Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tips & Tricks for the White House Easter Egg Roll #eastereggroll

Making the Most of the White House Easter Egg Roll

Guest Post by Karen Tong  

Here are some tips and tricks about maximizing your time at the White House Easter Egg Roll. I experienced it for the first time on April 21, 2014 with my husband and our two kids, then ages 4.5 and 1.9. The 2014 theme was “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program.

Although our hometown of Baltimore is only an hour north of the White House, we decided to stay at a hotel the night before to avoid early morning travel. We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn near George Washington University, which was just more than a mile to the Ellipse (the entry point for the Egg Roll event). We were aiming to arrive at the gates around 6:45, which meant leaving the hotel around 6:15 to walk over. 

Because we knew that the event was on grass, we decided to use our jogging stroller for our almost-two-year-old son. It was a wise decision and the jogging stroller served us well throughout the morning. Because of the uneven ground, I would not recommend using an umbrella stroller as it will be hard to push on the grass. And, it was great to have a stroller basket to put everything we collected during the event.

We made it!
Once we arrived, we were pleasantly greeted by many staff who directed us. Lots of other people were already there in line. Some kids were dressed in fancy outfits, and others were more practical in clothes better suited for the activities. The morning had started out more brisk and chilly than I’d anticipated, so I had to regroup on my kids’ outfits before we left the hotel, opting for warmth over fashion.  (But they still looked cute!)
We got in line to go through security. The line moved well and the kids didn’t get bored. I’d brought some snacks and bagels to eat while we waited. The event information had stated not to bring food or drinks inside, so I assumed whatever we didn’t eat would get thrown away at the security checkpoint. We went through metal detectors and had our bags checked, and our food and drinks made it through without issue. The jogging stroller just fit through the metal detector, and our diaper bag was fine to bring in. After security, there was more staff offering bags with programs and maps. And, they had permanent markers on hand so that every parent could write his or her cell phone number on their child’s wristband. What a great idea!

The Pre-Party
As we walked toward the South Lawn, we found a beverage station where we could get complimentary juice pouches and bottled water. Ahead, we could hear music and see Angry Birds mascots dancing. The excitement was building! We made it to the next gate and got in line to wait our turn to enter the South Lawn. We used that time to read the map and strategize about what to do first. There were dancers to entertain us. It wasn’t too long before the lines started moving and people were allowed on the South Lawn by 7:30.

Time to Have Fun
Other experienced Egg Rollers had suggested that we pick two or three activities to do, and anything on top of that would be a bonus. We decided to head straight for the Egg Roll first to check that off the list. We got very distracted along the way. There were mascots and characters galore! We were jazzed to see Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Spider-Man, two Cabbage Patch Kids, two Minions (from “Despicable Me” movie), Sofia the first, Abby Cadabby and many PBS Kids characters that we didn’t know. Some of the characters had short lines forming for photo opportunities. We finally made our way in line for the Egg Roll, and a minute later it was our turn. Staff members guided the kids and directed parents where to stand to maximize the photo opportunities with the White House in the background. The Egg Roll was a race where kids used wooden spoons to push hard boiled eggs down their lane. At the end, each child received a commemorative poster as their prize. 

More to See and Do
After our successful egg roll, we headed to the egg hunt, which was designed for kids age 5 and under. We waited in line for a few minutes as groups made their way through the hunt. There was a fenced area filled with hay and the eggs were hidden under the hay. Kids were given baskets to collect their eggs in. The goal was the find the golden egg to win a prize. In the end, both my kids saw the golden egg but it ended up in my son’s basket. He was the big winner! My daughter had found two wooden eggs which she got to keep. Since they had both “won” the egg hunt, they got to pick souvenir embroidered canvas Lands’ End Easter totes. He copied her and insisted on having a pink (not blue) bag. The bags had Easter eggs embroidered on one side and the Egg Roll logo on the other. 

Next, we headed to hear story time with Jim Carrey. The kids had no idea who he was but I was excited to catch a glimpse of him. The kids also did an obstacle course and then we visited the Farmers Market. Walmart was giving out free apples, bananas and oranges, along with recipe cards. We checked out the White House garden and the bee apiary. Our next stop was the arts and crafts station, where my daughter decorated an egg magnet.
All along the way, there were staff people to direct us and answer questions. There was a beverage station inside where Coca-Cola was giving away free water and vitamin water. There were diaper changing stations inside small tents. Luckily we didn’t need to use the First Aid tent or the Family Reunion tent for lost kids.

