If you’re looking for a magical way to shake up your yearly tradition of looking at Christmas Lights this year, then you’ll want to check this out! We were delighted to be invited to the opening night, and had so much fun driving over the bridge, enjoying the lights, listening to Christmas music.Continue reading
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BornToShred #ShredTheDay #CollectiveBias
There are a couple of quotes that I love, that I feel so strongly about it’s like I came up with them (or, rather, could have if I’d been so clever). You’ve heard me say them before, and chances are you’ll hear me say them again. But they’re Just. That. Good.
Collect Memories, Not Things
Not All Who Wander Are Lost ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
Life is the sum of the experiences we have, and the people that we share them with. As a busy-crazy parent, though, it’s all too easy to lose sight of that in the million-mile long to-do list. Especially during this time of year, it’s far too easy to lose our sense of adventure and playfulness and focus on the urgent instead of the important. So today I want to really encourage you to block out some time for some adventure! There’s another new quote I just came across that I love, too:
We were born to play. We were born to move. We were born to laugh and to seek adventures both big and small. We were born to live a full, flavorful live. We were Born to Shred. ~ Shredded Wheat Cereal
I love this!! It so embodies the life I want to live and give my family.
However, as you recently saw when I shared how I rock this back to life season, I’m as crazy busy as everyone else! I don’t have the time, money, or energy for going to Europe or Skydiving at the moment. There are plenty of ways to fill your life with adventures that you can easily sneak into even your busy crazy weeks! So today I’ll be sharing them with you, plus giving you practical tips for how to make sure they actually happen.
I just *couldn’t* be an adventuring mom of nearly 10 years without throwing in some tips and tricks on how to make your adventure go smoothly!! After all, while chaotic adventures are still adventures, they don’t exactly make for the sweetest memories.
Fuel Up! Whatever you’re into, fuel it with Post® Shredded Wheat! Hanger is a true thing (at least in this family) and making sure that everyone is well fed before heading out for the day not only saves you money, it also ensures that you’ll be able to tackle your adventure!
Shredded Wheat has just come out with 3 delicious new Frosted flavors which are Mixed Berry, Cinnamon Roll, and S’mores Bites! Not only are these perfect for breakfast, but they also make great on-the-go adventure snacks! One of my kids all-time favorite snacks to bring along is dry cereal in a baggie, and these delicious combos are perfect for that!
Extra Awesome? Right now you can take advantage of this great iBotta offer for Shredded Wheat cereal at Walmart and earn $3 cash back! Just click on the picture to get all the details!
Once you’re fueled up for the day, bag some extra for a snack, bring along drinks, make sure your car is all set, and head out on one of these Easy Adventures!
*Explore Every Local Park In Your Hometown
Most cities have a website with a Parks Directory. Search for yours or even find it by looking up the map views of your hometown online. Then visit each park at least once with your family! Parks are my favorite spot for easy week day adventures. Especially here in Texas they usually are so much more than just playgrounds and can include fishing ponds with ducks and turtles, hiking paths, sports fields, and more! Often parks will have special events that happen in them, so search these up too for a chance to find out about concerts, movies, and yearly events that happen there.
*Visit Your Closest National or State Park, or Nature Preserves
These are gorgeous gems that often tourists will travel for days (or in the case of National Parks, the world) to see. The crazy thing is that I’ve often found that the locals have never visited these spots, or only gone a handful of times. Pick one of these and make a day trip on a weekend! These also often have websites completely dedicated to all there is to do, see, and participate in them. In Wyoming, my parents live just a day trip away from all of all the above, and they even include the wide variety of desert regions to the gorgeous mountains lakes and streams!
*Check Out A Locally Owned Store You’ve Never Visited On the Town Square
How many locally owned stores do you have in your town? Even (and especially) in itty-bitty towns there are Mom and Pop Stores, Local Bakeries, and Thrift Stores. Hit up your main town square which usually includes a beautiful mix of old buildings and these shops and poke into places you’ve never been! You might even discover little, hidden treasures like we did when we stumbled across a little free library in our town square.
