I never imagined that as we approached Hershey,PA that the boring gray highway would turn to milk chocolate brown and have the cutest Hershey Kiss street lights! I was so excited to be on my first trip to Hershey, PA and that I was going to experience Hershey's Chocolate World! Hershey's Chocolate World was a crazy zoo due to all the rain showers, but we managed to see it all! The aromas of chocolate were everywhere and we were ready for our self guided tour. The first thing we spotted was the Hershey Kiss factory line! Let's package Hershey Kisses! This was free to do, unless you wanted to buy the packaged kisses with a picture of your kid ($9.99). Now it was off to the Chocolate Tour on little boats on a fake chocolate river. You will learn how the cocoa pods are harvested and follow the cocoa beans through the refinement of the chocolate to make candy bars. At the end of tour you get a FREE chocolate sample! The tour is FREE! OMG! Now we discovered that we can make our own personal candy bars for ($15 each). Here's how it works: Choose your chocolate (white, milk, dark), choose your ingredients (choco chips, white choco chips, butter toffee crunch, pretzels, almonds). All candy bars a smothered in milk chocolate and you can choose to add sprinkles on top. Now walk over to a touch screen computer and choose your label design. All candy bars are put into a box, then into a metal tin and encased with your personalized wrapper. Last we hit the Candy Store where everything is obnoxiously larger than life sizes of your favortie chocolate candies! We bought the World's Largest Hershey Kiss (5lbs), 2ft. Long Twizzlers, Solid Hershey Kiss (1/2 lb) and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (1/2 lb each). Visit Hershey's Chocolate World online and in person! http://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/ SMAC APPROVED!
The Crayola Factory (http://www.crayola.com/factory/index.cfm) is only a short drive (6-7 hours) from Columbus, OH and is fun for all ages but would be the most fun for 10yrs. and under! When we planned our trip to Pennsylvania, the Crayola Factory was not on the original itinerary but with all the rain this spring it was a great rain back-up plan. The countryside between Harrisburg, PA and Easton, PA was very beautiful and when we entered Easton it was a gorgeous square and took you back in time with cobblestone sidewalks. Inside the factory was mass chaos, with long lines for tickets to enter the self guided tour and crayon demonstration. Luckily, there was a waiting room off to the side that had picnic tables with checkers and hopscotch drawn on the floors so kids could play while one adult waited in line (of course that is assuming you had more than one grown up as the waiting area is not supervised). Our tickets were stickers that were worn on your shirt for admittance and each paid guests got 5 tokens to deposit into machines for art goodies along the self guided tour. Featured along the tour is the 5 and under play area with lots of crayon themed things to climb on and interactive stations ( we skipped this since I have a 5 and 9yr old and I was not in the mood for whining from one child). We did observe the Crayon Making Demonstration, which was a tight space with stadium like seating and room for extra people to sit on the floor in front of the demo window. On this particular day they were making RED crayons. After the demo, all the children received a 4 count box of crayons that featured a new color called Macaroni and Cheese. After that we spent out tokens on crayons, markers and modeling clay. At the end of "token row" was the indoor bridge to next building which housed the Workshop. The project in the workshop was using modeling clay to form a flower then wrapp it around a colored pencil for the stem. My kids had no interest in making the flower craft, but played with the clay and made lots of creations while we sat and rested our feet. The workshop also offered T-shirts and tote bags to decorate with fabric markers, for a cost of $5-$15 per item. Also in this area was a VERY long line for painting with melted wax. I approached staff who informed me that the line is VERY slow all the time because you melt the crayons and then use paint brushes to paint melted wax on the crayons. We opted not to do this because the line was out of control and the kids were HUNGRY. I mean afterall they ate breakfast at 9am and it was nearly 1:30. The Crayola Factory did have a McDonald's express, but we were avoiding fast-food so we could pig out on chocolate the next day in Hershey, PA! We decided to tempt the kids with going to the Crayola store right beside the factory. Eash kid was told they could spend $20. My son walked in and picked up the biggest tub of modeling clay ($19.99) and my daughter carried a basket around choosing her purchases carefully and adding them up in her head. Ah, the joys of having a boy and a girl!
