Monday, June 15, 2015

Fun at Idlewild + special discount for tickets

It is always a treat to check out what has been voted “Best Kids Park in the World” by Amusement Today, and “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Of course I'm talking about the beautiful Idlewild and Soak Zone destination! Since 1878, the park has been providing smiles all around and it seems like every mom I talk to tells me how much they love Idlewild. One of the reasons I love Idlewild is because of the variety of attractions for kids of all ages. There are 18 major rides and 14 kiddie rides, but Story Book Forest and Jumpin’ Jungle provide extra unique features. Add in a large water park and you've got a pretty spectacular destination!

I suggest getting there right at opening time and heading to the rides your kids love the best. This helps avoid long lines!

This was the first year all my kids loved the "big" roller coaster. We went to this ride first and got in three or four rides immediately! (Although keep in mind, some of the rides don't start operation until 11a.m.)

And then there's Jumpin' Jungle. A work out just looking at it, right? 

Send them up the ropes......

And across the bridge......

Grab your burlap sack and head down the slide!

The ball pit is also in Jumpin' Jungle. You may find your kids doing flips into the balls by the time you're done. (Agh!!)

If it's a hot summer day, by this time you might be ready for a little SoakZone action! SoakZone has something for all ages including the a toddler pool, wave pool, pirate ship, lazy river, big fast water slides + more. 

A pirate ship with a tipping bucket!

My kids rode this short slide approximately a million times. :) 

And perfect for babies and toddlers is the Little Squirts pool and water area. Maxing out at two feet deep with zero depth entry and lots of fun water features. 

The exhibit that everyone was waiting for last summer has arrived...Daniel Tiger! Take a ride on the Trolley through Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and invite everyone to come to the Hug N' Song. (That phrase will get stuck in your head!) The new face lift of all the exhibits look great. 

And don't forget to take in the interactive afternoon shows where Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kittykat make an appearance. 

StoryBook Forest also has a new addition! In addition to Daniel Tiger, Mother Goose and all her
Story Book friends, Ricky Raccoon, and Duke the Dragon, Idlewild is welcoming “Grigsby” as their newest colorful character. This friendly monster will provide lots of smiles as he makes three daily appearances.

IF your kids have any energy left at the end of the day, it is also prime time for short ride times! 

Here are some upcoming special character events:

• July 7, 8, 9 - Spider-Man & Captain America
• July 21, 22, 23 - Hulk & Thor

• July 14, 15, 16 - Cinderella & Snow White
• July 28, 29, 30 - Rapunzel & Beauty

I also have a special discount code to save $11 on Regular Gate Admission tickets! Valid from June 1st, 2015 - September 7, 2015.
• Regular Gate Price: $34.99 +tax
• Discounted Gate Price: $30.99 +tax/fee

Go here to purchase these discounted tickets!

Idlewild & SoakZone is located at 2574 U.S. 30, Ligonier, PA 15658.

They are open 10:30am - 8pm. Some rides do not open until 11 or 11:30. 

Be sure to check their website for inclement weather announcements as well as days of limited operation. And use these hashtags when sharing your memories on social media: #IdlewildPark #SeeThemSmile

I was provided tickets by Idlewild Park, however all opinions remain my own. I don't endorse venues I don't love. :) 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Campaign for Fair Education Funding

I've been learning a lot in the past few weeks about the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. I've learned that Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a Basic Education Funding formula. I've also learned that Pennsylvania has the widest spending gap between wealthy and poor public school districts of any state in the country, and research shows that gap has widened since 2010. Not good! I've learned that the current state funding system is based on political considerations and deals that lawmakers make in Harrisburg. This must change! A child's zip code should not determine the opportunities he'she receives in school. My family lives in the City of Pittsburgh and we want to stay here. We know that sometimes families flee to suburban school districts for better education options. But we choose to stay. And we will make our voices heard to be sure all of our students are set up for success! Without a funding formula, students suffer, whether they attend a city, suburban or rural public school. With an adequate and equitable funding formula in place, it will ensure that all schools have the resources needed for all children to get the education they deserve. 

An education is comprehensive. Recently, my six year old won 1st place for this drawing. What if funding for art classes was to be cut? He can already draw better than I can! 

