Category:

Travel

Travel

road trip, Ford, #Exploremore, Canada, travel, platinum adventure tour

I am writing this on the plane as I head out for my epic road trip adventure with Ford to explore Kamloops to Calgary Canada. I am bound for an adventure through some of the most beautiful terrains in Canada. For the next four days, I will be driving the new 2016 Ford Explorer on one of six legs of Ford Explorer Platinum Adventure Tour.

What better way to introduce the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum – a vehicle that combines the best of Limited and Sport editions – than with a road trip trek through western North America to end all road trips.

Ford has created a one-of-a-kind adventure for an all-in-one SUV that is ready to #ExploreMore. Over the past 25 years, Ford Explorer has reigned as the best-selling SUV in the United States, with more than 7 million sold. Yet even with those numbers, there are countless adventures still to be had. That’s where I come in!

Road trip time to #ExploreMore

Ford, #Exploremore, Canada, travel, platinum adventure tour, road trip

I have the honor and pleasure of joining the Ford Explorer team as they carve a path from Vancouver to Albuquerque, with a fleet of 2016 Explorer Platinum models. There are six distinct adventures planned that cover more than 2,000 miles along some of the greatest roads in North America.

My leg of this epic road trip journey is the Calgary Stampede. I chose this leg of the adventure because I am into pushing the limits in my travels and a huge fan of some of the most remote landscapes on the planet. When I travel some place, especially when by car, I want to be surrounded by beautiful majestic scenery and when I saw the itinerary for this adventure, I knew this was the road trip for me.

Today, I am journeying to Kamloops, British Columbia to join my fellow Ford explorers on this adventure. Tomorrow morning, my chance to really explore more begins as I depart Kamloops, cross the Canadian Rockies and eventually find my way back to Calgary.

Tomorrow, I will overnight in Revelstoke, near majestic Glacier National Park, home to more than 400 glaciers where 12 percent of the landscape is covered by perpetual ice and snow.

Over the next 4 days, there will be cerulean Lake Louise and lovely Moraine Lake which boasts views for which there are no words, but I will certainly try to find the words to share this once in a lifetime road trip.

Who knows, maybe I’ll take a gondola ride in Banff or a scenic drive around Lake Minnewanka. One thing is for certain; I will be sharing this epic adventure and all the information on how the new 2016 Ford Explorer handles. Follow along on my social media channels; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Periscope. Just keep your eyes on the #ExploreMore hashtag.

I brought the good camera, so expect some stunning photos of some of the most beautiful, majestic landscapes in the world.

If you had the chance to explore anywhere in the world, what would be your ultimate road trip?

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sunrise, travel, traveling alone, traveling without kids

Leaving my children behind when I travel is the hardest thing I do. I travel and I love it. I travel a lot with my kids and the Big Guy. I traveled a lot before I had children. I was born with an insatiable wanderlust and it always begs for more. I don’t se it ever being satisfied. There is an ever growing bucket list of travel destinations because any place can be an adventure if you’re open to it.

Before I had my girls, I had specifically chosen a career path that would allow me the freedom to travel the world. I wanted to see the whole thing; every nook and cranny and hidden treasure of a culture. I still do; now, I just want to do it with my family.

Right now, as I type this, I’m watching the sun come up from 13000 feet. The view is spectacular. I only wish my daughters were here to see it with me. But they were left behind on this trip. Sometimes, we moms have to travel the road less traveled alone and that’s good because it allows us to grow and be better for our children.

I’m headed to New York City this morning. It’s my first trip there, which is ironic because this was the place I’d decided to call home so many years ago. But it wasn’t meant to be. Before my life plan could come together, I met the man I would marry and life took us in other directions, as life often does.

Still, here I am, like Icarus flying too close to the sun, heading for the missed opportunity trying my best to keep my hubris in check. I’m headed to BlogHer 2015. I haven’t been in a couple years but it seems kismet that I would find myself headed to my original destination with a plethora of opportunities before me on this sunny July morning.

We just returned from a family road trip on the east coast in Ogunquit, Maine. It was magical and more relaxing than any vacation I’ve ever had. My girls are turning into quite the junior travelers. I can see in them that the wanderlust is strong and that makes me happy. They are miniature foodies with an insatiable desire to know all the places of the world; to speak the language, eat the food and live amongst the people. This is my legacy.

Of course, this is the part I hate… Leaving them behind when I go on my travels. Since becoming a mother, the world is so much more wonderful and exciting through their eyes. Everything is new and wondrous to them and in so, born again in mine.

