the resort but the lobby is beautiful.

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Overall, we had an amazing time and will for sure return. It was very convenient that everything was in the same mountain and they even have a shuttle to take your through all the activities. I loved having this new experience with the family. It is very special when you get out of your comfort zone and go on a new adventure together. I didn’t really think the kids would love skiing but they absolutely did. I am excited to take them back and embrace this new side of them.

I want to thank Momtrends for the invite and for hosting us and thank you Camelback Mountain Resort for an amazing time. 

 

Baby Gear-Strollers-Car Seats-Carriers Travel

The GB Pockit Stroller

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Finally it’s here!

GBPOCKIT- stroller- The Mommy Elf, LLC

The Gb Pockit has been buzzing around since the winter when a video went viral showing the tiny fold. And honestly as amazed I was at the video, I really didn’t think it would be a functioning stroller. And boy was I wrong, this stroller is small but mighty. It’s considered a travel stroller and honestly the fold is so small that I can see the usefulness of it for traveling moms. We travel once a year by airplane but we’re on the road A LOT, with three car seats and suitcases I hate to waste space with a big stroller, so this is perfect for us.

GBPOCKIT- STROLLER- THE MOMMY ELF, LLC

Although you are NOT supposed to hang anything from the stroller handles, I wanted to test how the lightness affected the sturdiness. This is with my daughter who is 35lbs on the seat and no stroller weights (which I usually use on the Quinny Yezz- to avoid tipping over).

The Pockit, has the smallest fold in the market, and yes it’s in the Guiness Book of Records! Of course with a stroller this small there are a lot of things that need to be sacrified, so not everything is perfect. I will start with the best and then tell you what I don’t like.

Specs wise, this stroller holds up pretty well against its competidors. The weight limit is 50lbs making it pretty durable. It has double wheels all around and the front wheels can be locked in place for a sturdier push. The stroller has a 5 point harness and a very tall seat back, even my almost 6 year fit in the seat no problem. It has a sun shade and a small basket.

GB POCKIT- STROLLER- THE MOMMY ELF, LLC

G1 is about 50″ tall and he has about 2″ more to touch the canopy.

As far as the push, it is really good. It doesn’t feel heavy but it also doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart, like some other light-way strollers. I did notice that on tight turns with a heavier kid, the stroller does loose some of its stability. As you can see even G2, can push his 60lb brother with ease.

GB POCKIT- STROLLER- THE MOMMY ELF, LLC

To open is very easy, just push the white buttons on top and make sure everything clicks. Now to close it, this is where the fun of this stroller is. It has two folds, both are incredibly small, but the first one still leaves the tires out. The second way is with all the tires folded inside. This fold is really what makes the stroller unique.

Now there are some things I didn’t like. The instability in a curb is definitely up there. Also, I really wish it had a bigger sun shade. The truth is the shade is almost like an after thought. With the slightly larger shade, I would also like to see longer harness for the taller kids. I do wish that it came with a bag like the Qbit. That was probably the biggest fail for me. A travel stroller that fits in a tote bag, but doesn’t come with one!
These are top of the line travel strollers. As you can see, the Pockit is the winner.

Strollers, GB POCKIT- THE MOMMY ELF, LLC- TRAVEL

 

It is a very very nice stroller. Like I mentioned, it is tiny but powerful. Is it worth $250? It really depends on you. I like it and happen to think if you travel a lot even if it’s not on a plane. This stroller will definitely be helpful for subway or bus commuters as well. Is it a good everyday stroller, no. Do you travel enough to make the $250 investment is the question you need to make yourself.

Here’s the snip video I shared on Facebook on how to open and close it!

Thank you to GB USA for sponsoring this post.

Travel

Discover Maryland, perfect destination for the whole family.

