Parents Magazine Reveals Top 10 Best Hotel Chains for Families

WHOA.  WANNA KNOW WHERE TO BOOK YOUR NEXT BEACH VACATION? Or even just the best place to take your family!

Totally check out this list by Parents Mag!

Parents Magazine Reveals Top 10 Best Hotel Chains for Families

NEW YORK, NY, (September 28, 2015)— Parents magazine today revealed the top 10 Best Hotel Chains For Families, perfect for family road trips, holiday travels or weekend getaways. Parents’ magazine editors and travel experts evaluated 60-plus hotel brands across the country to identify chains offering families great space and comfort, high satisfaction ratings, affordable rates, and entertaining kids’ programs. The full list is available in the November 2015 issue of the magazine and on Parents.com.

Myrtle Beach for Real Moms Relaxation #RelaxinMYR

Hi.  I might be a little of my rocker and a bit slow in the midst of telling you all about my latest adventure. Maybe I'm on island time still.  Or that my mind has not given up on it being vacation anymore either.  Ahhhhh. Either way, kids go to school in my town on Tuesday and the thought of this amazing trip to Myrtle Beach is a constant smell of salt water in my memory!

This past week I was invited by the amazing team at My Myrtle Beach to come on a little trip to get familiar with the area.  Now, you might remember my jaunt to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary a few years ago.  It was an amazing trip up until the very end when my older sister decided to take matters in her own hands on something.  And honestly, that really put the kabosh on any love that I had from the trip.  What a bummer, right?  It all really seals the deal when you go on vacation with people who decide the outcome of your trip.  

Well, it's been 5 years and this was a great opportunity to really get there and change the final outcome of my one and only trip to Myrtle Beach that happened in 2010.  I actually even walked to the house that we stayed at when we were there and sat on the curb nearby and relived the trip in my mind.

You can't control everything in life - but you can take steps to make things better in YOUR life.  And if that means retracing your steps on something and going for a different outcome than the one you had before?  Do. IT.  Cause now I can't even wait to go back to that beautiful place!  

This year has been a tough one on me.  From soured relationships to my dads health, my husband and I trying to get our house up to par, my kids growing older, and of course that conference that I planned in July that I no longer do.  It was a bunch of ups and downs.  And my church sermon on Sunday really put it out there.  (Isn't it amazing how God doesn't give you what you can't handle in your life?)  I won't go all into religion on you - but I will tell you this.  The message was really about if you feed the beast it will grow - and if you starve it - it will die.  So what I took from that message really was that the more I dwell on all the negative things that happened this year - the more it will continue to haunt me.  But by doing things to make me a better person and focusing on ME and my family? All the bad will starve and die.  (Well, at least the bad people in my life that has caused me hurt and heartache this year will *hopefully* disappear.)

BACK TO THE BEACH.

Myrtle Beach was a beautiful trip.  I got to stay in this INSANELY amazing house that was literally ocean front.  I opened my doors to the 3rd floor every morning and sat out on the deck watching the surfers.  I sure loved that deck.  I assume NO ONE saw me but at night, I'd go out there cranked my itunes and danced all alone. HA.  Yes.  That was ME.  SOBER.  Dancing on a deck. Frizzy hair in the ocean breeze.  Jamming to my favorite music really pondering what I want to do next with my life. 

I could sit here and tell you all about my trip or I could share with you the ways I really found myself in this trip. 

First off - If you're in Philly, you can actually fly nonstop to MYR on Spirit Airlines. If you've never flown Spirit - do yourself a GIANT favor and get to know all of their secret rules and ways they like to sneak in fees.  I'm not going to go into details on my flight horror in this post (but since they weren't a sponsor of this trip I'll happily share with you in a later post where they went wrong with ME and why I'll never fly them again.)  BUT... if you're cool with their procedures - then nonstop to MYR is really the best way to go.  You want to make sure you have a car when there too.  It's impossible to get around the area without one, fyi.

7 Ways to Find Yourself in Myrtle Beach

  1. Surround yourself with supportive people.  Of course I was there with a group of very amazing & intelligent influencers that I actually never met before!  (Except for Casey Mullins from Moosh in Indy)  This event was perfect for that.  I was totally myself with these women.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing.  And I'm so glad I did. 
  2. Remember how you got there.  No, no.  I'm not talking what kind of transportation you took, I'm talking where you came from.  And how you got there.  Often times we get so caught up in the daily mundane we don't stop and think about how far we've come.
  3. Visit something that brings out the kid in you.  Ya know, I'm not gonna lie.  At first I was like "an aquarium, museum and weird touch place?  How on EARTH is that going to be relaxing? That's where I'd take my kids!"  Ding Ding.  The ladies who produced this thing knew exactly what they were doing. HA!  We visited Ripley's AquariumRipley's Believe It or Not!WonderWorks & countless times I said out loud "I have to bring my kids here!  They would love this!"  So many things reminded me of my childhood too.  So even though it's insanity when you have your kids' with you take a minute and do something you'd do WITH them so you feel that kid-karma.
  4. Think in hashtags.  I know you think I'm crazy - but think in hashtags for realz! Think about it.  Hashtags are short, simple, to the point.  And always expressive and the focus of your whole tweet, right?  YES!  Think in hashtags.  #JustBe
  5. Eat your face off.  I am honestly STILL recovering from that gluttonous place of awesome!  I don't know how I managed to not gain a pound.  Seriously.  God was sending me a gift with that one.  Cause I enjoyed EVERY.SINGLE.BITE. from that trip.  I mean everything.  (And yes.  I am going to have to do a post JUST on the eating along.)
  6. Step out of your comfort zone but know when you need to step into you.  So, the very last day the group went to a vineyard.  We had just done an awesome day at a botanical garden (yes, story coming there too...) and my back was just causing me excruciating pain.  So I excused myself from that part of the trip.  And as gorgeous as I heard that place was, I am so so so so grateful that I did not go.  Because I took a little walk and ended up in front of the house my family stayed.  And I was able to set my intentions while setting those bad memories free.  That totally rocked.
  7. Change history.  You know you can do that, right? Yep.  And by visiting that place with the not so good memories, I was able to change history.  And now I totally look at Myrtle Beach with my eyes wide open. 

