Four Little Monsters Blog
The adventures of a Mom and her monsters.
Four Little Monsters is your source for family friendly event, product  and travel reviews in Mid-Atlantic USA. We find fun wherever we go, even right here at home.
Philly, Baltimore, Wilmington, DC, In Between and beyond. 
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Road Trip: Edgar Allen Poe House National Historic Site Junior Ranger Program, Philadelphia PA

by EJ on 04/17/17

It's Spring Break vacation and time to explore. Our seven year old recently developed an interest in the poetry and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe (she's gets it from her mother), so we're going all in. For something a little different and spooky, we're heading up to the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA.

While at first you might think that 19th century author Poe, the master of macabre, mystery and murder is totally inappropriate for kids, think again. His home in Philly still stands, is now a National Historic Site and managed by the National Park Service, with a fun Junior Ranger Program geared toward 5 to 7 years as well as 8 to 12 years. So, YAY!

Kids in both age groups can become a Junior Ranger by physically exploring the Edgar Allen Poe home, watching a video on Poe's life, completing guided activities and at the conclusion, receiving an award from a Park Ranger. The best part is the super spooky cellar walk-through that seems right out of Poe's "The
Black Cat". The Edgar Allen Poe Junior Ranger program focuses on the life and times of Edgar Allen Poe, introducing kids to Poe and his family members, his Philadelphia house and even the house pet, Catterina.

Why explore the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site with kids?

The 19th century American writer, critic and editor known as Edgar Allen Poe is a hugely important literary figure. His spooky, imaginative stories of horror and mystery were some of the first of their kind. He's actually credited with being the father of the detective story. Considering our society's love of crime and detective themed entertainment, you can certainly thank Mr. Poe for literally providing the template for the genre. He's also a contributor to the genre of science-fiction.

Our country's National Historic Sites need our help now more than ever, so consider a donation on your way in or out. There's also a great little gift shop.

Visit the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site Junior Ranger program HERE.

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is located at 532 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123. Street parking is usually available and is accessible via public transportation.


Toruk: The First Flight Cirque du Soleil at Wells Fargo Center, Philly March 8th 2017, Preview

by EJ on 03/08/17


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We are super psyched about our invitation to tonight's Toruk performance at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Toruk; The First Flight, written and directed by internationally acclaimed duo Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, was inspired by the world of James Cameron's Avatar. This Cirque du Soleil event promises to be a visually stunning, storytelling odyssey. Set thousands of years prior to the film,  the Na'vi people, culture and setting of moon Pandora will come to life using a combination of cutting-edge visuals, multimedia, puppets, makeup, costumes and stagecraft.

To celebrate Toruk: The First Flight coming to Philadelphia, we've got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the incredible makeup, costumes, choreography and set design used for the show.

The Makeup & Costumes of Toruk: The First Flight

Award-winning Costume and Makeup Director Kym Barrett took on the world of Pandora. Cirque du Soleil developed a three-layer make-up technique that allows performers to preserve their make-up throughout an entire performance despite perspiration. Costumes of the Na'vi people were designed to look hand-forged, organic and natural using materials that include seeds, vines, leaves, bones, etc. All the elaborate elements and each tiny little detail in makeup and costumes required painstaking patience, precision and imagination to create.

 Choreography and Set Design of Toruk: The First Flight

Lead choreographers Tuan Le and Tan Loc experimented with various self-defense and communication techniques for the Na'vi people using props and movement. Artists and choreographers worked together to come up with just the right mixture of stagecraft to invoke imagination and discovery. 

Set design of Toruk: The First Flight includes five main areas: Hometree, the Island, the Green Belt, the Dream Catcher and the two Lateral Screens.  

BUY TICKETS to Toruk: The First Flight

Cirque du Soleil shows strive to be an odyssey for the senses and Toruk promises to take that mission to the limit. Back by popular demand, you can see Toruk: The First Flight tonight at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Purchase Toruk tickets here: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog was given a behind-the-scenes look at Toruk: The First Flight and admission to the show in exchange for promotion. All opinions belong to the blogger. Photos are the property of Kym Barrett and were used with permission.

All Maryland Reptile Show in Havre de Grace, Maryland, Preview

by EJ on 01/13/17


Does your kid love reptiles? Here at our household, we're kind of obsessed with them. Our Bearded Dragon, Bowie, just turned one. Plus, we've got a future paleontologist in the family who's turning twelve this weekend. To celebrate, the monsters are headed to Havre de Grace, Maryland this weekend to check out the All Maryland Reptile Show, a monthly reptile expo that features all sorts of live reptiles for sale, reptile books, reptile care equipment and knowledgeable vendors.

