The Potty Training Diaries

We’ve finally arrived at the land of big boy undies. Of little briefs with Batman, Superman and Spiderman logos. It’s been a long journey and let’s be honest…the real MVPs are my husband and me. The parents who survived the potty training fiasco.

W is three and a half and there were times we felt behind in this whole thing. But I’ve come to the conclusion, we’re all on a different journey. It seems like the girls catch on to this potty phenomenon way faster (shocking) and if a child has a sibling, it also help speed things along.

We had neither of those advantages, so while we started around two and a half, we took it easy because he just wasn’t that into it. We worked on the poopy side of it first because to be honest changing dirty diapers gets old. That half really started to click in March and by the Disney Cruise in May, he was letting us know without accidents in the Pull-Up. It may sound small, but it was a major victory in our household. TMI…but we celebrate with W showing off the good every time. Like every good man, he’s obsessed with poop 🙂

We celebrated the #2 victory and kind of let it ride. Finally last month his teachers let us know he was ready for big boy undies because if we didn’t take the step, our sweet lazy boy would pee in a Pull-Up for as long as he could.

So we just did it. Bought the undies, washed the undies and put them on at night before bed for a few days including a full weekend of undies. By the following Monday he went to school in his super cool superhero briefs. Barring an accident in a restaurant (cue the paper towels and extra tip) and an accident at school during nap time, he transitioned into the underwear phase without much a do.

My advice to struggling parents: give your kid and yourselves a break. There are very few two year olds who are potty trained (some parents like to fib about milestones). Your kid will get there, when they and their bladder is ready. I’m glad we took our time, attacked one “P” at a time and let it happen in due time.

Now we rejoice in saving some mula and not having to buy endless Pull-Ups. Those things are not cheap.

Happy Potty,

Ivette

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Top 10 Perks of Disney Concierge

I recently shared our Disney Dream Cruise experience and promised a dedicated post about Concierge level. This was definitely a vacation splurge and something we debated doing for our first Disney Cruise — partly because the price is much steeper and also because I feared I would never want to do another regular cruise again. Well, the latter is true. After Concierge, I think it will be nearly impossible to go back to normal.

Choosing a Concierge level vacation made sense for our family, but it may not be for everyone. So I decided to put together my Top 10 Reasons/Perks that I found with Concierge to help make your decision easier. I read a lot of blogs prior to going Concierge, and I hope this post is helpful to someone out there!

1. On-Shore Planning Support – The Concierge team is available to you via a dedicated phone line and email to answer any and all questions and help make your on board experience even better. We fully took advantage of this perk and had the Concierge book all of our excursions, along with securing a coveted booth at the beautiful Enchanted Garden restaurant (only 10 available) and even submitted our preferred mini fridge options (which is included). We even got to select our dining schedule, so I was able to ensure our family was at Enchanted Garden on formal night and dined there twice!

When I had a question or needed more details, the on shore Concierge team was always there to help! I felt more knowledgeable and better prepared for our cruise vacation.

2. Boarding & De-Boarding Simplified – This is HUGE! Boarding the ship usually takes a long time in a series of long lines. With Concierge we were able to board early and went straight to the dedicated check-in area where we were photographed, given the “Keys to the World” and escorted onto the ship. We got to go straight to the front of the “Welcome Aboard” photo and then walked onto the ship. It took less than 30 minutes. By Noon we were in the Concierge Lounge, sipping on champagne and in our room by 12:30pm. Luggage was delivered soon after. The de-board was just as simple. We were escorted off the ship and onto baggage claim in under 10 minutes. Now that’s Magic!

3. In Suite Amenities – There are a lot of perks within your suite including a Mini Fridge stocked to your liking, breakfast the morning of departure and room service upgrades like being able to order from the full service restaurant menus for any meal. On one rainy morning, we ordered a delicious breakfast spread and ate in our cabin, while watching movies. Another night, we ordered the incredibly delicious Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. It was so much fun!

4. All the Space – I love cruising, but they’re not usually known for having super spacious cabins. Disney cruises, in general, have larger cabins than other cruise lines, but the Concierge suite takes it to a new level. We had so much storage including a walk-in closet (I unpack and hang all clothing on every trip/vacation…I’m a weirdo…I know) and a hall closet. We also had a separate bedroom with en suite including shower and jacuzzi tub AND a second full bathroom. There’s also a desk area, living room and a dining room with an extra long and large balcony with floor to ceiling windows. Definitely did NOT feel cramped or claustrophobic in this space.

