Chillax at the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont

Stowe Mt Lodge
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What is Chillax?  Chillax at the Stowe Mountain Lodge is designed to introduce children to the spa through touch, feel, smell, and lots of giggles during a fun 30 minute session! My 7 year old daughter can tell you all about it since she got to experience this unique, kid-friendly spa treatment during a long summer weekend in Stowe, Vermont.

Now my little one was a little apprehensive at first, but it was more from not knowing what to expect at a day spa. She was greeted by a super friendly spa attendant from the Spa and Wellness Center who clearly had experience working with kids and the much needed patience bug to handle the goofiness. The kids (each session can take up to four kids) were led into a separate bright, airy room lined with comfy overstuffed Papasan chairs. Chillax doesn’t include spa robes so the kids stay in their regular clothes during the session. Parents can actually keep an eye on their kids from outside the room as the space is lined with windows to the outside. But I would recommend staying out of view so the kids can fully immerse themselves in the experience.

Stowe Mountain Lodget

What to Expect During Chillax

Chocolate! Yes the kids’ faces were covered in a coconut oil and cocoa powder mix complete with cucumbers for the eyes. My daughter dipped the cucumbers on her chocolate covered face and ate them instead! Paraffin treatments were applied to the hands and feet and silly head scratchers were used as well. The 7 year old opinion on Chillax was “When can I go to the spa again?”. Chillax costs $25 for 30 minutes which won’t break the bank but will add a little luxury to your vacation at Stowe!

We may have created a little diva, but this mama also had the opportunity to get a quick 30 minute targeted massage while she was Chillaxing! This mommy-daughter splurge was a fun way to spend part of a morning before going on a hike on Mount Mansfield.  Just one of the many things to experience at the Stowe Mountain Lodge.

Disclosure: the Stowe Mountain Lodge provided complimentary treatments for my daughter and I during our stay as part of my visit through Ski Vermont’s All Mountain Mamas but as always, my opinions are all my own.

Camping in the Adirondacks – Rollins Pond Campground

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This was our last hurrah of the summer and the plan was a long weekend with friends camping in the Adirondacks at Rollins Pond Campground. Rollins Pond is located about 20 minutes north of Tupper Lake in the central-western part of New York’s Adirondack State Park.  The “pond” is part of a series of interconnecting waterways and an absolute haven for canoers and kayakers.

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View from the beach area of our campsite at Rollins Pond Campground.

The campground is operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and is a simple, but large campground where most sites are directly on the lake.  What I loved most about Rollins Pond was that it was pretty remote and motorized boat craft was prohibited – nature at it’s finest without all of the noise.  In order to get to the campground you actually have to drive through the Fish Creek Campground which is much larger and includes more play areas, an amphitheater, and is the meeting area for most of the crafts and activities for both campgrounds.

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Kids roaming the beach first thing in the morning.

Back to Rollins Pond  campground….

Just about all of the sites have direct access to the pond.  Our two sites were probably some of the few that had a wooded area separating the pond from the site.  At first we were sort of bummed that we couldn’t see the water from our site, but then the kids (and the kids from the neighboring sites) turned the woods into their own playground complete with tree root bridges, creeks, and tree stumps that served various functions throughout the weekend.   Our kids barely played with the toys we brought and stayed, how it should be for kids while camping, completely filthy in the woods.

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Rollins Pond is nature’s family-friendly playground!


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Adirondack Hiking with Kids – Panther Mountain

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We spent the weekend camping at the serenely beautiful Rollins Pond campground in the central Adirondacks.  Our goal was to find a kid-friendly hike where we could take four kids ages 3 to 7 hiking without complete meltdowns or ending with tired parents carrying them.  Plus, the trail needed to be within the Saranac Region of the park and close to our campground as we were starting out a little late in the day.  Panther Mountain was ideal!  With a length of .6 miles to the summit you can complete the entire trail within an hour.  The trail starts with some steep climbs along side hemlocks and birches but eventually becomes less rigorous as you reach the top.   It took us about 25 minutes to reach the summit with little to no complaining from the troops.

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These kids were awesome during the initial steep climbs on Panther Mountain

You can’t help but be in awe at the sweeping views of Panther Pond and the High Peaks region when standing at the summit. The rocky ledge is a great flat area to rest before heading back and given the short length of the trail, there’s no need to rush down.

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This guy was super proud to hike his first mountain!

The story goes that the mountain’s namesake came from the large numbers of panthers, cougars, and mountain lions that roamed the Adirondacks in the early 19th century. There haven’t been sightings of these animals in the Adirondacks in a very long time but the name still remains.

The trail-head is located on Route 3 about 15 miles from Saranac Lake with ample parking across the street.  Panther Mountain is an excellent hike for families and this was the first time my kids fully hiked a mountain.  They were pretty proud of their accomplishments and slept well that night!

How Do You Pack for Family Travel?

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Seriously? I ask this because this summer we took lots of weekend adventures, and some longer ones as well, and I felt like I was in constant packing mode. So readers, I’m asking you how do YOU pack for your family travel?

