Christmas in California

It’s been almost six years since we moved to the Washington, DC area. Six whole years! I feel like time is flying by. But the one thing I missed more than anything was Christmas with my family. So we were blessed and lucky enough to be able to go! We were off to spend two weeks with family and friends. Going home for Christmas was so special. All of the traditions I have been doing with my kids, passing them down to a new generation, I got to do with my mom, dad and sister. The cousins spent time together, giving them the chance to develop relationships that will continue to deepen as they get older. I flew out with the kids first by myself {yup, I did that and I’m officially calling myself a pro now!} and the hubbs joined up a week later. I wanted to share just a little bit of this special time with you all. Stay tuned for some traveling with kids tips and tricks!


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4 Things I’ve Learned about Road Trips

I have received compensation from this post from TravelCenters of America. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer is here, and I was so excited to share that TravelCenters of America is partnering with NMFA {National Military Family Association} this summer. So it seemed like the perfect time for me to ramble on about how much I love a good road trip. It’s such a great opportunity to see places and spend time as a family, or couple. Whether or not you have kids, the road trips I’ve taken have been some of the greatest memories and so much fun!

1. Explore America Is Fun! I’m sure that it sounds incredibly cheesy…get out and explore our country!! But its so true. We take driving trips a lot, even before we had kids. You see things you might not normally see if you were simply flying to a destination, or driving straight through. If you budget right, look for deals, and save up it can be cheaper than any other trip. I know for us, flying out of the DC area can be a daunting thought process. Five people on an airplane….the cost is sometimes insane. But a drive somewhere is much less daunting. Taking advantage of living in a place where a couple hours drive can take you to one of four states.

Seriously though, isn’t it beautiful?!

2. Research.  Before we go out on our road trip we spend some time researching the route we are taking. Looking up local places to eat, must see stops in small crazy towns, and where all the Starbucks are.  Am I right?! There was a time where my hubby and I, in high school and college, looked up where all the Big 5 Sporting Goods along our route. Mr. Air Force used to work there, and we spent a lot of time there. So we collected business cards from Big 5’s down California and even snagged a few in Nevada. It seems silly, but its just a small fun thing we used to do. We also look up Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives food joints for any given location. We haven’t been to one that was a dud and it is always some really fun, locals only, non-chain kind of place.

chilling out and all packed in for our East Coast or Bust move!

3. Road Trip Early With Your Kids! Lets face it, road trips are just easier without young kids. But I will say that it is so important for you to travel with your children from a young age. I know that it isn’t the easiest thing to think about doing. But biting the bullet and going for it was one of the best things we did. I know that some babies just hate to be the car, especially facing backwards. My poor friends that have experienced this, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. As soon as you are able to start getting them used to long trips do it!

Letting the kids get some wiggles out during our West Virginia Road Trip 2012!

4. Be Prepared! For the times you do want to travel with your kids, its important to pack right. Relying on technology alone to get through a road trip is, in my opinion, is missing the opportunity that a road trip provides and isn’t healthy either. Its good to break up the time, especially if you are going to be on the road for a long time; but come up with other cool options to keep kids entertained. Choose an early morning departure time, or time it so a good chunk is taken up with a nap time, make frequent stops and brush off your old-school car game knowledge. Check out my travel board for some of my favorite kid-trip games with free printables!!!

And just in case you might be planning a road trip this summer, why not use that opportunity to give back to an amazing cause! TravelCenters of America has joined with National Military Family Association to give back to military families this summer. How can you help you ask? Well, its probably the easiest way to make a difference, simply eat!

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 I love seem large companies take the time to give back in some way. For TravelCenters of America its important to give back to our service members and veterans. “Nearly one in three truck drivers is a military veteran,” noted Tom O’Brien, President and CEO of TravelCenters. “These brave individuals served our nation in the armed forces and continue to serve by safely delivering goods across our country.”

So while you’re planning your road trip, between now and August 5th, consider stopping by Travel Centers of America!

What’s the best road trip you’ve ever taken?

Happy Road Tripping!!!!

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Day Trip Tips – Baltimore, Maryland

When you live in a large tri-state type area, the possibilities for day trips are endless! And if you’re an adventurous family the opportunities are endless. The Cammo Style Love family was able to head on out to Baltimore a family get away. We experienced three of Baltimore’s attractions that I would highly recommend to all of you. It was such a wonderful experienced for Mr. Air Force and I, and the kids.

First stop – Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!

