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Day Trip: New York Renaissance Faire

23 Aug

RenFaire1Two weekends ago, the kids and I ventured back in time without the use of a TARDIS.   We used our ordinary van to head to the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, NY.  Be sure to bring you funny bone with you as well as your wallet.  This particular weekend kids were free so I saved $22 by going then.   There are several coupons in community magazines which can help you on other weekends.   Regular prices are $24 for adults, $11 for children ages 5-12, and children 4 & under are free.

I can recall my summer working as a “Beverage Wench” for the Faire long ago.  Back then you had to make sure you had plenty of cash on hand because many of the vendors did not take credit cards.  One bonus is that in this day and age, most vendors now have that Square so they can accept credit cards.  I came prepared with both cash and cards just to be on the safe side.

If you wish to park close to the entrance I suggest getting there really early.  We arrived at 10:15 and had to use one of the lower lots.   There is a free bus service from the lower lots to the gate.    I made the decision to go the night before which put my little Cos-player into a panic because she did not have a proper costume.   I threw together fairy wings which I will blog later and managed to get her feeling magical for the day.  As soon as we entered she was greeted by Leonardo DiVinci and asked to find something she loved and draw it for him.  We then met the silent fairies.   The fairies are all silent because humans do not speak their language.

Skyler’s Favorite Things:
The Fairies, The Fairy Forest, The Fairies, The Magical Fairy Dust Stand, The Fairies, The SKY Chairs, The Fairies, The Maze, The Fairies…..I LOVED EVERYTHING!!!!!

RenFaire2Tristan’s Favorite Things:
Arsene Dupin’s “Magikhana” Show, The Elf Ears Stand, The Dragon both puppets and lizards, The Parrots of the Caribbean, Dragon Chips, Birds of Prey

The most surprising part of the day was a HUGE step for Tristan. He was taken on stage during Arsene Dupin‘s “Magikhana” performance. Unlike his sister, Tristan is not one for being on a stage. As we went to see his show, Tristan insisted we sit in the front. I reminded him that 2 years ago his PopPop was teased throughout the entire show by the magician. Tristan felt our front row seats on the side were a safe place. Imagine his shock as he was taken on stage to assist Arsene Dupin. If you EVER get a chance to see this man perform, you really must. He is amazing at what he does. His entire show is done without talking. The body language that Arsene uses conveys so much that you cannot stop laughing while his magic tricks amazing you.  Tristan was gifted with a free DVD of Arsene Dupin‘s stage performance so his bravery.

RenFaire Dragon ChipsMom’s Tips:  Bring a backpack with water bottles, packed lunches, snacks, other drinks, and sunscreen.   Unlike other venues you can bring outside food into the Faire.  Which is a great thing because at $9.50 for a Turkey Leg, lunch can become REALLY expensive.  I compromised and let them share a plate of Dragon Chips at $8.  They loved them.

Mom’s Favorite Highlight:   The Parrots of the Caribbean

This exhibit was located inside the Birds of Prey area.  My entrance fee was a $2 donation to help with the care of the birds and the kids were free.  You get up close and personal with Macaws of a variety of colors, Cockatoos, and more.  The kids loved how close they could get to the birds.   There was even a cute pair of twins that were hugging.

Renfaire Parrots 3RenFaire Parrots 1RenFaire Parrots 2

Highlights of the day:
RenFaire Meet the Queen
RenFaire SkyChair RenFaire Fairy Garden RenFaire Chess

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Summer Fun: Long Beach Island, NJ

24 Jul

Barneget LighthouseWhen I was kid summer meant 2 things:  Sunny Hill and The Shore.  The Shore is different places to different people but around here it must be reached by way of the Garden State Parkway.  We never did the boardwalk vacations of Seaside Heights or Wildwood.   Our family preferred the calm that is Long Beach Island.

I can remember the routine of spending the days on the beach and our nights at various activities on the island.   While some of the places from my childhood still exist like The Show Place and Bay Village, others only live in my memories like the Tumble Town and Pier 18 Mall.  My kids got to experience some of the places I loved last year.  I had an LBI first with my kids:  dolphins jumping off the coast.