Kids will love seeing all sorts of reptile species up close, all in one place. There are no poisonous reptiles, no endangered species and all animals are properly contained. Reptile sales are between the vendors and buyers.

Admission to the All Maryland Reptile Show
$8 for Adults
$3 for children 2 to 9

All Maryland Reptile Show occurs monthly at the Havre de Grace Community Center and begins at 9 am and ends at 3 pm. 

 Havre de Grace Community Center
100 Lagaret Lane
Havre de Grace MD 21078

2017 All Maryland Reptile Show dates are as follows:

January 14th
February 11th
March 11th
April 8th
June 3rd
July 8th
August 12th
September 9th
October 7th
November 4th
December 16th 


Disclaimer: All Maryland Reptile Show photographs used with permission. Four Little Monsters received admission to event in exchange for promotion.

Outside-the-Box Christmas List Ideas 2016

by EJ on 12/14/16

Congratulations to all those who have finished their Christmas shopping. I'm not one of you... Christmas shopping isn't my favorite thing to do and I'm really not keen on crowds, battling other shoppers for this year's top items and all that. We're definitely close to finishing up our online shopping so the season's gifting panic is almost at an end.

Since before Thanksgiving, I've been hearing what toys are already out-of-stock and what toys you can get for a million dollars more than what they were originally priced at. I've seen letters from Santa, explaining why he couldn't fulfill the arrival of certain popular items, shared back and forth on Facebook. This year, I'm pulling the toy ads from the kids' view. Forget that! My kids' have very defined interests and hobbies that we can pull ideas from, without having to resort to the must-have mentality of Christmas shopping season. I told them to give the elves a break and think outside-the-box, so those poor elves don't have to make the five millionth whatever it happens to be gizmo.

If this sounds good to you, too, then there's still time to encourage your kiddos to expand the horizon when it comes to their Christmas lists. Forget the Hatchimal, and think more creatively! Ditch some of those must-have items of the year and let's hatch a new plan. Here are some ideas straight from the Four Little Monsters crew:

1. Art & Creative Building Craft Sets, Models

I'm an artist by profession, so I suppose it's only natural that my kids are obsessed with anything art-related. Creating art and building crafts is a great stress-reliever and amazing for expanding minds. There are so many craft kits out there and there's something for every personality. Whether your kiddo is into jewelry making, car and vehicle model building, clay or marker art, you'll find that most craft stores carry a huge variety of art sets and kits. You can always count on great coupon sites like RetailMeNot.com to provide you with an excellent 40 or 50% off in-store coupon most days, too. Craft stores usually run great sales this time of year as well.

Have a kid that's into Star Wars or Ghostbusters this year? They've got build-it models for that, too!

2. Favorite Movie & TV Show Accessories

You can find every accessory imaginable for any movie or TV show fan. From Stranger Things Funko Pop Action Figures to Harry Potter phone cases, a simple search online can provide you with a whole host of movie and TV show gift ideas. There's Etsy for awesome handmade stuff in this arena, too, but you have to be careful of each shop's turnaround time.

3. Bedroom & Nursery Decorations & Accessories

Winter is a great time to redecorate the kids' bedrooms. Dress up any space with custom painted nursery wall letters, hanging canopies, themed wall art and more. Coordinate new bed sheets and blankets with a new room theme. Add an over-the-door basketball net for in-room play.

4. Get smart with science experiment kits. 

Kids love experiments, especially messy ones. Choose from dinosaur fossil dig kits, Smithsonian science kits, motor and robot-building kits, circuit and electricity kits, magnets, crystal growing and terrariums. Last year, the monsters received several high-quality microscopes with pre-made slides which has since provided hours and hours of curious fun.

5. Polaroid-style Cameras Are Back!

We are excited to gift a FujiFilm Polaroid Camera to one of our kiddos this year (as in, our Snapchat, selfie-obsessed seven year old). I'm sure she'll use up all the film in an hour or less, but hey, I think she'll really enjoy the camera. These are on sale all over the place, too, in a ton of cool colors. We got a fantastic deal on one of these. You do have to keep buying more film, though.

What are your go-to outside-the-box gift ideas this year!? Tell us in the comments! Happy shopping!
 
 

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings Halloween Weekends, Review and Discount Code

by EJ on 10/28/16

There's still time to enjoy Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings, a Halloween themed weekend at the premier family-friendly amusement park near Philadelphia, PA. Four Little Monsters spent a recent evening exploring the park at night, amid spooky lights, draped cobwebs, dancing skeletons and Halloween-decorated rides.

