Disclosure: As an Affiliate Blogger for Busch Gardens Virginia through Mom Central I received complimentary tickets for my family but was not otherwise compensated. Opinions are my own.

Roman Rapids Ride

Roman Rapids Ride

As I write this post, I think I want to begin at the end. Because one of the last things the kids did together was so fun for me to watch and it just summed up the reason I wanted to go to Busch Gardens in the first place ~

I wanted to get as many of my kids as possible together and do something memorable and super fun. To get outside together without having to make a ton of plans, just to BE. As all my kids grow up, go to college, and begin their own families, time together becomes more and more precious and it is harder to get everyone together than in past years, for sure…

I have to say, my most favorite moment of the day was watching (almost) all my kids, including my daughters’ boyfriend and my daughter in law, go down the river on the Roman Rapids Ride. I stood there and wondered how time had gone by so quickly. I loved seeing how much fun they were having together…I heard them taking care of each other, and a little bit of teasing, but not much. It’s every moms dream to see your kids having this much fun together, don’t you think? Take a look for yourself:

While my kids may remember Griffon, Verbolten or Alpengeist more, I know I’ll never forget watching them from the bank as they laughed their way down the river. Seriously, right then, I was so glad Busch Gardens existed, that it was nice and that the kids all made it that day.

So now you know how I felt about the day and the park already! But anyway, the day began way earlier as we live a few hours away from Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We took two cars and met up at the park. My daughter made one stop on the way:

On the way to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

On the way to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Once we all arrived, beginning with the tram ride to the entrance, I found the park facilities to be wonderfully clean, with the grounds so well kept and the staff very friendly. Honestly, the park has the feeling of being well run, overall.

The kids at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

The kids at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

We stayed together mostly as a big group, although we had the roller coaster riders…and the non roller coaster riders! But that worked out because we needed someone to hold bags! Note: the lockers are good, but most people still want to keep phones, wallet, a few little items with them. I would consider wearing a non-lame fanny pack next time. I did get some of the Cashless wristbands, one less thing to carry and my youngest thought it was fantastic.

So, after looking at our park maps and checking the show times, (you can also use the Busch Gardens Discovery Guide App), we had a rough plan and started riding! My son Nick wore a Go Pro camera and filmed a bunch of the coasters, which was neat to see. Park regulations permit go pros with the chest straps.

Loch Ness roller coaster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Loch Ness roller coaster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg

As my kids are older, we skipped most of the little kid areas, like the KIDsiderate Attractions, which moms of younger kids should check out. (We did last year) We hit all the coasters! Here is a Nick Go Pro Video of Verbolten, I was laughing so hard listening to this one:

And here’s Griffon:

See more of Nick’s park videos on my youtube channel!

After a bunch of intense rides, we took a little detour to chill out, get some water and decide on lunch. We saw the Clydesdales, the grey wolves, the hawks…as a homeschool mom, I am very interested in all their nature and conservation programs (but I’ll save that for another post!).

Petting Clydesdale at Highland Stables

Petting Clydesdale at Highland Stables

After some more wandering, we ended up eating while watching the Entwined: Tales of Good and Grimm show. This was a great decision, because the show was a trip, everyone ate a solid meal and got to relax. Nick got a chicken and barbeque plate that was very good. Note: I see you can pre-purchase meal deals  with a discount. I think I would do this next time. We hung out in Germany for awhile and checked out some shops and enjoyed the carousel and bumper cars.

Visiting the fountain at Busch Gardens Germany

Visiting the fountain at Busch Gardens Germany

Big brother and little sister Carousel Ride at Busch Gardens #99daysofsummerfun

Big brother and little sister Carousel Ride at Busch Gardens #99daysofsummerfun

My daughter and her boyfriend wandered off to ride some more rides and then they had a portrait done! The portrait is adorable and I know she loves it, great job Gwen!

Busch Gardens Portrait Artist

Portrait done by Portrait artist, Gwen

Then, there was more riding and laughing… and mom NOT doing anything but having fun also!

I have to say, it was an intense day! so much fun and just one day:) We had to leave a lot undone, but we all got to do most of the things we had wanted to.

The day was nearly over by now, but we were able to see the London Rocks Show, which was a very entertaining musical show with great technology as well, loads of classic British rock woven into a story and a few 3D surprises…shhh!

London Rocks

London Rocks Show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

All in all, it was a fantastic day. You can tell by all the smiles:

my kids at Busch Gardens

My Eldest and his gorgeous wife enjoying family time at the park

All this fun and time together and no one had to make anything or do anything… I think I will start a tradition where our whole family has to meet and do this at least once a year. This year, Busch Gardens is having #99daysofsummerfun, and I like that idea:)

So whether you are a family full of littles needing to burn off energy or have a house full of teenagers, Busch Gardens is a great way to get outside easily and have some fun together. They have special shows and events throughout the summer, and a few other special events throughout the year. You can purchase an annual pass or Fun card. There are other online deals for shorter time periods, as well as plenty of information about the park on their website.

