Oh Baby! Show. My Top New York Baby Show picks!

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May is coming and that means it’s almost time for the New York Baby Show! Join me May 20/21st at Pier 94 for this great event – the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country! Even better – I’m so excited to offer my first ten readers free tickets here! Check out my review of last year’s show below! Please like my page & comment below if you were one of the 10 lucky winners!

The Mint Chip Mama

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One of the reasons I like the The New York Baby Show so much is that they always draw a great combination of vendors – both large and small scale to their event. This year didn’t disappoint. I was happy to walk the floor and see some new and innovative products as well as some of my favorites. As a mom pregnant with my third child it is nice to see there are still maternity or baby products that can be created to fill a need. I present to you my findings!

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One of my favorite companies at the show was Little Partners. Completely new to me they offer only a few products and all brilliant. What started with their Learning Tower twenty years ago – a great product that allows your child to stand (safely contained) in a raised step stool in the kitchen promoting interactive play and…

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Fire & Ice – Great Family Fun at Camelback Mountain!

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#MTCamelback @SkiCamelback

Skiing is a sport people love – unless you’re me – and your skill level is “drinking hot chocolate” (I’ve come to terms with it, I’m ok). I married a skier who doesn’t get to go very often (see above) who swore he’d raise our kids to be skiers. But when is the right time to bring a kid on their first ski trip? Luckily that question was answered when we were invited to the Momtrends Winter Break at Camelback Mountain last weekend. The time in now, people!

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Ironically I grew up going to the Camelback area annually, just never skiing, so it was a fitting location for my family’s first ski trip. The kids were beyond excited; it was barely containable in the car. Not only did we promise them a day of snow activities – like skiing and snow tubing, but a grand finale at Aquatopia – the largest indoor water park on the East Coast.

The Kids 90-Minute Beginner Lesson Package had everything we needed – including a full day lift ticket and equipment rental. We followed the easily marked, fool proof “step” system to get boots and skis, then headed right outside to the private Children’s Learning Area (aka minimal things to complain about for a first time ski boot wearer who wants to carry their own skis like a big shot).

Perfect for kids aged 4-12, they learned how to put on equipment, stand, balance, walk, get up and glide. This self contained area was drop off, so parents (read: my husband) could enjoy a few runs while the kids were in ski school. I was simply happy to sit and watch the big waves and smiles coming from the “magic carpet”.

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We not only lucked out with the weather (50 degrees!) but met the nicest staff, making our first ski experience a positive one.

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My daughter loved it and was good! As soon as the lesson ended she wanted to go on the bunny slope with my husband. He happily took her.

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My little guy – like his mom – decided the hot chocolate trail was the right one for him. I can respect that. We headed into the bright, window filled dining area of the main base lodge to rock our Après–ski.

The first half of our day came to a great close.

On to the second half – Aquatopia!

We headed to our car – parked in preferred parking (well worth the upcharge, the same price as a locker but you get proximity and storage) – and made our way over. Although Camelback offers a shuttle we opted to drive so the kids could take a quick nap.

Excitement grew as we approached Camelback Lodge and saw colorful slide tubes going in and out of the building.

We entered – wow.

Besides Aquatopia (the 125,000 square foot, two level, indoor water park), Camelback Lodge offers Arcadia Entertainment Center – filled with an indoor ropes/adventure park, “win a ticket” games galore, a paint your own pottery place, a huge candy store, mini-golf, laser tag, and bowling! Yes, all under ONE roof!

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As we headed to the family changing rooms, we past a swim up bar, private rental cabanas with TVs, a lazy river and 7 pools. We didn’t know where to begin!

At only three, I was curious how my son would do and WOW did he love it. Spending the majority of his time at Kartrite Quest, he zoomed down slides big enough for a thrill (and me – to nervously trail behind him!) but not too scary. We went approximately three million times before he conceded to a break in the Penguin Play Bay.

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My daredevil daughter, on the other hand, was ready to climb the stairs to the eight over 48” ride area with the kind of slides a water park enthusiast dreams of (including the Venus Slydetrap, the only slide of its kind in the world)! My personal favorite was the water roller coaster Storm Chaser. I would have gone on a hundred more times if my husband let me. I mean if there was more time…

As the day ended, we quickly showered the kids (so they were bed-transfer ready) and headed out. As we drove off, the little snores we heard – almost immediately – confirmed that we had one heck of a great day.

