Friday, July 21, 2017

Knoebels : Ten things to Know!





Recently we took a trip to Knoebels! This Pennsylvania Amusement Park has been in existence for over 90 years and is really a tradition all its own. If you've never visited before (or even if you have) we have some great information to share with you from our visit! These , tips, and tricks on visiting, how to save money on your tickets and what the BEST perks of visiting this park are!

1. Visit During the week
In most cases amusement parks operate pretty much the same no matter when you visit. Knoebels is an exception and thus you should plan your visit accordingly if possible.

On weekdays Knoebels offers daily "handstamps" or wristbands which allow for unlimited riding from park open to park close (with a few attractions excluded). These are available for both adults and children Monday through Friday. We have visited on a weekday before and our experience is as follows kids who ride a lot and will ride all day will get a huge bang for your buck on an all day ride pass. I actually calculated when we bought these the value based on how many rides they did and it far surpassed what we paid for the passes. So if you have kids who LOVE to ride and have the time to be there for most of the day a handstamp is definitely the way to go.  Tickets are also available for weekdays for light or occasional riders who don't feel they would get value from the cost of a ride pass. 


Can't go during the week? No worries!
On the weekends the park operates with a ticket system, patrons purchase tickets and pay for each ride they do with different amounts of tickets based on the ride (values vary and can all be seen here Kiddie rides  and Family rides).



2. Plan ahead! 
Buy your tickets before you get there or pack your coupon book!


 Discounts and coupons for Knoebels all day ride passes are available a few different places, Including KidsStuff Books, Pepsi cans and more see the full list here.

You can also plan ahead to buy your tickets in advance and you can save up and over 20%! Local grocery stores stores (Weis and Wegmans) sell tickets at their customer service booths, jut remember to pick them up before you head out of town (see purchasing details here).




3. Your tickets NEVER expire
If you purchase their ticket booklets and end up with leftovers, you can keep them for the next time you go back! Unlike those pesky Muskiest tickets that leave you fired up after finding $10 worth left in your pocket in September. 



4. Eat all the Food.
Seriously, Its really really good! and you can actually afford to do it!  Knoebels is world renowned for the the variety of food they offer in their park and the quality - they're actually rank above Disney World Accoring to  XXXXX . There is something for everyone! Different food stands around the park offer all kinds of different food choices which really is unique if you think about it, many times in similar attractions the will offer the same food in 15 different places.





My two personal favorites from our visit this month are the Boom Shaka Laka Burger (pictured above) and the Tiger Tail both available at the Phoenix Junction stand.

A close second is just about everything available at the Mexican station in the International Food Court.




This is a shot of a meal (above) I bought to split between my 3 kids it cost $5. Feeding kids on the go can be a challenge and super expensive especially when you are in a amusement park or attraction. This is a feature of Knoebels that really makes the place stand above the rest. If you haven't purchased a meal at Dorney Park recently you may not truly appreciate the value here... It would cost you nearly three times as much for the same amount of food.

Additionally the variety of food choices really makes it easy to find something everyone well like. 


5. It is always cooler there

Yup! this place is absolutely loaded with super tall beautiful trees and shade is everywhere. Still bring your sunscreen of course, but really comparing directly to the local park we visited last week in the same weather Knoebels is hands down way more comfortable to be in on a hot day.




6. You can stay! 
Knoebels offers a number of great lodging options including a huge campground for campers, motor homes and tents.  They have cabins also available for rent - reserve these far in advance they get snatched up fast.  It is easy to spend multiple days here exploring, snacking and riding.


7. Admission and Parking is FREE 
Yes really! You only pay if you ride! This park is perfect for a group with a bunch of people who only lightly ride or want to watch the kids enjoy the experience. It won't cost you anything to bring grandma and grandpa along for an extra set of hands!

Paying for parking is the one thing I hate more than paying for shipping.  A little piece of my soul dies each time I have to hand over a $20 bill to park my car. You won't pay anything to park at Knoebels.

8. Bring in your own food and snacks!
If you are looking to stay close to a tight budget, have allergies to work around or just want to make sure you have food your kids will eat Knoebels welcomes families bringing their items into the park. Pack a picnic, bring your meals, snacks and drinks and use their free picnic facilities to enjoy your visit! 


