Posts Tagged by Travel
|April 4, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Travel|
Yesterday we wrapped up our quick trip to Jacksonville with a trip to the Jacksonville Zoo. We loaded up the car and got to the zoo right as it opened at 9AM. I have learned over the years that the absolute best zoo experiences come first thing in the morning. We may or may not have been the first family in line Emmalyne is at an age now where she gets things and I love watching her enjoy new experiences.
The Jacksonville Zoo is organized by different trails relating to animals from different parts of the world. There is the Asia Loop, Australian Loop, Florida Loop, etc. By getting there nice and early the animals were all out and seemed to be in great moods. One of our favorites of the day was this giraffe. Her name was Naomi and we definitely ended up buying Em a stuffed giraffe that she promptly named Naomi as we were leaving.
We got the tickets that included all the additional attractions the zoo offers. This included butterfly hollow (which was kind of like Butterfly Wonderland but not quite as cool), Stingray Bay, the 4D movie, and the train. Emmalyne could hardly contain herself as we were waiting for the “choo-choo”!
We spent most of the morning hot on Em’s heels as she ran from one adventure to the next. I wish I could bottle up toddler energy and sell it for profit because it’s insane.
Luckily for all of us Bryn was willing to come along for the ride. She is such as relaxed and easy baby. Bryn loved just chilling in the Ergo or smiling at all the other people. Bonus points for me? I figured out how to nurse her in the Ergo so we didn’t even have to stop for snacks She also took some good naps while we were there and I enjoyed the snuggles.
The last activity we did at the zoo was let Emmalyne have at it in the splash pad. We didn’t bring her swim suit so we improvised
It was an absolutely beautiful day to be at the zoo and I was full of joy watching the wonder and excitement in Em’s eyes. We ended what was the perfect morning with a little treat before getting in the car for the drive home.
Em’s eyes were shut and she was asleep before we were even out of the parking lot. You know she had fun
Our fun is continuing through the weekend. Chris and I are doing a mud run tomorrow and his brother gets in town tomorrow night. I am going to soak up my last 3 days off before jumping back in to 10 weeks of chaos. Have a happy Friday!
|April 3, 2014||Posted by Madeline @ Food, Fitness, and Family under Travel|
Hello from Jacksonville! We woke up yesterday morning, loaded up the car, and hit the road singing songs from Frozen all the way We got down to Jacksonville around 11AM and headed straight to Chris heaven …. Chipotle.
After a quick lunch it was time to do some SHOPPING. As I mentioned yesterday, my MacBook mouse trackpad has had a mind of its own for the last few weeks. It’s given be tons of anxiety since I NEED my computer not only for everything that is PA school but also for the little bit of work I still do freelancing. The closest Apple store to us is in Jacksonville so I was anxiously waiting for this trip to get it fixed. In addition to that, apparently I killed my iPhone battery with over-use. OOPS. So Apple made a pretty penny off of me yesterday between buying a new trackpad, installing it, and upgrading my phone.
I drowned my sorrows at one of MY happy places …. Lululemon.
We stayed the night at the Residence Inn by Marriott by Jacksonville Town Center and I have nothing but good things to say about our room and stay. First, we had a one bedroom suite so the bedroom was separate from the living area. This is a key feature for us to be able to put the girls down and still stay up past 7PM. The room was really nice and had a full kitchen.
Since Emmalyne missed her nap this afternoon Chris and I decided to just pick up dinner and eat at the hotel room. After chowing down I headed to the hotel gym for a quick workout. Again, I was really impressed. There were a couple treadmills, and elliptical, a bike, dumbbells, bench, and medicine balls. The nice touches were fresh towels on all the machines, cold filtered water, and complimentary headphones.
Probably one of the nicest surprise features? They do FREE dinner with FREE wine and beer! WINNING. I definitely could go for a nice cold beer after a fun day of shopping
This morning we are heading straight to the Jacksonville Zoo before making the trek home. Have a great day
–> Just in case you were wondering, I wasn’t compensated by Marriott in any way. Chris and I are just HUGE fans of the Marriott chain. Our room in Jacksonville was free due to Marriott reward points and we will definitely be staying at Residence Inn again.
|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!