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Only a two hour-ish drive from Long Island made Camelback a great first stop to my kids becoming the next (enter name of a famous skier here). We will definitely return!

A few tips from The Mint Chip Mama for your fire and ice vacation!

Ski Tips:

  1. Get to the mountain an hour before your lesson to allow for a relaxed equipment rental experience.
  2. Be cool with your kid not liking skiing. Drinking hot chocolate is slated for the 2020 Olympics. Maybe they’ll like it next year.
  3. “Bad ski weather” aka warm, misting rain, etc., is an awesome time for beginners because it keeps the crowds away.
  4. Keep the tags on your new ski stuff so you can return if not used.

Water Park Tips:

  1. Bring 2 sample size bottles of body wash/shampoo so you and your spouse can divide and conquer your post water park wash down.
  2. No need to bring towels, they’re included (yay!).
  3. Bring a plastic bag for wet suits.
  4. Bring a puddle jumper if your kids can’t swim. Although life vests are available, kids can’t wear them on the slides and holding your breathe while your three year old goes down a slide into a shallow pool is a veeeeery long trip. PS – it was fine.

Overall Tips:

  1. Pack separate bags for skiing and the water park; just grab the one you need.
  2. Pack water bottles; refill them every time you have the option.
  3. Pack 10x the snacks you think you’ll need. No, make that 20x.
  4. Bring a chair, oh- just keep one in your trunk. It comes in handy more often than you’d expect.
  5. Never underestimate a powernap to keep your kid and/or husband melt-down free.
  6. Leave your baby home with your mom even if your husband says no. What? Did I say that?img_2790

Kevin Can Wait – Now Mondays at 8pm EST/ 7pm CT on CBS!

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Kevin Can WaitMondays at 8pm EST/7pm CT on CBS stars Kevin James as a newly retired police officer looking forward to spending carefree, quality time with his wife and three kids, only to discover he faces tougher challenges at home than he ever did on the streets.img_0373

Who knew right in my backyard a multi camera sitcom was being taped every week!? In Los Angeles they’re a dime a dozen, in New York City they’re common but on Long Island!? It’s a first!

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When I was invited to visit the set of Kevin Can Wait I couldn’t resist. Besides loving the show it was literally eight minutes away from my house.

The set tour was so cool. Especially, since I’ve never been on a sitcom set before. I loved walking through the “rooms” of a show I watch weekly and recognizing the props from where I saw them last – my living room!

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I was amazed at the level of accuracy and authenticity the set had to the characters. Dressed like in a real family home with three kids, there was non-stop Mets memorabilia, nursing slogan water bottles, and even assembled Magna-Tiles at the base of the stairs juuust like in my house.

While on set we were lucky enough to sit down with the show’s two stars Kevin James and Erinn Hayes and the show’s Executive Producer/Director, Andy Fickman.

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As you can imagine in a group of parent bloggers many questions came up about how the stars themselves parent both their real children (Kevin has 4, Erinn has 2) and their TV children. It was interesting to hear that the TV kids are older than both Erinn’s kids and Kevin’s kids so it’s fun for them because teenagers are unchartered territory.

And yes! Stars are just like us. I loved hearing how Erinn too used to drive around in a plotted out highway route so her kids could nap, while looking for a coffee drive thru. It was also nice to hear that just like our kids – their kids also get carsick and act like nuts!

Here are a few more highlights from our Q& A:

Who are your comedic influenced?

Kevin: Jackie Gleason and John Candy – both big guys.

Erinn: Carol Burnett and Madeline Kahn. Goldie Hawn in Overboard – I just rewatched it recently, it was a Great performance.

(I agree it’s one of my favorites! I like it when she goes Buh Buh Buh Buh – which is how I feel at the end of the day with my three kids!)

How do you like doing a TV show vs. a movie?

Erinn: there’s longevity on TV and only one story in a movie. On a TV show you are exploring the lives of these people and are curious what’s coming. You can add to the characters as the show goes on.

