5 Ways Disney made our Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers

I get it… Disney… really?  It’s funny how people love or hate the mouse and with equal enthusiasm especially in the travel industry!

As lame as you may think the mouse is I am going to make the argument that Disney is great stomping grounds for bringing up well rounded little travelers-

Here are 5 Ways Disney made my Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers:

1)  The munchkins are great on airplanes

We walk on a plane with 4 kids and a baby and I swear all you can hear are sighs.  Plus, all the talk under peoples breath, the eye rolls and the avoidance.  It is hilarious!!!

I smile and laugh in my head bc our kids have flown 3-4 times a year from the time they were infants.  Every few months they are on a plane ride.  Initially, it was either to Maui to visit their Papa or to Florida to go to Disneyworld bc with the Vacation Club it was just SO affrordable!

All those miles up in the sky have made my kids EXCELLENT flyers.  Its a routine for them and we keep it consistent every time.  Hint- Kids LOVE routine!!!  My kids love the special treats they know I’ve packed them.  They know activities that will keep them occupied and they know that sleeping helps pass the time.  You know the saying “Practice makes Perfect!”

My favorite part about flying honestly is all the compliments we receive once we’ve landed.  People cannot believe how well behaved our kids were.  Its one of those mama moments that I just soak up– proof that I am doing a good job at this while child rearing thing 😉

Truth is it is not as much about my parenting though as it is about practice and routine.  And, that moment is thanks to all those trips.  The munchkins know hopping on a plane = fun.  They know if they misbehave they will miss out on part of the fun.  So, with that mindset our flights are easy peasy.

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2)  They understand and appreciate culture

Epcot is a fantastic way to introduce kids to culture and language.  The park represents 11 countries and Disney hires people from each specific area so kids are able to ask questions and learn about another country from its own residents without any language barrier.

My kids especially love making the cultural kidcot masks.  They get to visit a special kidcot area in each country where the cast member stamps the country and writes the child’s  name in their native language on the back of their mask.

EVERY. TIME. we go the munchkins HAVE to make a mask.  They never get tired of it.

It’s more than the mask though.  I appreciate that they are able to chat with the employees about their homelands and learn a bit of the language.  It sparks their curiosity and helps engage us in conversations about the world and where they might want to travel in the future.

It also helps in reverse when you are in the actual country and you can remind them of things they learned or saw in the parks.  It helps familiarize them to the area so they don’t feel so out of sorts.  Like when we traveled to Ethiopia and we were able to talk about the cast members we met, the pictures of the traditional African houses we had seen at the hotel, the Coke signs in the Africa area of Epcot and the drums the kids were able to play with.  My son was proud when he could show the Ethiopians that he knew a thing or two about their instruments 😉

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3)  The munchkins are patient

Disney parks are known for their long waits and while we do utilize fast pass and baby swap when we can… my munchkins still end up waiting in their fair share of lines.  This has been very useful bc trips always require you to wait in lines whether its at the airport, waiting to see the Eiffel Tower or to see an exhibit in a museum- lines are just part of traveling.

Having had so much practice at how to wait nicely, knowing fun little games they can play like “I spy” etc… really has been helpful.  The more routine the activity is… the better equipped your kids will be to handle themselves in a mature, respectful manner.

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4)  They love trying different foods

Disney has done a great job with all the different cultural restaurants they have now.  We have enjoyed African/ Indian inspired dishes at Boma and Jiko while staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  The munchkins have eaten Moroccan, French, English, Chinese, Norwegian, German and Japanese food at Epcot and many more.  Food is such an important part of a culture and getting small tastes of it here and there has helped them appreciate trying new things.  I recommend if you visit the parks to not give your kids the kids meals with traditional mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Instead have them split adult entrees or order several appetizers to share.

They may turn up their noses the first few times but once they give it a go I guarantee they will find exotic foods to be quite fun!!  Mine have even made lists of all the different foods they have tried like escargot, injera and sushi.

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5)  The munchkins have learned how to have their own fun amongst the chaos.

Traveling is exhausting and chaotic.  Crowded tourist attractions, busy train and subway stations and the airport are all places that get NUTS!!  Guess where you can get that same type of vibe… that’s right Disney Parks.  Crowds, Chaos and Disney go hand in hand.

