Essex Resort & Spa: The Perfect Family Destination

Written by Role Mommy’s Danielle Feigenbaum

DSC00473.JPG I am a lucky lady. Besides all of the obvious things – fantastic family, health, friends, etc. – my job takes me to amazing places and lets me have experiences that I can then share with our fabulous Role Mommy readers! Last weekend my hubby and I packed up the car and our two kids (ages 10 and 7) and headed to the gorgeous state of Vermont. I was invited by The Essex Resort & Spa to experience a special family getaway and get a taste of the dining and cooking academy.
230.jpg We spent a lovely day driving up North from New York to Vermont. There are many things you can do to break up the drive. The Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, MA for you basketball fans. We stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT (less than half an hour from The Essex Resort & Spa) which was really fun and yummy. You can also stop in Quechee, VT and watch glassblowers at work in the original Simon Pearce workshop, savor a locally sourced meal in their riverfront restaurant, and visit their retail store at the Simon Pearce Factory, it was pretty amazing. We were greeted at the Essex by a very friendly staff and checked right in to our lovely one bedroom suite. There was a kitchen, table, pull out couch and cot (so the kids wouldn’t kick each other all night) and a big bathroom with jacuzzi tub that we all enjoyed!
Besides the comfy and cozy accommodations, the food was the real star of the weekend. The Essex prides itself on farm to table dining and award winning chefs. We had dinner one night and breakfast both days at one of their two restaurants, The Tavern. Here are pics of our delicious dinner appetizers and breakfast (what’s better than fresh Vermont maple Syrup?), try not to drool…
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1-DSC00415.JPG We had a chance to explore the resort a little bit, the spa looks fantastic and the kids had a blast swimming in the beautiful indoor pool! At night we joined a big campfire where they were roasting marshmallows. The main event for us for the weekend was a family cooking class. The fabulous chefs at the Essex teach a variety of different cooking classes and offer outings such as “Vermont Guided Tours: Wine & Maple Tour & Lunch”. Here are some pictures from our awesome Italian cooking class with incredible Chef Brandy! We made caesar salad, pasta and tomato sauce (from SCRATCH!) and as the grand finale, molten… chocolate… cake! The best part, besides having fun and eating the yummy food, is you get to take home the recipes and, even though I am not an executive chef, I can totally make all this food! (Once I buy a pasta maker, which my kids are begging me for!)
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A picture is worth a thousand words, and as you can see by the cooking class pictures, it was a huge success! If you are looking for something to do with your family this summer, Essex Resort & Spa has a camp for kids! Camp Cook is a week long culinary journey that takes kids from a fully equipped teaching kitchen to the source of the foods, herbs and vegetables used daily. Available during nine five-day sessions this summer, beginning June 16, Camp Cook is available to children ages 10-16. From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day, kids collect eggs from the onsite chicken coop, pick local berries at nearby farms, learn knife skills and kitchen safety, prepare mouth-watering recipes, swim, and more. Parents too can have a culinary vacation by booking the 2014 Family Camp Cook Package, which includes five night’s deluxe accommodations, one week enrollment for one child in Camp Cook, 25 percent off spa services for the entire week, and buy one get one free cooking classes for adults throughout the week.
Mallett's bay north.jpg What are you waiting for? Book your trip now for this summer and you could be taking a ride in a hot air balloon over Lake Champlain and looking at this breathtaking view! Their second restaurant is currently being renovated and will reopen the beginning of June with a Vermont interactive “farm to table” culinary experience. You will be able to see the chefs cooking and interact with them.
As you can tell, we had a fantastic weekend at The Essex Resort & Spa. This would make an unforgettable family getaway any time of the year… book your summer vacation now and experience Camp Cook for yourself!
Disclaimer: This was a complimentary weekend at The Essex Resort and Spa, but all opinions are completely my own.

RIO 2! Coming to Theaters April 11th

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As parents of young kids we are “forced” to see lots and lots of animated films. It’s not like we can just drop them off, right? Sometimes we sit in the theatre wanting to pull our hair out and sometimes we sit there next to our kids with HUGE smiles on our faces, laughing, crying and cheering right along with them! One of the movies that I loved seeing with my kids was RIO, so when I saw that RIO 2 was coming out, we were all super excited!
Recently I had the honor of attending a RIO 2 presentation hosted by 20th Century Fox. The director of the film, Carlos Saldanha, was there to give us a special preview of the movie and without giving anything away let me just tell you, it is going to be AMAZING! The entire cast is back from the first movie (Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Will i am, Tracy Morgan, Jamie Foxx, and more), with some new voices joining them – Bruno Mars, Kristen Chenoweth and Andy Garcia. The music plays a major role in the film and was a very important element for Carlos Saldanha, who by the way, could not have been nicer. The original track ‘What Is Love’ by Janelle Monae will make you want to get up dance – check it out HERE! The soundtrack will be available to purchase next week, March 25th.
Stay tuned, because the first week of April I will have a full review and more information on RIO 2! Make sure you check back to Role Mommy to read all about my family’s RIO 2 day, but in the meantime here is the trailer for the movie… RIO 2!
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Connect with RIO 2 Online – #Rio2
Visit the Official Website
Like Rio 2 on Facebook
Follow @RioMovie on Twitter
View the trailer and clips on YouTube
Follow on Google+

VINCI, Inspire the Genius!