5. Dining Perks – On the first day of the cruise there was a special sit down lunch for Concierge guests at The Royal Court restaurant. This is awesome because restaurants are closed for other guests, so your only lunch option is a buffet. It was much more fun and delicious to kick off our vacation with an amazing sit down lunch paired with bubbles (free and straight from the Lounge)!

6. Cabana Time – Castaway Cay is an incredible island with white sandy beaches and turquoise water. On the island there are 26 cabanas available for rent, which provide a more exclusive experience with a private beach, sunscreen, snacks, bicycles, snorkel gear, etc. Because there are so few cabanas, they sell out fast and it’s nearly impossible to snag one unless you’re a Platinum Castaway Club member (lots of cruising to gain this status) OR you’re Concierge. We wanted a cabana BAD and Concierge made it happen! We were able to submit the cabana request via email on Midnight 120 days prior to setting sail and we landed the cabana. There is an extra fee for renting a cabana. And it was beyond worth it. The day on Castaway Cay was phenomenal. We were able to lounge, relax on a hammock, swim and explore — uninterrupted. For that alone, I would recommend Concierge!

7. VIP Meet n Greet – The dedicated Concierge Lounge also included a private veranda area and one of the evenings there was a reception with a VIP meet n greet. It was wonderful because Stitch came in and spent quality time with each family in an intimate space. Westley high-fived and hugged Stitch, we took photos and had a fabulous experience in the comfort of an outdoor space along with great apps and specialty drinks.

8. All the Drinks – Drinks are expensive on a cruise, so the free open bar at the Concierge Lounge was a huge perk. It’s open from 5-10pm nightly and it features premium liquors, wine and beer. We would grab drinks on the way to dinner, then re-fill before the show and then grabbed a night cap to enjoy on the balcony. We spent zero dollars on drinks, which is a first for us.

9. In Room Dining – One of my favorite Concierge perks is the ability to order dinner from your restaurant of choice delivered to your suite. This really came in handy when we wanted to attend the early showing of Beauty & the Beast, but did not want to miss out on a delicious dinner. We didn’t have to compromise a sit down dinner for the show. The Concierge took our order and a multiple course meal awaited us in our cabin once the show concluded. They set the dining room table, the server brought us wine from the Lounge and we opened the balcony doors and enjoyed fine dining al fresco. It was absolutely perfect!

10. Superior Service – The Concierge team is so hospitable and helpful throughout the cruise. The team goes above and beyond from going over your printed agenda and handling any special requests to closing out your final on-board bill and delivering the photo USB. It was such a pleasure working with them. They also left us a special, limited edition lithograph as a keepsake from our magical vacation.

While this may not be for everyone’s taste or budget, Concierge was a decision I’m glad we made as a family. It certainly elevated our Disney Cruise experience and I hope to do it again on another vacation!

Happy Travels,

Ivette

Disney Dream Cruise: A Magical Vacation

Definitely thought I would get to this post a little faster…but life. Finally, I’m sitting down on a weekend morning, drinking coffee and reminiscing about our magical Disney Cruise vacation. We’ve always been big cruisers – growing up in Miami, my family went on lots of cruises because we had easy access to a Port and when Sam and I started dating our first big trip together was a cruise. We also spent part of our honeymoon on a week-long cruise to Alaska. So I’ll preface this by saying, we’ve experienced lots of different types of cruises, cruise lines, itineraries, etc.  I can honestly say, a Disney Cruise really was like no other. From the moment we stepped on board until we were escorted off, it was absolutely magical.

Having a little boy who loves all things Disney, it was an obvious choice because the entire cruise caters to families and provides tons of quality interactions with beloved characters. But I would also say that it’s a great experience for adults who want to have an awesome, relaxing vacation with great food, entertainment and fun. There are tons of adult only areas, restaurants, pools and experiences. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on our vacation experience, which was family focused.

When we decided on taking a Disney Cruise, we had a few decisions to make – timing, length and type of cruise experience. We did a lot of research and decided to go in May (right before Memorial Day and also before the start of Hurricane season), take a 5-day/4-night cruise and also splurged on Concierge.

