Posts Tagged ‘ summer vacation ’

Score a $90 Yearly Pass for Your Preschooler and You at LEGOLAND Florida Featuring New DUPLO Valley

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

* This is part of a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them. 

THE DESTINATIONLEGOLAND Florida, with its latest attractions area for preschoolers ages 2 to 5, DUPLO Valley.

This new expansion, which opened on May 23, brings the LEGO DUPLO line of building toys to life with farm-themed attractions, an air-conditioned indoor play area and a water play area. From the DUPLO Train, DUPLO Tractor, and the DUPLO Splash and Play, to the reopening of the indoor DUPLO Barn, kids can play in a comfortable, toddler-friendly atmosphere where their imagination comes to life! Your toddler can aboard the DUPLO Train by themselves or you can ride along, either way it’s fun for the  whole family to get involved.

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! In part of opening its doors, DUPLO Valley welcomes visitors with a new pass, known as the Preschool Pass, available for visitors will children under 5. The Preschool Pass is for weekday Monday through Friday admission to LEGOLAND Florida, plus standard parking, for one child under 5 and one adult, for a full year. It’s only $90, plus tax, and it normally costs $84 for a person age 13 and up to get in for just one day! So even if you only use your yearly pass on two days, you’ll save some serious cash.

Even better: The pass is in the child’s name, and is transferable to multiple adults and guardians in your family. You can take your toddler to the park one day and Grandma can take him the next time–allowing the entire family to enjoy!

BOOK IT! Check out all their annual passes as well as their various ticket prices online. You can view all of their summer hours online as well.

Want tips and tricks on how to pack your munchkin for a summer vacation?

 

How to Plan a Trip
How to Plan a Trip
How to Plan a Trip

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Busy Philipps: “Get Outside And Spend Good Quality Time With Your Kids!”

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The sun is shining and families everywhere are kicking off summer—including Busy Philipps and her brood! Cougartown actress and mom of two young girls, Busy lives up to her name by packing the season with tons of fun activities. She’s teamed up with Banana Boat to make sure she and her gals stay protected from the sun, and Parents chatted with Busy about her daughters, Birdie, almost 5, and Cricket, almost 1, her penchant for arts and crafts, and the parenting problem she grapples with every day.

P: You’ve teamed up with Banana Boat for the Best Summer Ever campaign. Why did you want to get involved?

BP: The whole idea behind having the best summer ever is helping moms. Summers can be long. Look, let’s be honest: You need some help thinking of new activities to do with your kids. You want to be outdoors and encourage outdoor play and you want to limit the time watching television and playing video games and sometimes you need an idea or two to get you through.

P: A lot of families choose to sign their kids up for camp to keep them engaged. Cricket is a little young, but does Birdie go to camp?

BP: Cricket goes to sleep away camp. She’s 1 [Laughs]. No really, Birdie goes to day camp in the summer. We have a two-week Frozen dance camp.

P: Sign me up!

BP: Yeah! We’re all in that one together [Laughs]. She’s going to kindergarten next year, so she’s doing a little getting ready for kindergarten camp at her new school, which I feel like a lot of kids do during that transitional summer. She’s doing one of my favorite camps called Magic in the Forest that two women run in Los Angeles. It takes like 12-15 little girls, although there are occasionally some boys along for the ride too, and they explore for fairies in the park. Honest to God almost makes me tear up talking about it. Every year it’s a different story—what’s happened to the fairies and what they have to help the fairies do. It’s magical.

P: What—aside from fairy camp—is the key ingredient to the best summer ever?

BP: I think that what makes summer so special, even if you’re a working parent, if you’re able to take a week off to really spend that time with your kids and be focused on them. Let’s get out—and that’s where the sunscreen comes into play obviously because you need to remember to be protected. Coming up with fun activities even if you only have a Saturday with your kids that they’ll remember and cherish.

I read this book called No Regrets Parenting and there’s this statistic in it. It’s like you have only 900 Saturdays [P: 940 Saturdays] I’m gonna start crying—940!—from when they’re born to when they’re 18. When you consider that so many of those Saturdays are birthday parties and soccer games and Little League and all these other things, why aren’t we spending these Saturdays just loving every second of it? Especially in the summer. Put your phone in your back pocket and don’t check it for three hours. The world is not gonna end. I do this myself. Get outside and spend good quality time with your kids.

P: What are some fun outdoor activities you like to do?

BP: For Mother’s Day this year Birdie and I did a tie-dye project in the front yard. She made me a tank top I could wear to work out. I made her a sweatshirt. We both collaborated and made Cricket a onesie and little pants and my husband a T-shirt that he could work out in. It was so easy and it was the perfect 2.5 hour activity from start to finish.

P: Obviously you’re very crafty. What’s the craft of this summer?

