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Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, Our Weekend in Lancaster!

A Ride on the Strasburg Railroad

Double Tree Hilton with all it’s electricity and amenities was just what this family needed after a long day of trains at the Strasburg Railroad, Choo Choo Barn & an unplugged stroll through the Amish Village. Spending the weekend in Lancaster County meant being taken back in time as we boarded a passenger train car for a ride on board the historic Strasburg Railroad, followed up with us being amazed as we gazed at the miniature Lancaster County model train display created to include scenes such as: the railroad we were just on and the amusement park we are going to see tomorrow, Dutch Wonderland.

Strasburg Railroad even has Thomas the Train

Lancaster scenes in Mini on Display at the Choo Choo Barn

Other cool scenes at the Choo Choo Barn included a man going potty standing at a urinal inside a train station (sorry, no photo included), one tip is to go around the display as you would normally walk around to view such a display. Then, go around again, this time squat down and view it on a child’s level. The worker at the front register gave me this tip when I checked in.

Al is the sweet, sweet man in my life, my significant other who also happens to work for UPS, so of course I couldn’t resist the photo of the mini UPS freight cargo train shipper at the Choo Choo Barn.  The barn didn’t keep my 3 year old’s attention quite like the railroad had earlier in the day or like Dutch Wonderland did the day after, but she hung in there long enough for Al & I to make one lap around the display.

UPS Train at Choo Choo Barn Display in Lancaster PA

A Day in the Life of the Amish Village

Today was a busy day, with lots crammed into one day! We made our way to the Amish Village once we left the barn. I’m not sure how the Amish women did and still don’t make more of an issue out of back breaking work they do without the current amenities we are all used to, such as strollers not being able to easily go in and out of stores and such. Although the village was very cool to see, it wasn’t very stroller friendly. Being a teacher, my favorite building was of course the school house. I use cast iron so my family doesn’t come in contact with nonstick pans. I saw one of my pans while strolling through the Amish Village in Lancaster PA.

Cast Iron Pans being used in the Amish Village in Lancaster PA

All in all…Lancaster County is a must this Summer vacation season. It took is a little over an hour to get there and was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend! It even has day trip worth for those of us lucky enough to live in driving distance!

Bucks County Fun

Double the Fun at Double Tree Hilton Lancaster, Plus, Enter to Win!

Double Tree Hilton Lancaster

Double Tree Hilton Offers Family Fun Vacations!

Double Tree Hilton with all it’s electricity and amenities was just what this family needed after a long day of trains at the Strasburg Railroad, Choo Choo Barn & an unplugged stroll through the Amish Village.

We enjoyed a wonderful hotel accommodation from Double Tree Hilton, Lancaster PA this Saturday. Totally exhausted from our Lancaster County activities, we arrived at our hotel and were greeted with a friendly face explaining all that our home away from home had to offer as we enjoyed a warm chocolate chip cookie that this hotel has been handing their guests since 1965 when the Thomas family owned & operated the Double Tree Hilton as Willow Valley.

Happy to hear about the free activities available on a daily basis for children :) Families can take advantage of the indoor water playground along with other wonderful activities such as bingo, crafts, scavenger hunts and more. Wow, they have really gone out of their way to make sure families don’t feel cooped up at this hotel. The hotel was alive and full of energy from the moment we walked in. It was fun and felt like we were on vacation, yet we drove there and didn’t spend a fortune!

The room was beautifully decorated, and the beds had plush pillows and bedding. My very  first order of business is to check for bed bugs and cleanliness in the bathroom….check, double check, all clean, actually extra clean! Ok, we are off to a wonderful start! Free Wi-fi, not bad, if I had even thought for one second I would be working this weekend….lol. The entire room was old school looking, yet fresh and updated. For example the windows, not sure what they are called but they reminded me of a shadow box that gave you a peek into the outside rather than windows that gave the outsider a peek inside..

Enter to Win a Vacation!

You can enjoy a vacation just like the one we just did, read the news release below to Enter to Win. 2 lucky families will be chosen :)   Good Luck!!!
Final Double Treat at Double Tree (2)

Lots of Fun Going to the Delaware Children's Museum

I know I have cabin fever, so I am sure my kids have cabin fever too. For me, it is too cold to be outside in the snow. It is freezing outside!

