Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Entertain Your Toddler at Sea World

You can't hit up Central Florida in the summer time without going to the theme parks.

And while most people think that you can't take a toddler to a theme park or that there isn't enough for them to do at a theme park, I'm here to tell you that that isn't the case.

It's the opposite!

There are so many things to do with a toddler at the theme parks.

My girls and I are doing just that, we're checking out all the theme parks.

And before kids it was all about go, go,go,go when we went to theme parks.

With kids, that is a thing of the past.

My goal when I go to theme parks with the girls is to not lose any sanity.

My plan of action when it comes to hitting the theme parks is to take deep, calming breaths and maintain a calm attitude.

And you know what, it works.

We checked out Sea World last week and had a blast.

The key to enjoying a theme park and keeping a toddler entertained is taking time to enjoy the small stuff. Forget making it to the front of the ride lines!

But don't forget your sunscreen or the importance of shade.

Our first stop was the aquaium by the rollar coaster, Manta.

 It's full of colorful fish  and an octopus!

The sting ray pool is great because your kids can lean over and rub up a sting ray.

The dolphin lagoon is a hot spot (literally) but the kids love watching the dolphin vie for your attention.

The underwater dolphin viewing area is a great spot to cool off and get up close with the dolphins.

We checked out the Manatee area and loved it (not only for the air conditioning... did I mention it was 99 degrees with a heat index of 106 the day we went?) The manatee viewing area was dead. Not a single soul besides us there which is great so the kids can run around and act crazy without me getting the stink eye.

It is also a great spot to nurse your babe if needed.

The Shark Encounter was another great air conditioned spot. There are numerous fish tanks for the kids to squeal over and a great escalator ride that takes you inside the sharks den (we went through three times in a row).

Don't forget the importance of ice cream either. It will save your sanity and give your feet a rest after all the walking.

Shamu's Happy Harbor is the spot to be at when you take kids to Sea World. It is full of kiddie rides, including Turtle's favorite: the carousel.

We rode it twice.

The hot spot for the kids was the brand new Shamu Show, One Ocean.

When we visited back in December and saw Believe, I have to be honest with you, it bored my children.

One Ocean did not bore my children.

There were more jumps, more killer whales in the show, more everything.

The kids went ga-ga over it.

And I loved watching them go ga-ga over it.

And do not forget the importance of the little things.

Because you know it's all about the little things with toddlers.

A splash area.

We found a great one at Journey to Atlantis.

It wasn't too crowded and it was a relief after the heat of the day.

Roo was in heaven.

Inside the Journey to Atlantis giftshop is another fantastic aquarium. The floor was even an aquarium!

Then once you've done it all, you do it again and your kid does the happy dance.

Sea World really was a blast.

We came late, we left late and we had no expectations. There was no schedule to follow, no demands, no nothing. We just strolled around and took in the beauty of the park.

It was a wonderful trip and I cannot wait to take them back again.

Emotional Wreck

My children make me an emotional wreck.

Yes, sure, I was an emotional person before I had children. I admit that, freely.

But ever since those baby girls were yanked from me, I am much more emotional.

I cry at movies about horses.

I cry at commercials with babies in them.

I cry watching the rodeo!

Don't get me wrong, I don't walk around spilling tears all day long... but take tonight for instance, I was watching Flicka with my oldest and I got all choked up because I know that my girl will be out riding hell-bent in a year or two. I know that she's already in love with her (Grandma's) horses and I get all weepy about it.

Is this normal?

This can't be.

It's not like my husband looks at her and bursts into tears because she knows how to spell her name.

Tell me I'm not the only Mama out there that has gone all soft (and not just around the middle!) since having babies.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


We spent the day at Sea World yesterday (article forthcoming!) and I had so much fun chasing my girls with the camera. All I wanted was a perfect picture with the two of them in the same frame.

This was as close as I got.

Turtle was all of the place, as she was finally old enough to get that there were fish everywhere and that she could be everywhere at once.

Roo was just happy to see every single animal on the property.

Me... me, I just had fun being with my girls.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: King Arthur Flour

It’s no secret that I love to bake.

It’s also no secret that I love to eat.

Chocolate mainly.

Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to test out King Arthur Flour’s Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake Mix.

Roo and I both were really excited about this one.

So we strapped on our aprons, collected all the ingredients needed (4 large eggs, 2/3 cup of vegetable oil, 1 1/3 cups of water and the mix) and baked a cake.

