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Friday, November 30, 2012

Things to do this weekend in and around Louisville

It is DECEMBER.  Ok, not today, but tomorrow. Well, truly...it seems that November should just be called "Pre-December" since it has almost lost it's identity since the holiday season has crept its way all over it!
But, if you are like me, the minute Thanksgiving is over, I just want to get all holly jolly.

Friday - it's Light Up Prospect at Prospect Point and that all starts at 5pm with Santa arriving before 6pm to light the tree and takes place at the Prospect Point shopping center.  Then, it appear Santa is jetting over to Norton Commons for the festivities that start at 6pm there.

Also, there's some holiday themed train excursions at the Kentucky Railway Museum and you should totally check out the schedule for the polar express themed ride or the cookies with Santa ride!

Saturday - the Squallis Puppeteers have a holiday show that starts at 1pm and include a workshop. Ticket & location info HERE.

PhotobucketAnother event is one that LouFamFun is supporting - The Nature of Christmas in Goshen. It's a quaint holiday event at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve from 12-3 and it's free. Details HERE.

But, you now where I will be?  I will be spending Saturday evening at the Comfy Cow with The Lousiville Children's Museum at the Holiday Family Party fundraiser!  It is a free event and we encourage folks to purchase an ice cream treat as a portion of the proceeds will go toward this museum endeavor.  See you there and bring your camera for photo opps with the Snow Fairy Princess from KaLightoscope.
Event details HERE.

If you are looking for something that's not holiday themed, well, that will come in January. If you scroll on the LouFamFun.net calendar above, you can see that this month is consumed by Christmas events so, that's what I've picked!

Head HERE to sign up for our once a month newsletter if you haven't already done so. It's short, sweet and to the point and always includes a giveaway!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review Louisville Youth Orchestra

PhotobucketMy daughter and I recently attended the first concert of the season with the Louisville Youth Orchestra. It was held at the Brown Theater in awesome downtown Louisville. It was an outstanding afternoon full of orchestral music and a percussion ensemble. We hardly ever go to the theater or a play in our house, so attending this concert was like the big leagues for us! My daughter is learning to play Suzuki violin through a program offered by her school, so I thought it was very beneficial for her to see other students playing for an audience and getting the experience of a bigger show.

The musical performance put forth by these young musicians was outstanding. I was so very impressed with their talent and composure on stage. They played some very difficult pieces written long, long ago. The music director spoke to the audience before the concert began and gave us some background on the history of some of the pieces. One piece was a love story about the composer who wrote it for the woman he loved; upon weeping after having him play it for her, they very quickly married! The percussion ensemble played some familiar pieces like Peter and the Wolf and they were very entertaining to watch and listen to.

My daughter is 9, so for a performance like this she was very capable of sitting still and being attentive through the whole performance. It lasted about 1 ½ hours. But I would say that if your children like music, they will enjoy this performance at any age. The children I did see at the concert were mostly school-age, but I did see some preschoolers as well. It’s a nice way to expose them to the arts without spending a whole lot by taking them to a performance at the Louisville Orchestra or the Opera. The Brown Theater is very conveniently located on West Broadway right across the street from a parking lot so it is very accessible for families. You can all get dressed up like the family in the “Fancy Nancy” books and make a fun family night on the town out of it!
The Louisville Youth Orchestra is made up of about 300 students from 15 counties in the Kentuckiana area. These young musicians put a tremendous amount of effort into their practices and it shows. You can audition for membership to the orchestra. Your child or student must be a musician under the age of 21. They also must participate in their school’s instrumental music program and be taking private music lessons. There is financial assistance available for private music lessons through scholarships to those who qualify based on need.

The next concert is on Sunday, December 16 at 4:00pm. It is a holiday concert entitled “Belles and Beaux with Bells and Bows.” It is expected to be a very festive performance, featuring timeless classics, and parents are encouraged to bring their children of all ages. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for school-aged children. Children under school-age (I would say 5 and under) are free. You can call 502-896-1851 or email info@lyo.org for more information about purchasing tickets. I saw many people purchasing tickets on site before the show. At the Brown Theater, you sat wherever you desired. The holiday concert will be held at the Youth Performing Arts School.

Attend the concert, where ticket sales go straight back to the orchestra to support and fund their endeavors. Hit up some of the fun holiday attractions going on downtown that day, perhaps starting the day at the Galt House, and then attend the concert. Or after the concert head over to 4th Street Live for all the festivities there. Enjoy a late afternoon or early evening full of cheer in downtown fabuLOUs Louisville!

