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Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Attending Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet experience gave me memories that will last a lifetime! This post is sponsored by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent but all opinions are my own.

On Monday, October 29th, I had the privilege and honor of attending my first ever red carpet event and it was for a movie that I have been waiting over a year to see, Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  It was more than I could ever have imagined.

The Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Premiere was held at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. I honestly am still having a hard time believing this is my life. It felt surreal. Today, I will be sharing my very own exclusive Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience, complete with all the behind the scenes stuff I did to prepare for my first red carpet experience and photos of the things and people I saw.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

READ ALSO: Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms a MUST see for Ballet Dancers

The event began like any other day, just kidding, it began like no other day of my life. It began with getting dressed in my fanciest red carpet outfit. I needed something worthy of such an event. The occasion clearly called for sparkles and a wow factor. This was not a test folks, this was the real thing. I dressed up like the inner Nutcracker princess that I’ve always been.

I chose a Morgan and Company fit and flare silhouette, sequined lace cocktail dress from Macys. It had a halter neckline and just a small hem of tulle in merlot. It was perfect. Shades of red remind me of the holidays and the holidays have always meant the Nutcracker to my family. I paired that beautiful merlot gown with a pair of gorgeous Cassiaa Peep-Toe Wedge Pumps in Platino. I felt elegant, beautiful and even a little magical as I left a little glitter everywhere I went.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

As if all this was not magical enough, we headed to the Ray Dolby ballroom which had been ethereally transformed into the Four Realms. Guests were greeted by sparkly twinkle lights hung from floor to ceiling against a hanging black backdrop, majestic towers of lollipops as far as the eye could see and beautiful people just as excited to see Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms as I was. It was stunning and invigorating. The energy of the crowd and the anticipation was palpable.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Being greeted by jugglers on stilts wielding flowers and neon colored juggling pins gave the room a whimsical feel. There were crafts for the kids to build their very own snow globes and candy stations provided by Ziploc. Funky Hair was on site giving anyone who was interested a Nutcracker-inspired hairstyle makeover. You know me, I went all in and got a Nutcracker and the Four Realms inspired hairstyle, complete with candies, snowflakes and glitter. How could I not?

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

OPI was also providing manicures using the new Nutcracker and the Four Realms color sets for anyone who wanted them, as well. The new colors are absolutely breathtaking. I have the collection and have been wearing a different color since I returned home.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

The food provided by Wolfgang Puck was absolutely delicious. Comfort and delectability met to delight your taste buds and inspire your palette. A few of my favorites were the braised short rib grilled cheese, the miniature pot pies, individual macaroni and cheese and the squash tortellini. Can you say delicious? I probably would have eaten more had my jaw not kept dropping open when I found myself rubbing elbows with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. After all, it was my first red carpet event. I found it exciting to be in the same room with Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, MORGAN FREEMAN and so many others.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

READ ALSO: What’s so Special about the Nutcracker Ballet

In case you are wondering, I completely behaved myself. I didn’t obnoxiously bother anyone while they were eating or with their children to take a photo. But they were there and they were beautiful, and they were just like you and me, and that was exciting enough for this work from home ballerina mom.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

Though, it was a little mind-blowing for me. I’m not normally one to fangirl but when you are 5 foot from a legend like Morgan Freeman, it’s hard not to get excited about it. I’ve grown up seeing this man perform in some of my favorite movies and there he was to my right, like anybody else, in a gorgeous purple blazer that was subliminally reminding me just how Hollywood royalty he really is. Don’t worry, I completely kept my cool, even if I was squeeing on the inside. I might have admired him for 3 minutes or so but I did it from a safe distance and didn’t embarrass myself.

I did however get this photo of me and Adina Porter. I have been a fan of hers for years from True Blood to Newsroom and now, American Horror Story. She was so kind and beautiful. Loved meeting one of my long-time favorite actresses.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

The ambiance was electric and magical and I was definitely swept up. I felt like a princess. But it goes by fast so I had to keep reminding myself to stop, look around, breathe and take it all in. I wanted to soak every single second of that magic. It felt like trying to remember the details of an amazing dream that someone woke you too soon from. But that Disney magic, you can bask in that glow for some time. I’m still feeling pretty special from just attending.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

After the party, we headed to the iconic El Capitan theater where I watched Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms from the second row while eating sugar plum popcorn, surrounded by all the movie’s stars and some of Hollywood’s most up and coming stars. Morgan Freeman and Mackenzie Foy were just a few rows back from me. I didn’t figure that out until I was going through my pictures from the event tonight. I was actually trying to capture a selfie of my hairstyle that Funky Hair had done to send to my daughters. Talk about a happy accident.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

I know red carpet events might be something others do often but it was my first and Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms was simply magical in the most delightful ways. It was truly a Disney dream come true for this lifelong Disney fan. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Premiere is definitely a highlight of my career that I will never forget.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

I’m back home but I’m still scratching my head wondering, how is this my life? I walked the red carpet with the stars from what I am sure will become a new holiday classic that generations to come will watch with their children.

I highly recommend that you take your family to see the movie. Make it a new holiday family tradition. Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms in theaters everywhere, November 2nd.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

Are you going to see Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms? With who and why?

 

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adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney

Anyone who knows me knows that my dream would be to gift to my girls the world; a life filled with adventures. Of all the things I could give them, aside from kindness and tolerance, I’d love to introduce them to different cultures. I’d love to raise good human beings who were strong, independent.  Teen travel is so important. Start them young as babies and your vacation with teens will be an adventure you can share together.