We whipped it up in no time, poured the mix into cupcake molds and slid it into the oven to bake (350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes).

The biggest problem I tend to have when making cupcakes is that the box always says: Enough for 24 cupcakes. But I never manage to get 24 cupcakes, it’s always 21 or 22 cupcakes.

Roo and I licked the bowl as we waited and then whipped up our secret peanut butter icing recipe.

After the cupcakes had cooled, we set to icing them and decorating them with the Jungle Sugar Decorations.

And then, we tasted.

And Oh. My… My, my, my…

They were heaven.

The cupcakes themselves were moist and tasted like little bits of heaven, add in the secret peanut butter icing and you have a home run.

Wait, more like a Grand Slam.

They were amazing.

The King Arthur Flour’s Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake Mix was better than any out of the box cake mix I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). There was not one single fault I could find with the mix.

It was that good.

Trust me on this one.

You can purchase King Arthur Flour products online or from their catalog.

I received items to bake and review from King Arthur Flour. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tough Decision

Pretty much from the beginning, I wanted to home school Roo.

I thought who better to teach my child, then myself?

It wasn't a holier-than-thou, cocky attitude but it was in a way. I thought I'm smart, I went to college, I have the time.

And it's not that I looked down upon parents who put their kids in school, that's not it at all.

I just wanted to control what my daughter learned and how she learned. I thought that if I was her teacher, she would flourish and she would be the smartest kid on the planet!

Doubting myself starting creeping in slowly.

Doubt that maybe I wasn't best to teach my daughter and when a comment was made about Roo being behind, I froze in fear.

She knew her ABCs and could count, she could write her name, not mix her colors while painting.

But she was lost when she attended dance class... and if I asked her to point out the letter K in the alphabet, she just laughed at me and ran away.

Did I have a clue what I was doing?

Was I failing my child in some way?

Was I just being pigheaded?

So I started listening when people talked about their children and the schools they went to. I started researching schools online, calculating tuition and learning about what kind of lunchboxes they could bring.

And today, today I went to visit a pre-school that my Aunt works at.

I was so scared as I walked the halls and talked to the teachers.

But Roo was having a ball. She was into the toys, running around and being happy.

She loved it.

She is such a social butterfly. She loves people and is so talkative... she's so happy.

And as we left we talked about how much she liked it and would she want to go there in the Fall.

She said yes.

So now we're faced with the tough decision... is this something I do? Do I follow through? Do I give it a shot and teach her myself and worry every day that I'm not doing enough? Do I let a stranger, yet a qualified stranger, teach her?

It's time for us to ask ourselves some tough questions... and filling out some applications (just in case).

Disney: The Muppets Official Trailer

I loved the Muppets when I was a kid.

Miss Piggie was my favorite and still is.

I love that they are coming out with a brand spanking new movie.

Here's the latest trailer for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Series: What To Do With a Toddler

I love summer.

I really do.

While I could do without the heat, it's something I can't really change so we just work around it.

This Summer I'm starting a special series titled, "What To Do With a Toddler."

What this series is about is all the great, fun things you can do in Central Florida with a toddler (simple, huh?). We'll be hitting up Sea World (and checking out Summer Nights!), Walt Disney World, local parks and splash pads, restaurants and more. While at these establishments, I'll scout out what it age appropriate for toddlers and highlight what they love best.

Each spot will be packed with tips, photos and all the merriment that comes with it.

If you are interested in having your spot (Central Florida is our main focus but we will travel if asked), please send me an email at nytmblog at gmail dot com and we can piece it all together.

Up first: Sea World!

All posts will be posted on Fridays during the next few months.

So stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First for Everything

Ever since I brought my first babe home I've always feared a certain event occurring.

That first trip to the ER

I think every parent fears this.

It's bound to happen.

I remember going (Okay, I remember my Mom telling me about it) when I was three because I somehow pulled a barbecue grill down on my big toe. My brother went when he was young for drinking paint thinner and my sister had to get stitches once.

It's bound to happen, unless you wrap your kiddos in bubble wrap and keep them in a padded home.

My trip happened last night.

It was nothing too tragic, no broken bones or erasers shoved up ones nose

It was because of a fever.

An annoying ass fever that refused to go away.