Things You Can’t Miss on Long Beach Island:

  • The Beach:  There are so many things you can do from hunting for seashells, digging for sand crabs, riding waves on a raft and more.  Bring you sunscreen, your lunch, drinks, and something to dig with.  Be sure to swim between the flags for safety.
  • Marvel Market:  As a child this market was walking distance from the beach house we rented.  Ever morning my father would send me to get the newspaper and a dozen donuts.  These are just not any donuts, but hot, freshly made in front of your eyes donuts.  I would love watching the machine drop the dough as the donut floated around while it cooked.  Old school LBI people, this market is now across the street from where it used to be.
  • Crust and Crumb Bakery:  ELEPHANT EARS!  Really, there is nothing else to say.  A delicious pastry that is “the size of your head” can be found in this bakery located in Bay Village.  It is cinnamon, sweet, buttery yumminess.  Fine, there are other great pastries here like the sticky buns.
  • The Show Place:  Ice-Cream and a show!   This is one of my favorite places anywhere in the world.  You arrive to the staff dressed in old fashioned soda shop style.  As you look over your menu, you hear a cowbell ring.  A server holding a sundae shouts:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, in my hands I hold….”  Suddenly, the person who ordered the sundae is singing for their ice-cream.  Skyler got to sing for her Pop-Pop’s sundae, The Phantom of the Opera.  All sundaes are related to Broadway Musicals.  After all the ice-cream is served, the server put on a show and then it is time to “eat up, pay up, and get out”.  The only thing missing from our visit was the ice-cream flavor song….I can hear the chant in my head of “Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter”.
  • Barnegat Light House:  Old Barney is located at the northern tip of Long Beach Island.  For a $1 donation you can climb up the 217 steps to the top.  My kids chose to do this.  They received a certificate and a patch for making it to the top.

Other great places to visit:

At the beach: Playing in the sand and ready to be safe in the ocean.

LBI Sand

At the beach: Just chilling with my sunglasses.

Mermaid

At the Beach: Cousin Jimmy turned him into a mermaid.

LBI Marvel

Marvel Market: Sugared Donut

LBI Bakery Sign1

Crust and Crumb Bakery: Elephant Ears: A Flaky, French Pastry With Brown Sugar & Cinnamon, & Pecans….

LBI Bakery Elephant Ear

Crust and Crumb Bakery: Elephant Ears. Yep, as big as your head.

LBI Sticky Buns

Crust and Crumb Bakery: Sticky Buns

LBI Clam

ReClam The Bay: These clams are in several places to promote seeding clams and oysters in the bay.

LBI Barney View

Barnegat Lighthouse: View from the top.

LBI Barney Bottom Up

Barnegat Lighthouse: View from the bottom up.

LBI Barney Top Down

Barnegat Lighthouse: View from the top down.


 

Day Trip: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester

26 May

Lego masterbuilderLego - Sky
Last summer, the kids had a visit from the Granddad and Aunt from England. We took a day to check out the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester in Yonkers, NY.  I regret that we never got to LEGOLAND® California Resort before we moved from Las Vegas to New York so this little trip was a big deal for Tristan.

Bring your Wallet, Credit Cards, and Right Arm!

The first shock you will get is the ticket prices:  $18 a child and $22 an adult.   They also tell the kids about a special activity badge they can buy that includes a booklet on a lanyard with stamps to collect at each location and some puzzles for an extra $4 each.  Well, no kid seemed to go past the ticket seller without upgrading their package making their price the same as the adults.   So for the 5 of us, it cost $110 just to get in the door.

Your first stamp/stop is the LEGO® Factory Tour where the kids to pretend to make LEGOs®.  There was a feature for seeing how much you weighed in LEGOs® but this was not working the day we were there.  It basically said each of us weighed the same number of blocks.

Your next stop is Kingdom Quest which is a short ride that has laser guns.  You travel through an adventure where you have to shoot the “monsters and stuff” to gain points.  The kids felt the ride was too short considering how long they waited to have their turn.