This afternoon we decided to venture to Delaware Children’s Museum. This museum is fairly new to the area. It has so much to offer kids of all ages.

There is a train area, where children under 36 months can enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tracks. There is a large play train that the kids can sit in and ring the bells, etc.

There is a water area, gardening, construction, theater, health and money departments that are ready for your little one to explore. The money department was very interesting. The topics are about saving money, budgeting, and the stock market. I think the ideas are a little above the age of my children, but I found it very interesting to hear and read what experts feel kids should be about to understand about money, even at a young age. I am considering trying to figure out a budget that the triplets can understand and participate in that is not stressful. This area had a great explanation of the stock market and how it operates. A lot more than buy low sell high. My little ones were not as interested as I was in this section, except for the grocery store section that had play money that was laminated. What a great idea to do with play money. Definitely going to steal that idea!

All the areas were very informative and the kids just loved it. We spent 2.5 hours at the museum and still didn’t get to see or do all the activities that were available. The museum has a craft room that is open from 10-3:30 p.m. daily which offers different crafts and easel painting.

The cost to enter the museum is $12.00 per person.

When I got home, I had a newsletter from the museum. They are offering informative Moms Night Out speaker series. The cost is $15.00 for members and $20 for non-members.

February 12th — Kristin van Ogtrop managing editor from Real Simple magazine will be discussing “Just Let me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom”

March 9th — Dr. Roberta Golinkoff will be presenting “Playing for the Future: Preparing 21st century children for a global world”

Also in the newsletter was a mention of community access nights. The DCM will have $2.00 admission from 5-7p.m. on the following nights:

February 16 March 16
April 20 May 18
June 15 July 20
August 17 September 21
October 19 November 16
December 21

This is just enough time to not overwhelm the kids. I am definitely marking these dates in my calendar. That is a $10 savings per person! Especially for adults, it is frustrating to pay the same admission fee for a children’s museum when all you are doing is basically watching the kids?

The museum shares a parking lot with Frawley Stadium, Joe’s Crab Shack and Iron Hill Brewery, if you want to plan to do dinner or a ball game on the same day.

Be sure to check out other indoor activities to do with your kids/children in the tristate area!
Go have fun!

Delaware Children’s Museum


Susquehanna Mine Tour

Thanks to Mama, we just got back from a fun trip to the Susquehanna Mine in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. We took the old steam train through scenic Phillipsburg and enjoyed the sites on the way to the Mine. The train ride was only about 20 minutes long – just long enough to keep the kids (my almost 4 year old daughter and my 6 year old niece) interested.

Quick tip – be sure to stop by the gift shop on the train where you will find toy trains and other railroad keepsakes.

When we arrived at the Mine, we enjoyed a short, interactive “show” which I won’t share with you (I don’t want to ruin the surprise) and a brief history lesson on the Mine. Then, we were each given a bag of mining ore to pan. The girls really loved this part. My daughter found “diamonds” and “beautiful jewels”. We were told the mining takes about 15-20 minutes but we spent well over an hour panning for gems because we were having so much fun. The girls each came home with baggies full of their findings as souvenirs.

Quick tip – , wear comfortable closed toe shoes. I made the mistake of wearing sandals and I was kicking pebbles out of them the entire time!

There is also a corn maze for those interested, and a food stand and picnic tables to enjoy a snack. The entire adventure was a few hours long, which I found to be just perfect.

I highly recommend the Susquehanna Mine Tour and Steam Train to everyone with young kids. I can’t wait to come back for the Polar Express trip in December!

Cloth Diaper Diva

Take a ride to a corn maze on a steam locomotive...giveaway too!

Congratulations to our winners!! 

For the corn maze train:  Tina, Nathan, Erika, Lucy, Paul and Jennifer.

For the wine train:  Karen and Samantha.

Look out for an email!



Looking for a fun weekend outing on a train?  Enjoy a beautiful journey along the scenic Delaware River behind New Jersey’s only operating steam locomotive.  The Delaware River Railroad Excursions in Phillipsburg New Jersey are operated as a partnership between the NYSWTHS and the Black River and Western Railroad.  The entire operations is operated on a volunteer basis and runs on Saturdays and Sundays and is the only steam locomotive in the state of New Jersey.  Located in downtown historic Phillipsburg, New Jersey, the station is located at 100 Elizabeth Street, just off Market Street.  (Across the Delaware River from Easton, PA!) 