I had been treating Turtle for a fever on and off all day and it just kept climbing last night (doesn't the worst always happen at night) and after frantic calls to my Dad (a former Fire Chief) and Mom (a nurse), my best friend (married to a paramedic), the doctor's after call center and my husband, I decided that it was hovering too close to 104 for my comfort level.

104 is my cut off temperature.

So off we went.

And of course, Turtle was a champ for the whole thing.

When we were at home, she was kinda sleepy and fussy which didn't really worry me, but I knew inside that she was fine when she started squealing and was running all over the room like a crazy lady, throwing her baby doll at every available surface.

They gave her more motrin and tested her for strep, which was negative.

Then after three and a half hours, they sent us home telling us it was viral (This is their go-to answer for anything it seems).

I feel an odd sense of relief that that first ER trip as a parent is over with.

It makes me feel like I can truly handle anything as a parent.

I should get a badge or something... or at least a new pair of shoes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Giveaway: Disney's Cars 2 Prize Pack

Cars was one of my oldest daughter's favorite movies.

When we bought it for her on DVD, she watched it every night.


Every. Night.

Good thing it was a great movie.

An even greater thing is that they are coming out with Cars 2!

Driving (heh, heh) into theatres on June 24, 2011, Cars 2 brings back racing sensation Lightning McQueen and his pals from Radiator Springs as he races in the World Grand Prix!

Here's a new clip:

In celebration of the release of Cars 2, I've got a Disney Cars 2 prize pack to giveaway!

The prize pack includes:
CARS 2 t-shirt in youth sizes of S, M, L, XL-
CARS 2 set of 3 bumper tickets-
CARS 2 temporary tattoo sheet (2 per winner)-
CARS 2 puzzle

All I need you to do to enter to win is tell me your favorite Cars character.

Easy peasy! :)

Contest ends on June 24th (opening day!), so comment away!

Also, make sure you “Like” CARS 2 on Facebook at: to keep up with all the latest Cars 2 news!

I was not compensated for this post.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: The Dangerous Book for Men

My husband is one of those handy, can survive in the wilderness, build a truck from scratch, make tiki-gods from a tree kinda guys.

He can do everything, except take out the trash.

But when I saw the new book by Ron Green titled, "The Dangerous Book for Men" I had to request a review copy for him.

Because while yes, he can outrun certain uniformed men in a car and run from a mad cow in a pasture, he isn't on top of his game when it comes to survive an ice storm or darn a sock.

The Dangerous Book for Men is a how-to survival guide for a man to handle any situation.

A few of my favorites are How to Snare a Rabbit, How to Land an Aircraft while the Pilot is Incapacited and How to Give the Kiss of Life.

Each activity tells you step by step advice to follow to accomplish your task. There is a list of items you'll need and then the direction to get the job done.

Easy peasy.

The Dangerous Book for Men is a quick, easy read and thoroughly enjoyable but my advice though is to read the book thoroughly because you're not going to have a shot at whipping it out and read the step by step directions while fending off a bear.

Be prepared my friend.

The Dangerous Book for Men will hit store shelves on September 20, 2011.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this reviews are 100% mine. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dear Daughters

I think I start almost every letter to you girls saying: I'm sorry.

Sorry because I tend to let life get in the way and I skip writing these letters. When I realize that I've missed a month (or two in this case) I feel guilty that I am being a bad Mom and not documenting life for you.

But in my defense, I am... it's just normally with my camera not my words.

So here we go.

These past two months have been insane. Trust me, they have. We took two vacations to Grandma's house and while Turtle wasn't that happy about being in a car, let alone her carseat, for that long you both did good. Roo, you were a champ. As long as you had your toys and a DVD to keep you entertained, you were fine.

We also made a trip to Sea World, Downtown Disney, Busch Gardens (ELMO!),  four different zoos, endless splash pads,  new parks and did a bunch of shopping.

It was great.

We were warriors.

We were troopers.

And most importantly, we had so much fun!

Roo, you are growing so tall and you've discovered the love of singing. Your favorite songs are the ones in Tangled and Beauty and the Beast. You ask to listen to the Rapunzel's song a bazillion times in a row and I tend to let you. You also love to sing your ABC songs, can successfully brush your teeth without any help and love to spend as much time in your plastic pool as possible.

Turtle.... you still are not sleeping well. You can manage 4-5 hours in your own bed before you end up in our bed. While we love you, we would love it if you could sleep in your own bed. It's just so darn cozy in there we don't understand why you can't adore it! You are using more words like swing, cracker and cookie. You are starting to put two words together and you've discovered that if you run, I will chase you.