The Disney Concierge Experience

First off, while this made our vacation extra special, this option is definitely a splurge. We decided to try Concierge out because we planned and saved for this vacation well in advance. It was a “treat yourself” decision and I’m glad we did it. The biggest benefits to Concierge included the boarding and de-boarding process, cabin size, Concierge lounge with nightly open bar, exclusive character meet n greet, landing a Cabana at Castaway Cay and the ability to have dinner from the restaurant in your cabin dining room.

Overall, the investment in Concierge delivers an ROI. From the planning and off-shore portion of your vacation to literally being escorted swiftly off the ship, it was an awesome experience. As I mentioned, cruising has always been a part of my life and while I love it, boarding the cruise can be a long process. With Concierge, we walked straight to the dedicated check-in where they took our passports, gave us our “Key to the World” cards and promptly escorted us straight to take our “Welcome Aboard” picture and then onto the ship. It was 30-minutes max! They took us straight to the Concierge Lounge where we were met with drinks and a dedicated crew member who reviewed our itinerary, handled any special requests and then took us to our cabin, which was ready by 12:30pm!

Since Concierge involves so many different aspects, I’m going to do a separate post for anyone who wants to know all the details.

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Fish Extender

This is another cruise experience that was a fun way to enhance our vacation. Our friend told us about the “Fish Extender,” which you can join via the cruise’s unofficial Disney Facebook page. You look up your particular sailing date and ask to join the group. You can then become part of the “Fish Extender,” which is essentially a gift exchange aboard the cruise. You have a group of about 8-12 other cabins and each person staying in the state room adds their info onto a spreadsheet so you know names, ages, fave Disney characters, etc. You buy each person a gift and drop them off outside their cabin door throughout the cruise. We bought Mickey sunglasses for the adults and older kids, Minnie earrings for the little girls and Disney tic, tac, toe for the one younger boy in our group. I’m not crafty, so I ordered everything, including the gift holder (looks like a fabric shoe holder) on Etsy!

This was a really fun and unique way to enhance our overall experience. Every time we went back to our room, there were new gifts to open. We got everything from monogrammed tumblers and toothbrush holders to chocolates and a Mickey baseball cap for W! Definitely recommend joining the fun if you’re on a Disney cruise.

Itinerary + Excursions

We opted for a 5-day, 4-night cruise as our first family cruise vacation – mainly because I knew I wanted it to be longer than 3-nights, but I wasn’t sure how Westley would do on a 7-night cruise. I’m glad we chose this for our first cruise, but truthfully, we could have done a 7-night. Westley loved being on the ship, never got seasick and we could have enjoyed a few more nights and more stops.

Our Disney Dream Itinerary included 3-days at sea and two stops: Nassau and Castaway Cay. There are a lot of people who choose to stay on the ship for extra pool time and less crowds during the port stops, but we’re fans of getting off the ship and exploring a bit. So we decided early on to book a trip to Blue Lagoon Island during our Nassau stop and rent a Cabana on Castaway Cay for our second excursion.

Blue Lagoon beach day was fun and relaxing. We walked off the ship and onto a ferry boat that took us about 25-minutes outside of Nassau to Blue Lagoon Island — a private island with a beautiful beach, floats, water sports and even encounters with dolphins. We opted to keep it light and simple since we were traveling with our three-year old and just booked the beach day. We spent hours in the water swimming and playing, laid out for a bit and then enjoyed a cookout lunch with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, french fries and other fixings. It was a perfect day and still gave us plenty of time to get back to the ship, enjoy some pool time and get ready for formal night!

The Disney Cruise was pretty casual, but they did have an optional formal night, of which I took full advantage. I LOVE curating special wardrobes for all of our trips (I know…I’m weird, but I love it) and formal night is always fun. We bought W a seer sucker suit, Sam wore his navy suit and I debuted a bronze, Greek inspired cold shoulder, pleated dress for the occasion.

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The other fun night is Pirate Night! Everyone receives Disney Pirate bandanas to wear, so if you’re not into costumes, you can just wear that or not dress up at all. However, I’m a huge fan of playing dress up, so we brought our Halloween costumes (which strategically were Pirates for double usage) and went all out. There was a themed “Pirates in the Caribbean” dinner menu, a live musical show out on the deck with all the characters and then a dance party and fireworks show! We stayed up until 11pm to participate and danced the night away. Westley had a blast!

