Posts Tagged by Travel
|August 29, 2013||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Arizona, Travel|
We had the coolest experience when we were in Arizona and I am so excited to share it with you guys today! Last weekend, my sister wanted to find something new and fun for us all to do. One of her friends suggested Butterfly Wonderland and we thought why not! Butterfly Wonderland is in Scottsdale, AZ and features an indoor rainforest experience with the largest butterfly pavilion in the US.
Not going to lie … tickets were pricey ($18.95 for adults, $16.95 for military/seniors, and $9.95 for children ages 3-11) but honestly? It is worth it. Our experience started with a 3D movie about the Monarch butterfly which was unreal. The distances those little beauties travel is insane! After that, we went into the butterfly emergence gallery which showcased the metamorphic process etc. From there, the real adventure began.
We were led into a small room before entering the pavilion where some safety tips were discussed. First, you have to watch where you step in the pavilion because the butterflies like to warm themselves on the concrete. Second, don’t touch the butterflies. Butterflies taste with their feet and are really delicate. It was ok if they landed on you though. From there, we were off!
Butterfly Wonderland adds 2,000 new butterflies to the exhibit every single week. This was immediately obvious with the hundreds of butterflies flying everywhere. Everywhere you looked there were more! Em wasn’t sure what she thought at first and stuck close to her Mimi. Within seconds of being in the pavilion my nephew Thomas had a butterfly land on him. There were so many different kinds of varying sizes and colors. It was kind of overwhelming!
Pretty soon Em warmed up to the experience and started pointing out the butterflies and checking out the flowers. Due to the pavilion being a rainforest environment, it was pretty hot and humid. We were all pretty sweaty by the end!
Beyond the butterfly pavilion, there is also a small cafe, live ant colony, honeybee hive, and rivers of the Amazon aquatic exhibit. There was so many informational and fun things to check out. My mom thinks that this is going to be a HUGE 2nd grade field-trip destination once everyone hears about it. Butterfly Wonderland just opened in May so it is still relatively new to the valley.
If you’re visiting Phoenix and live there, I highly recommend checking it out. We had kids aged 2-13 with us and everyone had a blast. The adults too! It was a unique and fun experience for everyone.
What is a cool local experience you have had?
|August 28, 2013||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under WIAW|
Good morning friends! Em and I are officially back in Georgia! We had a long day of travel yesterday but Em was amazing and a trooper and we got home to Chris with minimal tears. We “slept in” this morning due to the 3-hour time change. I got up at 8AM (5AM AZ time) and I just got E out of bed at 9. We have a busy day of unpacking, laundry, and cleaning up the house but will hopefully be heading to the gym shortly. I thought I would share some of my eats from vacation … I mean it’s WIAW after all
I’m lucky that my mom stocks up on our favorite foods before we come into town so eating relatively normal is easy. I had a breakfast sandwich on whole-wheat English muffin, scrambled egg, and Applegate bacon with fresh fruit multiple mornings. Another day I was CRAVING French toast so mom took us to our favorite local breakfast place, Scramble, for French toast, rosemary potatoes, scrambled eggs, and sourdough toast. NOM.
FINALLY found blackberry Chobani and goodness was it worth the wait! Now I MUST find it in Georgia. It was at Target in Phoenix so I will be checking there this weekend. Also had tuna salad on crackers, Larabars, and lots of peaches.
A couple trips to Paradise Bakery (west coast Panera) for tuna sandwiches and Greek salads. I also met one of my sorority sisters at Maizie’s Cafe in Phoenix for a delicious tuna sandwich and amazing fries. No trip to Phoenix is complete with a trip to Macayo’s for lunch and I did get my beloved bean and cheese burrito with chips and salsa. For days that we were home (which was most), we made Applegate turkey sandwiches with fruit.
Family dinners were a regular occurrence over the week I was home. We had BBQ chicken sandwiches with watermelon, salads, and fries. Another night was lasagna and salad. Our last night was take-out from Babbo’s Italian Eatery.
Pretty sure I packed on some pregnancy pounds these last 10 days and I have zero guilt about it. I had great food with even better people and a perfect trip. While I am so glad to be home, in my own bed, and getting back to our normal routine, I miss my family fiercely already. Thanks Jenn for hosting!
|August 22, 2013||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Toddler, Travel|
While I was in Vegas I got a couple of emails about things to do as a family in Sin City. To be honest, when we go to Las Vegas it’s to visit our family and we don’t spend a lot of time doing touristy things. Chris and I will go out to dinner, sometimes we go out to a show, but normally we are hanging out with the fam and sometimes sneaking off to play the penny slots. However, when we were home in May, we did have the chance to go to the Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay.
If you’re in Vegas with your family the Shark Reef exhibit is a fun way to spend some time. It’s not a HUGE aquarium … it took us about an hour to get through it, but that was the perfect amount of time for an active toddler. Emmalyne is borderline obsessed with fish right now, likely fueled by Grandpa G’s aquarium, and she had an absolute blast pointing out all the “pish”.
Another positive thing about the aquarium is that it is a great way to beat the heat on a hot summer day. Temperatures in the summer in Vegas are frequently over 110° so cooling down in the AC is a must! Em particularly liked the underwater tunnels on this trip.