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Summer trip to Maryland

Maryland is about 3 and a half hours from NYC. It’s on my way to DC so we’re pretty familiar with the highway, but we really don’t get to explore it that much. This summer I made it a mission to discover Maryland. There are all types of attractions and entertainment for the whole family, from city centers like Baltimore to beach getaways like Ocean City. I like to enjoy more of the historic part of Maryland, so our destinations are a bit different. I also consider what the kids like and what they would enjoy the most. These places you can visit in a week or do different trips. It really depends on how comfortable your kids are in the car, and how quickly you see the attractions.

Stop 1: Scenic Route to Point Lookout

There are a couple of stops on the way to the lighthouse, including stop 87. This stop is a memorial to the Civil War men that died. Just down the road is another interesting stop which is the Civil War POW camp. Here you can see the pictures of the POW’s and it’s just interesting. Although my tots are in the younger side, I do try to make their vacations and trips educational fun. So we were playing games, finding the names with the letter A, B, C and so on. We also played, find the oldest date. Click here for more information.

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Stop 2: Point Lookout Lighthouse- Point Lookout State Park

This is such a cool house lighthouse. It’s an original structure from 1830. There is a tour that you can take and see the inside. It’s also inside the State Park, so there is hiking trails and beaches that you can enjoy. We happen to just hang out by the lighthouse trying to find a ghost from a window (supposedly the lighthouse is one of the haunted places in the county). It was also a nice windy day so we enjoy the waves from the ocean. There is more information on the lighthouse here.

Stop 3: Washingtonian Center, Rockville 

Washingtonian Center is just a fun place. There are a bunch of things to do including swan, paddle boats and a carousel and train. There is also a movie theater and a nice boardwalk with restaurants and trails. And hello if you need a break from sightseeing there is a Target right there. For more information on their events visit their website.

Stop 4: Historic White’s Ferry, Poolesville

This ferry is just fun for kids. It’s short enough, it’s only $2 per car and the kids just enjoyed it. The ferry gets you across the Potomac to explore the side of Maryland with the most Civil War Trails and interesting places. There is also a small park on one side of the ferry and you can get food and snacks. Head on over to their site for details.

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Stop 5: Monocay National Battlefield, Frederick 

Monocay is pretty cool. Not only is it a National Park, there is also a bunch of trails to discover in the park. My kids love hiking and being outdoors so these trips but them right in the middle of nature and history at the same time. They also have a Junior Ranger program, where the kids get their own booklet and become responsible for the park.

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Stop 6: National Shrine Grotto, Emmitsburg

The National Shrine Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes is a space that is highly spiritual. And although it is religious, the space is just beautiful. It has incredible views of the city. The kids loved the statues and the spaces with a lot of greenery and beautiful architecture. There is also a pond and if you are religious you can fill a bottle of water with Holy Water. If you don’t really believe in the religious there is also an old cemetery.

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Stop 7: National Harbor, National Harbor

I’ve written about the National Harbor before and still include it in this list because I absolutely love it. Not only is it a 10 minute drive from D.C. there is so much to do. There is the new Capital Wheel, a small park for kids, the sand area, tons of restaurants and shops. They have a bunch of events like movie by the water and concerts even during Christmas time. Check out our last post on the harbor by clicking here.

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Of course like I mentioned there are other places if you like more action: Six Flags, Ocean City and the National Aquarium. All in all Maryland has everything you need to have an awesome vacation. I am so glad we get to explore new destinations. If you like to travel with kids, don’t dismiss our own land. There is so much history and culture, and is never to early to show kids interesting historical sites, especially if they are the history of our country.

Disney Star Wars Travel

Primera vez en Disneyland

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Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Como ya les e contado estuvimos en Disneyland en Marzo. Ya les hice la entrada sobre Disney’s California Adventure (la pueden leer aquí), pues ahora les quiero hablar sobre Disneyland. Lo primero primero es que es BELLO! Bueno nuestro día comenzó a las 7am. Caminamos al parque desde el hotel. Cuando llegamos ya había una fila para entrar al parque, pero se movió bastante rápido.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Tan pronto entramos al parque la primera imagen es de la cara de Mickey y el número 60 del aniversario del parque. Tan pronto nos tomamos una foto con el primer personaje que vimos que fué Goofy- el favorito de mi chico. Mis primeras impresiones del parque fueron muchas. Los sentimientos fueron increíbles. Tenía hambre, estaba emocionada, en un sitio desconocido. Aunque estuve toda la noche leyendo el mapa y planeando el día todo eso se me fue de la cabeza.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

