Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Crayola Experience Orlando

I was given the awesome opportunity to visit the Crayola Experience in Orlando with my family in exchange for my honest opinion and review of our experience. The girls were very excited to get to go and explore all the colorful fun they had to offer! 

Walking up it is a really fun colorful building (of course!) and it made the kids so excited and happy to get to go into it. The crowd was really small this day so we got to really enjoy all the activities without many lines. There is a lot to do but when you first walk in and go through the ticket counter there is an exit gift shop in front of you and no signs that say where the entrance is and we were not told where to go. Once we figured out we had to go upstairs we were able to start exploring. There are different stations where you can create art or do fun activities such as "wrap it up" and "dip art" and my girls were ready to dive in when we saw them all.

The first stop we made was at the "wrap it up" center. For a token (you get two with each ticket and can purchase more if you want to) you get to label a crayon with a design like a heart or star and your child's name. Then it prints out the crayon wrapper and gives you a crayon. My girls thought this was fun but I thought it would wrap the crayon for you in the machine! You wrap it up yourself when it comes out which was really cool!

We then went over to the "modeling madness" where, for another token, you can choose a color of play-doh and create your own little shape or design. The doh felt really cool and I thought it was going to harden into a keepsake but alas it did not and stays sticky, which gets a little squished in the bag. The girls thought this was a really fun station and enjoyed playing the modeling doh.

Right behind that is "art alive" this one is really neat, the kids can pick an image and color it on a digital screen then have it show up on the wall and watch their creation come alive. My oldest loved seeing her unicorn on the big screen!

"Toddler Town" was our next stop and it's a little play area for them that has slides and tubes to crawl around it. The girls really loved this and there was also a lot bigger one called "color playground" for older kids. I wish there was more supervision for over aged kids being on the little one because bigger kids did come over and knocked my kids down in the toddler one. We stayed here for quite a bit because my girls enjoyed the slides so much. 

There is a "snack shack" right next to it where they had popcorn, drinks, and dip n' dots (my fave) which was really nice. 

My favorite center was the "drip art" you get to pick two crayon colors and they get melted in a machine that spins paper under it as the crayon wax drips down onto it and you can control how fast it spins to make some really cool spiral art. The girls had a lot of fun at this one! Right next to it is another melting station and it drips down into a mold of a shape you pick. The girls loved getting their seahorse and shark molds! These stations were really fun for us.

There is a spot where you can get candy and make a wax hand and I was really excited to let Zoey make one because I remember making those as a kid at fairs. The staff here did not seem like they knew what they were doing and I ended up pretty much making it myself with Zoey. They had to redo it three times because they kept messing up the mold somehow and poor Zoey was a trooper through it all. In the end we got a cool hand mold but it took a lot longer than should have and the staff there should have been trained how to properly use the melted wax a little better (such as stirring the top of the colored wax that is all harden before dipping the hand mold in.) 

We ate at the Cafe which had a good selection of kid foods. Kenzie had a pb&j, applesauce, and milk and Zoey and I shared the pizza which was really good. Alex had a salted pretzel that the girls also had some and they all liked it. 

There is a lot of stations to just sit and color or create art with melted wax or paper art and we did some of these before we headed out. The girls really did not want to leave they were having so much fun coloring and enjoying all the fun.

Overall my girls had a blast and they thought it was just the coolest! I liked that the crowd was small and it was something you can enjoy in just a few hours, if you don't have an entire day to devote to something this is a great option. It is a great place to go check out if you have younger kids and kids that really like being crafty and making art. I think they can improve on the staff giving better directions and being more assertive about customer service. Overall I would definitely like to take my girls here again because they really did have a blast and an annual pass was very reasonably priced. It is also connected to the Florida Mall which definitely makes me want to go back! 

Thank you to The Crayola Experience Orlando for inviting my family and I to come have some colorful fun! If you are in the area and want to go check it out don't forget to use this coupon!!