It’s a very different life when you live in a bubble compared to when you’ve seen the world. I know it’s not possible or probable for most and I know that some people don’t care about global citizenship the way or to the degree that I do. It probably has a lot to do with my father not being from this country. It probably has more to do with spending my summers in Mexico.

This has always caused me to be more enthusiastic and open to adventure. Having a father whose first language was not English, made me more patient and tolerant of those who didn’t speak English. It made me want to learn other languages so that I could understand and communicate with others. This is why I spoke 4 languages by the time I graduated from college.

I appreciate the differences in people, places, and things. It’s more interesting to be surrounded by difference than sameness. My girls are falling into this same pattern. They see differences as an endless possibility for adventure and travel as the ultimate exploration. This is why I am so excited for Adventures by Disney. They have something for every family member.

READ ALSO: Top  Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney Vacation

As you know as a reader of my multiple posts about our trips to Disney World, Disneyland and on Disney Cruise line, we love Disney. The thing is you can take a short escape or a long one. You can travel in the United States or internationally. It really is a choose your own adventure Disney style and as anyone who has ever been to the happiest place on earth can attest to every adventure by Disney is different. Make of it what you and your family will.

Adventures by Disney offers many different destinations and new ways for travelers to experience the world’s most remarkable destinations with guidance, which is always nice especially if it’s your first time in a city or country. Teen travel is exciting and hectic because not only are our children changing at a dizzying pace, showing them the world is amazing. Adding a guided vacation with teens allows you to eliminate the frustration and just enjoy your time together.

In 2019, Adventures by Disney travelers will experience the captivating culture and rich diversity of Japan during a brand-new itinerary, with expeditions ranging from ancient locales steeped in tradition to fast-paced modern cities. Adventures by Disney collaborated with the Japan National Tourism Organization to create a trip that is both culturally authentic and deeply immersive. Whether exploring a breathtaking bamboo forest, centuries-old temple or high-tech metropolis, vacationers will be fully immersed in the ancient customs and storied traditions deeply rooted within this cultural wonderland.
During this 11-day, 10-night itinerary, travelers will visit Kyoto, Osaka, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo.

In 2019, a reimagined Alberta, Canada itinerary will offer all-new adventures in Calgary, before traveling to breathtaking Banff National Park and the stunning Lake Louise. In Calgary, travelers will be welcomed as honorary citizens during a traditional ceremony before visiting some of the area’s ranches and farms.

Banff is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I’ve ever traveled to. I’ve not taken my family there yet. When I went I came home with an entirely new outlook on life and appreciation for natural beauty. There is something about standing amongst ancient glaciers and surrounded by pristine nature that makes you feel so small and lucky at the same time. Banff is on my family travel bucket list. I think this Adventure by Disney would be perfect for my family.

Adventures by Disney also recently announced an array of offerings that can be added to a Disney Cruise sailing. Talk about the ultimate land and sea vacation. In 2019, travelers can journey to unforgettable locales such as Barcelona and Copenhagen. All while enjoying renowned Disney service and storytelling. Can you even imagine?

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream. 

These unforgettable trips join dozens of Adventures by Disney vacations worldwide, including a new itinerary on France’s Seine River. Revel in the beauty of the sites of Paris while engaging in immersive activities for the whole family. Paris has been on my travel bucket list since I was in 7th grade.

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The 2019 Adventures by Disney land tours feature a wide variety of vacation destination options, something for every traveler. Families will find a wealth of unforgettable moments imbued with special touches that are uniquely Disney.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Disney World Trip

If you prefer s short trip how about a best of Boston adventure? Treasured American history and contemporary culture come to life in Boston on the new Short Escape itinerary.

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Guests are immersed in the city’s legendary stories. During a privately guided tour along the Freedom Trail, families follow 18th-century costumed guides back in time. A private, after-hours tour of the Old North Church places travelers in the famed footsteps of Paul Revere, while another special after-hours visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum concludes with a private dinner steeped in the city’s storied roots.

Other family-friendly excursions and activities include rowing along the Charles River and biking the city on a private sightseeing tour. Perfect for teens are exploring the grounds of Harvard Yard. Perfect for the entire family, indulging at a private New England clambake on Thompson Island.

I can tell you from going here every year with our children, there is no shortage of things to do in Boston. You could go back time and time again and still find things to do.

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Looking for the ultimate family vacation that’s teen friendly?  Whether you prefer beaches resorts or outdoor adventure, Adventures by Disney has you covered. What are you waiting for?

What Adventures by Disney trip would be perfect for you and your teens?

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Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I never thought of New Orleans as a romantic getaway but here I am writing this post Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant. After a well-timed road trip to Louisana, we got pregnant. I’m not saying New Orleans is the best travel destination to get pregnant but I’m not saying it’s not.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before children, the Big Guy and I went away for a long weekend to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary and we came back pregnant with our first child. Now, it wasn’t a babymoon. We weren’t trying to conceive but we weren’t not trying to conceive either. We were in the planning to plan to conceive phase of marriage.

READ ALSO: Life is what happens when You are Busy Making Plans

On that trip, we fell in love with New Orleans and even more in love with each other. New Orleans, literally, changed our lives forever. New Orleans made us parents so it is our top best travel destination to get pregnant.

Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant

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Stay at a sexy boutique hotel complete with rose petal baths and fertility blessings

We stayed at the International House Hotel to celebrate our 5th Wedding anniversary and it was amazing. Anthony Bourdain said, “The International House sets the standard for modern hotels with its creative design and meticulous attention to detail. ” And the Big Guy and I agree. It’s beautiful, sexy and mysterious and it makes you feel all those things when you are there. They say 1 in 8 New Orleaneans practice voodoo. All I know is that magic happens at the International House Hotel.