Not as funny as you think it is, trust me.

You also love to climb things. Seriously, I found you on the window sill today.

You will climb to the very top of a ladder, the playset at McDonalds and the mounting block in the barn.

Thankfully you haven't tumbled and I know it will happen one day, I just hope it won't be as bad as I think it will be.

You also have discovered music, like your sister, and clap your hands along to the beat.

As summer rolls in, we will be spending as much time in or near water as we can. We also have another trip to Sea World planned, one to Disney and we're visiting Aquatica for the first time this month. It's going to be a great summer with tans and too much ice cream.

I love you girls...


Dinosaur Train Reading

Reading a big thing in our household.

I've always loved to read and I want to pass along this love to my daughters.

To me, it's always important to have great books that the kids will love and love to sit still while you read them to them.

Recently, I checked out three new Dinosaur Train books.

Here are a description of the books:
The Buddy & Friends board book, from Grosset & Dunlap, joinBuddy as he travels aboard the DINOSAUR TRAIN to introduce kids to some of his friends. Packed with full-color images from the show, this simple book is a perfect introduction to DINOSAUR TRAIN's many species! SRP $5.99. Ages 3–5.

A Surprise for Mom!, from Grosset & Dunlap, is a beautiful picture book that follows Buddy and his siblings as they begin to plan something special for Mrs. Pteranodon on her special day. Read along as Team Pteranodon searches high and low for the best gifts ever! SRP $3.99. Ages 3–5.

Tiny Learns to Fish, from Grosset & Dunlap. The first reader in the Dinosaur Train program follows Mr. Pteranodon as he takes the kids to the big pond to teach them how to fish. There's just one problem. Tiny can't catch a fish, and Buddy can't fly, so they team up to catch fish together! This Level 1 reader is perfect for young fans, who are starting to read on their own. SRP $3.99. Ages 3–5.

And you know that Roo is crazy about dinosaurs, so therefore she was crazy about these Dinosaur Train books.

What I loved about these books is that it encouraged her to want me to read to her. We would re-read the same book three times before moving on to the next, which we would read three more times and then the next which, yes, we would read three times.

Turtle loved these books, especially the board book one, because she could chew on them.

But she's on 16 months so she has a free pass.

And remember that you can check out the series Dinosaur Train™ daily on PBS KIDS®(check local listings).

Also you can "like " Dinosaur Train on Facebook, see what's new with the The Jim Henson Company and follow the latest on Twitter
And if your family is into Geocaching, you can follow them online.

I received a set of three books to review. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Discovery Cove's Grand Reef Opens!

Straight from the press release (word for word):

"ORLANDO, Fla. (June 10, 2011) -- Discovery Cove - the ultimate, all-inclusive tropical retreat

where guests swim with dolphins - has taken immersion to new depths with the opening of The

Grand Reef.

The new reef – an all-new area of Discovery Cove – features multiple levels of exploration, from

shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among

canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.

“The Grand Reef takes Discovery Cove’s world-class animal encounters to an all new level --

several, actually,” said Stewart Clark, the park’s vice president. “It’s what our guests expect from

us, unforgettable connections with the sea and making memories that will last forever. This

could only be created by Discovery Cove.”

Visitors just need to get their feet wet to enjoy The Grand Reef, or they can choose to go deep.

They can step into tranquil, shallow waters to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with

sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper waters as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim

around them.

Surprises abound. Families can seek discoveries along the water’s edge or cross a bridge to

see sharks swimming below. They’ll play hide-and-seek with thousands of beautiful fish, from

small colorful wrasses to large spotted eagle rays. Further out in the reef, stunning habitats

create the feeling of swimming right alongside venomous lionfish and sharp-toothed reef sharks,

each safely behind glass. Guests can take paths and bridges to the reef’s islands and hidden

grottos as they delve into the reef from above, around and below.

Those looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s

innovative experience, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour. Wearing dive helmets, guests

find up-close excitement around every corner, each step yielding a new discovery. They’ll come

across lionfish and sharks (safely behind massive panoramic windows), one-on-one touches

with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays swimming by. SeaVenture is a once-in-

a-lifetime, undersea experience available for a nominal fee.

