I’m Headed To Jamaica {Soon}!

I’m so excited to share that I will be headed to Jamaica next month courtesy of Beaches Negril Resort & Spa! The last time I took a trip somewhere warm I was in College and went to Orlando, Florida. I wasn’t doing anything fun though- I was on a mission trip spending most of my time tarring a roof in the hot sun.

Headed to Jamaica is a dream come true and something I never thought I’d be doing. I’m going there with my five year old and am excited to come back and share about our experience. I’d never thought of taking kids to a Beaches resort, because I’d always thought of Beaches as a “couples” honeymoon type place, but upon looking at their website I discovered there is tons for kids to do.

With outrageous waterparks, XBOX® Play Lounge, the Scratch DJ Academy, exclusive Kids Camps, teen nightclubs, Certified Nannies, Butler service, and Red Lane® Spas, Beaches Resorts provides an unrivaled experience in the Caribbean. As a proud sponsor of Sesame Street, Beaches Resorts also offers the Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street®, where kids can spend their vacation with their favorite friends from the Sesame Street gang with daily activities and weekly stage shows.

Here are some pictures from their website which make me wish the trip was today as I sit here looking outside at a sky filled with rain clouds.

Check out that beach! Have you ever seen anything so amazing?!

***

Jake is all about the pool since he thinks fish will touch him in the ocean :)

***

I think every vacation I’ve ever dreamed about had a variation of this. What a fabulous way to spend a day!

***

Of course the rooms are beautiful as well. Imagine waking up to palm trees and a crystal clear ocean!

Have you ever traveled internationally with children? I’d love any tips you have to share with me since I’m a little nervous!

Great Midwest Family Vacation Town {Branson, MO}

I recently traveled to Branson, Missouri with a few other bloggers on a trip with US Family Guide courtesy of Branson Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. What was supposed to be a mom/daughter trip ended up being more of a family trip but in a way I’m glad the boys could come with because that gave me the chance to see how kid-friendly Branson was. I went into the trip thinking Branson was more of a place for adults but I left knowing that it is a perfect family vacation destination.

Branson is quite a drive from the Chicago area but do-able. Leaving in the afternoon meant the kids slept most of the car ride. Once we got to Branson we checked in to Thousand Hills Golf Resort where we were staying for the duration of our trip. The condo we stayed in was beautiful and bigger than my first apartment with a view of the golf course.

Condo at Thousand Hills Golf Resort

We spent our first day at Silver Dollar City. I started the day by riding their new record-breaking ride, Outlaw Run. It’s the first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster, the only wood coaster to twist upside down three times, the world’s steepest wood coaster, and the second fastest wood coaster in the world. It was an amazing thrill! I spent the rest of the day with my kids riding “kiddie rides”, eating delicious food, and walking around looking at the 125+ booths of crafts during their National Harvest Fest.

Rides at Silver Dollar City

After a day at Silver Dollar City we went back to our hotel room, changed, and headed to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede for dinner and show. The show was action packed and we loved watching all of the performers including the man who rode 2 horses through a ring of fire and the ostrich race. My boys even got to be part of the show as they chased chickens in the arena while about a thousand people watched.

Ostrich Race at Dixie Stampede

After a good night’s rest we headed to the Hollywood Wax Museum where my mom and the boys posed with wax figures of famous actors and actresses. Some of them looked so real!

My favorite wax celebrity at the Hollywood Wax Museum- so real!

 Our next stop was to The Track Family Fun Parks. With 5 locations spread along the main highway, there is something for everyone at “the tracks”. The boys loved riding Go-Karts by themselves and all of the kiddie rides. My favorite was racing Go-Karts on a couple of the best tracks that I’ve ever been on.

Go-Kart fun at The Track Family Fun Parks

Our evening consisted of a nice dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle. We enjoyed delicious food while watching some great talent. One of the women performing had me amazed when she was playing the violin upside down while doing aerials! The comedian and magician was so good that I’m still trying to figure out how he did one of his last tricks.

Beautiful evening for a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle

The next day was our last day in Branson. We spent our morning at the Titanic Museum. I found it interesting to learn more about this ship I had only known about from the movie. The boys loved all of the interactive exhibits.

Model ship we saw at the Titanic Museum

Before we left we stopped at the Christmas store and a local shop selling taffy. We had a great time together on our trip. If you are looking for a family-friendly vacation spot I recommend heading to Branson, Missouri. See more fun things to do at ExploreBranson.com!