SAVE $4 OFF General Admission to Crayola Experience when purchased online via this link 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disney World Magic Kingdom

The girls and I met up with my cousin who was visiting from California with her two boys to go to Disney World during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in October! My husband had to work so I braved Disney alone with the girls (well with my cousin and her kids of course) and we had a blast! The girls loved being there at night and enjoying an amazing firework show as well as getting to meet their favorite characters! The girls were troopers and stayed up until midnight I was very impressed! Here are some pictures from our super fun night at Disney!

Give us all the Goodies!!

This was taken at midnight and that is why they look so wild (disheveled) ! It was a crazy late night for them!

The firework show was amazing!!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hurricane Irma

As many of you know we were recently hit by Hurricane Irma here in Central Florida. It hit southern Florida pretty hard and did a lot of damage to the Keys and up the western coast. By the time it got to us it was only a category 1 and I honestly thought we would hardly feel it.. but it was still a rough storm for this area. Most of Florida lost power and we were only without for 2 days while some are still without power almost a week later and some don't have water either. In my town it knocked down a lot of trees and caused some damage to cars and homes but most of us stayed in our homes and were safe inside during the storm. There was mandatory evacuations for southern Florida and I even considered it myself and decided it would be better to try to stick it out because coming home would be hard and also resources to leave were gone, such as gas and hotel rooms north.

I will be honest I started panicking when the winds first picked up around 9pm and I had to call a few people to keep me busy and calm me down. The girls slept the first few hours in one of our master closets because it is on the opposite side of the house as the huge tree we were worried about falling on the home over the girls rooms. They did wake up and start playing around so I had to put them in the bed in our room to get them back to sleep. We had power all night while the wind was very strong outside and it finally went out at 630am. I noticed the wind picked up a lot about 5am which is when it was going over us and it remained very high and scary sounding until about 7am. I was laying in bed with the girls and they slept through it while I laid there holding them close listening to the scary wind praying over and over the tree would not fall on our home. When the power went out it made me jump even though I had been waiting for it to go out all night. It was so scary laying there with them hearing the wind outside but we made it through with no tree falling and no damage to the house. I was so glad when the night was finally over.

The girls woke up about 7 and we were able to slowly get out of bed and check out how it looked outside through the windows. It was still dark and the girls did not really understand what was going on so they just wanted entertainment asap so we played with play-doh right away. We hung out in the house all day with no power and just kind of stayed occupied with puzzles and games. I had no cellphone reception most the day which was frustrating because I could not update my family or make any phone calls.. it was actually really boring to be inside with no phone and no power.  By afternoon time it was still windy but we walked next door to see if their phones worked and how they were doing. We have some really great neighbors who helped me tie down our trampoline, put our bbq safely on the patio, and checked on us constantly I am so grateful for them because hubby was out of town and they helped me a lot. We spent some time with them and they did have phone service so I made a few calls and was able to update my family.
My husband was in England and landed in Newark Monday they then decided to drive all night to get home by Tuesday morning. If he would have waited for a flight it would have put him home Thursday! I was so glad he decided to rush home to make sure we were okay and be with us after such a stressful time.

We were out of power until Tuesday and we were so glad when it came back on and we never lost the use of water. I did not appreciate having air conditioning as much as I do now after not having it for a few days (and it wasn't even that hot after the storm.)

Life is starting to resume around us, schools are closed until Monday so families can get things in order if they have houses or cars damaged. Businesses are reopening even though many of their employes still have no water and electricity. I have ran a few errands around town and notice giant fallen trees still all over the town and lots of debris that has been collected by home owners yards and placed on the side of the streets to be collected. Still things are moving forward the utility men are hard at work trying to restore power to everyone. We cleaned up our yard and things could have been so much worse for us so we are very grateful. I am praying for all the families that are now displaced because of the storm and those that have damage. I know that a lot of people are coming together to help those in need.

I have lived in Florida for 6 years now and this was the first time I was really scared for hurricane to come through where we live. I hope we don't have to relive a situation like this and if we do hope we can be prepared as possible.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Our Kitchen Remodel Reveal

We finally decided to update our kitchen and my husband worked really hard to make it the classic farmhouse style I have fallen in love with. I wanted all white cupboards with bronze hardware and white subway tile backsplash. We already had the granite black with gold flakes counter tops and I think it's a great contrast against the white! I just love how it all came out. My husband painted the cabinets and put in the backsplash himself and he did such a wonderful job! Here are the before and after pictures of our kitchen!