Kevin: in a movie you can’t change the character once it’s over but with TV you can evolve the characters. There’s also a rhythm with a live audience – like with live stand-up comedy. With a movie there is no audience watching, with TV you get an immediate audience reaction.

How do you like filming on Long Island – for a show that takes place in Massapequa?

Kevin: I love filming on Long Island. It brings total authenticity. It’s just a different energy. Plus since this is the first show filmed here it’s like an exciting event. My wife is starting to love Long Island too. We love the change of seasons.

Erinn: I like the change of season too but my family is in Los Angeles so I go back every weekend.

What would you do when you really retire? 

Erinn: I’d love to get a Volkswagen camper and go on little adventures.

Kevin: I have no end in sight. I love what I do.

Erinn: Me too!

Favorite places to eat on Long Island?

Kevin: Robkes, All American Burger, Umberto’s, Chris & Tony’s.

Erin – I was so shocked that strip malls have great food!

How does your Mets fan pride carry through? 

Kevin: Before every show we sing “Meet the Mets” with the audience. We also have some players making cameos.

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So what is the big thing “Kevin Can Wait” for?

For his retirement plans! You think life will go one way but it goes another. As Kevin (James) said – Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

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Now, isn’t that the truth…

Check out this week’s episode – Hallow-We-Ain’t-Home” on Monday, October 31st at 8PM – CBS. On Halloween, Kevin and Donna’s neighbors “trick” them in holiday style when they pretend not to be home to avoid giving out candy. Also, Chale has an altercation with a man dressed as a Viking (Noah Syndergaard).

Follow Kevin Can Wait on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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They spelled my name wrong – but they gave me a Gyro Bowl (Inside joke from the pilot episode)!

 

Dutch Wonderland – A Fantastic Family Destination!

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Hear Ye Hear Ye.

If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway, look no further than Dutch Wonderland.

While the water rides are hibernating for the season, the dry rides & shows are plentiful and festivals are non-stop!

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Few things are a young family’s rite of passage like a road trip to an amusement park. So as a new family of five we decided to give it a go. We strategically planned our visit to Lancaster, PA in early September before our school started – but while most others were already in session. Off peak, off peak, off peak.

I should note I have been DYING to go to Dutch Wonderland for (give or take) thirty five years. As a child my parents and I frequented Amish country but as my Dad says “It was raining every time we tried to go”.

Uh..huh…

While I won’t say I specifically remember sun…. I’ll just say I never got to go – but I passed those castle gates many a time with my hand outstretched towards them and a tear in my eye.

Alas…

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I vowed that one day, one day (!) my kids would get to walk through those castle gates. That day, people, was September 1st, 2016.

With three kids – six and a half, almost three, and three months we thought this was the perfect time to visit. I have to say – we were right!

The park is large in attractions but not overwhelming. While you could go on all the rides in one day the best offer around is to take advantage of the evening preview the night before. For us – with the earlier closing hour of 6pm – this was perfect. We arrived at 3pm and knocked out all of the “bigger” rides we knew would have lines the next day. I loved the preview not only for the efficient (and complimentary) aspect of it but also so I could plan our full day there with some knowledge of the park layout from my own eyes vs. the online map.

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My daughter loved the “bigger” rides but equally loved the smaller rides she could go on with her little brother. The rides were a bit edgier than our local amusement park so she was super excited. My son loved driving the cars and the train. I liked the “sitting and recharging” rides – read: train, monorail, and boat ride. As a parent – shade plus sitting is always a big, big win. The baby was excited for the new “Nursing Station”. But truthfully, I found the whole park nursing friendly with benches located all around.

While the summer months (Memorial Day – Labor Day) are a great time to visit Dutch Wonderland to take advantage of Duke’s Lagoon, the Fall and Winter months are a killer time to go as well. Rides in jeans and a t-shirt vs. tank tops and sweat? Sign me up.

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The 2016 season is still going strong. In the Fall there is Happy Hauntings (Saturdays and Sundays through October 30th) featuring themed rides, special entertainment, tasty treats, and the Trick-or-Treat Trail (a safe, interactive trick-or-treating experience).

If you’re looking for a party – check out the Spook-tacular Halloween Bash (Saturday and Sunday October 29th and 30th) featuring music, dancing and more.

