Breakfast with Santa: Legoland Discovery Center

Every year we do at least one Breakfast with Santa but this year we decided to do it at Legoland Discovery Center in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

One of the benefits of having a season pass to Legoland is getting invited to exclude events. This event was free to Legoland Discovery Yearly pass. We were invited for a continental breakfast with Lego Santa himself. Once there breakfast was already ready. The kids and adults were able to help themselves. The guest of honor made his way over and gave our letters so that the kids could write a letter to Santa! Not to mention full access to the play center before regular opening hours. That in itself is a major win!

Even though it was our first year at the event it definitely will not be our last. The kids had a great time making a morning of fun and the adults were able to relax knowing the children are in a secure fun atmosphere. Plus anything with coffee sign me up!! If you’re in the area and looking for a place for your children to have fun in all year would consider coming to Legoland Discovery! We bought the year pass due to wanting to have an option for the Winter months as well as rainy days like today.

There is a huge jungle gym, snack center, active places to build LEGO projects of all kinds, mini 3D movies, laser zone, and of course a live action Lego man that comes out several times to take pictures with everyone all year long. One of the best parts is the interactive ride for the family of all ages to enjoy!

So I would certainly give my stamp of approval for Legoland Discovery Center! It’s a must try if you’re in the area!!

Who doesn’t love festive events? Certainly my family loves them!! Here’s to getting into the full swing of holiday events and things to do! Also if you have a family of multiple kids gift cards to LEGOLAND make a great group gift as well!! This way instead of more toys you give the gift of an outing!! That is the gift that keep on giving!!

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Christmas Village Experience 2018

So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!

I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village.  Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others.  If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:

  • TEXT PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy will go towards helping Philadelphia Parks
  • TEXT BOOKS  to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books. 
  • TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness

Inside “The Present”

“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside!  I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized. 

So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied.  As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go. 

This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!

As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein.  It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.

Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.

Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!

I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.

Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.

If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.

For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.

Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared. 

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Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!  

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One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good. 

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One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments. 

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So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List. 

Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find. 

Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me. 

So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and  have an experience to remember!

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Christmas Eve: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Location:
LOVE Park, 1500 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

The Worst Advice I Have Ever Received…

So I think bad advice is any advice that is strictly from another person that doesn’t take into account your life. There is not one word that fits everyone. We think that just because it seems like good advice that it will work out all the same. But that is not the case. Just like with life advice seems to be work out differently and varies from person to person.

So let’s get to it…..having children is so super natural that after you birth them you know exactly what to do. It is not as natural as everyone makes it out to be. At least not for me. I knew how to do the basics, but there are a lot of things that comes with having children that didn’t feel as authentic as the books and folks makes it sound. Let me squash all the folks that would love to try to “go up on Tuesday,” I love all 3 of my children. So let’s squash that now. It was never lack of love but lack of mothering skills that I thought I wouldn’t be enough for them.

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My pregnancy with each of my children were all different. Each pregnancy came with their own sets of issues. The bonding with each child also was different too. That is fine as I believe to this day that the difference with having 3 kids should always be taken into consideration with how they are raised. However when you add in the birthing experience and nursing, pumping or bottle feeding and all the things you must quickly learn, the natural instinct didn’t kick in like folks tried to sell me. Some folks said once the baby was out of your womb you would just feel like you had been having kids all your life. I have to STAWP you there, that didn’t happen. I felt like I was tired all of my life. I felt like I was overwhelmed all my life. I felt like I was not prepared all my life, but not one time did I feel like a champ of motherhood just from birthing my kids. I needed so much guidance. I got to shout out the mothers.  I don’t mean just women who have babies. I am talking about the old mothers that we lack today. It’s rare to find a mother of Zion like the old folks used to call them that would give you advice, had enough tenacity to listen, and be there for younger mothers. You see that, teach AND listen. It’s a lost art.

We love to tell folks that don’t have kids how great it will be. It is great if you are talking about the overall sense of accomplishment. We fail to tell folks the real of what to expect. Handing me my oldest child in the hospital came as a shock.  I didn’t get to connect with her right after birth due to her being premature and that made me feel like I had no clue who she was. I felt more connected to her in the womb than outside. Reality hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew how to feed her and told myself well the other things would come. It did but those first few months as she was sick, listening to everyone tell me what I was supposed to do didn’t feel as organic as everyone suggested.  I really wish I could go back and set a few folks straight about a few things. Having a baby is an outer body experience. There are more times that I felt like I didn’t know what to do or who I was becoming. That has nothing to do with the actual child but the preconception of what I believed as a mother in the early years. News flash, even after the 3rd child I still wondered if I having another one was a good idea. It was obviously, but that feeling of natural instinct is always shuttered by doubt and lack of information.