By guest contributor: Erin

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review of Huber's Orchard, Winery and Vineyards

PhotobucketPhotobucketMy parents came to visit over fall break and I wanted to take them on a day trip with the kids and saved an outing to Huber's Winery for the day with the best weather.  The ride to Huber's was less than an hour from our home and we arrived in the morning before the place really got crowded with field trips and the lunch crowd.

PhotobucketWe went during harvest time so the place was decorated with special festival fall displays and extra spots to sit and eat.  It appeared that on weekends, the staff gets outside to cook and do more than when we were there on a weekday.  First, we let the kids roam around and look at the tractors, pose for pictures and gaze at the talking tree.  We arrived hungry which led us to the market where we sampled cider and some baked items.  We chose to get a few cookies to share as well as the apple cider slushy.  All of these items are reasonably priced considering this is an attraction of sorts and they probably could charge more.  They have so many baked items like pies, cinnamon rolls, fudge and more. You can also get farm produce and cider among other things. It's a really nice farm market. We sat in the picnic area by the wine shop to enjoy our snacks.  They do not allow you to eat food that you bring from outside of Huber's in most of the areas, respect the signs to sit in the appropriate spots if you bring a picnic.
After the snack, we browsed the wine shop and walked down to the pond to feed the ducks.  Bring quarters!  Then, we saw buses coming in to go to the kids area so we decided we should get there before it got too crowded.  My parents headed back to the wine shop to get a bottle of wine with a cheese and fruit tray and enjoy the wonderful weather and scenery.  My husband and I took the kids to the Family Farm Park.  It was $6 per person, you pay up front and just about everything inside is included in the cost.

PhotobucketI have been to the farm park at Joe Huber's and after visiting this one at Huber's Winery, I would definitely return to this one over the one at Joe Huber's.  There was so much to do and my 3 and 5 year old had such a fun time and we did too.  You can bring in picnic items and eat in the picnic shelter where they also have mini golf and corn hole.  There's a petting zoo area and corn kernels for feeding the animals (bring quarters!) 2014 update: petting zoo has been replaced by a play area.  Also, during the fall, there's a corn maze for some fun exploring.  We also enjoyed the tube slides, bike track, tractor ride that was included and other little things to climb and play with.  For $1 each, we also let the kids ride the motorized tractors.  There are bathroom facilities in the play area and they were clean even on a busy day.  We spent over 2 hours playing in there and could have spent more time but headed back to do some apple picking with the grandparents.

PhotobucketPhotobucketWe waited by the orchard side of the farm market where the tractor rides pick up to take people out to the various picking spots.  We chose to pick some apples and it was just a short ride out there.  When you get off, there are bags for collecting and you just browse up and down the aisles to find the best ones. We were later in the apple season so there wasn't too much variety but the kids loved it.  Watch how many they grab, the cost can really add up even though their price per pound is reasonable.

While we were there, we also had some of their homemade ice cream which was delicious and my parents reported that their two hours of relaxation at the winery was perfect on a lovely fall day.  We took home some strawberry wine and cinnamon rolls for the next day.  It was one of my favorite day trips and at a total expense of about $60 (not including gas for travel), it is definitely something we will do each fall.  Click here for their hours and information, it varies with seasons!


Monday, November 26, 2012

CONTEST! 4 Do-It-All Tickets for Christmas at the Junction at EnterTrainment Junction

PhotobucketPhotobucketRecently, LouFamFun published a review about the Halloween fun at EnterTrainment Junction. Here's the review in case you missed it: Click HERE.

Well, turns out they have Christmas festivities at EnterTrainment Junction that are up and running right now!  They want to send a lucky reader to enjoy 4 free Do-It-All that are good for their Christmas at the Junction special as well as the rest of the exhibits and fun!

From their website: They've added Main Street Holiday Trains – 3 beautiful Christmas train displays and a Christmas Journey – where you can walk through a winter wonderland to visit Mrs. Claus and, of course, Santa (Santa goes on vacation after Christmas)

PhotobucketThis is a really great day trip for Louisville families and such a unique place.  There are lots of places to eat at the same exit and gas for refueling, it will make for a simple and super fun weekend getaway.

Good luck!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

WINNER! Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour tickets!

Holiday Home TourThere's a lucky reader that will be headed on an Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour with a friend!  