It is amazing what simply painting the cabinets did for the space! The white makes it so much more bright in the kitchen and it even feels bigger. It's a great way to liven up the kitchen without spending a lot (if you do it yourself.) Adding the dark bronze hardware really added some great accents and I love how it tied into the counter so well. I love how simple and clean the white backsplash looks, it's just so classic and really made the look complete! I am so happy with our new kitchen make over and so thankful to my wonderful hubby who put in all the hard work to make it exactly how I wanted!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How I Manage Being a Work Widow

Work Widow is a term I stumbled upon a while ago and it basically means a wife that stays home while her husband is often away for work. I stay home with our two little girls who are 3 and 2 years old while my husband travels for work. My husband works in gokarting and they race all over traveling the country and even the world.  He does a lot of travel all over the state of Florida where we live and where racing is very popular. He can be gone anywhere from a day or two, to weeks at a time.  Sometimes he drives only a few hours away sometimes he drives for days and other times he takes a plane flight. He is such a hard worker and I admire him for the passion he has for racing.

This is not an easy life, being away from your spouse for long periods of time, but a lot of people do it and it works very well for our family. I am by no means able to relate to military families, single parents, or widowed parents and this is not a comparison. This is just my life and how we are living and I want to be able to share my experiences with my audience. Here are some of the things I have learned and that have helped me as a stay at home mother and wife while my husband is away for work.

Stay Positive.  I try to always have a positive outlook on every situation when it comes to him working and traveling. If I keep a good positive tone on the situation my kids feed off of that and they too will be positive about it. If I were to be negative or argue about him traveling or having to work or be gone for an amount of time it wouldn't really help anyone, we would all be miserable! Staying positive is so important for all of us and I have never given him any grief about having to work, I know he is home as much as he can be and that is all that matters.

Be Supportive. My goal is to always support my husband in his career. He loves doing what he does and he works very hard at it. He grew up racing and being apart of something he is proud of and enjoys doing is very important to him. From the moment we got married I have been able to support and trust in all his decisions. From moving (across the country), to new job opportunities, to adjusting to travel I have stood behind him 100%. It is so important for you to have faith in your spouse and be supporting in their career decisions so they feel like they are able to make the best decisions for the family and feel like you have their back in those decisions. Being united together is really helpful in being understanding of the situation and makes our marriage very strong.

Make the most of our time together. When my husband is home he usually gets a few days off or more so we like to do fun things as a family. We will plan fun trips to the beach or zoo or find something local that is going on to go enjoy. I also like to take some time for myself so I do a trip to Target and Starbucks ALONE and it helps keeps me sane! We also like to just relax at home and spend the day watching movies, playing games with the kids, and doing puzzles. They love to play with daddy  and when he is home he is 100%  about them and making them happy.

Being able to video call with the kids. This one is a great perk of modern day technology! The kids love that they can call daddy on video calling and get to see him while he is away. I think it helps for both parties to be able to see each other a little bit when he is gone for a long time. The kids absolutely love it and I know he enjoys it too. It makes him feel not so far away to us.

Finding fun things to do (even when he is away.) I really try to do fun things for the kids, since they are both still home everyday (Zoey starts preschool in August woohoo!) We play with play-doh, color, go for runs, play in the backyard with the pool or trampoline, make slime, go to the park or splash pad, whatever! I just try to make the days fun for them. I really love to read with them as well. As they are getting older it is easier for me to take them places by myself. I have taken them to the bookstore, splash pad, and the park so they can have some fun. It really helps my husband to know that the kids are having a good time and we are making the most of our days while he is away.

Focus on the house when he is working. I try to get a lot of household chores and errands done when he is away, that way when he is home we can just hang out as a family and not worry about that stuff. I will get groceries and do all the house cleaning and stuff when he is gone, then when he is home I am not worried or stressed about needing to clean or anything. This works really well for me and I think it helps to make his days off more relaxing. Unless there is something big around the house I cannot do that he will have to do then he helps with that.