The Grand Reef is the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, a fully immersive

tropical escape, new to discover in Orlando this summer and beyond.

Discovery Cove is a full-day experience where guests can swim with dolphins, hand-feed

exotic birds, snorkel through beautiful fresh and salt water lagoons and relax on pristine, white-

sand beaches. In addition to the park’s one-of-a-kind animal interactions and lush natural

beauty, Discovery Cove delivers superlative, personalized service, and unlimited access to an

unparalleled array of first-class amenities.

Discovery Cove amenities include meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day’s

adventures, towels, wet suits and swim gear, plus a pass for unlimited admission* to either

SeaWorld or Aquatica in Orlando or Busch Gardens in Tampa to be used surrounding a

Discovery Cove visit. Guests can upgrade to the Ultimate package which includes admission to

all three sister parks for an additional fee. Advanced reservations are required.

Seasonal rates for Discovery Cove’s Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package start at $199 (rates

for Day Resort Package without dolphin swim experience and guests ages 3-5 start at $129).

Prices vary seasonally.

For reservations or more information, visit or call 1-877-434-7268."

Disney Junior Summer Programming Note

Summers are brutal in Florida.


We have to plan our entire day around the heat and just in the nick of time, Disney Junior is starting up a new programming event to help us keep our cool inside.

From a press release:



Kids and Parents Invited to Join in Treasure Hunt On-Air and Online at, Submit Their Photos for a Chance to Be Seen on Disney Junior

Disney Junior adds a new interactive feature to its kid and parent-focused programming with the multi-platform "Yo Ho, Let's Go Summer!" event anchored by TV's #1 series for Boys 2-5 and one of the top co-viewed shows with preschoolers and moms, "Jake and the Never Land Pirates." The "Yo Ho, Let's Go Summer!" programming event will take place across all Disney Junior digital platforms including Disney Junior On Demand, Mobile and iTunes.

Beginning MONDAY, JUNE 13–FRIDAY, AUGUST 26, Jake and his pirate crew's gold doubloons will appear throughout the Disney Junior programming block on Disney Channel. Kids and their parents are invited to go online at, enter the number of gold doubloons they have seen throughout the week, and unlock weekly treasures including new episode previews, games and activities. Every Friday, beginning FRIDAY, JUNE 17(9:00 a.m., ET/PT), Disney Junior will premiere a new episode of a favorite Disney Junior series on-air and online.

Parents can also download gold doubloons for their kids to decorate, then photograph their child with their doubloons and upload their photos to the site. Viewer images may be used on-air during the Disney Junior programming block.

Among the new episodes premiering every Friday, are Tori Spelling guest starring as the Pirate Princess on "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," Friday, June 17; Martian Mickey drops by the Clubhouse on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," Friday, June 24; environmental and healthy eating-themed episodes of "Handy Manny," Friday, July 8 and Friday, August 5, respectively; and a new episode of "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," which includes Jake and his crew discovering a mystery stone door that leads to a secret treasure, Friday, August 26."


Friday, June 10, 2011

Motherhood is Hard

It really is no secret that being a mother is hard.

Unless you have no children and you have no idea what I'm talking about.

I use to be like that.

I was pregnant with Roo and I imagined perfect days with a beautiful smelling baby that slept and ate and smiled at me all day long.

How wrong was I?

I ended up with a beautiful baby that smelt like poop, ate all day and night and never slept.

And while four years later I have a better understanding of what I'm doing (she is still beautiful, doesn't smell, and while she sleeps like a champ she still eats all day if I let her), I still am having a hard time.

And the thing that sucks is that society tells me: You wanted to be a Mom so suck it up.

While I can suck it up, I still feel like I have the right to say: I am exhausted, this is hard, this is not easy.

Because it's not and I am.

I am exhausted.

It is hard.

It is not easy.

But that doesn't mean that being a parent isn't rewarding.

It is.

But those rewards are small and when they do come around, it makes you forget how tired you are and how much your child will not sleep.

I just wish society would give me some slack. I wish that society would say that I am doing the best I can and that they understand.

Society sucks for me today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Cube Dog 3D App

My four year old loves my iPod.

Whenever she gets bored in the car or we are waiting for the doctor to see us, she asks to play on it.

All I have to do is hand it over and she knows exactly what to do.

Since she does, I like to make sure I’ve got it loaded with great apps to entertain her.

The latest app that I added to the iPod is the Cube Dog 3D App.

