Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Scooper Bowl has a whole new meaning for me on this World Kidney Cancer Day #partner

This year, one of my favorite events of the year has extra special meaning to me. The Scooper Bowl, an event held in downtown Boston where you can eat as much ice cream as you want, is held the first week in June and benefits the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund. Today is World Kidney Cancer Day and has special meaning to me as my family has been affected by the disease, so I wanted to help raise awareness.

I have worked in downtown Boston for the past two decades; I learned about The Scooper Bowl one day walking through Boston and have made it a mission to go every year since and let as many people know as I can.

I had a great time and got to try some delicious ice cream from favorites like HP Hood, New England Ice Cream, Friendly's, Haagen Dazs, Bliss, Edy's, Alec's and Brigham's, as well as some brands new to me like Holy Cow Ice Cream Cafe, Jonny Pops, Melona, and Philadelphia Water Ice.

My favorite ice cream by far was pretty much every flavor from Holy Cow and HOLY COW their cereal milk as soooooo good as well as their award-winning Ritzy AF flavor - Salted Butter Cracker ice cream loaded with house-made Ritz Cracker Toffee Bark. Yum.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021, they even had a Scooper Bowl-in-a-box at home version where you picked up kits at various places around Massachusetts and would hold your own event at your house! The team at DFCI was so creative to pivot so quickly and put together such an event.

If you're wondering why it has extra special meaning to me, that's because late last year, during my regular physical, my doctor ordered an ultrasound of my abdomen. Well, one thing led to another, and they found something on my left kidney, but they just weren't sure if it was cancer or not. Either way, it had to come out.

I had part of my kidney removed through a procedure called a Robotic Partial Nephrectomy. I'm super thankful for all of the surgeons, oncologists, doctors, nurses, medical staff, pathologists, anesthesiologists, and everyone on my care team at Mass General Brigham and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

I am also grateful and blessed to live in the Boston area where we have world-class healthcare facilities, and educational institutions.

Monday, October 23, 2023

RealRacer by Kobotix is an amazing first-person driving experience!

We have been playing with RealRacer, a first-person remote control car driving experience using a car that connects to your iOS device. We had the chance to test out two of the cars and decided to have a little fun racing around our house. My little guy and I connected them to our phones, and we were quickly able to get moving.

The cars were very responsive, and they handled great, responding to the different turns and tricks we were trying to accomplish. They were very fast and responded appropriately to the increases and decreases in speed.

The best part of the experience was that once the car was out of sight, we could still see where we were going thanks to the camera mounted on top of the car and the great video quality that the car had.

What's great is that this is a perfect car for beginners. It is quick to learn, and you also can record videos and quick pictures through the app or on a microSD card that you insert into the car.

If you want the full-blown first-person driving experience, you can put your phone into the included headset and then you're off to the races. Careful with this option, especially if you tend to get motion sickness... We don't, so we enjoyed checking it out and having a ton of fun!

If you are looking for a great gift for the holidays this year, be sure to check out RealRacer by Kobotix and add it to your list!

NOTE: We were provided with two cars to race one another around the house and really enjoyed them! No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are our own.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Over the summer, we visited American Dream - largest indoor mall on the east coast!

Over the summer, we visited the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey - largest indoor mall on the east coast that has two indoor attractions including the DreamWorks Water Park - the largest indoor water park on our continent! We were in the area for our cousin's wedding and had the opportunity to have an adventure with the kids.

We had tickets for the Nickelodeon Universe and DreamWorks water park theme parks. Both of these are located directly in the mall, which is so cool, literally. Well, the Nickelodeon Park was cool - the DreamWorks Park was a comfortable 81 degrees since you were out of the water walking around from slide to slide and pool to pool. We spent one afternoon walking around the whole mall getting to know the setup and seeing what stores and attractions are there.

It's home to the first Toys 'R Us store since they closed, which has a slide that you can take to get from the second floor down to the first floor. Adults can go down the slide and have fun just like the kids! They also have a store called It's SUGAR which has three floors of any candy you can think of, even a whole kosher candy section. On the top floor, there is also the OREO cafe where you can order OREO-based desserts.