You travel through MINILAND® to get to the rest of the center. MINILAND® was definitely the adult favorite of this trip with a LEGO® replica of New York City. I will post pictures from MINILAND® area at the bottom of this post.

As you enter the main center, you realize that it is a swarm of madness and chaos. This is a large, warehouse type room fill with strollers and LEGOs®. In this main room there is LEGO® Racers: Build & Test, Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, LEGO® Fire Academy, LEGO® Construction Site, LEGO® Master Builder Academy, DUPLO® Village, Earthquake Tables, LEGO® Friends, and LEGO® 4D Cinema.

The hands-on activity areas were:

  • DUPLO® Village (Ages: 1 – 5) – A Mommy and me type of area for the younger crowd.
  • LEGO® Fire Academy (Maximum height allowed inside is 54″) & LEGO® Construction Site (36″ to 54″ Tall) – A climber system with just the kids allowed inside. It was utter madness in there with little ones being taken out by plush LEGOs®. Not for the nervous parent. My kids were on the older side of things. There was really no monitoring system to make sure the smaller ones were not in the older area. Most kids in here were on average 4-5 years old.
  • Earthquake Tables (All ages) – A station with several tables to test your building creations against the powers of an earthquake. The kids enjoyed this station but for the amount of children in the facility there was really not enough tables. There were many parents not keeping an eye on their children here so the kids were just pushing others out of the way to take tables away from kids that had been waiting.
  • LEGO® Racers: Build & Test – (All ages) A building area to make your own car and test it on a race track and stunt track. As with the Earthquake area, there really was not LEGO® wheels to go around for the kids to make cars with. The kids were crawling all over the floor looking for lost wheels just to have their cars have enough to race.
  • LEGO® Friends (All ages) – This area is dedicated to the “girl line” of LEGOs® which rather annoys me because I loved playing LEGOs® as a kid and did not need pink and purple blocks to make my own houses, dog bowls, robots, etc. Skyler loved this area because there was karaoke.
  • LEGO® Master Builder Academy (Suggested Age: 7 and up) – A private classroom where the kids build a pre-made kit like the ones you can buy at the checkout. There is a at schedule for the classes and each class has a maximum number of kids allowed inside. A less-than enthusiastic “Master Builder” talks the kids through building their LEGO® kits. Tristan found himself moving ahead because the instructor was really slow. There is a catch to this class: you have to pay for the kit you just made if you child wants to take it home. So budget for some extra cost. I asked at the shop and they said these kits can run as much as $10 depending on the class.

The experience areas were:

  • Merlin’s Apprentice Ride (Minimum 36″ tall to ride, Up to 48″ must right with an adult) – This is the one ride that is in this center. This one ride has a line longer than most at any Six Flags. By the time you get to the front of the line, your kids are hanging from the rafters. According to my children, this ride was not worth of the wait. The phrase “it just plain stinks” was used to describe the ride.
  • LEGO® 4D Cinema (All ages) – This was the highlight of the trip. The kids wanted to keep going in over and over again. There were two movies running that day with LEGO® Legends of Chima™ 4D Movie Experience and LEGO® City: A Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure. Both movies kept my kids amused and they loved the 4D effects that were featured. We are just glad it was not in Smell-O-Vision. The kids still quote the skunk featured in the Chima™ movie with a sheepish “sorry”.

As with most places, you exit through a store. Exiting through a LEGO® Store can be a harrowing experience with exhausted children. All in all, this place is really for younger kids more than anything. If you child is around 5-7 years old, that would be the ideal age. Beyond that they will be bored with most of the activities.

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald St
Yonkers, NY 10710

Lego Statue of Liberty

Lego NYC8

Lego NYC7

Lego NYC6

Lego NYC5

Lego NYC4

Lego NYC3

Lego NYC2

Lego NYC1

Summer Fun – Sunny Hill Resort (Catskills, New York)

1 Oct

Sunny Hill TeeAs I mentioned before real life and computer issues kept some of my blogs behind so it is time to start playing catch up while keeping up with regular blogs. This is from the beginning of the summer.