*Go Painted Rock Hunting & Hiding
While traditional rock hunting has always been loads of fun, there’s a new twist to this classic past time that’s popping up everywhere! People are painting rocks, then hiding them for others to find. Anyone can join in on the fun, and you can easily find or start a group for your hometown using Facebook!
*Learn A New Skill As a Family–like Archery or Taekwondo
Pick a hobby or skill that every member of your family can participate in, and then do it! This can be as simple as searching for videos on how to do a few simple moves or steps of a skill, or you can get dedicated and sign up the entire family to learn together! Active skills are great, but this could also be something like finding a group video game to do together or completing a DIY project.
Want to remember these plus even more ideas? Here’s a printable for you as a way to get inspired to sneak adventure into your life!
Want to make sure this actually happens? Take out your calendar now! Pick 4 of the easiest and put them on your schedule, one a week. Now, pick one of the bigger adventures and put it down for one weekend in the coming month. Then repeat! I promise that if you carve out the time you won’t regret it! The rich experiences and new memories will make you feel alive and encourage you as it draws you closer together as a family. Every state and hometown has its own unique hidden treasures, and I’ve found you’ll love and appreciate where you live so much more when you take a few minutes to go adventuring to them and discover new ones along the way!
I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017.The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias
Don’t look now, but the summer is rrriiiiight behind you! It’s coming fast, and if you don’t stop right now and plan to make the most of it, it’s going rush past you! It’s always my goal to squeeze every precious ounce of fun, time together, and memory making out of those quick spring & summer days. Through the years I’ve become the master of staycations. The concept is one that’s quite popular now, so I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. I’m always amazed, however, to find out how many people have never been to the wonderful places close to where they live.
We were blessed with getting to live in areas that are truly vacation destinations for a good chunk of our marriage. Washington DC, the beaches of North Carolina, and Boston. We tried to take advantage of the time we were stationed at each and loved playing tourist on the weekends. This concept doesn’t just work if you live near a vacation area, however. Growing up in Wyoming and now here in Texas there are still tons of ways to staycation! So whether you’re sticking around for the summer or have out of state guests coming in, use these tips to make the most of your summer!
How To Plan The Perfect Staycation
Make a Bucket List
The first thing to do is to start a running list of all the places you love or want to visit. Start off by listing off all the places you’ve seen or heard about locally that you’ve said…”We really need to go there someday.” Next, make another list of things that you’d love to discover in your state, but you’re not sure of the exact location. Research these to see if there are any nearby. Finally, go online and crowdsource.
An easy to way to do this is to ask local friends on Facebook for their favorite way to spend a summer weekend locally. During one conversation in Boston, I discovered the fact that a strip mall near us had acrobats, delicious ice cream, and water fountains that everyone called “liquid fireworks” because they went off to music and lights on the hour. It’s one of those little gems I would never have found out about except through word of mouth! Pinterest is also amazing for finding fun and hidden gem locations in your area, just search by your state’s name and maybe even region.
Stumped at where to get started? Here are some great ideas of my favorite Staycation destinations:
- Nature or Wildlife Preserve
- Drive Through Safari or Wildlife Loop
- Amusement Park
- Monuments & Historic Sites
- National Parks
- State Parks
- Local Parks
- Pick Your Own Farms
- Butterfly Garden
- Public Garden
- Lakes, Reservoir, or Public Ponds
- Beach, Splash Park, Swimming Pool
Don’t forget to check your local area calendar or chamber for limited time events like Carnivals, Fairs, Movie & Music at the Park, Rodeos, etc. As you research add the items and the information to your list or board. This way anytime a free weekend comes up you can easily look at it and see what adventure your family wants to tackle!
Now that you have your list prepped it’s time to make sure everything else is good to go for your staycation! Stock up on easy to bring along snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, and Extra Strength TYLENOL® and TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain. Nothing is worse than a staycation getting ruined from muscle aches after a day of hiking or having to postpone the day’s plan because of a nasty headache in the morning. Make sure you have all the essentials at home so that you can get back to the things you love!
