Is Carnival’s Seuss at Sea Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Worth It?

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines. While travel accommodations were complimentary, all opinions remain 100% mine.

You saved up all year to take an epic family vacation with Carnival Cruise Lines. Suitcases packed with your cruise travel essentials, you board the ship ready for some much deserved rest and relaxation.  If your family is like mine, you head straight for the food and quickly become mesmerized by the seemingly endless options all included in your price of admission.

But on your first full day at sea, your family wants to take part in the Seuss at Sea Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast…for an additional charge. What?! Why spend more money when you have already paid for the buffet?  Below, you will find my reasons why the $5 per person is completely and totally worth it.

1.  Let Kids Be Kids: We asked a lot of our kids on this trip. While we had tons of fun, we asked them to wait in lines with patience, sit at fancy dinners quietly, and walk long distances without whining. But THIS breakfast was ALL about THEM and they could let it all out!

2. Dine in Whoville: Carnival went all out with the themed decor at this breakfast. The entire dining hall was transformed into a colorful and magical world complete with a beautiful ice sculpture.  My girls could not wait to sit down at our polka dot table!

3. Fun Food: There are no boring omeletes, plain pancakes or bland bowls of oatmeal at this event.  My kids got to choose from menu items such as Horton’s Cereal Crusted French Toast, Truffula Tree Pancakes and of course, the always popular Green Eggs & Ham.

4.  Character Dining: Similar to other character breakfasts at other theme parks (which are WAY more expensive), the whimsical Dr. Seuss characters roam the dining hall and visit with every table. You are allowed to take pictures with your own camera so you do not have to pay extra for professional pictures.

5. Fancy Footwork: The wait staff on Carnival is over the top friendly and really go above and beyond to make your trip memorable.  This breakfast is no exception! The Staff dresses up in costume and performs a fun routine for guests which my kids loved.

The Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast on the Carnival Dream was more than a meal, it was an experience and in my opinion well worth the price.  This was the perfect was to start off our Sea Day which was followed by a kid-centric agenda of water slides, comedy hour and mini golf.  No wonder Carnival hosts more than 700,000 kids aboard it’s fleet each year!

Have Rayovac, Will Travel

This Summer has been a whirlwind of activity for my family and I.  Between hosting iRetreat Blog Conference in Hershey, PA to visiting my sister-in-law in Canada and then sailing with Carnival to the Caribbean, we have hardly had time to catch our breath.  But with all of this traveling, I have learned a thing or two on how to effectively pack when hitting the road (or the air and sea) with kids.

One of the items that I found to be invaluable during our adventures is not one you would automatically think to pack.  It’s not an item of clothing or a specific shoe.  It’s not bug spray or sunscreen.  It’s not medicine or sea-sickness bracelets.

It was our Rayovac Virtually Indestructible 2AA LED Flashlight.

Small enough to fit into our suitcase without a problem, we packed one for each child and they proved to come in handy on each and every leg of our journey.  For starters, the kids used their flashlights to color in the car to keep them occupied on a 2 hour ride.  While in Canada, the girls had their own bedroom to share and loved using the flashlights to feel like they were having a camp out in their own space.

While the flashlights were great for those trips, I would highly recommend taking one on a cruise.  With very light sleeping quarters, my husband and I used the flashlights to find missing items that had fallen behind the bed and also used them to navigate the space after the kids had fallen asleep (you do NOT want sleep deprived kids on a cruise).

After the sun set, my girls could not wait to take the flashlights onto our balcony and looks for marine life in the water.  We spotted jellyfish and flying fish and they could not have been more excited.  When it was time for bed, the girls settled into the bunk beds and used their flashlights to catch up on a few minutes of summer reading before drifting off to sleep.

With a battery run time of 15 hours, IPX4 water resistance and passing a 30 foot drop test, this flashlight is ideal for any vacation.  What are your unusual travel necessities?

Spice Up Summer Learning with Netflix

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of the Netflix Stream Team a complimentary subscription is received. All opinions remain 100% mine.

When the last school bell sounds, the last thing my kids want to think about is books, projects, tests and assignments.  But even though it is summertime,  it’s not time to stop learning.  For my kids, we just approach learning in a different way during these months.

We were fortunate enough to take a few family vacations recently and honestly I think traveling and experiencing different people and cultures is an invaluable source of knowledge.  My kids watched the changing of the guards in Ottawa, swam with stingrays in Grand Cayman and went tubing along the Great River in Jamaica.  My daughter loves her Atlas and we track our travels to facilitate discussions on what to expect along the way.