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In the winter – on select dates from November 19th to December 30th you can check out the Dutch Winter Wonderland with rides, entertainment, and the Royal Light Show – a spectacular display of thousands of twinkling lights dancing to your favorite holiday tunes!

Want to do good and receive a complimentary ticket to Dutch Winter Wonderland!? Well head there on November 19th, 2016 between 3:00pm and 9:00pm (the grand opening evening of Dutch Winter Wonderland) with a new, unwrapped toy. Children under the age of 12 will receive one complimentary admission in exchange for each donation to the Toys for Tots Foundation toy drive.

As frequent visitors to our local amusement park – which has the same number of rides packed in to half the acreage – it was absolutely delightful to spend a day at Dutch Wonderland. Not only were there tons of rides and games, special treats like Dole Whip Junction and Funnel cake, a few Dutch education stations (my kids were really into these), shows, and characters – there were also lots of fun “stick your face in the picture” thingies which we all love.

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So at 38 I can say my dream came true. I finally got to enter those big castle gates, walk over the drawbridge – naturally surrounded by a moat – and see the amazing place that is Dutch Wonderland. We had such a great time. The park wasn’t big enough to be stressful, but was big enough to fill our day and leave us wanting to return.  There were plenty of places to eat, rest, play, and enjoy. Dutch Wonderland’s location offered many fun resorts and restaurants within a ten minute drive and there was more to do in the area than we had days to be there. Just a fantastic weekend all around.

Go. Enjoy.

Think of me when you’re eating that Dole Whip!

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Mr. Popper’s Penuins at The Victory Theater

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@Popper_Penguins #loveoftheater @NewVictory 

Tonight I was lucky enough to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins at The New Victory Theater. It was fantastic! Or should I say fin-tactic!? 

flap-tactic? 

flip-tastic? 

Ok, I’ll stop. 

I’ve seen a lot of kids shows and I usually play along and like them for my kids but this was different. It was legit adorable and funny. 

We didn’t know the story beforehand so we didn’t know what to expect. Not only were the four actors who played multiple characters (including ten penguins) great but they carried the story though flawlessly (and with delightful British accents). 

Photo Credit: Helen Murray

Our favorite scene was when Mrs. Popper relented to becoming a penguin foster mom and sang a list of rules to her new Captain Cook. Why was it our favorite? Because my daughter turned to me afterwards and told me I had the same list of rules for her! Ha! 

Special things kept us engaged like “snow” falling and the hilarious penguin “puppeteers”. Plus as a huge fan of British comedies, I loved the circular rotation of “new” characters coming out with different accent. 

Photo Credit: Helen Murray

But the best was at the end when the entire audience was invited to stand up and join in the “show” and waddle like a penguin (I’m a sucker for audience participation!). 

The show was wonderful but the whole experience at The New Victory Theater was great. Including that they handed out booster seats as we walked in (perfect for me – a serial booster forgetter). But even better – they had a whole “come early & stay late” room downstairs dedicated to crafts and activities for ticket holders – free of charge – before and after the show. Plus the usher was totally into it and got my daughter into it too! 

If you’re looking for a family friendly show – please check out Mr. Popper’s Penguins. While the age listed says 4-7 I think a younger kid would love it (I’m bummed I didn’t bring my 3 year old son too) and an older kid would appreciate it. My six and a half year old daughter LOVED it. She said a few times on the way home she thought she’d like it but she loved it!

Mr. Popper’s Penguins has a run time of 55 minutes and is playing at The New Victory Theater through October 30, 2016. Tickets start at $25. There is an autism friendly show October 29th. For more information or to order tickets check out their website

GB Pockit Stroller – The Smallest Stroller in the World!

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#gbpockit

Are you sitting down? I’m about to introduce you to the world’s smallest stroller. According to me? Nope – according to the Guinness Book of World Records!

Believe me now?

Get ready – I’m about to solve all your strollin’ problems.

I came across the gb Pockit stroller at this year’s New York Baby Show. It literally stopped me in my tracks. The gb Pockit is not only tiny it’s so small it folds up to fit in a bag, backpack, on the floor under your car seat, even – wait for it – in your infant car seat stroller base! Yes, that’s right people; I just said THIS stroller fits in the base of another stroller.

Digest that for a moment.

Yes. It goes there.