When I leave on a trip, we all feel a little sad about the separation. They miss me and I miss them but while I’m in Manhattan hugging necks and chasing dreams they will be with me like a couple tiny handprints on my heart. I hate to leave them but there is something absolutely magical about knowing that I get to return home to all that love.

What is your favorite travel destination to visit without children?

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Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

Last week, I was in Ogunquit, Maine.As my Instagram feed would have shared, I was on vacation with my family. Never heard of Ogunquit, Maine? That’s okay, neither had I but now, I will never forget this quiet, quaint coastal town. It’s the perfect east coast beach getaway and what I happily refer to as Xanax for my soul. It’s the first time in years that I’ve gone on vacation and actually come home feeling relaxed.

The Big Guy was headed to Maine for business and, as we sometimes do during the summer months, we tagged along and made it a family affair. I’d always wanted to visit the Eastern Coast and play on its beaches so I looked for a hotel by the sea. At the suggestion of a friend, I found the Anchorage Resort by the Sea. Just the name itself conjures up images of waves crashing into the shore and families building sandcastles.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast, Marginal Way

After a 15-hour road trip with children, sanity still in tact, we arrived at our destination and it did not disappoint. Upon first glance, it was everything I imagined it to be. Bluish-gray siding and white shutters just like in the pictures. The staff was friendly, well-versed in their small town and attentive. The rooms, while not huge, were clean and comfy. We stretched our legs, changed our clothes and immediately started exploring.

Our first introduction to the small town of Ogunquit was our walk down the Marginal way to Perkins Cove for dinner at Barnacle Billy’s. It was at dusk. The tide was low and families were still frolicking on the beach as we walked the mile or so down the path serenaded by waves crashing as day slowly metamorphosed into night. This was only the second time our girls have been to the ocean and the scene mesmerized them.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast, Perkins COve

Once we made it to Perkins Cove, after several stops for photo ops along the way, we made it to Barnacle Billy’s a local institution. Barnacle Billy’s is located right in Perkins Cove near the footbridge; you can watch all the boats come in to dock as you enjoy your dinner. It was quite pretty. Many people opted for the hour plus wait for a seat on the patio but we were starving and sat inside.

Quick tip: If you opt for sitting inside, you will be seated immediately, you can enjoy the scenery completely and you avoid the smell of “fish”. We sampled the crab cakes (which were amazing), the lobster roll ( which for the coast was a bit pricey but absolutely delicious), the fish and chips ( which were also delicious and some of the cleanest tasting I’ve ever had) and of course, the chicken tenders ( kid tested and approved.) They also offer an assortment of local beers and are known for their Rum Punch, I would not endorse the punch however. It was very strong, so if your goal is to be drunk, go for it but overall, it didn’t taste very well.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

The simplest way to describe Ogunquit, Maine?

If you were ever a fan of The Gilmore Girls, Ogunquit is  the Stars Hollow of coastal Maine and it is absolutely endearing nothing like the bustling cities we normally visit.

Day 2: The girls and I wandered down the shop-lined Shore Drive to the Ogunquit Beach, which was a 5-minute stroll from our room. Now, the beach in Ogunquit was different than any beach I have ever been to before in that the tide came in further and further back the shoreline about 20 feet every 20 minutes, so what started out as a huge beach at 11 a.m. ended up being about a 20 foot deep shoreline by the time high tide rolled around at 3:30 p.m. It was our first time, so we learned this the hard way by moving all of our belonging 4 times. Life lesson learned: invest the $25 in one of those little chairs to sit on the beach ( much easier to move than wet, sand filled towels). We also learned the hard way that you should always double check the SPF on your sunscreen and reapply frequently while spending the day on the beach.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

We had a lot of fun on Tuesday but learned a lot of hard lessons. For instance, if you build a sandcastle on a moving shore, you will have to build it several times and children and sunburn don’t mix well. I also learned what “Jimmies” were. Ever heard this term before? Apparently, in that part of the country, it means sprinkles on ice cream. Where I’m from, it means condoms so imagine my confusion when the girl at the counter asked me if I wanted “jimmies “on my ice cream cone?