My kids are literally immune to the crowds.  They know how to stay close, they know what to do if they get lost… all of these details we have worked out previously through our many trips to Disney.  This helps give me more peace of mind bc I know my kids won’t be overwhelmed.  By ensuring the are not overwhelmed I also know I am avoiding potential meltdowns.

We also have a worked out a great flow.  We know our kids need to have a break to rest & eat every 2-3 hours when we are out.  We know what kind of snacks to have on hand and we can tell when one of the kids is losing their cool.  I am glad we practiced all of these things at Disneyworld where if I didn’t pack enough snacks or diapers there was a very easy fix at the next gift shop maybe 10 feet away.  Trust me Disney has you set.

I am glad to have had the practice as making a mistake while hiking in Costa Rica, driving across the countryside in Ethiopia or in the middle of the sand dunes in Dubai would NOT be as easy to fix.

So, if you are nervous about travel but would love to be a traveling family I think Disneyworld is a great starting off point.  It’s convenience can’t be beat and helps ease you into experiences so that you can get some under your belt.

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3 Reasons You Should Go to a Storm Game

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Okay, look under normal circumstances if you asked me to take my whole munchkin crew and make them sit for H.O.U.R.S. at a baseball game I would laugh in your face and think you were joking.  Don’t get me wrong.  I used to love a good baseball game with a delicious hot dog in one hand and a cold beer in the other surrounded by good friends and laughter… BUT with the munchkins its a whole other story.  My kids attention span in this crazy iPad/ video game paced world is about 5 seconds… don’t laugh… I’m NOT kidding.

So, you bet your bottom dollar I was giddy as all get out when we attended a baseball game WITH the munchkins AND had a good time.

So, here are my Top 3 Reasons Why YOU should Go to a Storm Baseball Game:

1) Family Friendly

Storm Games are a great choice for families from the cleanliness of the stadium and cheap ticket prices to their dedicated Kids Zone complete with inflatable jumpers for the kids.  Plus, on top of that they have nights specifically geared towards families.  For example every Friday night you can sit back and enjoy the “Best Fireworks Display in the Inland Empire” after the game.   Or enjoy their Sunday Funday which consists of kids taking over the Diamond where they announce the game and can race Thunder across the field.  Plus, there are plenty of antics between innings to keep the kiddos entertained including a bunch of mascot characters… my munchkins get a kick out of the race the squirrel bit they do!!

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2) Thunder

Speaking of mascot characters I have to say as annoying as Thunder may be to us adults he definitely is a HUGE HIT with the munchkins.  He is super energetic and he really interacts with the entire stadium.  Plus, as I mentioned above Thunder also has a bunch of mascot friends and together they provide tons of laughs for your little ones.  Check them out for yourself:

3) Party Deck

Here is the my TOP REASON to go to a Storm Baseball game.  You can rent the party deck!!!!  It’s not just a fun name… it is your own private party deck along the first base line.  It can accommodate about 20 of your friends and includes waitstaff, food and drinks.  It is perfect for a birthday party, work event or just hanging out with good friends.

For me just the fact that all the food and drinks were there ready for us when we showed up (popcorn, chips, different sausages and hot dogs plus drinks and waitstaff to keep the cold beers coming) was enough to win me over.  Plus, the Kid Zone is just to the right of the deck and there are clean restrooms located right behind you.  I mean it is the ideal way to watch a game.  Meaning as a mom YOU will actually enjoy yourself (shocking right?).

I am all about people catering to my needs when we travel with 5 munchkins in tow so you can imagine how happy I was when I could actually sit back and relax.  Watching the game was great but watching the munchkins on the bar stools laughing, playing and enjoying the game was priceless.

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Tips:

*Don’t forget to contact Smart Card for great deals on Storm Tickets.

 *Remember to sit on the first base side… or that CA sun will scorch you 😉

5 Reasons to Love Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

1. Two 100 foot water-slides, a toddler-slide and spray-ground

What family isn’t entertained by water slides??  I know our munchkins are huge fans.  And, I am a huge fan of kids having a blast so I can relax poolside with a nice cocktail in hand and a fantastic read.  Okay… most times I am that goofy mom in the water with them.  But, one can dream 😉

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2. Eight distinct pool areas including kid-specific areas and an adults-only pool

When you are in California you want to be in the water… its just natural… Don’t fight the urge!  La Costa has eight gorgeous pools to tempt you with.  My favorite is the gorgeous Spa Courtyard Pool… but with the munchkins the Sandy Family Beach Pool takes the cake.  Oh… and they have fabulous lounge chairs and TONS of shade!!!

