Enchanted Mommy

Universal Studios with Young Kids

I have a 7yr old, 5yr old, and a 3yr old.  We just moved to Florida late August and have slowly been making our way through the different tourist sites and amusement parks here.

We did Disney, Sea World, and the water parks first and we have just now made our way through Universal.  We kept putting off because everyone told us that Universal is best for older kids.  We finally went and I have to say it was an amazing time!  Despite the ages of our young kids, we had plenty to do and it was one of our most enjoyable trips yet!

Universal with younger kids ages 3, 5, and 7.

Universal with younger kids ages 3, 5, and 7.

We broke the trip up into two days since there are two separate Universal parks.  You can get a park hopper pass if you’d rather go between both parks on the same day.  We wanted to take our time and experience everything.  The two parks are Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Universal Island’s of Adventure is more thrill rides and roller coasters.  It has several different themed areas: Jurassic park, Harry Potter World, Dr. Seuss Landing, Marvel Super Hero Island, The Los Continent, and Toon Lagoon.

We loved all of it!  There were only three rides my 7 year could not ride, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Dragon Challenge, and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.  There was one more coaster (Harry Potter Coaster) that my 7 year old road that my 5 year old could not. Then two more that everyone but our 3 yr old could ride.  There were plenty of things for all of us to do together!

The Jurassic Park.  They loved exploring the caves, climbing the nets, and walking the bridges!  Make sure to plan for at least an hour at this place!

The Jurassic Park. They loved exploring the caves, climbing the nets, and walking the bridges! Make sure to plan for at least an hour at this place!

It was really easy to use the parent swap as well.  Ride with everyone tall enough while the other parent waits in the exit lane, then as you exit you switch places.  Parent waiting goes straight on ride while you wait with kids to young.  The best part is that they let the older kids ride again with the other parent so the kids got to ride those rides twice!

There are plenty of rides for the younger kids!

There are plenty of rides for the younger kids!

My favorite part of the park for my 3yr old and 5 yr old was Dr. Seuss Landing and Camp Jurassic in Jurassic Park Land.  Dr. Seuss landing had a ton of younger kid rides (trains, a flying fish ride, interactive play area, etc..).  Camp Jurassic was this huge park with slides, climbing nets, and caves to explore.  We could have stayed at that one spot all day!

Fun in Dr. Seuss Landing!

Fun in Dr. Seuss Landing!

My favorite part for my 5yr old and 7yr old kids would be the 3D Spiderman ride and Harry Potter World!  It was pretty cool!  We also love seeing all the Marvel characters come out riding four wheelers!  My boys are obsessed with the Avengers so they thought this was “so so so AWESOME!!!!!!”

I would highly recommend paying the extra money for the EXPRESS pass at Universal Islands of Adventure if it is a crowded day.  It is worth it when you consider how much time you will have to wait in line.  The express line will move 3 times faster!  I watched them load 3 full coasters from the express line to everyone one coaster from the regular line.  It was killer!

Universal Studios was awesome too!  This park wasn’t thrill rides as much as experiences.  There was one ride only that my 7 year old could not ride.  It was the only big coaster in  the park (Hollywood Rip Ride Rock it).  He was literally a “hair” too short.  Besides that ride,The Revenge of the Mummy was the only other ride my 5 yr old could not ride and only two more rides my 3yr old could not do (Despicable Me and Men in Black).

Just a "hair" too short for the big coaster!  He will probably hate me for this picture!

Just a “hair” too short for the big coaster! He will probably hate me for this picture!

There was a ton we could all do together and we used the parent swap for everything else.  Fieval’s Playground and Curious George Goes to Town playground are at the top of my list!  Kids loved it and we took a whole hour playing at each of these places!  We pretty much loved everything in this entire park.  Twister and Mummy were awesome and would rate more in the “thrill” area (my 3yr old and 5yr old closed their eyes at several parts).  Distaster was fun, but more of a comedy than thrilling.

Seriously, so many AWESOME 3D rides!

Seriously, so many AWESOME 3D rides!

