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Our Editors post real reviews on the products we use and the services we try. Stay tuned to our Contests page for an opportunity to win some of our faves.
 
 
 

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Road Trips from The Woodlands: Dallas / Fort Worth
Written by Keri Stooksbury   

altThe Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is a smooth four hour drive north of The Woodlands and offers plenty of options for family fun, perfect for an extended weekend getaway.

One of my absolute favorite attractions is contained within the grounds of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The expansive Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden is a beautifully designed garden with interactive exhibits for kids.
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We're Smitten! Schakolad Chocolate Factory - A Whole Lotta Chocolate Awesomeness!
Written by Karen Logan   
altIt's a beautiful, LOCAL chocolate factory with a magical aroma!! One glorious Valentine's Day about a decade ago, my husband presented me with a  box of chocolate-covered strawberries from Schakolad Chocolate Factory. Since then, my special holidays have often included delightful boxes of decadent chocolates, crafted right here in The Woodlands.

With our 2018 Valentine's Day on the horizon, I decided to drop in at Schakolad Chocolate Factory, located at 1500 Research Forest Dr., to learn about the care, expertise, and quality that goes into the store's chocolate-making process. I'll spare you too many details, but over the years, you've heard me talk about my treats from Schakolad not only because  the chocolate is delicious - my absolute favorite, in fact -  but also, this family-owned factory and store uses no preservatives, waxes, paraffin or other additives, plus they provide vegan-friendly, allergy-friendly, gluten-free and sugar-free options.
 
alt

For the past 12 years, Schakolad has prepared the highest quality chocolates on-site at its Woodlands location. The chocolate here is rich and tastes great!  At this point, if all your mind is conjuring up is some little puny chocolate nuggets, have I got news for you!

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Hands-On Fun at Orlando Science Center
Written by Keri Stooksbury   

altOur Orlando trip was quite flexible and I was eager to visit Orlando Science Center, a favorite of our friends that live nearby. I knew the museum had exhibits for preschoolers but I wasn't so sure what to expect. Boy was I ever surprised! Imagine a science museum virtually ENTIRELY for kids! It was just our luck that we visited on the first day back to school from winter break for Orange County schools, so we had a lot of the museum to ourselves with mainly preschoolers, no tourist hordes and no field trips.

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A Bluetiful Day at Crayola Experience Orlando
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
altI have a few friends that live in Orlando and an attraction I constantly see them visiting is Crayola Experience Orlando, located at The Florida Mall. I was excited to visit during our trip and little did I know that we'd spend over 4 hours exploring and creating (and that we could have easily spent a few hours more!).
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A Knight To Remember at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Orlando
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
altOn a day of rest during our week-long Orlando trip, I mentioned to my oldest son that we had a special dinner planned. "Donuts?! I really hope it's donuts," was his response. Imagine his surprise when we approached a medieval castle! Our family was about to enter the Middle Ages to dine like kings and queens while cheering on knights at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.
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Assembling An Awesome Day at LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
altMy kids were thrilled to learn they'd be visiting LEGOLAND Florida on our trip to Orlando. They've been reading about the park in the free LEGO Life magazine and had a taste of what might be in store at a 2016 visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine. I planned our day in the park a bit blindly. I found the online map and website a little overwhelming, so I asked a friend who had visited what her must-do rides were and then read a few reviews online to direct our day. We had a late start and arrived around noon. We were a bit confused by a relatively empty parking lot and when paying for parking I asked the attendant how busy the day was. I was through the moon when he replied "Slow!" Even two hours after opening, we got great parking near the entrance, had no lines at the gates and then just had to navigate to the nearest ride.
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A Magical Trip to Walt Disney World Resort
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
altFor the second time in 12 months, I was faced with the fun, yet terrifying task of planning a trip to Walt Disney World. We strategically planned a visit in 2017 before my twins turned 3 to maximize their free tickets and free character meals (details here). When my husband signed up for the 2018 Dopey Challenge as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I knew I would need to plan this year a bit differently. There are a few ways to prep for Disney - you can put yourself in the hands of a Disney Vacation Planner and let them take care of your hotel, meals and in-park plans (and checkbook), or you can grab a tour book and start a spreadsheet for a bit of number crunching and itinerary planning. I planned day-by-day Disney itineraries as a young girl, so scheduling our days and maximizing our savings was definitely more my speed. Having gone through the motions twice now, I have a few tips for a smooth and affordable trip.
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A First Look at Kanga's Indoor Playcenter
Written by Keri Stooksbury   

altMy family found ourselves on a chilly Sunday morning over a holiday weekend needing to burn a little energy. My friends have raved and raved about a new indoor playground for months and when faced with another cold day indoors at our house I thought this would be the perfect morning to try Kanga's Indoor Playcenter.
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Fun Music Classes in Our Neighborhood! A Sneak Peek at Prelude Music
Written by Karen Logan   
It's so special to make music with other people! On Monday, January 8, a handful of our readers joined me (Karen) at Prelude Music Classes to try out a couple of the music classes Prelude offers to families in The Woodlands. Below is a video that'll show you all the fun highlights!

We started out with free time in Prelude's imaginative, Montessori-inspired playroom stocked with wood toys, baby dolls, building blocks, and puzzles, and then we were summoned to the music room where the rest of the magic took place. The video speaks for itself - lots of rhythm-making, hand clapping, singing, dancing, and playing, all the while enjoying a beautiful bond with our children and each other. We ended each class with a calming music & rocking exercise, special snuggle time with our little ones, and complimentary snacks for our group, courtesy of Prelude. 