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

That night, after what we thought was stupendous day at the beach, the family had dinner at another local establishment called Jonathans. The restaurant is in what used to be the owners childhood home. The décor is quaint, the setting is intimate and the service was excellent. The customer service was so phenomenal, in fact, that when I originally called to make the reservation (before succumbing to open table for reservations) no one answered the phone. Due to my impatience, after 3 rings I went online. While I was doing that, the manager called my phone to apologize for missing the call and left a message telling me that there were tables available. Who does that? I was impressed.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast, Jonathans

Once at Jonathans we ordered the lobster bisque (phenomenal), the Calamari Rhode Island style (which was supposed to be spicy but it was not, but it was very good) and I had the Seafood pasta with clams, lobster and shrimp (it was warm buttery goodness). The Big Guy had the Italian pasta which was also very good but the portion was very generous so, if you plan to have it, come hungry. I also tried the Bloody Orange Martini, which was absolutely delectable. I could have drunk those all night long. Also, we tried the chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese, again, kid tested and approved. Then, we all strolled back to the room with full bellies and happy hearts.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

There were lots more we experienced in this amazing little beach town in Maine but I will break this into two posts, as it is getting pretty long.

Ogunquit,Maine, Coastal Maine,Beach Getaways, East Coast

Bottom line, if you ever find yourself anywhere near Ogunquit, Maine, the beautiful place by the sea, do yourself a favor and stay awhile.

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Summer vacation, blues, travel, family,vacation,summer break, traveling with kids, Nashville, Charlotte, friends

I am just getting back from the first mini summer vacation; this one was 11 days. Not actually so mini.Our summer vacation started off with 7 days in Nashville, Tennessee and capped off with 4 days in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina with great friends (I’ll write you some great travel posts about that over the next few weeks but today we’re focusing on how hard it is to come back to reality.) I have to be honest, it was exhilarating but reentry is HARD! Really hard. Like I feel like I’m moving through molasses hard.

I barely looked at my social media except for sharing a couple of photos on Instagram (because my phone was out of actual storage space) and I went a little overboard on Periscope (@DeborahCruz you have to watch the video about the drive thru safari. There is nothing quite so funny/frightening as a Bison sticking his head into your car trying to eat your tiny people.) This vacation gave me a chance to decompress and look at things a little softer and less cynical. I saw the beauty instead of the time consumption.

I’ve been back from summer vacation for 24 hours and I just can’t get back into the swing of things. I miss exploring a strange town, hanging with great people and being unplugged. Coming home and back to my reality of cleaning house, obligations and deadlines is hard. Reentry into the real world and the summer vacation blues are real.

You know, getting caught up in the grind is what keeps us going. Every day we get up, do our thing and power on to the next. It becomes old hat and we do it because we are supposed to. We never step back and deeply inhale, enjoy the moment. We can’t because every moment precedes another moment. There is always something else pressing to be done; whether it be meeting with a neighbor, checking a status, writing a post or just getting dinner done. Life is full of obligations.

The problem is when you actually do take those moments to enjoy your life, the minutes, the days the people that surround you; then you realize what you are missing and this is what is causing my raging case of summer vacation blues. We left our bubble.

We were outside enjoying the summer weather, noticing all of the new sights and sounds around us. Trying new foods, talking to new people and doing new things. We were completely out of our comfort zone and I loved every moment of it. The girls were enthralled, in the moment and never stopped exploring and engaging. The truth is that if you stop to enjoy every moment of life, it goes slower and it is actually so good that you can’t help but want it to last forever. It usually is, we just never notice because we are stuck in the minutia.

My husband and I have had the conversation that when you are in your teens and twenties, you spend your life looking for someone to love and spend your life with. You just want that all consuming, never ending happiness but you never realize (until you have it) that THAT kind of love has a price. When you truly love and enjoy something so much, it can be your undoing. The same way slowing down and going on vacation can be your undoing. You change your perspective and you change your expectations and your limitations.

I married the man I love and I have my daughters but with that I learned that the price of that happiness, that gift, is that if I lose them, it’s not something I am sure I can bounce back from because once you’ve gone there, you can’t go back. Once you’ve seen the world in living color, it’s impossible to go back to black and white.

When you go on vacation and really enjoy it, it makes it glaringly obvious how unmagical your reality is. I know the purpose of vacation is to rest and relax but it makes the price of not resting and never relaxing almost too much to bear. I came home and it’s been raining since we returned, there are no new and exciting anything, there are no old friends to love and consort with and there are bills, responsibilities. Life seems less bright. Maybe we are gypsies but we all agree on this point.

The time with old friends was amazing, however now I am left feeling more than a little deflated because it reminded me of just how much I miss them. The places we stayed on our summer vacation were beautiful, vibrant and ethereal because we were in a dream. Reality is like a room filled with fluorescent light, it gets the job done but it is severely lacking the magic factor.

 

I have the summer vacation blues but there are some things I can do to cure them.