Congrats Diana!    Email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net to claim your prize

Holiday Family Party at The Comfy Cow to benefit The Louisville Children's Museum


Come out  the The Comfy Cow between 6:30 and 8:30 (Frankfort Ave location) on December 1st and enjoy some wonderful seasonal music and of course some of the best ice cream in Louisville! A portion of the proceeds will go to the Louisville Children's Museum effort! The Comfy Cow will be there to greet the kids as will the Snow Fairy from KaLightoscope at Christmas at the Galt House

There will be little activities for the kids and the big reveal for the Kids Creative Concoctions Contest at 7:45 who will win a holiday package from The Galt House, FREE ice cream for a year at The Comfy Cow and other goodies from LouisvilleFamilyFun.net and The Comfy Cow! Plus, musical entertainment from Fermata Nowhere

The Top 10 Finalists for the contest are listed HERE

See you there!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nature of Christmas in Goshen at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve


This year, Louisville Family Fun LLC is a proud supporter of Nature of Christmas in Goshen!

 Bringing Nature and Community Together 
 The Nature of Christmas in Goshen is Saturday, December 1, 2012 12 - 3 p.m., It's FREE There's no better way to get in the holiday spirit than to bring the entire family to this event, co-hosted by the City of Goshen! Enjoy free chili and hot chocolate, a visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus, presents for the first 250 kids, live Christmas carolers, a bon fire, wagon rides, and holiday gift booths. 

See their website for full details!

Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review of Gaylord Opryland - A Country Christmas and Dreamworks packages

One of my favorite things about winter is the Holiday Season with Christmas as its’ shining star. So many of my family’s traditions are situated around our celebration of Christmas, from our tradition of getting special ornaments for our tree to seeing shows and attending Holiday events. This year we discovered a place where we can get as much Holiday spirit as we can handle all in one place: Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas Celebration.

Opryland is located in Nashville, Tennessee, and it only took us a little over three hours to make the drive from Louisville. This in itself makes is a great long weekend destination, particularly if you have younger kids. We had just gotten to the point of fighting in the car (“His apple is redder than mine!” Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.) when we arrived. After check-in we were led through the Cascades area of the hotel to our room. I could have been very happy just hanging out in there the entire three days. There is a Koi pond, waterfall, two restaurants and a coffee shop, and beautiful greenery to enjoy. Our room had a balcony overlooking this area and even my kids enjoyed sitting out there and taking in the beautiful climate-controlled scenery.

PhotobucketThis resort is famous for its’ Southern Hospitality. The staff were all friendly, gracious, and accommodating. Perhaps my favorite thing about the staff is that their name tags list their hometowns. Right off the bat I met people from Michigan and Seattle, two places near and dear to my heart. Throughout our stay, the staff went out of their way to speak to my children about their experiences and ask them what they had liked the best so far. Adults who go out of their way to make children happy are rare, and that’s what A Country Christmas is all about. At one point my youngest son fell asleep at the lunch table and the server pulled three chairs together to make him comfortable. You don’t get service like that just anywhere.

I must admit, when I first read our itinerary I was intimidated. We were scheduled to attend a minimum of four events a day, and I just wasn’t sure whether my three and five year-olds would be able to keep up. But the events were exciting enough to keep their attention and most were short enough that my little ones were able to sit through them with no problem. Because the event was a media preview event, I was able to do things that are not normally available to the public. My favorite thing was meeting all the Executive Chefs and many of the Sous Chefs from the resort and trying some of the many wonderful foods available at the resort. Everything from sushi to pizza to prime rib is available, and I had no problem with putting my usual vegetarian diet on the back burner for a few days to try Bourbon glazed ham, crab cakes, and my favorite shrimp and grits. The food was so amazing I could not imagine ordering anything and not liking it.

PhotobucketAfter being serenaded at the Lighting Ceremony we headed to the Gaylord Opryland Events Center for ICE! Featuring Shrek the Halls. This 40,000 square foot complex houses some of the most beautiful and intricate ice sculptures you will ever see, including four 20 foot tall ice slides. My son went down thirty gazillion times (by his estimate) and we nearly had to drag him out of the below-freezing environment. Admission includes the use of parkas, but I recommend bringing warm gloves, hats, and scarves for this event. Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $17.95 for ages 4-11, and this event is included in some of the “A Country Christmas” packages. After walking through the gift shop you can stop by Gingy’s house and purchase a gingerbread decorating kit or have your picture taken with Gingy.

After Ice! We headed to the world famous Grand Ole Opry House for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. I had never seen the Rockettes before and it was truly a mesmerizing event. Even my children were enchanted by the singing and dancing. Right before intermission there was a brand new 3D movie featuring Santa Claus, who was delivering toys to all the boys and girls of the world. Even though this was one of the longer shows we attended and my youngest fell asleep ten minutes into the second act, we all loved it so much we would go again and again and it would never get old. The sights and sounds of the Holidays really come to life, and the finale is a wonderful interpretation of the story of the first Christmas. At $25-99 per ticket, this is one of the more expensive shows Opryland has to offer, but I highly recommend choosing this show even if you are on a budget. It is included in the “A Country Christmas” packages.