El parque es mucho mas pequeño de Walt Disney World, pero tiene mas o menos el mismo plano de parque. En el medio vas a ver el castillo de Sleeping Beauty y a la derecha Tomorrowland y así igual las otras áreas. Aunque los parques tienen muchas similitudes son increíblemente diferentes, no solo por el tamaño, pero también por las atracciones. En Disneyland todavía hay un ToonTown. En ToonTown tienen atracciones como Rogger Rabbit y la casa de Mickey y Minnie. Esta area me encantó por que es cerrada. Solo tiene una entrada y la misma salida.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

En esta parte del parque fue que vimos a Mickey Mouse. Los nenes estuvieron un rato bien largo jugando en las casas de los diferentes personajes, como Goofy y Donald Duck. Sobre las atracciones les puedo decir que si tienen niños pequeños no deben ir a la atracción de Roger Rabbit. Es bastante oscura y definitivamente a menos que sean fanáticos de la película, no les va a gustar. Bueno, me descarrile un poco y nos conté que lo primero que hicimos cuanto entramos al parque fue entrar a Tomorrowland para apuntar a los nenes en el Jedi Training Academy. Esto es una oportunidad OBLIGATORIA si tienen fanáticos de Star Wars. Los chicos se apuntan (4 años en adelante) y los entrenan para tener una batalla con Darth Vader. La presentación es una aventura y definitivamente el mejor recuerdo de los chicos en el parque. Al final les regalan un botón de participación.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Luego de la aventura de Star Wars nos dirigimos a Fantasy Land. Mi atracción favorita de Disney siempre a sido It’s a Small World. Que emoción vivir esa atracción, es diferente a la de Orlando por muchas razones. La primera es la gran entrada que tiene al aire libre. También tiene personajes de las películas como los personajes de Toy Story, y es un poco más larga. Otra atracción que me encanto en Fantasyland fue Storybook Land Canal Boats. Esta atracción en bien relajante. Paseas por un bote y ves las ciertas historias en miniatura. Me encantó tanto que me quedé con las ganas de mas cuentos y que fuera más larga.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Hay tantas cosas que ver en Disneyland. Todo el parque está lleno de historia y de una arquitectura hermosa y pues la magia única de Disney. Nos dirigimos a Adventureland donde finalmente probé el famoso Dole Whip. Que si estaba bueno?? Pues claro que si! A menos que no te guste la piña. Pero prepárense que la fila para el Dole Whip (hay solo un lugar en todo el parque donde lo puedes comprar) es larguita! Pero definitivamente vale la pena.

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Nos montamos en casi todas las atracciones posibles. De mis favoritas definitivamente casi todas en Fantasyland. También me gustó mucho el área de las princesas. Disney Princess Fantasy Faire. Aunque no lo pudimos disfrutar mucho (uno de los problemas de tener mas niños que niñas) me encantó que las princesas están juntas. En Disney hay tantas cosas para hacer! La aventura no se acaba. La ultima atracción en la que nos montamos fue en el carrusel. Fue un momento súper especial para mi, ya que estaba emocional por que era nuestra ultima noche en California.

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No nos podíamos ir del parque sin ver la parada de Paint the Night. La parada está espectacular! Las luces, los personajes TODO me encantó. Aunque soy un poco tradicional y soy mega fan de Electrical Parade en Walt Disney World, la parada de Paint the Night está a otro nivel. Lo único que NO me gustó, es que no ví a Sleeping Beauty en la parada, y este parque tiene su castillo!

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Claro que como nos quedamos hasta el final, me fuí a caminar Main Street en la búsqueda de la luz de Walt. Esta luz estaba prendida cuando el llegaba al parque para que todo el mundo supiese que el estaba presente.