Sunny Hill Resort is a great place to take the kids in the summer time for a vacation.  It is completely family-oriented.  The kids have a blast when we go because there is so much to do.   Usually we go for 3-nights, 4-days but many people go for the entire week and many go for the 2 beautiful golf courses.

My grandmother wanted to share the fun she had in the Catskills as a child in Leeds, NY with her children.   She found the perfect place in a nearby town.  My mother went to Sunny Hill Resort every summer when she was a young child with her family since that summer.  I spent my first vacation at  Sunny Hill Resort 32 years ago and made so many memories.  Today, it has grown to something my 8 year old self could never imagine and my kids enjoy every second.

10 year old, Tristan’s Favorites:

  • The Game Room – In Armae Hall, there is a small arcade known by the kids as “The Game Room”.
  • Fishing – Down at Lake Loree you can fish the day away. Bonus: There are fishing contests on Wednesday nights, one for the children and one for the adults.  Tristan always manages to catch a turtle at least once a year as well.Sunny Hill Fishing T Sunny Hill Fishing
  • Mini-Golf – In the Entertainment Center, there is free mini-golf.
  • Military Night – Every Thursday night is Military Night with free “Just For Fun” rides on a M37 Military Truck, a M548 Military Vehicle(aka THE TANK), a M35A2 Military Vehicle 6×6, a M-561 Gamma Goat Truck, Tank, and a Humvee.
  • The Rock Climbing Wall – Two times during the week, a rock climbing wall is erected with room for 4 climbers at a time.

7 year old, Skyler’s Favorites:

  • Camp – Monday – Friday there is a FREE camp in the morning for the younger children to attend. They do many activities and crafts. Bonus: Mom gets to relax.
  • Ceramics – Every Wednesday morning, an outside vendor sets up in Armae Hall with ceramic pieces that you can purchase and paint. They will finish the pieces off for you with a nice gloss coat as a great vacation souvenir.
  • The Playgrounds – With 6 different playgrounds to pick from, it is hard to decide where to go. Most popular are the “Alien Playground” and the “Wooden Playground”.Sunny Hill Ceramics
  • The Talent Show – Every Tuesday afternoon there is a Kids Talent Show where all the kids get to show off their stuff.
  • The DJ Nights – Several nights end with music by a DJ in Armae Hall with lots of dancing.

Mom’s Favorites not mentioned by the kids:

      • Night Time Games – Home racing, Monte Carlo, and a few Bingo nights make for a nice change of game pace from the plugged in world.
      • Just For Fun Rides – Every night there are “Just For Fun” rides. The Military Night is just one of them. There are many other fun rides on the other nights as well including a Monster Truck.
      • The Pool Area – One pool with 2 slides, a kid-sized pool, and a splash pad make the pool a great place during the day. There is even Water Aerobic several afternoons during the week.
      • The Tournaments – There are contests every day and the winners are awarded trophies. Contests include: Scotch Doubles Tournament, Kids Lawn Bowling Tournament, Adult Shuffle Board Tournament, Teens Lawn Bowling Tournament, Teen Ping Pong Tournament, Adult Bankshot Basketball, 3-Club Golf Tournament, Kids Shuffleboard Tournament, Adult Lawn Bowling Tournament, 2-person Scramble, Kids Bankshot Basketball Tournament, Adult Ping Pong Tournament, Teens Chipping & Putting Contest, Kids/Adult Fishing Tournament, 4-Person Golf Scramble, Kids Ping Pong Tournament, Adult Tennis TournamentSunny Hill Bell, and Junior Golf Tournament.
      • No Cooking – The resort is all inclusive. Meals are served 3 times a day at the Dining Hall and the kids get to ring the bell to announce it is time to eat.
      • The View – Absolutely breathtaking!Sunny Hill Sunset

We are excited for next year because they opened a new Challenging 5-Mile 30 Permanent Obstacle Course in September.