10 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Resort

This 10 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Resort list is the path we take for the first day of our visit. Any subsequent day visits, we either revisit the rides we love the most and then sprinkle in all the other favorite activities. These 10 best thrill rides will walk you through both parks and you will be able to ride all 10 thrill rides in one day. Be sure to arrive when the parks open for the most fun-filled day.

Read More
Meet Nanea Mitchell - American Girl's New BeForever Doll

Nanea’s story focuses on life in the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Nanea illuminates for girls today the courage and aloha spirit of islanders whose home-front experience during World War Two was unlike that of mainland Americans. In creating the Nanea books and product collection, American Girl worked closely with a five-member advisory board—including an eye witness to the Pearl Harbor attack—who provided their expertise in Hawaiian culture and history to inform all aspects of Nanea’s development.

Read More
Quick Guide to Buying a New Car

If I am completely honest, I would say the idea of purchasing a new vehicle makes me groan and roll my eyes. I know in advance that it will be a long progression of back and forth negotiating and I really wish the entire process of purchasing a new vehicle were so much easier.

Here is a list of several important vehicle purchasing steps that I followed to assist me in the purchase of our new vehicle. These simple steps helped me get the best deal, save money, and alleviated the stress that I was dreading.

Read More
Family Games with Hasbro Family Game Crate

Keeping my children entertained all summer was sort of a no-brainer for me this year. As a home educator, I was able to squeeze in a bit of school work over the summer to keep math and reading skills sharp. I have a teen boy in high school, a teen girl in junior high and a tween girl that will begin middle school this school year. With three kiddos at varying ages and skill levels, sometimes it can be difficult to have an activity that each will equally enjoy.

Read More
5 Back To School Shopping Tips

Back to school shopping is so much easier for me than it has been i the past. As my kids get older, the lists for school supplies are shorter! My son is in high school and he told me he needs pencils and a couple of notebooks. That is all he wanted. These days, most high school have students submit all their documents and papers online. 

My youngest daughter will be attending a private school this year and while she did receive a list of supplies to bring to school, it was relatively short. In fact, this list was much easier to shop for than the lists we have had in the past for our private home school consortium. My oldest daughter will still home educate with me, but she will not be attending the consortium, so I literally don't have to shop for her.

Read More
Top 7 Reasons to Visit the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral

The family-friendly activities and exhibits including IMAX films, the Shuttle Launch Experience, the Saturn V Rocket, and an astronaut training simulator were enough to get us up early to head out from Orlando to Cape Canaveral to spend the full day at the Kennedy Space Center. We wanted to be at the complex as soon as it opened at 9 AM so we could fit in all the activities. We arrived almost at the same time as the Kennedy Space Center opened and I would recommend this if you plan to complete all the activities at the center in one day.

Read More
Ultimate Family Summer Road Trip Essentials

With summer comes summer vacations and for the past several summers we have racked up the miles across this nation exploring states to the west and east of Chicago. Last summer we explored the east coast from Washington D.C. to Niagara Falls and everywhere in between.  This summer we explored Orlando because we were missing a proper summer these past few months as Chicago has had a relatively cool summer. Certainly nothing like a typical Midwest summer of my youth

Read More
Top 5 Reason to Have Summer Fun at Raging Waves Waterpark

There are over 20 water slides and various other activities that kept the entire park from seeming super crowded, including a ¼ mile long lazy river. We didn't rent a cabana as we had no plans of sitting and relaxing. We were looking for summer fun in the form of action and slides! We put our bags down near Brock's Giant Sandbox, where there are plenty of chairs. Then everyone headed off in different directions. I didn't see my daughters again for two whole hours as they were off with my husband in one direction and my son and I were in another.

Read More
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Homemade Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Last week we had a couple of fabulous sunny days and then toward the end of the week, we were blasted with more storms. There has been so much rain this summer and it really puts a damper on our day time activities. My grass has ever been this green in July and I'm loving that aspect of the rain! We haven't been able to get in as much time at the pool as my kiddos would like because of the rain. While it is fun to swim in the rain; at the first spot of lightening, the pool is closed! Sadly, we've spent more time indoors this summer than normal.

Read More
Grilled Chicken Chipotle Street Tacos with Chipotle Avocado Crema

I am a big supporter of the arts! I happen to think it is so important to support the arts in my community as well. The arts enrich and inspire our families and especially, my children. We are so fortunate to live in an area where I can literally turn in a circle and point to a city where we would could see some form of an arts performance. Luckily, we have a fabulous arts center in our own village.

Read More
Ultimate Family Road Trip Vacation to Orlando, Florida

The sun is beginning to warm up here in the Midwest and that means it's time to get ready for Summer Vacations. Residents in sunny Florida are so lucky to have sunshine all year long! Here is Chicago, we are not so lucky! My family loves to travel to Florida every few years to really soak up the sunshine! My family of five will be traveling this August for our annual summer vacation and we have selected Florida!

Why Florida -- because, Orlando is a magical place.

Read More
Taking a Break Over the Summer with #Netflix

This past school year was a whirlwind for me. I think I spent at least 2-4 hours, sometimes more, in the driver's seat, shuffling my kiddos from one activity to another. It was brutal. By the end of may, I was spent. Quite literally, my brain had finally fizzled out and died. Not really, but you get the idea.

Three kids schedules is a lot to manage in the suburbs, when every activity location is no less than 10 miles away from our home!

Read More
4th of July American Cake Shakes

Last year while we were in New York, we stayed at this really fun hotel in SOHO. We walked around quite a bit from our hotel, to get to public transportation and on our way one day, I spied a fun restaurant. There was a line out the door and around the corner to this teeny, tiny, little restaurant. We peeked closer to see what the "what" was about. This is when we discovered CAKE SHAKES!

Read More
5 Reasons to Stay On-Site When Visiting Universal Orlando

When we visit Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida; we like to stay in on-site resorts. Universal Orlando offers five amazing on-site hotels—with a sixth on the way (in 2018)!! There are numerous reasons to stay on-site whilst visiting Universal Orlando, but I have 5 reasons that have been quite beneficial to my family of five.

Firstly, here are your options for selecting an on-site resort at Universal Orlando.

 

Read More
9 Inspiring Ideas to Take Better Summer Photographs

When the summer sunshine finally arrives here in the midwest, Chicago to be exact, we really can’t wait to spend time outdoors. We certainly have enough of gloomy weather all winter long and spring can be fierce and cold here as well.  We wait so long to enjoy the elusive sun, when it finally makes an appearance; we are outdoors all day long, literally soaking up as many vitamin D rays as possible.

 

Read More
10 Summer Reading Programs for Kids | FREE

For as long as I can remember, I have had my children read, daily. I was a voracious book reader as a child and really want all my children to love books as well. My son used to read two or three books at a time. My oldest daughter is not keen on books, which makes me sad; although she does love when I read to her. My youngest daughter is a lover of words, like me and it delights my heart.

Every summer, I select books for each of my children to read and we chat about the books and sometimes even have comprehension tests and book reports! Last summer, I created a list of books for my super smart son, but all the books were at college level and he really didn't enjoy any of the books. This summer I decided to select age-appropriate books . . . . and he read one book in two days! (I've learned my lesson)

Read More