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The New LEGOLAND California Hotel: Building Lifelong Family Memories

Last week, we were invited to be one of the first families to experience the brand new LEGOLAND Hotel – which is located right outside the gates of LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad – literally. Seeing as it was spring break for the kids and because it was likely my last hurrah with the boys before the new baby arrives, I sucked up any and all fears of embarking on the journey alone and said, let’s do this!

Upon arrival, we drove through the huge parking lot and up to the roundabout in front of the hotel. While we waited for the valet to direct us to a safe spot, the kids ooh and ahh’d over the gigantic hotel in front of the,, the pool scene to the right and the LEGO tower to our left, which was heavily guarded by LEGO (no-so) mini figures and donned a giant, smoke-breathing dragon near the top. It was a perfect distraction for excited kiddos…

Because we arrived prior to our check-in time, the Bellhop kindly stored our bags for us while we enjoyed an afternoon inside LEGOLAND. The boys ate way too much ice cream, took a few hundred laps on the train and my big kids went on The Dragon – twice… Among many other fun things.

We headed back to the hotel lobby at check-in time (4pm) and the kids played in the giant LEGO pit while I spoke to the front desk. We were made aware of the fun activities for the kids, which included a model building contest and free On Demand movies inside our room. After checking out the castle play space (which is brilliantly located inside the lobby bar), we ventured to our “Kingdom” room to rest our weary feet – or rather, my weary feet.

The kids immediately took part in the treasure hunt – yes, there was a treasure hunt inside the room – and found the gold (chocolate) coins. The tub of LEGOs was found second and promptly dumped on the floor of their room. Speaking of their room, they couldn’t get over the bunk beds (with pullout trundle), the fact that there was a reading light inside the bunk beds, their very own TV (!!) and LEGO creations/creatures at every turn.

I was happy they were entertained because the comfortable queen-sized bed in the other room was calling my name. The coffee was, too.

After relaxing (and playing) and exploring the many fun things within the room, we headed to the Bricks Family Restaurant for a buffet-style dinner. Luckily, my mom joined us to help with the kids – and to help with my sanity. The restaurant, just like the rooms and the rest of the hotel, was filled with LEGO creations, LEGO people and exciting 3D designs, which made it easy to strike up interactive dinner conversations. And when the kids got sick of talking to me, they picked up their crayons and colored all over the table. It was a perfect balance of family fun, interaction and self-expression – mixed with a variety and selection of foods that appealed to each one of my kids. The buffet options were delicious. Tons of healthy options (and plenty of comfort food) and the Chef personally addressed our gluten free dietary needs with suggestions of dishes and simple modifications to the freshly prepared wok veggies. He even went out of his way to bring my 5-year-old his favorite meal (also gluten free) because they didn’t have it available that specific evening, but normally do. Once again, I was blown away by the service and attention to detail.

While there were activities scheduled after dinner, we were all ready (read: there was no nap for the little guy that day) to head back to the room and call it a night. The kids (and I) slept so well and were more than ready to go again the next morning. Well, they were… I would have been if I weren’t 30 weeks pregnant.

After breakfast at the Bricks Family Restaurant (where the fruit was divine and the bacon was crispy), we checked out of the hotel and had the Bellhop hold our luggage once again. We walked the outside path, which leads directly to the front of the park and veered left to SEA LIFE Aquarium for a morning with the fish.

We’re no strangers to SEA LIFE (or LEGOLAND, for that matter), but it had been many months since we had seen our fish friends and it was nice to have a change of pace and scenery.

The kids were sad to go… I was sad, too, but my feet and back were ready to get home and rest up.


  • Unless you little one travels really well with his or her own travel crib/sleep space, call ahead to reserve one of their pack n’ play portable cribs.
  • If you’re going with toddlers with or without older kids, bring along some Duplo blocks for your room (or hide the LEGO tub before your little one sees it). Each room has a tub of regular-sized LEGOs in it for older kiddos.
  • Enjoy the many features and amenities of the hotel. Sit and sip on a drink while the kids play in the castle just above the lobby, locate the secret whoopie cushions, explore the sights and LEGO creations in every available space, ride the elevators (even if you’re staying on the first floor) and let your kids pick which themed room they would like to stay in – Kingdom, Pirate or Adventure – ahead of time and book your stay early to ensure you get your first choice of room!
  • Check out the planned activities during your stay. The hotel does an amazing job of keeping families busy and entertained.
  • Don’t take off your shoes before heading into one of the LEGO pits – ouch!
  • If you’re staying at the hotel and purchase items inside the park, they will deliver them to the hotel for you – score!
  • Don’t be afraid to bring or rent a stroller. Even though my two youngest are three and five, we still need – and use – a stroller on big adventures. We brought along a side-by-side double stroller (the Britax B-Agile double) to help me manage the three kids better and as a resting spot for the 5-year-old’s legs and feet when he needed it. It was a lifesaver to have available, there’s stroller parking everywhere and I was able to fold it up and store it out of the way while inside the hotel room.
  • Take lots of pictures!

