Category: Travel

Arizona Activities

Arizona- the Grand Canyon State.

We just came back from a trip and these are some of the crafts/ activities we did and are still playing with!

I always do my research on where we are going and try to theme our activities around that.

For Arizona, I knew my kids would like the Disney Cars, since Radiator Springs is a fictional town in Arizona.

Desert themed Sensory Bin
Kinetic sand (I used it here for our beach bin)
Toob of desert animals
rocks
mulch

 

Cactus watercolor
Found here, I did a set myself before we left and now my kids are asking to do them!  Instead of black glue (which I tried to make and failed miserably), I used black puffy paint.

Felt 

I had some extra green felt from making a felt Christmas tree and felt story board for the girls, so I cut out two cactus shapes, put some velcro on some buttons and BAM!

Playmats 

I found some Radiator Springs maps online and laminated them, then bought Lightning McQueen and the gang from Walmart.

The other playmat was a desert scene, also played with the Toob animals, which I found at Michaels. They are also available on Amazon.

Play-Doh 

I used two different color greens and a pink (for the flowers), plus toothpicks to make cacti with!

Coloring Books

Ordered here and here from good ol’ Amazon!

Shapes

Used to make suns, cacti and flowers

 

Our Trip Out West

How cool is it that we have relatives that live in such a cool state that we can go visit?!

We recently took our first trip out west – to Arizona! This is the farthest west I or either of my girls have been.

We flew direct from TPA to PHX which was a 4 hour and 20 minute flight.

Here’s what we did on our whirlwind 4 days in Arizona!

Once we landed, we headed straight to In-N-Out! We don’t have these in Florida so I had to try it!

From Phoenix, we drove 2.5 hours to Flagstaff, which is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Our plan was to eat dinner and head to the Lowell Observatory, but our kids were so tired, they fell asleep in the car before we could get there (insert sad face). Next time!

We did head Downtown and had dinner at Mother Road Brewing Company, which served pizza from next door at Pizzicletta. We had an amazing fennel and shaved Brussels sprouts pizza while the kids had a normal marinara.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, which had an amazing staff who helped us plan our visit. And included free breakfast, which we loaded up on before our big trip!

From there, we headed out to the Grand Canyon!! We drove up 89 through Navajo country and entered the Grand Canyon National Park. We drove to the East Rim, which is less busy than the South Rim, the rim the most people visit. It is often referred to as the Desert View.

The Desert View has a watch tower, which we climbed also. From there, we drove 22 miles alongside the canyon, stopping at various lookouts and viewpoints. Our favorite stop was probably Grandview Point, where we did a little hiking and got closer to the edge of the canyon.

From here, we drove through the Visitor Center and Village and parked and went to lunch in the Maswik Lodge where we ate lunch in the cafeteria and Eric finally got his Navajo taco!

We were pretty beat at this point (having stayed at the canyon for 5 hours) so we stopped at the gift shop, said hi to the mules at the mule barn and headed back to the car.

On the way, I saw a small pine sapling next to a pinecone and stopped to take a picture. What happened next was probably my favorite part of our trip. My girls decided to “protect” this little tree by surrounding it with pinecones, sticks and rocks. Emma even accidentally touched poop and we all had a good laugh and now we own the book Who Pooped in the Park? Good Times.

Once we left the Grand Canyon, we headed to Williams. This is where we finally got a Route 66 picture!! Even though we had driven on it in Flagstaff, there were no signs.

*Side note, this is how my daughter sings Route 66: “Get your kids on the road 66”

ADORBS!

Here in Williams, we went to Bearizona, which is a drive-thru wildlife park. We saw Rocky Mountain goats, wolves, bears, bison and more! You have to roll up your windows for the wolves and bears! After the drive-thru part, you can go in the walk-thru area as well, which has a barnyard, foxes, bobcats and a jaguar! This was a nice break for us as we then continued on our way to Prescott.

Once again, by the time we got to our hotel, it was time for dinner and bed for our kiddos, so we didn’t get to explore Prescott too much, but I heard Whiskey Road is the place to be in Downtown! Once again, next time!

The next day was wedding day! But not before I ate cactus for breakfast!

