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Category: kids

  1. Thursday, December 19

    The Girls’ Birthday Cakes + Chocolate M&M Frosting

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    One of the only over-the-top-Mom things I do is make fun cakes for my kids’ birthdays. Cate and Anna had both of their birthdays this week so I’ve been a busy baker! Anna opted for a vanilla cake shaped like a fish. Cate decided to go with chocolate cupcakes topped with M&M frosting. I wanted to share the cakes with you, since I always do, as well as the recipe for the frosting because it was YUMMMMMMMMM.

    chocolate m&m frosting from @janemaynard

    Anna’s cake was inspired by a goldfish in the Cakes for Kids book by Matthew Mead that we love so much! The cake is essentially a 2-layer cake (8 inches or 9 inches works) with a thin crescent cut off the top or each layer before frosting. Those crescent pieces become the fins. The frosted layer cake gets tipped up on its side and and then the fins are added, with toothpicks securing the top and back fins. I think this might have been the hardest cake I’ve made so far, surprisingly. It didn’t come out as cute as I’d hoped but it did come out better than I expected! ;) Anna was completely happy with the cake and that is all that matters!

    anna's fish birthday cake from @janemaynard

    I think what made this cake so tricky was that I made the fins a different color than the body (to look more like Flounder from The Little Mermaid), but it’s hard enough attaching those fins without having to worry about the frosting colors mixing. Bottom line: this cake was hard but we made it work!

    anna's fish birthday cake from @janemaynard

    Cate took it easy on me and just wanted chocolate cupcakes with M&Ms. I decided an M&M frosting would be good and took inspiration from a recipe on the blog Cookies & Cups. I changed the recipe to a chocolate buttercream frosting and made it a little thinner. The frosting was fudgy and crunchy and oh-so-delicious. Quick note: when the frosting is just made, the M&Ms are still crunchy, but as it sits, the M&Ms get softer. This is not a bad thing, but it goes from crispy M&M fudge frosting to chunky-chocolate fudge frosting. Just wanted to set expectations properly! If you can whip up the frosting last minute, that’s what I would do! This is not to say that we haven’t happily enjoyed the leftovers!

    chocolate m&m frosting from @janemaynard

    If you’d like to see the misadventure I had when I started to frost the cupcakes, click here. Fair warning, it’s scary! Moral of the story? Always use a star tip when piping chocolate frosting. And that’s all we’ll say about that!

    Chocolate M&M Frosting
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • ⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted into the bowl
    • 1 cup M&Ms, processed to a coarse dust in the blender
    Instructions
    1. In a stand mixer or with beaters, beat together all of the ingredients on medium-high speed until well-mixed. Spread on cake or cupcakes and eat immediately! M&Ms will be crunchy at the outset but will soften as the frosting sits.

     

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  2. Thursday, October 24

    How to Make Spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS (It’s really easy!)

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    Making JELL-O JIGGLERS with my mom as a kid is a very clear and happy memory for me. I can picture the kitchen and the JELL-O like it was yesterday. For some reason making those JIGGLERS was super, duper exciting. I mean, what kid doesn’t like JELL-O, but JELL-O that you can make into shapes and then eat with your hands? For a six-year-old, that is living the dream.

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    Even though it’s such a fond memory from my own childhood, I have never made JIGGLERS with my own kids…until yesterday! I finally got my act together and we jiggled it up Halloween style. I told the girls the day before that we would be making Halloween JELL-O JIGGLERS and they talked about it non-stop for over a day. It made me so happy that the charm hasn’t worn off from generation to generation.

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    JELL-O has some fun recipes and projects you can make, so I went browsing the site for inspiration. I liked the idea of just making our own shapes, like these hands, but I loved the color of these creepy crawly JIGGLERS. I decided to make a sheet of the “black” JELL-O and was going to have the kids design shapes for the cutouts. When we actually started making the JIGGLERS, however, we decided to just use our Halloween cookie cutters. It was a lot easier and just as fun!