Cave Of The Mounds {Blue Mounds, WI}

Last month we went on a mini-vacation to Wisconsin Dells. On our way there we made a slight detour off our route because I had arranged for my family to go on a press tour of Cave of the Mounds, a National Natural Landmark. I had never heard of this cave before July but it sounded really interesting so it was worth the 45 minutes or so of additional drive time.

Once we arrived at Cave of the Mounds we signed up for a cave tour time and then went into a little gift shop filled with beautiful rocks and gemstones.

In the gift shop were bags of sand for purchase. These weren’t just filled with sand but some had gemstones hidden inside and some had fossils in them. We chose to dig for gemstones. Once we got the bags we went to the “mining” area and dumped the bags out into sifters.

At first the boys just dug through the sand and then rinsed the rocks off in the water. Eventually though they immersed the whole sifter of sand in the running water and found the smaller rocks that way.

The boys thought this mining process was lots of fun. Each boy found about 15 rocks/gemstones in their bag of sand. After we did our mining it was time for our cave tour. The small group of people on the tour are first led into a small room where we watched a movie about the cave and it’s history.

I found the movie really interesting though it was kind of hard for the kids to sit through because they are used to animated shows. Once we watched the movies we were led into the cold, dark cave. I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

The inside of the cave was beautiful. All these rock formations had formed inside and our tour guide explained how this cave had been built over thousands of years.

The tour ended up lasting a lot longer than I thought it was going to. The boys behaved pretty well during it and only started getting antsy at the end.

I took so many pictures inside the cave but the pictures don’t really do it justice. It’s really something you just have to experience yourself :)

Once the tour was over Lucas wanted to dig for more gemstones. We went to a big sandbox full of gemstones where the kids could use shovels to dig for goodies they could take home.

Look at this pretty rock I found!

Also, on the grounds are a beautiful garden area and plenty of greenery. We wanted to finish our trip to the Dells so we didn’t get a chance to check out the garden area but it looked nice and serene.

Overall, we had a great afternoon at Cave of the Mounds. It was a fun way to enjoy nature and was definitely worth the drive. Learn more about Cave of the Mounds, National Natural Landmark, here.

(Disclosure: We received press tickets but all thoughts are my own.)

Original Wisconsin Ducks {Wisconsin Dells, WI}

When I was younger my family went to Wisconsin Dells and rode on vehicles called “Ducks”. That is one of the things I wanted to do with my own family when we went to the Dells last week. There are multiple different “Ducks” there now, so I wasn’t sure which one I had gone on when I was little so we decided to stick with the “Original” ones.

Since I didn’t know how long the wait was until the next ride, the boys and I sat in the car while Sinisa went and bought our tickets. When he came back, tickets in hand, and told me he’d just spent almost $80 I could not believe it. Obviously, I did not look at prices when I was younger so I don’t know if that’s how much it was or if the price had went up a lot.

The Ducks depart every 10 minutes so we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes. They travel on both land and water. Each Duck has a driver who also acts as a tour guide. Ours was hilarious and told jokes must of the ride. He also pointed things out along the way.

The views from the boat were beautiful and I really enjoyed being on the water. The boat didn’t travel as fast as I had remembered it did. We went into the water at one point and made a splash with the boat but other than that it was a pretty calm ride. On land we didn’t go more than 20 miles per hour but there were points in the woods where I definitely felt like I was on a roller coaster (and Jacob loved that part).

Overall, it was a nice way to relax in the constant flurry of a tourist town. I think it’s something that every Wisconsin Dells visitor should do at least once just because of it’s iconic status.

(Disclosure: As stated above we bought our own tickets. This post is not compensated in any way.)

Chula Vista Resort {Wisconsin Dells, WI}

I am so excited to be heading to Wisconsin Dells in a couple weeks. I am a Chula Vista Resort Ambassador so my family will be staying at the Chula Vista Resort which I’ve never been to before. The pictures on the website make me even more excited because it looks like we are going to have an amazing time. I am looking forward to relaxing and my kids are looking forward to checking out the waterpark.

And you don’t think I’d leave you all, my readers, out of the fun do you!? After our mini-vacation I will be giving away a 2 night stay at Chula Vista Resort to one of you so you can take your family on a fun vacation, too!