The next morning we slept in and ordered room service, which was a real treat for my kiddos. The food throughout the resort is amazing, and the room service is no exception. Then we headed down to the Treasures for the Holidays Craft show ($6 for adults, $4 for children 4-11). There were more than 40 vendors, some of which had truly unique items. We purchased personalized Christmas ornaments for the kids and our family dog and a pair of earrings for me. I really wanted a CanJo (exactly like it sounds- a banjo made from a can) or a washboard tie (!) but sadly I didn’t see myself ever having a need for these things. This would be a great place for mom or dad to duck into for some fun Christmas gifts, but I wouldn’t recommend taking younger, active kids to this.

PhotobucketAfter lunch we headed to the Holly Jolly Town Square, which is free unless you go into the Hall of Trees or ride the rides. The Holly Jolly Town Square features 1950s style storefronts, a candy shop, toy shop where kids can play with classic toys and games, a train ride, and an opportunity to meet Santa Claus. My kids had a blast just sitting and playing all the different games and riding the train.

PhotobucketNext we headed over to the Holiday Shrektacular Show, which amazingly is free with seating on a first-come first-served basis. (If you get the Dreamworks package hold on to your wrist bands because they get you into all the VIP activities throughout the resort. We made the mistake of throwing ours away after the Holiday Shrektacular.) My kids could go to this show over and over again. Before the show, some of the dancers talked to the kids in the audience about their experiences so far and asked them which characters they thought they were going to see in the show. Again, people taking time to make sure my kids are having a good time means the world to me. The show was about half an hour, and Shrek learns what the Holidays are all about with some help from his friends and a book entitled “Christmas for Village Idiots”.

PhotobucketLater we attended Lorrie Morgan’s Enchanted Christmas Dinner and Show. Again, even the banquet-style food was great. The show was beautiful and festive, featuring some of Lorrie’s hits as well as plenty of Christmas songs. This event was a little more difficult for my young kids to sit through, though once the show started my five year old seemed to enjoy it. I would recommend this show to adults and older children, though if you’re on vacation and feeling brave it is doable with little ones. Tickets are $69 for adults and $39 for kids 4-11 and are included in the “A Country Christmas” package. The menu is set and a children’s meal is available.

PhotobucketPhotobucketAfter dinner we went to meet Gingy and then returned to our room to find soft Christmas music playing on the radio(the alarm clocks have stereo sound and connect to your mp3 player or iPhone, and they are also white noise machines), chocolates on our pillows, and my kids’ stuffed animals neatly tucked into their blankets. We slept well after the excitement of the past two days, and then headed to ShrekFeast  in the morning. This was one of my kids’ favorite activities, because not only was there a breakfast buffet complete with a green chocolate fountain, they also got to meet Shrek and Fiona as well as Puss in Boots. My five year old relished every opportunity he had to meet the Dreamworks characters, but my three year old was apprehensive. Once again the staff went out of their way to make sure my children had a wonderful time- Puss in Boots approached my little one gingerly and gave him a chance to warm up to the experience at his own pace. ShrekFeast is included in some of the DreamWorks packages. Otherwise, tickets are $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 4-11. I highly recommend this if you have little ones.

If you don’t have time for all your usual Holiday traditions this year, I highly recommend Gaylord Opryland’s a Country Christmas Celebration. You can fit so many memory-making experiences into a short time frame with all the activities Opryland has to offer. There are even more activities than I have reviewed here, because I could only do so much in three days! Dreamworks packages start at $219. This event will definitely be on our list to do again in the future.

By guest contributor: Maggie

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review of Christmas at the Galt House and KaLightoscope

I think a review in pictures is the best way to show you what we experienced when we went to KaLightoscope and Christmas at the Galt House this year.  For information and tickets, you can go to www.ChristmasattheGaltHouse.com

This year, you will notice that there's a new Candy Cane forest with a singing tree, a train ride and lots of miniature displays.  If you have been in previous years, this is something that will make is different for you!  Your family can head to the Galt House and enjoy about 2-3 hours of entertainment at the hotel with entertainment from the bellmen, a free visit with Santa and KaLightoscope (with Christmas Village & Candy Cane Forest).  I recommend going in late afternoon and combining it with an evening exploring the new holiday features associated with Light Up Louisville along 4th street.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

LouFamFun Day at SkyZone Louisville- Discount!