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    So, we grabbed our tin of spooky cutters and got to work. The girls divided up the cookie cutters between them and did a great job taking turns. Fitting all the shapes into our square pan was kind of like doing a puzzle. The girls were so happy the entire time we worked on the project, it did my heart good.

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    I hope this ends up being a lasting memory for the girls – I know it will be for me! The only thing more fun than being a kid is to be the parent watching the kid.

    Spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS Cut-Outs
    - 1 1/3 cup boiling water
    - 1 pkg. (3 ounces) JELL-O Grape Flavor Gelatin
    - 3 tablespoons JELL-O Lime Flavor Gelatin
    - 8×8-inch pan
    - Halloween cookie cutters

    Mix grape and lime gelatin in a bowl. Add boiling water and mix for 2 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved. Poor directly into pan and refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

    Press Halloween cookie cutters into JELL-O, making sure to push all the way through to the bottom of the pan. Carefully remove cookie cutter – the JELL-O shapes should come out easiliy with the cookie cutter. Pop out onto a white serving platter (for high impact with the dark JIGGLERS!) and eat with ghoulish intent!

    Fun and Easy! How to make spooky JELL-O JIGGLERS | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comThe girls aren’t very ghoulish, but they sure are cute!



    This post brought to you by JELL-O, making Halloween more wiggly for everyone. Check out more Halloween recipes here: JELLO.com/recipes. This post was sponsored as part of the DailyBuzz Brand Ambassador Program.

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  3. Tuesday, September 24

    Little Blue Truck Cake

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    I love making my kids’ birthday cakes. The tradition stems from my childhood. I remember so many of the cakes my mom made for me and I also remember being sooooo excited for each of those cakes. They made me feel special and like my mom could work magic. My brother and I have both continued the tradition with our own children. It’s one of those things that I really love to do for my kids.

    little blue truck cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    little blue truck birthday | thisweekfordinner.com

    little blue truck and big green toad cakes | thisweekfordinner.com

    Each time I make a cake I share it on the blog (let’s be honest, I like to show them off!), but I never get around to explaining how I put the shapes together. I thought I’d give a quick rundown of how I assembled the Little Blue Truck cake.

    First and foremost, be sure to read through this post to get lots of tips for successfully decorating cute cakes. The instructions below mostly focus on how to create the shape of the truck, but the tips in that post are just as important!

    I decided to make Little Blue just a day or two before Owen’s party, so it was pretty last minute. I was planning to do a 2-dimensional cake in the shape of Little Blue as he appears on the cover of the book. While the cake was cooling, Anna found a 3-dimensional truck cake in our favorite book Cakes for Kids and plans changed!

    In Cakes for Kids, the truck cake utilizes loaf pans to create the shape, but since I had already baked a standard square cake for my 2-dimensional version, I went with my own design. It actually worked really well, so here’s what I did!

    cutting instructions little blue truck cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    • Find something to use as a “lift” for the cake – I used four blue duplo legos (I should have used white or black). Cut a piece of cardboard that is just a smidge smaller than the largest piece of cake. On your cake board (the final board the cake will be displayed on), line up the legos (or whatever you’re using as a lift) underneath the cardboard cutout so that the legos are near the edges and placed where the wheels on the truck would go. Set the cardboard cutout aside, then secure the legos to the cake board using frosting. Freeze so frosting gets hard and legos stay in place.
    • Put a dab of frosting on the cardboard cutout, then place the largest piece of cake on the cutout, lining it up so you can’t see the cardboard. Frost cake with crumb coat then freeze.
    • Place one of the smaller pieces on top of the frosted cake,  where the cab of the truck would be, making sure to use frosting to attach it to the cake below. Spread a layer of frosting on top of the small piece you just placed, then add the second small piece on top. Shape the two small pieces using a knife so it’s narrower at the top. Apply crumb coat of frosting and freeze.
    • Frost cake with the pretty layer of frosting.
    • Use white rolled fondant to make the windows, bumper, headlights, license plate and grate. I added a smidge of black food coloring for the bumper and grate and a smidge of yellow and orange food coloring for the license plate. Windows and headlights stayed pure white. I used a black edible pen to draw in the eyes on the headlights and lines on the grate.

