Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Travel Tuesday-Lessons Learned on My Florida Vacation



Things are going to happen, because things always happen.  You are on vacation don’t let small things ruin it.  In the end they will be stories and memories to laugh about or lessons learned for next time.

In no specific order but here you go: 

  • Walkie Talkies-In the middle of I-10, you sometimes do not get any signal.  We drove at night and most of us had worked all day.  The walkie talkies helped the drivers stay alert by talking with one another.  We also were able to quickly let each other know if we needed to exit, detour, or change drivers versus waiting to get signal.  We played trivia over the walkie talkies and everyone who was awake played.  These also worked very well, once we got into town, driving from place to place making sure no one got lost. 
  •      So I read in many blogs to bring empty water bottles:  Yes, so you can stay hydrated by filling them up at the fountains.  If you want FREE water and ice and walk up to the concessions, they do not fill the water bottles rather they give you new cup.  Even if you bring the same cup back, they give you a new cup every time.  So if you are like me, all the planning and pre-packing, and still forgot your water bottles-no worries.  We ended up buying a water and using that plastic container to refill at the water fountains.  I also brought the crystal light, kool aid, nestea to drop in the water.  I brought all kinds and every flavor and ended up not even really using them.  We swallowed the water as soon as we would get it. 
  •      I also read on the blogs to bring snacks:  I brought snacks and really the only one snacking was my toddler.  I didn’t think about it but most of the snacks that were not eaten were smashed, crushed, or broken because we kept tossing them under the stroller.  My suggestion is to have each family member bring a small sling backpack, and inside pack their own snacks and their empty water bottle.  If you have littles, then mami of course gets to carry everything.  Pick snacks that don’t crush, get smashed easily, and they actually would like to eat.  The only thing that really survived the daily trips were the individual cheese sticks we purchased from Aldi.  Those were great and everyone liked them.
  •       So the sunshine state isn’t so sunshiny when it is raining.  Yeah it rains in Florida.  Every day.  I was told small showers, so yes, we brought our rain ponchos.  But totally forgot about bringing my stroller cover to protect it and the baby from the rain.  We did bring an umbrella which we tried to cover the stroller with.  I was prepared for small showers here and there but not for a storm.  The theme parks closed all the rides while the storms were passing.  We took a much needed break inside a store, or took a lunch break during these.
  •       This one goes with #4, bring a plastic bag to cover your belongings or put your belongings in during the rain.  We had everything under the stroller and luckily had purchased a souvenir.  I used that bag to shove all our stuff in so it would not get wet.  I had brought the over the neck pouch for my cell phone but ended up using it for the camera.
  •       When picking out your wardrobe and shoes, make sure you were something comfortable to you.  Tennis shoes for all the walking.  Bottoms with pockets that zip or button to keep your belongings from falling out.  The over the neck pouches were very well with keeping your items dry and secured.  It has a ziplock technology that then folds over to a Velcro snap. 
  •       Rain, rain, go away.  Well if you can’t beat them, join them.  At 4 of the 5 theme parks we went to there were splash pads or rides for the kids to get wet on.  We didn’t know.  We didn’t come prepared.  Swimsuit, swim trunks, and a towel, especially if you go in the middle of August like we did.  And do not forget the little swimmers for the littles, they won’t be allowed to play in the splash pads unless they had them.  They have them for sale at the nearest shops but an oh-so convenient price.  
  •       This is a must for all the mamis and papis who have big families.  Before you leave the room or house and head to the theme park, ask to see everyone’s tickets.  Don’t make the mistake we did.  We actually thought my son had lost his ticket when we got to Disneyworld.  He card was loaded with 3 days.  Thank God he had just forgotten it in his backpack at the house.  But lesson learned to keep up with the tickets from now on, even for the older teens.
  •       Research, research, research.  Even if you have someone planning the trip or itinerary for you.  Make sure everything you are doing is a good fit for your kiddos and family.
  •    Rest Day.  We had a 9 day vacation.  2 days of traveling.  5 days of theme parks.  And I am so glad we decided to do a rest day half way in between.  With all the walking, the heat, and so many adventures, you need to let your body rest.  We relaxed at the pool, the kids played in the splashed pads, grandma chilled in the hot tub, and the papis bbq’d.  You go on vacation to go have fun but don’t over kill.  You know you always come back saying, “Now I need a vacation, from my vacation!” 

Plan for the unexpected and just go with it.  This was our first family adventure with my husband’s family and we have many stories to tell.  Even the bad turned into a memory for us to laugh about now.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Painting with a Twist

Disclosure-I was invited to attend an complimentary painting event and received a swag bag.  All opinions are my own based on my personal experience.

