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. 
Kids, Family, Family Events, Philadelphia Theater, Pennsylvania Events, Maryland Events, Delaware Events, Kids Events, Kids Have Fun, Kids Clothes, Kids Rooms

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!

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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
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: 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.

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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.

Benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums and Attractions

by EJ on 06/27/16

When you've got a big family, the expense of going places can really add up. For our family of seven, a single trip to the zoo or aquarium can easily cost over one hundred bucks or more. At that rate,  trying to entertain seven people over summer months sounds impossible. That's why we plan ahead and arm ourselves with memberships to our favorite museums and attractions. We've found that buying the family membership often costs just as much, maybe a bit more as a single visit for our tribe and sometimes, even a little less. That's not always the case but if you want to visit three or four or more times a year, it's definitely worth it to go the membership route. Of course, dishing out around a hundred dollars or more for a membership to here and there isn't cheap either, but we've found it takes a village to raise our little village and when birthdays and holidays come around and the relatives start asking, "What does so and so want?" we can suggest a family membership to a favorite attraction that we'll be able to enjoy all year long. It teaches the kiddos to value experiences over things, too, which is a plus. Think ahead come tax return time and grab up some memberships then as well.

The Perks of A Family Membership to Museums & Attractions
  • For a big family, an annual Family Membership may cost just as much as paying per person for one single visit.
  • You can visit your favorite attraction all year long, and never pay admission until your membership runs out.
  • Some memberships offer free gifts and free passes for additional guests.
  • Memberships often offer discounts for special events, free admission to special events, discounts at the gift shop, discounts to other similar attractions.
  • Many Family Memberships participate in programs that get you into other similar attractions for free or discounted for the duration of your membership.
  • Once you become a member of a certain attraction, you'll often receive discounts on membership renewals when the time comes. 
  • Members receive invites to members-only or member appreciation days.
  • Members may receive discounts on birthday party packages.
Mix Up Your Memberships So You're Always Doing Something New
  • A membership to an outdoor garden attraction like Longwood Gardens is great for a beautiful day while a museum membership is great for a rainy day. There are lots of indoor and outdoor options when it comes to family-friendly attractions.
  • Use your membership when new exhibits open and visit for family fun days. 
  • Find out if your membership to one museum gets you into other museums. For instance, a membership to the Delaware Natural History Museum participates in ASTC Passport Program, which gives members free or reduced admission to over 350+ Science-Technology centers across the country and the world. This comes in handy when we travel and are looking for new museums to visit. 
What is your favorite family-friendly attraction to visit? How much does it cost to visit one time? Have you looked into an annual family membership? Let us know in the comments!

It costs a ton to go anywhere with five kids! Consider the benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums &...

— Four Little Monsters (@4LilMonsterBlog) June 27, 2016

It costs a ton to go anywhere with five kids! Consider the benefits of Family Memberships to Favorite Museums &...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Monday, June 27, 2016

Grow Crystals Science Project, Summer of Science

by EJ on 06/09/16

It's our first week of summer with all the kids at home and we've set a goal to do one cool science project a week as a family. We'd love for our readers to join us on this journey and experiment along with us! Science is cool, after all, and just because school is out, doesn't mean the learning stops at our house.

We wasted no time getting started on our Summer of Science and have spent this first week learning all about crystals. For our first science experiment, we tested out some crystal growing techniques. For variety, we tried out two different crystal growing recipes, one with a Magic Rocks kit (because I'm nostalgic for my childhood) and then also a home-made recipe using vinegar and salt.  

Grow Crystals with Magic Rocks Kit 

I'm probably not the only one who had a blast with Magic Rocks as a kid. They're not technically crystals, but grow similarly and fairly quickly. Our youngest son kept calling it "his plant" and he was pretty on point as Magic Rocks are more like a chemical garden than crystals. The rocks that come with the kit are multi-colored in pink, green, yellow and blue. Kids get to gently break them into smaller pieces and divide them into three groups. The first group goes in a clear jar first, creating a stabilizing bottom layer. The kit comes with a growing solution that gets mixed with 12 oz. of warm water, then carefully poured into the jar. The second set of rocks goes in next, then after a few minutes, the third. It takes about four hours for the full effect of the growth to take place. My kiddos kept returning to the jar to check on crystal growth progress and they were amazed at the difference each time they looked. The chemical solution is definitely not edible, so close parental supervision is recommended on this one. 
  • Magic Rocks are made of metal salts that are dispersed in aluminum hydroxide.
  • The Magic Growing Solution is sodium silicate. 
  • Metal salts react with the Sodium Silicate to form chemical towers about 4 inches tall. 
Grow Crystals Using Salt and Vinegar