Wow, was my daughter surprised when she got invited to a birthday party at a Candy Store! I know lots of moms are always looking for new ideas for birthday party venues and I found one for you to try! Check out MJ's Candy and Events located at 72 N. High Street, Dublin, OH 43017, 614-336-8170, http://mjscandy.myshopify.com/ MJ's is not a large venue but you could easily entertain 8 kids at a Candy Shop! MJ's is happy to supply you with everything you need, invitations, favors, games, cupcakes and of course CANDY! Can you believe it, no bringing in your own cake! MJ's lets the kids decorate and then eat their own cupcake and they provide the ice cream and birthday candle too! Also included was making a giant Pixie Stix. MJ's had a tower filled with colored sugary powder candy just wating to be filled into large plastic tubes. Never fear, the sugar high is near! At the end of the party, each kid is allowed to "go shopping" in the candy store! They are given a small bag and can fill it with yummy candy selections. When you book your party you can decide what the price point is for each child's shopping spree. After they make their selections they have to go the register and "checkout". It is so SUPER cute to watch the kids make careful decisions about their mouth water candy choices! I asked the parents of the birthday girl how expensive is this place? They assured me that it was the least expensive party they had ever had and they could actually enjoy the party while MJ's Candy and Events handled all the details!
Do you know where you can get your daughter's hair shampoo/cut/blowdry for $15?? Yes, of course, as the title reveals, it is at Sweet & Sassy! Normally, they charge $25 for this service BUT if you go there on Monday-Wednesday (no coupon required!), you get the haircut for 40% off! This is a great deal because no salon is going to pamper your daughter like they do at Sweet & Sassy. First, they start off with the shampoo and asking your daughter what "flavor" of shampoo that they would like to wash their hair. Choices are banana, strawberry and chocolate. No surprise, my daughter chose chocolate! Then, they lay your daughter down flat on a table so that their head goes directly into the rinising sink. (Think of when you go to the salon and normally you sit in your chair to get your hair washed~the little girls get to lay on a table with their head that goes right into the sink!) After, they rinse out the shampoo, then they apply the conditioner, rinse and then it is time to head to the stylist's station.
On the "runway" at Sweet & Sassy.
Then the stylist proceeds to cut your daughter's hair, blow dry and even a flat iron! The final touches are the cotton candy smelling "glitter spray"! (What girl isn't going to feel special after that??) They also add the signature "starts and hearts" glitter stamp to their cheek when finished. Finally, they let your daughter choose a lollipop and then everyone is happy!
Of course this time when I went I didn't get off with just spending $20 (including tip) and walking out the door. My daughter had to get the glitter spray and a lip gloss too! (see below) There went my $30....SMAC Approved!
The Columbus Mom Prom is just that... A REAL prom for adult women (not just moms). I'm rallying the women of Columbus together for the ultimate retro ladies night out! We are inviting women to squeeze back into their youth for charity and pull out those old bridesmads dresses, wedding gowns, work formals and eve prom dresses and dust 'em off for a night of reminiscing and fun!
Our benefitting charity is Gracehaven House. Gracehaven is a local charity that combats human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children. They are currently rehabbing their shelter that houses young women victims and provides them with long-term rehabilitation as they transition. We want to help them with these efforts so 50% of the proceeds from the Columbus Mom Prom will be donated directly to Gracehaven.
OK ladies, did DEEP into your past and pull out those spectacular gowns and join me on April 30th! Even if you are unable to attend, please consider sponsoring a ticket for a special woman in our community who would like to attend and is unable to afford a ticket! Visit the event website for full event details and to purchase your tickets today!
Walking across the lily pads at Coco Key.