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Indulge in Beignets

Warm, powdered sugar pastries are always delicious but the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans melt in your mouth. They taste heavenly and nothing will start your day off in a better mood than having one after sleeping in with your beloved.

Seriously, indulge in everything.

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Get a drink to go and wander the streets

Yes, you can do this is New Orleans because they operate under Napoleanic law and you can carry open containers as long as the container is plastic and the legal drinking age is 18-years-old. Go crazy, head to Pat O’Brien’s and get yourself a giant Hurricane and hit the streets.

Eat and drink your way through St. Claude Avenue

So much food and so little time. New Orleans has some of the best food you will ever eat and such a variety. You can stroll the city and taste your way around the world.

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Get a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop or the Old Absinthe House

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the oldest bar in NOLA and was once the workshop of the famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Another favorite of ours was the Old Absinthe House. If you’re in the French Quarter, you must stop. The history is palpable.

Jazz do it!

Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez .If you like jazz, there is really nothing more romantic than taking a leisurely, night river cruise on the Mississippi. I can still remember the sound of the water beneath us as the jazz band plays in the background. The boat swaying, as you dance with your partner under the moonlight, may just be the most romantic thing you never knew that you were always missing.

Speaking of jazz, listen to live jazz music in Jackson Square. Maybe a little spontaneous dancing will happen. Expect the unexpected in NOLA. I never knew before this trip just how much jazz is baby making music.

While you’re at Jackson Square be sure to stop by St. Louis Cathedral. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and if the fertility statue you got from the voodoo priestess isn’t doing the trick, light a few candles in the Cathedral just for good measure.

 

Stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District

I know it doesn’t sound romantic but strolling someplace so quiet and introspective, holding hands with your favorite person is so romantic. The Big Guy and I could have strolled that cemetery all day long.

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Go on the garden district tour

The garden district is gorgeous and on a sunny day in May, it might just be the most beautiful place in the world. It kind of felt like walking around our own private island enveloped in flowers and trees as the sun peaked through overgrown willows and it’s shadows played upon our faces. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Big Guy.

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Go to Bourbon street and get lit AF and let go of all of your inhibitions.

We hit the 5 for 1 beer at what used to be the red rhino. Then we stood on the balcony throwing beads to hotties. We got hit on by a couple of swingers, which only fueled our lust.  We refused their offer, drank some more and headed back to the hotel.

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Eat the pizza.

Yep, Dominos pizza was being sold on the street by a vendor somewhere between Bourbon street and our hotel. We were ravenous. We bought a $5 pizza and ate a piece before a night that I can only call a blur of lovemaking and gymnastics from which I still daydream about 14 years later. Needless to say,  I now refer to Dominos as pregnancy pizza. I’m not saying the pizza had anything to do with the fact that we got pregnant but I’m not saying it didn’t either.

READ ALSO: What a Difference a Decade Makes

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in New Orleans to get you pregnant or otherwise engaged, but it is my tongue in cheek list. Look, I know nothing can guarantee getting pregnant. My point is that we relaxed, stopped thinking about it and that’s when it happened. Infertility is not as easy as that but, for us, New Orleans changed our entire lives because we came back from that trip pregnant and, to us, New Orleans will always be the city of love and hope.

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I can’t wait to take our girls there someday so they see and experience the amazing, beautiful city that is New Orleans.

 

 

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Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

I think every family should go RVing before their kids grow up, at least once, if not do like some of my friends and take an entire year to explore. If you want to really connect as a family, for us, there need to be minimal distractions, intimate proximity and the freedom to unplug from the rest of the world. Your priority and attention need to be present with the people who are traveling with you. If there is a beautiful destination involved, a place where you can sit in wonder and awe, even better. This year, we discovered that for us, RVing is the only way to ensure that result.

As many of you know, my family and I are nomads. I could roam the world homeless forever. I was raised that home is where the people you love are and so home for me is wherever the Big Guy and my girls are at. That’s all I need; my health, them and the wide open road. Road trips are my jam; while I love traveling by any means possible, especially to a tropical destination, road trips allow for unexpected adventures that you just can’t plan. Detours and roadside stops or choosing a different path feels a lot like living in your own private choose your adventure game.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Last month, we had one of the best family vacations of our lives and that is saying a lot. I knew traveling by RV would be fun but I had no idea how much we would all connect. I had no idea how many beautiful memories we would make on this one trip. It was as simple as unplugging, being present and actually seeing the people and places in front of us.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeDisclosure: We were provided an RV and a campsite at a destination of our choice by Go RVing but all opinions and memories are our own.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

A screen is a beautiful thing but it pales in comparison to looking up and seeing the ocean. It is garbage compared to human contact and interaction around a campfire at night on a beach beneath the stars. It’s a poor substitute for real life. Virtual has nothing on human interaction.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The weekend before school started back, we went on a magical end of the summer trip in an RV. I like to sneak in that one last relaxing getaway with my people before schedules get hectic and we’re all neck deep in the minutia of our day to day schedules. Last year, we stayed in a parked RV model in Traverse City, Michigan and we thought that was amazing and it was but it wasn’t the same experience as driving with your family in an RV. Definitely not the same as a road trip in an SUV or car, though, I do love those too.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the best family trip

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

We drove 9 hours to the D.C. area to pick up our Winnebago Intent Model 31P before driving another 7 hours to beautiful Camp Hatteras campground in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Talk about style. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this Winnebago exceeded anything I could have imagined. It was almost 32′ in length and could accommodate up to 7 people with bunk beds for the kids. There were only 4 of us, so we had plenty of space.