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Casi casi me quedo sin batería y saliendo del parque me encuentro a Minnie Mouse. Fue el momento más especial, por que siento que ella fue la que nos despidió. Mi celular aguantó el día completo.

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Gotitas del saber para Disneyland:

-Aunque el parque es pequeño hay MUCHO MUCHO que ver y hacer. Me hubiese gustado estar ahí por lo menos un día mas.

-No es necesario quedarse en el hotel de Disneyland. Hay muchos hoteles y pueden caminar a la entrada del parque. Esto te ahorra bastante dinero.

-Hay muchas atracciones que cierran temprano para los fuegos artificiales, por lo tanto si quieren ver a las princesas tienen que ir antes de las 6pm para verlas por que el área cierra, también otras atracciones de Fantasyland.

-Los Fastpasses son a la antigua. De papel, y hay que hacer fila para que la distribución. Así que antes de llegar a la atracción, ve a la maquina del FastPass.

-Hay tantos sitios para comer, que nada mas en comida estaría una visita completa.

-Aprovechen el día. Como siempre les digo lleguen temprano y estén hasta el final.

-Mickey’s ToonTown es el mejor sitio para ver a los personajes, especialmente a Mickey y Minnie.

-Lo principal es disfrutar. Les soy honesta, lloré varias veces durante el día. Por razones diferentes, pero me viví casa momentos con la familia.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Tengo que darle gracias a mi fotógrafo personal Rafael A. Babilonia, el estuvo con nosotros todo el viaje y si no fuese por su lente y su ojo critico no tendríamos ni la mitad de las imágenes espectaculares que tenemos de nuestro viaje! Así que gracias a mi hermano por las fotos y por ser nuestro guía turístico en California!

 

 

Events Travel

Getting ready for our summer trips with MOMTRENDS!

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Every year I am lucky enough to attend certain events, one of them I love because it totally relates to us and our life and that’s the MomTrends travel event. The event focuses on things that we might need, places we might want to go and just making traveling more enjoyable not only for the kids but also for the parents.

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This year there was a focus on comfort and keeping it simple. One of the products that I am most excited to try is the Guardian deet free repellent. Especially because most of our trips are to outdoor places and with Zika around and my kids being super sweet to mosquito bites. Guardian beat Deet in a number of test in efficiency, so it’s definitely coming with us wherever we go.

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One of the places we are planning to check out this summer was also at the event. Hershey’s Park in Pennsylvania is a great road trip from NYC and from the looks of it tons of fun for the whole family. We have never been and every summer we go to different places so I think this is a good one to check out this summer. The park has a hotel and hello chocolate everywhere- who doesn’t like chocolate?

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One of the things we are planning to do this summer is another camping trip, so I was super excited to check out the new Igloo coolers. The best one? This baby has LED lights, casters, and it has different compartments inside. It also has a see through lid so no need to open it to see what’s inside! This will be perfect not only for camping but also for parties at home. Another MUST for that party at home of for travel snacks are gopicnic. These are perfectly portioned eat anywhere snacks. They don’t need refrigeration so it’s easy to carry them.

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As far as suitcases go, I need to invest in this ebags classic packing cubes. These cubes fit perfect in the suitcase, but also protect your clothes at the hotel room or wherever you go. The bags are easy to clean and store, the fit in the front pocket of your suitcase when you’re not using them. Of course like with every MomTrends event we always talk fashion. This time it was traveling styles for girls thanks to Ivivva. The best tips were layers and multipurpose items, like scarfs that can be blankets.

Here’s a bit of my Snapchat story from the event!

 

Thanks to MomTrends and all the sponsors for a super fun event. 

Disney Travel

Primera Vez en Disney California Adventure Park!

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Pasaban las horas y los días. Ya no podía esperar más. La anticipación me estaba matando! Y finalmente llegó el día, llegamos a DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!