9. Don't miss the Pool!


We sadly didn't get to visit Crystal Pool when we were there due to some badly timed thunderstorms and rain! But this pool is gasp worthy. It is huge first of all and offers 3 different levels of diving boards, not to mention all of the other awesome features of the water area.


Swim, splash and slide! Knoebels Crystal Pool is filled with refreshing spring fed water and they offer water slides, a kiddie splash area, rope climbing course and more with pool admission.



Pool admission is separate from the daily handstamp pass and requires payment of an additional fee but is part of the reason you can easily spend more than one day at Knoebels! 


10. Get a Map!



The size of Knoebels is surprising for many and its can be difficult to navigate if you aren't familiar with it. In order to make sure you can easily find everything you are looking for a map will come in handy. 


With a number of amusement parks in our local proximity people often ask if Knoebels really worth the drive. After laying out all of the tips and tricks we've discovered the conclusion is pretty simple. It absolutely is worth the drive, and honestly I'd properly drive further if I had to.  Knoebels is simply a gem the history and tradition that Knoebels comes along with this park is like no other.  Their attention to detail is impeccable the rides are clean and well maintained,  the park is blooming with flowers all over the place. My hope this that some new families will considering checking this park out  and we're really excited to offer a giveaway to allow a family to enjoy the park for a day for free this summer!



We owe a HUGE thank you to the staff at Knoebels and thank them for hosting us to help gather all of the information we needed to complete this article. Here are a few of our favorite shots of our family from our visit to the park!













Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lafayette Kids Lab: Our Little Scientist!



Last week my youngest child (2) and I had the opportunity to visit the Lafayette Kids Lab to participate in one of their current research studies.    

I met Lauren Myers - the director of the program a few years ago and have always been curious to see what their research studies are and how they work, but until now my children were never the right age to participate.  The Lafayette Kids Lab is a division of the Lafayette College Psychology Department. Professor Lauren Myers and her research assistants gather data and information on how children develop, think and learn.  As a former educator who has spent many hours reading research studies over the years while in undergraduate and graduate school the opportunity to have one of my children participate in such a study was really exiting. Children's Research studies help scientists learn much of what they know about children's development, abilities and understanding of the outside world. This research helps parents, physicians and other scientists to know the best ways to educate and teach young children!



Though I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect. When people think about research studies I feel like there is maybe a little bit of a concern for what they might be asking the children to do and how they will react or parents concerned that their children might be treated like little lab mice. I am happy to report that this did not feel at all that way. The experience was very age appropriate and really felt like a little playdate! All my children enjoyed the experience and even the big ones who were not being studied enjoyed the visit!






The study that was being researched at the time (and will continue through the end of this month) was related to learning more about how children interact and learn through video chatting/FaceTime experience. The researchers are gathering data from children each week to help determine if children learn better in person from a human in front of them or via a video screen.


I was truly impressed by the professionalism of the researchers, the structure of the study experience and the space that was set up for us the visit. Our daughter felt immediately comfortable with the staff and enjoyed the play experience.  She even got a certificate mailed out to her with her picture on it showing she participated in a scientific study!  The staff was fantastic with our kids and we definitely will be interested in returning as they continue their work with additional studies.



While this study will be ending soon, the researchers are always looking for more children to help them with upcoming studies. If you are interested in participating in a study, please call them at (610) 330-5870 or e-mail them at lafayettekidslab@gmail.com






Friday, July 14, 2017

Little World Makes a Big Difference


Little World Makes a Big Difference 

Imagi Nation - A Little World for Big Thinkers ALLENTOWN, PA

In a world where everything is kid-size, a child’s hard work and ambition can prove to be enormous when playing with a purpose. Children who have visited Imagi Nation since its opening in October have taken on the roles of doctors, news anchors, fire fighters and police officers not only for pretend play, but also to make a real difference in their community.