We started from scratch with our next crystal growing experiment with the following items:
  • 1 cup Hot Water, Boiling is Best
  • 1/4 cup Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Medium Piece of Sponge
  • Shallow Dish
First, we stirred together the water, the salt and the vinegar. Then we laid the sponge on the shallow dish. Carefully, a kiddo poured the mixture over the sponge so that it soaked up most of the liquid with some in the dish, saving any extra liquid. Next, we dripped several droplets of food color on the sponge and sat the dish near a sunny window. About a day or so later we had some impressive crystal growth and the kids were fascinated.

Crystals All Around Us

Crystals are everywhere and most of the time we don't even know it. The kids had fun guessing where we could find all kinds of crystals. We decided that sugar was made of crystals, which made for some tasty follow-up crystal experiment ideas, and then we set out to find how crystals form in the first place. We found this great, kid-friendly resource on how crystals work:

Further Reading On Crystals for Kids:

Plan A Summer Strategy for Big Families, Special Needs Families

by EJ on 05/31/16

Wow, the school year is winding down rather quickly - *quick, hide!* - and before I know it, I'll have five kiddos running all over the house, stealing paper and staplers out of my home-office, demanding snacks left and right, whining that they're bored and have nothing to do and all that. If their day off from Memorial Day was any sort of preview, than we're certainly in for it as parents.

I think as the school year comes to an end, the kids start to get just as anxious as us parents, they start to push more buttons and test more limits, so it's time to start preparing all of us for spending a lot more time together. Plus, when you've got a High Functioning Autism-kiddo and an ADHD-er as we do, it's super important to figure out what we want our summer routine to look like, plan out what we can plan, so the transition goes more smoothly. Here's my summer strategy, which I'll discuss with the family as a group, so we're all on the same page. It's a list of seven great ways to keep Mom, Dad and kids on the right path for a successful summer break.

1. Hike and Get Outdoors. Plan on going hiking at least once a week with all the kids, explore new trails and re-enjoy familiar trails. Here in Delaware, we have a great selection of State Parks as well as several National Wildlife Refuges. Since we've got an Aspie-kiddo, who thrives on routine and predictability, we'll likely pick one or two days a week where we go hiking and stick to those days for hiking. Sundays work really well for us.

2. Make use of those family memberships to museums and attractions. It's time to start using our memberships to local museums and gardens. Since I work from home, I can't let my work schedule fly out the window. We'll need to pick a day where we go adventuring every week. For instance, every Thursday we'll go have an adventure at one of our favorite science museums, Longwood Gardens or the Zoo.

3. Stick to usual chore, bath and bed routines. Just because summer is here, does not mean the kids get to stay up late every night, be dirty and live in filth. Mom and Dad need down time more than ever now. We have a movie night once a week when the kids stay up late, but other than that, we'll try to keep bed time reasonable. Chores will go on as usual and possibly more so, since our house will have all the kiddos in it more often. 

4. Stock up on crafts, paper and science kits. Okay, I'm big on science kits. I'll be taking my coupons to Michaels and AC Moore to stock up on science experiment kits, craft sets and a ton of paper. We go through paper like crazy. My kids love crafting, building, painting, writing, drawing and all things creative so the more stocked we are on that, the better. Sometimes we're involved as parents and sometimes I need them to go craft independently so I can get some work done.

5. Sign up for summer camps. We have so many choices for summer activities where we live. Our kids have participated in space camp, art camp, theater camp and more. This summer, we'll again have each kid in at least one summer camp to keep those brains and all that creative energy engaged. It's also a great way to get them out of the house, away from each other and with new friends and environments.

6. Boredom is not always a bad thing. It's okay if my children say they're bored. They may not agree but I would like them to know that I am not always responsible for keeping them occupied. Yes, I like to keep them busy and active, but sometimes it's okay to send them to their room for no reason at all, or to have quiet time or read, or send them outside to explore.

