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

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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

Spring Fling

After spending a frigid week in NYC, I am ready for Spring and more grateful than ever for living in the Sunshine State.

Wearing tights, boots, sweaters and coats all week, has me dreaming of Spring florals, light dresses, open toed shoes and perfect pedicures. Here are some of the looks I’m currently obsessing over – all at great prices.

Gingham

This classic print is having a moment and there are so many looks to choose from — dresses, skirts, tops and even  bathing suits. Pair with a perfect picnic and celebrate the coming of Spring 🙂

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Gdress

Dress

Gwraptop

Top

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Wrap Dress

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Bathing Suit

Florals

Nothing says Spring quite like floral prints. It’s a seasonal staple that is feminine and classic. Loving all these different ways to rock floral.

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Dress

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Jumpsuit

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Floral Lace Top

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Floral + Stripe Shorts

Nautical

This is a staple in my wardrobe every Spring and Summer. Nautical is classic and can take so many different directions from crisp white to traditional navy and white stripes to adding a pop of red.
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Jumpsuit

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Dress

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Maxi

Happy Shopping!

Ivette

Airport Stories: Original Boss Lady

When you spend a lot of times in airports like I do, there is a good share of people watching (some of it pretty epic) and a lot of conversations you overhear. Mostly it’s loud businesspeople on conference calls acting like they’re more important than they are, but ever so often, you hit story gold.

Today as I waited for a flight in South Florida I overheard an older lady talking about her career and life — and it was fascinating, a real treat. It may be my admiration and love of my grandmother, but I have always loved older women and their incredible stories. Life was so different for them.

This woman, who is now in her 80s, always wanted to be an engineer, but when she was growing up that was not a possibility. She went to school and ended up working on some of the first computer chips. Later in her career, she decided to go back to grad school and became an engineer at age 52. She went on the job hunt and attended engineering conferences, bringing her resume along — determined to find a job. At her age, she said a lot of people thought she was overqualified, but she convinced a company to take a chance on her rather than a young graduate. She worked as an engineer for 13 years! Her career goals and dreams realized.

As a working mom who loves her career as well as her family, it was so inspiring listening in on a story of perseverance. This woman had a vision for herself and she worked at it even if it took her well into her 50s to make it a reality.

Know we have a long way to go, and there are still challenges women face, but I absolutely love eavesdropping on the stories of women trailblazers who paved the way for the lady bosses of today.

So let’s keep making power moves and raise our children to dream big, be kind and make this world a better place.

XO,

Ivette

The Soccer Chronicles

As a parent, you have all kinds of illusions of how things will work out. Then of course, there is always the reality J For us, having Westley play soccer was one such little scenario. We ordered him ADIDAS from head to toe, the cutest cleats with neon green laces, and on the very first Saturday of the season, we arrived on the field with the highest hopes and excitement. Our wild man looked so adorable and he loves the kicking the “soccer ball” with his dad. So introducing him to a full on team of other kids and a sport a week after turning three should’ve been a great idea…right? WRONG. Oh boy, was it not our best move. The universe has been laughing at us for this decision.

We made it five of the seven weeks of soccer. But, real talk, it was PAINFUL. Every week, we went out there and gave it our all, but for me and for my husband, it was an anxiety-ridden hour. You tell yourself every week: “Let’s have fun. Let him do whatever he wants. We won’t get stressed or frustrated.” But it’s just so hard when your kid is just not listening or interested. Granted, he loves kicking the ball and running, but it’s on his own terms.

It’s been a rollercoaster and truthfully we only have ourselves to blame. Clearly, we were too eager to get him going in a fun sport. But I had no clue when we signed up for the team that said “age 3” that his entire team and most of the kids playing in general were four, four and a half and some almost five. If you’re a parent of a young child I’m sure you can appreciate the wild difference six months make. I know I definitely do after this experience.