There was plenty of storage space, both inside the RV and in the under-storage areas for food, toys and games and whatever you want to bring along. There was a television in the sitting area, the back bedroom and even outside, along with a mini-fridge and sink; perfect when you’re grilling and don’t want to miss that special game. For us, the television was perfect for when it rained outside. We’d all snuggle up and watch a movie together before a midday nap. That’s what vacations are for, right? We were sucking every bit of relaxing we could get out of this trip.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The Outer Banks has always been on my travel bucket list and it was not a disappointment. We can’t wait to go back. There is just something about a vacation by water that is intuitively relaxing for me, especially the ocean.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were a ton of things to do at Camp Hatteras from mini golfing, corn hole tournaments, live music, ice cream socials to crafts and karaoke but we were more interested in sunsets on the sound, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf, exploring under the pier and bonfires under the stars right on the beach. You choose your family adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You could surf, kayak, take a boat out and fish or you could build sandcastles, bathe in the sun and talk to the people on the blanket next to you on Camp Hatteras’ private beach while your kids laughed and ran from the waves. Campgrounds have a whole culture that I never knew about before and the people are all so fun and friendly. The first night we arrived, our site neighbors came out and helped us novice campers hook everything up.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Cape Hatteras can be as exciting or laid back as you choose. We opted for relaxing togetherness. I took the girls’ phones away. I only used mine for pics. We stopped worrying about ticking boxes and having to be anywhere and we just played it all by ear and it was magical. I seriously can’t recommend it highly enough. If your end goal is to relax on vacation and spend quality time with your family, go RVing.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There was no running to see sights. It was just high grass, soft sand, blue water, crashing waves and star filled nights with the three people I love most on the planet. It couldn’t get any better than that and yet, it did. There were nights of delivered pizza while listening to the wave crash from our Oceanside site. There was coming in from a scorching beautiful day on the beach to an air-conditioned, all the amenities of home RV including a hot shower and a refrigerator full of ice cream.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeREAD ALSO: Ogunquit Maine is the Perfect Place to Eat Cake by the Ocean

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were lots of laughs and lots of love. There were so many moments and memories made in the that RV and on that beach that I will never forget. If I close my eyes, I can smell the salt in the air, hear my girls giggling and feel the Big Guys hand in mine as we watched our girls run in and out of the surf, delighted by the different creatures in the sea from rogue crabs to spotting a pod of dolphins off in the distance. I can’t wait for next year’s end of the summer adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Have you ever taken a family trip in an RV? If not, start planning next year’s trip now. We only get a handful of these precious years of togetherness like this before our kids grow up and the dynamics change. Sure, they will always be our babies but it won’t always just be us and them and they won’t always be as easily contented by spotting a pod of dolphins, splashing under the pier or sitting beneath the stars making s’mores on a starry night with nothing more than the surf and your doting heart.

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Take advantage of every single moment you can. Go RVing!

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Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card but all opinions about camping and the Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST and BLAST portable speakers are my own.

Family travel is our life. There is nothing that we love more than the four of us jumping in a plane, train, automobile, boat and in this case, an RV and going on an adventure. Yes, today we go on our first ever RV trip and we are ecstatic.

Last year, we went on our first ever camping trip. Though it was more like glamping because we stayed in a parked model, which is basically a beautiful cabin with all the amenities of home sweet home. Seriously, there was air conditioning, television, a full-size bathtub, stove top, microwave and full sized refrigerator. We even had a pergola and a deck with a built-in fire pit just outside our door. It was glorious and, for a first camping trip, I’m pretty sure we were spoiled rotten.

We spent our nights roasting s’mores and playing games and our days exploring Traverse City, Michigan; taking in the sights and soaking in the sun and playing on as many of Traverse City’s beaches as we could get to. It was unforgettable and it made me a convert from a strictly 5-star resort girl to a camping enthusiast. There is just something about being outside alone with your thoughts and your family that does the heart good.

Now, if you’ve never been camping you may not know what you should bring. Really, every person needs different things but there are a few things that I think every single person should bring to have the best camping experience possible. Here is my list.

Many campgrounds have a small store on the premises with some of the basic supplies in case you forget something and you will have to buy wood for campfires where you camp because it is illegal to transport campfire wood across state lines. Some campgrounds even have cafes, ice cream shops and souvenir shops

Basic Grocery list:

Cereal / Milk

Eggs / bread / bacon

Sandwich meats / chips

Steaks / chicken / hot dogs / hamburgers – anything you want to grill

Ketchup / mustard / butter / salt / pepper / spices

Any veggies or salads you’ll want with your barbeque – or shop at local farm stands for really fresh, local ingredients. This is our preference.

Sodas / beer / wine / bottled water

Snacks

Coffee / tea/ cream / sugar

Charcoal (or you can buy it at the campground store)

Chocolate bars, marshmallows, graham crackers, long skewers for s’mores, because let’s be honest, you’re not camping until you’re eating s’mores fresh off a bonfire; bonus points if it’s on a beach.

What else to bring:

Soap, shampoo, toiletries

Bug spray, sunscreen

Music / iPod and wireless speakers

Cell phone and charger

Camera / video recorder and charger or fresh batteries

Portable grill – not all campgrounds include them. Luckily, we double checked this year because we had just set our portable grill out to the curb!