Time to Go
We had made the most of our morning at the White House Easter Egg Roll. We planned well and set realistic expectations. It was a fun-filled, exciting morning. Overall, the event was a class act. It was well staffed and organized. There were a lot of guests, but we didn’t wait long for anything, and there was plenty for everyone to do. It felt busy and exciting, not over crowded. We didn’t have enough time for yoga, the Sesame Street performance, or the celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and a few other things. And, we didn’t see the Obamas (or dogs Bo and Sunny) or get to thank them for having us.
On our way out, each child received a wooden commemorative egg and everyone got Peeps candy. This year, the eggs were orange. I heard that they’re a different color each year. I’m glad they were all the same color so that there were no fights over egg color.
Next Year?

We’ll be putting our names in the lottery again next year to try to attend again! The lottery usually happens more than a month before the event. I set up a Google alert (such as for “White House Easter Egg Roll lottery”) so that I don’t miss it. The lottery sign ups are done on If we ever get to go again, there isn’t much I’d do differently! It was a special day and I’m grateful that my family got to experience it together.

Karen Tong is a mother of two and works in marketing and communications in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SKOY Cloth Review & Giveaway

Keeping with #Green2014, I thought it would perfect to share a green product review and giveaway for Earth Day!

I am constantly reaching for paper towels to clean up spilled milk, wipe spaghetti smiles and hands, or just clean the kitchen table.  It's amazing how many paper towels we use.  I'm conscious that we need to cut back, so I searched for an alternative and that's when I learned about SKOY cloths.

What is a SKOY cloth and what does it do?  This was my first question and then I started to read all the highlights:
  • 100% biodegradable  •
  • Absorbent  •
  • Re-usable  •
  • European-made  •
  • Compostable  •
  • Multi-use  •
  • Unique designs and fun colors!
I also learned that using a SKOY cloth is like using 15 rolls of paper towels.  I mean WOW, and once it's done it will completely break down in about 5 weeks.

It's amazing how easy it is to use.  I was surprised with how stiff it was when I first got it, but once it's wet it's soft and easy to use.  It can absorb 15x it's own weight, and it's quick at cleaning up spills that would usually take 6 or more paper towels.

I love that the 4 pack comes with different colors.  I keep one for the dishes, one for cleaning, one for the floor and one for cleaning messy hands and faces.  What's even better is cleaning the cloths.  I can wash them in the dishwasher, or washing machine, or throw a wet one in the microwave.  It's easy for both city and suburb families! 

What's even better is they can be found on Amazon  and they're super affordable.  Spoiler alert:  I just ordered some for my Mom, Aunt and a friend.  They make a perfect little housewarming, baby, bridal or just thinking of you gift.

I'm happy to say I have a pack of SKOY cloths for a giveaway!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Let's make the world a little greener together by making this small change.  Your children, will thank you.  Happy Earth Day!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

We decided to spend Easter weekend in Delaware with my family, and packed it full of activities and fun.

Saturday morning we decided to hit some yard sales and then go roller skating.  I thought it was time for Eleanor to learn.  I loved to roller skate, I had birthday parties, took lessons and even sported a purple skating skirt.  I pulled out my roller skates from 1990 and was ready to go.  Sadly Eleanor's coordination was not so ready.  Poor thing was all over the place, but in the end she was trying to skate by herself, and I was proud that she didn't give up.
I also have to mention that the Dover Skating Center was exactly the same as I remember it, and my parents met at that skating rink over 40 years ago.  A fun memory for everyone, and how cute are they!

Easter morning was baskets, egg hunts and togetherness.
I feel so lucky that I was able to spend the day with family.  The kids looked adorable in their Easter attire.  Eleanor's wearing a dress I wore when I was little, and I made my dress from Simplicity pattern 2444.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and even if you don't celebrate you got to enjoy a Reese's Egg, or some peeps! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursdays Link-up #7

Who doesn’t love a little #TBT? Sometimes our greatest posts don’t get enough love – so here’s your chance to let them shine! Welcome to our Throwback Thursday Weekly Link-up! Add a link to a blog post you think deserves to be in the spotlight again (as long as it fits the weekly theme!) and we’ll all show it some love and attention! throwback thursday logo

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Theme: Let's try to get pumped up for summer!! Share a post about a summer vacation you enjoyed!