Overall, our stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel was so much more than I expected it would be. The hotel (and the employees inside the park) went above and beyond to make sure our stay was as enjoyable as humanly possible and they managed to keep my three (extremely energetic) boys entertained at all times. I would highly recommend experiencing the LEGOLAND Hotel as a vacation destination or even as a Staycation for locals. It’s truly an experience you and your kids will never forget – and the experience leaves you wanting more! We can’t wait to go back… When I’m no longer pregnant and can enjoy the rides (and the walking) a bit more.


Disclosure: LEGOLAND and the LEGOLAND Hotel provided us a free night at the hotel and tickets for the park. All opinions are my own and true to our experience.

My Pregnancy: 31 Weeks

We’ve rounded another corner – we’re into single digits now. The above picture applies to so many things in my life right now. For one, baby Q is way up in my ribs so breathing (literally) is done with some serious thought – especially while trying to go to sleep at night. The lack of sleep, lack of mobility and overall feelings of these last nine weeks have me, understandably, low on the patience scale. Breathing and loving are two words I think of, and say often, right now.

Patience is a funny thing (more like a joke) when it’s spring break and all you want to do is nap, but you have three kids running around you (read: fighting if you so much as try to prop your feet up for two minutes). So, instead, I pushed through and we made the most of our time together – breathe and love, right?

And really, what’s spring break in southern California without a trip to LEGOLAND? We packed up the (party) van and headed to the pre-opening celebration of the LEGOLAND Hotel. The car ride there was a good indication of how the trip was going to go – the kids were excited, energetic and loud. When they get that way, I usually turn on the radio, turn up the volume and just start singing at the top of my lungs. Music is calming for me and at least two of them chime in by the second song.

The LEGOLAND Hotel did not disappoint. In fact, it was more amazing than I could have imagined. For example… The LEGO pit located at the check-in desk was a great distraction and I can’t wait to take advantage of the huge LEGO castle/play space right next to the lobby bar. I’ll be talking more about our time at the LEGOLAND Hotel later this week. Trust me, you don’t want to miss the info on this one.

Everything inside the hotel, I mean everything, is geared towards kids. While this little guy is three, and still very much acts like a young three-year-old, I was very proud of him during our stay. Yes, he got all kinds of crabby just before dinner our first night there, but I don’t blame him – especially after a few hours at LEGOLAND with no nap. I was just as crabby as he was… I just hid it better. I also had a sip (or two) of my mom’s wine at dinner. He ate two full grilled cheese sandwiches. And just like that, we were both back to our happy selves.

Oh, did I mention I took all three kids to LEGOLAND and the LEGOLAND Hotel by myself?! Yes, I am officially crazy. 30 plus weeks pregnant and walking the park with three kids of three different ages and heights was quite interesting. But we managed just fine thanks to some helpful LEGOLAND employees, this Britax B-Agile double stroller (omgee, I was praising this stroller with every stride) and a little help from my mom – who joined us for dinner. I think it’s safe to say, that was our last adventure for this pregnancy. At least we went out with a bang.

Speaking of bang, how’s that for a belly? Bang! I snapped a selfie just before we checked out of our room. Yes, still in yoga pants and tennis shoes. But I did put some make-up on.

Once home and once I declared the rest of the break to be calm and soothing, I decided to do a little calming of my own via making stuff. I busted out both my serger and sewing machine and started cutting into some lovely fabrics I’ve been holding onto for some time now. While I’m working a lot slower than I’m used to (sitting on the floor with a rotary cutter is pretty difficult with a big belly in the way – not to mention the clumsiness and multiple cuts on my fingers), I managed to make some bibs, bandana bibs, blankets and burpies for my new little love. I still have to do some finishing touches, but I’m so happy to be making special things for the baby. Even my husband noticed my smile while I stitched away at what is going to be my new favorite baby blanket.


Review: Britax Baby Carrier



The Britax Baby Carrier was designed to provide the highest level of long-wearing comfort for both you and your growing baby.