Spatula or tongs for grill

Pots, pans, pots, mixing bowls

Paper towels / foil / plastic wrap / paper plates / napkins / plastic ware

Toilet paper

Wet wipes

Garbage bags

Dish detergent / dish towel

Matches / lighter for grill

Bottle and wine opener / can opener

First aid supplies

Flashlight / battery operated lantern

Folding chairs and picnic blanket

Games / cards / puzzles

Binoculars

Pillows, sheets, blankets / sleeping bags are great if you have them!

Bath and beach towels

One of the most important things for my family is the wireless speaker.  We love music. The new features of the Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST and BLAST portable speakers make them the perfect summer accessory.

Features of MegaBlast:

Ultimate Ears most powerful speaker with stunning clarity and deep, heart-pounding bass, brings music to life. Absolutely perfect for sitting around the campfire with friends or a day at the beach.

Taking camping to the next level, Mega Blast hands-free Amazon Alexa built-in lets you have more time to enjoy your summer. Ask Alexa to blast tunes, discover new music, crank the volume and find new restaurants.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable

Wi-Fi connection range for the speaker is 330′. Bluetooth range is 150ft.

Rechargeable battery

Enjoy up to 16 hours with a large built-in battery. Play and charge the speaker simultaneously using the optional cradle or included wall charger. You can sit around that bonfire way into the night.

Features of the Ultimate Ears Blast:

Blasting 360° intensely rich sound with stunning clarity and deep, heart-pounding bass, brings music to life. You will never forget these summer nights camping with friends.

Water-resistant and dustproof design. The IP67 rated speaker can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes. No worries if there’s an unexpected downpour.

Two 35mm active drivers alongside with two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators provide crisp and clear sound.

Multiple microphones with beamforming technology and noise cancellation enable a smooth far-field voice recognition and control experience. And that’s not all.

 

A better way to listen with Spotify Connect (coming soon): MEGABLAST and BLAST will be the first Ultimate Ears speakers to integrate Spotify Connect. When on Wi-Fi, open the Spotify app on your phone and play music directly to our speakers (under “Devices Available”) without the need to pair through Bluetooth. Music fans can also stream the highest quality sound possible from Spotify. With Spotify Connect, text message or make calls without interrupting the music and save your phone’s battery.

New grouping experience for smart speakers (coming soon): You can group up to eight MEGABLAST and BLAST speakers on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Stereo mode is supported when you connect two MEGABLAST or BLAST speakers. Optimized to take advantage of the speakers’ built-in Wi-Fi capability, you will experience greater range for grouped speakers and improved connection reliability. Grouping is expected to be available later this year.

What do you think is the most important thing to take with you on a camping trip?

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sterling Virginia, GoRVing, Winnebago, Hyatt Place, Road Trips, Traveling with Kids, Mission BBQ, Abbot's Custard

We’re headed to Cape Hatteras for our end of the summer road trip but tonight we’re in Sterling Virginia. We love to travel and there is nothing like one last getaway before school and routines go back into effect. The sad story of it is that our girls are at the age where they really have no free time throughout the school year for travel.

We still travel but it is always at the expense of something else. For us to get away, they have to miss something. Give up something. Forfeit something. That’s mostly been okay. I think it’s good to teach kids about making choices and letting them know that we can’t always get what we want and most of the things worth having come at a sacrifice, a cost.

This year, the wiggle room for sacrifice is even slimmer.  This year, we have confirmation and we’re planning for travel over breaks and we’re preparing for high school and possibly a move. There are a lot of balls in the air so this trip, the four of us, the calm before the storm that is our day to day lives is so special.

Tomorrow we head over to Reston, Virginia to pick up an RV that we will be driving to Cape Hatteras, NC. Not going to lie, the Outer Banks have been on my travel bucket list for many years. We used to live in North Carolina in our 20’s but we were so busy with work and life, we just never made the time to go. We kept thinking, we can go at any time. We live so close. But before we knew it, we didn’t live there anymore. So we’re all very excited about this opportunity to not only go on an adventure someplace that we’ve always wanted to go but to be able to do it the week before school starts back. One last taste of salty air and ocean breezes before the minutia and obligations take over.

Tonight we find ourselves in Sterling, Virginia a quaint, charming, beautiful city about 40 minutes west of Washington D.C. which just so happens to be one of my happy places. By degree, I am a political scientist and all things about politics and history make me ecstatic. D.C. makes me absolutely giddy with delight.

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We pick up the RV in the morning and with a 6-hour drive ahead of us to the Cape, I thought Sterling would be the perfect setting for a relaxing night. I used up some points and we are staying at the Hyatt Place at Dulles. Just like last month, when we stayed at the Hyatt Regency, the service is consistently awesome. After a long day of being trapped in the car, it was a welcome relief to be greeted by friendly faces and a room pristine and stocked with the foam pillows that I requested ( allergies to feather pillows make travel a challenge at times).

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The room was a very nice size with a separate sitting area big enough to accommodate all 4 of us on a sectional. We unloaded our belongings and set out to find food. We found Mission BBQ and OMG, am I glad we did. The food was delicious and the staff was awesome. Our server was so helpful with picking out sauces to top our BBQs. There were like 8 choices and he even let us taste test them. His recommendations were spot on by the way. The food was melt in your mouth delicious.

Then, after an hour or so of just relaxing (as God intended vacations to be), we decided to go find something sweet and explore the area. That’s when we found Abbott’s frozen custard located in the cutest little shopping center and fell in love. I had the strawberry cream cheese and chocolate almond and it was divine.

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I’m convinced I may need to revisit living in Virginia. I’ve never been to Sterling before but we lived in the Richmond area and we loved it. Sterling feels like Matthews NC and Washington D.C. had a beautiful baby and I want to live here.

