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Disclosure: As an Affiliate Blogger for Busch Gardens Virginia through Mom Central I received an invitation to a Christmas Town Preview Event. Opinions are my own.

Christmas Town Busch Gardens

Well, I haven’t fully decided on our Thanksgiving menu for this year yet, but I am definitely in a much merrier mood after visiting Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™ for a Preview Event!

Nothing lifts my spirits more in Winter than gorgeous sparkling lights, hot cocoa, and beautiful Christmas music. We began our evening at the Christmas Town Lighting Ceremony with the O’Tannenbaum Tree in front of Das Festhaus. A collective roar of approval went through the crowd at the lighting of 8 million Christmas lights and I am so glad we were there.

Shortly after the tree lighting, it began to get dark and the park really took on a festive and magical appearance.

Christmas Town Lights

I honestly enjoyed the lighting throughout the park the most overall.

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My daughter was delighted with the refillable hot cocoa mugs, the rides and the fun of running around after dark in winter weather. While obviously not all the rides are open, many are and I loved seeing the England Skyride cars going across the sky rimmed with lights.

As I was cold (definitely dress warmly this year!), I ended up wandering through many of the shops. I got a beautiful mistletoe ornament in the England Christmas Towne Shoppe, and walked outside to find “snow” falling. Just beautiful. My kids were enjoying the firepit with peppermint hot chocolates.

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Personally, I thought the lights at the Polar Pathway in Italy were the most amazing.

Polar Pathway #ChristmasTown

I also loved the Peace on Earth theme reflected in so many lights in Italy.

Peace on Earth Lighting #ChristmasTown

 

We wandered around just enjoying all the lighting, heading towards Castle O’ Sullivan in Ireland for a Dinner at Santa’s Fireside Feast.While this was especially for my youngest, we all enjoyed the show and got to visit with Santa Claus, have cookies served by Mrs. Claus and watch the jolly elves. A fun experience overall.

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Meeting Mrs. Claus at Santa's Fireside Feast

After dinner, we discussed which show to see, with choices like the Scrooge No More, Miracles and Gloria. We peeked in at the Deck the Halls performance in Das Festhaus. At that point, my daughter learned there were live penguins over in the Ice Palace, so shows were put on hold and we continued our journey around the park.

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All too soon, it was closing time. As usual, we did not get to do everything available! I need to go back and see more of the live shows, which all sounded wonderful. As a southern girl, I just wish it would stay about 50 degrees for me, but nevertheless, I would go back. I think this is a fantastic holiday tradition for families and yet again, I found all the employees very kind, the park clean and the festivities and shows family friendly.

Take a look at the Christmas Town website to plan your trip, Christmas town runs through December 31, 2014. And yes, your kids will be tired out from having so much fun!

Sleepy after Christmas Town

As an aside, I’d also like to share that I got to try out Photokey. Photokey is a new program they are offering at the park. Using Photokey, you can visit places inside the park, take digital pictures that are then available online for you to access and print, even create gifts.

I had some trouble with my photokey, because of a problem with my password. I was really upset, but it was my error. Luckily, they figured out the issue and I was able to get some great shots. I love the idea of owning all my photos. We were able to get some beautiful photos of my daughter with Santa Claus and now I can turn these into ornaments for grandparents! I do recommend looking into the Photokey service.

Here are a few of my favorite spots with Photokey locations in the park:

  • Highland Stables (Scotland)
  • Christmas Carriage (Big Ben in England)
  • O Tannenbaum (Oktoberfest)
  • Polar Pictures (Polar Pathway in Italy)

Visit Christmas Town for Christmas Town details, and to watch for specials – I have seen a few already. I so want to go back with all my family! To see more pictures check out #ChristmasTown, or @BuschGardensVA on Twitter and Instagram. The official Facebook page is:www.facebook.com/buschgardens.

You can also download the Busch Gardens mobile app, it is available on the iTunes and Google Play store. Play a new scavenger hunt in the app, while you are enjoying Christmas Town:)

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

 

Polly Pockets Fun

Heather —  July 5, 2013
Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Polly Pocket. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”* #Sponsored #MC

Looking for a treat for a little girl this Summer? Look below for a great sale price on Polly Pocket Dolls and Sets!

These are always imaginative and fun for my kids. The little portable ones make it easy to bring dolls along on errands and the bigger sets seem to keep them entertained for hours.

The latest playsets can be used for play and décor! Just apply to a playroom or bedroom wall and the kids can play right there, which is adorable looking and also they get to leave their toys out!