    little blue truck cake cake | thisweekfordinner.com

     

    • To get the right size and shape for the windows/etc, I held up a piece of cardstock to the cake, estimated the size for each piece, then drew out the pieces and cut them out of the cardstock. I adjusted the templates where necessary then traced the shapes on the fondant with a knife, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to roll the fondant out quite thin or it will look too bulky on the cake (some of my windows were a little thick!).
    • Place truck on top of legos on the final cake board, securing with frosting.

    little blue truck cake lego lift | thisweekfordinner.com

    • Dab a bit of frosting on the edge of an Oreo cookie then stick to the sides of the cake, covering up the legos from the side, for wheels. If a little frosting squishes out around the edge of the Oreo, use a toothpick to clean it up.

    little blue truck cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    • If I had planned ahead a bit more, I could have filled the back of the truck with animals, but I didn’t, so Little Blue had a light load that day!

    There are some fancier Little Blue Truck cakes out there that are sooooo cute (you have to check out this one - thanks for the link, Hillary!). But my simpler version worked just fine and Owen was ecstatic about his cake, crying out “Little Blue Truck!” every time he saw it. Plus, it is a pretty generic truck so you could make whatever color truck you want!

    owen and his cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    A quick note on the big green toad cake: I simply cooked an 8-inch round cake and then cut a few pieces out around the edges to make a shape of the toad’s head, with fondant for eyes. Super simple!

    big green toad cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    My various birthday cake links if you’re interested!

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  4. Sunday, September 22

    Week 348 Menu

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    Yesterday we hosted a simple birthday party for little Owen, who is turning 2 this month! My mom and sister were in town so we decided to seize the moment and celebrate Owen’s big day with them. Owen is obsessed with the book Little Blue Truck. I love making fun cakes for my kids’ birthdays, so I decided to give the truck a try. I had no plan going in and thankfully it all turned out okay! I’ll do a quick post this week explaining how I put the cake together as it was quite simple! Owen loved the cake and thoroughly enjoyed his party – although we had to stop singing “Happy Birthday To You” halfway through because he burst into tears with all the attention! So sweet.

    little blue truck cake | thisweekfordinner.com

    Another week, another menu! I actually made everything on last week’s menu, so I can’t carry any items over. Bummer! I have to think of new things! ;)

    MONDAY:
    - Chili
    - Corn chips

    TUESDAY:
    - Tuscan Tomato Soup
    - Grilled cheese

    WEDNESDAY:
    Kitchen Sink Quesadillas
    - Chips and Guacamole (just remembered this is my birthday, so I may relax and order out!)

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Barbecue Chicken Pizza

    SATURDAY:
    - Take out

    SUNDAY:
    - Pot roast (I haven’t made this in AGES!)
    - Mashed potatoes, gravy and a veggie

    Looking forward to seeing your menus! As always, they are great inspiration when planning each week! Please share no matter what your menu looks like!

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  5. Monday, September 16

    Fun ‘Starting Solids’ Giveaway!

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    Looks like it’s giveaway season on this here blog because I’ve got another one!

    giggle starting solids giveaway | thisweekfordinner.com

    Today I am teaming up with some wonderful bloggers and companies I love to do a big fat giveaway worth ~$600! If you are in the “Starting Solids” phase of life with a baby (or know someone who is!), then you need to enter this giveaway!

    • From giggle, a BABYBJÖRN high chair (like this one) and bib
    • method is going to help you clean it all up with all-purpose cleaner, foaming dish soap, and laundry detergent
    • Plum Organics is offering a tasting menu of $100 worth of goodies
      • variety of NEW Stage 3 Training Meal pouches — varieties include mild herbs & spices!
      • variety of fruit, veggie, whole grain and Greek yogurt blends in easy, squeeze pouches
      • variety of Super Puffs, Little Yums and Little Crèmes for tiny teethers
      • set of Plum’s Dispensing Spoon by Boon for one-handed feeding

    My  fellow giveaway blogging moms include: Audrey McClelland from MomGenerations, Laura Fuentes from Momables, Wendy Copley of Wendolonia, and Heather and Whitney from Rookie Moms!