Packing for Family TravelWorking full times means the daytime is a no-go as far as time to squeeze in packing so I usually plan ahead about a week before departure time. I figure out if I need to purchase anything? Will we be preparing meals? Do the kids need new clothes for a fancy evening? Then I start a new list on my all-time favorite app Cozi.com which usually includes things I need to do (i.e. make time for pedicure) to the packing list.

I then figure out what kind of luggage is required and this depends on whether or not we’ll by flying (worst packing for me), driving, and will we have access to the car? If so, I don’t need to tidy up the packing quite so much. Then the luggage of choice usually sits in our bedroom for days before we leave as a constant reminder that I need to pack.

I usually spend way more time on the kids’ things than mine which has, on many occasion, left me with a bunch of crappy clothes shoved into a suitcase last minute. I’m working on this problem and since we no longer need all of the baby gear I’m getting better at prioritizing my own packing. I rely on packing cubes for vacations in which the kids aren’t bringing their own suitcase. I super love these cubes and they truly keep things organized. I plan to use them as long as their little belongings still fit in them.

Then comes the inevitable laundry that’s required and I usually spend a morning before work and a couple of evenings in power folding sessions and grabbing the kids for help. Clothes go directly into said suitcase(s) sitting on the floor.

Next is the “stuff”. The life jackets, winter snow gear, rain gear, camping gear, and anything else that is non-clothing requirements for the trip. Then comes the cursing as my husband gets the roof carrier on the car to put all of the gear and luggage in.

The morning we leave is usually a flurry of activities that usually involve me stuffing snacks and water bottles together for road chow and making sure one of the most important necessity is packed – the chargers! Hubby and I tend to work like a machine getting everyone and everything into the car followed by a well-deserved “fancy coffee” for the road. Hit play on the DVD player, take a deep breath and we’re off!

So, how do you PACK for your family travel?

Camping with Kids

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The summer is not over yet! It’s August and we’ve FINALLY made plans for a camping trip and I can’t wait! Last year was the first year we camped with the kids (than 2 and 5) and it was fun but also a learning experience! Camping is great way to unplug with the family but it’s definitely a lot of work and a little planning can go a long way. We love camping in the Adirondacks where there are lots of campgrounds and sites located lakeside.  Here are some of my top tips and a full packing list to help you out and make your trip a little easier.

Adirondack Camping - Eagle Point

Adirondack Camping – Eagle Point

Tips for Camping with Kids

· Make your first trip closer to home. My son got sick on our trip so instead of staying our last night we enjoyed the day at the campground, made s’mores around 4PM and left shortly afterwards.

· Bring activities (preferably non-electronics) to keep your kids occupied while you’re setting up your site. This is a great time to send the kids on a nature scavenger hunt and whip out some water colors for them to create a masterpiece with.

· Camp with another family that you enjoy being with and with kids of similar ages. We had a great time but my kids were in search of other playmates and there weren’t many near our site. Plus with adjacent sites the parents can relax after the kids go to sleep.

· Be prepared for all kinds of weather. This is car camping after all so hopefully you’ll have the room to pack the extra gear and clothes.

· Prep your kids for your trip and how the comforts of home will not be readily available (i.e. toilets will likely be a short walk away).

· Invest in a roof carrier if you don’t have a large car. Our Subaru Outback was completely packed and the carrier was a huge help.

· Research the area to see what else is around (museums, family-friendly sites, amusement parks, etc.) in case your trip includes a rainy day. I’m a planner so I always like to know what’s in the area that I’m visiting.

· Involve your kids in the planning and packing!

Camping Packing List

(Much thanks for this list goes to my friend Kathy who is more organized about these things than I am.)

□ Tent
□ Stakes
□ Tarp – bring at least 2
□ Hammer / Mallet
□ Rope and bungee cords
□ Pillows
□ Sleeping bags
□ Air mattress, cots, or sleeping pads
□ Extra blankets
□ Camp chairs (get kids their own chairs to avoid fights)
□ Collapsible table (for storage/grill)
□ Canopy or Screen tent (over picnic table)
□ Lantern(s) / flashlights
□ Headlamps
□ Broom/dust pan
□ Stove or grill (plus fuel)
□ Portable DVD player or iPad loaded with movies
□ Car chargers for phones, tablets, camera or invest in a portable charger
□ Buckets/sand toys
□ Balls / bats
□ Books
□ Paper/crayons/ paints and brushes
□ Glow sticks and bracelets
□ Toothbrushes/toothpaste
□ Soap/shampoo
□ Towels
□ First aid kit with band aids and meds
□ Sunscreen
□ Pocket knife
□ Bug repellant
□ Cookware (pans)
□ Cooking utensils
□ Bottle opener / corkscrew
□ Sharp knife with cover
□ Small cutting board
□ Eating utensils
□ Plastic cups and coffee ups
□ Coffee maker/filters
□ Cooler
□ Water container / bag
□ Small shopping bags
□ Zip-loc bags
□ Dish soap/ sponge
□ Collapsible dish drainer
□ Paper towels
□ Life jackets (if near a lake or ocean)