You want to be sure to set aside at least a day for each theme park as there are a lot of attractions to check out. Some of the rides that we liked were the Dora Sky Pass and the Adventure Bay Paw Patrol experience. The Sky Pass was like a people mover experience that is nice and slow that will show a sky-high view of the indoor theme park. 

The kids also enjoyed meeting their favorite characters as there were meet and greets on the half-hour where you got to meet the characters and take pictures with them. It was great to meet the pups from Paw Patrol, SpongeBob, Dora and others!

The kids really enjoyed going on the Legends of the Hidden Temple Ropes Course challenge and even ventured up the 9 level ropes course, which had us a little squeamish from the ground - ah, to be young again!

The other fun rides that the kids liked were more like roller coasters but those aren't much my speed. We enjoyed going on Dora's Sky Railway which gave scenic views of the park from tracks that are above the attractions!


The water park opens at 10 am and there is a line that forms starting at 9:30 and if you're lucky they will let folks start going down to start registering at 9:45. We arrived at 9:45 and promptly went down to check in. Check-in was easy and we walked in and waited for the park to open.

It was a steamy 81 degrees inside, and we quickly found chairs to put our items down on.  There were lots of places to relax and enjoy the water! Every so often, they would have some of the Nickelodeon characters appear and you could take photos with them! The kids were so excited to go swimming and enjoy the water slides that they only were able to take a few photos with their TV favorites.

We enjoyed taking in the entire experience from one of the private Skybox suites and had a nice place to go to so we could relax on a comfortable sofa, watch TV and had exclusive access to a VIP hot tub. If we were hungry, they had food delivery and pickup, complimentary Coca-Cola and snacks. They also gave two beach towels so we could dry off.

We look forward to visiting American Dream in years to come any time we go through NYC and nearby New Jersey!

NOTE: We were provided with complimentary passes to Nickelodeon Universe, DreamWorks Water Park and other attractions at American Dream. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are our own.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

It's been a long summer, lots going on!

Hello dear readers!

It has been a long summer with lots going on. Kids went to camps, we went on some trips to Legoland and American Dream and got to attend a cousin's wedding. I came back to start a new job, something I haven't done in over 15 years! We also continued planning our daughter's bat mitzvah happening later this year.

While they are all wonderful problems to have, what that meant is that the blog took a backseat to everything else, so in the coming months, I hope to have posts to inspire and enlighten you as well as to give you more information about things that we find interesting!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Pickleball at Fenway for the Pickle4 Ballpark Series

The pickleball craze has officially entered MLB Ballparks with the first of the Pickle4 Ballpark Series events happening this weekend at historic Fenway Park. I had the chance to attend this event, talk with some athletes and watch professional pickleball in Boston.

I arrived in the morning and enjoyed watching some of the amateur competitions throughout the day. There were some exhibitor booths so I had the chance to learn about FlexCar, a local Boston company that is like Netflix for cars, Designer Wellness, a protein company from CA that has a new squeezable smoothie in a pouch packed with protein and and no artificial sweeteners, SportCourt, so you can build a pickleball court in your backyard and Franklin Sports, one of my favorite local companies for years that has been making batting gloves and other family friendly sporting goods, now has a pickleball line and I love using their items!

One of my favorite things to do is to walk around Fenway when there aren't baseball games happening - it's the same Fenway but a totally different experience that I have been lucky to enjoy. 

I have just started on my pickleball journey having played two pickup games in town and really enjoyed it but also have learned that I have a long way to go before I can consider myself good at the game.

I spent some time watching Seth and Amy, a couple from New Hampshire, play in the Bronze competition in the 30-39 age bracket. I enjoyed watching them play and the communication between them. I had the opportunity to talk with them after their match and learn about their pickleball journey and I also learned that the wife was playing as she was well into her third trimester. Way to go, Seth and Amy, not only making history by playing pickleball at Fenway but also being pregnant while playing pickleball at Fenway! So fun and best of luck to you both!

There is a kids clinic happening tomorrow morning that I'll be taking the little guy to and you can still reserve tickets to attend. I hear it will be run by some of the professional athletes. I'll be honest - I wish I could attend it and learn from them as well!