It was just supposed to be a stop along the way but I’ve got to say, Sterling Virginia, I think I love you.

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Copper creek cabins, walt disney world, disney vacation club, copper creek cabins, DVC, how does disney vacation club work

Have you ever heard of the Disney vacation club (DVC)? I was introduced to the Disney Vacation Club on my honeymoon which was my first trip to Walt Disney World ever. Like me, you might be wondering how does Disney vacation club work?

Many of you know all about the deal I made with the devil Big Guy. The man didn’t ask for much at our wedding. He let me have my dream wedding. He only asked for 3 things. 1) I had the choice of getting my face licked at our first kiss or having wedding cake shoved into my face 2) He wanted us to walk in to the reception to the Star Wars theme song 3) He wanted to honeymoon at Walt Disney World.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock Your Walt Disney World Vacation

While I was hesitant on all 3 but I did relent. We were fresh out of college and head over heels and what the heck. Why not? So, on my wedding day, I got my face licked in front of my priest, my parents and 300 of our closest friends and family. I enter the reception hall for the first time as a new MRS to the Star Wars theme and yes, we honeymooned at Walt Disney World (concierge level) and I fell deeper in love with the nose licking giant and Walt Disney World became a home away from home for us.

In the midst of me falling under the spell of Walt Disney World magic, we were introduced to the Disney Vacation Club. When we were there in 1999, the hotel de jour was the Boardwalk. We were staying at the Yacht Club and we had no idea what DVC was all about. I didn’t commit. Insert Sad Panda.

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Now, we’ve been to Disney so many times, I’m kicking myself for not being a DVC member. Walt Disney World feels like home to our family. I think it’s time we get our own piece of the magic.

What is the Disney Vacation Club?

The Disney Vacation Club debuted in 1991 with a flexible, vacation points-based system rather than the traditional fixed-week timeshare model. Today, Disney Vacation Club has more than 220,000 member families from all over the world.

Disney Vacation Club Members can choose from among a variety of exciting vacation destinations. These include a stay at any Disney Vacation Club Resort or one of thousands of other vacation options in destinations around the world. If purchased directly from Disney, members can also enjoy the Disney Collection. These include select Disney Resort hotels, Disney Cruise Line, guided vacations with Adventures by Disney and the Concierge Collection. Vacations at a Disney Vacation Club Resort can last anywhere from one night to several weeks.

How does Disney Vacation Club Work?

Disney Vacation Club membership provides families with the flexibility to personalize their vacation experiences as their interests change over time. Therefore, members and guests vacationing at a Disney Vacation Club resort can choose to stay in a variety of different accommodations. These include Deluxe Studios, one-bedroom Villas, two-bedroom Villas and even three-bedrooms, Grand Villas at most locations. Deluxe Studios, accommodate at least four guests and include a kitchenette, queen-size bed, Located just steps away from the Wilderness Lodge and a boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom Park.

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READ ALSO: Secrets to Use Disney World Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

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Rustic Elegance Meets Disney Magic

Transporting guests to the wonders of the wilderness, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is inspired by the legendary mining and railroad history of the Pacific Northwest. Rustic elegance trims every part of this new resort, where cozy touches mix with contemporary designs to create a tranquil retreat.

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Deluxe Accommodations

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Offering the widest range of accommodations found at Walt Disney World Resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins features 184 vacation homes, including Deluxe Studios, one- and two-bedroom Villas, and three-bedroom Grand Villas, which sleep up to 12.  However, one-bedroom Villas or larger offer the added convenience and many of the comforts of home, such as well-appointed kitchen areas, expanded storage space for belongings and private patios or balconies with scenic views. Natural finishing touches throughout add a sense of nature to each room.

  • _Deluxe Studios – _Sleeps up to 4 guests
  • _One-Bedroom Villa – _Sleeps up to 4 guests
  • _Two-Bedroom Villa– _Sleeps up to 8 guests
  • _Cascade Cabin – _Sleeps up to 8 guests
  • _Grand Villa – _Sleeps up to 12 guests

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Which is yur favorite Walt Disney World Resort and if you could live there forever, would you?

How Does Disney Vacation Club Work and Is It for You?

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Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Last week, we were eating our way through Boston and falling in love with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich like no other. We love Boston. I love the rich history and the big city vibe. I love the friendly people and the smell of salt air and food trucks. In fact, there is nothing that I don’t love about Boston.  The girls love to eat and shop their way through Boston and the Big Guy, well, when his girls are happy; he’s happy.

Unfortunately, for the first three days of this year’s annual Boston trip, I was sick sick. Like running a fever, eat a bite of your dinner, cry sick. Thank God and the Boston Hyatt Regency for a comfortable bed and a beautiful view or none of us would have survived the ordeal.

But by day 3, come hell or high water, I’d promised the girls I’d make the 3-minute walk through the Hyatt Lobby that was connected to Macy’s, out the door and across the street to Primark. My girls are legit crazy for that place. Hey, I can’t blame them. I love a good bargain on cute clothes too.

However, in the time it took me to walk to Primark, I had gone sheet white and was covered in cold sweats. I was seriously going to pass out. Did I mention that Primark is 4 stories tall? The girls were in heaven. It really is a tween/ teen girls shopping mecca. I tried to last as long as they needed me to be upright but once I started to hear the blood rushing around my head, I knew it was time to get out and find some food.  At that point, I had consumed a total of maybe 1 bite of aforementioned sandwich, a granola bar and 3 cheez-its in 72 hours.