Re-themed Rides For Halloween at Dutch Wonderland

With over thirty seasonally decorated kid-friendly rides to choose from at Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings, we went from one ride to another, trying them all. We brought Grandma along, as she's a big fan of amusement park rides. Favorites included The Space Shuttle, Dr. Ober's Monster Trucks, Gargoyle's Flight and The Halloween Hopper and of course, The Roller Ghoster. We couldn't get the kids - or Grandma - off the coaster until the park forced them off when closing for the night! There were a great selection of rides for all my monsters, from my littlest toddler to my eleven year old. There were plenty of rides we could all share together as well, which is great thing for a Mom or Dad who has a big crew of littles in tow!

Though the park was buzzing with activity, we rarely spent too much time in a line. The lines moved quickly and the kids spent most of their time having absolute fun. The employees were super pleasant, which is always a plus. There were a ton of kiddos in costume. It was really cool to see all the families that came to the park in costume together. We didn't have our costumes completely prepared quite yet, so we opted to bundle up in jackets instead.

Dutch Wonderland Decorated For Halloween Happy Hauntings Fun

Dutch Wonderland was adorable at night. From the giant inflatable spider and decorated castle out front to the dancing skeletons on Exploration Island, the Halloween atmosphere was fabulous without being too scary for the little ones. The park really went all out on decorations including hay bales, pumpkins, string lights, ghosts, skeletons, spiders and more. Of course, my monsters were thrilled about The Trick-or-Treat Trail, included with admission, which featured the park's resident dinosaurs in costume along a fun trail lit in string
lights. Our particular favorite costumed dinosaur was Tinkerbell Rex. Other dinosaurs sported Pokemon, Harry Potter, Minion and Star Wars garb to name a few. Park employees, also in costume, passed out candy at various stations. They ended up with a good deal of candy by the end so that was a really nice treat. 

Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings Runs Through October 30th, 2016

Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings is open for one remaining weekend, October 29th and 30th. The park is open on Saturday from 2 to 9 pm and on Sunday from 2 to 8 pm. Saturday, October 29th festivities will include a Halloween Bash at 7:30 pm at Celebration Theater. Characters such as Duke, Princess Brooke and the Knight of Safety will engage families with music, dancing and more.

Save On Admission to Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings 

Access an exclusive discount on single-day admission to Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings using THIS LINK. This discount is only valid through October 29th, 2016.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog is a Dutch Wonderland Blog Ambassador for the Happy Hauntings season. Video used with permission. Photographs belong to the blogger. All opinions belong to the blogger. 

 

Win Tickets to Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, The Final Five, Wells Fargo Center, Philly PA

by EJ on 10/26/16


It was an amazing summer for U.S. Olympic gymnastics. Our family fell in love with the confident, fun personalities of "The Final Five" women's gymnastics team as they flourished in their competitions to win gold. What amazing role models for kiddos, don't you think!?

WIN tickets to see The Final Five and US Olympic Gymnastics Champions LIVE

Four Little Monsters Blog is super excited to offer one very lucky reader the chance to see "The Final Five" live and in-person, as well as many other U.S. Olympic gymnasts. Read on to enter to win a set of four tickets to see the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions.

The 2016 U.S. Olympians "The Final Five" including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman are coming to The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelpha, PA this upcoming Friday, November 4th for the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions. Joining these talented ladies are U.S. men's gymnasts Chris Brooks, Jake Dalton, Danell Leyva, Sam Mikulak and Alex Naddour. Other U.S. Olympic guests include Kiana Eide, Monica Rokhman, Jennifer
Rokhman, Kristen Shaldybin, Laura Zeng, Nicole Ahsinger and Logan Dooley. 2008 Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympic balance beam champion Shawn Johnson and 2012 Olympic team champion Jordyn Wiber will also make appearances.

See The Final Five Perform at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia PA

The Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions comes to Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA this upcoming Friday, November 4th 2016 at 7:30 PM. Get your tickets by CLICKING THIS LINK.
Tickets range from $31 to $295 per seat.

Enter to WIN four tickets below!

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog has partnered with Comcast Spectacor to offer a Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions giveaway. All photos used with permission. All opinions belong to the blogger. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings Promo Code, Dutch Wonderland Discount Code on Halloween Admission

by EJ on 10/17/16

Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings fall event runs Saturdays and Sundays through October 30th, 2016. With fall themed rides, special seasonal entertainment and a safe, interactive Trick-or-Treat Trail included with admission, the entire family can celebrate the spooky season together.

