The Ultimate Mom Hack For Summer Shopping

Recently the fabulous team at reached out about their mission to be the largest online consignment and thrift store in the world, and helping customers be environmentally sustainable consumers while saving money on their favorite brands.

I thought, BRILLIANT! So, I took a look and found a ton of items I knew my boys would love! I can’t tell you how many clothing items they’ve destroyed in less than a week with all their wrestling and dirt digging, or items they grew out of in just a few months! As a mom, I’d rather find quality brands at a discounted price while helping the environment.

Thanks to for giving me a credit, I was able to get the boys a whole new summer wardrobe for under $100. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Graphic tees are their favorite and who wouldn’t want a shirt that says, “The Freshest Kid on the Block”? My older son loves baseball and I found this great Under Armor “Fast Pitch” shirt for him. All the items were great quality, brands we would buy for retail anyway, and in perfect condition.

Also, those items they do grow out of and are still in excellent condition – you can sell them to! Who needs extra money for summer vacations?!

But, it gets better. They also sell toys, men’s clothing, women’s clothing and maternity! Don’t get me started on the outrageous prices of maternity clothes. Why not get them at discount and sell them back when you’re done? I wish I knew about when I was pregnant.

They are currently running a promotion through July 31, 2017. Get those back to school outfits early! Just enter code: 25MOM and you get 25% off your first purchase. They offer free shipping over $10, too!

Happy Shopping!


Chicago Pizza Just Got A Facelift

I’m a foodie and a Chicagoan – luckily those compliment each other well. Chicago is known for their food innovation, the hottest trends, the incredible chefs and of course, our pizza. At any given day our “must-have” pizza joints have a line around the block, yet locals and tourists alike will wait hours to get their mouths around a slice of yummy Chicago pie. And, who can blame them?

Pizza, one of my favorite dishes, was recently removed from my diet due to some unknown food allergies. To my good fortune the amazing team over at Rossopomodoro, the official pizza partner for Eataly Chicago, invited me and my son to try out their four new doughs – one of which is gluten and egg free! Eataly, a newer Chicago staple, is an Italian marketplace featuring a plethora of amazing italian delicacies, cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school. At Eataly you can eat, shop and learn.

Prior to my Eataly visit, I was honored to connect with Simone Falco of Naples, Executive Chef & Owner of Rossopomodoro West Village and President and CEO of Rossopomodoro at Eataly USA, and ask him a few questions.

Simone Falco was born in into into a family of sportsman and entrepreneurs. When Simone grew older he became a rugby player and obtained a PhD from the University of Naples Federico II, one of the oldest Universities in Europe. Since he was very young, Simone has worked in the family company to learn the proper skills needed to run a successful restaurant business, leading into the launch and development of several new restaurant locations in Italy and abroad. Rossopomodoro in New York City’s West Village – an outpost location of the Rossopomodoro’s U.S. operations at Eataly New York (Flatiron & Financial District), Chicago, Boston, and San Paolo – has been carrying on the tradition ever since its opening in 2014.

He designed the restaurant’s menu to embody the brands manifesto and presents dishes that are simple, seasonal, straightforward, healthy and flavorful – and he goes way beyond just pizza & pasta. Simone would describe his personal style as classic Neapolitan.

I started out the interview asking Chef Falco what passions of his led him to pizza.

“Growing up in Naples, pizza was our breakfast every weekend. How could I not be attracted to pizza?”

As someone with food allergies and a passion for health, it’s refreshing to see more and more offerings that cater to a healthful lifestyle without giving up the things we love – like pizza. What’s the secret to maintaining great taste yet being healthy also?

“The secret is high quality ingredients (wild, organic, no chemicals) and good sourcing.”

As you know, Chicago is certainly a pizza town. What excites you most about these four new kinds of dough and how are they different from the others we can find in the city?

“We decided to launch the four doughs in Chicago because it is THE pizza city. We wanted to bring something truly Neapolitan to Chicago and something different than everyone is used to.”

Last question, and it’s the obligatory one. You may know that New York and Chicago have an ongoing pizza war. So, which would you say is your favorite between the two signature styles? Chicago or New York?

“My favorite is Neapolitan of course but I have an appreciation for all types. Different pizza has different uses. Sometimes I crave a New York slice and sometimes I crave deep dish. Chicago pizza is more of treat because I live in New York.”

Hearing his story and passion for pizza, I was thrilled met his team and head Chef Simone Lavarone at the Chicago Eataly location. While there he prepared several pizzas showcasing their new doughs.