This is why I am supporting the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. And you can too! The Campaign for Fair Education Funding is a statewide non-partisan effort made up of organizations that, collectively, represent Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state. The campaign includes more than 50 organizations and people, including child advocates, teachers and school administrators, charter schools representatives, church congregations and business leaders. For a complete list of members, visit this page.  

They're fighting for every public school to have the resources necessary to enable every child to meet state academic standards, be prepared for post-secondary success, and become productive, knowledgeable, and engaged adults.  

And you can join them! 

  • Support the Campaign. (Simply sign up for the newsletter to stay informed.)
  • Contact Your State Legislators. (Time commitment: 5 minutes!)
  • Speak Out On Social Media. (A tweet only takes a moment!)
  • Participate in an Event. (Two call to action events are coming up.) 

On Tuesday, June 23, there will be a rally in Harrisburg to share your concern with legislators. FREE transportation is being provided for any Pittsburgh families. Go here for more info.  

You can also join this Twitter chat happening on Monday. Let your voice be heard!


I am hoping for the Fair Funding initiative to be in effect by the time my youngest goes to school! 

 I’m teaming up with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to speak out for students across Pennsylvania. Although I am receiving some form of compensation, all opinions remain my own. #FairFundingPA

Friday, June 5, 2015

Giveaway: Tickets to the Royal Ball

If you haven’t been able to participate in an event with Gemini Children’s Theater, then you are missing out!  Gemini hosts acting classes, summer camps, and fun productions that are perfect for kids to enjoy. On Saturday, June 20th, they will host their annual Royal Ball.  
Activities will include singing, dancing, Favorite Storybook Characters, Interactive Musical Numbers, Games, Prizes, Silent Auction, Magic by David Lawrence and much more!

 The Royal Ball is an annual fundraising gala benefiting Gemini Children’s Theater and all its programs for young children and teens. The Gemini Theater officially opened in 1996 at The Factory in Pittsburgh, bringing classic children's stories to life on stage!

Saturday, June 20, 2015
12:00pm to 4:00pm
Syria Shrine Center
$50 (Adults & Children)
Children 2 & under: Free (must reserve a seat)
Full Table: $450 (Table of 10 - Save $50)

Syria Shrine Center / 1877 Shriners Way, Cheswick, PA 15024

Go here to order tickets!

Dinner for the Royal Masquerade Ball will be served buffet style with lots of yummy food for adults and kids! Carved Ham, Boneless Breaded Chicken Filet, Pasta Salad, Chicken Tenders, Macaroni and Cheese, Whipped Potatoes, Buttered Corn, Tossed Salad, Fruit Salad, Cookie Table and Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Royal Catering Provided by Stratwood Caterers.


Gemini Children’s Theater has generously offered to give away 2 tickets to this fun event! Go here to enter: 

. Almost twenty years after opening, the Gemini Family is working hard to move and build a new theater so the programs they have created can have more room to grow.  They are finding that there are so many children and teens in need of arts education and providing a place for that experience is more important than ever.  A possible new home is on the horizon, but it seems that, just like in fairy tales, some obstacles have to be overcome that need a little more than magic to get by them. Head to their Go Fund Me page to help ensure that this wonderful venue for Pittsburgh in children will continue to thrive. We wish you all the best GCT! 

This post sponsored by Gemini Children's Theater. .All opinions remain my own. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Raising awareness for Fair Education Funding

My husband and I recently enjoyed watching an episode of Undercover Boss that featured Mayor Wiliam Peduto. One thing that stuck out was to see quite a few people in the episode who were working extra hours in order to avoid putting their kids in public schools. There are many reasons people might choose to enroll their childen in private schools and that's more than okay if that's your preference! But what is not okay is if people feel they have to make this choice because public schools can't offer a high quality education because they simply don't have the funding. Has the music or art program been cut because the resources aren't there to provide these classes? Are computers or iPads not available for the kids to use for learning? This is something we want to make sure does not happen! My family lives in the city and we want our schools to be a place for all children to learn and thrive. We are excited for our son to begin his studies at a Pittsburgh Public School this fall. And that's a big reason that I want to share about the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. This highlights the need for Pennsylvania to adopt and maintain an adequate and equitable system of funding public education by 2016. Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a Basic Education Funding formula. The current system fails to provide enough resources to educate all students to academic standards, and produces racial disparities and a wide gap between the wealthiest and poorest schools. You can read the top ten reasons why Pennsylvania needs a better education funding system here. Whether you live in the city or your kids go to a suburban or rural public school, Pennsylvania needs a better public school funding system throughout the state!