Our other big issue is Westley’s size. He looks a lot older than he is because he’s tall. So I think most people automatically assume he’s three and a half or even four. He was bigger than most of the kids on his team, but developmentally he literally just turned three, so he’s not on their same level. That’s always been something I deal with and I try and make it a point to let people know his age right away, so they’re not expecting him to behave like a much older kid.

I talked to a lot of parents on the field and most of them were incredibly understanding and kind – mainly because either their own kids were not listening or participating or because they’d been through two to three seasons before arriving at where they are today. It was re-assuring to hear this from other parents. Our kid wasn’t that different from theirs and basically the first few seasons of any sport with a small child is torture for the parents. Of course, there were a few judgmental glances and comments. One in particular from what I imagine are some kid’s grandparents. An older man laughing and pointing at W and saying: “he has no interest in this.” (hahahaha) As a Mama Bear, I wanted to yell at him, but that’s not how I roll, so I let it roll off my back.

It may just be me, but I think a lot of older people forget what it’s like to have very young children and definitely love to either openly judge you or give their opinions. C’est la vie. I just hope I remember these days two decades from now and show other parents some grace and kindness. There’s not enough of that in the world.

We did our best and I think for the most part Westley had fun. He sure looked adorable every Saturday. I will say i9 Sports and his coach as so sweet. Coach Marcel was so patient with him and encouraging and I was so proud of the time Westley did spend on the field whether practicing or his 2 minutes of playtime.

We will definitely be back. But the lesson here is we need to hang back and let him mature a bit. Our soccer dreams aren’t over, they are just on hold. We’re going to try again this summer during the Soccer Clinic, so he can be in a smaller group and learn the basics. By then, I hope he’s more mature. And if it doesn’t work out, then it’s on to the next thing. I never want to force anything on my child. Every kid is different, with different skills and passions. As a parent, we need to support and encourage whatever makes your kid shine.

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I definitely wasn’t blessed with sports skills and my mom never forced anything on me. I distinctly remember when ballet and choir became too demanding along with school responsibilities and she told me, just pick one. You don’t have to do everything, especially if it’s not fun. So I’m taking her advice and my own.

I’ll report back this summer and see how “Soccer Take 2” goes.

Until then, W can kick the ball around with his dad and play on his own terms.

XO,

Ivette

 

 

 

 

Cliquish: Influencer Networking Event

A few weeks ago, a friend and colleague sent me info on a networking event and panel – “So you want to be an Influencer” featuring a variety of veteran and up-and-coming influencers who were going to share their experiences and insights.

I decided it would be fun and interesting to attend and put myself out there in a scenario that was a bit unknown. Not going to lie, I was pretty sure I would be walking into an event where I was the oldest (by a decade plus) and would stick out like a sore thumb. But I decided, in my third decade, to step out of my comfort and just go for it.

Arriving at the event, I was greeted by a variety of faces, women of all ages, interests, race and ethnicity. It was refreshing to talk to so many different women who are passionate about sharing their interests and lives with others in a very public platform.

The panel was a slice of the social world from Ms. Danti, a make-up maven and PhD student, who has been in the game before there was a game to an 18-year old YouTuber, who started blogging in middle school and took off last summer when she made daily relationship challenge videos with her boyfriend. (Apparently this is a huge area of interest for younger girls.)

Loved hearing each of their journeys, tips and perspective. While they were very different, the one common denominator was their desire to connect with people through authentic content and giving others a glimpse into their lives and passion. There’s a lot of power in being vulnerable and opening yourself up to others. And I connected instantly with that part of each of their journeys.

I was reminded that networking is such a powerful tool and got to know a lot of new ladies, and even left with a new friend – a fellow Mama Bear of three, who is also Hispanic and loves sharing her journey of motherhood and passion for fashion.

If nothing else, there is always value in putting yourself out there, meeting new people, talking about common interests and making connections.

This event solidified why I do this. I enjoy having a creative outlet that is all mine, not dictated by others, and the ability to share with people the things I love. If I can make someone smile, try something new or even step out of their own comfort zone, then it’s the cherry on top!

Xo,

Ivette