BP: We haven’t come up with it yet. I feel like Birdie really loves sewing and she wants to learn how to crochet. That might be a good thing for us to kind of do at the beach. She and I just started doing a cross-stitch together and that’s hard for me even. We might do some good scavenger hunts when we go to the beach with her cousins in North Carolina. I haven’t been there since I was on Dawson’s Creek. It’s gonna be weird, but I’m excited to go back.

P: Summer is big for family events because of so many birthdays in your household. Cricket’s first birthday is coming up. Any big plans?

BP: So many birthdays. I feel kind of strongly that first birthday parties should be sweet and small and with family. We don’t have to Martha Stewart it up. They’re 1. Let’s be easy on ourselves. You’ve raised a baby and she’s made it to 1. That in and of itself is a triumph. We’re doing what we did with Bird: a small park party with a few friends and family obviously. And Cricket loves Elmo. She’s never seen Sesame Street. We just had some leftover Elmo dolls from Birdie and Cricket loves him so much. So I’m gonna make Cricket an Elmo cake. Her mouth will be red!

First Birthday Cake - Part One
First Birthday Cake - Part One
First Birthday Cake - Part One

P: With two girls, are there any moments where Birdie or Cricket does something and you think wow, she is such a mini-me?

BP: [Birdie] asked me the other day if she could buy clothes online like I do. Like, if that was possible for little girls. “Can I buy clothes online like you do?” Not saying that I’m setting the best example, but that is so me. Also, the personality traits and [mannerisms]. She was shaking her head the other day and she goes “you know I got that from you.” She knows: The shaking her head she got from me.

P: Is there anything about parenthood that still continues to baffle you?

BP: I think the guilt and the worry that you’re not doing right by your children or that you’re not doing enough or you should be doing better or you should be calmer or you shouldn’t have been so upset. I think that’s the one thing that I have the hardest time with is going easy on myself. Giving yourself a break. But, if you’re not worried about messing it all up, then you’re probably messing it all up. Right? If you think you’re nailing it, you’re probably not nailing it. Like all moms who are trying to do a good job, feel like they’re not doing a good job or that they could be doing better.

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Score a Family Vacation Package from Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

* This is part of a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATIONGrand Traverse Resort and Spa, in Northern Michigan 

Take advantage of this two-night Family Fun package at a 900-acre resort that’s consistently rated among the country’s best. It’s got a child-friendly lakeside beach and an indoor water playground to boot.

BOOK IT! From $457 for a two-night stay in the Hotel for up to four persons in one room during the summer season (now through August 30, 2014). Weekend rates are from $485 for two nights in the Hotel. Note: There’s also a $15/night resort fee and 11 percent tax, and some restrictions apply. 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! The Family Fun package includes two nights, four breakfast coupons for the bistro, one in-room movie (not available in some accomodations), a pound of candy from Dylan’s candy bar, 20 arcade tokens, and either two ice cream cones or lolliopops. Click here to explore more. You can also call them at 800-236-1577.

Get your kids psyched for an upcoming vacation (or the end of school!) with this Countdown Caterpillar craft:

Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar

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Score a Family Vacation Package from Embassy Suites!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

* This is the first in a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one long vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Embassy Suites, participating hotels across the country

No matter where your family heads for the summer, this premiere chain has got you covered, with more than 200 hotels in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Plus, all guests enjoy amenities like two-room suites, free breakfast, and complimentary drinks and snacks at the nightly Evening Reception.

BOOK IT! From $127 (subject to availability at participating locations); you can check your travel dates online at EmbassySuites.com

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Embassy Suites Hotels has an exclusive Family Fun package. If you book three nights or more at a hotel in the U.S. or two nights or more at a property outside the country, you’ll get complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast for four daily, and late checkout at 2 p.m. You must book and complete your stay by July 30, 2014. Other restrictions may apply; call 1-800-EMBASSY for full details.

Plan on eating out with your little ones while traveling? These tips will help you teach them how to behave at restaurants.

Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants
Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants
Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants

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Finding a Family Legacy in the National Parks

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Arches National Park, UtahEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

Back when Great Sand Dunes National Park was still just a national monument, and our graduate student daughter was still just in kindergarten, the National Parks system became our partner in parenting. Our family “collected” national parks. We spent spring breaks, summer vacations, and fall breaks photographing our three kids standing astride the welcome signs outside dozens of national parks and monuments, from Arches to Zion, Badlands to Yellowstone, Capitol Reef to Yosemite.

It was in the parks that our kids learned about fragile cryptobiotic soil and the tundra, the desert and Death Valley, petrified forests and ancient redwoods. They heard rangers talk about fossils, geodes, and glaciers; they watched bison, wolves, bear, elk, moose, ptarmigans, and caribou in their natural habitats. They saw an owl capture and eat a mouse, salmon swimming upstream to spawn, and eagles fishing for those same salmon in the same stream. Along the way, they heard stories about Native Americans and the mysterious Ancestral Puebloans, about dinosaurs and wooly mammoths. But the lessons our Junior Rangers learned far exceeded those the park rangers could teach them: They learned about life.