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Got a baby and a two year old runner?

Because I do!

Do you venture out on the weekends never knowing if it’s worth bringing a stroller?

Because I do!

Do you use a carrier but then suffer from carrier remorse because you should have brought a stroller?

Because I do!

Do you hate leaving your stroller at a museum or zoo’s compulsory “leave your stroller here” zone?

Because I do!

The answer is the gb Pockit.

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This amazing small stroller arrived in an equally small box. Inside the small box I found an even smaller stroller. Like Russian dolls it got better and better. I opened it up and Bam! A full size stroller!

Now you’re probably wondering if it feels like pushing one of those $10 cheap-o strollers in the “this is the least annoying and smallest stroller I can find” category, but no – quite the opposite! It feels like a good, sturdy, strong, smooth stroller. Actually – it feels even better than my current stroller.

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Then the real test came – our first road trip as a family of five. I packed the usual – half of my snack cabinet, something in case it is cold, hot, warm, dry, wet, sunny, rainy, plus the quick 300 other things I needed.

For three kids.

You’re laughing… you get it… (even if your husband doesn’t).

In went the car seat stroller base and without even a blink – in went my brand new gb Pockit. My friend was over, we were both dumbfounded. Yes we were that excited about this stroller.

You may have noticed sometimes a child resists going in their stroller? Have you noticed this? It’s usually accompanied by a very calm, quiet declaration refusing to go in it. Usually followed by you taking three deep breathes like the experts tell you to do (wink) – relenting, and letting them walk – while you trail pushing an empty stroller and muttering “well at least it can hold my stuff”.

But not with this stroller.

Bam!

Throw it in your bag, carry it on your back, heck – throw it in a locker! It is that convenient. Let the little monster – er – delight – walk.

Oh, monster, you’re suddenly tired and need a nap? I didn’t see that coming.

Bam!

gb Pockit to the rescue – out of my bag, on to the floor. It even has an adjustable rectangular sunshade.

Do you have older kids? Are you traveling and debating a double stroller vs. two umbrella strollers in case your older one needs a rest?

Bam!

The gb Pockit fits under your other stroller! I know. It’s amazing. Speaking of travel – the gb Pockit fits under an airline seat. There’s even room for eight thousand snack bags and the “good” cup you better not leave on the plane.

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The ultra compact gb Pockit is not just a pretty face, it also has a height-adjustable 5-point harness, removable and washable seat fabric, a storage basket that holds up to 11 lbs, locking swivel front wheels, a one-touch rear brake, fits children from six months to 55 pounds, and self-stands when folded. It weighs 9.5 pounds and has the folded dimensions of 12” long x 7” wide x 14” high. It retails for $249.99 on Amazon.

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I’m so happy I learned about this stroller. As my family (and car) gets bigger, my trunk space seems to get smaller and filled with more ready-for-Armageddon stuff (see above).

The gb Pockit solves the problem I’m sure you – like me – have of never wanting to be without an umbrella stroller yet not wanting to give up that precious trunk real estate. Just know that the gb Pockit takes up less space than the perpetual bag of stuff you’re trying to return (I know, I have one too).

If you are in the market for a new stroller or are at a stroller crossroads, you have to check out the gb Pockit. It will fit (pun intended) perfectly into your life.

Nursing 9 to 5, What a Way to Make a Human. DAY 4 OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: Glamourmom

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Another absolute “must have” in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month – the Glamourmom Nursing Tank! After six years and hundreds of wears it still looks & feels brand new.

The Mint Chip Mama

Day 4 of My Favorite Things: Glamourmom

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@GlamourmomTanksFacebook

August is “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” and August 1st-7th is slated as “World Breastfeeding Week”. Given my love for nursing I would be remiss not to include all of my favorite breastfeeding paraphernalia in my “Favorite Things” series. I have been lucky enough to have nursed for an extended time and to currently be nursing. So this is a topic near and dear to my heart (quite literally!).  Forget saying these are breastfeeding “accessories”. In my world – these are breastfeed NEcessities. The first of which is my beloved, beloved Glamourmom® Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top.

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The Mint Chip Mama in her navy Glamourmom® Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top.

Photo credit: My mom

I learned about Glamourmom through Big City Moms back in 2009 when I was pregnant…

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