My favorite was this little slice of heaven with a zucchini cream instead of tomato base. Perfection.

There new doughs now available are:


  • The Original Pizza Napoletana
  • This classic-style pizza from Napoli made with “Type 00” flour is the most elegant and complex of all. The long leavening time (24-plus hours) paired with the brief cooking time produces a pizza with a thin, elastic center and a charred, airy crust.


  • Old World Innovation
  • This dough is the precursor to the pizza we know today, originally made from leftover bread dough from bakeries in the suburbs of Napoli. The “Type 1” whole grain flour and slow-rising process yield a slightly sweet and hearty dough.


  • Classic yet Crispy
  • This contemporary take on pizza is typical of the coastal towns near Napoli (think: Amalfi Coast). Made with the same “Type 00” flour as the Classica, this dough proofs longer and cooks longer resulting in a lighter, crispier crust that is soft in the middle and never disappoints.


  • Light and Gluten-Free
  • This airy, slightly caramelized crust is made from an innovative blend of corn, rice, and gluten-free buckwheat flours, offering all the flavors of the real pizza napoletana with a lighter base! While the dough is gluten-free, our environment is not, meaning trace amounts of gluten may be present — it is not certified for those with celiac disease.

Needless to say, the pizzas looked beautiful and tasted even better than one can imagine. This is truly pizza reinvented!

My six-year-old, the notorious picky eater, enjoyed the pizzas so much that he asked if we could take them all home to save for later. Bonus – Sunday’s kids get $9 pizzas where they can pick their own toppings and the pizza comes in fun shapes like a heart, bunny, fish or butterfly. How’s that for family friendly?

Eataly Chicago has many spectacular summer promotions and events happening, so mark your calendars and make your way over to see Chef Simone and the Eataly team for some delicious game-changing pizza. Tell them I sent you!

5 Benefits of Giving Your Kids a Smartphone

Smartphones were once considered a luxury exclusively for adults. But, with the proliferation of educational apps on the market, offered on the market, these devices suddenly because advisable for our little ones. The only question would be: is it necessary for them to own a smart device at a young age?

There are plenty of explanations as to why parents give their kids a mobile device. According to Verizon Wireless feature article on Setting Mobile Boundaries for Children, reasons are ranging from safety considerations to homework solutions. To elaborate this further, we will list down 5 ways on how a smartphone is beneficial for your kids.

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1. An Added Dimension of Learning

According to PBS Parents Guide to Children & Media, giving a smartphone to a school-aged children will provide them an additional way of learning, apart from traditional books or classroom. With the device, they can access a lot of learning resources such as mobile dictionaries, encyclopedia, educational applications and augmented reality flash cards. These applications can be regularly updated online to add new information, unlike an actual published textbook that remains stagnant over time.

Plus, smart devices may come in handy if your kid is enrolled in academic institutions that are implementing the digital way of learning through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system.

2. Homework Help

Most of the high-end phones offer functionalities that are similar to what a computer does. For instance, loading the device with productivity tools like Documents To Go will allow children to use it for creating their homework, school paper or class presentations. It also won’t be a problem if their teachers will require them to submit it via email or cloud service.


Image courtesy of

Most importantly, its built-in web browser gives them an instant access to Google’s resources online.

3. For keeping in touch and locating them

With a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) in these devices, you can easily track them wherever they go. Every time they access their social networking sites to check-in or update their statuses, you can automatically determine their geographical location. This gives you the power to monitor them if ever they are skipping classes or going beyond your allowed distance. For some parents, this feature can also be maximized to determine if their kids are violating their curfew hours by sneaking out of the house.

On the other hand, they can also get in touch with you all the time. In case of unforeseen emergencies, (tornados, school fires or tropical storms) they can immediately inform you through voice or video call.

4. Navigation

With the navigation feature on the device, you can be sure that they arrive safely at their destination. Of course, this requires you teaching them on how to use it properly.

5. For playtime

In order for them not to get exhausted, children also need a break from schoolwork. You can let them play with their gizmos by loading it with a multitude of child-friendly games. You can use it as a method of reward if they’ve accomplished their household chores or if they excelled in class.

But, make sure that these games are appropriate for their age. If you want, you can play with them and make it your bonding moment. It is also important to be strict about their usage by setting a maximum time they should spend with their smartphones. Keep in mind that although these devices allow them to access hundreds of mobile games, nothing beats recreational activities. It’s also important to keep their online safety in mind. A great guide for parents to find and use safe apps for smartphones and Andriod can be located here.