  1. Take more time to enjoy the moments. Consciously, make the effort.
  2. Explore your own town. There are a million places that I’ve never been or eaten or explored within 2 hours driving distance but I will.
  3. Go out of your comfort zone. Obviously what is comfortable is good but it makes us complacent. I am sick of complacency.
  4. Try something new. Introduce yourself to the new neighbor, visit a local gallery or the new Ethiopian restaurant that just opened. Go to see the live bands play in the park.
  5. Do it all while taking it all in. Don’t power through life, soak it in. Bask in it like the warmth of the summer sun.

Life might feel ordinary and boring after an exciting summer vacation but if you look, if you stop and breathe for a moment, you can always find the extraordinary right beneath the surface of the ordinary people, places and things.

 

How do you cure the summer vacation blues?

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water park, waterpark, great wolf lodge, wisconsin dells, travel, bloopers, gopro

Last weekend, I went to a Great Wolf Lodge Water park with my family and I took my GoPro HERO4 Black. I got it for my birthday last year and I know everyone was wondering what the heck a “mom” was going to do with that camera. I mean no one wants to see first person diaper changes, toddler tantrums or tween eye rolls, right? It’s not like I’m jumping off of cliffs or going to be skydiving anytime soon but still, I think being a mom is pretty exciting stuff so I started bringing it with me on trips.

Mostly, I’ve been using it for recording purposes, just like I would any other camera but when I made our reservations for the water park, I packed the GoPro and my new XSORIES: U-Float 100% waterproof and buoyant handheld camera mount because I thought I might catch some fun shots of the girls or capture a thrilling ride down a waterslide.

water park, waterpark, great wolf lodge, wisconsin dells, travel, bloopers, gopro

Oh, I caught something all right. I caught my entire family losing their minds on the Tornado waterslide. Unfortunately, my husband was the one recording so mostly you see my oldest daughter and I completely losing our minds. I like to think of it as my own personal Mom’s Gone Wild video, wild as in primitive, primal and out of control of her reactions.

This video is not normally something that I would share because well, I am definitely not showing my “best” side plus I’m in a bathing suit. But you know, life is short and I’m always honest with you about what my life really looks like so I’m sharing the video of what most people really look like when they ride terrifying waterslides. Nobody can keep their composure and be cute all the time and I have to say this crazy little video made my entire family laugh.

We will never forget our weekend at Great Wolf Lodge thanks to this water park video.

I know a lot of people share what they want you to know on social media; painting the picture of the perfect life. I don’t do that. My life is complicated, sometimes hard and crazy beautiful because even when life’s harder than hard, I have the 3 other people on this inner tube to laugh, cry and love with. I am blessed to be able to have these moments.

So, here I share it with you and I encourage you to share it with anyone you know who needs a good laugh because people being terrified as they are being thrilled is funny to watch. Just don’t judge me on my bathing suit body. I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

What’s the best water park or adventure vacation you’ve ever taken your family on?

Disclosure: I was provided the Xsories U Float camera mount for review purposes but all opinions and water park mayhem are my own.

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Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

Last Thursday our family spring break started. The Big Guy, the girls and myself jumped into the Rally Red Mitsubishi Outlander that I was driving for the week and headed to my mom’s house in Chicago. I was excited because after a week trapped in the house with a husband with bronchitis and two very cabin-fevered little girls, the open road was exactly what we needed to blow the stink off spring break.

Outlander, Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

We loaded up the Outlander with all of our goodies for the weekend, including the girls and their favorite stuffed animals, bathing suits for days and all the pillows in the house. I was impressed the sporty little Outlander held it all, with plenty of legroom. Those adjustable seats in the second row really made traveling comfy for the girls. Then we made our way west for a pit stop in Chicago before picking up Grandma and heading to the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells to celebrate 3 of the cousins’ birthdays. What can I say, apparently we Cruz girls are affectionate in the late summer months.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

We loved driving the Outlander because it drove sporty, fast and handled well. I loved the built in GPS. My only issue was that you couldn’t operate it while the vehicle was in drive. I know it’s a great safety feature just a little frustrating when you don’t know ahead of time. I also loved that it only took $30 to fill it up.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

The first day of our road trip included a stop at, my sister, Bertie’s house to discuss wedding plans. I’m the matron of honor and love being able to help plan her big day. My girls played with my nephew, my husband and soon to be brother-in-law bonded, and we girls made wedding playlists, discussed flowers, hair styles, make-up and tuxedos. To make the night perfect, my mom ordered our favorite hometown pizza. It may sound boring but we cherish these moments because there are never enough of them.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

I come from a big family of six brothers and sisters and I miss seeing my sisters everyday. Sisters are the built in best friends and I miss girl talk with them and raising our kids together. Being at my sister’s house hanging out, planning her wedding and hearing all the love and laughter fill the house made this one of the best spring breaks ever for me.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

The next morning, we loaded my mom into the Outlander and made our way to the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells to meet my other sister, Mellie and her family. We’d never been before but this is how the kids wanted to celebrate their birthdays and who am I to stand in the way of kids’ birthday wishes?