7. Stick to Your Schedule. Whatever your schedule is, stick to it and adjust as needed. I work from home, and still need to meet all my work responsibilities even with the kids home and they'll likely  need to be reminded of that at first.

What are your summer strategies? Feel free to leave your ideas and plans for a smooth transition in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Take Your Kids to Vote On Election Day!

by EJ on 04/26/16

It's Primary Election Day here in our beloved state of Delaware, as well as in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut. Our family has a tradition of taking the kids to the polls, so they can see what it's all about and how voting works and how special and important it really is. Fortunately for our family of seven, we live in a small town and we've never had to wait in line at the polls so voting normally goes quickly, which is always helpful. Our polling place is also extremely kid-friendly and they're encourage dot be party of the process. Here are some tips for taking your own monsters to the polls:

1. Find out what your local polling places' rules are for kids. Different places have different rules regarding what kids can and can't do in the polling place. Our polling place allows kids of all ages to attend, and they can even stand inside the curtains with a parent, on the left side.

2. Communicate to your children the importance of voting in our society. There are all kinds of Election Day printables online and you can even hold a mock election amongst stuffed animals. You can do these activities to build up to the big day.

3. Plan ahead and figure out when your polling place is least crowded. In our case, we have a child with Asperger's Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism and he doesn't appreciate changes in routine, so keeping the trip to the polls quick is key to avoid a meltdown. We also have an ADHD-er, who doesn't stand still for anything. Keep the visit to the polls brief and that will hopefully avoid any kiddo mood swings so that they'll actually benefit from the experience.

4. Allow your child(ren) to help sign-in at the polling place. Let your child hand over your Driver's License to the precinct worker. If the rules allow, he/she can even press the VOTE button.

5. Talk to your children about the voting experience afterwards. What did they think of voting? Who was there? What did they see and do at the polls? Did you run into neighbors or friends?

6. Make the voting experience memorable. We always write down one or two things that the kids said that Election Day, something that made the moment memorable. Last Election Day, for instance, our then four year old daughter cried and pouted as we were leaving, because she thought she would be meeting Mitt Romney, whom she'd seen on television so many times. When she cried out in very dramatic fashion as we exited the polls, "I didn't get to meet Mitt Romney!" everyone was in giggle fits.

7. Express your pride that you voted and encourage your kids to be proud, too. Post a picture to Facebook that you voted with the kids. Some polling places have stickers and the kids will proudly wear them. Our daughter was telling everyone we saw during our errands afterward, that "we voted!"

Go VOTE and absolutely TAKE THE KIDS! We've got some tips for making Election Day go smoothly for the kiddos. #VOTE...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron, Promo Code & Review

by EJ on 04/20/16

Between running my business and running five kids to-and-fro every day, I rarely find time to pamper myself. Let's face it, I can't style my hair every single day. However, when I've got quality hair care products at home, I don't have to go far for a little me time when needed. Thanks to Vanity Planet, many of my favorite beauty products are always at my fingertips. Right now I'm obsessing over my new Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron and I'm excited to share this product with Four Little Monsters readers. 

I'll start by saying that my hair is normally a crazy mess. While I'm super thankful for a head of thick, fast-growing, long tresses, my hair routine gets old fast. I'm talking so thick it's hard-to-brush hair, waves here but not there hair, explosion of knots every morning hair. I get this fabulous-ness from my mother's side of the family. If I don't visit the salon every two or three months, it's that much more unmanageable. Knowing this, I still don't get to the salon often enough. With such craziness going on on top of my head and so much craziness going on in my life, I need hair care products at home that I can rely on. 

Vanity Planet sent me their Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron, which uses specifically designed technology to straighten my hair with a perfectly styled look. The built-in Ion Generator keeps my hair frizz-free. Floating Titanium Tourmaline plates create extra shine and softening, while venting through the top of the iron (awesome for damp hair) to keep my hair healthy. The Tame Flat Iron works on damp or dry hair and straightens and curls, whichever you choose, with adjustable temperatures of 150 F to 450 F. The Tame Flat Iron includes an Auto Shut-Off which kicks in after sixty minutes and has a comfortable, rubberized, smooth coating for an easy grip. 