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The other amazing part of the cruise was all of the character appearances and interactions! We never waited more than 10 minutes to take a photo with a character and each time Westley met a character, he got quality time including hugs, high fives, individual photos and family photos. The Disney Cruise app is awesome because it lets you know where each character will be throughout the day, so you can plan your meet n greets and photo opps. The other bonus, the characters appear multiple times a day, so we were able to meet Mickey (three times), Pluto, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. There are also dance parties and other ways to hang out with the characters, so it truly is magical!

We also opted to purchase the Photo Package, which allowed us to keep hi-res, digital copies of all the photos we took throughout the cruise for a flat fee. I’m a photo freak, so this was another awesome investment IMO. I purchased it well in-advance and saved 15 percent off the on-board price. It was a huge relief to not have to constantly ask for someone to take iPhone pics of us and allowed us to truly enjoy the vacation and character engagements without worrying about capturing the special memories ourselves.

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Castaway Cay

I could live on this Island! This was one of our favorite parts of the cruise. The Disney Dream docked right on the island and you walk off the ship and you’ve arrived at Castaway Cay. Almost all cruise lines own private islands in the Caribbean, but most of them do not have a port, so they dock at sea and you have to take a ferry to the island. The Disney Cruise experience was definitely superior and easier since you’re able to walk on and off the ship quickly and seamlessly.

Once at Castaway Cay, you take a tram to different parts of the island. There’s a water sports and excursion area for snorkeling, etc., an Adults Only beach, family beach and then the Cabana Area (family cabanas and adult only ones).

Part of the reason we chose Concierge is because we wanted to experience a Cabana at Castaway Cay and there are only a limited amount available. Unless you’ve cruised a lot and have Platinum Castaway Club status, pretty much the only way to land one of the 26 cabanas is to be Concierge Level. I signed up on the first day it opened and we got one!

It is an extra expense, but it was definitely worth it to have a private area for us, a private beach and somewhere to rest and nap away from the sun. While I’m Cuban and can tan, Westley and my husband have very fair skin, so having a covered area was a must if we were planning to enjoy multiple hours at the beach!

In the Cabana area there are a few Concierge team members who are available to bring drinks and help out with anything you may need. They also have a golf cart to drive you back to the ship when you’re ready to leave the island.

The Cabana included fresh fruit, snacks and drinks along with sunscreen (kids and adult bottles), towels, bikes, sand toys, snorkeling gear and floats.

Additionally, we enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch on island and our favorite dessert – soft serve!

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Dining + Entertainment

I’m a big foodie and I definitely give the Disney Cruise dining experience top marks. The main dining rooms offer an eclectic menu of options and every meal was delicious. I also love that unlike most cruise lines, on a Disney Cruise you rotate dining rooms, so every night you dine in a different place, but your dining team travels with you. My favorite restaurant in terms of decor and ambiance was The Enchanted Garden, which pays homage to Versailles in Paris. It was absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to Concierge, we landed one of the coveted 12 booths in the front, which made the dinner even more perfect.

As we’re big fans of sampling tons of options, we ordered a couple of apps, three entrees each and two desserts to share each night. It’s a miracle I didn’t gain a ton of weight, but honestly the portions are perfect for sampling and ordering more than one item!

The kids options were also great. Westley loved the steak, mac n cheese and kiddie desserts!

I’m equally obsessed with the entertainment on-board the Disney Cruise as it was Broadway caliber musicals with incredibly talented casts. The theater and stage is phenomenal with digital screens, moving sets, special effects, flying cables, etc. Basically the same level I’ve experienced during Broadway shows, but in the high seas.

The two shows were Disney’s Believe! and the new Beauty & the Beast musical, which plays two nights in a row. Disney’s Believe! was the story of a dad and his daughter – he doesn’t believe in magic and she shows him that magic is everywhere. It includes appearances from iconic Disney movie characters along with memorable songs and dances from each movie. Think Genie from Aladdin all the way to everyone’s favorite nanny — Mary Poppins!

Beauty & the Beast was a masterpiece. It’s adapted from the live action film and captures all of the emotions, music, drama and fun of the movie. All The Feels. It’s my favorite Disney movie, so I was literally like a little kid, super excited to see the show. It did not disappoint.