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum

VS-3001.jpg Call me old fashioned, but I would rather see my kids playing with their Legos, reading or doing an art project, than playing on on a technical device. I do my best to limit the time on their iTouch, the Wii and even watching TV, which is not easy in this day and age. Even though they tell me they are playing an “educational” game, I know that Angry Birds will usually win out. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive the VINCI Tab, a tech device that I actually felt really good about giving to my five year old son.
VINCI Tab was created as a new category of fun learning tools with the goal to engage, empower and educate children. By using a teaching method designed by developmental psychologists, parents encourage their children to participate in constructive play and promote early learning. Unlike any other electronic toy or tablet, VINCI grows with the child by offering the award winning VINCI Curriculum, a step-by-step learning structure comprised of 43 learning subjects and 3 levels of assessment, and covers all 6 aspects of a child’s developing mind: Thinking Skills; Emotional & Social Skills; Language and Literacy; Math & Logical Reasoning; General Knowledge; and Science. The Tab is great for kids ages 2 – 9!
My son, who is in kindergarten, can not get enough of his new “kid iPad” he calls it. He is having so much fun, little does he know he is learning too! There are over 350 amazing Apps you can get (many of them are free!). There is a rubber holder around the touch screen to make it easier for the kids to hold… they really thought of everything. I highly recommend this educational device to anyone who wants to have their children incorporate learning and growing their brains while they have a blast playing with their tech device.
To find out more and purchase one for your child or as a gift, visit http://www.vincigenius.com/en/
Disclaimer: I received a VINCI Tab to review, all opinions are my own.

Fisher-Price Servin’ Surprises Kitchen Set!

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum

Servin' Surprises Image.jpg Last week I attended an event for Fisher-Price where I got a sneak peek at their amazing new toy, the Servin’ Surprise Kitchen. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say, all children love to play “kitchen”. Kid’s imaginations can run wild with pretend food and kitchen play. My kids (ages 8 and 5) still love to play with the kitchen they have had for over six years. Kids can pretend they are going to the super market, play restaurant, or have a family dinner. Playing “family” is big in my house, how about your’s? Of course we expect wonderful toys to come from Fisher-Price and this is no exception.
´┐╝Kitchen play is so important for kids. Some of the skill-building opportunities with food/kitchen play are… color identification, sensory stimulation, counting and measuring, problem solving, fine motor skills, cooperation and sharing.
Your kids will love the “magic” serving tray which says different phrases like “Who wants pizza?” or “Mmmm, cookies!” There are also songs to teach kids about manners and clean up, love that. Since I am a little bit of a neat freak, my favorite part is the secret compartment that stores everything in the table, easy cleanup is the best. The size is perfect as well, not too big so I wouldn’t feel bad giving it as a gift to someone who lives in an apartment and doesn’t have a ton of room for big toys.
The kitchen set includes table with convertible stovetop, removable oven and “magic” serving tray, 4 slices of pizza with toppings & pizza cutter, 4 cookies with cookie sheet, 2 place settings: forks, spoons, cups & plates.
Click here to learn more about the Servin’ Surprise Kitchen Set and to purchase one for your kids or as a fantastic gift!
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Eco-friendly Children’s Toys

Written by Role Mommy contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum

planwood-100x100.jpg Buying gifts for babies and young kids isn’t easy. Whether the gift is for a friend, family member or your own children, PlanWood toys makes it simple to choose a wonderful, fun gift that you can feel good about giving. You can get everything from a dancing alligator, adorable doll house, play food, sorting and stacking toys, and so much more.
PlanToys┬« are made from non-toxic, natural materials such as organic rubberwood. Their toys enable children to play, learn and become closer to nature. PlanWood is made from the 2 tons of sawdust that the toy factory produces daily, truly using every part of the rubberwood tree. Less than 1% of formaldehyde-free E-zero glue is used and it isn’t treated with any other heavy chemicals. Another plus of PlanWood is that organic colorant can be added during the composite process, which is more eco-friendly than the water-based paints and finishes PlanToys uses on its rubberwood toys. Parents will also love that the new PlanWood toys can safely go in the dishwasher. So if you have a little one who loves putting everything in her mouth, you’ll be able to easily keep her toys clean, that is a huge plus.
I was lucky enough to receive a Doll House from PlanToys. My husband is the handy man in our family, but he was traveling for business this week so I was left on my own to assemble it. It was a little tricky (for me) but I did it! The house does not come with any furniture or dolls so my kids used what we already have around the house (Polly Pockets felt right at home as did my son’s batman and transformers) Even though my kids are a little on the older side (the house is ideal for ages 3-6), they did play with it for hours! I think this would make a great present, just remember to buy some dolls and furniture to go with it.
It’s so hard to know (and scary to think about) what goes into making the toys our kids play with. Babies and toddlers put everything in their mouth, so it is reassuring to know there is nothing harmful or dangerous in PlanToys.
Take a look at the website for all the great toys you can enjoy buying and feel really good about giving! Happy Shopping.
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Role Mommy Fave Find: The Echo Smart Pen

imgres-16.jpegHere at Role Mommy, we’re always on the lookout for the latest greatest gadget to catch our eye and this time, it’s the Echo Smart Pen – a pen that enables you to take notes, record what you’ve written and share them via Facebook and email all with the touch of a button. And it’s even a calculator too. I know it may seem strange, but I am in love with my new pen. Take a look…