How To Link Up:

    • It’s courteous to follow your hosts and show them love xoxo.
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Let’s get down and Par-TAY!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Work Date with my Daughter

I don't usually talk about my daytime job on the blog, but I'm a huge believer that my kids should know where I am all day and what I'm doing.  Which leads me to this post.

I work for Blue Man Productions, which is the corporate office for Blue Man Group.  I LOVE what I do and I LOVE the company I work for.  I'm also very lucky that they allow me to keep a work/life balance. 

One of the things I'm able to do is bring Eleanor into work occasionally.  I think it's important for her to see where I spend my days and that I have pictures all over reminding me of family and friends.  She also gets a big kick out of going into the office, talking on the phone and interacting with my co-workers.

I recently decided that it was time for her to see the show.  She knows that the "Blue guys" are "Mommies Bosses" and has seen videos, posters, pictures and my business card, but this would be her 1st time seeing them in person and the show live. 

I picked a Sunday matinee, and we got to the Astor Place Theatre early so we could get the famous Astor brownie and see some friends.  I got her all set with ear plugs and a booster seat (if you go just ask for these items and they'll give them to you) and we waited eagerly for the show to start.

My favorite part was when she saw the Blue Man for the first time and leaned over to me and said "Mama, they're real!"  I turned back and said "Yes, they are."  I was so surprised by her comment, it's was like 2 worlds were coming together.  I never realized she thought of them as a pretend character.   

I'm not going to review the show, because I'm totally biased and think it's amazing and everyone should go, it's fun for ages 3 and up.  I will say we had a great time and I was a proud Mom showing my daughter who I work for and with and giving her a little backstage tour.

She loved seeing the Blue Man dressing room and getting to hold a gumball. 

I feel so fortune that I get to share my work with my kids, both with my blog and job.  There's always a lesson to be learned about hard work and responsibility, but what I really love is the fact that fun gets incorporated into the job as well.  I can honestly say I never know what the day will bring, but I enjoying finding out and getting to share experiences and ideas with my family.

This is not a paid post, but just a Mom talking about her job and family.  I do work for BMP and was given tickets to show as an employee.   All opinions are thoughts are my own.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Grilled Cheese & Carmelized Onions

In honor of national grilled cheese day, yes it's a real day.  I thought I would share my favorite grilled cheese sandwich recipe.

I'm not usually a fancy food person, but I love a fancy grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup!

Cheddar & Gruyere Cheese (Trader Joe's sells it)
Rye & Pump Swirl Bread (I like Pepperidge Farms)
Step 1:  Cut the onion and add to a pan on the burner.  I add balsamic vinegar to mine, and stir occasionally on low heat to caramelize them.
Step 2:  Cut the cheese (HA!)  I make the slices a nice size so the cheese melts and the bread doesn't burn.
Step 3:  Butter or mayo the bread (your choice) and place the cheese and onions on the bread
Step 4:  Place in the pan on medium heat
Step 5:  Let it cook till the cheese is melted, then flip
Step 6:  After it's done let it cool for a second and then cut and serve

I love this sandwich and the the sweetness the caramelized onions add to it and the flavor of the cheese and bread.  Don't get me wrong I still make the kids Kraft cheese slices and white bread, but it's nice to switch it up and indulge in this delicious sandwich.

How do you like your grilled cheese?  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Big Egg Hunt NYC

Did you know there are 250 beautiful and artistic eggs hidden over the 5 boroughs of NYC.  After I heard about Faberge presenting The Big Egg Hunt I immediately downloaded the app and have been finding eggs wherever I go.

I decided to make a day of egg hunting with Eleanor today.  We thought the perfect place to start would be Madison Square Park, it didn't hurt that Shake Shack was there either.

Then we headed down to Astor Place to check out Blue Man Group and a few more eggs.  Overall it was a great day and a ton of fun finding the eggs.

The eggs will be on display around the city till April 30th, so keep your eyes open, you never know where you'll find one.  These 3 are all within a block of each other in Soho.

  It's was a beautiful day and we saw some great eggs.  Here Eleanor is with her favorite egg, it had an elephant on it.  It was a great Mommy/Daughter day and I'm happy we could spend it together doing fun things!