We chose to watch it on the second night and opted for the early showing, which meant we had to skip our main dinner seating. However, we were able to order from the restaurant and have our dinner delivered and served in our cabin’s dining room (another Concierge perk). So once the show wrapped, we headed upstairs and enjoyed an amazing dinner in the comfort of our suite complete with the balcony doors open for fresh air and sea sounds! It was our last evening on board and it was an amazing way to end our vacation. We then got in our PJs, watched a Marvel movie (tons of awesome free movies available in your room) and ordered Mickey Ice Cream Bars from Room Service (YES…the same ones from the park that literally taste like heaven) and ate them in bed. And we lived Happily Ever After…the End 🙂

Overall Takeaways

From beginning to end, this was an AWESOME vacation and overall experience. Disney Magic is a real thing and it’s definitely a vacation we will take again. Next time, it will just be longer.

Here’s a little video to give a taste of the overall adventure!

Happy Cruising,

Ivette

Travel Diary: Independence Eve in Apalachicola

This year we started a new family tradition: celebrating 4th of July early during Apalachicola’s Independence Eve Celebration.

Over the last few years we have mostly missed all the spectacular fireworks displays on the 4th because we have a young child who is usually asleep by the time the fireworks begin.

We also haven’t had the holiday land during the weekend where you have the next day to recover. With that in mind, we spontaneously decided to head down to Florida’s Forgotten Coast to a quaint little Oyster Town that celebrates America’s Birthday a day early.

The Town

Apalachicola is an adorable small town about an hour and a half from our home town of Tallahassee. The drive is scenic and fast, which makes it ideal for our family. As you cross the bridge into the town, there’s usually oyster boats on either side. The area is known for its world class oysters.

It’s a small area, but it’s packed with historic buildings, a brewery, raw bars, great restaurants, old time fountain soda shop, galleries, coffee shops and adorable boutiques. There’s a lot to do even outside of the Independence Eve celebration.

The Accommodations

We decided to do this pretty last minute (the week of), so I wasn’t sure what options would be available. Luckily my hubby’s co-worker recommended The Coombs House — a historic Bed & Breakfast.

The B&B ended up being absolutely perfect. Quaint and comfortable with incredible bedding and a delicious homemade breakfast served in the Main House dining room.

After arriving I discovered (proudly displayed on a door plaque), it’s been named one of America’s 33 Luxury Inns by Travel + Leisure. It definitely delivered.

The Celebration

The Apalachicola Independence Eve Celebration is jam packed with family fun. After checking into our historic B&B, we walked a couple of blocks down to Water Street where the majority of the activities were taking place. We brought our lawn chairs and blanket and found a grassy spot near the dock with a perfect eye-line to the fireworks display that would take place over the water. Everyone is super respectful of your claimed spot and we left our chairs for hours with no one moving them. It was such a relief to know our viewing spot was secure and we could enjoy the festivities!

First up, we grabbed some Oyster City (local brewery) beers and headed to the Bounce House, so Westley could jump, while we enjoyed live music. The. It was time for the Parade, which includes locals who decorate golf carts with Americana decor and hand out everything from beads to juice and candy.

Post parade, it’s time for the free ice cream social where you can choose from vanilla or chocolate ice cream and toppings. So we definitely broke the rule and had dessert before dinner 🙂

While there was a food truck court with options from seafood and gourmet tacos to a British food truck serving up fish n chips, we opted to walk around and find a local restaurant to sit down, cool down and grab a bite. We ended up at The Seafood Grill and enjoyed the fried Captain’s Basket with huge Gulf shrimp, bay scallops, fish, crab cake and hush puppies served with an array of sauces. It did not disappoint.

After dinner, we walked back to our spot on the lawn and got ready for the main event!

Fireworks

I’ve seen a lot of fireworks in my life and this display definitely takes first place. Hands down the best fireworks show ever. The choreography, variety of fireworks and length made it a spectacular display! The fireworks over the water felt like a 3D display and we were all in awe!

Once the 30-minute show wrapped, we grabbed our chairs and walked back to our B&B – no traffic or hassles…just a nice walk, hot shower and a super comfy bed.

If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate 4th of July, Apalachicola is a great choice and will be our new go to for one of my favorite holidays! St. George Island is super close, so you can also extend the trip and spend some time at one of the area’s beautiful beaches!

Happy Independence,

Ivette

A Colorful Day at Crayola Experience

To kick off our summer family vacation, we headed to Orlando a few days before boarding our Disney Cruise. Since we would be surrounded by Mickey and friends for an entire week, we wanted to experience a different side of Orlando.