Pickleball is here until Sunday and you can get spectator tickets for only $10. You also get the chance to enjoy Fenway Concessions from Aramark as well while you're here!

NOTE: I was provided with a press pass to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!

Monday, July 10, 2023

More fun in 2023 at LEGOLAND New York Resort

We had the chance to have more fun this year at LEGOLAND New York Resort in Goshen NY on our way to a wedding.

This year, we took everything we learned from our trip last summer and planned ahead, taking lots of minifigs (for trading), bringing lots of sunscreen, umbrellas and a wagon so we didn't have to carry everything on our backs.

The Water Playground in LEGO City opened after our visit last year and is a perfect destination when it's hot outside. Reservations are required and can only be made starting at 7 am every day for a 20 minute period. The kids really enjoyed their time running around since it was so hot. 

We had my parents with us and my mom has a hard time walking around. We tried out one of the electric scooters and she said she wouldn't have been able to go around the park without it - it certainly was a life saver. There is lots of walking to do so be sure to bring a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes. I definitely felt it just a few hours into the first day!

Right when we got to the park, the kids started trading mini figures. We were pleasantly surprised with some of the trades we made. The most exciting ones we got were Disney minifigs.

We visited during the July 4th holiday weekend so we were treated to a nice display of fireworks every night and they passed out special glasses you could wear that would turn the fireworks into LEGO bricks. They also had special patriotic builds around the park and you could even help build a special piece of artwork by completing a 

This year, we had the opportunity to check out the new water park in LEGO City and the Miniland hub in addition to seeing all of the fun attractions we enjoyed last year.

One thing to remember is that there aren't many places for shade so we brought umbrellas with us for the occasional rain shower in the forecast but also to use to make a little bit of shade and it definitely saved us a few times.

The rides we loved the most were the LEGO factory tour where you are turned into a minifig and the Ninjago ride. We also enjoyed the random LEGO character encounters that we would have as we walked around the park. We really liked interacting with the Joker at LEGO Castle.

NOTE: We were provided with admission in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

A fun time at the Fiesta Shows Carnival in Sharon, Massachusetts

Last weekend we attended the Fiesta Shows Carnival in Sharon, Massachusetts, and it was a fun time that the kids enjoyed with their friends. Every spring, Fiesta Shows stops in Sharon to bring the carnival to families in the area. We are particularly happy to welcome it to town because the gate admission benefits a local youth sports organization, the Sharon Youth Baseball and Softball Association. 

The Fiesta Shows Carnival was well-organized, transforming what is usually a large parking for tennis courts and baseball fields lot into a festive grounds complete with fair foods and fun attractions.

The highlight of our experience was the rides, and Fiesta Shows did not disappoint. From classic favorites like the Ferris wheel and carousel to thrilling rides like Top Gun, Freak Out, Fire Ball and Pharaoh's Fury. we enjoyed using the Megapass Bracelets which allow the ticket holder unlimited rides any one day for a set fee. Otherwise, you would have to buy tickets on a card in order to go on rides.

Our 6 year old really enjoyed the froghopper, Rockin' Tug, Super Slide and Spinning Coaster. The last time I went on the Super Slide, I actually went a little airborne after the second bump so I decided to stay away this year.

Our 12 year old enjoyed the more thrilling rides like Pharaoh's Fury and Zero Gravity. She watched on as her friends enjoyed Top Gun and Freak Out.

The games always provide entertainment. From balloon darts to water gun fun, there were plenty of opportunities to test one's skills and win prizes. As for the food, they had a variety of options available. Classics like cotton candy, popcorn, and fried dough were readily available along with slushies, pizza, sausage and fries.

We look forward to welcoming Fiesta Shows back to our town next year. Luckily for our readers, they still have a few more stops. You can catch Fiesta Shows attractions and games at the following events:

5/25-6/1: Billerica Spring Carnival

6/1-6/4: Attleboro Spring Carnival

6/8-6/11: Lynn Carnival

6/8-6/18: Chelsea Carnival

6/16-6/18: Lawrence Carnival

NOTE: We were provided with MegaPass Bracelets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own and no other compensation was provided,