Can you tell me how to get....

how to get to SESAME STREET!!!!
Wow, what a crazy few weeks I've had.  We've been in full summer mode with weekend trips to the lake, swim classes, playground and park playdates, and a little mini-vacation to Sesame Street!  Well...we told Mia that we were going to Sesame Street.  Actual destination:  Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. 




special treats for Mia
Let me begin with this....I'm a planner.  I don't do many things without a pretty well thought-out and specific plan.  It's just who I am.   And here's something else about me....I've become minorly obsessed with finding great deals, coupons, and fun free stuff.  This trip all started when I was entering my Pampers gifts-to-grow codes online and I began to wander...."What am I going to do with all of these points, anyway!?"  I started browsing the catalog of prizes and I saw these 1-day passes to a theme park called Sesame Place.  I had never even heard of such a place so I was intrigued.  I mean, Mia LOVES Elmo so why not check into it?  Little did I know that this park was in the same state that we live in!  Only a 6 hour drive away!  I continued to bank my points for a few more months and I even asked some friends for their spare points, too.  I eventually got to 5000 points and redeemed them for 2 tickets to the park.  Those tickets were for Rob and I....and Mia's park admission was free because she's under 2!  We decided to go in June to avoid any super-hot weather and we planned to go to the park on a Monday to avoid large crowds.  We did splurge and make reservations to eat breakfast with Elmo and friends...but again, Mia's ticket was free....so it cost about the same as a dinner night out at Friday's or 2 nights of ordering pizza at home.  
We also saved money by staying at a hotel about 10 miles away from the park.  The hotels right near the park were a lot more $ per night but they offered a free shuttle to the park to avoid parking costs.  Seems like a great deal and that's probably why a lot of people stay there....but in doing the math and finding out that the extra $75 per night to stay next to the park far exceeded the one-time $15 parking fee....I booked the hotel that was 10 miles away.  Duh.
We stayed at a hotel called the Element Ewing Princeton by Westin.  Let me tell you....this was one of the best and nicest hotel experiences I've ever had.  The hotel was new, CLEAN, comfortable, accommodating for kids, and the very best part....our room had a full kitchen!  So we were able to pack all of our food for the entire stay and cook right in the room.  This was a serious money-saver because we didn't go out to eat one single time on the entire trip.  And that includes both in Hershey Park, at the zoo in Hershey, the whole day in Sesame Place, etc.  We packed coolers with lunches and brought drinks and snacks.  It was awesome to not spend a ton of money at restaurants...or to have to drag an exhausted 1 1/2 year to a restaurant after a long day.  Our hotel also offered free continental breakfasts and the best bonus ever...FREE happy hour drinks.  And trust me, after a day in Sesame Place... Rob and I totally needed those cold Yuenglings back at the hotel. 
So the road trip was amazing.  Mia loved singing One Direction songs in the car, she thought it was so fun to go through the tunnels on the turnpike, she took amazing car naps, watched a few DVD's, and she was just all-around an angel in the car.  Like I mentioned, we stopped at Hershey on our way out east and it was a perfect afternoon.  We did the free tour of the chocolate factory which is a little ride that's maybe 15 minutes long.  So cute.  Then we browsed the chocolate store and sampled lots of yummy candy, and then we left to go to the Zoo.  We left Hershey Park with spending no money at all. Amazing.  At the zoo Rob got free admission because it was father's day and I got discounted admission because we're Pittsburgh zoo members.  And again, Mia was free!  It was a nice cool day so we had so much fun strolling through the zoo...then we made our lunch at the picnic tables... and then we were on our way to finish our road trip to Philadelphia.  And since it was Father's Day....we found a local ice cream shop near our hotel and found on facebook that they had a father's day special so we headed there for an after-dinner treat. 

Meeting the one and only Hershey Kiss!
on the Hershey Tour ride

ice cream for daddy and mia!
on our way into the park!  Mia carried her Elmo doll all day

planning the route using the park map!



Mia using magic to turn Abby into a puppy!