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Es imposible explicar lo que sentí cuando llegamos. Osea, la magía de Disney es definitivamente imposible de ignorar. Yo estaba más emocionada que los nenes. Yo se que mucha gente me dice ridícula por que ya hemos ido a Walt Disney World muchas veces, pero ir a Disneyland es otro nível, especialmente para los fanáticos de Disney como yo. Disneyland es historia. Es el parque donde Walt Disney caminó por sus calles, supervisó la construcción. No sabía que esperar. Tengo tantas cosas que contar que voy a empezar por nuestra experiencia en general. Cuando ví el rotulo de Disneyland, pensé que iba a ser mas grande. Pero equipados de emoción nos dirigimos al parque. Lo primero fue buscar nuestros boletos. Luego pasamos por el chequeo de bultos y ahora a hacer la fila. Llegamos a la fila a las 8am y ya había fila aún cuando el parque no habriría hasta las 9am. La fila se movió normal, pero para mi se sintió como si hubiesen pasado horas!

Disney The Mommy Elf

Entramos a Disney’s California Adventure primero. Decidimos ir a este parque primero por que queríamos prepararnos un poco mejor para Disneyland y buscar los mapas. Lo primero que me llamó la atención es la fila para los FastPass. A diferencia de Disney’s Magic Kingdom, en este parque es a papel. Y tienes que hacer fila para conseguirlo. Nos dirigimos directamente a Cars Land. OMG!!!! El lujo de detalle de Cars Land es súper. Cuando llegas estás en la película. TODO es idéntico a la película.

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

La verdad que todo, desde la casa de Luigi hasta la el Cozy Cone Motel. Desayunamos en Flo’s V8 Cafe, y los nenes les encantó que los waffles tenían la cara de Mater y McQueen.

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Disneyland The Mommy Elf

La primera actracción en la que nos montamos fué en Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. Esta atracción abrió Marzo 7 y me atrevo a decir que fué una de las favoritas de mis chicos. Ellos quedaron encantados! Luego fuimos a todas las atracciones de Cars Land. Después de Cars Land nos dirigimos a  “a bug’s life”. Las atracciones eran perfectas para mis chicos de 5, 4 y 2.

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

A la hora del almuerzo me dirigí al Cozy Cone Motel donde compre un Chili in a Cone! Que ricoooooo. La verdad que la comida en Disney es un éxito.

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

Para el resto de la tarde nos fuimos para el Paradise Pier. Las mejores atracciones para los grandes! Este parque es completamente diferente a cualquier parque de Walt Disney World. Aunque el parque tiene una vibra de Hollywood Studios y dos o tres atracciones que están en los dos parques incluyendo Midway Mania, que es de Toy Story. También nos montamos en Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Esto para mi fué increíble ya que uno de mis mayores miedos son las estrellas de carnaval. Ahora la vita desde el tope es absolutamente la mejor vista de los parques.

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

Tuvimos la oportunidad también de disfrutar de la parada de Pixar. A los nenes absolutamente les encantó ver a todos sus personajes favoritos de las películas en la parada y fue un momento perfecto para coger un descanso. También disfrutamos del “show” de Disney Junior.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Siempre lo he dicho, cuando vayan a los parques, especialmente a los de Disney, tienen que quedarse hasta el final. Las luces son otra cosa. Es algo como sacado de una película. La verdad es irreal para mí la experiencia de estar en Disneyland. También, obviamente nos montamos en California Screamin’ la cual es una montaña rusa súper divertida. Nos montamos de día y de noche!

Disneyland The Mommy Elf

Que más les puedo decir. La pasamos espectacular. Todo el mundo en la familia se divirtió. Todos tuvimos la oportunidad de disfrutarlos una u otra parte del parque. Me encantó Disney California Adventure y ya no puedo esperar a volver.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Ojo, estén pendiente que ya pronto les voy a hacer una entrada sobre que ver y que no ver mientras estén en el parque. Y ahora cuentenme, que les gustaría ver de Disney California Adventure?