The Britax Baby Carrier features the CarryLong System, which reduces the risk of back and shoulder strain during extended wear by distributing weight across the shoulders, back and hips.

I’m highly impressed with the Britax Baby Carrier. We’ve been using it almost every day for the past few months and it has become the carrier I grab for first. Among the places it has been (the beach, the park, shopping, etc.), I’ve also used it during our recent LEGOLAND visits, which are generally not the quickest of visits. I’ve learned to keep it close by – either in the car, the stroller under basket, or somewhere easily accessible, because it’s incredibly easy to use during our daily errands and has become a sanity saver while taking the two older kids to school in the morning.

The CarryLong System – which is the combination of the padded straps, the back harness strap and the waist belt – make the Britax carrier comfortable for me while the open, breathable, contoured design, combined with the padded leg openings and versatile carry positions, make it comfortable for my baby.

Giving love to his Britax Carrier

Speaking of the CarryLong System, I’d like to go ahead and add my meaning to the word CarryLong. Not only is the CarryLong System intended for extended wear, the Britax Baby Carrier also grows with your baby from birth (or 8 pounds) all the way up to 32 pounds. So, I like to call it the Britax CarryLong for two reasons: 1. the extended length of time you can use it comfortably and 2. the number of years you can actually use it.

This is what I’m talking about…

The Britax Baby Carrier accommodates babies from eight pounds to toddlers up to 32 pounds.

  • When using the carrier with an eight to 11-pound baby, use the attached leg loops to ensure a snug and safe fit around baby’s legs. Each leg loop has three positions so that you can adjust it to the optimal fit for your child.
  • The head support is adjustable in two ways — you can tighten/loosen the upper connector strap and you can use the head support button (and loop) to better support your smaller baby’s head.
  • The Infant Insert is included with the Britax Baby Carrier and easily attaches to the inside of the carrier, creating a more natural and comfortable position for smaller babies. The Infant Insert is for babies eight to 14 pounds or should be removed once your baby’s ears reach the top of the carrier.



The Britax Baby Carrier supports the following positions:

  • Inward-facing with Removable Infant Insert for small babies from eight to 14 pounds
  • Inward-facing without an insert for babies over 14 pounds
  • Inward-facing with splayed legs using the Seat Extender Insert for babies over 14 pounds
  • Outward-facing without an insert for babies over 14 pounds who have head and neck control

We primarily use the Britax carrier with my 22-pound, 21-month-old toddler facing out. He enjoys the view from above and loves being a part of the action. We have yet to try the Seat Extender Insert (for the inward-facing position), but we definitely need to get one. On the rare occasion that my toddler rides in the inward-facing position, his wide-set hips are too big for the carrier. He doesn’t complain but I’ve had to double check that he’s centered in the carrier so he doesn’t become uncomfortable. I do wish that the Seat Extender Insert was included with the carrier, but you can (and we will) purchase the Seat Extender Insert separately for $24.99.


Another accessory that comes with the Britax Baby Carrier is the Carrier Bib. You don’t know how happy it makes me that one of these is included with the carrier. I think all carriers should come with a bib protector and/or strap protectors to help prolong the life of the carrier and save it from being washed multiple times – when washing could have been avoided.


Nom. Nom. Nom.

My toddler is happy to show you that anything and everything that brushes or touches baby’s chin or mouth instantly becomes a chew toy. You can purchase additional Carrier Bibs for $19.99, which is not a bad thing to have on-hand because you’ll definitely get good use out of them.

For the future, I hope Britax comes out with a little pouch accessory, so parents have a place to put keys, small toys and/or phones while out and about.



The Britax Baby Carrier has a simple over-the-head design, one-handed buckles and snaps, easy adjustable shoulder straps and waist belt — all of which make the Britax carrier easy to use for quick errands or long outings.

The over-the-head design with the attached back harness strap is one of the many ways that Britax ensures your baby’s safety while he or she is in the carrier. If the waist belt is accidentally undone while baby is properly strapped into the carrier, baby will remain safely in the carrier due to the secured harness and pouch design. The other safety features include the adjustable head support, leg loops, included infant insert and optional seat extender insert.

But really, do we even need to question safety when it comes from Britax?

The answer is “no, we do not question safety when it comes to Britax”.