It’s become a cliché to talk about life lessons gained through childhood experiences, but the ones our kids learned in the national parks were anything but cliché. They were only 3, 5, and 7 years old on our first visit to the Sand Dunes in southwestern Colorado, the home of the highest dunes in North America. The base of the dunes rests at 7,500 feet above sea level, and the climb from the base to the top of the highest peak is another 750 feet. On hot sand with unsure footing, boots and sandals are usually abandoned for stocking feet. The climbing is tough even for fit adults, but our 7-year-old son was determined to make it to the top with Mom, the parent with good knees. His sister, the 5-year-old, wasn’t as sure, so we encouraged her to stay behind with her little brother and me to play in Medano Creek at the base of the dunes. The creek “runs” in a wide splay that resembles a wading pool more than a flowing body of water, the perfect milieu for building sand castles. She had to choose: Climb the hot sand on a hot day to a faraway peak few young children ever reach, or wade and splash in the cool stream.

Our daughter had always been a little fearful about trying new things. Sleepovers at friends’ houses, tennis classes in our neighborhood park, overnight class trips, and even the monkey bars on the school playground all started out scary. So we were more than a bit surprised when, a little tearfully, she opted for the climb. She seemed determined not to let her big brother outdo her or claim bragging rights alone this time. I trained my binoculars on the threesome as they started the climb, zigzagging along switchbacks that changed with each windstorm of the year. There were lots of pauses along the way for snacks and water, but in just over four hours they made it to the summit, where the weathered guest book waited for triumphant climbers’ autographs. I couldn’t make out the kids’ facial expressions through the binoculars as they stood at the peak with their arms raised, but there was no question about their jubilation as they rolled, surfed, and pranced down the steep sandy slopes on the way back.

That night, while the boys played nearby, we sat at the campfire with our daughter, cold packs around her mildly blistered feet, and talked about what her climb meant in the big picture of her young life. Her sense of accomplishment and the pride she felt for conquering her familiar little fear demon showed her that nothing could stop her if she put her mind to it. No obstacle, no challenge, no barrier, no self-inflicted ceiling should stand between her and her dreams. That was the Sand Dunes lesson she learned and never forgot. In the 18 years since, she has had many, many small Sand Dunes moments, and a few really big ones, where the achievements of that day on the dunes sustained her.

It was also in the national parks that our oldest became a role model and nurtured his leadership skills and ability to inspire. He developed a sixth sense about how his sister and brother were feeling about our wilderness exploits, when it should be their turn to lead, and when they had had enough for the day. In doing so, he learned to consider, respect, and advocate for the needs of others. He also discovered his fear of snakes and his propensity to see bears while everyone else saw big rocks. Our youngest didn’t play in the creek forever, either. After more than enough years watching his siblings undertake adventures he was too little for, his turn finally came. Delicate Arch at Arches National Park will be known forever in our home as “Sammy’s Arch” because at age 7, he led the rest of us on the very challenging (and somewhat treacherous) hike. He did this with a mixture of pride, fear, and (ultimately) profound relief at shaking off the “baby” burden from his shoulders.

The national parks have become a lasting legacy for our family. Our now-adult kids still tease us about the legendary 11-hour bus ride in Denali, laugh about the mama bear who charged the obnoxious tourist, and sing Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” whenever we’re in the car together. If you’re looking for your own family legacy, or just ready to plan your summer vacation, visiting www.nps.gov/index.htm is a great place to start.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: A photo collage of Arches National Park in Utah via Shutterstock.

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Lengthened School Years Increase Scores (and Germs!)

Friday, August 10th, 2012

You’ve heard it before: Schools across the U.S. just aren’t at the same academic level as other global leaders, including China, South Korea, and Finland. Although some state-led initiatives have made their way into the mix, some schools are deciding to put the students’ — and our future leaders — fate into their own hands.

Cities such as Chicago, Boston, and Phoenix are lengthening their school days and school years in efforts to increase the amount of time students spend in the classroom. Lengthening the academic year by 10 days or more, schools hope shorter summer vacations will help kids better remember what they learned during the school year.

And according to a report from the National Center on Time and Learning, it’s starting to pay off. Schools with longer academic years report higher graduation rates and higher test scores than those still abiding by the 180-day year.

With all that extra time in the classroom, your child is bound to bring home an endless list of yucky germs. Take a look at our tips to keep him healthy here so he can spend more time at school and less time on the couch (and we know you like that idea!).

Image: Children at school classroom via Shuttershock

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