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Disney Travel

Disneyland Planning: Part II

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So we have our flight and our hotel so the next step is to book a car and the entertainment and plan meals.

We had to rent a car because we are spending more than a week in California and with the three kids it would be crazy to try to take public transportation. I searched multiple sites and found carrental.com. They quoted me $371 for a mid size SUV for the 10 days. I also had to rent 2 car seats and those were $72 each for the week. I knew California was expensive but this was VERY expensive.

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

Photo Credit: Rafael A. Babilonia

So for the park tickets, I bought them before the price change. I bought a 2 day package with NO Park Hoper. I didn’t get the Park Hopper because it is our first time at the parks so I want to take in as much as possible. I also tried to save some money! I paid $187 for the 2 day park ticket for the adults (this means each day at the park was $93.50. Since I bought the tickets Disneyland changed their prices. They now have tier pricing, where the price of admission is based on the day of the week. So the price per day went from $99 to $95 on value days, $105 for regular days and $115 for the peak days. The price for multi day tickets also changed. With the new prices is important that when you are planning your own Disney vacation make sure to check for days when the prices are more accesible. I think if you aim to be there during the middle of the week you will get the best price.

When it comes to food it’s important to take into consideration your hotel and the proximity to food. If you’re hotel is further apart from food maybe it will be wise to buy some fruit and make some sandwiches and keep them in the room. Not only it will save you money, it will save you time. We decided to splurge on food because it was our first time in California and we love food. In n Out is cheap and filling, so definitely keep it in your must visit and go-to food joint if hunger strikes. Besides that, we spend a lot of money on local eateries. Coffee shops and specialty candy shops around. We never say no to food and if there is a place we like, we just go for it. Downtown Disney and even inside the parks there are tons of places to eat. As much as we all like to save money, sometimes the best part of a vacation is trying new foods. Don’t forget to get a Dole Whip when you get to Disneyland!

As far as the parks go, we are planning to do Disney California Adventure first and Disneyland second. Our boys love Cars so Carsland will be first. I planned the rides according to the height of the kids and the time of the day for the shows like the Disney Junior show. We also planned to get on the “grownup” rides during nap time. Another thing to keep in mind is that Disneyland Resort still use the old school ticket FastPasses. This is important to keep in mind because if you want to want to go on multiple rides that you can get a FP for, you can only hold ONE FP at a time, so if you’ve been to Walt Disney World and are used to having 3 FP at a time, this is not the case.

I also want to add that because this is not only a Disneyland vacation for us, we plan on visiting other places. We are spending time in Long Beach and checking out the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Griffin Observatory, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, Venice Beach and other places as we drive around. A lot of the beaches in CA have nice piers were you can spend the day for free (except for parking) and just hang out. We plan on spending a lot of time at the beach.

Anyways that is all the tips I have, but just in case here they are one more time:

  1. Car Rental: Search online for the best deal and find out if they rent the car seats. If you want to save some money, carry your own car seat (free on most airlines).
  2. Plan vacation around less busy times. My favorite days of the weeks for any Disney trip are Tuesday- Thursday. Keep in mind the price change and save money skipping the Park Hopper.
  3. Plan your own meals and keep them in the hotel. Fruits, sandwiches and granola bars.
  4. Don’t forget to get a Dole Whip and try some of the restaurants at the park.
  5. Plan your time at the park according to naps and meals to maximize time. Go on grown up rides while the kids sleep or eat/ use the parent switch and single rider lines!
  6. Make sure to get Fast Passes early in the day and use them right away. You can only hold one at a time, so it best to be a good one!
  7. Contrary to my advice on planning a Walt Disney World vacation, where I recommend staying on property the whole time, Disneyland is a whole different vibe. It’s right in the middle of town so go to the other attractions around town. Check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater!
  8. HAVE FUN! Any Disney vacation can be overwhelming, with the planning and the amount of things to do, but if you don’t put in your mind that having fun is the main reason you’re there, then it’s not worth it! Enjoy the memories made.