    To enter, use the handy-dandy Rafflecopter entry form below. There are plenty of ways to get extra entries! Winner will be selected on 9/30. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Fine print and disclosures: We did not receive compensation for running this sweepstakes; we just wanted to get together and get a great prize for our readers. We hope you like it. Retail value for prize is between $400 and $600 depending on where you shop. Rafflecopter widget will choose a single winner of all prizes. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen. And so on. Winners must be over age 18 and live in the continental USA. No cash awards will be given in place of this prize so don’t enter unless you want it. Void where prohibited.

     

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  6. Thursday, June 20

    Cutting Triangle Half Sandwiches

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    Hey everyone! It’s looking like I’ll be able to share our fun news with you tomorrow! Which is one of the reasons I’ve been missing from the blog this week. Things to do! Things to do!

    Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Until then, I want to share a little trick I just discovered. Oprah would call it an “A-HA!” moment, but I think it can more accurately be described as an “OH, DUH!” moment.

    Okay, so I have kids who won’t eat the crust on their sandwiches. It drives me batty. They all started out as people who ate their crusts, but all three of them, at some point along the way, just stopped eating crusts. I think it’s such a waste and I hate it, but there’s not much I can do about it! Since there’s no fighting the no-crust-eating around here, I always cut their sandwiches into four triangle, which results in straight crusts. If the crusts are straight, they end up eating a lot more of the actual sandwich.

    My one problem has always been when they just want half of a sandwich. I always cut squares for half-sandwiches. When you try to cut rectangular-sized bread into a triangle for a half, the edges don’t line up.

    Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.comSee, the long side of one triangle doesn’t line up with the short side of the other triangle and everything is skeewompus.

    As a result of all this, I hate giving my kids half sandwiches because I feel like they are hardly getting any sandwich at all with those dumb cornered crusts.

    And then, the other day, as I was making a half sandwich, it finally hit me. We CAN have half sandwiches AND straight crusts, too! (PS…I’m pretty sure this is what Marie Antoinette actually said.)

    uncut bread | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Cut the bread in half diagonally, into two large triangles.

    first cut | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Then, flip one of the pieces over, like so. (This is the secret to success here!)

    the flip | cutting half triangle sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Look at that! The long edges line up with the long edges, the short edges line up with the short edges. All is right with the world!

    bread lined up | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    The result? A half sandwich cut into two triangles with straight crusts!

    final product | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    When I was photographing the bread for this post yesterday, Cate asked, “Do you think other people don’t know this?” She makes a good point. You may all have already figured this out, but if there is just one of you in the “OH, DUH!” boat like me, then it’s worth writing the post!

    Happy non crust half sandwich eating, spoiled children of the world!

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  7. Friday, June 14

    Summer Fun: Coloring Hair…with Chalk!

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    Two weeks ago, ONE invited us to join them at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s annual event “A Time for Heroes” in Los Angeles. Our family had a wonderful time enjoying the carnival, seeing the sights and celebs (Richard Simmons called Nate his son and Owen his grandson, and Owen is best buds with Gwen Stefani’s dog…in fact, the dog kissed Owen AND Nate, which basically means they both kissed Gwen, right?), and spending time with some amazing people, like Marcus Samuelsson’s wife Maya.

    easy colored hair for summer | thisweekfordinner.comMy little punk-rocker princess.

    Anna was especially delighted that there was face painting and a table where they COLORED YOUR HAIR. Anna is kind of obsessed with anything that involves decorating her body (face paint, hair styling, jewelry, flashy clothes, tattoos…we’re kind of scared).

    So, anyway, I wanted to share the hair coloring trick with you because it was so simple and genius! I know, none of this has anything to do with food, but I’m pretty sure some of you reading this blog have kids and a long summer stretching before you. This is definitely a fun activity and I love how UN-permanent the color is. Plus, the color ends up looking really pretty and subtle. Win-win for parents and kids…crazy colored hair that’s actually not that crazy and washes out easily!