So Sesame Place is a really really fun place.  It's half amusement park/half water park and we were prepared to spend half of the day at each section.  But first was the character breakfast...and wow, it was worth every penny.  The food...not even worth $2 (Thank God we had the breakfast at the hotel!).  The look on Mia's face....let's just say I'd bake a million cookies to see her that happy again.  The characters came to each table and interacted with the kids.  Elmo was there...along with Abby Cadabby, Bert & Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird.  Mia just loved them all and she gave everyone hugs, kisses, and high fives.  Abby Cadabby even let Mia hold her magic wand!  Mia pointed it at Abby and said "Abra Cadabra....Abby is a puppy!"  I think Abby was a little taken back.  She just put her hands up and made a giggling face. And then Mia politely gave the wand back.  It was so cute. 

One of the best moments for me was when Cookie Monster came over to our breakfast table and Mia gave him a Give Mia Cookie cookie!  (I had made her some cookie monster and Elmo cookies on sticks for snacks at the park). She handed the cookie monster cookie right over to Cookie Monster himself... and Cookie Monster tried to eat it!  Mia thought that was hysterical....and her smile just melted my heart.

Here Cookie Monster....try THIS cookie!

He ate it!  YUM YUM YUM

A major cookie moment for "Give Mia Cookie"
So then we did the playground and started on the rides early in the morning.  Mia wasn't a huge fan of the rides because she got really intimated by the loud noises and stuff.  But we managed to ride the carousel, the flying Elmo fish, the magic-carpet type ride, and the Sesame Street tea-cups.  She also loved the slides and jungle gyms for toddlers.  All throughout the park they offered little shows at different times of day.  We stumbled upon an Elmo's world live show and that was super fun.  It was a small auditorium so we were pretty close to the stage....and Mia followed right along just like when she watches the show on TV.  She thought that Mr. Noodle was funny and it was so cool for her to see Dorothy in person and say hi to her.

Elmo's World LIVE!




eyes glued on the show!



passed out in the car seat mid-day

We went to the car around 12:30 and Mia crashed in her car seat for about an hour.  Then we changed into our swimsuits and hit the water park!  The water was FREEZING....but Mia didn't care.  The pools and water attractions are so cool there....like big jungle gyms with spraying fountains everywhere and Mia loved that.  Then we attempted a family water slide and that was a little too intense for her.  We did make it all the way to the pool at the bottom but Mia cried most of the way.  Eh...it was worth a try.  After playing in the water for awhile it was time to get dried off and find a spot to watch the parade.  The parade was so cute....and really entertaining.  We all loved it!  And then we caught another show with all of the characters...and then we stopped to see Elmo (again), Murray, and Prairie Dawn. 

Hi Prairie Dawn!
so much fun in the FREEZING cold water!
Mia saying "Where's your lambie, Murray?"



watching the parade!



Then we took Mia to the gift shop called Oscar's Garage where everything is under $10.  My mom had given her 2 dollars before we left Pittsburgh and Mia was so excited to go shopping and spend it.  She was allowed to pick whatever she wanted and she ended up with a mini Zoe doll.  By the end of the afternoon Mia was totally exhausted.  We had seen so many characters throughout the day and I think she was trying to process everything and take it all in. She had a mini-meltdown as were leaving the park but a quick bath back at the hotel, some dinner, and a movie seemed to cure that quickly.  She was fast asleep by 8 pm. 



seriously exhausted



The trip home was pretty uneventful.  I actually hadn't planned anything special because I had no idea how Mia was going to be after all of that traveling.  I didn't want to push it by planning a whole other day of activities.  So for the first time in a long time we just kinda went with the flow of the day.  We ended up stopping near Somerset, PA and we found a local playground and just let Mia run around for awhile.  It's not too often that Rob and I can just take her to playground together so that was really fun...simple and fun.  She was easily lured back into the car with fruit snacks and we were on our way back to Pittsburgh. 
at the playground in Somerset! Mia loves the slides



The trip was a total whirlwind....but it was amazingly fun.  In such a short time we were able to do all of the above....as well as swim in the hotel pool, meet up with one of Rob's college friends who lives in Philly, and just have really great family-time for the three of us.  The only thing that we were really missing the whole trip was Layla.  But Mia understood that Layla couldn't come on vacation....and she was in good hands at Ga-Ga and Pap-Pap's house. 



Once back at home it was straight back to work for me.  I had a lot of orders to do in three short days so that meant a lot of late nights and early mornings of baking and decorating.  It was so worth it, though to have been able to take 4 days completely off from the business. 

Stay tuned for more summer fun....and more fun cookies soon! 

our family trip :)