Take a Staycation in Downtown Tampa

Tampa Streetcar

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, have you ever truly explored the downtown area?  We live in Palm Harbor and only come downtown for sporting events and shows.  When Embassy Suites Downtown Tampa invited us to spend a few nights with them I was really excited to check out parts of town that we usually just drive past on the way to an event.  It was really nice not having to worry about transportation and travel expenses to go on vacastaycation.  We spent 3 days and 2 nights downtown and we could have easily spent an entire week to see everything. The Embassy Suites is located adjacent to Amalie Arena and the Tampa Convention Center, overlooking the Bay.  It would be a great place to stay the night if you didn't want to drive home after a concert or hockey game.  On our first night we were lucky enough to be downtown during the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals and walked across the street to the Bolts watch party inside Amalie Arena.  We would never have driven 45 minutes to ... [ Read More ]

6 Reasons Why Tweens With Braces are Just Like Toddlers!

Tweens With Braces are Like Toddlers

Tweens!  Now that my oldest is twelve we're entering stages of parenting that I've never experienced before.  Tweens are already a mess with all that puberty stuff and just as much fun as our own emotional pregnant and PMSing selves.  I have a feeling that parenting through this stuff is going to be a lot like parenting a toddler.  This week we added braces to our lives (his teeth, not mine) and it's been....hilarious!! Here's a video I took of him of the first day after getting braces....oh how quickly the joy and excitement wore off!   1. Do teething drops work for braces? I'm not one to medicate my child, but braces do hurt.  I remember them from when I was his age and they hurt for a while, and again every time you get them tightened. He only relied on the pain reliever for the first few days and I think he's finally getting use to the feeling of his braces. 2. Buy a splatter shield for all the spit!  There is so much spit coming from their mouth.  He hasn't ... [ Read More ]

The Truth About Spray Sunscreens

The Truth About Spray Sunscreens

This post is sponsored by Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen. For years we've heard warnings that spray sunscreens should be avoided.  I have to say that as a busy mom in Florida, spray sunscreens can be very appealing.  Our kids move quick and don't sit still very long for us to apply lotion sunscreen.  I've religiously been using lotion sunscreens for the last few years and trying to explain to my friends why I don't want them used on my children. Did you know that most spray sunscreens are flammable?  Check the ingredients list and you'll most likely find alcohol as one of the ingredients in most spray sunscreens.  Alcohol is highly flammable and can turn your sunscreen bottle into a very dangerous and explosive bottle. Did you know that most spray sunscreens can be harmful if inhaled?  Any material when sprayed in or near your mouth and nose can be harmful.  When you are spraying traditional sunscreens, you're also spraying alcohol, fragrances, and lots of toxic ... [ Read More ]

Summer Sun Safety Tips with Goddess Garden Sunscreen

Summer Sun Safety Tips

This post is sponsored by Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen. There's a lot more to sun safety than just applying a good, natural mineral sunscreen.  Our family spends a lot of time outside in the pool, at the beach, playing sports, and at school.  May is skin cancer awareness month and we can all take a little more time to protect our skin from the suns damaging rays. 1. Remember to apply a good facial sunscreen every day! Goddess Garden Facial Sunscreen can be applied under your makeup and is safe for kids.  You can get burnt even when you're driving around town with the sunroof open. 2. Wear your sunglasses! Especially if you have light colored eyes, you'll want to protect your eyes in the sun.  I can't go out without my sunglasses and it's just as important for us to teach our children the same safety tips. 3. Wear hats.  It doesn't matter what type of hat, you will add a little extra protection to your face and you'll be protecting your scalp.  It's really hard to ... [ Read More ]

Floridians add what to their coffee??

Seattles Best Orange Coffee

It doesn't matter how hot it gets in Florida, it's never too hot for coffee.  I didn't start drinking coffee until after my second child was born and now I don't usually miss a day.  There is something about the smell of that pot of coffee brewing in the morning to really kickstart my morning.  A few months ago I finally ditched my K-cups and fell in love with my french press.  If you aren't using a french press yet, you may enjoy this quick tutorial on how to get started (French Press 101).  All it takes is some boiling water and coffee.  Here in Florida though, we add a little bit of orange zest in the springtime to add a little sunshine to your coffee. Seattle's Best Orange Coffee Recipe 2 TBS Breakfast Blend Seattle's Best coffee 1/2 TBS Orange Zest 12oz filtered water Milk or half&half to taste Sugar or sweetener to taste If you're using a french press, add coffee grounds and orange zest directly to your press.  Add boiling water, cover, and sit for 4 ... [ Read More ]