Britax Baby Carrier details

  • Multiple carrying positions offer parent versatility to face baby inward or outward
  • Padded leg openings protect and comfort baby’s legs
  • Open and contoured design for breathability and temperature management
  • Simple slip on & off design makes use quick and effortless
  • One-handed buckles and snaps allow parents to get a child in and out of the carrier easily
  • Harness straps adjust from front of carrier for a proper, customized fit
  • Easy-adjust waist belt accommodates 22 inches to 56 inches for a perfect fit
  • Excess belt storage bands eliminate loose straps
  • Machine washable for easy cleaning
  • 100% Cotton machine washable bib (included) protects carrier from stains
  • Adjustable head support provides head and neck stability for younger infants
  • Leg loops reduce the size of leg openings for 8-11 pound infants for secure fit
  • Secure harness and pouch design ensures that baby will stay securely within the carrier
  • Exceeds all ASTM F2236-09a and CPSIA requirements
  • JPMA certified
  • Retails for $129.99 and can be purchased HERE
Disclosure: Britax gave us a Britax carrier for this review. All my words and opinions are my own.

Coffee Chat


photo credit: JenK on Flickr

Imagine you just sat down with a bunch of your girlfriends. Coffee (or tea) cup in one hand. No kids around. Just laughter, friends, and good conversation.

Then a question comes up…

What’s the best part about having kids?


Because, of course, you can’t escape talking about your kids– even when you are without them– you answer:


  • Annie’s Mac n Cheese, goldfish, Trick-Or-Treating as an adult, coming home to “Mommy’s home!!” complete with big squishy hugs and slobbery kisses – Me
  • Having a good excuse for getting out of stuff I don’t want to do. “Shoot, no sitter available that night!” – Chelsea
  • They make you laugh about something almost every day – Kelly S.
  • Nap time! You don’t look like a huge slacker taking an afternoon nap when you have kids. Well, as long as they’re napping to. – Theresa
  • They remind you not to sweat the small stuff – WWGD
  • Unconditional love – Staci
  • Going to kid places and not feeling like a “nerdy adult”…aka my Justin Bieber experience…I secretly love him!! – Christine
  • He completes me!!!!!! – Jennifer M.
  • Seeing their personality develop! Seeing how she gets better at everything she is learning … reading, swimming, dancing, singing, etc. Seeing life through her eyes. Unconditional love. – Nicole
  • No matter how crazy life gets, they bring me back to what really matters – Jill Z.
  • Giving your whole heart to a little person made from you, and getting that love full fold right back at you in its purest, most innocent form. Completely unconditional. And listening to little kiddie giggles. – Laura
  • An excuse to drink wine. – Beth
  • They make me laugh daily. Unconditional love. – Kelli
  • Teaching them how to brew coffee and bring it to me on the weekends. – Monique
  • An excuse to act like a kid again. – Jennifer D.
  • Witnessing the life force at its greatest and learning about surrendering. – Karli
  • I’m going to be annoyingly sappy and hold the sarcasm for the first time ever. One of the best parts of motherhood for me has been experiencing unconditional love. I love my kids completely and totally unconditionally and that’s an amazing feeling. – Laura
  • Seeing my husbands & my face in our children. – Sally
  • They make me slow down long enough to appreciate the wonder of everything, from eyelashes, to snails, to playing in a bucket of water. – Jill S.
  • Entertainment! My son is a complete nut and cracks me up with all of his off the wall comments/actions (He also drives me insane because he’s a nut)! – Rachael
  • Having Grandchildren!!! – Kathy L.
  • Getting to play at the playground and run around the cul de sac riding bikes and skateboards and pushing kids on the little car w the big handle…. yea, I love it. After my cocktail… – Maegan
  • Discovering who I really am…a mom just like I wished to be someday – Jeni
  • Seeing the world through their eyes…makes life much more interesting! – Susan
  • I get to go to all the cool amusement parks like Disneyland, Legoland and Sea World!! But mostly, getting unlimited supply of hugs and kisses and hearing the words I love you mom!!! – Cathy N.


What’s your answer?


A LEGO Themed Birthday Party

This past weekend we celebrated our son’s 9th birthday… LEGO style. We had an absolute blast and mommy found some creative ways to make the party even more memorable. From the invites to the goody bags, name tags and everything in between, I made sure that every aspect of the party had something to do with LEGO.

We celebrated the day with our son and a few of his school friends at LEGOLAND California (thankfully everyone had their own memberships!) but you don’t have to actually go to the LEGOLAND Park to have an awesome LEGO Party. Here are some things that I did for the party– and some ideas for a home LEGO party, too!