*More on the pools and slides here

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3.  Location… Location… Location

Carlsbad California has SO much to offer… beaches, amazing restaurants, tons of shopping.

Plus, there are a ton of activities near by including: Legoland, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld Adventure Park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Flower Gardens (seasonally open). 

There is also the Carlsbad Lagoon with tons of fun water rentals too!

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4.  #1 Wellness Spa in the Nation!!!

I L.O.V.E. everything health and well being.  I love eating organic whole foods, yoga, meditation and natural healing.  So, you can bet I am all about La Costa’s Wellness Spa.  I mean you don’t get #1 in the Nation from Spa Magazine for nothing.  What mom (or dad) doesn’t deserve some relaxation and rejuvenation right?  And, don’t even get me started on the Chopra Center– that will be a post all on its own.

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5.  Fantastic Family Activities

As if there wasn’t already a ton to do off property… La Costa also offers a bunch (over 150 weekly activities to be exact) of fun activities for family right at the resort.  I’m talking daily crafts, nighttime s’mores, tennis and golf lessons, wellness classes, fitness classes… I could go on and on.  Or you can just click here and see for yourself.

I hope I have convinced you that Omni La Costa Resort and Spa is a fantastic SoCal resort.  If I didn’t maybe this cutie will…

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Terranea, Luxury Oceanfront Resort- My Review

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We have been fortunate enough to stay at some amazing luxury resorts with the munchkins.  One that is close to home and dear to our hearts is Terranea.  We were lucky enough to stay at Terranea when it first opened five short years ago.  It was one of those moments where we realized how lucky we were to be native Californians.  The views are breathtaking!  The grounds are immaculate and they have amazing service to boot!

Who should go:  Terranea is classic California elegance at its best… but being near a beach it is  also laid back enough for you to feel more than comfortable toting munchkins along.  In fact they welcome kids with their amazing kids programs and water areas.  They also have a fun brunch on the weekends where our little munchkin enjoyed fresh made doughnuts, waffle bar complete with m&m’s and a berry smoothie 😉

Their guest rooms and suites are nice.  But, they also offer bungalows, casitas and golf villas for larger parties or those who are looking for a more unique experience.  We have also stayed with the munchkins in their two bedroom casita for my hubby’s birthday and that was amazeballs!!!  Your own private beach villa complete with kitchen, backyard and fireplace.  They had to drag me out of it by the time our weekend came to an end… seriously.  I did NOT want to leave.  I even dragged my hubby to their real estate office to see if we could buy something on property… turns out you can!  Anyone want to buy one for me???  See here

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What to do:  Terranea offers plenty of fun things to do whether in the Palos Verdes penninsula or the surrounding South Bay beach cities.  There are a ton of hiking trails near by and walking trails on the property.  What is more fun than hiking, biking or horseback riding with those gorgeous ocean views? (big fan here!!)  They also offer kayaking, paddle boarding, tide pooling and snorkeling adventures.  Trump National Golf Course is right next door if you are into golfing.  Plus, Terranea has three pools on property that keep you entertained with sand areas for the kids, splash park and water slide.  They also have a falcon program and bring out the gorgeous birds which our munchkins think is pretty cool!

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Some of our favs off property activities include heading out to Belmont Shores and hopping on a gondola or kayak through Naples Island.  And, if you head in that direction you MUST… I am serious you MUST stop by and enjoy a meal at one of the Open Sesame’s located in Belmont Shores.  Just check out their Yelp ratings here.  They have such amazing food they had to open a second restaurant (complete with its own kitchen) two doors down.  You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t- Trust me!

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We also like to check out the Wayfarers Chapel.  It is an amazing glass chapel with so much history and its architecture and gardens will take your breath away.  Our munchkins like to climb the trees and run around the grass 🙂

When to go:  Our California weather honestly is pretty amazing year round.  However, if you want to enjoy the water activities I suggest May- July.  Sometimes May is still pretty overcast so check weather reports before you go!