Until next time…

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

 

Disney Travel

Disneyland Planning: Part I

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OMG OMG OMG… WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!!

LOVELY LANDMARK -- Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.  Surrounded by beautiful flowers and whimsical topiary, the Disneyland landmark beckons park visitors to explore the different realms of the place "Where Dreams Come True."  Walt Disney wanted this castle to be a friendly and welcoming presence in his park so it was built on a smaller scale than its European counterparts.

LOVELY LANDMARK — Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Surrounded by beautiful flowers and whimsical topiary, the Disneyland landmark beckons park visitors to explore the different realms of the place “Where Dreams Come True.” Walt Disney wanted this castle to be a friendly and welcoming presence in his park so it was built on a smaller scale than its European counterparts.

We’re a few weeks away from taking our first cross-country trip to sunny California. I was totally unprepared for this vacation to happen this year, but I was given the opportunity to attend the We All Grow conference in Long Beach. So since I was going out there, we kind of just figured, let’s make it our vacation. Last year we went on a lot of small trips but didn’t take a family vacation, so it worked out pretty good. Of course there is absolutely NO WAY, we would be in California and not visit Disneyland. If you know us, you know Disney is a HUGE part of our lives. I figured I would share with you all the steps I took to plan for our vacation, saving money and maximizing our visit.

If there is one thing I have learned from planning multiple Disney trips over the years is that prices change quickly and often. So I started browsing and researching about a month and a half before the actual dates we are going. A lot of people might think this is waiting to long, but I actually had to wait for my husbands leave to get approved and I think you get the most value a month and half out. It’s far enough to plan accordingly but close enough to still get some deals.

This is part one so I’ll discuss flights and hotels since it’s the biggest part of the trip. Usually when planning a Disney vacation, I tell everyone to do everything through Disney site directly, or an authorized Disney planning agency. BUT, since we’re not spending all of our days at Disneyland, I didn’t think this was particularly necessary for this trip.

Flight: The best deals are in the weeeeee hours in the middle of the week. I usually don’t sleep, so this was easy for me. If you need sleep and can’t fathom staying awake past midnight to book a flight. Think about the HUGE discount you can score. I bought our flights using Expedia.com and paid less than $1000 for 5 round trips from NYC to LA. That is super cheap! I also bought them each way separately. That also kept the cost down. The leg from NYC to LA was $75 with taxes for each ticket. The trip back from LA to NYC was $126 with taxes. That makes each ticket less than $200! You CANT beat that deal. But, like I mentioned I did spend a few hours on the site around 3am on a Wednesday to score the deals.

Hotels: Disneyland hotels are some of the most expensive hotels out there. This is in part because there is not a huge amount of hotels on property as opposed to Disney World, so it’s definitely a luxury. I love staying on property for this trip offered a lot of options outside of Disneyland. We are actually staying in 3 different places in the course of 10 days. The first part of our trip we’ll be staying at the conference hotel, since that’s the main reason we are going in the first place. The second half we are taking a trip down to San Diego and staying at my brother’s place. For the third part of our trip the Disneyland part, we’re staying at the neighboring Marriott Hotel. The reason we picked the hotel is because it’s within walking distance to the park, and we have some Marriott reward points that we’re using to keep the cost down, since Marriott let’s you use points + cash now.

So far, the most expensive thing has been the hotel. Almost $1,400 for 7 nights is a lot. But considering we saved so much on the flights, we understand the expense. We’re also picking hotels that have set prices like the conference hotel which is $200 a night (and that’s the special cheap conference rate!). Next, post we’ll be talking about car rental and entertainment. This means park tickets and other attractions.

THE FAB 5 -- The classic Disney characters welcome visitors outside Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (L-R) Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

THE FAB 5 — The classic Disney characters welcome visitors outside Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (L-R) Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

Stay tuned for the next post!