The morning after the wedding, we headed back to Phoenix for the long ride home, but stopped on the side of the road so I could take a picture with a saguaro cactus!

While there is certainly a lot more to do, I think we packed quite a lot in 4 days! But we also have a lot of things we want to do next time!

Have you ever been to Arizona?

What would you add to the list?

Disney Cruise

I’ve been getting lots of messages about our Disney cruise so I decided to make a post.

This was our first Disney cruise and it was a 3-night Bahamian cruise that left out of Port Canaveral. It was about a 2 hour drive from our house in Plant City and about an hour from Walt Disney World.

We booked our cruise back in April or May of 2017 and had until August to pay it off. This particular cruise was approximately $3,000 for 3 nights. We were not on a Halloween on the High Seas or a Very Merrytime cruise.

We also had just applied for a Disney credit card and got $200 back for booking the cruise on it.

Some of the things that are included with the cost of the cruise that are different than other cruise lines:

  • SODA – you can get a Coke at dinner fo’ free
  • A bandana for Pirates Night
  • Childcare
  • lunch on Castaway Cay

Speaking of childcare, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are the “kids clubs” available on the ship. This was one of our biggest selling points for the cruise. We wanted some alone grow up time.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. We didn’t get that much. We’ve come to the realization that we are never going to have those kids who go to the kids club all day.

But we did get 20 minutes after dinner the first night. In between the Princess Meet and Greet and the Frozen Meet and Greet and Emma went once by herself for 2 hours while Addie was napping.

It was definitely better than the last cruise we went on when Emma cried until she threw up and Addie never went. And I think it will get better each time we go and the older they get.

Seasickness
I usually get sea sick and know it so I always pack a prescription of Mecalizine for myself and Children’s Dramamine for the kids (these are just chewable tablets that taste like grape) so we don’t have an issue.

We all take our meds about an hour before the ship starts moving and seem to be OK.

One of the things I did notice was that we never saw a Casino on the ship, but that was OK with me because I hate the smell of cigarette smoke and we don’t gamble.

There is still alcohol!!!! Just because it’s a Disney cruise doesn’t mean there’s no liquor. We had rum punches, wine, martinis and, of course, the guys drank their weight in beer.

Pirates Night 

This was probably our favorite part of the cruise. Everyone gets a bandana delivered to their room with pirate Mickey on it and Pirates of the Caribbean on it. We had packed our own costumes and wore our bandanas and eye patches. There was a Pirate deck show before our dinner (at 5:45 p.m.), then we went to dinner dressed as pirates, then after dinner, there was a Pirate IN the Caribbean show on deck at around 10:30, followed by fireworks at sea! DCL is the ONLY cruise line with fireworks at sea.

Fish Extenders 

The Fish Extender is basically a gift exchange with other families on the ship. We participated and I basically packed one whole suitcase for our stuff. I used a diaper organizer I bought on Amazon here. Then I bought fabric from Joann’s and covered each of our pockets.

My gifts included:

Cabin Gift: a Mickey picture Frame I painted with a picture of Mickey & the gang on Castaway Cay, a magnet with all the ports of call from our cruise on it and a coaster

For the Moms: a bath bomb (I purchased them here),

For the Dads: Pirates Booty, a pirate shot glass and gold chocolate coins

For the kids:

0-3: Sand toys

4-6: Glow sticks, Lego sets, Pez Dispensers, pirate accessories, lanyards and pins (for pin trading)

11-13: lip balm, nail polish

Teens: Pop sockets, ear buds and candy

Door Magnets

This is another thing that I’ve only seen on a Disney cruise- people decorate their doors! The doors on the ship are magnetic so I printed, laminated and hot glued magnets to the back of ours. I also made some for some of our friends who went.

Castaway Cay 

First of all, it’s pronounced Castaway KEY and I have no idea why lol

The island is Disney’s private island, but is Disney actually rents is from the Bahamas. It was IMMACULATE. My husband even said the mens restroom was clean and we all know that NEVER happens.

I ran a 5K on Castaway in the morning and joined the rest of my family on the beach afterwards. The island drink is the Konk Kooler- GET ONE. There is a family beach, an adult beach, Scuttle’s Cove, which is the kids club ON the island. It has a splash pad and they serve lunch and they did a whale dig (I think- my kids did not go).