Check out Busch Gardens Williamsburg:

Busch Gardens

facebook.com/BuschGardens

twitter.com/buschgardensva

Instagram.com/buschgardensva

 

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

Heather —  December 4, 2013

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

This is a simple recipe, yet the resulting chutney is so full of flavor and colorful!

Enjoy!

Nan’s Christmas Cranberry Chutney

2 cups fresh cranberries

2 cups sugar

3 Tbls. water

1 apple, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped (I slice very fine in cuisinart)

1 Tbls. orange rind

1 cup orange juice

1 cup raisins (use golden)

1.2 teas. ground ginger

1/4 teas. ground cloves

cook cranberries, sugar and water for 5 minutes over medium heat. Then add all ingredients and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Let cool. As this cools, it will thicken. You will get about 3 cups of chutney.

Cranberry Chutney

This goes very well with ham. Place into jelly jars and share with friends and family!

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC, or the manufacturer of the product.

 weight management aid #shop

Recently, through a review with Moms Meet, I began taking Calorease. This is a stimulant free, weight management aid. I thought it sounded worth trying out, because it was stimulant free, and naturally sourced and didn’t contain anything that seemed like it could hurt my body.

Calorease is not a special diet, but exactly what is says, a weight aid. You eat normally (hopefully well) and exercise as usual for best results. But prior to each time you eat, you take two of the capsules. The active ingredient FBCx binds and eliminates up to 9 times its weight in dietary fat, reducing up to 500 calories a day from the fat in foods.

When I began using the Calorease in September, I was bad about remembering to take it before each meal. I was often going to “save” it for meals that I felt contained a bunch of fat. After about a week, I was better about remembering to just go ahead and take it.

After a bit, I noticed that they improved my regularity, and overall I lost about 5 pounds without changing my habits in any other way. One additional side effect was that I became more thoughtful again about my habits and felt more powerful about making more healthy eating changes.

They have blister pouches providing 1 serving (2 tablets) so it’s easy to take with you. A 90-tablet pack of Calorease retails for $29.99. It is available at GNC and also online.

Want a 50% discount?  Pay only $14.99 for a 90-tablet pack. Visit calorease.com/buy and enter code 4MOMS.

See calorease.com to see a video of how it works, and the research behind it. #momsmeet

You can stay updated on the latest offers and promos on Facebook.com/calorease, and find them online here:

I loved this and had to share!

From Antarctica to Florida, 93 Wildlife Projects Receive More Than $1.2 Million from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund

— Fund Surpasses $10 Million in Giving in 10 Years —

Orlando, Fla. (October 10, 2013) – Wild animals in need around the world – from Antarctic penguins to sea turtles hatchlings on Florida’s beaches – will benefit from more than $1.2 million in grants awarded this year by the non-profit SeaWorld® & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund. Ninety-three wildlife research, habitat protection, animal rescue and conservation education projects will receive the grants.

These grants will support researchers studying migration movements of Antarctic penguin species, provide safer passage for turtle hatchlings making their way from the nest to the water, and help monitor the long-term health of dolphins in one of Florida’s vital eco-systems.

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Fund has given more than $10 million in grants to protect wildlife and wild places.

Additionally, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens provide direct support to the Fund by placing zoological staff into the field to work alongside researchers on projects supported by the Fund.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ provides all administrative and development costs as well as staffing and infrastructure. Because of this, 100 percent of donations go to on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts.

Just a few of the wildlife projects and organizations the funds will help include:

Tracking Penguin Migrations – Where do penguins go for the winter? Researchers with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are using geolocation (GLS) tagging and stable isotope studies to identify the winter diets and migration movements of Adelie and chinstrap penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula. The data will be of critical importance in defining future management priorities for these species.

Sea Turtle Lighting Project – Lights on turtle nesting beaches can disorient turtle hatchlings and lead them away from the ocean. To help make a safer passage, Sea to Shore Alliance has created a method of measuring, mapping, and recording beach lighting levels. This data enables wildlife managers to quickly and easily compare, observe and locate areas with excessive beach lighting. By identifying these illumination “hotspots” managers can better protect sea turtle hatchlings.

Long-term Monitoring of Dolphins – The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is conducting a long-term study to monitor the abundance, population and habitat structure of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that inhabit Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. The data being collected will help to make animal management decisions and better evaluate risks facing this species.

“No animal is immune to the threats that face wildlife today,” said Brad Andrews, President and Executive Director of theSeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and Chief Zoological Officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “The on-the-ground work from researchers, animal rehabilitators and educators is vital to help our planet’s animal inhabitants not only survive, but thrive.”