These are the top five benefits of a smart device to your children. As good as it is, we can’t deny the fact that it can also bring some negative effects to them. It can be highly addictive and can also cause a distraction from their studies. It also opens the door to cyberbullying and restricted content online. That is why it is always important to monitor and control their usage. As a Digital Mom, have you given your kid a smartphone? Share your experiences with us.

Check out this comprehensive guide for screen times and more information.

10 Essential Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

The holiday season heralds a time to connect with family and friends, get back to your roots and give generously to others. The holidays bring many things to look forward to, but they also bring stress factors that may feel unavoidable.

It’s hard to not bust your budget on presents, field intrusive family questions and balance your time and obligations. Don’t let stressors threaten to uproot your holiday cheer, though. A little organization, simplification and a proactive, positive attitude will make for a successful holiday season.



Here are 10 ways you can survive the holidays this year:

Set Ground Rules and Stick to Them

The holidays bring out the best in some and the worst in others. When stress is at an all time high, setting boundaries will be necessary to protect and take care of your sanity and health. In your house, you set your own rules, but also set your own ground rules when it comes to how you interact with others.

Say that you’ve decided not to discuss a certain topic. Don’t keep negative conversations going. Be detached to the outcome of the conversation.

Walk away, change the subject or leave if you must. Focus on something positive to get through a trivial moment, whether it’s your kids, your pet or a favorite show. Visualize a mirror which deflects drama or imagine you’re a fog that negativity wafts right through. It may take a while for family members to adjust to your boundaries, but healthy boundaries build positive relationships.


Create a Holiday Spending Plan

Create a plan for holiday spending to keep your budget balanced. Make a list of every holiday expense, including decorations, wrapping paper, cards, work gift exchanges and travel costs. Determine how much you have available for holiday spending from existing or set-aside financial resources. Prioritize spending by category and importance.

There may be ways to save money by making homemade gifts or suggesting a family potluck, for example. Your budget may inadvertently help you to choose a meaningful gift for a loved one, rather than buying several things that overextend your budget. As you purchase an item, cross it off and wrap it.


Get Your Family Involved With Useful Tasks and Fun Activities

Don’t conquer by dividing — conquer by distraction and inclusion. Finding common ground should be your holiday goal to minimize stressful encounters.

Most people want to feel useful. A family member prone to anxiety will be thankful for something to do with their hands, to help out and not engage in awkward small talk. The family member who takes over every task at holiday gatherings should be given a territory, which could be organizing gifts and checking in with family members as they come in. Play to each family member’s strengths and pair conversations and tasks accordingly.

Prepare activities for fun and distraction. Board games are usually safe bets. You could also put on a movie or the game. Give each set of activities their own space, and family members who feel stressed may retreat to their respective corners or bond in others.



Organize a Wacky Family Bingo With Friends

There are certain family situations you won’t be able to avoid, unless you opt out of an event all-together, which may create hard feelings. Tough questions and judgments are part of these gatherings for many, but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer alone.

Replace anxiety and stress by adding humor to the mix and playing wacky family bingo. Get together with friends and design your own bingo card with events that happen at nearly every family event. There’s the one family member who keeps drinking the wine. There’s the one nosey aunt asking when you’re getting married. There’s the one family member who cracks the same bad jokes. Then there’s the set of socks that you receive every year in your stocking.

Text your friends when you land a space. Make a coded checklist on your phone to fill in the events as they happen. A little humor makes it more bearable.


Have a Gimmick

Have a gimmick to use as a tool to distract or engage by your choice. Into photography? Bring or borrow a camera to capture moments at the family event. Have a guitar? Play a few songs for everyone.

Your gimmick can be as simple and silly as a tacky holiday sweater or socks to diffuse stress. Come prepared with trivia questions or talk about your favorite television show to wear out the other conversationalists.


Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

Extreme weather catches many by surprise during the holidays. Enable alerts on your phone to receive emergency updates. If extreme weather happens on the road, react wisely when driving. Every region will have unique driving conditions depending on wind, sleet, snow and ice. Let the car go in the direction it wants to go when skidding and slowly act to bring the car to a stop, for example. Quickly braking or shifting the wheel on ice or water leads to more accidents.

Research what the weather will be like beforehand and have a back up plan if you need to stay longer than anticipated. Have your car tested and serviced before driving long distances to help prevent issues, too.


Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Create meal plans ahead of time to make holiday shopping and cooking easier. Prep and freeze side dishes in advance. Use a well-stocked pantry to your advantage. Break out breads, jams and other selections for holiday snacks, and if you’re so inclined, it is okay to make something from a box, too.  

If the holidays will be too stressful for meal planning, opt for a potluck. Create a shareable file where family members see what others are bringing and can add their own contribution. This takes the pressure off of you.


Don’t Overextend Yourself

Simplify as much as possible. Once your calendar or budget has taken all it can, stop. Don’t try to fit in every event. You don’t want to stretch your energy, time or money too thin.

Practice the art of stopping. Others may whine and complain, but overextending yourself leads to grumpy you — which isn’t fun for anyone.



Positive emotions are contagious, and when you make others feel good, it boosts your mood. Let yourself laugh at any humor or irony you find.

Remember to smile, too! People are more prone to displaying positive emotions and are socially set to mirror others empathetically. Boost everyone’s mood by finding ways to bring out smiles.


Give to Yourself

In the spirit of the holidays, you often practice generosity with others but forget yourself. To be your best self, you have to remember to take care of yourself, too.

Take time away when you are stressed. Designate space for yourself in the middle of holiday chaos, and get out of dodge. See a movie by yourself. Take a long bath. Wake up at dawn and grab an early breakfast with a friend. No matter what it is, doing something for yourself will help you handle the holiday chaos.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Instead, the holiday season can be successful with a little planning, determination and positivity. When you let go of control and remember to check in with yourself, the beauty and humor of life is more available to you. Enjoy the warmth of the holidays, and be merry.

Upcoming Chicago Winter Family Activities – Mark Your Calendars

It’s no secret I’m in love with Chicago. It’s by far my favorite city in the U.S. I knew I wanted to eventually move here after seeing Adventures In Babysitting in the 80s.

The people are friendly, the cityscape is breathtaking, you can eat your way through every cuisine known to man, the Cubs are finally winners (YAY!), and it’s very family friendly. My only two complaints would be that the traffic is a nightmare and winter after the holidays – is brutal.

The cozy days spent in by the fire are a nice welcome from the busy summers, but after a few weekends of “Netflix and chill” nights – I’m ready to move on. I didn’t want to spend this winter going stir crazy, so I lined up some family fun activities – and if you’re in Chicago, I hope you’ll join me.


Chicago Toy and Game Week – ChiTag

If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with the kiddos this weekend – look no further.

What’s ChiTag week? Every November, we produce five days packed with events that celebrate play, and the entrepreneurs who make toys and games! We are the only organization to bring together the public with play innovators and the media.

ChiTAG’s Chicago Toy and Game Foundation, which was founded in 2011, is a philanthropic foundation supporting various children’s organizations. ChiTAG works closely with Discover Games, founded in 1998 – the world’s largest co-op of board game inventors.

The ChiTAG Group is a family of industry initiatives designed to encourage and promote the power and joy of invention in social, educational, and professional environments.

Come celebrate with me and let the kids play at ChiTag!



Ringling Bros. Out Of This World

The new reimagined circus experience, Ringling Bros. Out Of This World is coming to the Rosemont & Chicago.
Out Of This World is unlike anything ever seen in Ringling Bros. history. The show captivates audiences with its first-ever character-driven storyline and ice performances that invite fans to follow a heroic quest of good versus evil on an intergalactic adventure. Find a fun sneak peek here & behind-the-scenes here.
The show dates below:
Allstate Arena in Rosemont:
  • Friday, November 4: 10:30AM, 7PM
  • Saturday November 5: 11AM & 7PM
  • Sunday, November 6: 5PM
  • Thursday November 10: 7PM
  • Friday, November 11: 7PM
  • Saturday, November 12: 11AM& 7PM
  • Sunday, November 13: 5PM
United Center in Chicago:
  • Thursday, November 17: 10:30AM & 7PM
  • Friday, November 18: 10:30AM & 7PM
  • Saturday, November 19: 11AM & 7PM
  • Sunday, November 20: 5PM
  • Wednesday, November 23: 7PM
  • Friday, November 25: 11AM & 7PM
  • Saturday, November 26: 11AM & 7PM
  • Sunday, November 27: 5PM
Chicago’s Winter Wonder Fest

Families from near and far flock to Navy Pier to surround themselves in holiday cheer.The PNC Bank Winter WonderFest returns with more than 24 rides and attractions and 170,000 square feet of entertainment. We go every year and my boys love it (ages 3 & 6). There are activities and rides for all ages, and you can usually find discounted tickets online or through Groupon.