We were kind of concerned about how the kid’s would do. Would they be interested in it? Would they run around and not pay attention to any of it? In fact, they loved it! We all had a fabulous time. They were interested in things, we got to look around and actually enjoy ourselves. I think all the years of taking our littles everywhere are really paying off for us. They still talk about going and want to go back. It’s just the right amount of weird, gross, fun, hands on stuff. My daughter’s favorite part was the piano stairs. But I think the guy that looks like a snake was a close second. But I’m not going to give away much more. You’ll just have to check out. And if you aren’t in Baltimore see if there’s a Ripley’s near you! Make sure you stop by to grab a wax hand. It was well worth the wait (on the weekend there’s birthday parties!) and my kids just love looking at their little hands.

Second stop – Historic Ships of Baltimore

These amazing ships that sit in the harbor are just beautiful. It’s been awhile since my kids have seen ships like this, and I’m almost positive that none of them really remember going on them. We figured we could squeeze in a couple of them to finish out our day before it got too dark. We ended up seeing three of the four; and FYI to my military readers, there is an amazing discount for military families (Guard and Reserve included). You can visit a Civil War Vessel, a Coast Guard ship, a submarine and a lighthouse vessel. The experience, especially on the USS Constitution was incredible. Our four year old did extremely well on all the ships.

Last Stop – Brick Oven Pizza in Baltimore

Seriously guys, the best gluten free restaurant pizza I have ever ever had! Great atmosphere, amazing staff and seriously good pizza. Plus, it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so you know it’s gonna be goo.

Final Tips

We stayed outside the city, in Linthicum, MD near the airport. It was not trouble to hop right over to the city, and there are tons of nice hotels to stay at all right here in that area. We stayed at the Westin BWI, which was a lovely hotel. Customer service was impeccable, the bed was amazing. However, I don’t know that I would stay there again. It didn’t really fit our needs. There’s a cooling station, for drinks, and not an actual refrigerator. The wifi isn’t free and there is no continental breakfast unless you upgrade to the executive suite. Then you can access their club. We got a wonderful deal so that went into the decision, and I did want a more fancy experience for Mr. Air Force, since this was a “return from deployment” family getaway.

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5 Tips for the Best Legoland Weekend!

Thank you Legoland, California for hosting the Cammo Style Love family! We had such a blast and we can’t wait to go back again. If you are a Lego-loving family Legoland is a must visit It’s a unique experience, unlike most theme parks that I have been to. Here are some tips we learned that we’d like to pass on to you all in the hopes that you’ll have the best time! Also, a little tip for families, military or otherwise, there’s a great La Quinta not too far down the road. We love traveling with LaQuinta because of the afforability, the quality of the stay and the breakfast! Such a great place for families, and makes our lives so much easier!

The boat ride is a must-see – you get to see some really cool large scale Lego designs

  1. Find the Discount – you can always find a discount to Legoland! Sometimes on the smaller plastic bags of Legos, sometimes on their website, but find yourself a discount! Like most theme parks it can be a bit pricey. If you are military you are in luck, you can score a great discount anytime! They have two different park hopper passes (which can get you into the waterpark and the aquarium in California). We skipped the aquarium this time as we have been to Monterey and we live right by the Baltimore Aquarium which is amazing! We almost regretted not getting the waterpark pass, but you’ll find out why it ended up being okay. Legoland also has their own version of a FastPass, which has three different options and reduces your wait time by 25%, 50% or 95%. It is a bit pricey, but it might be something that you want to consider depending on your vacation priorities.
  2. Pack Snacks and Food – What’s great about Legoland is you can bring your own food in. I pack a ton of snacks and even sandwiches for the kids. I typically bring a lot of food with us on trips where we stay in hotels anyway. It’s a great way to handle snacky growing kiddos, and save some money. Sometimes you can find deals in the park, where the kid’s meals are free with an adult purchase, so keep an eye out for that! Two places I would recommend with the most inexpensive food (and good) was the Knight’s Smokehouse and BBQ, by the dragon ride, and the food in Fun Town (they have Nathan’s Hot Dogs!). Don’t forget to get your famous apple fries! They are heavenly and worth the calories and price tag!
  3. Do your research – So there aren’t a ton of big rides as Legoland really is geared toward the littles, and there are a lot of non-ride activities to participate in. So, if you want to ride the big rides go there immediately to avoid waiting for a really long time. After you get your fill of that ride then you can move on through the park. Pick a different ride for the next day. The park isn’t extremely large, but it is definitely sprawling so we worked our way through in order after our chosen first big ride. Chose to do your water stuff on the same day, towards when you are going to leave the park. The pirate water ride will leave you VERY wet, but its a blast!
  4. The Water Park – So, we were aware that there was a water park, but for time and money’s sake, we chose to pass on it. Little did we know there is a smaller water play area that is completely accessible to regular park goers! It is right next to the pirate ride, which makes it perfect. I wish we had thought to have the kids wear bathing suits, but we had no idea that this was a thing. In all my research I didn’t see anything about this. So, here I am passing on the good news. Pack that swimsuit and play your day accordingly. Go on the water pirate ride and then spend some time at the water area. The kids had a blast!
  5. Bring your Mini Figures en mass – Yes, this is really a thing! Bring a baggie of those to trade with any of the employees that you see walking around. Note that they will have very non-descript Lego characters on their badges. But we did get some cool ones that the kids had never seen before. Think City lego set characters. We went onto eBay and just bought random lego guys to bring with us. This is a super fun part of the trip and because of that, our kids didn’t really ask for souvenirs. We did let them pick out lego characters at the store (caution, it is right at the entrance). 