I grabbed Extra Strength TYLENOL® and TYLENOL® 8 HR Muscle Aches & Pain at Target. They both temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to: the common cold, headache, backache, minor pain of arthritis, toothache, muscular aches, premenstrual and menstrual cramps; temporarily reduces fever. As always, they’re for adults and children 12 years and older, and you should always use only as directed.
Finally, you’re ready to plan! When you’re stocked up it’ll be easy to be flexible so you can go have fun a moments notice. If you’re like me, though, you know life just works better if you plan ahead. For staycations, I love to vary the price and the tempo of the items that we’re doing. I know everyone has experienced a vacation that was anything but relaxing because of the frantic pace of trying to do.all.the.things.
Staycations are wonderful because you don’t feel any pressure to be rushed since you live close by. They also usually allow you to be flexible in your planning. One weekend pick a pricier, more structured location, the next pick one that’s affordable and low key. For example, one weekend you might hit up that amazing Nature Museum that the whole family will love exploring all day. The next weekend you might head to a local park and pond you’ve never been to before.
A big part of planning strategically also involves planning out food options. Just like unexpected aches and pains, not planning out your food needs can quickly derail a fun time. No one is happy when you’re miles from anywhere with nothing to eat.
If you’re going to eat out, pick a place that you’ve never tried before. This adds a bigger sense of adventure and vacation. So go ahead and opt for that mom & pop diner instead of reaching for cross country favorites. Packing a lunch for a picnic for trips to the park or the lake makes the day feel even more special. I also always bring along some Extra Strength TYLENOL® with my things. This ensures that if one of us adults has a twinging back or throbbing head they don’t have to wait till we get home.
Another thing you want to consider and plan ahead is working with schedules. It’s always a great idea to always take things like naptime, bedtimes, and transit times into consideration. If you’re taking public transportation be sure to account for the time to park, walk, purchase tickets, etc. Also, when you’re staycationing it’s a great idea to pick just one place or event per time outing. This allows you to really enjoy it to its full potential and not feel rushed.
There are my top tips for planning the perfect Staycation! Now it’s time to pick a few local areas you’ve heard about but never been to, stock up on essentials, and schedule it on the calendar to do this summer!
Where is your very favorite spot to staycation? Leave me a comment below and let me know! Also, don’t forget to stock up at Target for all your staycation needs!
I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.
What: Capital One Auto Navigator Garage at the DFW Auto Show
When: March 22-26, 2017
Where: Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin Dallas, TX; the Auto Navigator Garage is located in Hall F
Details: What You Need to Know About the Capital One Auto Navigator Garage at the DFW Auto Show
It’s almost time for one of the largest new car and truck shows in the nation, and it’s happening just “down the road” from where we live! If you love cars, are a family looking to upgrade your ride, or if you just love checking out the coolest new things, you’ll find something for you at the DFW Auto show. The show has all of the hottest new models and features, plus, there’s also helpful areas with tools for your life that you won’t want to miss.
One of these is the Capital One Auto Navigator Garage. A huge draw is that you can have a meet and greet experience on Saturday and Sunday with Chip Foose. How cool is that?! Hubby and I have always loved watching him transform vehicles on TV. Getting the chance to meet him will be amazing!
That’s not the only reason to stop by the garage, however. Here’s where the helpful part comes in! At the garage they will also be demonstrating and explaining a cool new tool that will make your life easier! It’s the Capital One® Auto Navigator®.
Do you feel like buying and financing a car is as fun as getting a tooth pulled? Maybe you think it’s just overly complicated, or a long and confusing process? If so, you’re not going to want to miss this! Capital One wanted to take the pain out of purchasing vehicles, and so they created this easy and transparent tool with that in mind.
At the garage, you can see just how easy it is to finance the car of your dreams. Their Capital One® Auto Navigator® makes it possible for you to find a car and see your financing options, plus get pre-approved, all in one place. You can even see your personalized APR and monthly payment on each car once you pre-qualify for financing.