What this app does is it allows you to make your own little cube dog. You have complete control by picking out the body parts and colors. It comes in full 3D graphics and you can move your dog this way and that with the rotate and zoom option.

Roo loves the options that Cube Dog gives her and Turtle loves to dance around to the background music.

I love that I can just shake my iPod and Cube Dog makes an adorable puppy for me, no fuss no muss.

Roo can spend a lot of time picking out just the right color, the right puppy face and after she’s done creating, she takes her time to pick the very best name for her Cube Dog.

Once you’ve created your very own Cube Dog you can make it dance or bark. It even waves hello at you, plus if you leave it be it starts to dance about and do cute moves.

There is an option to take a picture of your Cube Dog and post it on Twitter or Facebook.

Cube Dog 3D is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch 4 with camera.

Here's an introductory video to give you more details.

Check out Cube Dog's Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for a special contest going on June 6th thru the 13th.

Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity. I was compensated for this review. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review:The Wild Thornberrys - Season 1

Ah, the Wild Thornberrys.

I adore them.

I watched them when I was younger (while babysitting my nephews) and love that I now have the opportunity to share them with Roo because the entire first season of the Wild Thornberrys is on DVD!

From the press release: "The hit series follows the Thornberry family as they travel the world in their Communications Vehicle (or CommVee) looking for rare animals to film.After an encounter with an African shaman, their youngest child Eliza was given the power to speak to animals! Every episode in this adventure-packed DVD set follows Eliza as she comes face-to-face with an assortment of animals, continents and danger. Encounter wildlife in all its natural glory and eavesdrop on Eliza’s conversations with silverback gorillas, pythons, crested grebes, tapirs, capybaras, antelopes and opossums while the CommVee travels on! "

Roo has fallen in love with Eliza and all the animals they encounter. So much so that she is ready to travel on her first safari (maybe one day).

Here's a small clip to remind you just how cool the Wild Thornberrys are.

The Wild Thornberrys Season One is out on store shelves now.

I received a copy of this DVD for review purposes. All opinions in this post are 100% mine, unless otherwise noted (i.e. From press release). Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Hot Summer Nights @ Busch Gardens

I love me some Busch Gardens.

And one of the best times to visit Busch Gardens is during the summer and at night.

When the sun goes down, the fun really begins.

Check out the latest info from a press release:

"Busch Gardens Summer Nights just keeps getting better. Summer Nights 2011 promises all the fun and entertainment as previous years, but this year it will be even more exciting. From June 10 through Aug. 14 guests will once again have the chance to see special entertainment such Kinetix and high-energy DJs, and ride all of Busch Gardens’ exciting attractions. And new this year, guests will have the chance to be launched through the dark of the Serengeti Plain on Busch Gardens’ newest roller coaster, Cheetah Hunt.

The award-winning Kinetix will return to Summer Nights with nightly performances. Kinetix’s energizing performances include live musicians, singers, dancers and artists from around the world. Their thrilling performance – along with modern music and fire effects – will pump up the crowd every night in Gwazi Park at 9 p.m. To make sure you get a good spot arrive at 8 p.m. to dance and play games with some of the many Party Starters.

Guests will find Party Starters at all three of the DJ locations in Jungala, Stanleyville and Gwazi Plaza every night starting at 5 p.m. Party Starters liven up the area with their line dances, breakdancing and games. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Party Starters will host dance challenges all day throughout the park and pick the most outgoing guests with the best dance moves to compete in the Dance-Off competition.

The Dance-Off will be a three-round dance competition starting at 7 p.m. in Desert Grill. The audience will pick the winner with the best moves by applause. The first place winner will receive four tickets to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

New to this year’s Summer Nights is “Cool Allusions featuring Christopher Cool.” Every Tuesday through Sunday and July 4, magician Christopher Cool will be performing his tricks at the Marrakesh Theater at the top of each hour, 5-8 p.m.

Park hours for Summer Nights are extended until 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and ‘til 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Summer Nights is included with a day’s paid admission or any annual pass.

Busch Gardens is the place to be this summer ­– day and night. Busch Garden’s newest attraction Cheetah Hunt has something for everyone. Cheetah Hunt, the first triple launch roller coaster, shoots guests up into Windcatcher Tower and across the Serengeti Plain. If going from zero to cheetah is not your speed, guests will have the chance to see Busch Gardens’ cheetahs sprint several times a day in Cheetah Run. Also, video panels and interactive touch-screen stations are spread across the Cheetah Run viewing area to help educate visitors on our newest animal additions."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Disney Fun without Disney

Going to Walt Disney World is a fantastic thing. The theme parks are all amazing and lots of fun.