 A current fun train package available is the Corn Maze Train where after riding on a steam locomotive, riders can get off the train and explore a corn maze and play a fun game where you search for 12 check points and punch corresponding kernels of corn on your corn maze map.  Find all the check points and win a small prize.  There are 2 mazes all in the shape of a huge 13 acre steam locomotive.  

Also active right now is the old Susquehanna mine train where you can pan for real gem stones that you keep.  It’s a fun and educational family event.  Now you can even view the old mine shaft building and one guest per tour gets to blow up the dynamite in the mine.  It’s great fun! 

Starting in October the great pumpkin train runs. On this train you can still visit the corn maze and gem stone mine but every child gets a free pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

The wine train is an amazing event for adults.  It’s a train ride, short scenic bus ride and a vineyard and winery tour by the owners of Villa Milagro vineyards.  Resting on a ridge, overlooking both the Delaware and Musconetcong Rivers, Villa Milagro Vineyards offers panoramic views of four counties in two states. Practicing sustainable and organic viticulture, Villa Milagro is the only organic vineyard on the East Coast.  There are homemade snacks and wine tastings as well.

For more information on all of these train excursions, please visit their website at

Photos are courtesy of


As a special treat for Mama’s readers, the Delaware River Railroad Excursions is offering family packs of tickets (4 tickets) for the corn maze train.  SIX lucky winners will be chosen by to win a 4-pack of tickets to experience this great train excursion.  And for just the adults, they are also offering two couples packs (2 tickets each) for the wine train excursion, which would be a great date or fun mom’s day out trip.  To enter this giveaway, please visit to check out the different train excursions and leave a comment below indicating which train excursion you are interested in winning.  You may leave two comments, one for each excursion offered, if you would like to have a chance to win either trip.  This giveaway will end on September 24, 2010 at 11:59pm EST.  The winners will be announced and contacted by Mama by September 26th.  Prizes/tickets will be distributed by the Delaware River Railroad Excursions.  Good luck!!

Mama Diane

Free Museums for Military Personnel & Families

This summer, more than 600 museums in all 50 states are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, through Labor Day, September 6, 2010 to show their appreciation for those who are serving this nation.

Mama Visits the American Museum of Natural History in NYC!

Our trip to NYC
So when you get your ticket you get to pick 4 different exhibits/shows you would like to see. We ended up going to see these three:

Mama’s camera battery didn’t make the whole museum trip, but we did see a lot of stuff! Plus the little ones couldn’t make the entire museum, so we picked the things we really wanted to see.

Extra Exhibits We Got to See
Lizards & Snakes: Alive! features more than 60 live lizards and snakes in re-created habitats, introducing visitors to a diversity of legged and legless creatures and their remarkable adaptations. Ahh…Mama is a little freaked out by these…but my nephew loved it!

The Butterfly Conservatory – The butterflies are back! Celebrate the eleventh annual return of this re-created tropical forest environment filled with over 500 live butterflies. LOVED it, magical!

Journey to the Stars – In this all-new Space Show narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, travel 13 billion years into the past, when the first stars were born. Visit the heart of our fiery Sun, and glimpse its eventual demise some five billion years in the future. This was so cool!

The food court was great. They had a lot of choices including many healthy choices like wraps and a salad bar. I was impressed because a lot of the other museums I’ve been to (all in Philadelphia) do not have the selection. I got a turkey, cranberry & lettuce wrap that even my nephew helped me eat. Jenna ate up all her macaroni and cheese. My sister, her mother-in-law and my brother-in-law all really enjoyed the salad bar.

Parking…was a bit steep in price and a little hard to find if you are at all directionally challenged like myself. As soon as I turned onto 81st Street off of Central Park West, there was a little sign that said museum parking. It was approx $40 to park for the day.

My drive there from Bucks County PA, was long but worth it! Jenna slept on the way home for an hour or so because she missed her afternoon nap…that was some nice down time for Mama to just talk on the phone (with an ear piece of course :P ) with a friend.

All in all, it was a great trip and we will go back again and again. There is so much to see at this museum especially with the rotating exhibits I feel like we will always have something new to see. When we were leaving they were setting up for some really cool event that I wish I was important enough to be invited to….looked really neat!
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY, 10024-5192 Registered & Protectedcopyright for video