Photobucket Recently, I visited the new SkyZone with a LouFamFun writer and we told you all about this place.  Now, it's your time to try it out!  We're bringing LouFamFun readers together for a discount offer and special jump time just for you!

December 3rd from 6:30-7:30 you can meet up and SkyZone Louisville (2671 Technology Drive 40299) and jump with other LouFamFun readers for just $10 instead of their normal $13 fee. They will also offer half price beverages at their snack bar (drinks for $1) and LouFamFun will provide FREE snacks/treats in the party rooms.  And, you know LouFamFun, you'll have a chance to win prizes if you are there to jump!

This place is usually closed on Mondays but they are opening up just for you!  Note: only those that are jumping have to pay.  Parents can bring children and watch them and they do not have to pay.  Jumpers pay $10 for the hour for this event.  All jumpers have to have signed waivers- click HERE to fill out an electronic copy or print one to fill out and bring with you.

How to attend:
You must RSVP!  There is a limit of 130 jumpers.  Email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net if you are going to be there with jumpers and put SKY ZONE in the subject.  In the email you must tell us how many people you will be bringing to jump.  We will respond to let you know if you are within the 130 jumper limit or not.

This is going to be FUN or as my son said when we were there, JUMP-TASTIC!


Monday, November 19, 2012

CONTEST! Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour

Holiday Home TourCome and explore the country’s most extensive collection of Victorian mansions and picturesque homes at the 36th Annual Old Louisville Holiday Home Tour, an absolute must for architecture buffs and history enthusiasts alike. In keeping with the rich tradition of Southern hospitality, homeowners in the nation’s premier Victorian neighborhood invite you and yours inside their charming residences to get a unique glimpse of life from a bygone era – a slower time when elegant women rushed about in bustles and corsets and when dapper gentlemen donned tails and ties for dinner.

PhotobucketWe have a giveaway for 2 tickets that can be used on Saturday or Sunday
December 1, noon - 6 pm
December 2, noon - 6 pm

Good cheer and tidings of the season abound as visitors to this one-of-a-kind national historic preservation district tour nine neighborhood dwellings that have been lovingly decked in old-world finery and festive holiday d├ęcor.

Enjoy the spirit of the yuletide at this matchless holiday event in the heart of Kentucky’s largest city and see why people are talking about America’s Victorian Gem, Old Louisville.

Celebrate the Holiday Season and Tour the interior of six beautiful Old Louisville Homes, along with the Woman's Club and Frazier House, Treyton Oak Towers, Presentation Academy School, and the Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion in Spalding University.

Would you like to win 2 tickets? Enter to win! Good luck!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

WINNER! Wonder Forge Game!

Last week, we published reviews of several games from Wonder Forge. And, we ended it with a giveaway for one of the games and the winner is Kristen Staples!  

Please email info@louisvillefamilyfun.net to claim and let us know which game you have selected for your winning prize!  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Busy Family Dinner Idea- Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

I will come right out and say it, this is not the most healthy casserole recipe around but it sure will warm your tummy and be nice and hearty on a cold winter evening! I spun this recipe off of one from a good friend in NC and it has become a family favorite and takes me less than 15 minutes to make (sometimes less!)

It's definitely a recipe that can be prepared ahead of time and then popped in the oven after a busy day of work, running around or doing something fun.

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup bacon bits (I use the "real" ones, Costco brand)
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons grill seasoning
3-4 slices of american cheese
frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 450.  Fully cook the ground beef and drain off any grease. While cooking, put in the onions when the meat is halfway done.  In a 1.5 quart casserole dish, mix the soup, sour cream, bacon and seasoning (season to taste) and then mix in the meat/onions.  Smooth it all out evenly in the dish, top with slices of american cheese evenly and then top with tater tots evenly.  Bake at 450 for about 45 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the tater tots. I broil it for just a tad at the end to make the edges really crisp, as you can tell from the photo.

Enjoy! We've mixed in corn, chopped bell peppers, switched the cheese flavor, used ground turkey etc. so it's a really flexible recipe.  Sometimes, I cook up a bunch of ground beef and put it in baggies and freeze for use over the course of a month in recipes.  When I have those already made, this recipe takes hardly any time at all to assemble. I even use frozen already chopped onions too to make it super easy!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Light Up Louisville and 40 Nights of Lights

Light Up LouisvilleNext week, our city kicks off the holiday season with Light Up Louisville and 40 nights of Lights!  They are changing it a bit and making it better than ever. All of the details are on their website which you can view by clicking on the flyers.  There's a parade and all of the festivities with lighting the tree that's now at 4th Street Live and then details about thew new lights show that you can see every night down the 4th street corridor and even an ice rink! I am so excited to head downtown one night with my family, bundle up in our hats and gloves and walk along with some hot chocolate and enjoy this new downtown feature!