This tool is simple and hassle free. I tried it myself today, and I’ll definitely be using it the next time we purchase a vehicle! The process makes it possible to walk into a dealership with almost all of the work done in advance, from the comfort of your own home! One feature I really appreciate is that they even include vehicle and dealership reviews, and the car history report as well. This allows you to feel confident that you’re making a completely informed and smart decision, without any pressure!
So, really, getting to participate in the garage’s fun interactive photo booth, and see a Chip Foose custom designed car, are just the icing on the cake! For more information about the Capital One Auto Navigator Garage, visit Capital One’s Facebook page.
Don’t want to wait for the show? You can actually check out the Capital One® Auto Navigator® today! The great news is that even if you’re truly “just looking” right now, the pre-approval has no impact on your credit score. This means that you can feel good about testing out and getting familiar with all the features now!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Where: 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway
Grapevine, Texas 76051
It’s located in the Grapevine Mills Mall. I pulled it up easily on my maps app and it was easy to locate inside the mall using the signs both outside and inside.
How Much: Admission at the door is $21 per person, but you can save if you make a reservation online 24 hours in advance. Children 2 & under visit FREE. (but see my note on the best ages to bring later)
When: Year Round!
I especially love that it’s indoors and outdoors with the splash park–absolutely perfect for this HOT Texas summer we’ve been having!
For the past few years, Tyler has been absolutely in love with LEGOs. For his birthday this month, different LEGO sets were literally the only things on his wish list. Because of this, when we were trying to decide what to do to celebrate his birthday the first thing that came to mind was a trip to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. I’d heard glowing things about it from a local friend who had taken her boys several times. Because of this I knew it would be the perfect experience for him and Amber as a part of his celebration. When I reached out to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and they offered to give us tickets so that we could share our awesome experience with you all, we were ALL super excited!
We chose to go on a Monday, and I’m glad that we did! LEGOLAND Discovery Center ensures that everyone has the best experience by limiting the number of visitors that can be in the Center at one time. This means that if you don’t purchase your tickets in advance you may have a short wait time to get in. We were able to get in within 10 minutes of arrival.
The first part of your visit takes you through the LEGO Factory where you get a presentation on where those awesome LEGO Bricks are made! Both Amber & Tyler got selected as volunteers (fun!) and the presentation was the “just right” length for kids (and parents) anxious to get into the fun!
When you walk in you’re greeted by a fun and crazy mix of options! The kids were so excited and it took awhile to decide where we should start! We stayed for over 2 1/2 hours and weren’t able to get to several of the main attractions. Though not huge it’s definitely a perfect location for a whole day trip. If, like us, you’re commuting from several hours away it’s also perfect for an afternoon and well worth the drive. Once you exit LEGOLAND you can’t go back in, so it’s good to plan your visit with that in mind. You can visit over mealtime,though, because there’s a Coffee Shop that offers food options as well as much needed caffeine to keep up with super excited kids.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center is designed for ages 3-10, but my kids are definitely in the “sweet spot” for height and ages. At ages 6 & 8 and being between 40-57 inches they were both tall enough to go on all the rides (some needed me to go with Tyler) and they were both short enough to play in the HUGE epic play place. For our trip it was just me and them, which worked out perfectly for us. There’s not as much for the younger/shorter age range (shorter than 40 inches) other than a cute little play area of their own. I’d recommend that if you have a toddler or baby coming along to be sure you have an extra adult and items to keep them happy while the bigger kids play!
Mom Tip: Be sure to have your kids wear socks for the play place! If somehow mysteriously they arrive without them, however, never fear! You can buy socks at the Coffee Shop for a few dollars (ask me how I know).
LEGOLAND Discovery Center reminded me of a mix between a kids amusement park and a Children’s Museum, with some fun rooms filled with the city of Dallas made out of LEGOs and amazing Star Wars displays thrown in for good measure! The feel of it definitely had a Children’s Museum vibe–think lots of noise, happy kids, and decent sized crowds. There is a nice restroom available and lots of benches and seating for parents to chill on while kids play.