Four Little Monsters Blog has partnered with Dutch Wonderland to offer readers an exclusive discount on Happy Hauntings admission tickets for $20.99. Visit the Dutch Wonderland website HERE to access discounted tickets and use the promo code "fourlittlemonstershauntblog16?". 

Dutch Wonderland is open for Happy Hauntings from 2-9 pm on Saturdays and 2-8 pm on Sundays. Themed rides are safe and non-scary for kids. On Saturday, October 29th and Sunday, October 30th, visit Celebration Theater for a special Halloween Bash. Non-scary costumes are welcome at the park! No masks for kiddos thirteen or older. Find more information to plan your Happy Hauntings visit HERE.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is an official Halloween Blogger for Dutch Wonderland. Images used with permission. All opinions belong to the blogger.

KidStuff Coupon Books Delaware Edition 2016-17, Giveaway

by EJ on 10/09/16

Of all the school fundraisers I've seen over the years, KidStuff Coupon Savings Books have impressed me the most. Thousands of schools sell KidStuff books every year and earn 50% or more from each book. That really adds up. Plus, it's a fundraiser that families can actually find value in, saving more than the cost of the book with just a few of the hundreds of long-term coupons inside.

Schools Earn Big With KidStuff Coupon Books
  • Schools sell each KidStuff Coupon Book for $25 and earn $12.50 or more for every book sold.
  • All the supplies to sell and books are provided by KidStuff.
  • No up-front costs, no minimums and no risks to schools. Schools pay only for the books they sell and are not charged for missing or damaged books.
  • FREE Book Program: Families earn one free book worth $25 for every five that they sell.
  • There are currently twenty-six editions in twelve states available to order. 
  • Schools interested in obtaining information on KidStuff Coupon Savings Books can visit THIS LINK
Families Save Big With Kidstuff Coupon Books 

  • Hundreds of long-term coupons for local retail, attractions and restaurants.
  • Multiple coupons for single retailers, attractions and restaurants.
  • Use just a few coupons and save the total cost of the book in no time.
  • KidStuff Coupon Books make great gifts!
 WIN A Delaware Edition KidStuff Coupon Book

Four Little Monsters Blog has partnered with KidStuff Coupon Books to give away three copies of their Delaware 2016-17 edition. Enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Clowns Continue to Entertain Despite National Scares, Snippy Doodles on Recent Hysteria

by EJ on 10/07/16

Last week, all four of my school-aged kids, from two separate schools, came home worried about alleged clowns in the woods who were kidnapping children. Our local town Facebook page went into a hysteria regarding the same rumors that were coming home with all the local kids. Despite the seemingly not-so-coincidental fact that several Halloween clown movies are slated to come out in theaters soon and with Halloween well on the way, the rumors continued to fester throughout the weekend. Flash forward to this week, when two of our local high school students were arrested, for their part in the scary clown threats and for a bomb threat at the high school. Delaware isn't alone, though. Reports of scary clown sightings, kidnappings and all sorts of absolute nonsense have been sweeping the nation. From the start, I worried about our local entertainers, who make clowning and costumed characters for kids' parties their business.

Part of my job includes children's entertainment for parties and events. I'm a professional face painter. Over the past several years, I've gotten to know my fellow party entertainers locally, one of which is a very talented professional clown and magician. Renate McIntosh, who goes by the name of Snippy Doodles when clowning, is the Delaware state Director of the Mid-Atlantic Clown Association and is an award-winning clown. Personally, I've face painted at events where she was also working, we've had her at our home as Snippy Doodles for our daughters' birthday party, we've gone to her public events in town and we've visited her at some of her restaurant gigs. Every time, she was an absolute kid favorite. My kids ask for her by name, to make them spectacular balloon sculptures and perform magic tricks. They too, asked how she was feeling, when these threatening clown impersonator rumors got going. The thing is, these alleged "scary clowns" aren't clowns at all. These ridiculous rumors are hurting an entire business of professionals.

That's right. Clowning is a business and it's in the business of making kids and families laugh and smile, it has nothing to do with scaring or hurting anyone. Clowns spend an hour or more, preparing their makeup and their costumes and props before every event. Professional clowns attend conventions, classes and spend countless hours practicing their shows, their magic tricks and crafting their character's personality. They spend huge amounts of money every year on insurance, travel, costumes, makeup, props and accessories, to run their business. As you can imagine, with the recent scares and then heading into Halloween season, there's been quite a lot of backlash toward professional clowns all over the country, including death threats, threats of violence and a whole lot of verbal abuse towards these legitimate entertainers.