CoCo Key Water Park in Granville, Ohio and is about 40 minutes from my house. We had a reason to go there because my son had "Scout Days" at CoCo Key. So we left at 9 am to arrive right at the opening of 10 am. We had to wait in line for about 15 minutes to purchase tickets and get a locker. (you can also buy tickets online). It cost $6 for the keyless locker and $10 each per person (this was a special group rate for the boy scouts) with the exception of my son because the "scout" was free. Upon entry, you spot the Parrot's Perch with a water barrel and playground area. To the right of Parrot's Perch you see a small zero entry pool area with 2 slides and a small basketball hoop. In the back left corner, there is an adult basketball pool area with a lily pad/ropes.(see picture) Next to the basketball/lilly pad are is the lazy river and the 3 waterslides. There are also two hot tubs located in separate locations of the waterpark.
All of the waterslides all go outside of the building and you must be 48" to ride. One waterslide is called the Barracuda's Blast and you can take a 2 person inflatable down the waterslide--it is completely dark when you go down and I thought it was really weird that it was that dark inside. I did not ride the other 2 waterslides (Gator's Gush and Shark Slam) but my husband/kids rode on them and complained that the bumps on the waterslide kind of hurt their backs-but that doesn't mean that they didn't have fun! My son also said that Shark's slam was "really, really dark inside."
Steps to the 3 waterslides.
I think that CoCo Key could have had the place a bit warmer too--I constantly felt that I needed to go to Parrot's Perch or be in water (the lazy river) just to stay warm. We lasted only 3 hours as it was lunch time and we didn't want to eat at the Pizza Hut Express (they also had have other restaurants and a bar in the waterpark too) Even though we all had a good time, I was a bit disappointed that the place was a bit small. Plus, the fact that I was always cold once you were out of the water, just made me want to leave sooner. CoCo Key waterpark is attached to Cherry Valley Lodge but I don't think I would spend the extra money to spend the night. For me, I would just go there for a few hours and drive back to Columbus. It was nice to go there once--don't know if I would be in a rush to go back there anytime soon.
Vera Bradley Outlet Sale!
Who doesn’t love a tote bag or purse to carry? I love them! Which is why my friend, Beth, and I make a trek to Fort Wayne, IN each April for the annual Vera Bradley sale. The sale is held at the coliseum and is packed with Vera items: purses, totes, sunglasses, stationary, wallets, beach towels, sunglasses, etc. We headed up Wednesday morning, as soon as our kids hopped on the bus, with plans for girl time and Vera shopping.
Part of the fun of shopping the Annual Vera Sale is registering months prior. This builds up the anticipation for our trip. This year at the Vera sale if you shopped the first two days you had to buy a ticket for one of the four sessions. Tickets were $5 per session. Each session allowed 3,000 people in to shop for 2 ½ hours. Being the sale connoisseurs, we decided to buy tickets for the last session on the first day and the first session on the second day. Our strategy was get what we truly wanted the first day and then the second day, as they begin to mark things down, shop some more! Items are marked down further every day, leaving the last day with amazing pricing but a heavily picked-over selection.
Last year we waited two hours in line to get in, had unlimited time to shop, and then waited another 1 ½ hours in line to pay. With the new "sessions" this year we had only a 20 minute wait to get in to the first session, and no wait at all for the second. The checkout lines were super short as well. So, needless to say, we hope they keep the sessions for next year.
Bags full of Vera Bradley stuff!!!
When you walk in, you’re given a price list and a pink trash bag to stuff with whatever catches your eye. After filling our bags the first time, we found a small area to sit on the floor to go through what we had picked. Our arms were filled with tote bags and purses, and we’ve stuffed those full of
stationary and other small items. After weeding through our bags, we decided to hunt for a few other items we had seen. We found some of our favorite bags in the discard piles created by other shoppers – the piles are crazy fun to rummage! We repeated this process a few times until, after shopping for two hours, they began to announce the time countdown to let the crowd know it’s time to head into another room to pay. In the checkout room, we were corralled in lines to pay, and chatted with others around us about our finds. We found a few more items in the discard piles there too. I was happy to find a large tote bag for myself and Beth was thrilled to find the sunglasses she had wanted. Not only did we shop for ourselves, we also picked up teacher gifts as well as birthday and Christmas presents for others. We were also armed with wish lists from friends so we could shop for them too.