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Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

I really hope that other mothers who I KNOW FOR A FACT have gone through this, would be honest. It’s not a lack of love for your child (ren) but its a lack of trusting in yourself or lack of information to the new expectations of motherhood. So let’s mark false to all mothers having this natural nurturing ways about them as soon as they birth. Overtime you get better. Over time you develop what your child needs. So although our womanly body is “made” to birth babies, the mind and the body and the emotions have to link together to make the whole experience better.  I applaud all women to understand that above thinking that it will all just come together like a jigsaw puzzle on its own.

Ask Toi: How do I tell Others to Back up on the baby talk?

This question is coming from a newlywed so here is my answer:

 

Simply thank them for their concern and let them know that when the time is right you will have or not have a child.  The decision is between you and your husband. It has to be irritating for people to question another person about someone else’s uterus.  Let’s end this now. Unless you want to carry a baby for them, raise it and pay for them you have no right to ask another person that you are or aren’t close to on when or not they plan to have a child.  That goes for mommas too.  We love you momma but you don’t get a hand in the decision to bring life into the world for your child. Ask your child aka your grown child if they plan on it, but then back up and respect their answer.  The pressure alone can be devastating to a new couple or even seasoned couples.  You don’t know if that couple has been trying and miscarried, or knew going into it they couldn’t have any and didn’t feel the need to inform you.  These are personal questions that unless someone comes to you and talks about it should be off limits!

Too many times we place this pressure for newlyweds to have babies but we have to be realistic:

  1. Not everyone wants to be parents-accept it.  Kids are a lot of responsibility. Not everyone is built to handle that dynamic. Marriage is not just for baby making.  You actually might like someone’s companionship and don’t want to have children.
  2. Support systems-having children and having no system of support is a real issue. I have 3 and we are JUST getting a 5 second support systems. It takes a village to raise children.  Not everyone has what they need to raise kids.  Don’t feed me the excuse that single moms and dads are doing it.  A lot of them are and are not balanced while doing it.  They are often times lonely, cry often, suffer depression etc and this can be had even within a marriage.  Marriage is not a cure-all for any of this!
  3. Many folks aren’t financially sound to have children.  There are some people who want to get this goal crushed before they have children.

Worry about yourself.  Spend time in your own than worrying if a couple who you may think would be the best parents, become one. Let newlyweds enjoy walking around their house naked if they want.  Let them enjoy date nights, and having their new life centered before adding diaper changes and baby feedings in. Let folks live.

Holiday Reminder-Watch your Children

This blog is meant to educate not to scare you.  As parents we are doing the best that you can to raise great kids but as long as evil exits we can always do better, and be warned of the dangers that our kids face:

Now I am a mom and I think a pretty good one. Having kids in this world these days has created the most anxiety as our entire purpose is to raise children that are healthy, supported, and safe.  Now what I am about to talk about is super serious.  As we progress into holidays and gatherings its important for all parents to be vigilant about your children.  Know where they are, who they are with, and stop having familiar relationships that you put a wall up because you think your friend, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc would never. I do not prescribe to that notion. Everyone is a suspect as far as I am concerned.  Not that I have ever had to wonder about anyone around my kids thus far, but just know I am not a blind parent to put more stock on relationships with folks over my kids.

First of all raise your children with the proper names of their body parts.  If you ask my kids they not only know all of the cute names parents give their kids but they know the names of their body and especially their sexual organs. Man-mans can only take you so far when you are teaching your son to know where his penis is and to know what a good touch and a bad touch is. Same for my girls they know they have a vagina and have been able to say it properly since they could talk.  I read a story a few years ago about a man who raped a girl who was around 3 and he got less time because the girl couldn’t properly say if she was penetrated vaginally or anally.  How sick that someone’s lawyer was able to get a child molester less time with that notion?!  It forever changed how I raised my kids and this was before I even had them.  I might have been pregnant with my oldest. I know some parents don’t agree but for me its important to empower them to know from the gate that anybody who touches them in a bad touch way is going to get the business from me and their father and I mean on site.