When can we go back again?

Be sure to return to get the reviews of Brookgreen Gardens, some of the best dining I've ever had at Tupelo Honey, Wicked Tuna & more... PLUS - need 5 fun things to do while in Myrtle Beach?  We've got the list for you! Check back soon!  Meanwhile, visit the Myrtle Beach site & check out their 60 Ways to Relax and Unwind!  

7 Things Loved By My Family at Moreys Piers

We took a lovely jaunt over Father's Day weekend to one of the very few shore towns that I have NOT stayed at yet!  I know. You have a hard time believing that, don't you? ha. But it's true. I'll be honest with you.  Real is why you come here and honestly, you've come to expect me to be REAL with you, right? 

Wildwood has never been one of my favorite places to visit.  We'd go there when we stayed in Cape May to have some fun on the boardwalk - but I would have NEVER in a million years have considered staying there.  I just didn't feel it was safe.  I thought there were some scary parts of town that I felt would not be smart to visit with small kids.  I thought the same about Atlantic City & I gave them a '2nd shot' with Boston 3 years ago.  I saw there that they were really trying to clean it up - but unfortunately, I haven't been back with kids yet.  So hopefully we'll have an awakening with AC like we did with Wildwood over Father's Day Weekend!

In case you didn't notice by the title....but we LOVED our visit there. 

And I'll tell you - it's one reason & ONE reason alone why - MOREY'S PIERS.

Yes. There are still parts of town that I felt uncomfortable in.  I won't lie.  But Morey's Piers is different. MUCH MUCH DIFFERENT. 

7 Things Loved By My Family At Morey's Piers

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1) THE MOREY FAMILY.  As you know in my love of travels and sharing here - I am a sucker for a real life story.  And the story behind the magic of Morey's Piers was so fun to see!  I missed a special cocktail event because well.... traveling with a toddler puts a vice grip on my plans. lol Truth be told.  But I did get a great break to really wander the hotel we were staying in and read the walls.  For. Like. HOURS. 

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2) THE PAN AMERICAN HOTEL.  What a CLASSY place!!  You know me - I'm a sucker for amenities so when I saw the Philosophy products in the gorgeous bathrooms?  I died and went to bath time heaven!!  I've stayed at thousands of places.  And if there is one consistent thing that tells me the character and class of the place - it's the toiletries!!  Everywhere you turn in this hotel you see a story.  You can get caught up in the walls of time beginning with the ride down the road with the big spinning Pan American sign in the back of an old pickup truck!  (And the chairs in the lobby are the coolest chairs I've ever seen!)

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3)  THE PIERS.  Notice I didn't say the Boardwalk.  Cause until they stop allowing people to smoke and flick their ashes on me and my kids - I'm not a fan of the boardwalk at all.  (And I'm not a smoke-snob.  Both of my parents smoke heavily their entire lives.  I just don't believe that it should be allowed in a public place like that.  It really bothers me when I walk up to a store and their workers are standing in their doorways trying to get me to come in there and their stink cigs behind their ears and in their hands.  GROSS!  There are way too many little kids running around on that boardwalk - there shouldn't be any smoking.  But if you are like me in that? GET ON THE PIERS!!  Cause the Morey family does it right.  NO SMOKING ALLOWED.

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3) THE FUN on THE PIERS.  Yeah.  You can find so much to do on those three piers that you never need to hit the boardwalk or the streets of Wildwood if you're a fuddy-dutty-like me.  And honestly, there are many out of towners that need that 'comfortable place'.  Morey's Piers have so many really fun things to do! I died after finding out there was THREE piers to PLAY!  The Ghost Ship & Kong were our favorite rides.  LOVED them.  

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4) THE FOOD.  When I think about beach & boardwalk food - I think cotton candy, pizza, 'snack bar' type food.  But not at MOREYS PIERS!!  When we arrived they gave us a ton of generous coupons to experience all the food at the piers & I am so glad they did!!  The last day, I ended up sharing some of them with a sweet woman we met at the waterparks who was there from Illinois (where I'm from). Cause honestly, I felt bad with all the talk I made about the 

5)  THE WATER PARKS.  Seriously one of the coolest thing ever is enjoying a WATER PARK while near the ocean!  The PIers really have a couple cool water parks that everyone has to take advantage of when in Wildwood.  Being a kid from the midwest and never even seeing the ocean till much later in my college years, the only water fun we got were water parks.   I grew up in a boat on a dirty lake in southern Illinois.  Our 'special treat' was hitting a water park.  So to be a kid and have the ocean at your fingertips?  I can't even IMAGINE what a cool opportunity that is. The #1 thing that I love most from my move to Philly is that we are within a couple hours drive of the shore.  From Cape May to LBI - I am forever in love with it.  Add a boardwalk AND a waterpark?  Totally died and gone to heaven reliving my childhood with my son at the 

6)  THE HISTORY.  More than one occasion my family had to distract me to STOP looking at all the images on the walls at the Pan American Hotel!!  I stopped every time so that I could read, snap and share the great history of Morey's Piers!  

7) OH-MY-THE-ORANGEAIDES.  Seriously.  I should be embarrassed with how many orangeaides I had on those piers!!!  My mouth is watering now for one dangit.    

Now check out their fun History YouTube video:


How To Have Fun For Father's Day In New Jersey

'Tis the season for water parks and Summer adventures! This year, we're  thankful for Morey's Piers & Beachfront Water Parks for providing us with a perfect Summer getaway location! We'll be visiting this weekend to celebrate Father's Day and there is a ton of stuff to do - for the whole family! We are going to stay at the Pan American Hotel where they have a great bistro called Alosi's Bistro where we'll be stopping for breakfast!  There are two new amazing attractions at Morey's including KONG and artBOX:LAB. 

