New Games and Gaming Devices You Will Love

Looking for some fun games to play with the kids? We have some suggestions.

Mario Kart is one of those games which turn a room full of strangers into a room full of new buddies- or at least rowdy racers.  With equal parts skill, luck, and know how, Mario Kart has consistently been a gem of this gaming’s generation.  The latest in the franchise, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, dare I say may be the brightest gem so far.  With almost all characters unlocked to begin with, this game is built for multiplayer.  As the new Switch will show you, it is easy to grab a controller and play.  Each player takes the mini controller for their racer and plays.

With tons of characters to choose from, everyone can pick their favorite without arguments.  Characters of different wights and sizes act differently and effect your controls, as do the type of vehicle and even the tires selected.  The game also includes support for amiibo’s and amiibo cards, which unlock more content in game, allowing for even more customization. Mario Kart Deluxe 8 is available no for $59.99 from retail locations of via download fro the eShop.

 

We have two indie titles-  one for the 3DS and one for the Playstation 4. Fun, inexpensive, and most gamers will enjoy them and be able to play (no master skill sets required).

This is the third Box Boy game in the line, Bye Bye Box Boy , is a game where players use the power of boxes to solve various puzzles as Qbby.  This game is an enjoyable puzzle game which is simple to get into, but difficult to put down.  My 9 year old has loved every Box Boy game and this is no different, but now with a few additions like 4 new powers, baby boxes to rescue, and new environmental issues to contend with (like water, wind, and scales) there is more to do.  He enjoys the Box Boy series- it’s tough but not too tough for him to figure out after thinking about it and trying a few things, or in some cases, with some help from Dad.  Bye By Box Boy is available now on the eShop on the Nintendo 3DS and retails for $4.99.
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All-Inclusive Spa, The Oaks at Ojai, Ca.

Ready to take time for yourselves ladies?

Then the Oaks at Ojai is your destination.

When you think about Southern California beaches come to mind, but there is so much more to see just a short drive from other destinations like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. A highlight is Ojai and the destination, the all-inclusive resort the Oaks at Ojai.

Surrounded by picturesque mountains is an oasis of green housed in mission style architecture and the luxury of modern amenities. A retreat from the high speed and high pressure daily grind is hard to find. Even traveling carries the burden of planning and transporting yourself place to place for meals and activities.


The Oaks all inclusive resort is the answer to that. This is a place for women, though men are welcome. Leave the rest of the family at home and come with a friend or go alone. Either way you will have a great time relaxing poolside, enjoying exercise classes, and eating healthy, tasty, energizing meals and snacks. This isn’t a boot camp, though there are ample opportunities to get you up, out, and moving. Hikes, swimming, yoga, dance, and exercise classes engage all guests at the level of their choosing.

Take the morning walks as an example. They come in three “speeds”, Hikes, Walks, and Strolls. Hikes start at 6:30am and last 90+ minutes. I took the morning hike and adventured up into the hills of the San Pedro National Forest for a view of the valley well worth the early start time. If a later wake up call and slower pace is more your speed then definitely catch the Ojai walking tour that will point out the highlights of the town and fill you in on the historic points and current details that make this spot a great destination.
I took my first ever pool exercise class and loved the shade sail over the area. This allowed you to stay out of the sun or embrace it while working up an appetite and working out your muscles. I loved it for the variety of moves I learned that I now bring to my solo swims to get an extra burn and stretch. I also enjoyed sitting poolside and being close to nature under the flowering trees.

Outside the water there are activities that you can add on to your stay, or on week days some different adventures are offered like a kayaking trip. Private hikes are available or get together with some new friends and plan a small group outing. If you like to bike there is a great local trail that even takes you all the way down to the ocean. You can rent on your own or take the guided ride that comes with a lunch and car ride back up the road to save you from peddling miles uphill.
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The Flavors of Louisiana in Virginia at Bayou Bakery

New Orleans native Chef David Gaus has won accolades from The Today Show, the Travel Channel, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Saveur and Bon Appetit for his Arlington, Virginia restaurant Bayou Bakery. There you can taste the authentic flavors of the Crescent City while in the suburbs of D.C./Northern Virginia.

When you walk in, you order your food choices at the counter, and then take a seat to wait for your items to be prepared. There are colorful Southern and New Orleans touches to the decor, but it’s not kitchy. Sofas and smaller tables make mingling and socializing easier, and there is wifi should you want to bring your laptop (which many people seemed to want to do).

new orleans

New Orleans was a port destination for coffee for centuries, and  Bayou Bakery has some unique and natural coffee infusion drinks, incorporating unexpected flavors like basil, honey, and ginger root. Or, if you are in the mood for something a little harder, did you know cocktails were invented in New Orleans? Their Bloody Mary takes a fresh twist with pickled veggies as garnish. It won’t sear your tongue, however, but rather, it has a tangy drinkability.
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Woodloch Poconos Resort

all inclusive resort

An all-inclusive family resort, located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch offers the best in lodging, dining, and entertainment for all four seasons. Rent a cabin or a room and enjoy time with family and friends. With views of Lake Teedyuskung and mountain vistas a vacation here is a chance to relax and renew yourself.

Kids will never lack for indoor or outdoor adventures. In warmer months, hit the mountains and climb the hills. In winter, you can ski or snow tube. Too cold outside? Try the six sided rock climbing wall which is available any season. Swimming is always an option as well, as the resort has indoor and outdoor pools. For those that like a little speed and some motorized fun there, are the bumper cars, go karts, and even bumper boats! If you crave some quiet, you can glide silently through the water on a kayak trip and experience a new view of nature and the surrounding wildlife. You might even catch a peek at an American Bald Eagle flying the skies.
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Welcome to IOWA!