I used Paperless Post to create a custom email invite. I went through the thousands of pictures on my laptop because I knew I had some recent ones of the LEGO creations that my son had made. Voila! Instant invitation with a LEGO theme. Isn’t the Polaroid look a nice touch?! I thought so. And yes, I sent an invite through email (which goes against every bone in my body) but there were only a few kids invited and I was running out of time.

The reverse side is fully customizable and then the invite/site prompts the invitees to RSVP. I picked Paperless Post for the online invitations because the tracking is beyond easy.

Note: you will need to pay a small amount for coins and “stamps” to send out custom invites through this site.

ALL THE LITTLE (LEGO) DETAILS (from right to left, top to bottom)

1. Most of the details for the party stemmed from a LEGO MINIFIGURE Ultimate Sticker Collection book. The last 20 pages of the book are filled with “extra stickers” meaning they don’t necessarily need to go with the sticker book. I tore out the last 20 pages, used them on everything for the party and then gave my son the sticker book as one of his gifts. Perfect.

2. Because we were spending an afternoon at the LEGOLAND California theme park, I filled the goodie bags with snacks for each kid (a good way to save a little money). In addition to snacks, I provided water bottles. I peeled off the labels and made personalized name tags for each water bottle– no mixing up water bottles (aka swapping spit). To make the labels, I took some Avery Mailing Labels (from our Christmas Card supply box), affixed a Minifigure head to each one, and wrote each child’s name.

3. I also made name tags for each partygoer and parent. Just as I did with the water bottles but I made it a little fun (and sometimes silly).

4. Finally, the goody bags were colorful gift bags from you guessed it Target. Once again, I used the stickers from the Minifigure sticker book to decorate each bag… and I used some alphabet stickers, that I had laying around, for each child’s name.



I’m not a fan of small, cheap and useless toys and gobs of sugar in goody bags so each year I try to get a little creative. This year’s goody bag is going to be hard to top in the future. Each LEGO Goody Bag had the following items:

  • 1 mystery Minifigure pack
  • Snacks: a bag of Popchips, a water bottle (pictured above), and a Clif Kids Organic Z-Bar (not pictured but also labeled, of course)
  • Minifigure stickers (I cut some out of the “extra pages” from the Minifigure sticker book)
  • A mix CD full of my 9-year-old’s favorite songs (most of the songs were the Kidz Bop version of the original song– for “cleaner” words). I burned the CD on my computer, cut a piece of cardstock for the inside sleeve (listed the songs on the inside), and then stuck a label and a Minifigure sticker on the front. You can also design and print the case inserts on your computer– I ran out of ink the night before the party.
  • and last but certainly not least, a Recycled Bracelet Starter Kit from Shains. I not only wanted to include a new trendy item but I wanted to keep with the building theme. Get it? Build your own bracelet. The kids went nuts for these (and the CD).



As I mentioned, we celebrated at LEGOLAND California. LEGOLAND has Birthday Party Packages but because everyone had a membership (and I knew a group of 9-year-old’s wouldn’t want to sit in a room for very long), we opted to go for the LEGOLAND Birthday Cake only… and I’m SO happy that we did! The cake was huge and decorated with Duplo pieces (one was a special Birthday piece). It said “Happy Birthday (child’s name)” and came with a Minifigure smack dab in the center! LEGOLAND also supplied the plates, napkins, forks, and gave the birthday boy a special crown and a Happy Birthday button! All for twenty bucks. Yes, the cake was included in the price. We grabbed an open table, sang Happy Birthday, ate cake and then went (well, the kids ran) about our way. The market even refrigerated the cake and held it for us until we were ready to leave. The kids had a blast exploring the park and riding the rides… and mommy had nothing to clean up. Perfect party!



  • MINILAND- create your own Miniland with your child starting weeks before the party. The sky is the limit when it comes to what you can create for your Miniland. On the day of the party, display your own Miniland for party guests to see (and take pictures next to)!
  • Xbox Family Game Space- set up a space in your house where party guests can play LEGO Xbox games. (or Wii or PlayStation… whichever system you have)
  • LEGO Playstation- set up a space for guests to build their own LEGO creations. Tip: You can even buy a bucket of LEGO pieces and allow guests to take their creation home as part of their goody bag.


Disclosure: LEGOLAND did not provide tickets, minifigures, or the cake for our party nor did they ask me (or pay me) to write about our experience. Paperless Post doesn’t even know who I am, I purchased the LEGO sticker book and the Popchips with my own money BUT Shains did send me bracelets for the goody bags. They also didn’t ask me, tell me or pay me to write anything. My works and opinions are always my own.

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