I encourage you to check out the newest Polly Pocket Sets. If you want to buy one from my Amazon Social Store on this review, Just click below:

Through Sunday, July 7th, the Polly Pocket items promoted on my store have been discounted at LEAST to the following:

  • Polly Pocket Zip ‘N Splash Playset: Previously: $17.99 Now: $15.95
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Tree House Playset: Previously: $19.99 Now: $11.99
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Ultimate All-in-One Playset: Previously $74.99 Now: $47.99

This discount is only available for a limited time and is a great sale!

Emma playing with Zipline Adventure Polly Pockets

Emma playing with Zipline Adventure Polly Pockets

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Polly Pocket. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”*

We have had Polly Pockets dolls around our home for over 10 years now! My older daughter loved the Polly dolls when they were new and spent hours setting up her dolls with the little teeny outfits.

Over time, the Polly Pocket sets have grown and we still have a bunch of Polly sets. They are always imaginative and fun for my kids. The little portable ones make it easy to bring dolls along on errands and the bigger sets seem to keep them entertained for hours.

The newest Polly Pocket sets even surprised me. First of all, they now have Polly dolls that can change color in water temperature and the sets are more adventurous in nature, like the Zip ‘N Splash playset we got to check out.

Polly Pocket zip and splash playset

Polly Pocket Zip ‘N Splash playset is great for bath time

On top of that, the latest Wall Party sets can be used for play and décor!

Seriously, this is a GENIUS idea. I always say, the “floor is not a shelf,” and my kids laugh and pick up their toys (or fuss and pick up their toys). But the latest sets from Polly Pocket can be applied to a playroom or bedroom wall and the kids can play right there, which is adorable looking and also, they get to leave their toys out! My daughter loves these and I think they look really cute in her room.

Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

Emma setting up Wall Party Polly Pocket playset

I really only share things I like and I think these are fun. They are just plain fun and do encourage imaginative play. Plus, this wall décor idea is really new and entertaining, I think.

Need some toys for a car ride, birthday gifts or presents for your daughters, granddaughters or neices? I always seem to and I get to give you a DISCOUNT!

I encourage you to check out the newest Polly Pocket Sets. If you want to buy one from my Amazon Social Store on this review, it should be really easy. Let me know if you have any trouble.

Just click on this link:

 

Through Sunday, July 7th, the Polly Pocket items promoted on my store have been discounted to the following:

  • Polly Pocket Zip ‘N Splash Playset: Previously: $17.99 Now: $15.95
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Tree House Playset: Previously: $19.99 Now: $11.99
  • Polly Pocket Wall Party Ultimate All-in-One Playset: Previously $74.99 Now: $47.99

I have seen that these prices may go even lower – click that store link to see. Right now, the Zip ‘N Splash is showing under $10. That is a great price. This discount is only available for a limited time and seems like a great sale!

Ick! I absolutely hate the fact that I get cold sores. Over time, I have learned that I have all kinds of triggers. For example, I tend to get them when I am tired and stressed out or sick, sometimes even just because the weather is bad or I get too much sun.

I am usually on alert for cold sores in winter. I can feel a little tingling and shortly after get that awful little sore. Left untreated it can be miserable and last for about two weeks.

I do use Abreva® and I have found that when I first feel that teeny tingle on my lip, that if I put Abreva® on right away, I can often stop a full blown cold sore from forming. If I am out of Abreva®  and wait a day or so, I will still get a bit cold sore, although the Abreva® can speed up the time it takes to heal. Sometimes, like for Holiday parties, that is super helpful.

Did you know that Abreva® is the only over-the-counter medication approved by the FDA that is proven to shorten healing time of a cold sore?

I do think Abreva®  is a good thing to stock in your medicine cabinet. Find out more about cold sore medicine here on the Abreva®  website.

What exactly IS a cold sore? Here is some information from Abreva® :

  • “A cold sore is a blister that forms on or around the lips and is usually caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1).[i] HSV-1 usually affects the lips or mouth but can spread to the eyes or genitals.[ii]
  • Most cold sore sufferers aren’t exactly sure when they first encountered the virus because HSV-1 is usually contracted early in childhood. [iii]
  • While it’s likely that up to 90% of adults have been infected by the cold sore virus, not everyone gets cold sore outbreaks.8 Actually, only 20%-40% of people will experience cold sores.8
  • About 80 millionAmericans suffer from cold sores, which can be unsightly and sometimes painful.[iv]
  • If left untreated a cold sore typically goes through 5 stages during its 7-10 day course, and sometimes it can hang around up to 2 weeks.[v]

You probably already know that HSV-1 is as easy to spread as it is tough to fight. The virus that causes cold sores is very contagious, so avoid close personal contact such as kissing or sharing utensils during an outbreak.9 So it goes without saying: keep the virus to yourself.”

Other tips?