    Completely Un-Permanent Colored Hair
    - Chalk (color of your choosing!)
    - Water
    - Hair spray

    Wet a small portion of hair, from the root to the ends. You can spray the hair with spray bottle or use a very wet towel or papertowel. The lady at the party used a papertowel. I used a spray bottle, which was decidedly less pleasant for the hair coloree, but she was my kid, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

    Slide the chalk up and down the piece of hair, applying moderate pressure, until hair is sufficiently colored. The smaller the piece of hair, the easier it is to apply the color. Work in small sections!

    Spray lightly with hair spray to set the color, then smooth out gently with a comb and/or fingers.

    easy colored hair for summer | thisweekfordinner.com

    easy colored hair for summer | thisweekfordinner.com

    easy colored hair for summer | thisweekfordinner.com

    easy colored hair for summer | thisweekfordinner.com

    anna's delight | easy hair color with chalk | thisweekfordinner.comThis was the Instagram shot I took of her right when we finished. It was too cute, had to add it in!

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  8. Tuesday, June 11

    Colorful Toast, by Anna Maynard

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    Today’s recipe comes from my 5-year-old Anna! She loves cooking and is very proud that her recipe is going on the blog this morning. So cute!

    colorful toast

    Yesterday in the car Anna kept telling me she wanted to make colorful toast. I honestly thought she was just making it up, but this morning I had her explain the process to me and discovered it was something she had done at preschool. Even though I was a little doubtful about how it would come out, I decided to just go with it and let her teach me something new.

    anna and her colorful toast

    The toast came out VERY colorful and it was actually pretty good! The top doesn’t get very crispy, but it still tasted good and kids are NOT going to notice or care as they bite into their favorite-colored toast! I wouldn’t recommend serving this colorful toast at your next brunch party for fancy adults, but it is definitely something fun to do with the kids on a summer morning!

    Colorful Toast, by Anna Maynard
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Breakfast
    Ingredients
    • White bread (it’s more colorful that way!)
    • Food coloring
    • Milk
    • Brush of any kind (pastry brush makes for broad coverage, smaller brushes allow for some design work)
    Instructions
    1. Mix a bit of food coloring with a bit of milk. Next you brush the milk on the bread “very delicately” (those are Anna’s instructions and she’s right on the money – don’t get too heavy handed with the milk or the bread will get too soggy).
    2. Toast, butter and eat!
    3. The top doesn’t get crispy, but the bottom does and there is actually a sweetness that is left behind as the milk evaporates. Very fun!

    colorful toast mlik | thisweekfordinner.com

    colorful toast supplies | thisweekfordinner.com
    painting the toast | colorful toast | thisweekfordinner.com

    colorful toast final product | thisweekfordinner.com

    The final product!

    colorful toast leftover milk | thisweekfordinner.com

    Add milk, a bit of powdered sugar and a swig of vanilla to the leftover colored milk for a nice drink to go with the toast!

     

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  9. Sunday, December 9

    Week 307 Menu

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    First off, thanks for all the well wishes last week! Everything is all better now (thank goodness!) and we really appreciated your kind words and tips!

    The December rush is in full swing and we’re having a lot of fun! We held Cate’s birthday party yesterday and it went so smoothly. Side note: seven- and eight-year-old girls LOVE party games. It doesn’t take much to entertain them! Cate chose an animal theme for her party and decided she wanted a giraffe birthday cake. I was so happy with how he came out. (Click here for my how-to-make-cute-cakes-even-when-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-doing post.)

    Soooo…our family has some news. We are moving to San Diego in January! Nate has a great job opportunity in San Diego so we are moving back! We are really going to miss the Bay Area terribly, but it’s fun to move to a place we love and know well. For the next month or so we are going to try to use up food in the freezer, so there may be some random stuff on the weekly menus!