Enjoy our downtown and all it has to offer by patronizing the businesses in this area and attending this new attraction!

Tip- 40 Nights of Lights on a weekend night is going to be busy with the bar scene at 4th Street Live. Earlier is better, or on a weeknight.

Things to do this weekend November 16,17,18

It's beginning to look a lot like.........I don't even want to say it.  I like the cheery holiday season but come on, it's Thanksgiving time!  Anyway, you just can't avoid jumping into the holiday season and confess, some of you have started decorating, shopping and are piping holiday tunes in the house.

What to do this weekend? So many choices, what shall I pick?

Enjoy the beautiful night sky while on a guided hike at Blackacre Conservancy for Autumn Stars Over Blackacre.  How cool is that?  It starts at 6pm on Saturday so it's not too late and it's just $5 per family.  Then, head somewhere and get some hot chocolate afterwards! YUM!

It would be a lovely weekend at Churchill Downs for family day on Sunday.  The fall season is wrapping up and they have a feather craft on Sunday. General admission is just $3 for adults and children under 12 are free!

How about some card making?  It's a great time of the year to get crafty with cards and the Speed Art Museum is helping you out. They are having a FREE workshop at The Huff Gallery at Spalding University on Sunday from 12 to 3pm!

And, it's opening weekend of Christmas at the Galt House  (review from last year) and Lights Under Louisville (click for review , click for discounts )!  Fun Fun for the next few weeks.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Products to Help Families on the GO!

As a writer for LouFamFun, I had the privilege of getting to check out the ABC Kids Expo in October. Boy was it overwhelming and full of innovative ideas for children ranging in age from babies to teenagers. Here are some products that I learned about that I wanted to share.

PhotobucketI got to see and talk to a rep from Soft Gear and I found their products to be very kid-appropriate, parent-friendly, and non-draining of your pocketbook. I spoke for quite a few minutes with a rep who described all of the products to me, which include a booster seat, placemat, changing mat, and a nap mat. Although at this point in my young toddler's life I won't really use a changing mat or nap mat any longer, I will use a booster seat and I really liked theirs. With all the controversy and recalls surrounding the Bumbo seat, Soft Gear has designed a booster seat that you can feel confident your child will be safe using. All of their products are made with the child in mind, so as they become mobile they can move their booster seat to the area of the house that they want to. It was very durable looking and soft, hence the company name, which I really appreciated. The material gives with the child so it's not a plastic fit but a foam material that is very comfortable. And because it is so lightweight and transportable it's perfect for taking with you when you eat out with your kids. It comes in blue, pink, espresso brown, and mint green. The price range is $34.99-$39.99 and has a suggested age of 3 years and up. I also loved that the products are American made and manufactured in the USA. I will be looking into purchasing one of Soft Gear's My Booster seats in the near future.

PhotobucketI also came across a few other products that I thought were fun. The KiddieCatchAll is a product that I might actually invest in this time around. See, I have two kids whose ages are eight years apart. The first time around I didn't really get into all the gadgets. This time around I think I find them so helpful because having two kids really does make that difference when you need organization to keep sane! And the KiddieCatchAll is a product that can be used as kids grow; tweens and teens can use it in the car to keep track of all of their gadgets, books, school items, sports stuff, etc.

PhotobucketOne other product I came across was this child's placemat by Jaq Jaq Bird which has a chalkboard surface on one side of placemat. FUN! While you're finishing up making dinner or if you are headed out to eat, let the kids draw on their placemat. My daughter was inspired the other evening to use it as a menu for her Funsize Friday Restaurant. Love versatile items that spark creativity!

By guest contributor: Erin

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review of The Popcorn Station

PhotobucketRecently, a nice friend bought me a voucher to try The Popcorn Station in Jefferstontown.  We made a trip out there for a special snack since my kids LOVE popcorn. I was a little concerned that since they really like just regular buttered popcorn that they wouldn't be into all of the different flavors, but I was wrong.

PhotobucketWe walked into the simple shop on Taylorsville Rd and my kids ran to the counter to peak through the glass. Rainbow popcorn???  They were shocked!  I showed them all of the flavors (over 30!) and read their names and my daughter selected a chocolate covered caramel variety, my son chose cheddar and I chose ranch. We bought some salt & vinegar popcorn to bring home to my husband.  I tried a few of the flavors to make my selection - they will let you sample so you can make sure you like it.