I have been traveling so much this month from California to Florida.  My miles have been adding up.  Such is life.  As a mom my life is always on the go.  There never is a minute for me just to breath.  I had not had any time for me.  I needed to unwind and that is exactly what I was looking forward to when I was invited to attend Painting with a Twist in the Woodlands.


Painting with a Twist, based in Mandeville, Louisiana is the leading paint-and-sip franchise with more than 150 franchises in 25 states.  Founded in 2007 by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney,

 Painting with a Twist began franchising in 2009 and provides customers with paint, a canvas and brushes that lead to a fun evening with friends and a finished piece of art.

A night to un-wine-d?  Yes, Please! 

Though I have never painted before I had heard of this.  My girlfriends and I were curious to see what this was all about.  And so I decided to come see what all the talk was really about.  

So you have an art teacher who will step by step guide you through your painting.  All while you sip on some wine.  Relax and not have to worry about anything.  The process goes y pretty fast but the is the idea, no real thinking-just painting.  
The above picture shows how my canvas was being painted step by step by me.  Though at first I could not just let go, eventually I started to loosen up.  I had had a really long day at work.  The kids were at home with dad.  I was over 45 minutes away from home, etc, etc.......so much on my head.  Then I started talking to my neighbors about their canvas and one thing led to another.  I had something.  We took a small break.  I walked around to look at all the other paintings in progress.  They were all beautiful.  No one here was an artist but yet we were all having a good time painting.
As we continued on, I started to see more and more what my painting was looking as-ART!  The artist and his assistants were great at coming around giving you help, topping you off, adding more color or checking your tools.  The painting did not have to be perfect but it was exactly what I needed.  This horizon with a stormy background was the break a was looking for.
I am proud of my art piece that I will be hanging at my house.  I cannot wait to plan a Girl's Night Out with my friends.  They are 10 locations in the Houston and surrounding areas.  We need to check the calendar.  From just peeking at that calendar there are so many options, I might have to book more than one Girls Night Out.  This may became a monthly meeting place for us.


To check out the calendar or a location near you, go to Painting with a Twist.

Painting with a Twist started out right after Hurricane Katrina.  We all remember who devastating this was.    Cathy and Renee, 2 friends, started this company after such tragedy.  When all was lost, they found something that people could do.  In their efforts to help their community, they helped each other, and now they are helping others.

The company maintains a strong focus on giving back to the local community, and by the end of 2014, Painting with a Twist will have donated more than $1 million through their charity arm, Painting with a Purpose. As the fastest-growing franchise in the industry, Painting with a Twist was ranked the top Paint and Sip franchise as part of the 2014 Entrepreneur magazine annual Franchise 500 edition.

For more information about Painting with a Twist’s franchise opportunity, visit www.paintingwithatwistfranchise.com.
 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Baby's First Book Blocks Review

Disclosure-Sample product was received for review.  All opinions stated are my own.

My daughter loves books.  She always has.  I like finding learning products that help our kids learn.  Recently I was looking for gifts for a couple of friends who will be first time mamis, and was introduced to Baby’s First Book Blocks. 

It is a series of mini board books designed to entice infants to focus and develop their visual acuity. Featuring high-contrast colors, eye-catching shapes, and colorful patterns, these chunky little books also incorporate the latest scientific research about vision development, making for the perfect introductory baby books.
Book 1: Black and White—simple but interesting shapes moving into more complex shapes and patterns
Book 2: Red, Blue, and Yellow—introduces primary colors and slightly more complex shapes, moving into real patterns with multiple colors
Book 3: Color and Pattern—secondary colors and more complex patterns
Book 4: Visual Excitement—subtle shades and complicated patterns 
Studies show that during the first year of life, babies’ visual skills develop dramatically. A month-old infant will prefer sharply defined, black-and-white edges and patterns, while by 4 months of age, most babies can distinguish even subtle shades and respond to repeating patterns.

These blocks are a perfect gift for an expectant mami so they can start the interaction from day one.  They can explore, examine, and help develop their babies visual skills.  And can continue using this even when they are older.  I like all the different colors, and patterns.  My daughter really liked stacking them, describing what she saw, and it was a fun game she keeps playing with us everyday.