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Where is it located: Terranea is located on the bluffs in Palos Verdes California.  You are close enough to check out the classic SoCal pit stops like Disneyland, Hollywood etc…

*For great savings on theme parks check out- Smart Card

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Why should you put it on your list:  There are few hotels that I would put in a class with Terranea.  I think I could most closely compare it to Grand Wailea.  It is a massive resort with such stunning grounds it even made this California girl feel like I had been transported to a luxury island.  Not only are the grounds gorgeous but the location is surrounded by so many fun activities it was hard to try and narrow it down to a few for this post.  I could honestly go on… and on… and- you get the point!  Put Terranea on your list today.  You can thank me later 🙂

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5 Things I learned on my First Disney Cruise

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1.  Your Kids are Going to Love the Kids Club-

Okay… I know some people may think this is obvious (duh… thanks for the tip).  However, I have spoken to fellow parents who were also taken a back by their kids willingness to be dropped off at the Kids Club (free day care people!!!  FREE DAYCARE!  Well… maybe not free but no additional fees- ha!).  For a young couple this was very welcomed news.  Let’s face it vacations can be exhausting between all the planning, packing and taking care of everyone.  I had read reviews that talked about the kids club but I assumed our kids would gasp over the idea of being left at a daycare on vacation.  Boy was I wrong.  We practically had to beg them to leave each time we went to pick them up.  They could have stayed in there A.L.L. day if we let them.  They loved it SO much that the kids club actually turned into a bargaining tool, “Want to go to Goofy’s Pajama Party tonight… okay well everyone needs to be on their best behavior today then.”  How great is that??

Should you feel bad about dropping off your kids?  Heck NO!  With all we do for the munchkins we deserve a break.  This is our vacation too.  So, don’t be shy.  Sign up your kids pronto.  Don’t delay.  Take them the first night to the open house where you can explore the areas together.  They will likely meet friends and be begging you to be dropped off in no time.

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2. You Need a Whole Day in Castaway

We LOVE Castaway Cay… in fact whenever we see the cruise that plans on stopping in Castaway Cay twice my hubby knows he can talk me into it.  But, on our first cruise I think we foolishly waited to get off the boat bc it didn’t seem that intriguing.  Don’t make that mistake.  Get up and get off the boat early.

Why??  As soon as you hop off the boat there are strollers you can borrow, towels and jugs of water.  You can walk or take the tram over to the beach areas where you are greeted with characters and white sands.  The water is crystal clear, warm and gorgeous.  There are slides and activities for the kids in and out of the water.  *The kids club actually moves off the boat and there is an adult beach… although we’ve never tried it.

There are also excursions you can book.  We enjoyed the bike rentals equipped with helmets, training wheels and baby seats.  There were very easy, flat routes around the island which I highly recommend.  The bike package also came with tube rentals and snorkels which were perfect for cooling off after the bike ride.  Another cool experience that our boys LOVED was the manta ray feeding.

Plus, there is SO much going on… character dances, crab races and plenty of food and drinks.

It’s just so nice to be off the boat with all the amenities of being on it.  Don’t get me wrong we love to explore different cultures with the kids.  However, when we travel with Disney we expect to relax, have fun and bond as a family.  Some of our other travels… as amazing and educational as they may be- tend to exhaust me.  So… get excited about going to Castaway!!

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3. Dinners can still be long

Dinners are L.O.N.G. no matter what on a cruise with all of the scrumptious courses they serve.  Disney does a great job of training their servers to really engage the kids with coloring pages and magic tricks.  However, plan on your kiddos still ending up bored.  Especially, if they are 5 and under.  Luckily, Disney does offer Kids Club pick up at dinner when you have the late seating.   They served the kids very quickly and they took their time on the adult courses.  We enjoyed the time with the kids.  And, then just as they were winding down the Kids Club staff was there to whisk them away.  Then me and the hubs could enjoy the rest of our dinner sans munchkins.  It was blissful!!

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4. They are SERIOUS about Pirate Night

You could spot us newbies from afar.  I thought I was prepared.  I bought a few novelty items for the kids to dress up plus on pirate night Disney leaves some goodies in your room to help you get into the pirate spirit.  What I didn’t realize was that MOST of the cruisers go ALL OUT!!  They are in full costume… parents, grandparents… babies… I mean everyone!  I actually felt foolish having not participated.  Crazy!  But, for whatever reason it works on that boat.

I can’t believe I am saying this… but I actually recommend you packing pirate themed apparel and not just for the kids.  And, probably more than you think you need.

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5. Character’s are EVERYWHERE!!!