For more information on the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund visit

www.swbg-conservationfund.org or visit the Fund on Facebook.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. All opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric

CrossKeys Winery, #shop

We found a great way to save money on our phone bill with the Walmart Family Mobile cell phone plan powered by T-Mobile.

What did we do with the savings? We shored up our marriage!

We did. We used the savings to treat ourselves to a CrossKeys Winery tour.

Chris and I at Winery Tasting #shop

We did a tasting, followed by a tour of the Vineyards

Lunch at winery #shop

The cheese platter was a nice perk from the Groupon I got:)

 

Lunch at winery #shop

It was a gorgeous, late Summer day full of sun. We had a blast

After a fantastic afternoon, we even went and saw the “World’s End” at the movies. We had so much fun! If you saw that movie, I have to ask, “How adorable is Andy, people”??

While it was no surprise I love a good Pinot Noir, I found out my husband likes the CrossKeys Cabernet Franc. For a couple with six children, to have a quiet day after seeing one son off to college, one son off to the Marines and one son moving to NYC…well… a quiet day, with wine and a movie, is like a dream.

Winery side view #shop

I was thrilled to offer this trip to my husband as his early birthday gift. I showed him how we saved money while sending Nick off to college, when we chose this cheap wireless plan.

Nick gets unlimited data. This is awesome. Just this month, we saved $60 and did not have to share our 2GB of data we get on our other plan. My husband is looking at switching our whole family over to this plan as soon as we can because we would save almost 50% on our cell phone bill.

Nick is also able to handle his billing and service at the online account management and information site at https://www.myfamilymobile.com/. This works really well. I like it also because I can log on and see his usage and help with his bill. (You can pay in other ways too, but I like the online billing view, it makes it easy for me to keep up with what my family needs.)

I also like it that as a parent, you have some control over the phone because they have a “Limits and Controls” page. I do not set this for Nick, as he is old enough that I would not do this. BUT, I would LOVE to use this system for my two younger daughters! I have tried some net download type protections on their phones under our current service and it never works right. For this Walmart family plan, the limits and controls are simple and do work (Nick tested it for me). You can block adult content, block certain callers, and even set restrictions on when phones can be used. This is an amazing option.

Seriously, don’t pay too much for your service! Take a look at the Walmart Family Mobile plan.

Read what others think at #FamilyMobileSaves and  #cbias We got the $25 one time starter kit and chose the $39.88 /month unlimited plan with talk, text and web. You can take a look at our shopping trip in my Google+ album.and my first post about this service: http://faithfamilyandfun.com/want-the-best-wireless-save-money-with-walmart-family-mobile/

Save some money and have some fun with your savings! #FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias

I And The Great Divide

Heather —  September 4, 2013

 bridge

NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK, “I AND THE GREAT DIVIDE” SPARKS FAMILY CONVERSATION ON DIVORCE

Launches September 12th, 2013

I just wanted to share about this upcoming release; the book looks adorable and will certainly be useful to children dealing with divorce. The concept is genius and the artwork is quite well done. Take a look for yourself!

“I and the Great Divide” is an illustrated children’s book, designed to leave kids in divorce feeling loved, peaceful, and self-expressed. Both print and kindle copies will be available for purchase at Amazon on September 12th, 2013.

The book has received great feedback from across North America.

“We all are capable of making a difference in the life of a child… ‘I and the Great Divide’ … takes this truth into thechallenges a child may face with the separation of parents. [A situation] that needs to be handled with this level of care, sensitivity and understanding. Well done.”

Fred Penner, Family Entertainer

Author, Fiona McGlynn wrote the book with her own parent’s divorce in mind. “As a child, I blamed myself for what was going on between my parents. I wrote “i and the Great Divide” to help kids feel loved and to create an open family discussion on divorce.”

The book will be available for $12.99 at Amazon and for $7.99 on Kindle.

Check out the book trailer, book sample, and author bios at the “I and The Great Divide” website

For the latest updates, see Facebook pageGoogle+ page, or follow the author on twitter.”

Show us your OMGuac Lunch!

Heather —  August 20, 2013

Wholly Guacamole Creative Lunch Contest

You could win $100 gift card and FREE Wholly Guacamole® dip!

I love using Wholly Guacamole® in my kids lunches with the little packs. But now, even I am feeling extra creative after seeing the lunch ideas the people at Wholly Guacamole® have come up with!

I think this website and contest are fun and full of healthy ideas, so I’m proud to share:

“The Wholly Guacamole® brand wants to help you make lunch for you and your kids OMGuac-tastic!  After all, Wholly Guacamole is the Offical sponsor of the OMGuac Lunch!