For more information, go to http://powkidsbooks.com/babys-first-book-blocks/

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fitness Friday-Beach Yoga

Trying something new can sometimes be very hard for one person.  Can you imagine trying to do things as a couple?  My husband and I decided while on vacation we would relax but try to stay within our routine.  I wanted to make sure get my exercise in as I never get to add this to my schedule because I am always running around with the kids.  At the beginning of this year we started working out together and it was great.  Working out together can be awesome, especially if your partner is motivating you to do better.

You may not know or feel comfortable with what you are about to try but just go with it.  As you can see from picture above, my husband felt completely out of place.  He works out and is a lifter.  This whole concept of yoga is not his thing.  I had never tried beach yoga.  But I was willing to try it, and yes, I drugged him along for the experience.  Plus, free class thanks to Hotel Del Coronado, beautiful blue beach water, and I am willing to try everything once.
At first I really felt out of place too but did not want to let my husband know.  Then I started to focus more on the sounds of the water. Beach Yoga was so calming.  One with the Earth.  Our instructor even got us in the water doing some poses out there.  We had the sand in our toes, the water hitting our feet, and the beauty of it all around us.  We may not have gotten every pose but this was awesomely peaceful.  Even my husband enjoyed it.

Do you yoga?  Have you ever tried it on the beach?  Listening to the waves crashing down, you breathing in the air, and just letting go.  Try it, this can be a whole family adventure.  We enjoyed it as a couple and there were a couple of families there together doing including some kiddos.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tasty Thursday-Lucha Libre Taco

When in San Diego last month, we visited a local taco shop that is unique because it;s theme is Lucha Libre.
We actually passed right by it when we were driving around without even noticing it.  It is right on the corner of this shopping center.  You can order to go or get in line to order in.  Sit outside or indoors.
If you want to sit in the Champions booth, you must reserved it in advance but this whole place is all too cool to be in.  Check out the menu:
My husband and I decided to order 2 different items that we could share and taste a little of everything.  While we waited for our food to come out, we headed towards the sauce and drink station:



The food did not take long to come out.  I got a little bit of every sauce to try.  The carrots were good!


We were stuffed after we ate these food.  It was really good.  The corn is like the street roasted corn in a cup, we should have ordered 2 of these.  There was no evidence left after we finished.  We lucked out because this is a hot spot for locals.  It got crowded as we were leaving.  Who can blame them as this place is affordable and it has tasty food.  If you ever visit, don't forget to check out the restrooms, really cool decor!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday/Miercoles Mudo-Footprints

Daddy, Mommy, Brother, and Sister (Destin, FL)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Travel Tuesday-Del Coronado

I told you last week the hubs and I were traveling to San Diego, California.  This was my first time visiting but my husband actually did Marine boot camp here.  But he did not get to see the city.  He also, got to visit back when his sister graduated on Coronado and again did not get to tour.  He remember how beautiful Coronado Island was.  I had never even heard of Coronado until I started telling my friends this is where we were going. 

When I looked up online where we were going, this place looked like paradise.  I love the beach and this blue watered beach resort was calling my name.  This is Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island.  
You did not have to go anywhere but walk right out of your room to be on the beach.  This hotel caters to all.  I was so impressed how family friendly it actually was.  We did not have our kids but I kept telling my husband, the kids would love this.  But this was our get-away.  Our room had a king size bed.  My favorite spot was sitting in the comfy couch wrapped up in the cozy, warm blanket.
 We both agreed that we loved having double sinks in the bathroom.  Plenty of counter space for both of us to share and have our own space as well.

Check out their garden that is right on the property.

This place is full of history, part of movies, celebrities and movie stars visited - and now so have we.
Planning a get-a-way, this place is perfect.  The weather, the beach, and the awesome hotel!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Summer Like No Other #CelebrateConBritax

Disclosure-As a Britax Latina Blogger/Advisory Board Member (and in partnership with Mami Innovative Media), this post is part of a sponsored outreach. All opinions expressed are my own.

We have been awaiting July's arrival for over  a year now.  Last year, we were suppose to take a family vacation but it got postponed because everyone that was originally going was unable to attend.  This year, there were no more excuses.