(Disclosure: As stated above, I am a Chula Vista Resort Ambassador so I am receiving a complementary stay. All thoughts are my own.)

Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty {Wisconsin Dells, WI}

One of my favorite Midwest vacation destinations is Wisconsin Dells. I remember going there when I was younger and we would always have breakfast at least one morning at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.

Now that I have kids of my own I knew we had to stop by the restaurant when we went to the Dells for our very first family vacation.

Everything was just like I had remembered. Old fashioned tables and tableware and homemade food served family style. It was a great way to start off the day. My favorite are their sugar covered doughnuts! And just a heads up- if you want French Toast you need to get there early in the morning because that’s the only time they offer them.

Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty serves lunch and dinner as well but I’ve never tried anything but their breakfast selection. They also have a cute little touristy store that you can shop in while you wait for your table.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. We paid for our meal and all thoughts are my own.)

Kalahari Resorts {Giveaway!}

I am super excited to share about Kalahari Resorts, a wonderful family destination that I will be working with for the month of December. I’m extra excited because this will be the first vacation that our family has ever taken together!

It might be chilly inside but it’s hot at the Kalahari Resort so pull out that bathing suit and get ready to escape for a little fun! Check this place out:

The Waterpark Slides

***

A fantastic place for the little ones to play

***

Lazy River

Kalahari Resorts in the Dells has Wisconsin’s Largest Waterpark and includes fun and exciting rides and features for both your tiny tots and older kids.

· Their indoor waterpark recently installed a state-of-the-art Kids Play Zone named Tiko’s Watering Hole. Catered specifically for your tiny tots, this 5,000-square-foot, interactive play area features activities, slides and a 200-foot-long lazy river made just for them.

· The indoor waterpark also features America’s first indoor super loop slides. All three slides present a near 60 foot drop, and the Super Loop Sahara Sidewinder slides takes guests on a 250-plus foot journey from high above the roof of the waterpark to the water below.

· Our Indoor Theme Park has over 100,000 square feet of family fun with a ton of indoor attractions and activities.

· Other popular indoor attractions include:

-The Tanzanian Twister, a 40 mph exciting pipe-style ride
-Victoria Falls, a 84-foot family raft ride for the whole family
-Rippling Rhino, Kalahari’s longest tube slide at 400 feet long

TWITTER PARTY:

Come join us on Twitter tomorrow for a Kalahari Resorts Twitter Party!

December 1, 2012 12:30-1:30pm Central time

Follow @aliciamarie112 and #Kalahari

DISCOUNT:

Want to stay at Kalahari Resorts?

Click here for a great discount code!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a fantastic prize package from Kalahari Resorts!!!

Package includes:

* 1-night stay in Hut or Desert Style Room

* Complimentary Indoor Theme Park Passes

Please note the terms of the voucher:

Wisconsin Dells location only. NOT VALID: Friday and Saturdays. Blackout dates include November 21-22, 2012, December 21-January 5, 2013, January 20, 2013, February 17, 2013, March 17-31, 2013, April 1-4, 2013, May 26, 2013, June 23 – August 18, 2013, September 1, 2013, and October 13, 2013. Please call (877) 525-2427 for availability. No cash value expires 1 year from date of issue.

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to win

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Kalahari Resorts on Facebook

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Subscribe to this blog via email {look in upper right hand corner}

Giveaway ends December 20, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. This giveaway is only for the items stated and does not cover any travel, fees, etc. associated with the package.

(Disclosure: I am receiving a package from Kalahari Resorts in exchange for my posts.)

Disney Family Cruise Giveaway {$3000 ARV}


Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Acadiana’s Thrifty Mom has teamed up with American Family and an awesome group of bloggers to bring you our BIGGEST giveaway yet! One lucky fan will win a Disney Cruise for a family of 4 valued at $3000! That’s right, a Disney Cruise! This awesome giveaway is brought to you by American Family and Acadiana’s Thrifty Mom, and hosted by Frugality For Less, and Debbie Does Coupons. GOOD LUCK!

*This giveaway is opened to U.S. residents only. You must be 18 years of age to enter to win. The winner will be responsible for transportation to and from the port of departure. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Google, Pinterest, or Twitter in any way. Please read HERE for complete rules.

**ENTER OVER AT ACADIANA’S THRIFTY MOM***

**CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO THE RAFFLECOPTER ENTRY FORM**