To help bring some awareness and thoughtfulness to the situation, I'm sharing an essay written by my friend and fellow entertainer, Renate McIntosh, who continues to clown with joy, despite the harassment that's been going on locally and nationally. I encourage all of my readers to look out for your local entertainers, who might be feeling a little nervous or overwhelmed to go to work these days. 

You can visit Snippy Doodles online and you can also find Snippy Doodles on Facebook.


A Clown’s Thoughts During Halloween Season
By Renate McIntosh – Snippy Doodles

I'm clowning tonight and I think about the children who are coming out to see me. I walk out my door and I hear a young voice, “Clowny! Clowny!” She proceeds to tell me about her day at school. I get into my car and realize her brother is in their car. He and his mom are waving at me as I drive by.

I stop at a traffic light and start thinking about the police officer who was stopped next to me at the same light a few weeks ago, how he slowly raised his cell phone, snapped my picture and then drove away. 

My mind is wandering in fifty different directions. I realize I forgot the new magic trick I wanted to use tonight. There’s a man driving in the lane next to me trying to take my picture. I wave, he smiles, gives me a thumbs up and drives away. I’m wondering how busy we’re going to be tonight. I’m on my way my regular Tuesday night gig. Last week we had people waiting 30 minutes to be seated. 

It’s a slower night. A new restaurant, across the street, just opened yesterday. I’m talking to an older couple when they point towards the door. I look up to see an eight-year-old boy with a big smile on his face. He comes to see me every week. I always remind him that I have to go to the other tables first. Tonight, he is the first child through the door. An older couple waves me on, “Go do your thing. He’s waiting!” His smile gets bigger. I’m not sure how that’s possible. The boy and I go over to his table and I bring out some sponge balls. He does the magic and we’re laughing about it. Then I pull out another trick. Their waiter is watching now. The child does the magic trick; we’re all laughing and the mom says, “I wish you were at all the restaurants!” I watch as another family comes in and sits down on the other side of the partition.  Two grinning faces keep peeking over the wall. The little guy I’m with asks for a giant ninja guy with a sword. We end up with a giant ninja guy and three swords, and then have a quick sword fight with his mom. I thank them for coming out to see me.
            
I step around the partition and see that their waitress is taking their order. I head over to another table. I make a simple balloon penguin for the lady and head back to the children who are excitedly waiting for me. All four are watching me expectantly. The youngest yells out, “I want a hat!” He points at a giant balloon hat an adult is wearing. I had made it earlier. I say, “Alien or ninja?” He yells, “NINJA!”  I goof around with the other children, dad is smiling. They don’t know what they want. I pull out one of my Halloween balloons. The little guy with the hat yells, “I want it!” His sister decides she wants a kitty. While I’m working on the kitty the eight-year-old and his mom are heading out the door. He waves his giant ninja guy at me, smiles, and says, “See you next week!”
            
I finish my last table of the night. I’m thinking about earlier when someone had dragged me into the bar to talk to a little nine-month old girl. I had brought out my squeaker and squeaked her toes. I squeaked her mom’s arm. She started smiling. I squeaked her toes again. I went slow and easy knowing the little one doesn’t know what to make of me. Then she rubbed her eyes and yawned.
           
A lady approaches me. “I know you go all over Delaware. How far do you travel?” She asks for my business cards and says she’s going to make copies and take them to Kent Island. She says I will be hearing from her.

I’m hungry when I leave. I don’t like to wait on them to fix me a meal, so I go through one of my regular drive-thru restaurants. I’m thinking about the stories in the news and I’m happy that this restaurant always asks for a name with the order. I say, “Snippy Doodles.” They tell me to drive around and I get to the window. They ask me, “How are you, Snippy?” I tell them I’m doing fine. One of them tells me to be careful. I get my food, thank them, and start to drive away. A man is looking out the window and starts waving at me. I wave back smiling and thinking how much I love this job.

When I get home I check to see if anyone called or emailed me to book an event. There’s a lady asking me to do a dinosaur themed birthday party for a one-year-old. My mind thinks back to a party last week where I had some children with special needs. Two of the boys were taller than me. They were so excited. One was waving his hand every time I asked for a helper during my magic show. I called on him for my last trick. I can still see him standing there with a big smile on his face taking a bow as the audience clapped and cheered.

I go back to reading my messages. There is one from a friend. She writes that her eight-year-old who has Aspberger’s Syndrome, was worried about me and asked, “Is she scared? Tell Snippy Doodles that she makes ME happy!" My little friends are worried about me. It’s almost Halloween and this too shall pass. 