When we arrived home from our cruise, the kids were fascinated with all things marine, so we headed to Netflix Kids to see if we could find any documentaries to help explain the biology of what we experienced.  The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans narrated by David Attenborough was the perfect fit.  With episodes such as “Ocean World” and “Coral Seas”, the kids learned more about the dolphins, turtles and stingrays encountered on our trip.

If you are looking for inventive ways to continue learning over the summer months, you can find a variety of options on Netflix.  Whether its a documentary about dinosaurs or a math adventure to the moon, there is something for all of the days spent outside the classroom.

 

Finding Fall Trends at Carter’s {Giveaway}

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Carter’s and The Motherhood.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

With two girls in my home, it should come as no surprise that they LOVE to shop.  From a very young age, it was very clear that I had two fashionistas on my hands.  But because they both wear uniforms to school, they don’t get to express their individuality with their wardrobe very often.  So, I was thrilled to take them to Carter’s to explore the new Fall trends and see what caught their eye.

Carter’s has been one of my long time “go-to” stores from the time my girls were babies. Did you know that they sell over 400 million pieces of children’s clothing each year?  But what I love even more than the convenience is that Carter’s is dedicated to value, superior quality and age-appropriate style and these goals are immediately noticeable when you enter any one of their stores.

In a recent virtual briefing with Laura Barber, Vice President and GMM of eCommerce for Carter’s, I learned about the exciting Fall Trends for 2014.  Here’s the scoop so you can be on point as well:

  1. Camo: It’s not just for boys anymore! Add camo to your child’s wardrobe by mixing patterns (especially florals) to create a fun twist and make it more feminine.
  2. Activewear: The easy t-shirts (many have fun positive messages) can be paired with mesh shorts for Summer or layered under a jean jacket for Fall.
  3. Vintage Prints: The smaller, sweeter graphics caught our eye especially the ones with ponies and puppies!
  4. Tomboy Chic: Pair a sweatshirt with a lace layered skirt to be both comfortable and feminine.

After trying to spot each trend in the store, my 6 year old (very opinionated) daughter selected two complete outfits which she was very eager to model.

Aubrie chose a denim dress that she can wear in the heat of a New Orleans Summer but which can be layered with a camo or perhaps animal print cardigan for Fall.  For her second outfit, she was drawn to the vintage print of this adorable skirt and decided to pair it with some really feminine and fun colors. Because our local Carter’s does not carry Lily’s size, she was unable to participate.  But good news! Some Carter’s locations are now carrying sizes 7-12!

Looking for more Fall Fashion advice?  Laura Barber offers this:

The thing to remember is that there aren’t any rules that apply anymore! Let your kids go into their closets and put crazy things together! It inspires creativity, and in this season probably more than ever!

Ready to start shopping? From now through August 5th, Carter’s entire store is 40% off!  In addition, you can print the following coupon for 20%, too.

Download and Print the Coupon Here

To help you stock up on Fall Trends, I also have a $50 Carters Gift Card to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Enter below for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Planes Upholstered Chair from Delta Children {Giveaway}

How many times have your kids seen Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue this Summer?  I’ve been hearing great things about it, but we unfortunately haven’t made the trip to the movie theater.  But from walking the aisles at just about any store, I can tell it is wildly popular with all of the merchandising available.

Do you have a “Planes” obsessed child in your home? I have one Planes Upholstered Chair from Delta Children (available at Walmart) to giveaway to one lucky reader (ARV $50).  About the product:

This great new Planes Upholstered Chair is the perfect chair for your little one. Planes Upholstered Chair, the soothing chair provides a perfect spot for your little Pilot to watch his favorite shows and relax after a long day. The upholstered chair is built with a sturdy durable frame making it the perfect chair for studying and relaxing.

Enter below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrate a Birthday with Carnival Cruise Lines

On July 16th, it happened.  Even though I attempted to flee the Country in hopes this day would not come, I was unsuccessful.  Forty found me.  FORTY.  What?  Wasn’t I just turning 21 like a year ago?  Despite my hesitation about this milestone, it turned out to be the best birthday ever (except for my 9th birthday when I had a party at McDonald’s and got a purple boombox from my Grandma…that was pretty rad).

My hubby (in cahoots with Carnival Cruise Lines) was a Rockstar and deserves all the props for making me feel like a Queen on my special day.  Here are some ways you can help a loved one celebrate their birthday while aboard the Carnival Dream.

1.  Decorate the Cabin: Cleverly hide some decorations from a local party supply store and deck out your stateroom with balloons, streamers, banners and signs.  Some Carnival ships offer this service for a fee if you cannot seem to hide the decor in your carry on bag.

2.  Breakfast in Bed: Order room service the night before so you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast in bed instead fighting the crowds at the breakfast buffet.