Most, importantly have fun! Walk around and take in all the cool sites, visit the little portion of the factory and museum, meet characters, stop in Friendship Villiage and watch the shows! Even my oldest boy liked those. It is a fun time and way less stressful than many park experiences simply because it’s just not as big.

do you have Legoland tips? I’d love to hear them!


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5 Tips for Being a Tourist with Kids

 Let’s be honest…traveling with kids can be quite an experience, but more often then not when you are creating a family trip you do with children in mind.  Whether that be to Disneyland or another theme park, or maybe even a camping or beach trip, usually you have your children in mind and you are staying within that one location.  But what if you want to be a tourist?  Or maybe you have family coming into your town and you will be serving as their tour guide.  How do you do that with kids?  Walking around for hours staring at landmarks or going through museums might not be the ideal situation for children under a certain age.  For us, living in a location where people want to visit (and not just because of us) is pretty cool.  It not only gives us the opportunity to really SEE our city, but have our children experience it as well.  So how do we keep our kids busy and involved on our many tourist visits?

1. Keep them actively engaged!
If you happen to be visiting anything associated with the National Parks they have what is called The Junior Ranger program.  I remember going through the Junior Ranger Program and it can be lots of fun.  You can morph the program to fit your needs, ranging from tons of involvement from you, to self-guided for older kids.  The programs include simple booklets for kids to fill out and turn in for a patch or pin, or actual events run by park rangers.  If it’s a place your children have been before have them help you be the tour guide.  My oldest loves to tell people all about the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  You’d be surprised at what they might be able to tell you.

acting out a scene for the Washington Times at Madame Tussauds, DC

2. Get them a camera
Pick up a disposable camera or let them use a phone or other point and shoot.  Yes, they do make disposable cameras still and my kids love them.  Have them take pictures from their own perspectives.  Bring them out once an hour or so if you know you are going to be out.  Its a great distraction for your kids and an opportunity to engage them in whats going on around them.

3. Pencil and Paper
This is one of my simplest tips and tricks for traveling with children.  We try to refrain from technology with them if possible.  It’s not a need, it’s a want.  This last week we were out in DC for at least five hours and not once did we take out technology for any of them.  At their antsiest times we pull out that pad of paper and pencil/pen and they are quite content.  We let them go to Michael’s/Target dollar bins and pick out their own little notebooks.  We take these with us everywhere, car trips, restaurants or any other time we might be waiting for a long time.

4. Snacks
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’ll just include it.  When we are walking around for long periods of time we tend to snack a lot.  We often don’t eat regular meals when we are out like that, and we usually pack a lot.  Pack hearty foods like granola bars, but easy to eat foods like fruit snacks or go-gurts are good ideas as well.  I make use of the ziploc snack bags when we are on trips like this.  They are easy to hold and fit the perfect amount of food in them.  We also keep in mind hydration, bring more then you think you need and we always pack juice because I know that I tend to feel like I have low-blood sugar on trips like this.  A little juice goes a long way.

5. Just Have Fun
Surprisingly enough this can be hard for me.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming to travel with three kids and I let life pass me by freaking out with the kids over silly things.  You’re making memories, even though they might not be ones they will remember, they are memories none the less.  To see the looks of awe and wonder on my kids faces when they see really neat things, or when they really begin to understand what it is they are looking at is priceless!

inside the Washington Monument the Week it opened!  The best day
of my Seven Year Old’s life! 

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