The Men in Black ride is a shoot aliens as you ride a 6 person car and see who has the highest score at the end.  It was fun and the kids loved it, but I am still trying to figure out why my 3yr old couldn’t ride.  I wouldn’t recommend taking the younger kids to see the 3D Terminator 2 show.  It is not just the robots getting shot at and some of the robots still look human.

We used this fabulous calendar that tells you what the crowds will be like on any given day.  We went when it said the crowds would be moderate and had a great time and felt like we got to do everything we wanted with the kids riding some of their favorites twice when using the parent swap.

This part of the Curious George Play park was so much fun!  Balls everywhere for you to collect and load nerf guns.  We stayed here for over an hour while the boys had nerf gun wars!

This part of the Curious George Play park was so much fun! Balls everywhere for you to collect and load nerf guns. We stayed here for over an hour while the boys had nerf gun wars!

Make sure to save an hour for this place too!

Make sure to save an hour for this place too!

Meeting Transformers and the Simpsons.

Meeting Transformers and the Simpsons.

My 3yr old's first coaster!  Plenty to do here for even the younger kiddos!

My 3yr old’s first coaster! Plenty to do here for even the younger kiddos!

I would highly recommend going to Universal!  Ignore people when they say it isn’t fun for younger kids! We LOVED it!!!!!

MY BEST TIPS

1.  Use the parent swap!  Kids get to ride twice and it is so easy!

2.  Check out the crowds calendar and try to go on a lower crowd day.

3.  Suck it up and by the EXPRESS pass at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.  It is expensive, but when you are already paying so much anyway, it is worth it to pay a little more to shave hours off your total wait times.

4.    Bring food!  You can bring in all the snacks and drinks you want (no glass containers).  Keep the kids full and spend less on food in the parks.

5.  Don’t skip the parades or character greets.  The characters are so much fun and more in this era.  It is worth giving the kids some time to meet and greet!

Goof balls can't resist a chance to pose for the camera!

Goof balls can’t resist a chance to pose for the camera!

Fiesta Baby Shower

{ Kelcey is one of the best party throwers I know!  She has some amazing ideas so we are thrilled to have her guest post for us!  Hopefully we can get her to post more of her ideas in the future!   -Jamie }

Our good friends (and former neighbors in London last year) H and S are having a baby girl next month!  I decided on a “fiesta” theme for the shower because S’s family is from Mexico and bright colors inside are a cheery contrast with the grey winter outside.

Since H and S live about an hour away, we hosted the shower in the “common room” at their apartment complex.

FOOD

Heavy appetizers are perfect for an afternoon shower.  Mini snacks in cute cups and bowls made munching easier, less messy, and fun.  Since H and S are healthy eaters I did my best to make it a menu they would approve.PicMonkey CollageLargeQuesadilla

Shredded chicken and carne asada quesadilla bites were a big hit.  To make them easy to eat on a small party plate, I used a colorful mini fork or cactus toothpick ($0.99 for 25 at Oriental Trade) in each bite.

IMG_2619fruit

Mini fiesta fruit salads add a tropical, sweet kick: chopped mango, papaya, kiwi, and fresh mint tossed in orange juice.  (The fresh mint is the secret ingredient).  I found these cute spoons and mini cups/cupcake wrappers at ShopSweetLulu.com, my favorite party accessory website.  I like to get one or two cute, original items from the site to mix in with my Costco/Target finds.

IMG_2621corn

Mini corn and black bean salads with basil lime vinaigrette.  I love Giada’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/corn-and-black-bean-salad-with-basil-lime-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html

PicMonkey CollageSalsaBar

A salsa bar is essential to any fiesta… and always seems to become the center of the room when there is guacamole involved!  I picked up three kinds of salsa, fresh chips, and guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurant and filled colorful bowls.  I had the bright place mats from a recent trip to Mexico and the red plastic table cover left over from Christmas.  The mini maracas are from Oriental Trade, recycled from another fiesta party.  For the chips in the center, I used a pink basket from the dollar bin at Target and added a few pieces of natural brown tissue paper to help absorb some of the grease from the warm, fresh chips.  You could use any colorful containers you have on hand.