Researching attractions outside of Disney, I found Crayola Experience — a fun and colorful attraction, bigger than a football field and filled with arts, crafts, imagination and play. We decided to spend our first afternoon exploring Crayola Experience! This was a great choice for our family as it was nostalgic for us and incredibly fun and engaging for Westley.

We started the tour by making crayons — Westley chose an orange and I (with his help and input) made a “Mama Blue” shade.

We then went to one of the interactive stations where Westley became the star of his very own coloring book page. Then he spent a while playing in the interior playground and after that we enjoyed some of the interactive exhibits from making frogs dance to creating a magical masterpiece mixing and melting two crayons.

The verdict: Crayola Experience was fabulous! It provided entertainment, learning opportunities and a creative outlet for our little guy. If we lived in Orlando, we would definitely buy an annual pass and would also consider the birthday party option as that would be such a fun party theme and event!

The best part?! Crayola Experience is offering my readers a discounted admission fee of $18.99 if you buy tickets using this link: http://bit.ly/2H86tUk

Happy Coloring,

Ivette

Orlando Travel Diary: How to Vacation in the City without doing Disney

Since we are headed on our first Disney Cruise (five days out of Port Canaveral), we wanted to maximize our vacation and spend the weekend leading into the cruise in Orlando. However, as we’ll be spending an entire week with Mickey and friends on the ship, we did not want to visit any Disney parks during the Orlando leg of our vacation.

Instead, our family will be exploring Orlando’s many other awesome attractions and enjoying another side of the city. After researching potential activities, we landed on two attractions and a few yummy restaurants to kick off our getaway.

Here’s a sampling of our planned itinerary. I’ll be sharing full posts on each attraction once we’re back from our trip 🙂

Day One

Crayola Experience

We’ll be hitting the road bright and early and driving straight to Crayola Experience for a colorful kick off to our family vacation. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty excited about spending the day in a magical Crayola world that is bigger than an NFL football field! There are 26 hands-on attractions to explore from starring in your own coloring page to naming and making your own crayon (fingers crossed adults can curate their own Crayola crayon too)!

With two floors and more than 70,000 square feet of play space, we will be giving our creatiovy a work out. After all that fun, we will need to re-fuel and will likely grab a bite at the on-site Café Crayola, which serves pizza, salads, hot dogs and snacks. This entire experience will easily entertain W for 3-4 hours, which is perfect as we will then head to our hotel for check-in, nap and then off to dinner.

The team at Crayola Experience is so sweet they have shared a special offer for all of you! Click here to access the discounted general admission ticket for $18.99!

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 Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming

I’ve been dying to try Chef Art Smith’s new restaurant in Disney Springs. Last time we visited there were no reservations available, so I made sure to book well in advance for this trip. Chef Art Smith is an FSU alum who cooked for two Florida Governors and was Oprah’s personal chef. He’s fairly active in the Tallahassee community, making appearances over the years, so I’m looking really forward to this Southern cuisine experience. The hard part will be deciding what to order. I literally want EVERYTHING on the menu. A must have will be the Jasper Board with smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, shaved country and Tasso hams, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans and buttermilk crackers. Can’t wait to bask in all the grits, gravy and goodness of good ole Southern food and share the food experience post trip!

Day Two

 Columbia Restaurant, Celebration

I LOVE the original Columbia restaurant in Ybor City (Tampa) and the gorgeous St. Augustine location, so when we were discussing Mother’s Day brunch, I came across the Columbia in Celebration (an adorable Truman Show-esque perfect little town near Orlando) and of course decided to book it. Sam and I have a slight (okay huge) obsession with Cuban food, so there is no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with an original Cuban sandwich, “1905 salad,” Boliche, Sangria and Crema Catalana. Que rico!

 Medieval Times

This Queen will be spending Mother’s Day with her King and the Little Prince at the Medieval Times Castle in Orlando. We are super pumped about this experience because it will be a first for us all. I vacationed in Orlando growing up, but somehow never made it to this attraction. Sam has loved the idea of Medieval Times since he watched The Cable Guy way back when and Westley is all about horses and knights, so this will certainly be a treat.

We selected the 6:30pm show for obvious reasons (there’s also an 8:30pm show) and doors will open at 4:45pm, which will give us plenty of time to check out Medieval Life Village & Museum as well as the Castle Halls. The coolest part? In its 34-year history, the show has always had a King ruling the kingdom, but now a Queen is in charge. Can’t wait to check out this show.