We walked out with HUGE bags of popcorn and they were the small ones! The prices range from $1.65 to $6.25 for a small, depending on how fancy the variety is with chocolate flavors being the most expensive.  I think this is a reasonably priced treat considering, honestly, 3 people can share a small chocolate flavored bag.  Warning: you will be liking the seasoning off of your fingers and be prepared with wipes for the kids hands!   Let me just say, it was SO GOOD. I live no where near this place but next time I am in that area, I am going to get a bag or four.

I thought I would highlight this now because they do sell tins so that would be great for gifts or holiday snacking, maybe even for watching a football or basketball game at home.  Or, grab a huge bag to take to a holiday party as a pot luck item.  Popcorn is the ultimate snacking choice!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day Trip! Review of Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Photobucket A great road trip at Christmas time is the Indianapolis Zoo. Christmas at the Zoo begins around Thanksgiving, and ends at before the New Year. It opens at 5pm and closes at 9pm Wednesdays through Sundays. The zoo opens mid-day, and you can go to zoo and then stay for Christmas at the Zoo without paying extra.

PhotobucketThe zoo is covered in tons of lights from the trees at the entrance to the parking lot, to the hundreds of trees throughout the zoo. There are standing animal shaped lights, blinking lights, and artificial trees that flash to music. At the entrance to the zoo, we were greeted by a reindeer named Wilma, and learned that reindeer are the only animals where the male and female both have antlers. There are other animals that stay up late including the sea lions, polar bear, walrus, tigers, brown bear and many more. When we went there, we saw the brown bear on his back playing with a giant red ball - it was adorable! You can walk through the Desert and see lots of live reptiles and other desert animals up close. You can walk through the Oceans building and pet the sharks while visiting the ocean animals.

PhotobucketYou can also walk under the Dolphin Dome and watch the dolphins swim underwater, or go see one of the 2 Dolphin Shows put on each night. But beware - the Dolphin shows do "sell out" fast - they are free, but it is a first come, first serve basis. When we showed up the first night, the tickets were already gone for both shows by 6pm. The second night, we went to the zoo at noon and got our tickets for that night right away. The show lasts about 15 minutes, but it was great! There is a dolphin on each side of the pool doing tricks, so sitting anywhere in the stadium seating is excellent. You can also choose to sit in the "splash zone" where you WILL get wet during the show. You can even buy a "Junior Dolphin Trainer experience" where you kids can give signs to the dolphin to tell them to do tricks during the show.

Throughout the zoo, there are cafes open for snacks and hot chocolate, campfires, a group of carolers, the carousel is open, and you can take a Holiday Train Ride. There is also a special building called Santa's Village. In Santa's Village you can get a photo with Santa, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, or write letters to Santa. We had such a great time at Christmas at the Zoo, we went two nights in a row. It is crowded, and it is easier to get in the earlier you arrive, but it is worth it. Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo is a must see! For more information, go to their website.  They may have changed things a bit from last year! Christmas at the Zoo is included with regular off-season admission which is $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids and seniors. You can get $1.00 off with each donation of a new hat, scarf or gloves to a local Indianapolis charity, just bring them with you!

By guest contributor: Caryn

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wonder Forge Board Game Review & CONTEST!

The LouFamFun.net writers have been checking out some games that could be great gifts for kids! Board games are perfect for family fun at home on a cold winter night or on a rainy day with snacks to share. Here are some from Wonder Forge that we tried.

 These are available online and at other retailers online like .  I also saw some at Toyland at the Oxmoor Center (where you can save 20% with your LouFamFun Pass!)

Wonder Forge Games on Amazon - click photos below for direct links to the games on Amazon! 
18022_Free Shipping on all orders over $50 - no code needed! - Valid 11/7-11/23 Or Kohl's   (Code GRATITUDE through 11/14 to save 15%)

  Target too!

Remember, referral earnings from Amazon purchases in Nov. go to the LouFamFun-a-thon for Big Brothers Big Sisters! 

PhotobucketThe newest addition to our game shelf is the Dazzling Princess game from Wonder Forge. This simple game is geared to young Disney movie fans.  My 4 year old daughter loves that it involves dress up. Each player is given a tiara, a bracelet and a ring to begin the game. There is a box full of cards, each depicting a different character, scene or symbol from a Disney princess movie. The player must guess the movie represented in the picture. The answer is on the back of the card, but you have to use the red heart-shaped decoder to see it. My 7 year old son thought the decoder was cool. If the player gets the right answer, she or he gets to add the designated number of gems to her/his tiara, bracelet or ring. The winner is the first to fill all the empty spaces with gems.