DRINKS

PicMonkey CollageDrinks

Jarritos (Mexican sodas) from Shoppers and raspberry and mandarin orange Vintage seltzer water.  I love that the blue vintage cans had polka dots to match the pink polka dot paper straws and napkins.

IMG_2625overalltable

GAMES & DECORATIONS

I placed colorful sombreros around the room on chairs, filling the dual purpose of decorations and fun party picture accessories.  The boys helped me hang some fiesta bunting and pom poms before the guests arrived.

PicMonkey CollageSombreros

We also played two games: “Baby Shower Price Is Right” and “Guess How Many Diapers.”

PicMonkey CollagePriceRight

IMG_2595how many

For the winners, I wrapped up (clear cello and pink polka dot ribbon) cute bottles of OPI “It’s A Girl!” pink nail polish.  (There was also one for H, the guest of honor).  Everyone else snacked on pink “It’s A Girl!” Hershey kisses.

PicMonkey Collageprizes

Since H worked at a hair salon in London, we also made hair accessories for Baby S. The girls had so much fun getting creative with glue guns, ribbon, buttons, and hair elastic.  H went home with an armful of cute hair bands, bows, and clips for Baby S made with love.

PicMonkey Collagehairbands

Then we opened gifts.  I think sometimes gift opening can drag on at showers, so the giver of each gift said something nice about “why H would be a great mom.”  This gave H a little pep talk and reminded her how fantastic she is.

IMG_2659H gifts

FAVORS: MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE CONES

Since it is still winter after all, Mexican hot chocolate was my first thought for a cold weather fiesta favor.  Hot chocolate cones are an inexpensive and super easy take-home treat.  Here’s what you need to make 25 hot chocolate cones:

  • 50 clear cone shaped cello bags (Hobby Lobby, $1.99)
  • Small, clear hair elastics
  • Ribbon, twisty ties, or string– whatever best fits with your event theme
  • Toppings — sprinkles, mini marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, M&Ms… anything you like!  I used mini marshmallows and sprinkles.
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Stickers or favor tags.  I ordered personalized event stickers online, but you could also easily make your own or use a sticker.PicMonkey CollageCones

Just fill the cone cello bags (be sure to use two bags per cone to prevent leaks) about two-thirds full with hot chocolate powder.  Then add marshmallows and sprinkles.  Tie off the bags with a small, clear hair elastic.  Tie the ribbon over the elastic and add your sticker or favor tag.  Fast, easy, cute, and delicious!

IMG_2664group

Group photo

IMG_2670HandS

S came by after the shower was over for a quick picture with H.  We can’t wait to meet Baby Olivia!

 

Enchanted Mommy’s Easter Crafts

Below, I’m linking to three Easter crafts and two yummy treats. Easter is right around the corner (March 31), so live it up before it gets here!

eastercupcraft

Easter Bunny Cup Craft – So adorable!

I just think this craft is so adorable.  It would even make a great party favor with some candy in it!

 

This is made out of a paper plate, cotton balls, pipe stems, construction paper and googley eyes.

This is made out of a paper plate, cotton balls, pipe stems, construction paper and googley eyes.

Check out this Bunny craft!

 

popcorncake

Such a delicious and adorable Easter dessert!

Click here to find out how to make this yummy popcorn cake!

 

Learning words with Easter eggs!

Learning words with Easter eggs!

This is such a fun way for kids to learn words that rhyme and how to sound out different words!  Check it out!

 

Easter Egg "Nests"

Yummy Easter Egg “Nests”

Look at these adorable little nests for candy eggs!

 

easterpuppet

Easter Puppet!

I just posted this two weeks ago, but it’s a good chance to pull out all those craft supplies!

It’s amazing how quickly the holidays come and go the older you get.  I feel like I get so caught up in time (and possibly the fact that I’m 29 weeks pregnant) that I forget to do things with my kids.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter!

Christmas Craft Party

One of my friends (I spent 6 college years with her) invited us to a Christmas craft party!  It was so much fun for the kids.  Ella was so excited for it and couldn’t wait to go.  She had food and four fun crafts for the kids to do.  The food was absolutely adorable and the crafts were at the perfect level for the kids.  This post may be picture overload, but it’s the best way for me to show all the effort and creative thinking!  I took my snowman cupcakes that I just posted about as a little dessert for the kids.