Reviews Travel

Learning with LeapFrog

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As you know by now, must of our summer was spent in a car. It’s hard to keep kids entertained besides watching movies, if you’re lucky to have a DVD player. So I have very happy to try out the LeapFrog Word Whammer ($19.99). This little machine was so much fun. The purpose of the game is to learn how to spell and read in a fun and portable way.LeapFrogIt was really interesting to see the kids engaged with it. It’s a small screen, compared to an iPad or even a phone, and it’s also black and white, so I thought the kids might be less interested. But to my surprised, they were very engaged. The age recommendation is 4-6 but even my 3 and a half year old got the hang of the lever and started to play.

The kids spell words like fun, pen, out by pulling and twisting. Each game has different graphics. I did have to sit with the boys when we got it and explained step by step, because at first it is a bit complicated to get a hang of it. Once we went over the instructions and the way to use it they were pros! They are learning while playing and they don’t even know.

What I really do enjoy about this gadget is that it’s not only educational, which is the main reason I would buy a toy for my child, but it’s also small enough to fit in a diaper bag and perfect for traveling in the car. This is definitely one toy to have around, especially for those kids entering kindergarten and first grade. It will help develop those reading skills that are so important.

LeapFrog

Do you practice spelling with your children? Or have a special toy besides the a tablet to help reading?

This is a sponsored post. All opinions and images are my own.

 

Travel

A Toddler Takes Over NOVA & D.C.- Part 2

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We love to discover new places, but there are certainly landmarks that we also like to explore. Washington D.C. is packed with landmarks and important monuments to check out. This summer as part of our education vacations, we took over Northern Virginia (NOVA) &  Washington D.C. We already covered NOVA in part 1. So let’s cross the Potomac River. The first stop is and always should be the National Mall. This is really the best for toddlers because it’s outdoors and there’s plenty of space for them to run around checking out beautiful scenery. If you’ve never been to D.C. this is like the center of town. Grassy areas and views of the Smithsonian Museums as well as the Capitol and Washington Monument make this the perfect starting point.DC6DC9We have been to D.C. multiple times but hadn’t really done the tourist attractions, we decided to start with the a walk to the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. Things you should know, most of the museums in D.C. are suggested admission and the monuments are free, making it very affordable to visit the city. Usually the lines are very long, especially during the summer, but they definitely move quickly, be ready to open backpacks and go through a lot of metal detectors. I recommend How Things Fly exhibition for the toddlers because it’s fully interactive and the kids learn the basics of flight. This museum is amazing full of history. We love the Apollo to the Moon exhibition and the Sea-Air Operations exhibition.DC7DC8After the museum we headed to the Washington Monument. We walked to the National Gallery of Art- Garden Sculpture park where they have different sculptures but they also have a beautiful fountain, where you can sit, soak your feet and relax. The kids LOVED this. D.C. is all about walking, a lot of times very long stretches so make sure to take plenty of breaks. They have a cafe right there so you can have lunch and just lounge on the grass. During the summer they play jazz and you can enjoy the show. Toddlers love this park because there is really a lot of space for them to play and enjoy the scenery and there’s plenty of art for them to enjoy and they can get their feet wet. DC2 DC3Wherever you go in the city, you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful greenery and views of historical buildings. I try to go to places that are not overly crowded, if I go during high season, we skip the high tourist attraction. It’s a sacrifice we make for the sanity of ourselves and our kids! This trip we skipped the White House and some of the other museums. But this way, we also plan for future trips back and really enjoy the secret gems of each city we visit. For Washington, D.C. I recommend a week, if you really want to see everything there is to see. There is a lot of walking long distances, so wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated. If you want more information on visiting D.C. make sure to stop by their websiteDC1 DC4With toddlers, make sure to pack snacks and bring a stroller. Is a lot of walking for little ones and the public transportation is a bit complicated to be getting on and off the Metro with kids. Also make sure to grab a map at one of the information centers where it tells you where to go and how to get there. Remember that there is a lot of security to go into museums so if you’re going in and out of them, your tot might get aggravated, so take plenty of breaks and enjoy the outdoors.

Safe & happy travels!