    MONDAY:
    - Chicken strips (we have a bunch of these in the freezer!)
    - Carrots

    TUESDAY:
    - Stefania’s Braised Chicken (I have a few pounds of chicken legs in the freezer)
    - Rice and Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Take out (swim lesson night)

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

    FRIDAY:
    -  Homemade pizza ~or~ paninis (tbd)

    SATURDAY:
    - Chuck E. Cheese for Anna’s birthday (it’s her family year so she got to choose the “restaurant”)

    SUNDAY:
    - Breakfast for dinner

    You know the drill…please post your menu for the week, no matter how small or big, plain or fancy!

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  10. Thursday, October 11

    Fun Times in Anaheim

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    We are not entirely sure how much longer we’ll be living in California, so we decided we should get a Disneyland trip under our belts just in case. We skipped school (parenting at its best!) and took three days last week to bop down to Anaheim for some fun! The trip was fast and exhausting, but I am sooooo glad we did it. With the exception of Owen (who just wanted to crawl around the hotel room instead of being dragged around amusement parks in record-breaking heat in a stroller), we all had a blast! And it was totally worth skipping school. ;)

    The Anaheim Visitor’s Bureau did a fantastic job helping to coordinate our trip. Thank you, Anaheim! I would love to share our experiences with you in case you decide to bop over to Anaheim yourselves!

    Howard Johnson at Disneyland
    The tourism board put us up at the HoJo Anaheim. It was the perfect spot for our family. Here are all the reasons we loved staying there:

    • We were in a 2 Queens Premium room and it was great for our family of five. Often when our family stays in just one hotel room, there is very little space for luggage, the pack n play, and the people…we just feel cramped. This room had plenty of space for everything, so everyone was comfortable the whole time.
    • We were spoiled with a room in the tower overlooking Disneyland Park, so we had front row seats to the nightly fireworks. Which was just plain awesome.
    • The Castaway Cove Water Playground was AWESOME. So well done, so much fun, the kids LOVED it.
    • The hotel is a very short walk to the Disneyland Park entrance, eliminating the need to park your car at the amusement park (which is a huge pain). Heaven.
    • Mimi’s Cafe is right across the street. We ate breakfast there a couple mornings and it was very family friendly. The night we arrived it was kind of late and we ordered take-out, turkey dinner for our whole family for $25! It was just what we needed.
    • The night we arrived the girls were beyond giddy. Cate exclaimed, “Mom! This hotel room is wonderful!” I replied, “So, you like it?” To which Cate replied, “No, Mom. {pause} I LOVE it.” Anna just kept repeating “Disneyland Fireworks! Disneyland Fireworks! Disneyland Fireworks!” It was all just so darn cute.

    Disneyland Park
    Of course we visited Disneyland – that was the original goal of the trip! A few quick notes on our visit this time around:

    • Cars Land at California Adventure Park is AWESOME. We didn’t even do any of the rides in Cars Land and we still loved it to pieces. It is beautiful, so well-done, you feel like you’re walking right through the movie. The Cozy Cone Motel served snacks that were all cone themed in cone-shaped containers. The whole area was created that way, with great attention to detail.

    • The World of Color show was really cool and the girls counted it as one of their favorite parts of the day. Be sure to get a fast pass early in the day for the show!
    • We ate dinner at Cafe Orleans that night. It was SOOOO nice to sit down in an air-conditioned restaurant and have someone serve us. We were really glad we took the time for a sit-down meal. The food was great, too. The pommes frites were DELISH.
    • Did you know about the parent swap option? Both Disney and Knott’s had this. If you have a baby in a stroller, when you get in line for a ride, you can request a parent swap pass. That way, one parent can wait in line with the kids, ride the ride, then when they get off, the other parent can get in the fast pass line and be able to ride as well. It was WONDERFUL and perfect for us, since Owen couldn’t go on any of the rides.