But sometimes people, especially Florida residents, want to experience Disney without stepping foot inside a theme park.

Sometimes people, again especially Florida residents, want to have a more low-key Disney experience.

While I love a good Disney theme park visit, I love being able to take my time and get away from the crowds while still loving the Disney experience.

The best spots to do this are at the following:

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is an exciting complex that is sectioned into three areas: the Marketplace, West Side and Pleasure Island (Pleasure Island is currently under renovation but there are still restaurants and store open during the renovations).

The Marketplace is your traditional Downtown Disney and houses such stores at World of Disney (the largest Disney store in the world!) and restaurants like the Rainforest Café. The Marketplace also has a carousel, a small splash pad/fountain and a train ride for the kids.

The West Side is the more hip side to Downtown Disney. The West Side is packed full of fun, including Disney Quest and Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba. There’s live music at the House of Blues, a dine-in movie theatre and great shopping.

California Grill at the Contemporary

The California Grill at the Contemporary is legendary. Not only does it have yummy food it has the most amazing views in all of Walt Disney World. Located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary, you can choose from three views: the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's Castle or the Seven Seas Lagoon.

With fresh food and a wine list that changes daily (to best accompany the food choices), the California Grill is a perfect spot to visually take in the Magic Kingdom without stepping foot through the gates.

The best time to visit the California Grill is during the fireworks display over Cinderella's Castle. It is advisable to make reservations as this hot spot is prime pickings.
Disney's Boardwalk

Located at the Boardwalk Hotel, the Boardwalk itself is 90,000 square feet of shopping, restaurants and fun. There's the Atlantic Dance Hall to play at, the street performers who entertain nightly, the Wyland art gallery to shop at and delicious cupcakes at the Boardwalk Bakery

This is a great spot to view the fireworks from Epcot, it's never really too crowded so you don't have to worry about the crowds.

Fort Wilderness Resort

Fort Wilderness is a great spot to relax and take it easy. It's full of fun stuff, including: character dining, carriage rides and horseback riding. There's also a swimming hole for the kids with a slide.

Fort Wilderness also has boats you can rent to zip around on the Seven Seas Lagoon and it completely pet-friendly.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

The AK Lodge is gorgeous. Settled on 43 acres with over 30 species of animals to view, it's kinda like going to the park, just not as crowded. You can check out the animals from the Arusha Rock and get a killer view of the whole spread.
AK Lodge has great restaurants (two are award winning!), a 24 hour playground for the kiddies, a game room and an activity center for kids (there is an extra fee to drop your kids off for the fun).
There you have it. The five best places to experience fun at Disney without stepping foot inside a theme park. All of the mention locations have the same great guest experiences, fabulous cast members and great shopping.

Friday, June 3, 2011

National Donut Day

We are celebrating National Donut Day at our house.

Some more than others though.

Comfort Nurser

Turtle lately has been going through a doozy of a time.

Not only is her sleeping all out of whack, her nursing habits have gone crazy.

If she lays eyes on her Boppy pillow, she literally turns into a screaming banshee. She will spot it, run font and haul it around after me all while screaming her head off.

Normally I try not to give in, but normally I fail because my ears can only tale so much.

The problem I have with this act is that once I settle her in and start to nurse her, she only nurses for about ten seconds.

Then she's wiggling around trying to get down and as soon as I put my boobs away she remembers what she was screaming for and starts screaming again for more milk.

Then it's a vicious cycle.

Nurse, pull away, smile and laugh, scream, nurse, pull away...

You get the idea.

It's extremely tome consuming and pointless.

I doubt she is getting any nutrition and it droves nothing more than irritate me.

Don't get me wrong, I would nurse her happily of she could stick to the task, accomplish what we set out to do and we could go on our merry way.

The only way I can keep this whole crazy thing from happening is if I hide the Boppy, and hide it well.

I can't just toss a pillow or blanket over it.

She's too clever for that.

I have to put my thinking cap on and get creative.

Like in a box in another room and hide that box under a towel.

The girl is too smart for her own good.

I wonder who she gets all this from?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Walt Disney World Comes to You!