Disclaimer: Essay and photographs used with permission. All photographs are the property of Renate McIntosh.

 

Fairy Trails and Magical Gardens of Mid-Atlantic, USA

by EJ on 09/01/16

I try to live by one of my favorite quotes, "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it," by Roald Dahl. There is something magical to discover everywhere in this world, if only you know where to look. I'm especially fond of looking for fairies, elves and gnomes with my kids when we're hiking, walking or on any sort of journey somewhere. When I was little, my Mother would take my brother and I hiking and point out the door-shaped holes at the bottom of tree trunks that she believed were enchanted gnome doors to another realm. One morning I woke up to discover the tiniest little black footprints up the wall of our kitchen. Apparently, a fairy had followed us home from one of our adventures. Ever since, I've always looked at the woods and the outdoors through a bit of a magical lens.

Using a little imagination and a little magic, you too, can get your kids outdoors and exploring. For us Mid-Atlantic folk, you don't have to go far to find an amazing hiking trail or peculiar pathway through the woods or through a garden. As the summer heat starts to cool down, it's the absolute perfect time to find yourself outside in search of magic.

Here's a list of some of our favorite Mid-Atlantic magical trails and gardens that will inspire imagination and outdoor exploration for your family and little ones.

South Mountain Fairy Trail. FREE.


South Mountain Reservation is located in Millburn, New Jersey and resides in a 2,110-acre nature preserve. Therese Ojibway, now sixty, is the creator of all the original fairy houses, ladders and elements cleverly placed along the trail. Using only natural materials and inspired by the freedom that the forest provided her autistic son and a childhood bountiful with fairy-lore, she took to these woods to help out the resident fairies.

We absolutely encourage visitors not to touch, change or take anything from the fairy trail. If you decide to build a little something for the fairies, use only natural materials you find in the forest.

Visit the South Mountain Fairy Trail Facebook page for directions to this special spot.

Brown's Orchard & Market Wooded Trail. FREE.

With apple picking season headed our way, be sure to put a visit to Brown's Orchard & Market on the calendar. Located in Loganville, Pennsylvania, this farm offers pick-your-own as well as a farm market. The farm offers live music, open-mic nights and story times in the pavilion alongside a café. Tucked behind the pavilion you'll find a small trail that leads into the woods. Look hard and you just might run into some evidence of gnomes.

Clark's Elioak Farm Enchanted Trail. Admission Required.

This Ellicott City, Maryland farm includes a produce, meat market, gem mining and a petting zoo and The Enchanted Trail. Much of the features of this trail were moved from another location and restored over the years. The trail includes a Cinderella pumpkin coach, the Three Bears' House, Mother Goose and Gingerbread Men, Jack's Beanstalk, Rapunzel and many more characters and fairy tale settings. Families can find shade and picnic spots in the Enchanted Pine Tree Forest, full of characters' from your favorite nursery rhymes. Admission and Hours HERE.

Winterthur's Enchanted Woods. Admission Required.

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, located in Wilmington, Delaware, is the 175-room childhood home of collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. The building was opened to the public sixty years ago and hosts permanent and traveling exhibits. Beyond the house lies the 1000 acre preserve of woodlands and meadows and the 60-acre garden.

"Where Fairie folks are in old oakes", Winterthur's Enchanted Woods is a true fairy tale garden and home to many nature spirits and fairies. This three-acre plot of garden includes a Tulip Tree House, fairy cottage, labyrinth and lots more magical surprises for children and families to enjoy. Admission and Hours HERE.

Longwood Gardens Indoor Children's Garden. Admission Required.

Yes, this one is indoors. It's surrounded by an enormous selection of outdoor gardens, though. The Children's Garden is our favorite indoor magical garden to visit, especially on a rainy day. Located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, this fairy-friendly garden includes hands-on water features, impressive dragon and heron sculptures, mysterious stairways, doors and pathways. There is always some new detail to discover each time we go.

There's a ton of magical spots to be found all over Longwood Gardens, including towering treehouses, trails through the woods, manicured gardens and soaring fountains.

Longwood Gardens Admission and Hours HERE.

* If you know of another fairy trail or enchanted kid-friendly spot in Mid-Atlantic, USA, please leave us a note in the comments. We'll do our best to research that area and get it added to a reader-submitted list.

Vanity Planet Promo Codes for Huge Discounts on Health & Beauty Products

by EJ on 08/05/16

Look your best this summer with health and beauty products by Vanity Planet! Don't forget to use our exclusive promo codes for huge discounts!

Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron
This is my go-to, no hassle Flat Iron. It doesn't matter if my hair is wet or dry, I can use my Flat Iron either way. My long, thick hair is a total pain, especially over the summer when my hair is constantly subjected to chlorine pool water. This Flat Iron makes it super easy to tame. It's a solid, comfortable hair iron and it works. 
Reg. Price: $200
Save 75% with Promo Code "TAMEFLM" at check-out. 
Check out our in-depth review of the Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron by Vanity Planet HERE.

Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System
Used by surfer Bethany Hamilton, this Vanity Planet Skin Care System is such a wonderful addition to my skincare routine. It's a gentle, thorough cleansing system that feels absolutely amazing.
Reg. Price: $100
Save 70% with Promo Code "FLMSPA"
Check out our review of the Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System HERE.

My Life My Shop Balance2 Digital Body Scale
This digital body scale by Vanity Planet has a great look and I can trust it's accuracy every day. We've been using this scale for about a year now and we love all the neat little features.
Reg. Price: $125
Save 60% with Promo Code: "FLMSCALE"
Check out our review of the My Life My Shop Balance2 Digital Body Scale HERE.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog receives compensation for promotion of Vanity Planet products. All opinions belong to the blogger.


Half Moon Portable Soccer Goals by Rukket Sports, Delaware Sports Equipment Company, Review

by EJ on 07/19/16


It's Soccer Summer Camp week here at the Four Little Monsters household. We've been back and forth to soccer camp each night and this particular kiddo is having a blast on the field. We're super fortunate to have such an incredible local soccer league for our community's youngest kiddos to learn the sport. Since it's Soccer Summer Camp week, it's the perfect time to brag about a fabulous sports equipment company we just discovered, located right here in Delaware.  

Rukket Sports, Delaware Sports Equipment Company Provides Soccer, Golf, Softball/Baseball and Lacrosse Products

Rukket Sports, based in
Wilmington, Delaware, sent us their six foot Half Moon Soccer Goal Set, a portable pair of soccer goals that makes soccer set-up instant for the yard, park or beach. These come in three sizes: 2.5, 4 and 6 feet. We went with the 6 foot goals since our kids' league uses big goals. Plus, the adults want to play, too! This large size is absolutely fantastic for a family that wants to play soccer together. The colors are Rukket's trademark black and red netting with a hi-visibility reflective perimeter border.

Check out the Half Moon Soccer Goal Set on Amazon:

The included yellow stakes keep the Half Moon Soccer Goals very secure on the ground. In fact, our new goals survived an unexpected storm earlier this week and remained exactly where we left them in the yard thanks to those stakes. There are no sharp corners, the entire length of the goal is smooth and kid-friendly. I especially like the sleek, rounded shape of the soccer goals; it's a great look.

Given the size of the portable soccer goals, we were impressed with the easy, folding storage capability. You just twist the soccer goal in the center and fold both sides against each other so that the goal lays flat at about half its size, then store the set in the included carrying-case. We did have to get a handle on twisting it on top of itself correctly a few times but once we figured that out, it was quick to collapse and put away. The tear-drop shaped carrying case includes straps so you can easily transport it to any destination. Everything is lightweight as well, so that definitely helps the portable factor.

The monsters are really looking forward to taking their new Half Moon Soccer Goal Set to the park and the beach. I'm sure Rukket Sports' Half Moon Soccer Goals will be a huge hit at the beach throughout the summer. There's always a ton of kids at our surf meet-ups and some soccer in the sand will definitely keep them entertained when they're not in the water. 

Visit Rukket Sports at http://www.Rukket.com
Follow Rukket Sports on Facebook @Rukket
Follow Rukket Sports on Twitter @RukketSports

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Philadelphia Freedoms Kids Night Dog Days of Summer, Free Junior Tennis Rackets for First 250 Kids, Ticket Giveaway

by EJ on 07/10/16


Calling all tennis fans and sports fan families! The Philadelphia Freedoms Professional Tennis is hosting their Dog Days of Summer and Kid's Night on August 12th at the Villanova University Pavilion where The Freedoms will be matched up with the Orange County Breakers. If you're looking for a great way to introduce your family to the game of tennis, this is the event for you. Plus, there are free gifts for your little ones!

First 250 Kids 14 & Under Receive Free Junior Tennis Racket

The first 250 kids 14 and under will receive FREE Wilson Junior Tennis rackets. How cool is that!?

All kids tickets for this event are only $10. Other kid-friendly activities during Kid's Night include a pre-match dog show at 5:30 by Canine Partners for Life and The Fabulous Freedoms Ball Dogs will perform at half-time.