Another reason why we were awaiting July was because it is Summer, no school, my birthday, and new additions to the family coming soon.  I got a special treat because my bosses decided to send me on a trip as my 10 year anniversary present, the week of my birthday.  A beautiful trip to San Diego, CA.
My husband and I had not even unpacked our bags when we had to repack for our big family road trip.  But before we could left, we were crossing our fingers that my niece would not be having her baby during our trip.  My niece was due right around my birthday, and we welcomed Aaden the day before we left on our San Diego trip.  My sister in law was so happy she was able to be in town and did not miss the birth of her first grandson.
We precelebrated my birthday in San Diego but came back to celebrate my birthday with my family.
But the celebrations did not stop there as our vacation countdown had begun.  We packed our bags and went on our first ever family road trip.  We even got to bring grandma along.  My sister in laws, their families, and my best friend, all headed to Florida together.  Thinking about our road trip, I had a lot to think about.  I worried about the roads, traffic, construction, hours on the road, and so much more.  One thing I did not have to worry about was the safety of my Lil Bit.
It rains a lot in Florida, the sunshine state, can you believe that?  18 hours on the road to Florida and back.  It was even scary on the way back when we were in the eye of the storm in Louisiana.

Our trip would not have been complete without our stroller too.  It was a life saver.  Tiny feet get tired really fast.  It helped us carry our snacks, water, and gear on our vacation.  Both were a part of our celebration.
Our first family vacation, 1st road trip to Florida, 5 theme parks, and lots of wonderful memories are now down on the books.  What a Summer to remember!  The celebrations were memorable.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Travel Tuesday-Seaworld San Diego

***Disclosure-I am a SeaWorld Wildsider.  Complimentary tickets to SeaWorld San Diego were provided for my husband and I.  Any opinions expressed are my own based on my personal experience.
To be a kid again and see things through their eyes is amazing.  Recently my husband and I took a trip to San Diego and we were able to visit SeaWorld San Diego together for the first time.  We asked many of our friends who travel what is on their list to visit and SeaWorld was on everyone's list.

This year SeaWorld is celebrating 50 years.  The celebrations are going on now. 
I want to share my pictures of our recent trip.  We had a blast and an experience of a lifetime.

From the moment you walk you, you get to interact and be hands on.  Start your adventure at Explorer's Reef...Have you ever touched a shark?  I have!
 

Then head to Animal Connections...Protect, Conserve, Discover, Share

Meet Peanut-Rescued after a bear stack, sole survivor. 
 
Do porcupines really shoot their quills?  We found out the answer to this question, always wondered if this was true or not.  And by the way they don't.

 
This the poison dart frogs, their colors are amazing.  Kiddos will recognize these from a movie.  The girl frog that falls in love.
 
We got a really could treat because as we were leaving, we saw the Caribbean Flamingos being walked back to their area.  They do more than just stand around on one leg.  Did you know Flamingos are not born orange?  They get their color from their diet and food they eat. 

 
When we walked in we were handed a map of the park, but I had already been online and knew where I wanted to go.  I kinda outline the park and worked my way by the show times.  But if you are not a planner like I am, SeaWorld has an app.  You can download it FREE.

Next we headed to Wild Artic...a virtual ride and then you get to see the animals.  This viewing is incredible. 

 Next we headed to the Shark Encounter, and what an encounter it is.  You like seeing Shark Week on TV, this will be your spot. 
 
Right next to this is Turtle Reef.  I love turtles.  My husband rescued a turtle a couple of years ago.  We cared for her until we passed.  We loved Tessa the Turtle.  When we first got her, we did not know what to do.  I remember looking online, going to the pet store, and being clueless.
 
We were not the only ones amazed with the turtles.  We then headed to the grab a bite to eat.  As we waited in line, I noticed the sign on the door and the Allergy pamphlet.  You can let the cooks know what your or your kiddo's allergies are.


We caught some shows in between, Blue Horizons, Pets Rule, and Sea Lions Live,


All the picture and video taking killed my battery.  Lucky we found this recharge station.  We took a quick break in between shows while we waited in the shade and recharged our phones.  You can carry your USB cord because they have an outlet for that too.
We then headed for another show-Cirque de la Mer,
 and rode the Bayside Skyride.  You can see the entire park from up there.  The breeze is wonderful. 
We also rode the Manta.  I got to tell you, I screamed the entire time.  I loved it!
We then headed to the Dolphin Encounter, up close and personal. 
 
 We didn't Dine with Shamu but you could if you wanted to sit right up front, poolside. 
 But we did get to get a great view.  I also learned that a female's fin curves back.  Dorsal fins are not all alike.  A whale's flipper contains bones similar to those in our arms and hands.

The night was even more amazing when we got to see the Light Up The Night-Shamu's Celebration
 and the Celebrate the Wonder fireworks!!


Stay tuned as I share with you our adventures at SeaWorld Orlando when we take the kids in 2 weeks!  I can't wait to be amazed.  Have you ever been?  What is your favorite show or ride?  Do you have any tips?