For our trip, we focused the majority of our time on the three amusement park like rides and the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center LEGO Play Zone & Fire Academy (that huge play place I mentioned earlier). The rides were a lot of fun, not scary, and we only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes for each (which you’ll know is not bad at all if you frequent amusement parks or even carnivals often). For the first 2 (Merlin’s Apprentice Ride & Kingdom Quest and the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride) I had to ride since Tyler wasn’t tall enough (I wasn’t complaining, they were super fun!) but for the Forest Ranger Pursuit Ride the kids were able to go all on their own. They both loved this ride where they got to drive the cars all on their own, with part of the track even going outside.
There is also a Splash Park, and a 4D Theater to visit that we will definitely be checking out on our next visit. The kids were having so much fun in the Play Zone & Fire Academy that we had to leave before getting to discover them, or getting to play on the LEGO Racer build & test track!
We had an amazing time, both kids were thrilled, and we’ll definitely be headed back!
Have you ever been to LEGOLAND Discovery Center? What was your favorite part?
6/30/16 Update: After I first published this 3 years ago (wow!) picking blueberries every summer here has now become a favorite summer bucket list tradition and we went again this year and loved it as much as ever! Because of this I wanted to re-share about this wonderful place! If you’re not local and want to find out where you can pick your own you can find a local spot at PickYourOwn.org . This year we picked extra so I could make this *delicious* Blueberry Crisp, it was amazing and you should make it even if you have to buy from the store!
What: Blueberry Hill Farms
Where: 10268 FM 314
Edom, Texas 75756
How Much: Inexpensive — varies (currently $2.85 a lb for blueberries) but we spent under $20 on a two small, full bucket of blueberries and 3 blueberry frozen yogurts!
When: June & July
Picking Blueberries is something that I’ve always wanted to do, so when my Moms Inc group announced that our outing would be to go to Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom, TX I was super excited! There are several pick your own places around here but I wasn’t sure which would be the best to go to, so I was happy to bow to the expertise of seasoned locals!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. all® free clear detergent is not intended to treat or prevent allergies. As always, All opinions are mine alone. #allfreeclear #CollectiveBias
The other day I walked into Tyler’s room to find him filling his backpack. He looks up and exclaims, “Mom! I’m filling up my pack with survival supplies, and then, I’m going to go *exploring*!! In the real woods! But….could you come with me, maybe? You know, to keep me safe?”
After this conversation, I told him that I thought us exploring in the woods was a great idea, and it was also a great idea to bring me along. I just love watching my kids develop their very own unique personalities which are now completely evident. Tyler especially has flourished in developing his interest and desires and communicating them in this past year and his “isms” keep me laughing daily! I am also always looking for ways to raise the kids to be sympathetic and respectful to others, and I believe family time together is a key component to all that!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Tips4Trips #CollectiveBias
Between Bob’s military career and having family spread out from Texas to Wyoming we have taken many, MANY long trips over the past 10 years. I’ve already given you lots of great tips on Successful Road Trips and Flying With Babies, but the other day when I was packing for our latest trek across the country I realized that I had glossed over one of the most important parts of a successful trip–packing!
It’s nearly summer and that means that a lot of you are getting ready for your annual vacation! While most of us will probably only venture a state or two away from home, there are many of my readers who are international or travel internationally–so when I was given the chance to provide you with this great article I thought it might be useful and give a little international flavor to my travel section! Enjoy! ~ Nicole
Florida is such a great destination for a family vacation as there is so much to do in a relatively small place. Florida has beaches, space rockets, adventure parks and the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. For many families the most important destination is Walt Disney World.
It is best to get around by car; to make the most of your stay renting a car is really the best option, as public transport is not ideally suited for visiting the beaches and exploring the state. You can drive from Orlando to Miami in around three and a halfhours and this route will allow you to take in Florida’s best attractions, which are detailed below.