    • We were excited to discover that they are building a new princess area at Disneyland. Whenever we go to Disneyland, the girls see Sleeping Beauty’s castle and immediately ask where the princesses are. Well, the princesses are located in the back of the park, nowhere near the castle, so it’s always kind of a let down. But they are building a new princess area right next to the castle! It will be perfect and my girls can’t wait to visit Disneyland to see it when it’s done!
    • You may be wondering…was skipping school worth it? Was the park really less crowded? It was still busy. All of Australia happened to be there that day. But the lines were definitely not as long as on a high-traffic day, so it was worth it. I think going on a Tuesday would have been even better than a Monday. If anyone has tips of the best days and times of year to go with the least amount of crowds, please share!

    Knott’s Berry Farm
    We spent half a day at Knott’s Berry Farm and it was great! More relaxing than Disneyland and WAY less crowded (we didn’t have to wait in any lines and could ride some of the rides over and over again). Our family is planning to dress up as Peanuts characters for Halloween, so seeing the Peanuts characters walking around got the girls pumped for their costumes. And Owen, our dog lover, LOVED meeting Snoopy in person. I also really liked how all the kids rides were in one place, Camp Snoopy. It was fun for the kids to hit ride after ride after ride. We had lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, where the chicken and biscuits were deeee-licious. The girls really enjoyed their jello appetizer…perhaps a little too much. ;)

    Medieval Times
    After Knott’s, we headed over to Medieval Times for dinner. Nate and I had never been and weren’t sure what to expect. It was a middle school dream of mine to go to Medieval Times, so the dream was finally coming alive! ;) We really weren’t sure what the girls would think, especially since Anna is scared of the dark. Welllll…every last member of our little family loved it, even Owen! We arrived and got to meet the Princess Catalina. It was like Anna was meeting her greatest hero. She was super shy but reached out for her hand, which she held for our photo. The princess was so gracious and sweet to the girls, which Nate and I greatly appreciated. When it was finally time for the festivities to begin, we were seated and the lights went down. There was no silverware, but our loyal server snuck a few pieces so I could feed the baby. The food was great and there’s something about ripping into your food with with your hands that really gets you in the mood to cheer on dueling knights.

    Okay, seriously, our kids LOVED every minute of the dinner and show. They ate the food, they cheered wildly, Owen kept clapping and pointing. At one point when the Red Knight (our knight) was fighting, Cate was literally trembling as she cheered him on. Anna fell for the blue knight, even though he was from the other side of the kingdom. After it was all over, you could meet the knights and royalty for autographs. Anna wanted to meet the blue knight, but she got shy, wouldn’t look at him or the camera, and when Nate told him how she cheered him on and liked a winner, Anna kicked Nate in the shins. A first crush if we’ve ever seen one!

    Discovery Science Center
    On the day we drove home, we spent the morning at the Discovery Science Center. Again, the kids loved it. Owen was happy because he could finally crawl around and explore somewhere! The exhibits were really fun and well done and we could have easily spent the entire day there. They have different “adventures” for different age levels at the various exhibits and they were tailored very well for our girls. There is a dinosaur exhibit outdoors where you get these cool magic wands and go on an adventure, looking for discoveries. The girls loved it. There is also a pretend grocery store where you learn how to shop with the environment in mind. I actually really loved the grocery store. I feel like the way we shop for food really does have an environmental impact, so I loved that they were helping the kids to learn to think that way, too.

    Yes, we did a LOT. Arrived Sunday night. Monday at Disneyland. Tuesday morning at the water playground at the hotel. Lunch and afternoon at Knott’s. Dinner at Medieval Times. Wednesday morning at Discover Science, then hit the road for home. We could have easily spent a day or two at each place we visited, so we packed a lot in just a few short days. But, like I said, it was a BLAST and I am so glad we did it! I think the girls were in Fun Heaven.

    Big thanks again to the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau for helping coordinate so much of our trip. They are a fantastic resource! And I highly recommend staying in Anaheim for a Southern California family vacation. Easy access to Disneyland is a huge plus, and Anaheim is smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego, which have so much to offer. Fun family times!

    In the interest of full disclosure, Disneyland provided us with two passes and some vouchers to go towards a meal. Anaheim provided us with our hotel accommodations, additional Disneyland passes, admission to the other venues and two meals. We paid for our own transportation costs and additional meals. All opinions are my own!

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