So what do we do to ensure our schools are getting the funding they need to provide the best possible education for our children? Some of the first steps you can take is to go to the Campaign for Fair Funding website and sign up for the campaign’s e-newsletter. Then contact your legislators to urge them to prioritize the issue. Another way to be involved is let your child's voice be heard! My son and I enjoyed recording his thoughts through Hear Me. Hear Me is part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Create Lab. Hear Me amplifies kids' voices using media and technology to create a world where kids are heard, acknowledged and understood, giving them the power to inspire social change. 
Click on Graham's Words to hear my six year old's view on his school!  

You can go to the Hear Me website and record your own child's voice to be heard. 
All preK-12 students are encouraged to participate and share their voices.
The Campaign for Fair Education Funding is a statewide non-partisan effort made up of organizations that, collectively, represent Pennsylvanians from every corner of the state. Our campaign includes more than 50 education advocacy organizations; teachers and school administrators; representatives of charter schools and traditional public schools; urban and rural interests; business and organized labor; faith-based groups; and community groups. Go here for a complete list of members. 

Parents can have the strongest and loudest voices in our children's education. So let's be heard when we let our wishes be known for strong education in Pennsylvania and Fair Funding across our state!

I’m teaming up with the Campaign for Fair Education Funding to speak out for students across Pennsylvania. Although I am receiving some form of compensation, all opinions remain my own. #FairFundingPA 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Giveaway: Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Gateway Clupper Fleet has a fantastic new line-up of summer cruises with lots of great options for families and kids! My kids are always so excited for a chance to ride on the "big boat" and then it's fun to remember our cruise each time we see them on the river. We're trying out a new cruise this summer, the Pirate Voyage Luncheon.

Are ‘ye ready for an intriguing Pittsburgh activity?  Come aboard this river dinner cruise featuring the swashbuckling musical ”A Pirate’s Tale!”
It’s the  year 1540 and the pirate crew of the Anne-Marie seizes the Spanish naval ship the Raven  - its a battle on the high seas… we mean
the three rivers!  Featuring original music,
authentic sword battles and an enchanting tale
of intrigue and betrayal!  So if you are asking
“What to do in Pittsburgh” with family and friends – come aboard the Pirate Voyage River Luncheon Cruise – there’s nothing else like in the “Burgh! And the best part is it’s aboard ”THE” Pittsburgh Attraction – the Gateway Clipper! 

Vegetable Swords and Doubloons with Calypso Ranch Dressing
Pirate Chicken Fingers with Bloody BBQ Sauce
Hard Tack Cheeseburger Sliders
Flying Dutchmen Pizza Boats
Sea Shell Pasta with Golden Cheese Sauce
Battered Walk the Plank Potatoes with Red Sky at Night Ketchup
Royal Navy Fresh Fruit Salad
Skull & Crossbones Cake
Coffee & Hot Tea 

A Gateway Clipper Fleet cruise is an awesome way to see Pittsburgh and you might even learn something new about our city! 


GCF has generously offered a family 4-pack giveaway of tickets to the Pirate Voyage Luncheon on Sunday, June 14th! It boards at noon and sails from 1:00 - 3:30 pm. 
Make it an early Father's Day celebration with a beautiful cruise, lunch on the river and fun for the kids as well. 

Go here to enter:

The Pirate Voyage Luncheon will be running 4 times this summer!

June 14, July 12, August 9 & August 23
Board:  12 Noon
Sail:  1:00 –  3:30 pm 

Check out the GCF full summer line-up here. They also have some fantastic date night options! And don't forget they offer shuttle service to the Pirate's games as well.

Thank you, Gateway Clipper Fleet, for kindly providing tickets for my family. All opinions remain my own.