Attractions have included the Polar Extreme, a double-sided inflatable slide and obstacle course, interactive Arctic Peaks Climbing Walls and an expanded, more challenging Winter Rules mini golf course sure to offer an additional layer of friendly competition and frozen holiday fun. There’s also a large ice skating rink!

Visitors are greeted by glittering forests of nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments hung on a mile of wire. In between cups of hot cocoa, visitors can drop in on Santa and his elves at the Claus residence, snap a photo on the Giant Holiday Howdy Horse or decorate a freshly baked sugar cookie. All around, some great family fun.


Dates: November 25-27, December 2-4, 9-23, 26-31 & January 1, 2-17

Time: 4:30–9 p.m.

Another family favorite and it’s free! Family-oriented holiday celebration, featuring luminous displays and holiday-season activities throughout zoo grounds. There’s also a special events calendar with special activities and appearances.

Included activities include:

  • Photos with Santa through December 23
  • Free crafts for children
  • Unique educational chats
  • 3D displays
  • Warm spiced wine and frosty lagers
  • Delicious holiday snacks
  • Holiday gift shopping
  • Live ice-sculpture carving
  • Carousel and train rides
  • Musical light shows
  • 3D holiday specs while supplies last!



The Magnificant Mile Lights Festival – Presented by Harris

The 25th annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival kicks off the 2016 holiday season for Chicago and the nation on Saturday, November 19. Each year, more than one million people travel to The Magnificent Mile for an afternoon of family-friendly activities and live musical performances, followed by a magical evening tree-lighting parade down North Michigan Avenue led by Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Get there early to grab your spot!



A Christmas Carol  at the Goodman Theatre

A timeless classic. I’ve been with friends and on a work outing to see this show and have always left a little more in the Christmas spirt.

Performances start November 19 and run through December.

The Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre 

Another holiday classic. Performances start Saturday, December 10th.

A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place 

Performances start November 11 through January 8th.


We definitely won’t be bored this winter! What are your favorites? Please share.







Guest Post – FIVE Ways To Celebrate Earth Day With Your Kids

Thank you to Jennifer Willoughby, pediatric dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children’s for her guest post.

As you probably know, Earth Day is next week (April 22), and it’s the perfect time to not only celebrate our planet, but to also think about how we can do our part to help save water and energy, reduce pollution and protect our animals, trees and plants.  As parents, it is our duty to encourage our kids to show interest in protecting the environment. This year, celebrate with your family by following these eco-friendly (and kid-friendly) tips that benefit your health and the environment!


Here are 5 ways to celebrate Earth Day with your kids, while also improving their health, according to Jennifer Willoughby, pediatric dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

  • Go green…with school lunches.
    Ditch brown and plastic bags. Instead, opt for lunch boxes and alternatives to plastic bags such as disposable unbleached-paper bags or reusable BPA-free plastic containers. And consider filling those containers with some vibrant green vegetables. Also, skip juice boxes and bottled drinks and replace them with reusable water bottles. Don’t forget the eco-friendly napkins!
  • Skip the meat and load up on veggies.
    A study published by The Journal of Pediatrics – and led by Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician Dr. Michael Macknin – discovered that children who eat a plant-based vegan diet can lose weight (if medically necessary), lower their blood pressure and improve their cholesterol in just four weeks. In addition, eating a vegetarian diet protects our soil, conserves water, saves energy and clears the air! Going meat-free once per week can benefit the body and the environment. This Earth Day, plan to cook a delicious, vegetarian meal for your family and don’t forget to involve the kids.Allow them to pick out their favorite veggies at the supermarket or farmer’s market and ask them to help you prepare the meal.
  • Cook with local produce.
    Local produce doesn’t need to be shipped long distance, which promotes energy conservation by reducing usage of fossil fuels and packaging.  Even if you don’t have a backyard vegetable garden, you can still cook with locally grown produce. Not only will cooking with local produce help the environment, but it will also result in healthy meals for the family.
  • Leave the car behind and get the kids moving.
    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, highway vehicles release about 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. Take a family bike ride — or walk! — to one of the day’s destinations, and ask your children if they can think of any other environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. This can be both a fun and active way to spend time with the family and it will also get your children moving. Earth Day is a great time to take the kids outside and allow them to embrace the world around them through exercise. Look for the kind of exercise where your kids are outside, running around, riding a bike, walking to school or playing a sport.
  • Breathe in the fresh air.
    According to the EPA, air pollutants in the home can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor air pollutants. Open your windows and let the fresh spring air in! Fresh air will improve your health, boost your mood and allow your family to appreciate the scents and sounds of nature.