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

We arrived at the Great Wolf Lodge. The girls nearly bolted out of the Outlander headed straight for the waterpark. As soon as you walk through the doors, you are immediately aware that you are in a kid-friendly, nature themed lodge. We headed to our room and were welcomed to the hotel with a few surprises to help the birthday kids celebrate their birthday in style. The kid’s received Paw Passes from the hotel. I would highly recommend that if you ever go to the Great Wolf Lodge you get one for your kids.

It included fun thing for the kids to do like a MagicQuest Game, a MagicQuest wand (to play the game), A Great Wolf Creation animal (think Build a bear but much softer), Paw Points arcade card with 20 points, 12 oz. Mike and Ike Candy Cup, Great Wolf Lodge swim goggles, Glitz Glitter Tattoo, personalized Leather bracelet, Clubhouse crew adventure game and more.

MagicQuest, Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

This was nothing we had anticipated but I assure you, we will never go there again without getting one of these passes. This made the experience next level. After hours swimming and riding water slides, the tornado being our family’s favorite, we were able to let the kid’s wind down playing MagicQuest. Then the next afternoon, they got to hit the arcade and gift shop to collect all of their souvenirs.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

Know what the best part of the entire vacation was? Hanging out with my mom, my sisters and talking, our guys bonding and the cousins giggling and getting to spend real quality time together. That truly is the priceless part. I can’t wait to do it again. We took plenty of photos and video, including one of those cheesy vintage photos and we had a blast doing it.

Great wolf lodge, Wisconsin Dells, Mitsubishi, family Spring Break

Do you ever travel with your extended family? If you don’t you definitely should. I know it’s hard organizing a vacation with multiple families but it is also the stuff memories are made of. My girls will never forget this trip because they got to share it with their cousin.

Disclosure: I was provided the Mitsubishi Outlander to drive for the week by STI and The Great Wolf Lodge provided Paw Passes for my children but all opinions about our family spring break are my own.

 

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spring break, budget, kids, Land of Nod

Our life is always hectic and spring break is one of those times of year that I prefer to NOT go running off on a family vacation to some place awesome like Disney World because, you know, the rest of the world is doing that. I just want to sleep in and enjoy not having to be anywhere. I want to actually enjoy just being and giving our minds a break.

I like to take the time to relax and enjoy my kids. Granted, we get bored so we need to do more than just sit around staring at one another and it wouldn’t be right to make the kids clean the entire break, ahem, right? Yeah, no. I know it wouldn’t be right.

So here are a few budget friendly ideas for your next spring break.

spring break, budget, kids, Land of Nod

Indoor camping

There are so many great things you can do just by staying put. We live in the suburbs so first on our list is indoor camping! The girls got an amazing tent, constellation nightlight and sleeping bags from the Land of Nod this Christmas and I know they love camping out. So, one night (or maybe two) this spring break we will pretend we are camping. I will put up the giant tent, lay out the sleeping bags, we will have hot dogs on the grill and s’mores ( in the microwave because it’s snowing today), tell some ghost stories and let our imaginations go wild. This is one of the perks of small children, those imaginations can take you absolutely everywhere without ever leaving the house. The best part is that all play houses and tents are on sale for 20% off through March 23rd.

Local waterpark or hotel

For the last weekend of spring break we are surprising the girls, meeting their cousins and spending a couple days at the Great Wolf Lodge. We’ve never been so we are super excited and by arriving early, staying only one night and leaving late, we are maximizing the fun on a minimal budget. Also, I searched out an awesome discount and that made it even more affordable. We live in the Midwest and unless we drive or fly a few hundred miles south, we’re going to be surrounded by snow and/or wintery weather mix. I hate the cold but if we go to an indoor water it is a balmy 80 degrees. Now, I was not a fan of indoor waterparks until I had children. I prefer the beach but I have found that at the waterparks, it’s always warm and there are so many different slides, pools and activities that no one ever tells me, “I’m BORED!” You may even want to meet up with a group. We are meeting my sisters and their kids and husbands and celebrating a couple cousins’ birthdays while there. We can’t wait! The 7-year-old is marking her calendar. For an added bonus, take Grandma and relax a little. If you want to get out of the house but don’t want the hassle of added cost of a waterpark, you can always just stay at a local hotel with a pool. The kids will love it.

