Tips for Tubing the Ichetucknee River with Kids

Tips for Tubing the Ichetucknee River with kids

Every year our family joins 5-6 other families for our annual trip to Ichetucknee Springs State Park to go tubing down the Ichetucknee River.  This is our 4th year that we've taken this trip and each year we learn a few more tips to make it more fun for the kids (and adults). Ichetucknee Springs is a State Park in North Florida near the Georgia line.  It's about a 2-3 hour drive north for us from Tampa so it's not a bad weekend trip.  You could make it a day trip depending on how early you wanted to get started in the morning but we turn it into a weekend getaway.  The springs are part of the Suwannee River Valley and feed through some of the oldest and most natural parts of Florida.  The temperature in the springs is an ice cold 72 degrees year-round making it a perfect adventure for those balmy Florida summer days. Since the river is protected and managed by the Florida State Parks there are some rules (and tips) you need to be aware of before you go. 1. Tubing season ... [ Read More ]

Busch Gardens All-Day Dining Deal

Tips for Using the Busch Gardens All-Day Dining Deal

Do you usually take advantage of dining plans when you go to theme parks?  This past weekend while at Busch Gardens we decided to see if it was worth the price. Yes, there is a price associated with the all-day dining deal at Busch Gardens.  For adults, the price is $32.99 and for kids (ages 3-9) the price is $16.99.  If you are a passholder you can get a discount on the dining deals.  That may seem like a lot of money on top of the price of admission and parking, but I'll explain why it's a good deal! What's included in the all-day dining deal?  Each person in your party who pays for the dining deal will receive a wrist band.  With that wrist band you'll receive 1 entree, 1 side or dessert, and 1 fountain drink, tea or water on each trip through the line.  You can essentially eat and drink all day for one low price.  You are welcome to go through the line and just order a drink or just order a dessert.  You don't have to get everything each time you go through the line.  Most ... [ Read More ]

Avocado, Lime, Banana, Coconut Yogurt Push Pops

Avocado Lime Banana Push Pops

Last week while shopping we found these adorable push pop molds and for $1.99 I couldn't resist.  They sat hidden below the sink for a week until I decided what to put in them.  As I mentioned in my Avocado, Lime, Banana Smoothie recipe, I have a love affair with all things avocado! We decided to spike the recipe we used yesterday with some shredded coconut for a little texture.  While I bought a bag of shredded coconut for this recipe; my daughter actually convinced me to buy a real coconut for her.  Have you ever tried to crack a coconut?  It's not as easy as it looks but thanks to a video I found on YouTube I learned a trick.  After I attempted and only got a drop or two of coconut milk, my husband proceeded to crack it open using a hammer just like in the video.  (How to crack open a coconut video)  We had fun showing her what was inside, sipping the milk, and munching on the meat.  Well worth the $2.00 I spent to show her where stuff comes from. Back to the push pops! ... [ Read More ]

What Makes A House a Home?

#mommycertified

When you look around your home what do you see?  At first glance you may see the physical aspects of your home; the floors, the color on the walls, or the mirror at the end of the hall, but when you really look inside a home there is so much more to a home than the walls and beams. Look closely around you for the finger prints on the walls from when your kids forgot to wash their hands after painting the picture you have hanging on the refrigerator.  Or the sand that your little one emptied from her shoes after playing at the beach.  The collection of sea shells that your family brought home from your last vacation.  These are the little things that really make a house a home. For me, a home tells a story about your family.  It's the memories that you make while playing board games with your kids, or teaching your child to cook, or helping your kids with their homework after a long day at school.  It's about the dreams that are made when you open the door to your new home.  A new ... [ Read More ]

Avocado, Lime, Banana Yogurt Smoothies

Avocado Lime Banana Smoothie

What could say summer more than a refreshing tropical smoothie?  I've always been an avocado junkie (seriously, I could live off these things) but my love was revitalized last week when I saw a friend of mine post a recipe about Tropical Avocado Popsicles.  They just looked absolutely delicious.  Today on my trip to the grocery store I filled my shopping cart with a few ingredients that I was craving; avocados, limes, bananas, and some Smooth & Creamy Vanilla Stonyfield yogurt.  My intention was to make some avocado push pops using some new molds we found at the store last week.  My daughter has been DYING to use them. My little chef wanted to help in the kitchen too so I let her add all the ingredients to the blender and control the buttons!  I love that she enjoys being in the kitchen with me.  After we filled up our 4 push pops (recipe coming tomorrow) she begged me to drink the leftovers!  Instead, we added a few more ingredients and made the mixture a little thicker for a ... [ Read More ]