Kong, an iconic boardwalk landmark in early 1970s, and also the new gorilla themed amusement ride is now open on Surfside Pier. KONG, who you'll see snorting smoke and fog, sports an “I love Wildwood” t-shirt (who wouldn't?) and clutches one of Wildwood’s well-known tram cars while hanging from the 60 feet tall lighthouse at the ride’s center - sounds awesome! Eight vintage shark themed ride vehicles will duck and dive around the infamous gorilla, bringing riders 26 feet in air. After sunset, KONG lights up the night sky with a rotating light on top of the lighthouse and enhanced LED lighting outlining each ride vehicle. This looks like it will be a great ride for us to try out this weekend while we celebrate Father's Day! 

 

Underneath the ride is Kong & Co. a new 3,000 square foot retail space offering charging stations and comfy chairs, as well as chocolate covered frozen bananas and merchandise for purchase. Besides there being snacks and merchandise, the charging stations is such a great idea. Sometimes large families like to split off during their vacation, and if your phone is dying, it can be nearly impossible to find the rest of the family! These charging stations are really convenient!

artBOX:LAB is a new interactive workshop for kids. The resident artist, David Macomber, leads the class and allows kids of all ages to create their own spins on works of art to take home! There is a rotation of guest artists all Summer long so you'll be able to experience a lot of different artistic perspectives and more! Classes include block printing, origami, painting, and even jewelry making! The classes are available Thursday-Sunday from 5pm to 10pm so this would be a GREAT wind down activity for the kids after all day at a water park! There are no appointments necessary and class prices are anywhere from FREE to $35! 

If you're not used to the weather in Wildwood, NJ, they're pretty warm during the Summer. In June, the temperatures can reach the low 80's so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and most importantly - your bathing suits! 

Now that you've got a sneak peek of Morey's Piers & Beachfront Water Parks - keep an eye out for my followup after Father's Day weekend! What would you be most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below! 

For more information, you can find Morey's at:
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Disney Social Media Moms Conference in Review 2015

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I don't know if I'm coming or going these days.  I also know that life as I know it at this very moment is going so fast. So So SO OSOSOSOSOSOS ohhh so fast. 

I got all emotional tonite thinking about how fast my boys are growing up.  I mean, I look at images of Boston and he's a BABY.  Then I realize he's freaking 7 years old now.  SEVEN.  Going to be in 2nd grade.  That's just freaking crazy isn't it?

I'm actually scared about it.  Scared that I'm on the cusp of not having kids in diapers anymore.  Scared that my kids are not going to like Elmo or Mickey, Santa and the Easter Bunny & THEN what am I going to do with my life?  I mean, I've fallen off the face of the web this past month because of some personal things going on with a disgruntled former employee and then family illnesses, not to mention I think I slept in my bed 5 nights the past month!!  Seriously!!!  So, I know I haven't shared a thing in regards to Mom 2.0 yet.. and there is a good chance that I might not even tell ya about it.  Not that I don't want to - but I barely have time to breathe right now therefore the thought of writing?  Bwaaa.  I'll ONLY do it when I KNOW it will rock!

So, of course as I was sitting on a flight with my two kids at 1am coming home from home....I realized I have a great post in my head!!!  And it was this one.  So without further ado...humor me will ya?  Check out what I learned on the Disney trip & tell me if I'm crazy, k?

17 Things I Learned at Disney Social Media Moms

1)  I am obsessed with Vinylmation. Oh.My.Gosh.  It started at DSMM 2014 at Disneyland.  And now?  Put my credit card on lockdown!  

2) Just because you THINK you know Disney, you don't really know Disney until you use the MagicBands for the 1st time!!!  Yeah.  My poor family had a few things happen because of my failure to read directions and take the time to plan this trip. Ahem. 

3)  Order the MagicBands EARLY so you get a special ......Catch the rest of our post here!

joey fortman

Putting the TMI in Motherhood with #RealMomProblems from funny & fantastic to everything in between! Joey Fortman has been seen on Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends and more!

Tuckerton Seaport Pirate Festival 2015

Tuckerton Seaport Privateers and Pirates Festival: June 6, 2015

Pull out your best  eye patches and join the FUN!!!  It is time again for the brave to board the pirate ship and get your YO HO HO out!  Tuckerton Seaport is hosting their annual Privateers and Pirates Festival!

On Saturday June 6 starting at 11am, Tuckerton Seaport will transform into a Pirate Paradise!

Get ready to join Captain Black as he lands with his crew for a day of Pirate fun!!! For the pirate-at-heart, this is the perfect event for the entire family. Get ready to meet pirates in person, walk the plank (if you dare), enjoy a treasure hunt and learn about the Golden Age of Piracy!!!  Dress to impress as the best pirate costume will be awarded a prize at the end of the day!

There will also be a battle over the Tuckerton Seaport!  Who will you be rooting for?

Enjoy the day with live music and many ARRGH  adventures!!  Here are some other highlights waiting for you and your little Pirates!

  • Interactive Pirate Adventure

  • Pirate Ship Obstacle Course

  • “Pirates for Sail” Live Band

  • Treasure Hunt

  • Pose on the Plank

  • Costume Contest

  • Learn About the Golden Age of Piracy

  • Battle for Tuckerton Seaport

  • Scurvy Mutineers Sword Fight Show

  • Pirate Meet & Greet

  • Pirate Duel Show

  • Watch the Parrot Pirate Party

  • food court

  • make and take crafts

The price for all this fun??  $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for children!!!

Roadtrip with an RV

I can assure you that I've said this to my family at least 25 times in the past 5 years.  

"I Want to Go on an RV Trip!"