3.  Spa Appointment: The Carnival Dream has a lovely “Cloud 9″ spa which offers services for women, men and children, too.  My hubby surprised me with a morning massage and facial. It was a great way to start the day!

4.  Bucket List Excursion: Following my spa treatment, we headed off to swim with the Stingrays in Grand Cayman.  It was just the right touch of adventure and relaxation to make for a memorable birthday.

5.  Signature Dining at the On-board Steakhouse: While the regular dining options are fantastic, the steakhouse is a whole other level of exquisite.  Make a reservation and let them know you have a birthday being celebrated at your table.

6.  What’s a birthday without cake? Special decorated cakes can be ordered at the Steakhouse and I can tell you that it was delicious! A whole cake was delivered to my table complete with candles and of course the obligatory birthday song.

7.  Roses Are Red. And yellow, white and pink, too!  A dozen multicolored roses can be purchased on board (the Carnival Dream offers this at the Cherry On Top shop) and delivered to your stateroom.

8.  Send a Gift: Not on board with your loved one? You can still arrange to have a gift sent the their stateroom to let  them know you are thinking of them on their special day.  One of my best friends sent me a Carnival Sweatshirt which was much needed at the chilly theater on board.

9. Make a Memory: Professional photographers are on hand several nights on all Carnival ships.  I absolutely loved having a professional shot taken of my precious family. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Turns out, 40 is not so bad after all.

Top Ten Travel Essentials for Cruising

I wrote about my experience with Poise Microliner as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars. #PoisewithSAM

In just 5 short days, I will be boarding the Carnival Dream and heading off on an epic 40th birthday celebration.  This trip has to be perfect so I thought I would share with you my Top Ten Essential Items for Cruising.

Cruise Essentials #PoiseWithSAM

1. Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus: Did you know that cruise ships don’t have irons?  For this wrinkle-phobic Mom, I may have had a panic attack.  Fortunately, this product kept my family and I looking elegant night ready!

2.  Brita Water Bottle: Half the fun of a cruise are the exotic excursions and exploring new parts of the World. But to keep the fun going, you need to stay hydrated.  Don’t forget to take along your water bottle every time you leave the boat.

3.  Cute Accessories: There is just something about setting sail that just begs for a killer sandal, trendy sunglasses and a floppy hat.  Check out my Pinterest Board for inspiration!

Follow Bridgette’s board Sail Away With Me on Pinterest.

4.  Poise Microliners: I am sailing away to escape turning 40, but unfortunately I can’t escape my LBL I was left with after having 2 kids.  But, because Poise is thinnest liner available in the light incontinence category, I can be confident on those rugged adrenaline filled excursions. Get a free Poise sample for your next adventure!

5. Sunscreen: Don’t forget to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.  My essential sun protection product is Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 85 Sunscreen which is perfect for our beach destination.

6. Lanyard: Consider purchasing a different lanyard for each family member before boarding. It’s much easier to keep track of your “Sail and Sign” card when it’s around your neck leaving your hands free for more food and drinks!  Letting the kids choose their own lanyard not only gives them some ownership to their card but provides an easy way to tell the cards apart in a hurry.

7.  Waterproof Phone Case: You are going to want to take pictures…and lots of them! But don’t ruin your phone in the crystal clear water and on the pristine beaches. Protect your tech with a waterproof case.

8.  Light Jacket: So you are cruising to the Caribbean, why would you pack a jacket? If you plan to partake in any onboard activities such as comedy clubs, casino or live theater, they can be downright cold. Be prepared.

9.  Hand Sanitizer: Is it obvious that I have a degree in Microbiology? Happy Hour is EVERY hour for bacteria and viruses on cruise ships. Stop them in their tracks by using hand sanitizer and anti-microbial wipes.

10. Bungee Cord: Want to fall asleep to the sounds of the Ocean? Hold open your balcony door with a bungee cord or use it to hand wet swimsuits overnight.

11. (BONUS) Your Inner Child: Don’t forget to have fun! Go down the waterslide, dance the night away, cartwheel on the beach and cross off as many bucket list items as you can. Enjoy!

What is one of your cruising essentials?

Reading Under the Stars with Scholastic #SummerReading

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

One month ago, my daughters both accepted the Summer Reading Challenge.  Now in its 8th year, the challenge is dedicated to stopping the “Summer Slide” and getting kids to read throughout the summer months when school is out. We have always had a dedicated reading time before bed, but now we are logging minutes for a cause.

I helped each girl create an online account and they began tracking their number of minutes read.  The goal?  To help Read for the World RecordThrough this program, Scholastic inspired more than 130,000 kids from 4,200 schools in all 50 States and 31 countries to set a new record for summer reading of 176 million-plus minutes in 2013 and this year kids are being challenged to break the record.  So far, kids around the globe have logged over 172,000,000 minutes making the 2014 goal within reach.