Ready for jousting, epic battles, Falconry (our last name Faulkner is derived from Falconers!) and an exquisite equine experience all paired with a royal dinner and libations. Now what to wear to go with my crown?

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Excited to share pictures, videos and full reviews of each of these attractions and restaurants in the coming weeks!

 

Happy Traveling,

 

Ivette

Fit Tips: Making Time for YOU

The juggle is real. I get it because I live it. Managing being a mom, a wife, a full time job, friends, family and working out – there is a lot to do, with very little time.

Time is such an important currency and unfortunately it’s limited. So lately I’ve prioritized ME, making time for working out and using that time to level set, think and thank myself for everything I do.

As a working mom, I’m mostly giving, giving, giving. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to give. But I’ve also learned that when I take care of myself, I’m a happier, healthier and more sane version of me, which means I can give more and it’s a better quality always.

For me, dedicating time to health and fitness has been a real game changer, so here are my tips for carving out time for working out. And trust me, it’s not all about the outside result…the best stuff is what happens on the inside!

Make it a Priority. Say “yes” to getting healthy and fit and keep saying it. Taking the first step is the hardest part, but once you start, it gets easier and easier. For me, working out has become such a mental strength. I feel strong both physically and mentally. I find when I work out, I am less stressed about things. It just sets a good foundation. I’ve actually started working out a few days a week in the morning before work and it always makes for a great way to start the day. By 8am I’ve gotten a full workout, burned 700+ calories and the actual day hasn’t really begun. I’m in a much better mood and if things pop up during the day, I can handle them much more calmly because I started the day with a sweat!

Stay Committed. Schedules change, things come up and not every week is going to be perfect. However, staying the course is so important. I have committed (and pay for) three training sessions a week. So I move mountains to make that work. There are weeks where my workouts are better than others. There are times when I feel strong and energetic and others where it takes me forever to get through one circuit with breaks in between. But I show up and I put in the work. Remember, doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Find a Work Out Buddy. This is a big one! My friend Wendy was the one who had the awesome idea more than a year ago to begin working with a personal trainer and invited me along. It was the best decision ever. With a workout buddy, you have someone who holds you accountable and vice versa. It’s also more fun to challenge each other and you get to spend quality time with a friend. So it’s a win win.

Have a Travel Fitness Plan. I travel a good bit for work and for fun. But just because you’re traveling does not mean working out goes out the window. I always pack workout clothes and either visit the hotel gym or do body weight exercises in my hotel room. Traveling already messes with your routine, so the more closely you can stick to your regular fitness regimen, the better you will feel!

Find Pockets of Time for Mini Workouts. There are so many exercises you can do just about anywhere. Working in a set of squats, push ups or lunges throughout the day keeps you moving and you can do these any time! It’s a good way to keep the blood pumping and avoid sitting at a desk all day.

Invest in Cute Athleisure. Once upon a time (in college) I would wear whatever to work out. Old t-shirt and soffe shorts (remember those…) would usually do. But I find that dressing for the occasion makes working out even more fun. These days there are so many cute athleisure looks and it truly makes a difference. When you look good and feel good, your work outs are bound to reap the rewards. Another bonus, you can go from gym to work or out and about with cute apres gym gear!

Track Your Progress. Nothing beats seeing the progress in pics or on paper. You see yourself everyday, so sometimes the strides you make are not as obvious to you. That’s why taking measurements and photos is so important. You can see the difference in a tangible way. My other favorite tool is the MyZone app. I wear a heart rate monitor/belt when I work out, so I know how I’m pe performing every step of the way. After every work out I receive an email with tons of data from length of workout to calories burned, times in each heart rate zone, etc. At the end of each month, I get a report of my performance and that’s where I really see the time and effort materialized. It’s exciting and motivating to see all the hard work as a trackable report. I burned almost 10,000 calories last month and worked out for over 2,100 minutes. That keeps me going month after month!

Bottom line, being healthy and getting fit should be a lifestyle. There needs to be a mind shift (and it will happen with consistency) where working out is essential and part of your routine. Just like you need to eat, sleep, shower and work…it makes that list. That’s when the magic happens. When it becomes less of a chore and simply a part of who you are.

Happy Sweating,

Ivette