Lunch on the island is FREE! Because it’s technically part of the ship.

Rentals are available for snorkeling, jet skis, etc.

We did the family beach, which has Pelican Plunge (waterslides) in the ocean.

Speaking of waterslides, ride the AquaDuck! I only got to do it once, but it was SO FUN! I went with my 5-year-old and screamed the whole way while she told me, “OK, mom this is going up, watch this.” LOL

Your children have to be 42″ to ride, however, if they are not tall enough (they will make them take off their shoes), there is also a Mickey slide that my 3-year-old loved.

There is also a Finding Nemo splash pad on our ship.

Dining

One of the cool things I liked about this ship was that we dined in a different room every night. But your wait staff travels with you!

The first night we went to Animator’s Palate, which is similar to Art of Animation in my opinion. With sketches on the walls, etc. The table centerpieces were paintbrushes, pencils, etc. and Crush from Finding Nemo was on the TVs around the restaurant for an interactive show. The wait staff even gave my kids ketchup in the shape of a Mickey head!

 

The second night we dined in Enchanted Garden for Pirates Night and our waiter even brought the kids Mickey ice cream bars with sprinkles for dessert!

The third night was our “optional formal” night and we dined in the Royal Palace. The bread baskets looked like Cinderella’s Carriage! My husband got a cappuccino (extra) that night with a Mickey on it!

We also liked eating lunch at Flo’s Cafe (from Cars), which was hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.

We took the girls to Vanellope’s Sweet & Treats on the last night (this is a candy and ice cream shop on the ship and costs extra)

Shows!!!

So, we got an extra special treat on got a SOFT OPENING of Beauty and the Beast!!!!!!

And it was Ah-mazing

We also saw Believe and The Golden Mickeys, both of which encouraged singing along, so double bonus points for me!

 

My “Old Florida” Bucket List

I’m one of those SUPER rare Florida residents who is ACTUALLY Florida-born. Born and raised!

Even with being here for 30+ years, there were some things I had NEVER done (crazy, right?!).

So, I made a bucket list 😉

And this year, we’ve crossed quite a few off the list.

#1 Manatee Viewing Center

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Camping with Kids: Part Deux- Food to Pack

One of the things I didn’t touch on too much in my last post about Camping with Kids was food

And let’s face it…

Toddlers NEED food…

They get HANGRY…

So, here’s what we packed for our weekend trip (we had a refrigerator, also):

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Camping with Kids

We just got back from a weekend camping (Ok, GLAMping) trip.

We stayed in a cabin.

But there were still some things we needed to pack and prepare for bringing along two toddlers.

I wanted to stay in/ near Crystal River, so we could see the manatees.

I went to the dollar store and bought little ribbon dancers (remember those?!)

And glow stick necklaces and bracelets

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We brought shovels (which didn’t get used)

And fishing poles. Which definitely got used.

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Why coming back from a cruise sucks


  1. LAUNDRY. Good God the laundry. First, there’s all your and your spouse’s crap from vacation, but then the kids somehow managed to wear ALL of their clothes in the 4 days you were gone. Plus, someone peed in their bed, so there’s extra bed sheets to be washed.
  2. You have to make your own bed again. Dammit! And no cute towel animals!IMG_2323
  3. Not pooping alone! Enough said.
  4. Not begging and pleading with your kids to eat. Every meal. Every day.
  5. Sleeping in/ guaranteed nap every day. I didn’t sleep in every day (I woke up to work out), but after breakfast and the pool, I did take a nap EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  6. Room Service. Want chocolate chip cookies at 10 p.m.? Room service. Cheese pizza at Noon? Room service. Just call and food is delivered. You don’t even have to get out of bed until someone knocks on your door. With food.
  7. Not weighing yourself. See Room Service above.
  8. No cell phones. There are WiFi services available on ships now, but my husband and I literally LOCK our phones in the safe or put them on airplane mode, so we have no interruptions of Facebook notifications, e-mails, texts or anything else bothering us.
  9. Roaming bartenders serving you. Mimosa or a Bellini poolside? Don’t mind if I do. I’ll just lay right here basking in the sunlight while you go grab that for me.

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