Make sure you have an autograph book because there are characters EVERYWHERE on board the boat.  It was like a dream to our munchkins… they were so proud of the number of autographs they got on that first cruise.  The characters are very interactive and really took their time with the kids.  Something that they can’t always do at the parks.  The kids really got a kick of finding the characters just walking around the ship.  That was something we hadn’t expected, but were pleasantly surprised by.  The munchkins conversations on whether Hook shared a room with Peter Pan or Chip & Dale cracked me up.

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Top 10 Things to Do in AZ for Spring Break… besides Baseball

For the past 5 years we have loaded up the munchkins in the wee hours of the morning for a road trip out to Arizona during spring break training.  Like many travelers the initial trips were solely based around watching the major league baseball games during their cactus league games.  But, as the years have passed we have found that Arizona has a lot more than baseball to offer young families.  Here is a list of our top 10.

1.  Arizona Grand Water Park

The Arizona Grand Resort and Spa is a luxury hotel situated in Pheonix AZ.  In 2014 it was voted as the #1 Staycation Spot in Arizona and it is also the only AAA Four Diamond All Suite Resort in Arizona.  Although, better known by our munchkins as “The Water Slide Hotel”  for good reason too as Arizona Grand is home to their very own Oasis Water Park, voted by the Travel Channel as one of the country’s Top 10 Water Parks.  Our kids could spend ALL day going up and down the slides, floating around the lazy river, playing in the wave pool and just hanging out in the splash parks.  And, it doesn’t end when the sun goes down.  On certain nights the hotel offers movies at dark so the kids can float around the pool and watch a movie plus they have been known to offer s’mores certain nights as well.  Definitely, a munchkins dream and we all know when the kids are happy… mom and dad are happy too!

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2.  Dinner & a Movie

I know many cities have dine in movie theaters now that offer full menus however we have not found one as affordable as the AMC Dine-In Theatre Esplanade 14.  The kids get a kick out of pressing the red button on their counter and ordering refills of their sodas.  Me and the hubs love some of the healthier and tasty menu items like the hummus tray and salads.  Plus, the seats are nice and cozy too.  This is a great way to take a break from the heat and relax.

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3.  Hockey Game

Yes… the town is painted with baseball fans but Arizona is also home to the Coyotes -a major league hockey team.  We love to take a break from baseball and chill in the ice rinks (pun intended- ha!).  The Coyotes fans are pretty into the game and so the arena has a great family friendly atmosphere.  I highly recommend catching a game while you are in town.  Maybe you can score an awesome free shirt that your munchkin will insist on wearing repeatedly.  Gotta love his style!!<<sarcastic wink>>

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4.  Rustler’s Rooste Restaurant

While staying at the Arizona Grand make sure to stop by the Rustler’s Rooste -while I would not rate their food very high- it is worth a visit if you are traveling with munchkins.  The restaurant sits on the top of a hill so it has some gorgeous views around sunset.  But, its not known for its views… people go there specifically for the entertainment.  It has a live steer out in front of the restaurant to greet you, they pop paper bull horn hats on the kids as they come in and then they send the kids down a slide to enter the dining area.  I mean seriously… what kid doesn’t want to go down a slide… IN A RESTAURANT???  Once inside you hear the live band playing their western music and you often see magicians and balloon artists making their way around all the tables.  Then as if the kids weren’t having enough fun they end the kids meals with a can of homemade cotton candy.

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5.  The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa Pheonix-Scottsdale

We like to move around during our visits and another great hotel option for us has been the Westin Kierland Resort.  This resort offers Villa accommodations as well as traditional rooms which make it super easy for larger families to fit comfortably.  Kierland also has a water area.  Theirs includes a 110 foot waterslide, FlowRider, lazy river a shallow pool for the wee little ones and water splash area.  They offer cabanas to rent too but, I have found plenty of shade without having to pay.  It also has an adults only pool for those traveling without littles 😉

Another great aspect of staying at Kierland is all of the activities they offer.  From Princess & Pajama parties to yoga, hiking and golf.  They print out a handy guide called a “Pathfinder” weekly and they usually have it posted ahead of time online here

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6.  CHURN Ice Cream

Anyone that knows me knows I am S.E.R.I.O.U.S. about my ice cream eating- ha!  But, seriously… I LOVE ice cream and I am hard to please unless you’ve made it from scratch.  So, you can bet I was S.T.O.K.E.D. when I found a homemade ice cream shop in Phoenix AZ.  Churn is part of the Upward Projects Restaurant Group.  They feature delicious freshly churned ice cream, coffee, baked treats and novelty candies.  The BEST part is all of their yumminess comes sans the nasty additives, chemicals etc… that many ice creams have these days  (2 fist pumps in the air).  If you fancy yourself a visit I highly recommend making your own ice cream sandwich creation with their fresh baked cookies.  It will not disappoint!