The Villanova University Pavilion is an air-conditioned, comfortable, close to the action facility with easy, convenient parking and reserved seating. This venue has an awesome tennis history

Check out The Philadelphia Freedoms full schedule and enter to win a Family Ticket 4 Pack to The Philadelphia Freedoms Dog Days of Summer Kid's Night on August 12th. Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below!

Buy Tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms Kid's Night

Kid's Tickets are $10 on August 12th. Tickets for adults range from $15 to $25. Purchase tickets at: http://freedomstix.ticketfly.com/ Doors open at 5:30 and match starts at 6:45 pm on August 12th 2016.
WIN Tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms Kid's Night

Enter below for many chances to win 4 tickets to attend The Philadelphia Freedoms Professional Tennis Kid's Night on August 12th at Villanova University Pavilion. 

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received admission tickets to The Philadelphia Freedoms in exchange for this promotion.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Dinosaurs Unearthed at Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Review

by EJ on 07/07/16

Keeping in tune with our Summer of Science adventures here at Four Little Monsters, we headed out to The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University last week to check out the visiting exhibit, Dinosaurs Unearthed. Back by popular demand, Dinosaurs Unearthed features over a dozen roaring, moving, life-like animatronic dinosaurs as well as skeletons, fossil casts, claws, horns, and teeth specimens.

Our monsters immediately took to the interactive parts of the Dinosaurs Unearthed and got to playing around with the buttons and controls that made the dinosaurs move their heads, arms and tails. We
had to pry our youngest guy off of the controls, he was having so much fun. Other interactive features of Dinosaurs Unearthed included touch-screen quizzes, a human-to-dinosaur scale, a Parasauralophus call generator and more. The dinosaurs' appearance was in keeping with the latest scientific information, right down to the feathers on the T-Rex. They even had a huge sign that explained fact and fiction regarding the Velociraptor made famous by the Jurassic Park movies.

Believe it or not, all of the animatronic dinosaurs inside the museum are "juveniles". The adult dinosaurs couldn't fit in the building so if you come in or leave through the front entrance, you'll be greeted by these seriously large adult counterparts outside.

Once we finished exploring the exhibit, our beloved Dinosaur Hall and the museum's excellent collection of dioramas that date from the 30s, 40 and 50s, we headed to the uppermost floor to let the kids play in Outside In, a super kid-friendly learning and play environment with live animals, an eagle's nest, a play forest, a play seashore and pond. A cozy seating area awaited us parents but we couldn't stop exploring either. We met the museum's very own Hedgehog, African Leopard Tortoise, various turtles and sliders, an entire working Honey Bee hive and various bugs and beetles.

Dinosaurs Unearthed is on display now through January 16th, 2017 at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. The exhibit requires a separate admission fee from regular admission:
  • $7 for Non-members
  • $4 for Individual, Family and Family Plus Members
  • FREE for Partners' Club Members and Above
Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received admission to Dinosaurs Unearthed in exchange for review and promotion. All opinions belong to the blogger.



The Secret Life Of Pets Special Advanced Screening Event in Philly

by EJ on 07/07/16


Three of my monsters partied it up in Philly last night to celebrate the upcoming release of "The Secret Life of Pets" with a special advanced screening and block party at The Ritz Five. Hosted by XFinity and NBC Comcast Universal, the monsters enjoyed a huge assortment of high-end food trucks. The kids tried the pizza, fried cheese curds, cheesy tater tots cheeseburgers and Italian ices. Dad had a bit too much fun sampling all the fancy food trucks for foodies. 

After their bellies were full, the monsters goofed around in a movie themed photo booth. Inside The Ritz Five Theater, they cooled off and checked out their XFinity Pets Goodie Bags which included games, pins, a Frisbee, key chains and of course, candy. The theater treated them to popcorn and drinks.

"The Secret Life of Pets" comes from animation studio Illumination Entertainment, directed by Chris Renaud of Despicable Me and Yarrow Cheney. The movie explores how your pet might react when a new pet joins the household. Having just doggy-sat a big Black and Tan hound for six weeks, with our not-so-thrilled Pug forced to put up with a very big new friend, the kids were all too familiar with that plot line. Our Pug is still recovering. The kids were giggling and laughing throughout this film. We give "The Secret Life of Pets" a four out of five monster rating! "The Secret Life of Pets" opens in theater nationwide on Friday, July 8th, 2016.


Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog was invited to a Special Advanced Screening of The Secret Life of Pets. All opinions belong to the blogger.

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