Like most things in Vegas the Shark Reef Aquarium is kind of pricey, however, if you’re military they do offer a discounted rate. Children 4&under get in free.
Overall we had a lot of fun visiting the Shark Reef and would definitely go back again in the future! In the meantime, Em and I are soaking up our time with our family. She has been loving playing with her uncles, aunt, and cousins! The AZ grandparents are all in heaven as well Hope you all have a fantastic Thursday!
|August 21, 2013||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Restaurants|
**I got my post up late last night so in case you missed it, here is my 25-week baby bump update!
When we found out I was accepted to PA school Chris immediately wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate. We decided to wait the couple of weeks until arriving in Las Vegas though so we could utilize the grandparents are babysitters and enjoy a decadent and fun night out sans kiddo. We have tried many different restaurants in Vegas over the years and while we would have loved to go back to one of them, we try to hit up something new each time. After some Facebook inquiries among friends we decided on Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab in the Forum Shops of Cesar’s Palace. So last Saturday night we kissed Em goodnight and headed down to the strip!
Chris thought our reservation was for 6PM but it actually wasn’t until 6:30PM so we had a chance to walk around the Forum Shops for awhile before sitting down for dinner. I scored an awesome gray blazer from Banana Republic originally priced at $200 marked down to $45! It’s going to be the perfect addition for my business casual wardrobe for school.
Pretty soon it was time to head to the restaurant to eat. By this time the Jellybean was letting me know she was QUITE hungry so it was good timing. The service at Joe’s was impeccable. Our table was immediately ready for us and our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable. Beware, I took all the photos on my iPhone and they are less than stellar even though the food was fab
We got started with a nice bread basket which was delicious. Our favorites were the pretzel roll and some sourdough time bread. I could have been super happy eating that all night. Then Chris and I got a Cesar salad to share that had huge shavings of fresh parmesan on it. Loved it.
For the main course everything at Joe’s is a la carte. However, there are “half” portions of the sides available that aren’t listed on the menu that are perfect for sharing between two people at a fraction of the cost. Our waitress told us about them and we were so glad. It ended up being the perfect amount of food for the both of us. For our sides we ordered grilled asparagus and Lyonaisse potatoes. The asparagus was just ok but the Lyonnaise potatoes were delicious. They had some awesome onions on top that Chris couldn’t get enough of.
For my main course I got the petite filet mignon and jumbo king crab. I loved that the crab legs were pre-cracked and ready to eat and my steak was grilled to perfection. It was WAY too much food for me so we took a good portion of my steak home and Chris got a few bites of crab. I think the bread basket did me in
No matter how stuffed I was, there was no way we weren’t enjoying dessert. We ordered the Havana Dream pie which was unreal. It was a vanilla cake with cream layers, sprinkled with cinnamon, a dulce de leche sauce, and fresh strawberries. We devoured it.
Overall we really enjoyed Joe’s and would definitely go back in the future. If you’re in Vegas and are looking for a NICE dinner out make sure to check it out. It is on the pricier end but the food is worth it. My mother-in-law said though that she would go to lunch there frequently when she worked in the Forum Shops and it is better priced at lunch. Just a thought!
Thanks Jenn for hosting another WIAW!
|August 16, 2013||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Tips, Toddler, Travel|
I feel like Emmalyne and I are pretty seasoned flyers. I have honestly lost count of how many planes we have been on at this point. I am fairly certain we are over 30. This trip alone has us on 5 different flights. I kind of laugh at myself now thinking back to when she was 4 months old and I was getting ready to take her on her first flight and I was freaking out. Man was she EASY back then! She slept the whole way there and when she was fussy, I just had to nurse her. Traveling with a toddler is a whole different ball game, let me tell ya!
First, I use this penguin backpack that we got from Target. I also use this backpack regularly as a diaper bag for Emmalyne for the gym daycare and when she goes on post. I LOVE it. There are a bunch of other cute animals to choose from (and I will be getting the Jellybean one too!).
I am actually able to fit quite a bit into Em’s backpack. Since she is a ticketed passenger now, I don’t have to factor this into my own carry-on which is nice! Here is what I put in it:
I got Em a new Minnie Mouse coloring book for the flight and a new set of crayons. Girl LOVES to color! She also loves all her “My First” flashcard boxes so I packed one for the trip. She can look at them for a long time and it lets us work on some of her “skills”. Stickers are also great because they come off the seat easily and it seems like toddlers are obsessed with stickers. Her Magnadoodle rounds out the art stuff.
As I said yesterday, Em is OBSESSED with books. We went to Barnes & Noble last weekend and picked out two new books for her: “Happy Hippo, Sad Suck” and “Little Blue Truck”. The animals books is just one of her favorites! In the blue case is our old iPod touch that is now Emmalyne’s. On it are a couple of apps (I’ll share those soon!) and some episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Per Emily’s suggestion, I also got her some Kidz Gear Wired Headphones so she can actually LISTEN to her shoes and maybe be entertained longer.
The rest of her stuff is in my carry-on. Including the all important stash of snacks.
Additionally, I have our iPad and the “Finding Nemo” DVD in my carry-on.
Any-who … we are in Vegas now and enjoying time with Chris’ family. Got to soak it up while we can! Chris is taking me out to a fancy dinner tomorrow night to celebrate my acceptance to school and I am pretty stoked to stuff my face TGIF!