Children are given 20 Biznis Bucks, the currency of Imagi Nation, upon entrance to the pint-size city which they run. They are “paid” an additional 10 Biznis Bucks for each job they complete, however not all occupations yield a paycheck. Positions such as customer or patient require them to manage their money wisely in order to afford things like groceries at the Market or check-ups in the Health & Dental Center. When children earn 50 Biznis Bucks, they are eligible to open a Savings Account and keep track of their earnings as they explore more than 40 different careers. At the conclusion of their visit they make a decision to invest their money and receive interest on a return visit, or donate to one of 3 local charities: American Red Cross Lehigh Valley – Bucks Chapter, Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley and St. Luke’s Hospice for children’s bereavement programs.



Educating children in financial literacy is one goal of the Biznis Bucks program, however owner Wendy Pitts had another idea in mind when creating the concept. “In a ‘selfie- centered’ world, we wanted to provide children with an opportunity to think about the needs of others and experience the joy of giving rather than receiving.” By the end of the first quarter, industrious visitors have earned the local causes over $1,200 and will likely surpass that amount for the next quarter.


Imagi Nation is the Lehigh Valley’s first educational entertainment experience for children with an emphasis on social skill development. Imagi Nation specializes in imaginative play, school field trips, birthday parties, private events, special family events and corporate team building sessions. Visit http://www.imaginationexp.com for more information. A Little World for Big Thinkers ©.

For the first quarter 2017, Imagi Nation kids donated over $1,200 to Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter and St. Luke’s Hospice children’s bereavement programs.








Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The BEST DIY Starbucks Iced Mocha!

I really love a Starbucks Iced Mocha Latte. The thing I really DON'T love about them is the price.  A grande costs me nearly 5 bucks! OUCH! So even though I'd find myself craving one a few times a week I really try to limit myself to swinging through the drive through a few times a month.

This is my favorite afternoon "mom treat" once the toddler goes down for a nap and the big kids is cozied up with a quiet activity (see here about how we implemented daily afternoon quiet time!)  It is time for momma to power through the day with a little pick me up!

Image credit: Starbucks.com

I tried making them at home and never had success. I'm not lying when I say that I literally have been trying for years to find a great make at home recipe.  Some of the recipes I ran across even required cooking your own chocolate on the stove!! Who has time for that?!?! My kids barely allow me enough time to eat meals let alone prepare a special syrup to flavor my coffee.





I went to all lengths to find one that fit the bill and nothing... I searched tons of bloggers' pages and none of them nailed it in my opinion. About two weeks ago... for a while I had a dark chocolate syrup that I purchased for one of my coffee experiments and it didn't cut it. Many of the recipes I read about required using cocoa - which I realized seemed to be the missing piece in my elusive DIY Iced Cafe Mocha.  The following is my DIY Starbucks Iced Mocha. The cost of each drink just a fraction of my Starbucks treat and tastes just as delicious plus I can make it at home without needing to run out!




I recommend using a robust coffee - it doesn't need to be espresso, just a nice strong coffee.  I LOVE to use the Grande Intenso pods with our Dolce Gusto Coffee Maker from Nescafe because it has a cold brew option - meaning I don't need to wait til it cools to add ice!  Their pods are fantastic and brew incredible coffee both cold and hot. For this recipe I've been using their Grande Intenso. The coffee comes out frothy and full bodied. Its much more compact than our old Keurig and makes better coffee



You can also using a French Press (this one gets great reviews and is currently marked down!) is a great way to make your own cold brew by brewing in the fridge overnight.  I also love Chameleon Cold Brew or Nitro from Target







Prepare your mocha flavoring  by placing 2-3 Tbs. cocoa (we recommend dutch, not dark cocoa powder) , 2 Tbs. of Milk and 3-4 Tbs. of Hershey's Dark Chocolate syrup in a bowl and mix - at first it will seem like its not going to mix - keep going (I promise) it will come together into a dark syrup. Once it is mixed you are ready to combine it with your coffee. **HINT you can also add your ingredients all to a mason jar and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE, its easier than hand stirring and faster.





Stir (or shake) everyone together and you are done! Top with whipped cream and enjoy! 

Cheers! 

Did you LOVE this recipe! Share it with a friend or on social media or comment below!
 We would love to hear what you thought! 








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