Going “green” may sound like a stretch for some people, but it is worth the effort! Getting your children moving and incorporating plant-based meals into your weekly dinner rotation, even for one day a week, can significantly help improve the environment and the health of your family. Earth Day is the perfect time to give it a try!

Fort Lauderdale Spring Breakin’ – Family Style

Spring Break looks a little different these days. Long gone are the days of parties, day-drinking on the beach, and pulling all-nighters dancing on bars and stealing kisses from strangers. Okay, I never participated in the last part – or at least that’s what my selective memory tells me.

Fast forward ten years and now Florida is one of our favorite places to take our kids.

Ft. Lauderdale is usually where we go as it’s close to Miami for a nice day trip, too. My husband lived there for several years in college. Besides the bonus of familiarity, there are lots of fun beach activities for kids, and the college kids tend to hang out further down the beach. We’ve also stayed in Hollywood, Marco and Sanibel Islands, which are great family getaways, too.

Our favorite hotel in Fort Lauderdale is the Westin Ft. Lauderdale. I worked for Starwood for most of my adult career so I’m a little biased. There’s a nice consistency across the brands, so you always know what to expect. They are kid and pet friendly and have a great rewards program, too.

Pro Tip from an ex-hotelier: After I left the hotel industry my hook-ups faded, so now to get an upgrade I give the front desk agent a $20 and 9 times out of 10 that gets you an upgrade to a nice room and many times a floor with free breakfast access, internet, etc. Take care of them and they will take care of you. 

A major bonus of staying at the Westin Fort Lauderdale is there is a sky bridge with direct access to the beach and the pool deck provides food and beverage service chair side. We never had to fight for a chair or go down and save seats ahead of time either. There is a Starbucks located in the hotel, which for an addict like me is important. I didn’t have to go far for my morning latte.

(Photo credit: Westin Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort)

We spent the majority of our time on the pool deck and hunting for sea shells on the beach. My kids loved this and it was a fun little competition to find the perfect shell. My little guy liked to nap by the pool and that gave me time to sip on a margarita and read a book in the shade as I held him. I know one day soon he’ll be too big to nap on my lap – so I loved every minute.

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(“Mommy, look at this shell!”)


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(Can this moment last forever?)

For most meals we traveled off the strip as hotel meals can get rather pricy. I’d recommend renting a car so you’re able to do this, too. If you head north from the strip and make a left on Sunrise Blvd, there are several less expensive hotel options and some great restaurants. There is also a large mall with shops and dining options right after you cross over the Coral Bay. For lunch we went to Burgerfi, I had the veggie burger and it was delicious! If you stay on the strip and want to splurge on a nice dinner and need a kid-friendly place, Sun, Surf & Sand (located in the Hilton) is the perfect mix. They have a great outdoor area facing the ocean, the service was great, and there are many options for kids.

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(Say Cheeeessseeee!)


(Brotherly Love)
(Brotherly Love)




The only negative experience I had during our trip was when one spring breaker called me “ma’am” and suddenly made me feel really old. Am I really a “ma’am” now? Other than that we made some great memories and enjoyed the sunshine. If Chicago doesn’t knock it off with the April snow showers, we may head back to Florida sooner than later.

No one’s grave stone says, “I wish I worked more.”



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Baby’s First Flight: How to Get Through Air Travel With Your Sanity


The night before our flight to visit relatives in Michigan – I couldn’t sleep. My baby was up all night as per usual, but more so because of teething and a growth spurt. My insomnia, however, was caused by trouble shooting and running through a mental checklist of what to do if my son has a full blown melt down in the middle of our first flight together. That’s right – me flying alone, with a baby. I was scared sh*tless. Thankfully we had a nonstop flight, which cut down the amount of time Baby B would have to turn into Oscar the Grouch. The next morning I took a deep breath, loaded up all our things, and said a prayer. Off we went.

Related post: Traveling With a Toddler: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Luckily I made it through the flight and lived to tell about it. My son was so intrigued by everything, which held his attention. I will add that he also wanted to play with our seat mates and hug them a lot. They didn’t mind. Thank goodness. Overall it was a lot easier than I thought.

Here are some survival tips when traveling with infants that worked for me. Adjust as necessary for your little one:

Fill Them Up. Start them on a full stomach before you leave for the airport. Especially if you have a hike to get there.  By the time you get through ticketing and security, your LO is going to be hungry and antsy. Try to mitigate that and get them through until you can stop for a snack or lunch.