READ ALSO: The Ultimate Monte Cristo Recipe

We headed to Pret a Manger. It was our first time but hey, “ready to eat” to a woman about to pass out in public sounds like the best place to be. The girls could see that I was fading fast so we headed to the selection and made our choices; chicken noodle soup for me, a grilled ham and cheese for each girl, a couple of iced chai lattes for the girls and some fruit because mama was in desperate need of some vitamin C.

We paid, got the heck out of dodge before mama went timber and returned to our hotel room. No sooner had I relinquished 2/3 of my soup to the girls before I heard “oohs” and “ahhhs” explode from the other side of the room, like fireworks. I couldn’t imagine what basic option I had just purchased in my haste that was making my children lose their minds. It was the grilled ham and cheese, btw.

It’s hard for me to understand as ham generally turns my stomach inside out. In fact, the very thought of the smell of it makes me want to heave. They begged me to try a bite but seeing as this 1/3 of a cup of chicken noodle soup was the first thing I’d been able to keep down in 3 days, I graciously declined their offer.

READ ALSO: Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle

But they couldn’t stop talking about this Pret a Manger magically delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich. In fact, they insisted on having it again that night for dinner. As we have no Pret a Manger anywhere near us, I made it might mission to figure out how to make this magical sandwich. I mean, dang, I want them to rave about my cooking like that.

I scoured the Internet and did some sleuthing and found the recipe for the Pret a Manger grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Well, everything except the secret sauce that is. But you know me, I figured that out too! So guess what my girls have been having for lunch every single day since we got home from vacation? Mommy’s Pret a Manger copycat grilled ham and cheese sandwich recipe. Made with love, by yours truly.  It’s so good that all the “oooohs” and “aaahhhhs” at my own kitchen counter convinced me to take a bite and guess what? It truly is magically delicious.

So if you are sick of your kids asking what’s for lunch and then replying that they don’t want “that” again or you’re just plain chicken nuggeted out, I’ve got the super-secret recipe for you. My gift from me to every mom on the planet.

Ingredients

2 slices of sourdough bread

1 slice of Vermont white cheddar cheese

1-2 slices of your favorite thick sliced ham (my girls love wildflower honey ham)

 

*shhhh secret sauce ingredients

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

1-2 teaspoons of whole ground Dijon mustard (depending on your personal preference)

 

Directions:

Mix secret sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Heat small frying pan to medium heat

Assemble sandwich

Slather one piece of bread with the secret sauce

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Top with ham and then cheddar.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Add top piece of sourdough.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Butter both sides of the sandwich.

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

When the pan is hot, place the sandwich in the pan.

Lower heat.

Cover sandwich with lid (to help melt cheese).

Pret a manger, grilled ham and cheese recipe, copycat recipe, Pret copycat recipe, lunch recipe

Toast to your liking.

Flip.

Repeat.

When cheese is melted, remove from heat.

Cut in half and serve warm.

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disney magic kingdom, disney tickets, Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Disney world tickets

You’ve decided to take your family on the ultimate family vacation to Walt Disney World and your first stop with those Walt Disney World Tickets is going to be the Magic Kingdom. Of course, it is! I have been to Walt Disney World many times and I have to say when I think of the happiest place on earth, my brain immediately goes to the Magic Kingdom. It is the epitome of the spirit of Disney World.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock Your Walt Disney World Family Vacation

If you only had Disney World Tickets for one day at Disney World with kids ( or without) hands down, your first stop to get the full Disney experience is the Magic Kingdom. Honestly, there is so much to do and see that we usually get multi-day park-hopper Disney tickets and plan multiple days just to experience all the magic that the Magic Kingdom has to offer.

If you have never been to Walt Disney World let me give you a brief rundown of the setup.  There are 4 parks that make up the magic that is Disney World; The Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. Each park focuses on a different side of Disney.

READ ALSO: 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Walt Disney World Vacation for Free

The Animal Kingdom is about the animals big and small, real and imagined. It is a zoological park like you’ve never experienced before. This is where you will find the wonder that is Pandora- the land of AvatarEpcot brings the world to you. Experience the ultimate celebration of food, art and entertainment from around the world. Hollywood Studios allows you to take center stage int he worlds of Disney movies, television, music and theater. This will be home to Toy Story Land opening June 30, 2018! I can’t wait!

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Last but not least, the park that makes me feel like an excited 4-year-old experiencing it for the first time (every single time), the Magic Kingdom. It truly is magical and is the place where you can explore lands of endless enchantment and your fantasy becomes reality. I love all the parks but the Magic Kingdom has a special place in my heart.

READ ALSO: The Happiest Place on Earth is Disney’s Magic Kingdom 

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5 Tips to Use Disney World Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

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  1. Get to the staging area for the Happily Ever After fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom at least 1.5 hours before the show begins to get a good spot. You must see this firework show to believe it. If you can, fast pass it and then you don’t have to get there so early because your spot in the staging area will be waiting for you.
  2. Ride the Astro Orbitor at night. Honestly, I have been to Walt Disney World at least 20 times before I realized that      Astro Orbitor was even a ride. I thought it was décor. Then I rode it at night, with my daughter, and I can honestly say, it was magical and I will never forget the experience. We had a 360-degree view that can’t be seen from anywhere else in the park. Also, for a good time, ride Splash Mountian at night.
  3. Be sure to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I recommend getting fast-passes but if you can’t, get there early, so the times are shorter. In fact, I recommend taking advantage of early magic hours to beat the crowds or booking breakfast at the Magic Kingdom before the park opens so that you can get a ride without having to wait in line for a couple hours.
  4. If you are looking for good places to eat, and there are a lot, for a quick bite when we’re in a hurry, we love Casey’s Corner Hot Dog Joint. For a sit-down lunch that has great food at a great price and the gray stuff too, we love Be Our Guest Restaurant. And if you are there and you want to eat a large dinner that is sure to satisfy any craving, Liberty Tree Tavern is perfection. Your belly and your heart will be full when you leave.
  5.  Take a Walt Disney World Tour to really feel like a VIP insider. The Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom is affordable and gives you a glimpse of the tunnels and workspaces under the park that only Cast Members get to see. A VIP behind the scenes tour allows you to experience the parks in an exclusive way so you can see how the magic is made. You’ll feel like a celebrity.