 

What you don't see in the video is how cool, calm, and collected the music leader, Kasia, is. She made our music class a "happy," unhurried, uninhibited, space where kids and grown-ups alike could feel free and at ease. She also took care to give us insight into how our kids were connecting and learning throughout their musical experience there. I dare say I gained new awareness and appreciation for the responsive and ever-inquiring minds of our little ones!
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Gingerbread Men all year long with Krusteaz! (Why not?)
Written by Karen Logan   

I hope you don’t think it’s too late to make gingerbread men just because Christmas is over! Gingerbread can be enjoyed any time of year, and, for your little ones, it pairs especially well with a glass of milk and the classic folktale “The Gingerbread Man.” This Christmas, I was so thrilled to discover a delicious and oh-so-easy gingerbread mix, that I feel compelled to share it with you! I’m sure my family will this mix again and again throughout the years! Note: According to the product website, this mix is only around in the autumn  season, so I recommend snagging a couple of boxes for your spring and summertime pantry while it’s still available.

For convenience, I grabbed a box of
Krusteaz Gingerbread Cookie Mix from H-E-B so my girls could make cookies for Santa this year. Krusteaz wouldn’t have been my first choice. The box is kind of dull and the cookies on the photo look average. However, this was the cookie mix on the end cap of the frozen foods aisle, so we snagged a box on a whim on the way to the check-out line. We usually leave out sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies for Santa, but I recently scored a new gingerbread man cookie cutter set in a White Elephant gift exchange, and I was anxious to put it to work.
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Moody Gardens Festival of Lights 2017
Written by Karen Logan   

Whether you plan it as a family affair or a romantic stroll for just the two of you, I hope Moody Gardens Festival of Lights makes your to-do list this holiday season. With more than a million Lights, there are so many images to see on this spacious, mile-long walking trail. Santa, elves, flying reindeer, blooming flowers, images of Hanukkah, the Nativity, the 12 days of Christmas, and many more, plus festive sound effects and holiday songs. Along the path, you’ll find several areas to purchase refreshments and holiday fare such as crepes, s’mores, popcorn, and hot chocolate. Also, as part of the Festival of Lights, plan to enjoy the area’s only outdoor skating rink. Here’s a sneak peek of some of my family’s favorite lighted scenes:
 

Festival of Lights opens at dusk and shines throughout the holiday season every day including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, through January 7. Ticket prices range from 10.95 to 15.95, or save more with a holiday evening pass that includes all 8 regular and seasonal Moody Gardens Attractions including Ice Land, the Aquarium & Rainforest Pyramids, the 3D and 4D theaters (we enjoyed the 4D Rudolph show), and more!

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Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
altI often hear friends say that there' is just no point in taking little kids to theme parks - that it's a waste of money and preschoolers are so young they won't remember a thing. When researching for our Disney trip last year, one phrase stuck out to me - take trips while your kids are young for the memories you'll have of your children, not necessarily the memories they'll have of the experience. Using that mantra as my guide, I'm here to tell you it is never too early to take your youngest kids to a theme park! We found Six Flags Fiesta Texas more than accommodating for our family of two 3 year olds and one 5 year old, and during this most magical time of the year, Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas is filled with enchanting experiences that will help capture the holiday spirit.
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SeaWorld San Antonio's Christmas Celebration
Written by Keri Stooksbury   
alt
My family just returned from an amazing, festive two days at SeaWorld San Antonio's Christmas Celebration. They're making spirits brighter than ever this holiday season, through January 2nd, with the largest lighting display in the state of Texas - over eight million sparkling lights! If you've ever thought your kids were too young to enjoy or remember a theme park, my experiences with two 3 year olds and a 5 year old have shown there is so much magic and sparkle revealed with younger kids.
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We’re in Love! Will Tropical Smoothie Café steal your heart, too?
Written by Karen Logan   

For months, we’ve been in love with Tropical Smoothie Café’s better-for-you smoothies, so when the opportunity came for us (and a handful of our readers) to join them for a VIP Party to try out not only their smoothies but their food as well, we were beyond excited! We showed up, and Tropical Smoothie Café “showed out” – in a spectacular way!

I (Karen) represented WoodlandsMommy.com, and I was so pleased to be joined by the Harriman, Lockwood, Bickel and Andrews families. These sweet families were so much fun and allowed me to take some great photos! (Make sure you CLICK HERE to check out the entire Tropical Smoothie Cafe VIP Party photo album.)


For the record, Tropical Smoothie Café is located at 19074 Interstate 45 in the Shenandoah Portofino. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk through the doors is the clean, vibrant, relaxing atmosphere. This place is a lot of fun, and the setting is perfect for unwinding. The staff greeted us by name with smiles, and they had our VIP tables reserved and ready.

It’s a good thing we weren’t expected to order off the menu for our event. The Tropical Smoothie Café menu is loaded with pure awesomeness – toasted flatbreads, toasted sandwiches, signature wraps and bowls, all-day breakfast items (yes, breakfast!), sides & desserts, and, of course, smoothies. Some of the flavor combinations are just too creative to pass up. How does one choose? Lucky us, we didn’t have to. Our host indulged us in a large variety of foods and smoothies, making for a fun, hospitable, over-the-top experience for us and our readers!
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