Visit Family or Friends

If you are watching your budget, why not go visit family or friends? You save yourself the cost of a hotel, you get to spend time reconnecting with the people that you love the most and your kids have a blast hanging out in a new city. I’m lucky my family lives in Chicago and it’s only a 3-hour drive, so it’s an easy couple day trip and the city is full of places to go, foods to eat and people to see that my children don’t get to usually do so everyone wins.

Explore Your own City

Whether you live in a big city or a small one, there are always things to do. Check out a new restaurant that you’ve never tried or visit a boutique or shop that you’ve never been into. There are all kinds of hidden gems that most cities have and no one has the time to try new things because we always do what we know because it’s easy. For instance, there is a wonderful art museum right across the street from my daughter’s ballet school. We never go in because we are always going to ballet. During spring break, we are going to check it out and try a new restaurant downtown. If you want to kick it up a notch, get a play date group and do local scavenger hunt in your own city.

Take a vacation from your regular life

If you ask me, the best thing about spring break is not having to be anywhere so why not just relax. Have a pajama movie day. Spend all day coloring in a coloring book with your kids. Have an at home spa day or give each other makeovers. Just do something that you don’t get to do every day like breakfast for dinner or pizza for breakfast. Most of all just try to enjoy your time with your kids because, as I keep reminding myself, they are only little for a little while.

Bonus: We are getting to test drive a Mitsubishi Outlander for the week, so I’ll be completely taking a vacation from my regular life. Can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Disclosure: While all opinions are my own, I was provided product for review purposed from The Land of Nod.

What is your family doing this spring break?

 

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YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

Have you ever been inside of YouTube Space L.A. ? Last week, I was in Los Angeles for the first time for the first annual #WeAllGrow Summit for Latinas. While there, I had the privilege of taking a tour inside of Youtube space LA. (I know I just said “Inside of YouTube Space LA” like that was not a big deal, but it so was!)

YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

So, firstly, I’d like to say that Los Angeles was beautiful and the weather was marvelous. It was 67 when I arrived. I wore sandals.in.February! Of course, I saw locals wearing parkas and boots and I giggled because hello, it was 3 degrees when I left the Midwest last week.

After a brief stint of being lost with the most geographically confused taxi cab driver in the world, we found our way. Or rather I should say that I found our way.

There we were, YouTube Space LA.

*insert choirs of angels What? Was I the only one who heard them?

YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

Fun fact: Did you know that YouTube Space LA is located on what used to be the largest private airport. It belonged to Howard Hughes and the building itself was a hanger where The “Spruce Goose”, officially known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, one of the largest planes was built. Pretty cool fact, right? You don’t care about any of that do you?

YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

So let me tell you some things that you probably didn’t know about YouTube that you should:

Did you know that if you have a Youtube Channel,no matter how many subscribers, you can take online courses to help better your Youtube experience; allow you to do YouTube better, if you will.

If you have 10,000 subscribers and you’ve taken the required online YouTube courses, you can book time at YouTube Space LA, YouTube Space NYC, YouTube Space San Paolo, YouTube Space Tokyo…etc. You get the picture?

Shhhhh, little known fact, if you have at least 5000 subscribers, you can book YouTube Space LA. The place is super cool and so are all the people who work there. I had a blast on my tour last week.

That means that you can book the equipment, rooms to film, screening rooms and production to edit. WHAT? And it’s free.  FREE! Why do none of us know this? It does me no good because I don’t live anywhere near one but you, you can do this.

P.S. YouTube, how about a YouTube Space Chicago?

YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

Some things you can do to make your YouTube channel rock?

  1. Customize your header.
  2. Customize your thumbnails.
  3. Make sure that thumbnails and title are not misleading.
  4. Customize your channel icon and channel banner.
  5. Make a welcome video.
  6. Customize your playlists to keep viewers watching your videos.
  7. Make sure that you use keywords when tagging in your description, include a call to action and, if possible, upload posts on a scheduled day to get subscribers looking forward to your vlogs.

YouTube, YouTube Space L.A., L.A., California, WeAllGrow Summit, Latinas, build a better blog, tips for a better YouTube Channel

The key to a great YouTube channel is regular engagement and interesting material. You need to treat your YouTube channel like it is it’s own entity. Think of it as a second blog not a part of the blog you already have. It takes a lot of hard work until you get the hang of it but if you keep at it, your YouTube channel can be a great platform to boost your blog’s traffic and vice versa.