Parenting Isn’t Always Easy, Neither is Marriage

#CreatingConnections

Sponsored post. Tonight I'm wiping up the tears and putting on my game face for the next seven weeks.  Last week my husband got a job offer that will require him to be out of town for the next seven weeks to train for the new position; leaving me to hold down the fort at home.  I'd like to say that I'm excited about this new job, but in reality I'm scared. His new job will require him to travel...a lot! Earlier in our marriage, I was the one who had to travel upwards of 60 days out of the year.  I look back at those years and wonder how it was so easy for him.  I don't ever remember him complaining that I had to leave, or worrying about getting our toddler off to school AND make it to work on time.  He just....managed.  Part of me really enjoyed traveling and getting to see new parts of the country; but the reality was I spent most of my time alone in airports and hotels. Right now we share most of the joys of parenting.  He's able to help get the kids to and from ... [ Read More ]

Working through mom guilt…

CellPhone1

It happened, my six year old told me something brutally honest this morning. "Mommy, put your phone down! You're always playing on it. Won't you play with me instead."   (silence - let that soak in)   ...I immediately set the phone down and finished helping her get ready for school.  I made a conscious effort to not pick up my phone for the rest of the morning.  I dropped the kids off at school, came home and went to work, but those words stuck with me ALL day! Am I really on my phone THAT much? Clearly, if a six year old thinks I'm on my phone too much then it's got to be true. Here's the thing though, I have made an effort for the past year to be more present in my kids lives.  Not that I'm a absent mom (absent minded maybe, but not absent), but it's so easy to focus too much effort on the wrong things.  I've made an effort to leave my phone on my desk when the kids are home from school in the afternoon, during dinner, and while they get ready for bed. ... [ Read More ]

Sunsets in Winter

Sunset in Florida

The weather is warm this week in Florida and I decided that tonight we were going to watch the sunset on the beach.  We don't typically go out on school nights, but we were passing by the beach and I had to stop.  The ocean was calling my name. I needed to fill my soul with sunshine, sand, and salt air. Children were barefoot, rocks were tossed, sand was thrown in the air. I'll find the remnants of the trip for weeks to come in the bottom of my purse and on the floorboards of my Jeep.  Children giggled and dug holes in the sand.  They got dirty. The rays of the sun peeked through the clouds and glistened the ocean below. Strands of hair glimmered. Memories were made. Bedtimes were delayed. Dinner was quick and not very healthy. The ocean shimmered and waited anxiously for one final kiss from the sun. As the sun and the ocean became one, the clouds were tinted with every color of the rainbow. The day was done. Location: Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, FL About the photos above: ... [ Read More ]

20 Creative Discipline & Punishment Ideas for School Age Children

20 Creative Discipline & Punishment Ideas for School Age Children

Today was one of those days as a parent that I had to improvise and come up with a new plan. Late last week I had to take away some of my oldest's privileges due to some missing grades.  I took away the typical things; television, video games, electronics, etc.  The only problem with these punishments is that I'm also punished because now I have to find a way to entertain him because he's bored.  I know I'm not alone, we've all been there with our kids at different stages in their lives.  My goal today was to find that balance so that I could get some of my weekend chores done and he would not be bored. In a moment of venting I posed the following question to some of my Facebook friends, "I need a list of creative punishments that don't punish the parent! Taking away TV, computer, etc just isn't cutting it! I'm the only one that suffers." By the time I had asked this, both kids were being punished.  Don't you love it how the one child in trouble finds a way to antagonize the ... [ Read More ]

Valspar Championship Family Friendly Events 2015

ValsparChampionship

This post is sponsored by the 2015 Valspar Championship. Continue reading to the end and enter to win a 4 pack of tickets to the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL. We've lived in Palm Harbor for almost 10 years now and March is my favorite time of the year.  We didn't realize when we decided on Palm Harbor that Innisbrook was within walking distance from our house and that every March, the big blimp would be flying overhead.  It's fun for us to tell our out-of-state family to watch the Valspar Championship to see our house from the blimp and the kids love it.  What kid doesn't love to see a blimp in the sky? I don't think there's been a year that at least 1-2 of us have gone to a round of the Championship.  There were a few years when I stayed home when Bailey was a baby and let the boys enjoy the day on the course.  In 2014 we finally took our youngest (she was 5 then) to her first Championship and she loved every minute of it.  I would never have imagined ... [ Read More ]