Passports with Purpose: Win a stay at one of 180 U.S. campgrounds with Thousand Trails

Jersey Kids likes to do its part helping others, which is why we’ve been participating the past few years with Passports With Purpose. This blogger-run (and all volunteer) fundraiser chooses a new organization and project every year to raise much-needed funds for great projects.

For every $10 donation, you get the chance to win a prize and these Kenyans can get access to e-readers. It's win-win! Photo courtesy of Worldreader.
For every $10 donation, you get the chance to win a prize and these Kenyans can get access to e-readers. It’s win-win! Photo courtesy of Worldreader.

This year we’re working with Worldreader, and we’ll be raising funds to bring digital readers (like Kindles) to five libraries in Kenya. Each library will get about 50 e-readers each, providing 6,250 children, teachers and parents with access to more than 50,000 books. The books will be in Swahili and English, with fiction and nonfiction books.The Worldreader program trains the librarians, and also provides field-tested solar chargers to keep the e-readers charged if electricity is scarce. Read more about the Worldreader program here. and the Worldreader website here. This one speaks to me because I love reading, and so does my son. I can’t imagine not having access to books.

PWP MountDesertNarrows_ME_Tent
Not a bad place to spend a week with the family! Take a vacation at one of 180 Thousand Trails and Encore RV Resort campgrounds this year. Photo courtesy of Thousand Trails.

So you’re probably dying to know who is providing an amazing prize for this fundraiser, and what you can win. You probably got a hint from the photo above. The answer is:

Thousand Trails Campgrounds and Encore RV Resorts, who is giving away a week’s stay at any of Thousand Trails Campgrounds and Encore RV Resorts’ 180 campgrounds across the country. You get to pick! See where there are. Continue reading “Passports with Purpose: Win a stay at one of 180 U.S. campgrounds with Thousand Trails”

What to do at Chelsea Piers with Kids

If you live or work in Manhattan, you might be more familiar with Chelsea Piers. With lots of sports classes for kids and adults, plus a workout facility, this is a regular spot for many. If you live outside of Manhattan though, there’s still plenty you can take advantage of during trips into the city.

Here are a few things to do with kids at Chelsea Piers:

Try out the high tech four story driving range at Chelsea Piers.
Try out the high tech four story driving range at Chelsea Piers. Photo copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan.


Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers is not your neighborhood bowling alley. With fun lights and upscale décor, they also have high end pub food including burgers and pizza, tacos, brownie sundaes, plus some awesome signature cocktails (not so awesome when bowling with your kids in the middle of the day, however). Continue reading “What to do at Chelsea Piers with Kids”

Adirondack Extreme with Kids

Ever since I went to Flagstaff Extreme a few years back with my family, my kids and I were dying to do it again. Especially since my son was now tall enough to do the full course (in Flagstaff he was too short/young). And my husband missed out on that experience and wanted to try as well. This “aerial treetop adventure course” has multiple courses of ropes obstacles and ziplines. On our recent trip to the Adirondacks, we booked some time at Adirondack Extreme near Lake George.

Continue reading “Adirondack Extreme with Kids”

White water rafting on the Hudson – Adirondacks

When you see the Hudson River in New York City, or even the Hudson River in the Hudson River Valley, whitewater rafting is not something you think about. But further upstream just past Lake George, you can raft in the white caps, over 17 miles of class III-V waves. While there are two handfuls of reputable companies, we went with Wild Waters, connected to the Glen River Lodge where we bunked. You can read our review of the Glen River Lodge here.

This outfitter has been around some 30 years, and on a busy Memorial Day weekend, we had several bus loads of eager paddlers joining us on the journey.

getting our gear

The gear shack had everything we needed – Continue reading “White water rafting on the Hudson – Adirondacks”

16 Things You Didn’t Know about Hurricane Harbor

We went to Hurricane Harbor last year for the first time (our Hurricane Harbor review and primer here). We went back again yesterday and had a great time, noticing and doing different things than we did before. Here are 16 things I bet you didn’t know about Hurricane Harbor.