Ever consider visiting Iowa? If not, maybe you should. There are some great family stops and a lot to do.  These are a few of our favorite stops on our recent visit.

iowa

Amana Colonies

Located 20 miles from Cider Rapids are the Amana Colonies, 7 villages that were originally German settlements in Iowa. Settled in 1855 the colonies remained self-sufficient until the 1930’s. The Amanians operated independently as a community by farming and handcrafting to maintain their own local economy. Today you can visit the villages and shop at their craft stores, eat local fair, or drink a glass of wine or beer. Antiques, furniture, home decor, clothing, and gifts you will find nowhere else create a unique shopping adventure.

iowa food

The Colonies tradition of great food is available for visitors to explore in the restaurants or specialty shops. The Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse has over 160 years of experience offering ham, bacon, sausages, beef, and pork to visitors and online.  The Ox Yoke Inn is a fantastic place to stop for lunch, and has amazing German style food. The staff is gracious and the food is affordable and filling. The Broom and Basket Shop is exactly what you might expect, a store dedicated to selling locally handmade brooms and baskets. Another interesting stop is Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocker, at over 650 lbs. and 11 ft. tall. Great for a family picture. These are just examples of some of the interesting sites you can wander through on a visit to the Amanas.
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Winter Fun at Okemo

Is your family’s idea of the perfect holiday gift several feet of fresh powder beneath their feet? At a time of year when cabin fever attacks, the freedom and exhilaration in skiing is the perfect antidote. When you drive up with your folks or the kids, you want the rest of your vacation to be spent having fun – not more driving around. A resort with all the amenities to please everyone fits the bill: Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont.  We had a great time checking out all that the resort had to offer- and there was quite a bit to do.

ski vermont

Nestled in the heart of the Green Mountains, they offer 8 different styles of accommodations – many with ski in-out availability. Choices range from classic mountain lodge rooms to multiple options for larger families – perfect for those family reunions.

At Jackson Gore Inn, thoughtful amenities like deep soaking tubs to loosen up sore muscles after a run down the slopes. An indoor pool and game arcade keep the kids occupied during inclement weather or after skiing.
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Heroes and Legends of Kennedy Space Center

 

“To sit back and let fate play its hand out and never influence it is not the way man was meant to operate.”

~John Glenn

space center

The passing of the iconic John Glenn – astronaut, Senator, and American hero – served as a reminder to us all of who and what’s truly admirable in life. Mind numbing apps, mediocre professional athletes who make headlines for all the wrong reasons, C-list television personalities famous for reasons no one really knows . . . these are the kinds of people who have been influencing our children (and let’s face it- many adults as well). But we’re in a position to change all that, to instill the values we hold dear.

Inspiration can be thrilling! There’s no better place to experience that than a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida with the new Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® presented by Boeing. This multimedia collection of interactive exhibits includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Apollo/Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, Space Shuttle Atlantis®, Shuttle Launch Experience®, IMAX® A Beautiful Planet 3D and Journey To Space 3D films, Astronaut Encounter, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted, Science on a Sphere®, Rocket Garden, Cosmic Quest, and much more. These exciting parts of the complex lead to the stunning rotunda celebrating our country’s fearless space explorers.

rocket garden

Located next to the Rocket Garden, the new exhibit begins with a 360 degree movie featuring clips of NASA, the lives of astronauts, and some memorabilia. Listening to the journeys that were made, watching the work that was done, hearing how humble these brave men and women are about the entire thing was both moving and humbling.  As you move through the Heroes and Legends, you head into large area that hangs a rocket overhead, and houses space shuttles as well as personal items of the astronauts . Characteristics that one would require to journey into space title each display, such as “Selfless”, “Inspired”, “Courageous”, with items that an astronaut felt inspirational to the person they became or an important representation of how they became the man or woman that they did. Many chose to include toys, comic books, and scouting or sports memorabilia in their representative items, reminding us that what we do as children (and what we expose our children to) really does mold who they become.
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Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts in Punta Cana

When it comes to family vacations, the bar is always being raised. Let’s face it: families want something that’s quite a step above camping in the backyard for their getaways. This time of year, most of us are craving warm temps, sunny skies, and lots of opportunities for a swim. Exotic and different are icing on the cake. That’s why Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) is sure to inspire memories that last forever. I was happy to be hosted to experience it.

dominican resorts

The resort’s luxurious accommodation includes the Swank Swim-Up Suite. Imagine a private, VIP-style wrap-around terrace that’s adjacent to the pool, along with sunbathing beds. You’ll feel like the resort’s all your own. There are other configurations and sizes of swim-up rooms as well, to suit different needs and family sizes.

resorts punta cana

You’ll find the décor bright and cheery, but with simple, modern lines to feel more relaxed – rather than formal and uptight. Kid friendly, but still chic.

spongebob pineapple house

The ultimate in luxe accommodations, and still able to fit a larger family is The Pineapple, inspired by SpongeBob Square Pants’ home under the sea. Two bedrooms and three bedrooms in a loft configuration are looked after by your own personal butler. Special activities can be booked for guests staying here, such as a moonlight beach dinner prepared by a world-class chef, wine tasting, an in-suite afternoon tea party, pizza party, or pajama party.

dominican republic resort

So, if you crave more water than swimming in the pool, they have the beautiful Uvero Alto Beach available and just steps away. There are plenty of lounge chairs and even beach beds available for guests to use, you won’t need to scramble for them or search around in vain. The beach is lovely, quiet, and very clean. You will want to spend quite a lot of time there, if you are like me. You can order drinks while on the beach as well, which makes staying longer even more appealing. Other outdoor games and activities, such as tennis, are found at the resort, along with playrooms for the kids and the opportunity to run into – and take photos with – your favorite Nickelodeon characters, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Indoor activities include the fitness and dance studio.
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