To help my girls log additional minutes, I decided to spice things up.  This year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme is “Reading Under the Stars” so I thought it would be fun to take the books outside for a change of scenery. Because this year’s theme is powered by EVEREADY, the maker of batteries and flashlights, to encourage families to discover new and fun ways to explore reading, we headed to the backyard with flashlights to add minutes to the record.

My daughters thought snuggling in a sleeping bag, enjoying the beautiful stars and snacking on some popcorn while reading their favorite books was a ton of fun!  In fact, it was so much fun that they have requested a “Reading Under the Stars” Slumber Party before school begins.  What a great way to encourage summer reading!

if your kids want to join in the summer fun?  Get more information at scholastic.com/summer and start contributing minutes to reach the 2014 challenge.  How do you encourage your child to read?

Lighten Up with Denny’s Fit Fare Menu

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. I am a Denny’s Ambassador however all opinions remain 100% mine.

Within the last two years, my husband has done the amazing task of losing 75 pounds.  He has now entered maintenance mode and I am so proud to say that he has kept the weight off for over a year now.  One of his secrets to success is planning.  Each week, he comes up with a meal plan and does his best to follow it.

However, life happens and we are not always able to cook meals at home.  In this case, research is his friend.  He takes to the Internet and apps on his phone to find out which restaurants have meals that will help him accomplish his goal (and not sabotage his meal plan).

As a Denny’s Ambassador, I was thrilled to learn about the Fit Fare menu and share the options with my hubby.  The family and I decided to head to Denny’s on a hot summer night and let them do the cooking for us.

Denny’s has many dish options guests can enjoy for under 550 calories, and offer delicious alternatives that don’t compromise on taste, value or variety.  An online ‘Meal Calculator’ provides guests with an interactive way to mix and match menu items and customize a meal suitable for their needs.

Perusing the menu, healthier options are noted with Fit Fare icons indicating Lean, Light, Protein or Fiber.  Hubby opted to the Fit Slam menu item which included a English Muffin, turkey bacon, egg whites with spinach and a side of seasonal fruit. We also found many other Fit Fare options such as a Cranberry Chicken Salad which looked delish.

I love that you can lighten just about any menu item by asking for a wheat bun, seasonal fruit instead of fries, or asking for a veggie patty all at no additional cost.  Of course, the kids were thrilled to eat breakfast for dinner and choose the Jr. Grand Slam option with pancakes, eggs and bacon.

If you are heading out to dinner, don’t let the selection ruin your meal plan.  Head to Denny’s and check out the items on the Fit Fare menu!

Join the Feed the Children Tweet Up and #HelpKidsBeKids

For my family and I, summer is about relaxing and taking a break from our normal routines.  You will oftentimes find us at the ice cream parlor or escaping the heat with a movie and popcorn.  But, recently I was reminded that not every kid has such an enjoyable summer.

Unfortunately, hunger is more prevalent in the summer when children are not receiving meals at school.  In fact, in Oklahoma the school lunch program that lower-income families depend on shuts down for the summer break, which means roughly 300,000 children may be left without a stable source of nutrition.  But, Feed the Children‘s pilot program called The Oklahoma Summer Food and Education Program is trying to change that by testing this new initiative this summer.

While the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps fill that gap over the summer, in Oklahoma – Feed the Children’s home state –very few agencies are involved with the summer meals program making another effort necessary to end child hunger. The Oklahoma Summer Food and Education Program will:

  • Provide Better Access to More Meals — Feed the Children will provide 115,000 meals, many of which will be purchased with private funds, that can be brought home.
  • Nourish Bodies and Minds At 11 USDA FNS-approved feeding sites, Feed the Children will provide books and educational resources for children, as well as backpacks and supplies for the school year.
  • Provide Results– Results from the pilot will be offered as evidence-based research to Feed the Children partners to identify ways to better solve summer food insecurity that have impact, are far-reaching and cost-effective.

Learn More about Feed the Children’s new vision at the upcoming Tweet-Up to be held Wednesday, July 9th at 1pm EST.  Hunger hurts 1 out of every 7 children, and is deeply rooted in larger, uncovered issues. But you can learn how Feed the Children plans to lead the charge to end child hunger by simply RSVPing and participating in the #HelpKidsBeKids Twitter Party.

Need more incentive? The Motherhood, your host, will be giving away five $25 VISA gift cards throughout the Tweet-up, based on correct responses to trivia questions. No purchase necessary; winners must be residents of the United States and 18 years of age or older.

Hope to see you there!