From a recent press release:

"Walt Disney World Comes to You!

You and your readers are invited to

“Let the Memories Begin” with an Interactive Photo Experience this summer!

WHO/WHAT: Time to Make Memories! Visit the locations below to participate in an interactive Disney photo experience. You will have the opportunity to take virtual in-park photos and share them with others.

Disney fans can also keep an eye out for the “Let the Memories Begin” team as they spread some “pixie dust” in each tour stop city!


Chicago, IL5/30-5/31
Houston, TX7/12-7/13
Seattle, WA8/20-8/21
Boston, MA6/5 - 6/6
Phoenix, AZ7/19 - 7/20
Calgary, Canada8/26 - 8/27
New York, NY6/10 - 6/12
Denver, CO7/26 - 7/27
Toronto, Canada9/2 - 9/3
Washington D.C.6/18 - 6/19
Salt Lake City, UT7/30 - 7/31
Puerto Rico9/23 - 9/24
Atlanta, GA6/24 - 6/25
San Francisco, CA8/5 - 8/6
Dallas, TX7/8 - 7/9
Portland, OR8/16 - 8/17

Details, locations and offerings subject to change

BACKGROUND: A recent nationwide survey of U.S. and Canadian families found that vacation memories hold a special place in family history. Nine out of 10 parents said they planned vacations with the hope that they would result in a lasting family memory. In 2011, Disney Parks launched “Let the Memories Begin,” a year-long celebration of the family vacation memories created in Disney theme parks every day.

URL: Visit "

Oh Gnomeo! Gnomeo & Juliet on DVD

I wish I could give you an honest count of how many DVDs we watch a week.

It's a lot.

We watch DVDs  when it rains, when we're in the car, when we are bored.

The latest DVD in our rotation is Gnomeo & Juliet.

Gnomeo & Juliet is a retake on Shakespeare's classic, Romeo & Juliet but with gnomes!

Genius, I tell you.

Roo adores this movie and asks to watch it all the time.

The films synopsis is: " From a director of Shrek 2 comes your chance to step into the secret world of garden gnomes — Gnomeo & Juliet. Perfect for the whole family, this fresh and funny makeover of one of the
world’s most timeless stories features music from Sir Elton John, and the voice talents of Emily
Blunt, James McAvoy and Sir Michael Caine. Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo
and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink
flamingos and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness? Complete
with hilarious never-before-seen bonus features, Gnomeo & Juliet is an out-of-the-ordinary
animated comedy your entire family will love. We just gnome it! "

The DVD is on store shelves now and available in Blu-Ray with Bonus Features.

The Bonus Features include:

DVD & Movie Download:
• Elton Builds a Garden
• Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen
• “Crocodile Rock” Music Video, featuring Elton John and Nelly Furtado
• DVD Bonus plus:
• 2 Alternate Endings with Filmmaker Introductions
• Deleted & Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions, including:
o 1 Alternate Opening
o 1 Alternate Scene
o 6 Deleted Scenes
• The Fawn of Darkness, featuring Ozzy Osbourne

Pick up your own copy of Gnomeo & Juliet today!

I received a copy of this DVD for review purposes. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information.

Thrown through the Loop

I have to admit, these past few weeks have been a doozy for me and my girls.

Everything was crazy.

We had two road trips, visits to theme parks, the stomach flu, barn parties and everything else you can imagine.

So when Turtle stopped sleeping decently (I use this term loosely), I didn't think much of it and figured she just needed a day or two to adjust back to a routine.

That was two weeks ago.

She is still way out of whack and I am overly exhausted, like way more than usual. She's so out of whack that she can't nap longer than 45 minutes unless I'm driving her in circles in the car. She can't sleep soundly in her own bed so she always ends up in ours.

I've tried all avenues of getting her to sleep better. We have tried white noise, we've tried crying it out, we've tried letting her sleep in our bed (which she does well, but still not through the night)... I've done combinations of the fan and the radio, I've tried complete silence. I've had my husband comfort her instead of me. I've changed my diet.

I'm at my end.

Last night as I was feeding her for the millionth time in two hours, I was in tears vowing I would give up breastfeeding because that was the one thing we haven't changed.

I keep wondering if I wean her maybe she'll sleep?

Then the guilt about giving up that relationship sets in and more tears come.

I really don't know what to do to get this child to sleep.

Do you?