Stop by eatwholly.com/omg for some great ideas, a coupon and a chance to win $100 gift card with FREE Wholly Guacamole products! Three winners are chosen weekly through Sept. 27.

The One Lunch, Two Ways gives you inspiration on how to create two completely different lunches with most of the same ingredients! Take a look and print out the shopping list for your favorite ideas. 

Wholly Guacamole One Lunch 2 ways

This is a great resource for healthy  & fun lunch ideas!

  • Get OMGuac Lunch inspiration and shopping lists to print
  • Watch fun videos to help break out of the boring lunch mode
  • Print your $1.00 coupon good for anyWholly™ product
  • Enter your OMGuac lunch photo for a chance to win $100 and FREE Wholly Guacamole products”

Go check out OMGuac Your Lunch! and make some fantastic lunches!

#FamilyMobileSaves

find inexpensive, unlimited service and a smartphone with the lowest rate plan w/no contract.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. All opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric

In this busy media age, communication is essential. With our large family, with some kids in college, keeping in close communication means spending money on phone plans!

With Nick going off to college last week, we needed to find a cheap wireless plan with a smartphone, with unlimited plans. We heard we could save money with Walmart Family Mobile powered by T-Mobile.

I was glad to hear that Walmart Family Mobile had a new smartphone line-up and rollback pricing. In the past, my three boys have always been very self-reliant and thoughtful about paying for their own smartphones and they found no-contract plans. Yet, they were still paying quite a bit and have very specific limitations for each plan type. Nick really needed a more affordable plan.

My husband did purchase a contract plan. It is expensive. We have my husband, myself and one daughter on this Verizon plan. Each month we pay around $195 for a plan that allows our three smartphones to have unlimited calls and texts to any phone on any network, but we get only 2GB of shared data.  Here’s the cost breakdown:

  • first smartphone line         $50
  • second smartphone line    $40
  • third smartphone line        $40
  • 2GB shared data              $60

I really wanted to add Nick to this plan so he could focus on his studies, but it would be so expensive.  We would have had to add another line ($40) and look at increasing our shared data package to 4GB ($70/month versus $60/month).  This would have sent us way over $200+ per month just for four phones.

So we went to Walmart in the hopes that we really would find Nick a deal.

phone plans at Walmart

We saw lots of other no contract plans, but moved on to the #FamilyMobileSaves plan

When we found the display on the Walmart Family Mobile Service, we saw a range of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S4® and the iPhone. They had tons of options. I was surprised. They also had plenty of rollback pricing signs.

#FamilyMobileSaves #shop

We found the Walmart Family Mobile section and saw many phones available to use for that plan.

You can take a look at more pictures of our shopping trip in my Google+ album.

To use the Walmart Family Mobile plan, we saw we would need a starter kit, and the service (no contract, will be billed monthly, no penalties). We got the $25 one time starter kit and chose the $39.88 /month unlimited plan with talk, text and web.

In looking at everything, we saw we could buy any one of the available phones, or we could use a phone you already have. You would need a GSM phone that you could unlock (one with a SIM card).

We found a myTouch phone for a super reasonable price of $129.88 on rollback.

#FamilyMobileSaves #shop

We purchased this phone and Nick is very happy with the quality of the myTouch. I was disappointed in the camera on this phone, because I like to ooVoo him at school and the camera is not fantastic, but it does work, and he had no complaints. Nick mentioned he was able to get all his favorite apps. For the price, this is a great option.

At first, I was only concerned about Nick’s phone, but I saw that the Walmart Famile Mobile Plan can include up to five lines, and each additional line is cheaper. Here is the breakdown:

  • First smartphone line- either $39.88 unlimited talk, text and web or $29.88 unlimited talk and text.
  • All additional lines- $34.88 unlimited talk, text and web, $24.88 unlimited talk and text.

You can mix and match which type of service plan you want, for example, I could add a line for my youngest daughter with just talk and text.

We needed no contract, no credit check, and there can be no overage. The service is postpaid and is billed monthly. We are on the T-Mobile National Network with 3G, which has very good coverage in both our local town and in Nick’s university town of Lynchburg, Virginia.

It was very easy to activate the phone.

#FamilyMobileSaves #shop

Nick activates phone online, quickly easily.

You can get it done at Walmart by the employees or do it by phone or online. Nick set his up at the online account management and information site at https://www.myfamilymobile.com/ in less than five minutes and was able to choose a phone number with his college area code, which made him very happy.

We really did find inexpensive, unlimited service and a smartphone with the lowest rate plan I have seen with no contract. I called Nick last night and he says the phone is working well and he is not having any issues with his phone service. Yay! #FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias

Are you trying to save money on all the back to school needs? Walmart Family Mobile is featured in the Live SoFab Back to School Digital Magazine!

AsFeaturedInBTSLiveSoFab

Take a peek to see this and more money saving ideas.