Well, you can also get a prescription that helps, but that is a hassle. You need to show your doctor a cold sore, usually. You can ask your doctor about that. I also use a tea tree based lip butter, and find that helps too. I also make sure to not use lipsticks while I have a cold sore. I will use my finger or a q-tip to apply a bit of lipstick. If I get a cold sore and know my lipstick touched it, I do need to throw out that lipstick.

Want to stock up your medicine cabinet? Enter here to win a $25 Amazon Gift Code! To enter, leave me a comment telling me what winter colds your family gets!

(Ends January 9, 2013)


[i] Abreva website.  Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.abreva.com/what-are-cold-sores.aspx
[ii] Abreva website.  Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.abreva.com/cold-sore-myths.aspx
[iii] Abreva website.  Retrieved November 8, 2012 from http://www.abreva.com/cream/spreading-cold-sores
[iv] US Census Data 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2012. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/
[v] Abreva website.  Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.abreva.com/stages-of-a-cold-sore.aspx  

 

“Disclaimer: I am participating in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Abreva, and received free product and compensation in return for my participation.”

Winner! winner.abreva

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ScoobyDooLogo

Do you need some last minute help for your child’s wish list this year? If your children love Scooby-Doo, try going straight to the source and have your children visit the new Warner Bros. “Scooby Mystery Workshop” site where they can customize their own holiday gift list!

The site offers Scooby-Doo games, toys, costumes, and fun bedding kids can check off into their wish list to help Mom and Dad solve the holiday shopping mystery.

scooby doo

Scooby Doo Mystery Workshop

Once their favorite Scooby-Doo items are selected, kids can print or email the list to a parent. The site also provides additional fun for your child, such as helping The Gang pick out gifts for each other through an interactive poll, competing to win fun prizes, or playing games with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. Check out the Scooby-Doo Mystery Workshop site here.

 

 

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Scooby-Doo. I received a product sample to thank me for participating”

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Polly Pocket Upgrades!

Heather —  August 7, 2012
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Polly Pocket updates their toy line…

What’s better than hanging out at the pool in the heat of August?

Playing with your dolls! In this case, the Polly Pocket Hangout House Playset and Polly Pocket Stick N Play Room Assortment. At least, that’s what this girl says.

And, if you do go out, these new Polly Pocket sets can go too. They have little suction cups on all the dolls and accessories. It is funny, but they work!

I like that my daughter is not frustrated by the dolls falling over and we are not losing little pieces. I think it’s a good upgrade. The dolls are a bit bigger too. They are still little but not as teeny.

Polly pocket2

cute toy, and all the items stick, so kids can design things and not lose them.

You can play some games and see the sets on the Polly Pocket Website. (turn the sound down or any little girls within 50 feet will come running…)

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*I know, they are not super eco-friendly. But she loves these!

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mattel Polly Pocket. I received a product samples and a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.”

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Yummy for Mom! Activia Yogurt

Heather —  October 1, 2011

Just the other day, I posted on facebook that I wished we didn’t have to eat everyday. I got a bunch of “likes” on that post! Although I am a bit of a foodie, taking time to make sure I eat right seems like such a chore sometimes.

Many times, I do a decent job making sure my family eats well, but I forget to eat when I am running around. When I do that, I am cranky and tired. Not good.

When I chose to eat only organic I limited my food choices a bit. But, one of my favorite snacks is a cup of yogurt, and I just found out that Activia has partnered up with Stoneyfield to offer Stoneyfield Organic Activia. I was so excited to hear this. I signed up immediately to review the product. I do have some tummy issues and gluten intolerance, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt to add the probiotic.

I got the Organic Activia Yogurt in the four pack of vanilla, and it is delicious. With only 90 calories in the vanilla, 5 grams of protein, and a plan for taking better care of my digestive system, this yogurt is perfect for me. I am so glad they came out with this. On top of all that, I can often find coupons and get it at a local grocery store. Cool.

Another part of this new line, Activia Selects, includes individual yogurt cups by Dannon. I grabbed one that was the Greek yogurt, as my husband loves that type. He said the pomegranate had a nice flavor. The individual serving cups are nice and a bit more of a meal, with higher protein. As I stick with organic, I’ll stick with the snack packs, but you might like the Selects.

The Official Word:
With new styles such as French, French with Fruit Bites, and Greek, you can satisfy your sweet cravings and help regulate your digestive system when consuming Activia daily for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Activia Selects contain an exclusive probiotic culture Bifidus Regularis and helps you feel good inside. These silky French and creamy Greek varieties prove nutritious and tasty options for those who have a texture preference.

Click to get more information and to get a free coupon for yummy yogurt.
And, make sure to check out organic Activia yogurt.

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Dannon Activia Selects Yogurt Series and received a coupon to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”