I do.  But I want to do more than that.  I want to experience what it's like to take my kids camping.  I don't think my husband has camped a day in his life.  It's not his thing.  (Sadly, if it doesn't have intense air conditioning and ESPN, I don't have a chance to ever get him in the woods!)  Well, maybe.  Maybe there is this chance that camping can come to fruition with an RV, right?  That's air conditioning and tv! lol

Some of my fondest childhood memories are when my grandparents would take my cousins and I camping or in their RV.  We actually called it a 'camper' when I was little but they had this crazy awesome 'camper' that was like living in a mansion with all the bells and whistles!  I use to always sleep on the table that my grandma made into a bed.  Crab Orchard or Rend Lake in southern Illinois were the hot spots for us.  Crab Orchard Lake, in Carbondale, Illinois was where we spent many of hot, muggy, midwest nights.  Oh gramps.  Wish you were still here....you made that experience always so fun. 

Here I am as an adult, I try to live in the moment more.  Turn things off and focus on being present with my kids. My kids are my life.  They are the one constant positive in my life that helps keep me grounded.  Maybe I plan a little trip JUST with my kids in an RV.  Whoa.  How would that work?  It's a must plan for that bucket list. 

As a partner with Scholastic I always love how they weave such fun stories into their website.  And their partnership with Go RVing is one of my favorite yet!  Find great stories on family travel by road in a fab RV!  From carsickness tips to hitting the beaches on a bargain, you're sure to find all your answered questions about traveling in an RV.

Do yourself a HUGE favor and enter the Go RVing What's Your Away Sweepstakes Contest!  There you have a chance to share what your family's ideal AWAY is for a chance to win a trip of your choice and an RV rental to get you there!  

What is your ultimate road trip idea?  Is it traveling the PCH in California?  Hiking? The beach?  Heck, you can even drive that baby into the city for some urban RV fun!

9 Things Not to Miss When Visiting #HersheyPA

Being an ambassador for Hershey has really been an awesome hit in my family!

Depressing enough, my tenure is coming to an end... sad but true.  But I do have some really amazing fond memories of the land of chocolate!

As my #RealMomTravels lead me to all different places around the world to experience - the number one thing I look for in travels is 'What is their story?"  Hershey, Cape May, even Disneyland I found such beautiful stories about their history and if I can put a family spin or leaning lesson into anything?  I'm in!

Hershey, Pennsylvania about an hour 1/2 from Philly.  And if you live on the East coast - you have a shot to get there from your part of the country!

9 THINGS NOT TO MISS WHEN VISITING #HERSHEYPA

1) Hershey's Chocolate World - this is a staple in every Hershey visit!  Plus?  OMG. Get a $5 peanut butter milkshake. It's To.Die.For. And you get a commemorative Hershey cup! Hmmmm. Hershey's Chocolate World is right next the HersheyPark so you can surely beat the heat with an icecream milkshake!

2) Holidays - Chocolate and holidays go together well!  In fact - HELLO - Valentine's Day deals galore!

3) The Chocolate Spa in Hotel Hershey - Seriously. No brainer.  If you aren't a 'spa goer' and treat yourself you're totally missing out on life's great pleasures! ha. Especially here.  Get a massage or something. JUST to visit the spa and enjoy their amenities!  I had a few different services and loved it.  All of it.  The hot cocoa in the waiting areas?  WORTH IT. They have an 'I Live For Mondays Spa package too!  Hi Monday!!  Bring it on!

4) Hershey Bears Game - Whoa - this was a pleasant surprise for sure!  We absolutely loved this!  The Hershey Bears is their local hockey team.  And it's beyond legit!  They play at the Giant Center, an entire shop dedicated to Coco and the mascot!  My 2 year old died and went to heaven at that game.  It was really a highlight when they came to us and he got to hug the bear.  Sooo cute. 

5) HersheyPark!  Total no brainer!  When in Hershey PA - you have GOT to Play!!  Know that they are very seasonal.  We went for Christmas and we saw reindeer!!  That was just the highlight then.  (That and their smores & hot cocoa you can buy at the park??? LAWD.  That was ALL ME. ha)  Summer, obviously they have the water park open.  Spring is great on gorgeous days & Halloween is a huge HersheyPark hit too!

6) The Hershey Story - This and the Hershey Bears Hockey Game were two of the most surprising events I LOVED!   Not that I didn't expect for them to be good - But they were GREAT!  And something that I went - whoa.. didn't know that!  At The Hershey Story, do the chocolate tasting at Cafe Zooka!  They have a country of origin warm chocolate drink tasting that you'll be delightfully surprised about!  Hit up the Chocolate Lab too!  Really fun thing to do with the family. Kind of a 'make and take' craft event  - but with chocolate!

7) Hershey Gardens - Ok, this is so fabulous that you just have to DO IT.  If you stay at either of the hotels (Hershey Lodge and Hotel Hershey) you get tickets for free to walk through.  For me, I LOVED taking a break from my family and heading over for a gorgeous sit through.  (I call it a sit through cause...ahem.. I liked to walk a bit - sit a bit - walk a bit - sniff - walk - sit - sniff. (Sniffing the flowers of course! lol)

8) Hotel Hershey - We stayed here both summer & holiday visit.  I have stayed at the other hotel (Hershey Lodge) many many times and this was my first visit to every.  LOVE this hotel!  It's gorgeous.  Filled with lots of history & great things to do! We stayed at both hotels.  But this hotel is the MUST stay for the summer months!  Their outdoor pool area is so awesome!  Plus, there is a kids club that Boston LOVED!!  I loved going in there and playing with them too. Be sure to take a walk around the hotel and hit up the awesome stories on the walls and images!

9) Hershey Lodge If you are looking for a place to stay that is affordable and 'low key' this is a great hotel.  I stayed there only on visits where I was not going to be an ambassador so as a paying patron, I can assure you that Hershey Lodge is the ultimate family place!  The characters, the atmosphere, all of it.  Super fun. *This is my holiday visit hotel pick for sure!