10 Tips for Reducing Plastic in our Lives

Balm Baby Plastic Free Challenge and Giveaway

Take a minute and look around you.  How much plastic do you see?  So many products that we use everyday are made of or stored in plastic.  Plastic will NEVER break down - EVER!  You may be able to upcycle it or recycle it but there is a limit to the number of times it can be used.  In the end, it will end up floating in our oceans as tiny little plastic pellets that will harm the animals and ecosystems.  I won't go into the details behind all of the waste but I encourage you to visit a friend of mine, Beth Terry, and her blog My Plastic Free Life.  While she may be one of the biggest advocates for living plastic free; we can all make little changes in our lives to help the problem. Keep reading and scroll down to enter the Balm Baby Plastic FREE July Challenge and Giveaway! I have compiled a quick list of practical tips on how we can all reduce the plastic in our lives.  Don't let these overwhelm you - just pick a few of the items on the list and pay attention to the things that ... [ Read More ]

What My Misfit Shine Has Taught Me

Misfit Shine Fitness Tracker

Activity and fitness trackers are all the rage these days.  Almost weekly I see friends in my Facebook feed asking for advice on which one to get.  I've had my Misfit since May after I met some of their marketing team at Mom 2.0 blogging conference in Atlanta and have been wearing it everyday since then.  I'm not a fitness fanatic and honestly I don't really make working out a priority most days (I know I should...I know!!). My Misfit Shine has actually taught me a lot about myself, my daily activity, and even a little about my sleep patterns.  Thankfully, I've learned I'm not always a lazy bum! 1. I'm not lazy!  OK, well not every day at least.  Being a mom, working full-time, taking care of the house (hahahaha, yeah right), running kids to school and extraciricular activities, and shopping actually keep me more active than I ever imagined.  My least active days are usually Monday and Tuesday when I'm strapped to my computer for hours trying to catch up from the weekend off ... [ Read More ]

5 Fun (and Rewarding) Summer Reading Challenges for Kids

5 Fun and Rewarding Summer Reading Programs for Kids #summerreading

Are you looking for fun ways to encourage your kids to read more this summer?  Great news, there are several programs available locally and online to reward your kids for reading. The Rays have paired up with the local libraries for Reading with the Rays; if your child reads for 24 hours they get a free Rays ticket!  Plus most local libraries also have an end of summer party scheduled to celebrate your child's summer reading accomplishments.  I know the Palm Harbor Library has a party scheduled for August 2nd.     Read any 8 books and Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program will reward your child with a free book.  You can download a reading journal on their website to track your child's goals.     Once your child reads 5 books they can be entered to win prizes from the Pizza Hut Summer Book It Challenge.  Pizza Hut also has a fun Instagram contest and scavenger hunt to support their program; follow #bookitsummer online for more information.    Kids who read 8 books from a ... [ Read More ]

Carvel + Nutella = Heaven in a Cup (or Cone)

http://www.kellyscloset.com/Kellys-Closet-Return-Policies_ep_50-1.html

  From now until Sept 30th you can indulge on the delicious Nutella inspired recipes at Carvel ice cream shops.  The popular hazelnut spread has been added to their soft-serve, hand-scooped and sundae dashers for your summer enjoyment. “We could not be more excited to offer our handcrafted Carvel ice cream with Nutella® hazelnut spread as an exciting treat this summer,” said Carvel President Scott Colwell.  “Nutella® has such a loyal following and we know our guests will be thrilled that it’s being paired with our fresh ice cream.” What are some reasons you might be stopping by Carvel this summer?  With the kids out of school for another 2 months I'm sure I can think of a few reasons. To reward your kids for reading over summer! To salvage a crappy day from complete disaster! For a family night out on the town! For a mom's night out without the kids! For a date night (again, without the kids)! For a cool treat after a long day at the beach! For those lazy ... [ Read More ]

Sea Shell Picture Frame Tutorial For Kids

Sea Shell Picture Frame

We just got back from a week long beach vacation and we may have collected a huge bag full of sea shells, sea glass, and other sea rocks.  When we got home we made a quick trip to Michael's to pick up some craft supplies.  Picture frames, glue, jewelry cord, ribbon, candles, and jars are all sitting next to our dining room table ready for us to get our craft on! We weren't home for 5 minutes and my daughter (she's my crafty minion) was begging me to make the shell heart frame!  The begging continued for almost 24 hours before we actually had time to sit down and work on it.  I probably won't be opening an Etsy store anytime soon but we had a lot of fun and will have sweet memories when we look at it. Supplies Needed: Wooden picture frame Miscellaneous paint brushes Acrylic paint (assorted colors) Elmer's Glue Sea Shells Picture from the Beach Directions: Paint the wooden picture frame.  You can tell that we had different techniques.  I prefer one solid ... [ Read More ]