Be Proud and Be Thankful. I am very proud of my husband and appreciate how hard he works to be able to provide for our family. I know we are very lucky and very blessed to be in a situation where he gets to do what he loves and I get to stay home with the kids. I am so very thankful for this life we live.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Weight Loss Journey How I Lost 20 Pounds

I did it!! I finally did it! I reached my first BIG goal of hitting 20 pounds lost! It took me 3 months and lots of hard work, but I am so excited to finally be here! I did a blog post on How I lost my First 10 Pounds  about a month ago and I still follow those guidelines. Those tips work the best for me for my weight loss and I have stuck to them during my journey. Just to recap I changed my eating habits, started working out almost daily, keep track of my progress, stay focused, and the most important of all I DID NOT GIVE UP!

I have tried to lose weight several times in my life and it would usually go like this: workout and eat the same, OR eat healthy and not workout, OR eat healthy and workout for a short period of time see no results and give up. It was always hard for me to stick to a lifestyle change because I didn't see results fast enough and would get discouraged. The hardest part is to stick with it but that is what has really helped me this time around. I just kept going even if the scale stayed the same (which it had a few times for weeks at a time) I really like how much better I FELT overall and I feel stronger and happier in general. I am more energetic during the day and find myself doing more things with my kids, I fit into my clothes better and have more confidence, and I am mentally less stressed and these are the changes that really kept me at it. I knew if I gave up I wouldn't feel this good so I kept going and the weight kept coming off (slowly but surely.)

Some weeks my weight would stay the same but I would measure myself and lost inches off my waist or hips and that also helps to keep me encouraged. I know that changing your life can be very hard and for me I still struggle with taking days off or eating unhealthy meals (because I feel extremely guilty) but it is okay to give yourself a break. Eating one cupcake or pizza one day is not going to make you gain back all the weight you lost, it's giving up and eating that stuff all the time that will.

I see a lot of things out there now to help with weight loss like diets, pills, shakes, whatever.. and I wanted to try it on my own without those things because I knew I could do it. The biggest thing that works for me is counting calories. I got a food scale and measure all my portions and track everything in my Samsung Health app on my phone and try to eat about 1200 calories a day. I also try to make those calories good ones like protein and fruit and veggies. I am still trying to not eat many carbs but I do have sandwiches and use sandwich thins for that or I will have one piece of toast instead of the usual two. I also traded a lot of things for lower calorie, sugar free, or even 0 calorie options. I use honey mustard instead of mayo, lower sugar jam (sparingly and only once in awhile if I crave toast) the "I can't believe it's not butter" spray is 0 calories, and they even have a whole wheat bread that is only 45 calories a slice (Sara Lee brand I think) I use egg whites instead of whole eggs and  if we are having spaghetti I make zoodles from Zucchini noodles! All of these small changes helped in my big results.

Continuing with my new lifestyle of running at least 5 times a week and making better food choices has really helped me reach my goal and my biggest advice is to just stick with it. Some new tips I have for you all is to get the family involved in outdoor activities, meal prep your food, and use substitutions (like the ones I mentioned above.) I find that if we are all outside going for a run it sets a good example for the kids and they really enjoy it. Showing them that being active is important, fun, and good for you is something that I think is so valuable. I also like to take my kids in the backyard and kick around a soccer ball or jump on the trampoline, they really love that too! Also cooking a big batch of chicken breast and veggies and portioning it out into containers to eat for lunch over the next few days helps me A LOT. It keeps me from binging when I am really hungry and makes it easy for me to have a meal ready to go. I like to make a lot of chicken and then use it for salads for the next 3 days. Also using substitutions in my meals has helped me a lot and I hope the ones I mentioned can give you some ideas on where to start with that.

I hope these new weight loss tips help you and encourage you to get active and start or continue on your own goals! I am now on to my next goal of losing another 10 pounds! Wish me luck! If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments. Thank you to everyone for all the encouragement and awesome support I love reading all the positive comments!
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