Photos of YouTube: Robson Muzel & #WeAllGrow Summit

 

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Park Model homes, Park Model homes in Florida , Buying a Park model home , Park Models for sale , Carefree Park Model homes , Affordable Florida vacation homes , Carefree RV Resorts

The Big Guy and I love to travel with our girls. We drive on a lot of family vacations just so we can share the world up close and personal with them. We are very Griswold in that way.

We fell in love with Florida on our honeymoon and it’s always been my dream to have a vacation home but we aren’t really ready to commit to a costly investment because we are still in the thick of raising two young girls. Then, I heard about Florida vacation homes.

Carefree RV Resorts provide an affordable and fun way for everyone to be able to own a vacation home, many located near beautiful Florida beaches. The thought of being able to take my girls to Florida every year and maybe some day our grandchildren makes me giddy thinking of all the memories and photos of happy children bounding down the beach as tired parents walk hand-in-hand closely behind.

Carefree offers a huge selection of new and used Park Model homes for sale in their family of 101 RV parks and Manufactured Home Communities across the United States and Canada with something to fit every budget. 50 of the parks are located in beautiful, sunny Florida including resorts in Daytona Beach, Naples, Orlando, Tampa, Key Largo and Sarasota; located in some of the most desirable vacation destinations. While the majority of communities are located in Florida, there are also properties in Arizona, California, Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada. There truly is something for everyone.

Park Model homes, Park Model homes in Florida , Buying a Park model home , Park Models for sale , Carefree Park Model homes , Affordable Florida vacation homes , Carefree RV Resorts

Carefree RV Resorts have homes ranging from under 20K plus additional annual lot rent for pre-owned homes and 50K for a brand new, fully customized homes made to fit all of your family’s specific wants and needs so even if you are finicky about what you want, you can have it for a very reasonable price. Really, can you put a price on childhood? On your memories? On the quality of your life?

Living in Carefree RV Resorts is not just a place to live, it’s a lifestyle. They offer a wide-range of amenities, pet friendly communities, themed weekends activities like wine tastings, lifelong learning classes, and special interest groups. They offer both family friendly and Age Qualified communities, so it’s not just for retirees.

Park Model homes, Park Model homes in Florida , Buying a Park model home , Park Models for sale , Carefree Park Model homes , Affordable Florida vacation homes , Carefree RV Resorts
Carefree is currently running a special called “Your Passport to Paradise – You stay we pay!”

Park Model homes, Park Model homes in Florida , Buying a Park model home , Park Models for sale , Carefree Park Model homes , Affordable Florida vacation homes , Carefree RV Resorts

With the help of a Carefree sales advisor, your visit will be planned at prime Florida destinations based on your interests and preferences. Carefree will select properties that have everything you are looking for to preview during your personalized visit. Accommodations include up to 4 nights for 2 guests in a Carefree Resort Home. Flexible dates. Subject to availability.

Arrive by car or RV and simply commit to a guided tour of the Carefree property of your choice. Availability varies by property. Plan your visit before April 30, 2015. Every home buyer will receive a $1,500 check within 15 days after close of their resort home.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Carefree RV Resorts for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to make my dream a reality by owning an affordable vacation home but all opinions are my own.

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Las Vegas, Consumer Electronics Show, Vegas, Tech, CES, #CES2015

Last week, I attended CES! CES!!!! I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life to attend. Just me and about 170,000 other tech junkies descended upon Las Vegas. It was my first time; I was a CES and a Vegas virgin. Talk about go big or go home? WOWZA!

I could go on for days, hell, weeks, writing about this experience but I will start by giving you the jist of what it feels like to attend CES, it’s like climaxing and then despite your better senses continuing on, in that crazed, hyper sensitive, overwhelming feeling of pleasure and pain overload but you still want more….more….more…THAT.IS.CES!

The next thing you know, your feet are on fire, you drank too much at some VIP event because you forgot you weren’t 21, you want all the tech, you’ve been up til 5:30 eastern time every night because you are so jet-lagged. You really don’t know what time it is anymore and then you find yourself so overwhelmed after 3 days of walking in the dessert of lights with that ginormous fucking badge that weighs twelve pounds that you hit a wall (figuratively not literally, though if you are tired enough you might do that too.)

You’ve seen more hookers than you ever have on HBO real sex and Taxi Cab confessions combined, been given directions by a Mexican Elvis who requests a selfie with you and seen and heard gadgets that have blown your mind.