I check my kids when they come from other people’s house, have open and honest age appropriate conversations, as well as make sure they know that anything they tell me I believe. I also don’t force them to hug and kiss people to spare adults feelings. No they don’t and won’t sit on your lap cause you bought them a gift.  The appropriate response is thank you, not a lap sit. They don’t and won’t be made to be feel as if they owe you a kiss regardless of your relationship just so you can feel like an outstanding adult. Work on your own emotions. I have had family members say they need to give (insert relationship) a hug and as their parent I step up to the plate and kindly and politely let folks no, they don’t have to. I teach my kids to acknowledge them so in our house a hi, a hand wave is good and appropriate until they are comfortable.  Some kids need time to warm up.  Whatever the reason there is apprehension from my child, I just watch.  Kids have more sense than some adults and the vibes they feel is often not wrong.

The number one reason why I don’t force my kids is that I want them to know they have power over their bodies at all times in hopes they keep that power and if God forbid someone tries to take their power from them, it won’t be because they were being groomed by me to allow certain behaviors to continue that they were uncomfortable with from the gate.  I do not devalue their feelings on vibes they receive from adults.  my kids have said, why did (insert family) act like that, say that, etc.  They know.  We tell them there is no secrets policy as well. So we have told them that if someone says don’t tell, they need to be open to us and tell us anyway and realize that as children they aren’t wrong for speaking up.  Now with all of that background there could be an adult male or female that may try to take their precious innocence. I pray that it NEVER happens but will publicly state that my husband is licensed to carry so let’s keep it at just that.

Sometimes as you venture to homes to celebrate the holidays, you start to let the kids roam off. Be careful of that.  Not to scare you but you’re number one job at ALL times is to protect your kids.  So be vigilant in where they are, who they are with and around, and not to be so intoxicated, miscalculating, etc that you let your guard down.  I know of children and we all read of children who daily are being sexually abused, mistreated, preyed upon, missing, etc and I just want to be sure that my kids won’t have that story to tell.  I know I can’t protect them every second of the day, but I along with my husband are doing the best we can to ensure that they know they matter, they should be respected, and just because they are kids no one will just do anything.  I am more than willing to end relationships with anyone who challenges me about their safety. Our kids are precious, all kids are, and you can bet we will try not to allow foolery to happen.  So enjoy the holidays, but be careful that someone doesn’t prey on their innocence and use this jolly time as an occasion to take what didn’t belong to them.

Fall is for Linvilla Orchards

So I love Fall.  I love going to Linvilla Orchards.  We do this yearly.  I have a blast and so does the kids.  So this year was no different.  If you aren’t familiar with Linvilla check it out here.

We had a blast from the food to the apple slinging, it gets better yearly.  What I am most excited about was watching me and the kids’ growth over the years.  For instance when we first went my oldest was about 2 and my son wasn’t even walking.  Now they can participate in all of the events.  My youngest who is the pro at apple slinging was in my belly a few years ago and loves to run around playing. Linvilla has something for everyone.  If you love country fall foods, they have it.  If you like hay rides, they have it.  It is an all year round treat for the entire family.

So of courses let me give you our highlights.  I love corn. But nothing is better than corn than corn on the cob hot with piping hot butter drizzled on it.  They have corn down to a science and literally is the first stop on the trip.  Oh and the seasoning station, has everything you can think of for a messy good time.

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The kids didn’t want any parts of corn.  So they opted for funnel cake instead and cotton candy, duh!

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Nothing to do but to sit for a bit than let them run all of that energy out.  We let them play on everything.  You pay a dollar a ticket but the adults are free.  PSA, if you have more than one parent or a friend, designate one person to take a few pictures at the beginning and then focus back on the kids.  I see too many parents either taking pictures or just on their phone.  Your kids can still be injured or lost because you’re taking a parent time out. Linvilla has the kids within a fence but its super easy for kids to wander out if you’re not looking.  So keep an eye out and be vigilant.  The kids took advantage of us not saying no.  Kids need room to run so for me I enjoyed letting them be free.  Super grateful for having my husband come because the age ranges allowed the kids to play with their age of kids without worry that a bigger kid will over power my 3-year-old.  It allowed us to conquer and divide.  I definitely think having a group of parents and kids will allow a better time.  Not to mention not everyone wants to do the same things at the same time.  You can have some do face painting, while others are playing, etc.

They also have pony and train rides for a fee too as well as a petting zoo station.

The kids enjoy asking for things and getting them.  Always try to have cash to spend.  They do have ATMs but they are usually a bank no one has and I am on team save money.  You don’t have to pay to get in or for parking but the amount of money you will spend inside quickly covers it.  So be prepared.  We always get a pumpkin so we can either carve or paint them later at the pumpkin patch.  Linvilla has pumpkins of all sizes and even some black and white pumpkins too.

