Summer of More at Gaylord Palms – Orlando

Let’s talk about SUMMER. Your favorite parts… the best parts… the memory makers. For us, that is hands down Gaylord Palms Summer of More.

Even though school is already back in session for most Florida kids, you can still celebrate the summer with a weekend away. An amazing weekend away your family will talk about for quite a while. I know because everyone in my family absolutely loves it.

By far the atrium view completely changes a typical hotel stay. This is such a sensory experience. The trees, the waterfall, the porch to sit and people watch. Early in the morning, the middle of the night, and as a great way to end your day around the resort. Check to see when their atrium light shows are. You can watch from your room or grab an ice cream and watch right below.

One of the amazing thing about Gaylord Palms is that they have awesome family events throughout the year. This summer we going in on the Explores Club.

It is a small socially distant tour throughout the atrium with a tour guide. As your family walks and explores, the guide points out native plants and trees to Florida, as well as fun facts about the turtles and alligators there.

Our tour guide was able to answer even random questions about the property and history of Florida, that it felt like a truly inclusive experience.

There is a travelers guide that the boys traveled with and marked off each location as well as gathered small Polaroid pictures from our guide. Give anyone in our family any type of scavenger hunt list, and we accept the challenge.

Hear about the true Florida ghost story of Colonel Garcia Marti and his young wife Dolores in 1794. Read more here. Just the right amount of spooky and strange.

This was our first time to actually feed the fish too! My little one could have stayed here for an hour and he would have been happy.

Once you finish the tour there is also an Explorer’s Bar with refreshments and a themed lounge to enjoy. It for sure gives off Halloween vibes and I loved every minute of it. They have non-alcoholic drinks for the little explorers too.

Something that we can’t wait to do is take advantage of their on property waterpark. They by far have the best children’s splash pad area. Grown ups and join in on the slides and fun there too.

Take a minute to see more in our vlog of the Gaylord Palms Water Park here. They have really considered everything a family would enjoy on a getaway… including their brand new “lazy” river… Crystal River Rapids. It’s not really your classic lazy river, and the next day I could feel it everywhere in my body.

Take your family away, or take a girls trip for the weekend. What are you waiting for? The holiday season will be here before you know it and these days of summer are flying away so quickly. Take time to make more summer memories.

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Beyond Van Gogh – Immersive Experience

Last summer I absolutely fell in love with Emily in Paris on Netflix and this amazing Van Gogh exhibit she visited in her travels. It was something that as soon as I saw it, knew that I had to go. I started researching the cities the exhibit was in, where I needed to go. Nothing (darn COVID). There was nothing in my area and so I put that on. My list of things to keep checking back on.

I’m glad I did. Beyond Van Gogh is now in Miami with other locations around the state and region too.

I will admit, I didn’t know too much about the artist. Other than the basics that I think everyone knows. I loved Starry, Starry Night when I was in high school and felt very grown up and artsy when I had that image on my first credit card.

When you first enter the exhibit there are rows and rows of artist back story and his history. This area can give a snapshot into the world of Van Gogh and some of his struggles and inspiration. Once inside, you can take as much time as you’d like to walk through and read. To be immersed in his life and feel a little more connected to him.

I was amazed to learn that he signed all of his artwork Vincent, because he thought his last name would be too difficult for people. That broke my heart.

There are only two rooms in the exhibit. The first hall that has the hanging frames about Van Gogh and then the larger main room. They average 20-25 minutes for the first room , and 35 minutes for the second. Although there is no one that actually makes you leave at an hour – it is up to you how long you want the experience to last.

A lot of times I venture out to experiences like this, other parents ask if it’s kid friendly. Absolutely. Although it is different, and something your kids might not have done before…it is an amazing experience for them to go, sit and pause. To take it all in. The colors, the art, the music.

There were plenty of families with kid (including strollers) and if a baby gets fussy, you could easily step out side for a moment. Honestly though, the music was loud enough that it could cover most fussy kid concerns. Once I was in there I was able to block most everything else out.

Both of my sons loved that the art work wasn’t just on the walls. It was everywhere. To watch the paint stretch across the walls and floors along with the music. The art was alive and they could be a part of it. There was something special about that.

There were certain areas that were more congested than others but they still have a limited admission (June 2021) to make sure not too many people are inside at once. I would recommend buying all of the tickets together, because once the time slot is sold out it is difficult to add anyone else one.