Am I missing anything?  I mean, I can't forget the outlet mall, the dining, the zoo, exploring..... there is a TON I'm missing.  But then again - you gotta visit to make your own MUST NOT MISS parts of your trip and come back and share them here!  

 

Happy Mom Travels - #RealMomTravels

 

STOP THE PRESSES - HERE IS SOME FEBRUARY AWESOME FROM HERSHEY! 

GET CHOCOLATE COVERED THIS MONTH.  And send me some would ya? lol


joey fortman

Putting the TMI in Motherhood with #RealMomProblems from funny & fantastic to everything in between! Joey Fortman has been seen on Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends and more!

Christmas In Hershey Begins 11/14!

I can't begin to tell you how fortunate I am to live so close to all the action in Hershey, PA! We had a great time visiting this past summer, and I'm now excited for the holidays. I love that Hershey has exciting attractions and events all year 'round, but there is nothing so special as experiencing CHRISTMAS in Hershey!

Hershey, The Sweetest Place On Earth, welcomes new events and old favorites for the holiday season. This year, Hershey Lodge introduces A Chocolate Avenue Christmas, a brand new holiday dinner theatre experience.  Produced by an Emmy Award-winning, New York City-based team, the holiday dinner musical experience answers the question, “What is Christmas?” With special appearances by Santa and his helpers, the show kicks off on November 28 through December 28.

A family tradition, Hersheypark Christmas Candylane features more than 2 million twinkling lights and 30 family & kiddie rides, Santa and his nine live reindeer. The Park welcomes a NEW Music Box Christmas Show, "Up on The Rooftop," featuring favorite Christmas songs, prancing reindeer, and Santa himself. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane opens Friday, November 14. Tickets for children ages 3+ are $12.85. Days and hours of operation vary and are posted on www.Hersheypark.com.

There is something for every member of the family during Christmas In Hershey including seasonal spa treatments at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Sweet Lights, a holiday drive-thru spectacular.Hershey Lodge hosts Gingerbread Children’s Teas with both Resorts hosting Breakfast with Santa.  Gracing the stage of Hershey Theatre will be Elf The Musical from December 9-14.

The Hershey Story Museum announces Snowball Saturdays where kids can get ready for the holidays and winter weather with friendly indoor snowball fights! The popular Little Elves Workshop is once again available at the Museum. Santa’s Secret Garden returns to Hershey Gardens. The fun continues at Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction with a variety of activities. Visit November 15-January 1, 2015to get your picture taken next to the 12’ tall Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House covered entirely withHershey’s confections to support Children’s Miracle Network. Santa will also be at the House for pictures.

For additional information about for Christmas In Hershey, please visit www.HersheyPA.com 1-800-HERSHEY (1-800-437-7439). Follow @HersheyPA and read updates on The Sweet Escape blog.


joey fortman

Putting the TMI in Motherhood with #RealMomProblems from funny & fantastic to everything in between! Joey Fortman has been seen on Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends and more!

Top 5 Faves of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe #TravelTuesday

2015_Chevy_Tahoe_review

Back in 2006 I had the hottest convertible Mitsubishi Spyder that rocked my hot chic world.  

I got engaged in 2006 and 3 months later I was at a live broadcast with the station I was on at a car dealership.  And.... long story short-I traded in my convertible that day and bawled the whole way home because I traded in my hot-chic-in-her-20s-car for a "MOM MOBILE".  Bawled.The.Whole.Way. lol

Here I am, almost 10 years later and it's time to trade that little mommy in for a Mom-Monster.  Destination Mobile.  Travel Companion. Soccer Chauffer.  You know... 'BIG KID STUFF'. 

My 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor has so many pretty bumps and scratches, I hate to see it even getting bought...but those beauty marks are what makes it special.  One of them, made by my husband when he hit a tree stump at my parents house.  Ahem.  Another one?  MADE BY MY HUSBAND. Yeah.  He's not a good driver...but I digress. 

So this year, I've partnered with Chevy and between now and January I'm going to test drive their SUVs to see where I 'fit' in.  Of course Chevy has many different parts to the GM family including Buick, Cadillac, Chevy & GMC.  I of course know what I need - but I don't know what I want.  And since I'm going to be driving this beast for another decade - I want to get down and dirty (including the left over cheeze nips) with their automobiles and put them all to the test. 

Here, I'm going to give you my Top 5 Faves of each vehicle.  I sure hope you help me figure it out!!  Cause man alive.  This is a major decision.  Kind of like deciding to get married, have kids, buy a house, moving to Philly..... 

First off... I'm not a 'car person'.  I don't believe in driving a crazy expensive car and live in an apartment or a town home.  I believe in what will get me from point A to point B.  (Of course, who DOESN'T like to look good while doing it!)  So, I'm not going for the 'shiny object'.  I'm HONESTLY going to PAY for my choice so why not go on this journey together!

I know what I can afford.  I know I do NOT want a minivan.  (GAG.)  I know that I need something with a HUGE trunk space.  I also want USB ports cause my car charger stinks and DUH it is 2014!!!  So with that being said... everything else is gravy. 

Top 5 Faves of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe

1)  The SENSORS.  Whoaaaa - the sensors! My husband wasn't a fan of his butt vibrating when he got too close to the side or another car - but I like it! ha.  Check out the video on what he said about that. 

2)  Automated 3rd Row Seating - THIS IS HUGE.  Probably the biggest thing my oldest loved.  The buckets in the 2nd row was great to get around to get to the 3rd row.  And the fact its a tiny button that gets pushed?  SWEET!

3) SIDE BLIND ZONE ALERT WITH LANE DEPARTURE - Yeah, so this goes along with #1.  There are SOOO many flashing lights, vibration, beeps... you are sure to not fall asleep at the wheel!  It's a great thing.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've ALMOST hit a car because I didn't see them in my blind spot.  This Tahoe?  You will KNOW if there is one in your blind spot!