Next thing you know, there you are crying, stranded in the airport in Dallas, your flight’s been cancelled because of “weather” and you were the dumb ass who “voluntarily” checked your carry on because some smiling flight attendant asked politely in Vegas and when you ask the flight attendant in Dallas to help you find your much needed luggage, she rolls her eyes at you (ROLLED.HER.EYES.AT.ME!!), scolds you and turns you into a sniveling, sleep deprived ball of snot in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport with TSA eyeballing you like you just smuggled in heroine ( or maybe it was that new Vibe selfie flash) in your anal cavity.

Speaking of strange and weird shit happening, as a stranded traveler living my own personal version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I ended up in a shuttle with 1) a gentleman from California who happens to be the boss of one of our closest friends from college, who now lives in Colorado but originates from Chicago 2) an ex-lobbyist turned UCLA Poli Sci Professor who has a reoccurring roll on Hawaii 5.0. This trip was all about the surreal.

Finally, around 10 p.m. Texas time, there I was wearing my new scarf as a sarong, in 20-degree weather while washing my panties and yoga pants out in the sink so I had clean clothes to wear the next day. I did this all by hand. A friend told me that MANY people use the in room coffee makers to wash their unmentionables. I didn’t but think twice before you use those to make coffee. That “weird” taste might be someone else’s ass.

Anyways, aside from all the drama of the flight home, CES is awesome. Being that it was my first time there are some things that I wished I would have known going in, so I am sharing them here with you. Yes, I will get to all the really, cool shit I saw tomorrow.

 

  • Wear Comfortable shoes. Repeat after me…WEAR.COMFORTABLE. SHOES! Save your cute shoes for nighttime events. Wearing cute heels to CES means that you are either certifiable, dead from the waist down or a hooker. Go away, P.S. even TOMS can wreak havoc on the feet of sensitive soles. Let’s just say, I somehow managed a blister the size of my baby toe on top and on bottom of said baby toe. I was crippled, people. Gym Shoes, UGGs, Frye Boots, COMFORT PEOPLE but please NO CROCS ALLOWED. If you wear crocs the homeless people will make fun of you.
  • Register early to avoid fees.
  • Pick your badge up at the airport, the line is quicker than at the hotels. But if you are PRESS ( as I was) go to the PRESS kiosk or you may find that your badge was given to someone named Donald.
  • Cabs are expensive and traffic is horrible in Vegas. Take the shuttles. It’s $8 one way or $14 round trip. Very cost effective.
  • If you are a single woman who is looking for love with a nerdy, highly intelligent, somewhat wealthy, possibly a gamer, with a great BIG sexy brain… this is your heaven. The men outnumber the women about 9 to 1. STEM PEOPLE. This needs to be a priority with our girls.
  • Have a plan. Vegas is huge and there were 170,000 attendees and 3600 booths. You do the math. There is no way you can cover every booth in 5 days. It’s not possible. Make a plan.
  • Forget about passing out your cards. This is not a blog conference. Get cards. Give cards if asked or if there is a spot to leave them.
  • Network at events and smaller venues. You are not going to stand out at CES unless you are naked or wearing crocs. Wait, I stand corrected, you are not going to stand out at CES unless you are wearing crocs.
  • Walk the strip. You have to. It’s beautiful at night. Also, #Highroller. It’s bigger than the London eye and the view is not only natural it is fucking spectacular!
  • Schedule down time. I am serious, if you do not, you will hit a wall and end up in your room in the middle of the day in your pjs, eating a slice and taking a nap against your own will. P.S. It’s really hard to network when you are delirious from sleep deprivation.
  • Also, speaking of naps, get some sleep. I’m one of those people who physically get ill after a certain point of no sleep. I have insomnia so my threshold is pretty high but if I stay up past 3:30 a.m., I will literally get nauseated. I guess my body decides it’s had enough and it’s shutting down.
  • Don’t over schedule yourself. I made the rookie mistake of making lots of booth tour appointments. I was just so flattered to be asked but I will tell you, then you find yourself rushing around and not enjoying things. CES is all about flexibility; you need to be able to spend time where you find your interests.

My takeaway, have a plan but be flexible. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that you can stay comfortable in for 12 + hours. Be prepared to walk because I walked about 15,000 steps every day I was there. Be spontaneous. There are so many cool gadgets and tech and people that you never know where the day might take you and if you have the option, take a friend. Life’s never quite so overwhelming when you have someone with you to help you conquer the world.

If you love playing with gadgets like I do or just love being in the tech know, when given the chance attend CES. It is awesome. Come back tomorrow and I will tell you all about the great new tech gadgets coming out this year.

Were you at CES this year, if so what was your favorite new gadget?

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