We got there and I admired the food and even the juice boxes.

Three pizzas looking like a snowman.

Even the juice boxes were decorated:

Rudolph juice boxes.

Check out these cute snowmen!

Powdered donuts on a stick!

Ella loved them, can you tell?!

My munchkin loving the powdered donut snowman.

The four crafts included:

Making reindeer dust so the they can find your house.

The bag the reindeer dust went in.

In the bag they put:

Oats “Carbs Do A Body Good”

Flour “Flying Powder”

Raisins “So The Reindeer Can Poop”

Gitter “Star Dust”

Fry Chips “Energy Boost”

Then, we went and made a bird feeder:

Roll a pine cone in peanut butter and then roll in bird seed. Perfect little bird feeder.

Next, we did a letter to Santa:

Letter to Santa.

Lastly, we made a gum drop snowflake using toothpicks and gumdrops.

Snowflake made out of gumdrops!

The best part of all…… SANTA showed up!

Even a cool Santa arrived!

It was definitely a cool party.  Thanks Catherine!!!  Maybe one year I’ll get around to doing one!

 

Cake Decorating Basics: A Review of Michaels Level 1 Decorating Class

I have been trying to take this decorating class at Michaels for years now and have never come up with time to do it.  I finally decided that I would do the class whether I had time or not!  It is a 2 hr class that is once a week for four weeks.  I had to arrange rides for my son to basketball practice, get babysitters when the hubby was out of town… but all the hassle was worth it.  I loved it.

I am planning on taking the level 2 course next month.  I feel like I really learned a lot of good techniques and tricks that will help me in making my own cakes.  I don’t plan on becoming a professional, but I do love making my kids birthday cakes myself.  I find it really makes the birthday feel more special!  Here are some of the things we did in class…

This is called a “Shaggy Mum.” It is made using tip 233.

 

These are called “Rosette” flowers. They are made using tip 18.

 

Filling your cupcakes with pudding or anything else is simple using tip 230.

 

The yellow flower on the top is called a “drop” flower. It is made using tip 2D. The big flower on the bottom was made using tip 12.

 

This the start of a “pompom” flower. Use tip 12 to make a round circular base. Then tip 16 to put pipe the cluster in the center (the dark blue).

 

This is the completed “pompom” flower. Use tip 18 to pipe rows of pulled out starrs around the circle base. Start at the bottom and work your way around the circle base and repeat for each layer until you can no longer see the base.

First we practiced on a given practice sheet. These are drop flowers and rosette flowers.

 

These are shells and leaves. The shells are made with tip 21 and the leaves are made with tip 352.

My final cake. We practiced handwriting.

We also learned the best way to frost a cake, how to cut the cake to make it flat, and how to fill a cake with pudding or fruit.  Sorry I didn’t take pictures of this.  We also learned how to make a gorgeous “Ribbon Rose.”  Sadly I have no pictures of those either, but take my word for it they are beautiful!

I can’t wait to take the level 2 class.  I will post on that when I complete it.  For now, It is official… I am a certified level 1 decorator.

 

Here are some of the cakes I did before taking this course.  Can’t wait to see the improvement on my future birthday cakes!

Superman Cake
Lion King Cake
Monster Cupcakes
Number 3 Birthday Cake
Rainbow Cupcakes
Giant Cupcake 

Turkey Trot!

Happy Thanksgiving!  It is my favorite time of year and I am loving spending it in beautiful Florida this year!  The weather is warm and beautiful and makes us all smile!

This year we did our first Turkey Trot 5k.  It is one of our goals to be more active as a family.  Today we ran with my big sister and 1st grade niece.  We have also signed up our 7 year old to run in his first 5k in Miami in February!  He is really excited to get to race with us next time and has committed to practice and train with us for his race.

Here we are in all our glory! So glad we are running this in Florida with out our sweats and ear warmers!

I wanted to give a shout out to my big sis for her example of getting her family (and mine!) up and out to do fun and active things!  She has a new blog that has so many ideas on how to get your family outside and involved in projects together.  It is really a pretty awesome and inspiring thing she has going.  Check it out at www.littleyellowshack.com

My beautiful sister and niece getting ready for the race! They are so cool and ran in their five finger shoes!