4)  RAIN SENSING WINDSHIELD WIPERS - And might I add - wipers that don't scream at me cause I need new ones!!  (Here it scratching when it moves. UGH = MY CURRENT CAR.)  Seriously though... this Tahoe pretty much drives itself!

5) THE DASHBOARD AND A 110 VOLT FREAKING AC POWER OUTLET!! - Can you believe that?  I can actually PLUG my PLUG into A 3-PRONG-OUTLET!  Modern tech.  Motherly heaven for sure!!  Not to mention - I counted at LEAST 5 freaking USB ports!!  This is seriously the mac-mommy of automobiles. 

Overall - I loved the smooth ride, the Power Sunroof with bug catcher, the rear seat entertainment, the xm radio with WIFI, the backup sensor on screen, the fact that the mirrors move when you back up, the steering column and the adaptive cruise control that breaks you automatically when you get too close to another car!!

It's the bomb.  In every way.  

The only thing about this SUV that will keep me from buying it?

The size.  IT'S A FREAKING BEAST.  The back is longer than I think I want to handle.  

And the price.  Whoa.   I'm being honest here.  

The 2015 Tahoe that I test drove has a sticker price: $69,630.  

Yeah. $70K is a LOT of money for an automobile.  The base price without all the bells & whistles is around $45K.  That's still a lot and definitely out of our range.  BUT, if we LIVED in it?  I'd make it work.  Cause it's AWESOME!

NEXT UP:  THE CHEVY TRAVERSE.


 

** Please note:  I REALLY am going to buy a new car.  And I REALLY am giving you my honest reviews.  I was teased with driving their automobiles - but in the end - I'm picking AND paying.

Travel Heaven with AT&T GoPhone

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I travel. 

A LOT. 

And it's not always to the grocery store, ya know. 

As a mom on the go, I use my phone & internet almost as much as I travel. 

A LOT. 

At Blogger Bash this past July, I happened to meet the team behind the AT&T mobile hotspots.  As an AT&T customer personally for the past 7 years - I had no idea that they had such a thing.  I mean, I knew they had some sort of tethering opportunity for cell phones, but I was grandfathered in by their 'unlimited talk & text' programming.  And a mobile hotspot addition would have made my good deal - gone.  So when I heard about the AT&T Unite Pro Mobile Hotspot it totally peaked my attention.  

Isn't technology just awesome these days?  I mean seriously.  My mom had a BAG PHONE!  Remember those?  Now we are connected from all angles.  Sometimes I think of the world connected along with myself all the time as a blessing or a curse.  But then I realize, it's just like sitting down to a cake.  MODERATION!  Know when to turn it off, MOMS!  lol (Work in progress in our house!)

Back to my amount of traveling.  Yeah... I've been on about 25 different trips this year.  And that's NOT including the train rides to NYC (which I'm doing right now by the way...)  I've been to NYC probably about 20 other times as well & no offense Amtrak - but the internet is BRUTALLY slow on the train.  

That's why when AT&T offered to send me the GoPhone by NETGEAR to review - I was all over it.  I wanted something that I could 'pay as I go' plan.  Not something that I have to pay a big chunk and then if I don't use it - it's gone.  And that's what is great about the GoPhone!

With this small device you can add money to the usage or put it in the closet until your next trip comes around!  What I love about it is that no matter what you're doing or where you are - from soccer to camping - being connected in essential!  I know we need to 'turn it off' sometimes - but we also need to be sure we have connection in case of emergency, for sure.  The AT&T Unite for GoPhone by NETGEAR gives families secure Internet access to be connected on the go.  I love that you can connect up to 10 devices at once!     Plus, it's secure internet access via AT&T's 4G LTE network, 10 hours of battery life, touchscreen, and the price rocks!  For just shy of $100 you get no annual contract, no credit check, no monthly commitment and no hassle!  

Grab yours at Amazon, Wal-Mart & Best Buy!

 

Hershey: The Sweetest Place on Earth

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Chocolate.

Just say the word, and I am there.

One of the things I absolutely love about living in Philadelphia is my proximity to Hershey, PA. That's right, Chocolate Town!  I have had the pleasure of visiting many times over the past several years, and I'm heading there again this week as I am what every chocolate lover dreams of.. A HERSHEY AMBASSADOR!  Rough job, I know.  But SOMEBODY has to do it. 

I always look forward to my Hershey visits. No, not just because I can stock up on the best chocolate on the planet!  But I love that Hershey is a family-friendly destination. For locals who can't quite swing a big vacation, Hershey is the perfect "staycation." There is so much to do, including Hersheypark (Boston LOVES the chocolate characters!!  The pic to the left is from our 1st ever visit to Hershey.)

Thrill lovers: did you know Hersheypark has 12 rollercoasters? Epic! They also offer live entertainment as well as kid-focused rides for even the smallest chocolate lovers.

Hershey, PA offers more than just the theme park, though. Visitors can head to ZooAmerica, with over 200 animals on 11 acres. There is also a large educational component. Keep the learning going through the summer! Kids can learn about the history of Hershey at The Hershey Story and get the whole scoop on how chocolate is made at Hershey's Chocolate World (and pssst: you didn't hear it from me, but after the informational tour they may or may not give out chocolate samples. SCORE!).

Accomodations are not lacking in Hershey, and I can attest that the Hershey Lodge is fantastic for families. If you want to take it to the next level, check out The Hotel Hershey!  We are MEGA excited about staying at Hotel Hershey as we've only stayed at the Hershey Lodge in the past. Check out their awesome packages, as well. There are great seasonal and year-round offerings that make a stay at Hershey all the more sweet.

Also? I may be a little obsessed with the fact that Kate Gosselin lives nearby. Because. KATE GOSSELIN.


I digress.

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So whether you are near or far, take the scenic ride through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania and make your destination the Sweetest Place on Earth!

