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Erin Thomas's Blog (39)

Starfall for Beginning Readers

Starfall is a beginning reading website for young children, mainly aged 3-7. Great graphics and fun games make learning letter sounds easy and enjoyable. There is a paid portion, but the free part has more than enough to keep children busy.

I have used it with both of my kids and they loved the website and really learned quite a bit.

Website address:…


Added by Erin Thomas on September 26, 2014 at 9:59pm — No Comments

Lemon Linguine

My kids really like pasta so I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try. They love lemon linguine and will normally eat 2-3 helpings. My daughter says it is one of her favorite foods. It goes great with all kinds of meats and you could easily add chicken for a main dish.…


Added by Erin Thomas on September 17, 2014 at 11:21pm — No Comments

5 Must-See Attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

If you are visiting Disney World, each park has some must-see attractions that should not be missed. My kids love the Animal Kingdom at Disney World and I have listed our top 5 rides/shows that you will not want to miss. Some people do not have an entire day to devote to each park, and if you only have a small amount of time or are there on a extremely crowded day, hitting a few of the highlights will make your time seem very well-spent.

1) Kilimanjaroo Safari…


Added by Erin Thomas on December 6, 2012 at 2:38pm — No Comments

Visit The Home of Dum Dum Pops

If you are traveling through northwest Ohio, make a stop at Spangler Candy Co., home of the Dum Dum pop. They also make candy canes, circus peanuts and Saf -T pops. There is a great tour of the facilities aboard the Dum Dum trolley. The kids as well as adults will enjoy learning about the process of making the candies as you ride around the factory. A small museum houses some unique candy memorabilia. We were able to taste test the new flavors of Dum Dum pops that they were working on and…


Added by Erin Thomas on December 6, 2012 at 2:35pm — No Comments

Can Kayak Help with My Travel Planning?

Can Kayak Help My Travel Planning?


What is Kayak and can it help me in planning my next trip? Kayak is a website that will provide a rundown of the flights, hotels, vacation deals and car rentals in a…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 29, 2012 at 11:03pm — No Comments

Check Out A Zoo Overnight

How many people are aware that their closest zoo might actually offer zoo overnights for families? Well, I was not until last year. We had been members of our local zoo for many years and I had never noticed the zoo overnight advertised in the newsletter we receive quarterly.

I am so glad that I finally read and researched about our zoo overnight offerings. It was an awesome experience for my daughter and one that we will definitely repeat. From San Diego to Houston and…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 29, 2012 at 11:00pm — No Comments

Calling All Train Fans: Visit Entertrainment Junction

If you have a train lover in your family, Entertrainment Junction is a must-see attraction to visit in the Cincinnati area. This museum/train extravaganza houses the world's largest indoor train display. Walk through a historical tour represented by lots and lots of miniature trains running along tracks beside, above and all around. Steam locomotives, trolley cars, today's diesel locomotives and subway trains run through the mini towns, cities and countryside of our nation's history. The…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 29, 2012 at 10:56pm — No Comments

Sausage Bites from The Home Cooked Gourmet

With the holidays fast approaching, it is always helpful to have a few quick and easy appetizer recipes to pull out for get togethers and parties. Sausage Bites can be put together easily; however make sure to cook or microwave the sausage ahead of rolling them up. I forgot this important part the first time I made them and could not figure out why the sausage was still pink inside. DUH!!  For more recipes, visit:…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 28, 2012 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza from The Home Cooked Gourmet

I love this pizza, the flavors are great together and it is a unique take on the normal pizza recipe. It may seem a little weird to add pine nuts, but they really do add to the overall flavor. I have been making it for years and have tweaked the original recipe a few times. For more recipes, visit:

Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza

6-8 servings




Added by Erin Thomas on November 28, 2012 at 9:57pm — No Comments

Blueberry Jello Salad from The Home Cooked Gourmet

Blueberry Jello Salad is a very easy fruit salad that works well with any meal and is a nice addition to take to holiday gatherings. For more recipes, visit:…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 28, 2012 at 9:54pm — No Comments