Bring Snacks, Sippy Cups/Bottles.  Even if you’re nursing like I am, bring them.  You can have them already full of milk, formula or juice. Security will do a quick dip (if at all) to test and make sure you aren’t bringing anything dangerous through. I highly considered eating a ton of poppy seeds to see if the drug compound would show up in my milk, just to mess with them. Maybe next time. Or not.

Have the Umbrella Stroller and Carrier Handy.  I brought both my sling and the folding stroller. Not only did I use the sling at our destination, but it made it much easier to get through ticketing and security. I had both my hands free to maneuver and take things in and out of bags for the screen. This also freed up the stroller to place bags in and give my shoulders a break. Word of advice: Do not take a carrier that has a metal ring on it like I did. You WILL have to take it off, however lame and obvious it is – or the detector will go off.

Play Around the Waiting Area.  Seriously. People were extremely understanding. And if they’re on your flight they’ll be grateful you’re trying to expend any extra energy out of your kid prior to takeoff.

Nurse on Takeoff/Landing. The whole “putting cotton in their ears” thing doesn’t work. I checked – with an actual medical professional. However, nursing has the same motion for baby as chewing gum, or yawning repeatedly does for us. Baby B, as hyper as he was, hunkered down for some cuddles and nursing as soon as we gathered speed, and woke up with just enough time to latch on as we started our descend. If you’re not nursing, bring a bottle with milk or formula, or a pacifier.

Let Them Down on The Floor.  Ok, maybe not if you’re on the aisle seat, but having a window seat meant I could let B down off my lap to explore, get a little distance from mom, and pull things out of his diaper bag.  Sure I had to stop him from crawling under the seat to the next row a couple times, but all in all it was a great way to keep him entertained. It also allowed me a few seconds to breathe and shake my arms out before the next round of him spinning in circles on my lap.

Related post: Seven Survival Tips When Traveling With Small Kids

Sit Near The Loo.  Each area on the plane has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I made the mistake of sitting over the wing. Great for minimizing noise, but not so great when he had a blow out on our return to Texas! I had to lug the diaper bag through half the plane. Do yourself a favor and sit either up front or in back.

Benadryl.  Yup, I did it. It helped. Check with your pediatrician first, of course.

Trust In Your Baby.  I kept telling myself to have faith in B to be calm on the plane and not cause a ruckus. If you think they will scream the whole way, they probably will. Usually your LO picks up their parents’ vibes, so try to remain calm.

Most importantly don’t forget to bring toys, snacks, more toys, more snacks, and lots of diapers. You’ll make it through – and so will they.

Happy Travels!

Need more tips for traveling with little people? Check out the FLYING WITH KIDS App. Clever, easy to use, and everything in one place to prepare you for flying with kids. You’re welcome.

Tips For Road Trippin’ With Small Kids

Recently I embarked on a 15-hour road trip with my husband, my four-year-old and my eight-month-old. Before leaving I asked all of you if I was crazy or just stupid to think this could be done while still maintaining my sanity. Most of you answered “crazy” but I have to admit it turned out to be a little bit of both. I am happy to announce that we did survive, but to call it a “vacation” would be somewhat of a stretch.  Unfortunately road trips just aren’t the same with little ones – or at least with my little ones.  In my younger days I used to love road trips. I once drove from San Antonio to Tampa non-stop. I could stay up around the clock and compete with the truckers as to who could last longer. Not so much any more.  Now I get muscle cramps, nausea and spend most of my time counting down the seconds until we arrive at our destination.

“Are we there yet?” – me every second…

This trip we did run into a few National Lampoons moments. Our hotel had a blackout and we had to entertain our toddler in pitch dark for hours. I also had to hand-express my milk because I forgot my battery charger for my pump. After about 30 minutes of pumping my hand felt paralyzed, so I had to enlist my husband to fulfill the remaining pumping shifts. My little guy had four diaper blowouts  explosions, which in turn ruined his infant car seat.  The disaster he created could only be cleaned up by The Ghostbusters, but unfortunately they no longer exist.  Let’s just say – the reminder of the trip our car did NOT smell of roses and we had to replace the carseat as soon as we got home.

Overall, the trip was worth it because we were able to spend time with family and make some wonderful memories, however until my baby gets a little older – home is where we’ll stay.

Here’s some tips to help keep your sanity on road trips with little ones.