She even has us signed up for paddle boarding next month!  It is never to late to make a change in your life and make being active together as a family your lifestyle!

I am especially thankful this year to see measurable progress on our goals from where we were last year at this time!  Physically, spiritually, temporally, and financially we have been able to progress and accomplish our family and personal goals!  We love each other and have great blessings for fighting through the difficult times together.  From paying off the car loan this year to transforming our life into a more active lifestyle we have really made some great changes this year!

I am also thankful for our church for pushing us to set family goals in all of these area at the beginning of this year and pushing us meet them.  I love inspiration like that!

Happy Turkey Day!!!!!!!!!!

 

Witch Hat Cookies!

Looking for a quick and cute Halloween snack for the kiddos?  Try these witch hats!  They take seconds to make and are adorable.  I am bringing these to my son’s school Halloween party tomorrow.

I go the idea off pinterest like everything else.  Ha!

All you need are some Hershey kisses, Keebler Fudge Striped Cookies, and frosting.  I am sure it would look better with Halloween Orange frosting, but hey it is 930pm the night before Halloween and I am just throwing this together.  Last minute planners miss out!  I blame it on tonights soccer game… which we sadly lost 5 to 1.

Color Me Mine… so much fun!

We had so much fun at Color Me Mine.  I had always thought it looked fun, but am cheap frugal.  While we were out visiting grandparents they wanted to take the boys to make their own cups to have at their house.

What fun we had!  The boys loved it!  It was even fun for my two year old.  Was it Pricey?  A bit.  We paid $12 for each cup.  They also have a sitting fee, but luckily we went when they were having a buy one get one free special.

So basically you show up, no appointment necessary and pick an item to paint.  They have all kinds of stuff from cups and mugs to cute little animals and cars.  Then you get a paint tray and put the colors you want on them (there are hundreds to choose from).

You finish painting and just leave it right on the table.  No clean up necessary (my favorite part!).  It takes about a week for them to put in their ovens and finish it up, but they really turned out great.  Very good quality.

I really want to go back and paint a cute lizard to put on my back patio.  So fun!

Anyway, if you have been thinking of doing this you should give it a try.  We had a great time.  I would definitely call ahead and try to go when they are having specials.

 

 

 

Preschool: Introducing the Letter A

Ella and I had a great time learning the letter A!  She loves all the crafts that come along with the learning.

The first thing we did was take A-pple Jacks and create an A.

Creating an "A" from apple jacks

Used Apple Jacks to create an A.

Next, was my favorite part!  We created an alligator “A” that I learned from this cute blog!  All you need is green, white and another color paper and some googly eyes.  That’s it!

learning the letter A

Our alligator "A"

Here she is working on it!

Learning the letter A

Ella working on her alligator.

Next, Ella did a great job practicing writing the letter A on her aquadoodle.  I think EVERY kid needs one of these.  They never get old.  Here is the one we have.

Learning the letter A

Using her A-quadoodle to make an A.

Lastly, we read Aladdin!  She loved it!

We read Aladdin.

It was a great day and we had an awesome time!!

Check out how we taught our kids all the other letters!

Letter B | Letter C | Letter D Letter F Letter H |  Letter I  |  Letter K |  Letter L  | Letter M | Letter Q  |  Letter R  |  Letter W | Letter X

Washing A Car = A Fun Hot Day Activity

It seems like three little kiddies hop around between houses on my street.  One of them happens to be my three year old that two sweet five year olds include {insert my heart melting here}.  There is only so much “basement” fun you can have.  Well, one fun activity the neighbor had for them was to wash her car!  The car may have still been dirty when they finished, but they at least had fun doing it!

3 year old washing a car

She was loving life!

filling the bucket

This seriously made her day!

fun summer activity

Washing the car. She loved the hose!

washing a car

It was still dirty when they finished, but they had fun!

I will say that it was more fun for Ella doing it with other kids.  It also seemed to make my life a little easier!  I highly recommend a neighborhood for your little ones.  I know we love ours!