My favorite feature is the adjustable temperature and the wide range of heat. Sometimes my hair does not want to cooperate but the ability to raise the heat on these unruly waves solves that problem fast. There's also a super cool 360 degree swivel cord which makes moving while I style a complete breeze. The Tame Flat Iron gets hot fast, so there's no awful waiting when I'm short on time. When it's time to put the Vanity Planet Damp Dry Flat Iron away, it's got a convenient Handle Lock Mechanism, which keeps the product compact when stored and protects those titanium plates when not in use. This is such a solid product and very sturdy. It doesn't feel loose or fragile in the slightest. When so many products aren't made to last, I'm confident so far that I'll be holding on to this Flat Iron for a while.

Exclusive Promo Code TAMEFLM Saves 75% OFF Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron

Four Little Monsters has an exclusive Promo Code: TAMEFLM, to save 75% off the retail price of the Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron. That's a discount of $150! Regularly priced at $200, use this promo code to get it for only $50. Don't forget to show off your hair and use hashtag #VPBeauty if you buy! Purchase the Vanity Planet Tame Damp Dry Flat Iron HERE and enter our Promo Code at checkout.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is a Brand Ambassador for Vanity Planet and receives compensation and products in exchange for promotion. All opinions are honest and belong to the blogger.

Get our exclusive Promo Code for Vanity Planet's Tame Dry Flat Iron and check out the review! #BusyMom #BestHair...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Stinky Cheese Man On Stage, Arden Children's Theatre, Philadelphia, Review & Giveaway

by EJ on 04/18/16

The Stinky Cheese  Man at Arden Theatre Company

If you're looking for an evening out in Philly for the whole family, I have found the event for you! Trust me. We just saw a truly hilarious, kid and parent friendly stage production of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at The Arden Theatre Company in Old City Philadelphia. 

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales On Stage

Arden Children's Theatre has been doing shows for kids for sixteen years, with the same quality resources going into their kid-friendly shows as they put into their Mainstage shows. The effort and talent in this particular show is no exception. From the gorgeous, colorful set

The Stinky Cheese Man at Arden Theatre Company

designs, to the superb talent of the actors, The Stinky Cheese Man was an absolute delight from beginning to end. The show, mirroring the Caldecott award-winning book it's based on, takes well-known fairy tales and other classic children's stories and mixes them up in all kinds of silly, hilarious ways. Characters include Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Chicken Licken, The Really Ugly Duckling, The Stinky Cheese Man and more. For days on end since the show, my kids have been jumping up from behind me, shouting "COW PATTY!"

If you grew up giggling over the book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by John Scieszka (like I certainly did), then you absolutely need to see this show with your kids. I have been sharing the same exact book I grew up with, with my kiddos since they were tiny. I bought my copy at my own middle school book fair. If you don't own a copy now, you can pick one up after the show in the theater lobby. I never dreamed I'd see these stories on stage but I'm so glad someone thought to do this. I was in tears with laughter at least four times throughout the show and it was very cool to see my kids glued and engaging with the entire production.

A great bonus to the children's shows at Arden Theatre Company is the post-show Meet and Greet with the cast. Kids get to ask questions and take photos directly after the show. I absolutely love when our kids can interact with professional stage actors as we've had our kids involved in live theater for several years now and live theater has always been a passion of mine that I'm hoping to pass on to my kiddos. Our oldest son, 8, has Aspberger's Syndrome, now referred to as High-Functioning Autism. He's always been very artistic and detail-oriented, so theater has been an amazing and therapeutic resource for him, giving him a place to practice working with a team, to build his social skills, to express himself and be creative. He was very proud to tell the actors at Arden Theatre Company all about his upcoming show.

WHERE: Arden Theatre Company 40 N. 2nd Street Old City Philly

WHEN: Through June 12th 2016

Tickets: Call the Box Office at 215.922.1122 or visit Cost is $18 to $36 depending on age and performance chosen.

WIN 4 Tickets to See The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at Arden Theater Company 

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We're giving away 4 tickets to see The Stinky Cheese Man at The Arden Theatre Company in Old City Philly!...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Monday, April 18, 2016

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