  • Don’t do it. Just kidding, I know they can be fun and are much more affordable than flying.
  • Plan pit stops.  Check out fun stops along your route to break up the trip and let your kids stretch your legs.
  • Add a couple hours to your agenda. Your trip will take longer than you think, so just plan on it. You’ll have to make a lot of stops with kids to use the restroom, eat, stretch, etc.
  • Research your route. Look up major highways for any construction notices. This can shave hours off of your drive if you’re able to go around all the traffic delay’s.
  • Hot Spot. Having a hot spot in the car for our iPad was a life-saver for my toddler.  We played a lot of games, but when all else failed we handed him the iPad. We also downloaded some Apps that didn’t require an internet connection in case our hot spot went out.
  • Know when to stop. Six hours seemed to be the breaking point for my little guy. After six hours he became a ticking time bomb and it was difficult to console him. Next time this will be our stopping point for the night.
  • Take lots of food. Not only does this save money – but time as well. I took a cooler with several sandwiches and fruit along with a grocery bag of dry snacks. I hate eating fast food on road trips so this was our lunch and dinner.  My digestive system thanked me later.
  • Invest in baby gadgets. Buy one of these immediately for the car if your baby can’t hold his bottle that well yet. This little contraption prevented me from having to sit lodged between two car seats for an hour. Podee Hands Free Bottle



If you have any tips to add please share in the comments section!

Seven Survival Tips When Traveling With Small Kids

If you’re a parent you’ve probably learned by now that vacationing with kids is really not a vacation at all. As someone who loves to travel, I was blindsided once having kids with all the do’s and don’ts of vacationing as a family. Traveling is not always easy, and some trips you may find are more trouble than they’re worth. I admit in past excursions I’ve made serious rookie mistakes that cost my family’s temporary sanity, but each trip down has been another lesson learned. I’m not an expert yet, but there have been less tears and more fun infused in our recent vacations.

In lieu of summer break when families tend to go on their great adventures, I’ve compiled a list of survival tips when traveling with kids. You can thank me later.


It’s not about you – it’s about them. Once you realize this, you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more. Kids do not understand the concept of relaxation, nor do they care about white-sand beaches and exquisite food and wine. Choose a destination that welcomes and caters to kids. I love the Apps MiniTime and Trekaroo; they give you lists of kid friendly hotels, attractions, restaurants and shopping in any destination!

Lower Your Expectations. Expect the worst, hope for the best. Many of us build up these grand illusions of our vacations, only to be disappointed when real life gets in the way. There will be delays, fights, and snags in your plans. Accept it and prepare, that’s all you can do. When you set your expectations low, everything else will seem like a bonus!

Plan Travel Times During Nap Times. If you have a three-hour flight, try to plan it when your little ones usually nap. At first the excitement will take over, but once they feel the vibration of the plane – it’s lights out. Once your kids are asleep, that’s when your vacation really starts! Go ahead and have that glass of wine or dive into your book because this peace will not last.

Stay Away From Sugar. Don’t, I repeat, don’t give your kids any candy, juice, chocolate, etc., during travel times. You might think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Once on a flight with my toddler, the flight attendant gave my son a piece of chocolate candy to try and deter him from yelling, “Wakey, Wakey” to all the sleeping passengers around us. In theory it may have been a good idea, but I still had two hours to tame the wild beast in him before we landed. I cried on that flight and luckily I had veteran parents around me consoling me. I vowed never to fly with him alone again – and I haven’t.

Pack Heavy. This mostly pertains to toys and entertainment. Young kids have the attention span of a dog. Any shinny thing in their line of sight will send them running. Take a whole suitcase of toys, extra batteries, chargers, and coloring books, really anything that fits. Don’t be the idiot who forgets to charge the iPad before you get on a plane too – like me. Download a lot of kid friendly Apps that don’t require the Internet in case your flight or car doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Some of my favorites are: MoonfryeKidsDoodlePBS Kids, and Puzzingo.

Make An Itinerary. Create a schedule of events and stick to it. Kids are creatures of habit; they like to follow schedules and direction. Fill their days up with activities so at night they welcome sleep. More sleep for them, more peace for you. Trust me on this – a bored kid equals a disaster.

Bring help. If possible bring guests on your trip. Parents, in-laws, friends and nannies make for great babysitters when you need a break. As much money as you spend on these vacations you deserve at least one kid-free dinner with your significant other.

Overall, the most important thing you need to remember is to let your kids be kids on vacation. Once you allow this, it might just bring out the inner-kid in you.