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If you want to go beyond the magic of your Walt Disney World tickets and be 100% immersed in Disney World magic in the most luxurious way, I recommend checking out the Disney Dream cruise.

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What is your tip to use your Walt Disney World tickets to experience the Magic Kingdom like an insider?

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3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Our Spring Break started on Friday and since we just returned from Walt Disney World and our Disney Dream Cruise, we wanted to head to one of our favorite cities close to home, Chicago and visit the Museum of Science and Industry to experience the Make Festival and the Make Shop. I love sharing my childhood favorites like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) with my girls. Chicago’s my hometown and I love nothing more than sharing it with my girls.

Chicago is one of our favorite Spring Break destinations because it’s a quick drive away, we get to visit with my parents and sisters and you will never run out of things to do. In fact, last year we spent the entire week drinking in all the sights and sounds of the Chicago.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Disclosure: We were hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago but all opinions and experiences of the Spring Make Festival and the Make Shop are my own.

We were extra excited to head to the city and MSI this year because they are hosting their first ever Spring Make Festival. What is the Spring Make Festival, you ask? It’s four weeks of MSI hosting a special program for expressing your creativity, including hands-on activities like a high-tech maker workshop (the Make Shop), evening events dedicated to brewing and collective digital art and a marathon Mini Maker Faire. There is something for everyone of all ages but I was most excited about my girls getting some hands-on time with technology.

I remember when I first got to Purdue, everyone I knew was studying to be an engineer and I had no idea what an engineer was or did. I heard “engineer” and my mind automatically went to a train engineer. I don’t want my girls’ to go through life not knowing all the amazing places science and math can take them. I want them to embrace all things STEM.

I’ve come a long way from the girl who was white-knuckling her word processor. I did not go gently into the Internet era but now, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I literally make my living on the Internet. I am one of the biggest tech geeks you could ever hope to meet and I want that for my girls. Let’s just skip the whole white knuckling part.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

What is Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Spring Make Festival?

The first ever Spring Make Festival, which runs March 9 through April 8, offers a robust combination of daily activities and special events designed to help guests see themselves as designers, makers, and tinkerers including the MSI Chicago Mini
Maker Faire; a facilitated workshop offering LED circuitry building, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting; Hebocon, a renowned “crappy” robot competition, adults-only events and new hands-on challenges. Hands-on high tech 101 and the facilitators make it all seem so easy and attainable. My girls never felt overwhelmed with any of the concepts.

Simply put, the Spring Make Festival is a vacation from all the things you have to do and an opportunity to create your heart’s desire using today’s most technologically advanced methods. You are truly only limited by your imagination. It’s the place where your innate creativity meets high tech and anything is possible. It’s teaching our children that they can rule the world with their minds.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Spring Make Festival is a celebration of high and low-tech ways that people, especially kids, can tap into their creative potential and see firsthand that there are multiple paths to a STEM-focused career. The Spring Make Festival introduces children to the wonders of modern technology in a way that invites participation and does not overwhelm.

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The Make Shop takes that process one step further with a more intimate setting and a docent to explain the entire process as you experience it.

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My girls are 10 and 13-years-old and they loved the Make Shop. The Make Shop is a place where you and your children can try out the technology literally reshaping the worlds of design and production. My girls were in STEM heaven. Kids today are so tech savvy that they have high expectations from their experiences and my girls were not disappointed.

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The Make Shop introduces you to the kinds of technology that you’ve been hearing a lot about: 3D printing and building, vinyl cutting and LED circuit building. This new facilitated experience allows you the chance to try out some of these cutting-edge fabrication tools in an approachable, beginner-friendly environment. What’s more, you get to bring home the proof you did- a custom craftwork; a constant reminder of the inner designer, maker and tinkerer in all of us. A reminder that there isn’t anything that we can’t do if we set our minds and hearts to it.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

We are all makers. It is intrinsically human to create, tinker, innovate and express ourselves through made objects. As you create, you will learn about problem-solving skills, the diverse community of local Chicago makers and how making can have a positive impact on communities. By exchanging ideas, we push one another forward to invent and build new and innovative things.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

As a tech aficionado, I felt like I was at a tiny CES. I’ve railed on and on about the wonders of 3D printing and now my girls saw it up close and firsthand. My 10-year-old rattled off about a million things she wants to create and invent on a 3D printer. She’s already put it at the top of her Christmas list for next year. I just loved seeing their eyes light up when they accomplished these feats of technological wonder.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

The Make Shop takes technology that seems like far off ideas to most people and breaks it down into digestible parts. It takes it from overwhelming and unachievable to hands on. It removes the doubt and replaces it with, you did it!

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

In the Make Shop, you have access to new tools and that is empowering. It inspires you to creatively problem-solve and invent. We shape our world with the ideas we share and the things we make.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Select experiences and events require an additional ticket purchase. A full schedule with pricing along with additional information is available online at msichicago.org/springmake

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

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