This was another awesome year for us with minimal waiting. The pricing was a bit higher than in years past but the selection was better. The bargains are always amazing, and you can be sure we’ll be going back again next year!
Don't you hate going to the car wash place and standing around waiting for your car to be cleaned while you have your kids in tow??? Wish that their was a service that could come and pick up your car from your house and return it to you fully cleaned?? Well, there is such a service and it is called JRM Detailing in Westerville! (His detail service is "hand wash only") My friend Rene recommended this place to me last year so I thought I would try it. John (the owner) personally drives out to your house, takes your vehicle and brings it back within a few hours! Last year, I had John clean/vacumn my van for $25 +$10 to steam clean my mats. This year, the old van needed a good detail~John charges $100 for this service and cleans the interior/exterior as well . (Waxing the exterior is an additional charge) He said I wouldn't even recognize my van when he brought back to me and he was right! GONE were those crayon marks in the 3rd row of the van, pretzel bits, eraser bits, dirt marks and tiny ground in rocks on the floor/seats! I swear, I took one look at the van and thought it was a NEW van! When I went to DC last weekend, my dad thought I got a new van because it was so CLEAN! So if you are tired of looking at your "kid toting vehicle" with food crap in it, call JRM Detailing today!!
Bowling is fun thing to do with kids but don't you think it can get kind of pricey? I mean by the time you pay for bowling shoes and 2 games for 4 people, there goes $50! I bought the Sequioa Pro Bowl groupon for $32 that included unlimited games, shoe rental, and a large pizza! Since it was right before my kids' Spring Break, I decided to take one friend for each of them with us. We got there at 11 am on a Monday and they laced up their shoes, got their bowling balls and off we went to the lane with kiddie bumpers! The kids all took turns and they enjoyed themselves trying to beat one another. They also were excited when they would get a strike or a spare! The only problem I had was keeping my 3 year old entertained! She was wearing bowling shoes even though she didn't play the first game with the other kids. I noticed a mom with her kids in the lane next to us with a shiny silver bowling stand that she was using for her younger daughter. I had never seen this type of contraption before. (see picture below)
Little kids bowling stand! How cute!
I went back to ask the shoe rental guy if there was another kids bowling stand (I don't know the name of this thing!) that I could borrow. He said that was the only kids bowling stand. Then, I went back to the other lane and asked the other mom if I could borrow it one time. She said that we could share it! Well, my 3 year old loved it (of course) and the other kids liked helping her-they would carry the ball and put it on top for her to push! So I added her name to the computer and she got to play a game with the rest of the kids. Then the kids said that they wanted to use the bowling stand and I said "No way!" After that, the cheese pizza came, followed by some cookies and nachos. The kids only lasted 2 games and they were done after 2 hours. I wound up spending around $45 dollars altogether but it was worth it just to discover that kids bowling stand! I would definatley come back here again with kids during the daytime because it was not crowded. SMAC Approved!
"Oh the weather outside is frightful.." (I mean where the heck is SPRING?!?) Don't worry, Recreations Outlet is here to save you from the doldrums of this long bout of cold weather! Recreations Outlet primarily sells Rainbow Outdoor playsets, trampolines, playhouses and basketball hoops! What's great about this place is that they let kids come in a play on the equipment for FREE! Now, before you get too excited, there are only certain hours/days of the week that they offer this. (Check website below for days/times and there are also pay to play times listed as well) We went during our Spring Break last Tuesday. (open play time was 9-11 am) When you enter, an attendant will ask you to fill out a liability form. After that the kids place their shoes and coats in the cubbies! (this in new) My kids loved playing on the playsets, trampolines, little tykes cars, basketball and ping pong!
Basketball hoops on rubber floor.
I think this is a great place because the kids get to experience the latest playsets, trampolines, etc. Even though I think this place is best for younger kids, my 9 year old still had a good time jumping on the trampoline!
I have also had a birthday party here in the past and have had many playdates here as well. Moms can relax a bit knowing that their kids are having fun in a good, clean safe enviornment for their kids!