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7.  The Farm at South Mountain- Morning Glory Cafe

Speaking of deliciousness- minus the bad chemicals- why not have a super tasty farm to table breakfast on a local Arizona farm.  Amazing setting and a delicious monte cristo sandwich… its a little slice of heaven.  You need to get there early as it doesn’t take long for a line to form.  However, if you do catch the crowd you can always take the munchkins on a walk around Maya’s Garden and see the gorgeous flowers.  Or take them near the kitchen coop for a lesson on where real food comes from 🙂  Our munchkins love to bring a ball and play some football while we wait as there is plenty of room to play.  *Note the restaurant I mentioned is open seasonally, so check their website before you go- http://www.thefarmatsouthmountain.com/morning-glory-patio/

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8.  Shopping

SHOP til you drop… and you can with all the lovely shopping malls I found in Scottsdale.  There seem to be malls all over the place.  Indoor, outdoor you can find both.  And, while the munchkins may not last long there seemed to be enough to keep them entertained for me to get my shop on.

Scottsdale Fashion Square, Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter just to name a few 😉

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9.  Downtown Scottsdale

Downtown Scottsdale is pretty charming.  There are shops, galleries, bars and tons of dining options.  If you have your munchkins with you I definitely recommend the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor for a fun dessert.  The games have seen better days (think chuck e cheese type) but the pink booths and giant sundaes will keep smiles on everyone’s faces.

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10.  Okay… Baseball makes the list

It is spring training for pete’s sake and its pretty cool to see the players on their off season.  Make sure you arrive extra early to the games and line up along the fence with some new baseballs and ball point pens.  We have been pretty fortunate and have gotten autographs from players almost every time we visit!!!  We also prefer sitting on the lawn where you can chat with the outfielders.  The kids get a kick out of it!!  Just make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and shade.  It will be H.O.T.!!!!!  You can look up the cactus league schedule here

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Costa Rica- Days 3 & 4

IMG_4100After escaping death by crocodile successfully (read more about that here) we were off and ready to explore all that Guanacaste had to offer.  First stop was a boat tour that was right down the road.  Oddly enough after learning about the crocodiles we were all super intrigued and wanted to see one for ourselves.  (Hey I never claimed to be normal).

There was a boat tour through the estuary where the crocs were supposed to be.  Now… in our heads we were picturing nice big boats that placed the passengers up high and away from harms way but just close enough to be fun.  Well… As we would soon learn Costa Rica has lots more tricks for us up its sleeves.

IMG_4087We walk over to the hotel.  Try to speak our broken Spanish and explain what we are looking for (thank goodness our niece had just returned from a semester in Spain).  The waitress nods and points to the right.  We walk down the path to find a tough looking man with a rickety VERY tiny little boat who gestures for us to all hop in.  We look at each other like “Is this man for real?? Surely we will sink this boat.”  But, he says we will all fit so we laugh and start climbing in.

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As you can see the estuary was beautiful

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But after seeing a ton of trees, water and birds we were starting to think this was a waste of money.  A few minutes after that thought crossed our minds the driver pulls up to a bank.  This is not the start… we were not told we would be making any stops.  What is this guy doing???  He climbs out, pulls up one of the fence posts to create a gap between the barbed wire, whips out a machete from his belt and starts cutting a path.  He looks back and gestures for us to follow.  Reluctantly (stupidly… depends on how you look at it) we follow.  After about two minutes of walking behind our boat driver turned guide as he slashed a trail he tells us to stay and wait.  We watch as the guide disappears into the thick brush in front of us until we can no longer see him.  We all look at each other and realize we are idiots!  IDIOTS!  We are in the middle of who knows where, in a place where crocs are supposed to live and now we are all ALONE!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

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After our total freakout (about 5 minutes) we see our guide making his way back through the brush.  We are all assuming he just went to take a pee.  We tell him we were scared and he assured us we were fine and we continued on.  The trail was a bit scary with what looked like snake holes at our feet complete with crab skeletons and mounds of black hair around them.  I was completely freaking out having the kids walk through it all.  Especially, since most of us were in flip flops (again idiots).  But, finally the guide got excited and pointed up.  There were monkeys in the trees.  That is why we were up here.