Check our twitter, Instagram and Facebook stream for our overflowing amount of images from our experiences.  I promise to share unique shots at our favorite sweet spots!

What is YOUR favorite Hershey memory?

****Yes, as an ambassador I get some SWEET deals! Some of the activities are comped in result of my ambassadorship with Hershey, PA.  But of course - the REAL mom is always going to be real.  Now, back to my chocolate dream.

 

Tuckerton Seaport Privateers and Pirates Festival: June 7, 2014

Yo ho ho!

It's time to don your best pirates attire, put on your finest eye patch and get ready to set sail on your dreaded pirate ship!  That's right, it's that time of year again: Tuckerton Seaport is hosting their annual Privateers and Pirates Festival!

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On Saturday June 7 starting at 11am, Captain Black will be coming ashore with the crew of the Valhalla, ready to transform Tuckerton Seaport into a pirate paradise. For the pirate-at-heart, this is the perfect event for the entire family. Meet pirates in person, join a treasure hunt, and get your picture taken on the plan. The best pirate costum will be awarded a prize at the end of the day!

Not only will the day be filled with fun adventures, there will be live music as well. Here are some other great highlights waiting for you:

Privateers & Pirates Festival Highlights

  • Pirate Meet & Greet
  • Pose on the Plank
  • Pirate Costume Contest for Adults and Children
  • Piratology 101: Learn about the Golden Age of Piracy!
  • Cannon Demo: Watch how to handle and fire a cannon. Volunteers will be needed to join the gun crew. Don’t be scared by the big BOOM at the end.
  • Scurvy Mutineers Sword Fight Show: A live steel combat show complete with action and laughs. Volunteers will be selected from the audience to join the mutiny.
  • Whip Show: Things will really heat up as tricks and skills are shown.
  • Pirate Pistol Duello Show: A stage show of how a friendly game of Liars Dice can go terribly wrong. Learn how pirates settle an argument.
  • Amputation Demonstration!
  • American Water Puddles Van: Learn about water conservation, where the water locally comes from, how the water is treated and play interactive games where you can estimate your daily water usage
  • Watch the Parrot Pirate Party with a Parrot that Talks
  • Pirate Food Court
  • Make-and-Take Crafts
  • Live Music by Pirates for Sail
  • Treasure Hunt sponsored by Fantasy Island Plus, Pirate Ship Bounce House included with Admission!
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Tuckerton Seaport is located at 120 West Main Street.  Admission for the Privateers and Pirates Festival is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children, and free for Seaport Members and children under 5. Event admission includes access to the Seaport’s 40 acres of family fun, featuring maritime activities, historic and recreated buildings, live animals, a boardwalk, miniature golf course, and exhibits.


For more information, find the Tuckerton Seaport on Facebook or call 609-296-8868.

Tuckerton Seaport Summer Events

We are HUGE fans of Tuckerton Seaport, and have had the opportunity to visit several times in the past few years. We'll be up again for their Privateers and Pirates on June 7 (check out our experience from last year!). In addition to Privateers and Pirates Day, Tuckerton Seaport has a jumpin' calendar all Summer long with fun events you won't want to miss. Here's a quick run down: 

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RFA Bass River Summer Flounder Tournament: June 7, 2014

For more info: http://joinrfa.org/rfa-bass-river-tournament/


Pirivateers and Pirates Festival: June 7, 2014   11am-5pm

All Things Pirates! Learn the difference between privateers and pirates and then be one. Pirate history – authentic and make-believe – plus a treasure scavenger hunt, costume contest and pirate craft activities. Enjoy the crew of the Valhalla Pirates with historic pirate entertainment. “Pirates for Sail” live band, Grog Garden and tasty food vendors. General Admission applies.

 

On-line Auction: June 14-July14, 2014

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With over 200 items on our auction block, the Seaport’s Annual On-line Summer Auction is a great way to support educational programs right here on the Jersey Shore while also getting some incredible deals on vacation packages, tickets to local attractions, dining gift certificates and VIP experiences. Visit www.biddingforgood.com/tuckertonseaport

 

Baymen’s Seafood & Music Festival: June 21 and 22, 2014    11am to 5pm

Enjoy delicious Jersey fresh clams, crabs, scallops and shrimp from the finest local seafood purveyors.  Micro brew court. Crafters, vendors, music, food, refreshments, family activities, demonstrations,boat rides, boat builders and decoy carvers. Speak with commercial fishermen to learn about occupations on the bay or take a clam shucking class. So bring the family and plan to spend the day. Music from local favorites: The Mott’s Creek Pickers (Sat) & The Billy Walton Band (Sun). Selected as one of the Best Outdoor Festivals by NJ Monthly Magazine. Presented by the Jersey Shore Folklife Center. General Admission applies.

Roots Music Festival: June 28 and 29, 2014     2pm – 8pm

The Tuckerton Seaport is thrilled to host the Roots Music Festival on June 28th & 29th.  Kick back for 2 great days of music, wine tasting, food, crafters, vendors, demonstrations & activities. Live roots music from The Billy Walton Band, Ryan & the Blue Hearts, James Day & The Fish Fry, Steve Guyger, The Keystone Swingbillies, Snake Brothers, Home Cookin’, and Zydeco-a-Go-Go.  Uncork some fun and enjoy a perfect afternoon of wine tasting from some of NJ’s finest wineries Di Matteo, Tomasello, andValenzano. Complimentary wine glass included. Try free samples from the barbeques of best local barbeque cooks and vote for your favorite. $20 day / $15 members; 2 day combo pass $30 / $25 members. Pre-sale special!  Buy 2 day combo in advance and receive free reserved parking.

 

Fourth of July Celebration

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Parade followed by children’s activities, baby parade, entertainment. Fireworks over the lake at dusk. This event it FREE! 