The highlight of the kids day outside of the hay ride, is apple slinging.  They also have corn and straw mazes, and a pumpkin toss.  The kids being able for $5.00 a barrel sling apples onto targets is always a great time.  The recommended age is over 5 but with our 3-year-old we just had to assist her.  If you don’t want to assist your little ones, avoid this area as they aren’t going to be content watching others sling them.

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I love being in Linvilla.  It is very crowded.  Everyone pushing up against one another but not in a bad way.  I have never seen an incident take place there because of the crowds and I have been going there since 2012.  It is a true family oriented spot with everyone just enjoying themselves. I love the apple cider.  They make it themselves so if you are an apple cider connoisseur you will love it.  Also never leave without trying an apple cider donut.  These things are super addictive.  I made sure I ONLY bought one to eat because if you buy any more than that, it’s not going to make it home and that’s a promise.  And of course a candy or a caramel covered apple too.  My kids snuck theirs and almos them done before we got home.  You can imagine our home being an immediate candy fest.  I was never so happy for bedtime.

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So if you like fun, family, and a little outdoors mixed in with Fall activities then Linvilla is your spot.  I hope you enjoyed my little glimpse into our yearly indulgence.  If you can make it out, make it a priority. They even have a friendly hayride to the witches house for apple cider and a marshmallow roast.

Extra Hints to get through with kids

  1. Wear pants-the hay can be itchy so if you’re allergic to hay obviously avoid it.  We also bring blankets to lay down
  2. For asthma adults/kids, bring your inhaler, the air is different because it’s not city air.  We always have to use the inhaler before and after,
  3. Bring a first aid kit that can fit in a bag. Kids seem to graviate to scrapes and to avoid having to find a station, bring your own.
  4. Have enough money and space your time out-kids will ask for everything to do at the same time.
  5. Plan to be there for at least 2 hours and even then you may not get through it all
  6. Be patient as some lines are longer than others
  7. They have a market to purchase frest fruit, etc
  8. You can pick your own apples at this time too
  9. If your little one can walk but may get tired, bring a fold up stroller.  Also keep in mind you can’t take a stroller on the hay ride, but you can park it in a designated area but never leave valuables in it, it’s family oriented but like my momma would say, everybody ain’t saved.
  10. Have fun!

Blackish Postpartum Episode

This is a trigger episode if you ever had or have currently postpartum depression.  I am going to be super blunt today, I cried throughout the episode and let me tell you why:

  1. I dealt with postpartum after the birth of my son.  I remember feeling like the biggest punk and failure because I couldn’t navigate through it.
  2. I felt isolated and therefore didn’t speak up to others not even my fiance at points throughout
  3. I had no support because especially in the black community black folks always talk that you gon be aight, go pray talk when real life ish is happening that takes prayer and action.
  4. I remember my mother in law being a huge trigger for me not because of her being mean but because of her personality and me not being strong enough to handle life at that time.
  5. Postpartum is real.  It should be discussed without shame
  6. I still reach out to moms and new moms in my circle because suffering in silence is unacceptable
  7. Please show love to a mom and be understanding.
  8. Phrases of get over it, you need to go somewhere and rest, it ain’t that deep, or you just need to get it together will NOT help a mom going through postpartum
  9. Sometimes medicine is necessary
  10. Postpartum is not a weakness.  Our bodies go through it during pregnancy and birth and its going to take some time to get through this new life.
  11. I do NOT allow people to make jokes of it.  It’s not funny.

 

Blackish did their thing on that episode capturing what its like.  I cursed almost exactly the same time I felt like Rainbow should have-watch it and you will see why.  Blackish definitely made sure all of the pure emotion of what it’s like to go through postpartum was like.  When I went through it, I felt like I couldn’t connect to my son.  I felt like because I had more support with my oldest that when it came to my son I was doomed.  I cried all the time. I blew up all the time.  I was in rage a lot of the time. I threatened to call the police on my fiance many times.  I had friends who saw me going through and talked about me like a dog instead of offering help.  I had family who gave me the eye when they found out, BUT I got through it all.  This very blog was created after I healed from that experience. It made me more aware of what I was capable of going through at the birth of my last daughter.  It made me stronger in the end.  It also is a good look for dads too.  They need support. They need to know how to approach the conversation and how to support themselves, their families and their ladies as they navigate through all of the emotions good and bad that pregnancy and childbirth brings.

 

Here is more information about Postpartum

This episode regardless of the title of the show (I know it offends some right off the bat) is a MUST see for all!