Once you exit the exhibit there are awesome picnic tables and hammocks to relax in and grab a snack or drink from the refreshment stand/ cafe. There were actually free range chickens roaming around and the boys loved being able to sit and relax. I loved being able to swing and talk about everything we had just seen instead of just getting in the car and heading home. It was something I wasn’t expecting

No matter what part of the country you are in, I highly recommend looking into the Beyond Van Gogh Experience. Either as a family day (special Sunday rates) or a romantic afternoon date. It’s something I’m glad we were able to experience together and honestly hope other artists can find a spotlight like this as well.

Know Your Numbers — The Best Way to Stay Heart Healthy

Know Your Numbers — The Best Way to Stay Heart Healthy

My family (both sides) has a terrible heart history. A majority of my family members have died from stroke and heart attack. It’s something that honestly, I have never paid attention to even though I have known it will be a problem I encounter in the future.

I know I’m not alone in that. Once we become parents our focus becomes primairly on day to day activities and events. Making sure our kids have what they need, planning vacations, working on homework. Heart health is not something I think about daily.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jenna Hallquist BSN, RN – the Neuroscience Manager from St. Mary’s Medical Center to talk about my family heart history and go through a quick Stroke Screening with her.

The name is way more intense than what it actually is. You can see some of the questions we reviewed together (above picture). I must admit some of the questions she was asking I couldn’t answer, and I should be able to. It’s something that I know I need to pay more attention to. I’m sure if any mom was asked, we could tell you our weight numbers. It’s something that we are hyper focused on as we work on our health. But more importantly we should be focused on our blood pressure numbers and cholesterol.

I was slightly embarrassed I didn’t know mine. Couldn’t even begin to take a guess.

Jenna was also kind enough to answer a few questions about stroke while I was there.

How can busy moms and parents be aware of the signs of a stroke?

It is quick and easy to identify signs and symptoms of stroke if you remember BEFAST! And Call 911.  (see above image)

B- Balance

E – Eyes

F – Face

A- Arms

S- Speech

T- Time

As she was going over these, I honestly thought I had experienced all of these with the classic cloudy mom brain. Too much multitasking and memory loss. But the difference is huge. This would be something immediately noticeable. Not some one losing their keys, but having absolutely no idea where they are. Think of a dramatic change.

I will say, moms are the worst about putting off doctors appointments for themselves until it is the last minute. When it comes to strokes time matters. If something looks wrong or feels wrong, don’t wait.

What age or factors increase the risk of strokes? 

Anyone at any age can experience a stroke. People older than 65 years are at the highest risk of stroke.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, Smoking, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are some of the risk factors you can control as you age to reduce risk.

Moms of child baring age are at higher risk for stroke if they smoke, take birth control and even higher if they smoke and take birth control. Sedentary lifestyles put you at risk too.

If my family has a history of strokes… what are the chances I might have one? 

Your chances increase if you have a family history of stroke. If you have family history of stroke you should be diligent about diet, exercise and blood pressure control.

Because with me, I need to know my next steps. Simple ways to make changes that aren’t going to put too much strain on my mom brain.

I’m also hoping these will become the norm for my boys too.

  1. Limit my cheese (heartbreaking but doable)
  2. Know my blood pressure numbers – I’ll make sure to check every time I go to the grocery store.
  3. Alternate my caffeinated drinks with water. Hopefully this will help me cut back.
  4. More fresh fruits and veggies to meals — with the kids too. (maybe explore local farmers markets for this)
  5. Be brave with the foods we eat. Break out of the routine and try at least one new meal/ healthy choice each week.

Here are the ones I am working toward. Once these become routine, I can incorporate a few more.

I am also going to find my cholesterol numbers from the last time they were checked, and should probably just make an appointment to get updated numbers. The most important thing I can do for myself and my family right now is to KNOW MY NUMBERS. This is the number one way I can make sure I keep my heart in good working order for myself and my family.

For more information on how you can stay heart healthy, book a stroke screening or more ways to stay healthy please visit St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Forget diaper cakes – make a ONESIE WREATH – a fun and updated idea for baby showers…

I was a huge fan of diaper cakes when they first came out. They were cute, they stood out and who didn’t need diapers on diapers? Although the are still a great gift, I think everyone expects a diaper cake or two.

Continue reading “Forget diaper cakes – make a ONESIE WREATH – a fun and updated idea for baby showers…”

So Lucky to Have You (Free Printable)- Fun for kids to make – St. Patrick’s Day

Raise your hand if you love St. Patrick’s Day? I don’t think it gets enough love in the kid community. Sure, adults have plenty to celebrate with wearing green and heading downtown, where ever you might live.

Continue reading “So Lucky to Have You (Free Printable)- Fun for kids to make – St. Patrick’s Day”