Sunshine Foundation Fishing Tournament & Family BBQ: Saturday July 12   3pm–7pm

Check back on the Tuckerton Seaport events calendar for more info in the near future.

     

Tuckerton Seaport Celebration & Fundraiser: August 12, 2014      6pm – 9pm

Our premier fundraising event features endless hors d’ oeuvres and entertainment by the Billy Walton Band!

With it's close proximity to both New York City and the New Jersey beaches, Tuckerton Seaport needs to be on your Summer Bucket List!  The only question left to answer is: which events will YOU be going to?


Kid-Friendly Things to Do in New Jersey

Philly-area families know that once Summer hits, the best place to be is the beach. Luckily, we are within a 1-2 hour drive to fantastic beaches. New Jersey is one of my favorite places not just to hit the sand and sea, but to take my kids.  The entire state has fabulous attractions and events all year-round. Here are some of the best kid-friendly things to do in New Jersey: 

    

 

Tuckerton Seaport

Quaint, yet a hop skip and a jump from New York City and the Jersey Shore, Tuckerton Seaport is the perfect day trip for the family. If you are staying at the beach and want to shake up your week, Tuckerton Seaport Museum is as fun as it is educational. This attraction is rich in preserving the “maritime history, artistry, heritage and environment of the Jersey Shore. They also have super fun events, like the Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival.

Adventure Aquarium

You don’t have to travel far into New Jersey to find family-friendly fun. The Adventure Aquarium, just over the bridge from Philadelphia, is a hot spot for visitors. Watch the hippos swim, touch a shark and laugh at the dancing penguins. There is a ton to learn about sea life as well as watch  one of their Meet the Divers shows!

Atlantic City

Who knew that Atlantic City was family friendly? Over the past few years, the town has rebranded, making sure to offer something for everyone. There is the beach, fun places to eat like Rainforest Cafe, Atlantic City Aquarium and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. This is only a smattering of what AC has to offer families. How will your family #DoAC?

Sahara Sams

We all love Summer because the warm weather and brilliant sunshine gives us a much-wanted opportunity to spend time outdoors. But what about the weeks it rains all day? Then there is nothing better than an indoor/outdoor water park!  Sahara Sam’s in West Berlin is the best of both worlds, offering both an indoor AND outdoor water park! Outside is complete with a children’s splash park, wave pool and volleyball courts. Inside offers water slides, lazy rivers and an arcade. Perfect for any weather all through the year!

Congress Hall  

Some resorts are perfect for adult-only vacations. But what about family getaways? Congress Hall in Cape May has families covered! Offering luxurious accommodations, Congress Hall still knows how to have fun. Get your karaoke on during the weekly Family Karaoke Nights as well as the Carnival on the Grand Lawn every Monday night (which includes a complimentary family-friendly movie once the sun goes down)!

Cape May County Zoo

If your visits bring you to Congress Hall, then there is no better way to spend a day of your vacation than the Cape May County Zoo. A beautiful show of natural environment, the lush gardens are an oasis for over 500 animals (representing over 200 species!). The beach is the perfect place to get an education on the animals of our planet!

What are YOUR favorite kid-friendly spots in New Jersey? Inspire our next trip by sharing your tips!

Toddler Travel Tips to Orlando

Toddler Travel Tips to Orlando

I never really thought about it - but it really is such a brilliant idea!

Traveling with toddlers to Orlando in May!!

Why such a great idea, you ask?

Because think about it.  Spring break, the holidays mean insanity in Orlando with all the families piling into the city to take in a vacation.   But in May - it's not too hot yet.  Plus the big kids are still in school.  Meaning any parent who has kids that are in pre-K and younger should TOTALLY be taking their vacations to Orlando then!

Here are 5 Great Toddler Travel spots in Orlando:

*LEGOLAND . This was by FAR the best place we visited while there this past trip!  What's great about LegoLand is not only the fact that it's not as insane as some of the other major locations in Orlando but they are opening a fabulous new toddler attraction in May!  Duplo Valley is set to open in May with some awesome new attractions for the toddlers!  We unfortunately didn't get to enjoy the new visitor spot when we were at LegoLand because it was all caught up in construction. But the barn was there - and I was DYING to get a sneak peak!  So, when you go in May - be sure to tweet me with your shots!! 

*NICKELODEON HOTEL - Seriously.  This was a shocking addition to our stay!  Everyone knows my family love of Disney.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE Disney (so much so, we're hitting up DisneyLand next week! lol)  But when I had the opportunity to 'visit Orlando' this time I wanted to try out something totally different.  This hotel was perfect for us!  They had so many great things that were not only awesome for kids - but parents too!  (Remember the show back in the day hosted by Mark Summers called Double Dare?  They have actual shows IN THE HOTEL!)

 

**TRAVEL FYI FOR TODDLERS**

AIRPORT BABY DRAMA -- Heaven forbid you get stuck with weather or mechanical delays or maybe even the airline lost your baggage - good news; baggage claim offices at airports will have emergency supplies of baby products, diapers, formula, baby snacks, blankets - AWESOME, RIGHT?

EAR POPPIN' PLAN -- Speaking of airports - if you have a child under 1 - be sure to bring a binky, bottle or something for your baby to suck on to avoid the ear pressure pain.  That is the WORST.  (Have gum on hand for older kids too...you'll be glad you did.)

SKIP THE LINES FOR YOUR SANITY -- Do you despise long lines and crowded theme parks?  TOTALLY need to take your toddlers to Orlando in MAY!  The weather is great.  It's past spring break so the lines are SHORTER & kids' are STILL in school!  BRILLIANT time to go if you don't have school age kids.

BEST TIME TO PLAY IS IN MAY -- May is also a great time because many of the theme parks in Orlando have HUGE discounts!  Buy an adult ticket, get a kids ticket free type deals.   Sea World, LEGOLAND, Universal & more!  Check out www.VisitOrlando.com/May for the great deals!

If you could go to Orlando - what would be the first place you'd head?