1. Going on a weekday (especially one when rain is expected and it’s cloudy and in the 70s) makes a HUGE difference in line compared to the weekends. Fortunately it didn’t rain on us and we only got cold once (took a break then went back out) and had a relaxing day without many lines. We waited at most 20 minutes (for the Tornado – video below) and most lines were less than 10 minutes.

2. You will get a lot of exercise.  Continue reading “16 Things You Didn’t Know about Hurricane Harbor”

Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossoms

We haven’t been to Branch Brook Park since 2011, to see the cherry blossoms. Each year we plan to go and then something gets in the way. We missed the festival (though to be fair, it’s super crowded) but went last weekend – a week after the festival – to catch the just-past peak trees. They were still gorgeous. This park has the largest collection of cherry trees in the country.


Continue reading “Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossoms”

Behind the Scenes Guide to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Giant Balloons

It’s hard not to be awed by the enormous balloons making their way down the streets in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes to how they were designed and what one of them looked like up close, inflated.

Of course you can watch them get inflated yourself, the night before Thanksgiving (details at the bottom). If you plan to attend the parade, don’t miss my Guide to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And you can read our behind the scenes guide to the floats here.

Macy's Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey is where all the balloons and floats are conceived (and floats are built and refurbished here)
Macy’s Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey is where all the balloons and floats are conceived (and floats are built and refurbished here)

What’s new?

This year they’re debuting six new balloons this year, which is a record number. That’s a bit of a misnomer for attendees, since two of the characters (Pikachu and the Pillsbury Doughboy) are regulars at the parade. But Pikachu just went through a third redesign, so it is a new balloon and Macy’s counts that as a new one. The Pillsbury Doughboy is also technically a new balloon, though the design is the same as the last one, since it flew so well and the client wanted  the same thing.

Paddington's hat
Paddington’s hat – he’s new this year

Thomas the Train (new this year) is 47 feet tall Continue reading “Behind the Scenes Guide to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Giant Balloons”

Guide to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is celebrating its 88th year. If you haven’t already gmacysposter2one, maybe now’s the time. You’ll join 3.5 million people watching from the streets and windows, and an estimated 50 million sitting in front of the TV. As for participants? A whopping 8,000 are marching, wielding balloon strings or on floats. Look for some fun stats toward the bottom.

The parade is on Thanksgiving morning, this year it’s November 27 at 9 a.m. It takes about 90 minutes for the parade to make it from the start to the finish. Navigating the parade with kids isn’t that hard if you’re prepared. And that’s what we’re here for – your family guide to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Balloon Inflation

Even if you can’t go for the parade, the giant balloon inflation is open to the public the Wednesday before the parade, on November 26th. Head over to the Museum of Natural History, entering the inflation area at 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. The inflation goes from 3-10 p.m. Here’s a behind the scenes guide to the making of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. Continue reading “Guide to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014”

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial

Last time I was near the World Trade Center, the fences were still up and you needed tickets to get into the memorial area. That is no longer the case, as of May. This September 11 is the first anniversary of the memorial. You can just walk into the plaza now and visit. I’ll give more information on the bottom – you can see pictures from my visit as you scroll down.

pool polish
There was something very sacred about the woman’s work cleaning and polishing the metal holding the names.


pool south

You can see a short video of what the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial pool looks like here. Continue reading “Visiting the 9/11 Memorial”

The Great Falls in Paterson

Have you been to the Great Falls in Paterson? If not, it’s worth going. We took a trip over there this summer and it was gorgeous!

Paterson Falls

This place has a lot of history, going back to Alexander Hamilton’s time, when he envisioned Paterson as the country’s first planned industrial city. He wanted to use hydropower from the Passaic River’s Great Falls. Hamilton and the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers (a real mouthful), started this in Paterson in 1792. Since then, Paterson’s industry became known for fabrics (silk spinning, cotton, textile machinery, jute, weaving, dyeing, etc.). When I posted a picture of the Falls on my personal Facebook page some time back, one of my friends said her first job was working in textiles in Paterson, and she’s not even old! You can read more of the history of the Great Falls here. Continue reading “The Great Falls in Paterson”