5 Things to Know About Chicago for Kids

Chicago is such an awesome city to visit: full of history, world-class museums, shopping, fun dining options and kid-friendly attractions. If you are thinking ahead to spring break or summer vacation, Chicago is definitely a place to keep on the list of musts for family trips. I have visited Chicago at least a dozen times over the years. Some trips were for business, some for a girls' only weekend, a few have been a one-day up and back Chicago day trip and, of course, the family…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 15, 2012 at 10:51pm — No Comments

Travel Resources: Awesome Packing Lists

If you are like most moms, taking the actual family trip is fun, but the leg work involved to get ready for the trip: not so much fun! Laundry has to be done, clothes and toiletries packed, toys and activities for the car ride sorted out. It never fails that something will be inevitably left behind, especially if you have young children.

I recently found a wonderful packing list, courtesy of the website. The list heading is for babies and toddlers, but it is really a…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 15, 2012 at 10:48pm — No Comments

Zoo Highlights: Columbus Zoo

I love visiting zoos. Most zoos these days are very well laid out with natural surroundings and top notch care for the animals. An afternoon at the zoo can be such a wonderful learning experience for kids. I wanted to highlight some of the zoos I have enjoyed visiting, starting with The Columbus Zoo.

The Columbus Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the country boasting eight distinct sections, divided according to world regions. The zoo was under the direction of famed zookeeper,…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 15, 2012 at 10:42pm — No Comments

ASTC Passport Program

A great way to gain access to hundreds of museums nationwide is thru the ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers)passport program. Purchase a pass at one of the participating centers for free or reduced admission to other centers throughout the country. This is an excellent resource for traveling families.

We purchase our passes thru the Charlotte Harbor Historical

Society out of Florida, which are very reasonably priced for an annual family pass. The current amount for…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 15, 2012 at 10:39pm — No Comments

Kids Love Travel Series

One of my favorite travel book collections is the Kids Love Travel series, which was written by a family traveling and discovering different travel destinations for kid-friendliness. They give very helpful recommendations on navigating more popular tourist destinations as well as providing some information on often overlooked travel gems for families. I have the Ohio book and have used it extensively- I did not even know a few of the places existed. There are more than a dozen books…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 15, 2012 at 10:37pm — No Comments

Where Has The Family Dinner Gone?

Why have families gotten away from eating dinner together these days? The reasons are plentiful: lots of after school activities, both parents working longer hours and having longer commutes, kids would rather eat in front of the computer/game console/TV, no one having the time to actually prepare the meal and the list could go on and on.

When I was a kid, we ate together at least 5 or 6 nights a week and those dinners normally took place at home. Most families I knew did the same…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 14, 2012 at 10:49pm — No Comments

Simple Bread Pudding

If you like bread pudding and want a simple recipe that will only take minutes to prepare, then this is the recipe for you. I am not a fan of raisins in my bread pudding, but they could easily be added. Caramel topping or vanilla flavored whipped topping goes very well with this bread pudding. For more recipes, visit:

6-8 servings


6 slices day-old…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 14, 2012 at 10:45pm — No Comments

Italian Beef Hoagies from The Home Cooked Gourmet

Italian Beef Hoagies are an easy crockpot recipe that are fabulous as a fall dinner idea and wonderful reheated as leftovers. Add a salad and a simple meal is complete.I highly recommend using a sirloin tip roast as some other cuts of beef may be too fatty. For more recipes, visit:

14-16 servings


1 boneless sirloin tip roast (about 3-4 pounds)



Added by Erin Thomas on November 14, 2012 at 10:40pm — No Comments

Easy Apple Dumpkings from The Home Cooked Gourmet

I love this easy apple dumpling recipe any time of year, but definitely during the fall. I normally just use Golden Delicious apples, but any type that you prefer could be used. For more recipes, visit:

Easy Apple Dumplings

8 servings…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 14, 2012 at 10:36pm — No Comments

Creamy Italian Noodles from The Home Cooked Gourmet

This pasta side dish is very simple to make and goes well with most chicken/beef main dishes. My kids love it and will eat several helpings. It would also be good with some chopped vegetables added in. For more recipes, visit:

4-6 servings


1 pkg. (8 ozs.) wide egg noodles

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup whipping cream (can use…


Added by Erin Thomas on November 6, 2012 at 11:07pm — No Comments

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