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We all calmed down and enjoyed watching these monkeys up close in their natural habitat.IMG_3360

After we were done with the monkeys we walked back to our boats and continued on.  Until we heard my oldest munchkin and niece yell “CROCODILE”… we all swing our heads and the driver puts the boat in reverse.  Up on a bank (identical to the one we had just hopped out on to take our monkey stroll) was a baby croc.  Our boat driver wanted to give us a better view so he drove right up to the bank.  Remind you we were literally 4 inches off the water in our rickety old boat.  The croc didn’t appreciate our closeness so he opened his jaw to show us his rows of pointy teeth.

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Our driver can tell we are scared and he thinks its funny.  We tell him to go.. and he laughs and drives closer.  That croc literally jumps in the water… we SCREAM!!!  And, the driver again laughs and then S.L.O.W.L.Y. pulls away from the bank.  Our hearts our racing.  Part of it is excitement… we just saw a live crocodile up close and the other part was complete panic.  The driver had mentioned how baby crocs are often not too far from their mamas.  I couldn’t get that thought out of my head.  “Was mama chasing us?”  Then I took out and notice we are heading right for what looks like the top of a crocs head.  I look around and it seems like everyone is so preoccupied talking about the baby croc that no one sees what I see.  I feel like I have to warn the driver so I point straight head and yell “CROCODILE!!!  CROCODILE!!!… coconut.”  Yes, instead of being the hero and saving our lives from this mama croc I completely made a fool out of myself as it was no croc… just a coconut floating in the estuary (so embarrassing!).  The kids do NOT let me live that down.  It’s been almost a year now and they have all written about the “crocodile, crocodile coconut story” in school and they love to bring it up in random conversations- ha!

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Day 3 we had booked a super fun excursion that included zip-lining, horseback and kayaking.  So, once again I was going to be a stress ball the ENTIRE day- yay!!!  Let me tell you this trip is a lot more fun to blog about than it was to live through.  Mama’s do NOT like watching their babies swing like tarzan across the jungles, kayak through huge boulders and fast moving waters or on top of horses that are spooking.  This trip was some test in trusting my kids and letting go.  But, seriously… how cool are these pics!!!  A trip my kids will never forget for sure and a great bonding experience for our whole family!!!  In case you are wondering we always hop onto tripadvisor and read reviews before we booked places and we gathered pamphlets from the local shops around town.  For the adventure shown we used: Guanacaste Vieja Tours and we LOVED them!  Their guides were great… and funny too.

I was just thankful that all the activities usually ended with some sort of sauna, volcanic mud bath etc…  Mama always needed a good soak by the end of the day.

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I mean seriously… my kids hanging high off the ground… upside down- AHHHH!!!DSC_0042 DSC_0051 

But you know what they say… “If you can’t beat them… Join them!”  So, I did.  That’s me in my pink tank upside down.

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Cuteness Alert!!!

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Do you see the spec in that pic above on the right.  Yes, that is one of my children.  You know… just zipping across a ravine- No big!

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Super cool bridges!!!  My kids are SO lucky!

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Now I LOVE horses and have owned them in my youth so the horseback was something that I thought we be no big deal.  However, these horses were super skinny and not anything like the horses I was used to.  I was nervous with my kids just hopping on and heading out to the trails.  I would not recommend the horseback for begineers as we had several horses spook along the trails.  And, they put my little munchkin on a horse with me.  Just sharing a saddle trying to keep her on and hold the reigns.  I was sweat’n it the WHOLE time.  But, the kids impressed me.  They did great!!!  Next up was kayaking…

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Off we went… it was gorgeous and super fun!!

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We stopped along the way and jumped out.  They let the kids swing into the water off the rope swing.  Another moment I wasn’t sure we would all live through.  The kids just laughed at me and my panicky self.  They LOVED it and the guides assured me they would all be fine.  Then back in the water where things started getting rougher…

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Do you see those pics… yes super cool but leaving through that and watching as the kids boats went in between the rock- AHHHHHHH!!!  Crazy.  They LOVED it though.  One of my favorite pics from that trip is above where the kayak is horizontal on the rocks… I was sure they were going DOWN and there I see my munchkin with a huge smile and flashing his classic “hang loose” hands as I am yelling- “HOLD ON!!!”

Classic!

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If you liked this post you may want to visit-

Costa Rica Day 1

Costa Rica Day 2