As I said before, it's a very simple concept, but I think it's unique and interesting enough to hold the attention of young children. It's obviously more geared to girls, but my son did like guessing the cards and using the decoder. I managed to snap a picture of him wearing the jewelry, but I will reserve that for the dating years. I like that the answers consisted of the name of the princess as well as a picture, so young children can complete their turn without needing assistance. The gems are tiny, so I wouldn't recommend this game for toddlers who still put toys in their mouth. (The recommended age is 4+.) The small size of the gems, cards and decoder also make it a little harder for adults to handle, but they are just the right size for the young children. I think the Dazzling Princess game will spend more time on the game table than the shelf.  ~ Brandy

Dr. Seuss Fun Machine Game Tiles
PhotobucketMy kids and I love playing games, but with a boy and girl, ages 6 and almost 4 years old, it is sometimes tough to find games the kids enjoy and understand. "Dr. Seuss Fun Machine Game Tiles" includes 3 games - Matching, Slap Down, and Guess-A-Roo. They are fun, involve technology, but are still basic to appeal to a broad audience. It takes the classic games of Go Fish, Slap Jack, and a game somewhat similar to Guess Who, but adds a twist. These games are meant to be played with an iPad, iPhone, or iPad touch. There are also other changes. For example, in the memory game, instead of just matching two pictures, you can match by shape, color, character, or the picture on the app. My daughter loves to play with my phone, so for her it was great. My son however, preferred to play without the additional technology. The good news - it's great either way. And it promotes matching, memory, observation, and deduction. Both my kids enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the family time without the TV or video game where the kids play in their own world.  ~Caryn

Who Shook Hook?
PhotobucketWho Shook Hook is a great game for families with younger kids. Mine are 3 and 5, so this game was challenging but fun. The object of the game is to get the most treasure off Captain Hook’s hammock without waking him up (knocking him off) using only the tools provided. Reading is not required for this game, so it’s a fun option if you’re getting tired of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. I would recommend setting it up on a sturdy table since every time one of my kids bumped the kid-sized picnic table we were playing on we had to start completely over with the game. But overall the kids enjoyed it, and that’s what family game night is all about. ~Maggie

PhotobucketEnchanted Cupcake Party
My kids were very much into this game.  We played round after round!  The idea is that they flip card to start a round.  If they get 4 clocks, the game is over. But, if they get bake, mix, decorate - the round is on.  We flip the timer, flip a princess card that has a cupcake challenge on it and then the kids race to make that cupcake out of the piece as quickly as possible.  They work together so it's a nice change from competing against each other and fighting over who wins!  If the timer is still going and they have made the cupcake, they can try to make more.  The goal is to make as many cupcakes as possible until the game ends.  There are different stacks of cards so that each time they play there is a variety in what they create.  My daughter also just likes to sit and play with the cupcake pieces to make her own creations.  ~Stephanie

Never Land Challenge
PhotobucketI think this is my kids' new favorite game!  It's a team work game where the kids work together to earn more deblumes than Captain Hook.  Once the game is set up on the floor, the kids choose one red coin and one blue coin that when put together, make a challenge like "Walk backwards while balancing the feather on your head" or "Hop on one foot while holding the ball under your chin."  Or, if they choose a "Game Over" coin, it goes to Captain Hook and when they get 3, the game is over.  They keep trying challenges until the game ends. If they successfully complete the challenge, they keep the deblumes. If they can't do the challenge, they give them to Captain Hook.  At the end of the game, they win if they have more coins than Captain Hook - they are a team!  I've likes this game because they have been using these ideas even when playing the coming up with their own little challenges in the playroom.  ~Stephanie

PhotobucketThe Joker Fun House
In this board game, the kids and parents can choose to be one of the cartoon heroes and one person is the Joker.  The heroes/Super Friends get to use their powers throughout the game to try to defeat the joker. The Super Friends players play against the joker player and try stop the joker from advancing across the board and winning the game.  The players take turns with a spinner and move along the game.  They loved being the different characters.  For example: Batman gets to launch a dart at Joker and try to knock him down, Superman used x-ray vision glasses to see Joker's game cards and take away the highest card and slows his advancement.  This game requires reading but we were able to play with our younger ones and just team up or help them read.  ~Stephanie

Now, it's time for you to win one of the games we just reviewed!