The Mommyhood Life – Travel, Crafts, Food, and Florida Family Fun

Travel

Top Tips for Visiting Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

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While in Tampa one of the best places to take the kids is the Lowry Park Zoo!
  My kids are big animal lovers,  Anthony loves to learn all the facts about each kind of animal while the twins just fall in love with all of them, so this zoo was a great experience for us.
 
This was the first time I had ever visited the Lowry Park Zoo and I was very impressed.  The zoo was very clean, they had a wide variety of animals that were very visible in their habitats and the zoo also offered other activities to keep the kids entertained. 

The summer months can get excruciatingly hot in Florida especially if your not from here, so we arrived at the zoo right when it opened so we could finish most of the walking before the hottest part of the day.

  Once walking through the main entrance we headed to the left and went through each of the 6 animal habitat areas, Asian Gardens, Florida Wildlife Center, Primate World, Safari Africa, Ituri Forest and Wallaroo Station.  This ended up being a perfect plan because when we finally arrived in the Wallaroo Station area we were starting to get very hot and tired.  However this area cooled us off quick with a water spray park and some mechanical rides.

The zoo has a petting area with farm animals, an area to touch sting rays and numerous feeding activities at different habitats.

The kids loved all the animals but each had a favorite.  Aidan Loved the Chimpanzees, Lilly thought the elephants were the cutest, and Anthony was excited to learn about rhino’s.

One of the coolest rides that really sets the Lowry Park Zoo apart from other zoo’s we’ve been to was the Expedition Africa Guided Safari.
The safari is a guided tour aboard a 2 carted jeep, through the back area of the “Safari Africa” section of the zoo.

Ready to Visit?
Admission is currently $32.95 for adults and $24.95 for children.  Which includes Pay For The Day, Come Back The Rest Of The Year
For those local to Tampa, this is an awesome deal because it means you will not only get to enjoy the zoo for the rest of 2017, but you will also get to take advantage of the amazing holiday events that The Lowry Park Zoo offers.  Such as “Creatures of the Night” and “Christmas in the Wild”

tampa-lowry-zoo-halloween-event
While the Pay for the Day ticket is a great deal, if you have a large family, like we do, I suggest becoming a zoo member.  There are several membership choices to choose from, for us the Family Plus Guest membership was the best.  This meant for $159 my husband, 3 children, myself, and a guest could visit anytime for a full 12 months.  The memberships also include seasonal events.

Getting there:
1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is definitely a must see when in the Tampa Bay area!

Get Social with Lowry Park Zoo

 

How to pack the perfect “Mommy’s Road Trip Survival Bag”

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TwizzlersSummer #CollectiveBias

Road trips have become my favorite way to travel as a family.  I love the freedom of packing up the back of the van and choosing what time we leave, where we stop along the way, and how long we stay.  In the past when we would travel by plane, I hated the fact that I couldn’t stay in a particular city for an extra day or two if I wanted to because the airlines would charge over $100 a ticket if I tried to reschedule our tickets home.  My favorite part of family road trips has to be being able to stay that extra day whenever we get the itch and not having the stress of rushing to an airport is great too!
 
Last June we took our first long distance family road trip.  We traveled from Boston, Massachusetts to Clearwater, Florida.  Stopping for a couple nights in South Carolina and Boca Raton and Orlando Florida for a few nights each. 
 The kids did so well and we had so much fun, that when our Christmas vacation to Charleston rolled around we immediately chose to drive.  We were able to get from Boston to South Carolina in one day, however on the way home we took our time and stopped in Atlantic City and New York City.  Now we are planning a third family road trip for August and we will be traveling from Boston to Orlando with several stops planned out along the way.
 
As much as I love road trips, they can easily become a nightmare if I don’t pack well and plan out ways to keep my kids entertained.  We always leave before the sun comes up, usually by 4:00am.  This way the kids are all still sleeping when we put them in the car.  The early start combined with the car motion usually keeps my kids snoozing until midmorning.  Then once they wake up its time to start pulling things out of my road trip survival bag.
 
Are you heading on a road trip this summer?  If so, this is what I recommend keeping in a bag close to you.  This way you can hand things out as needed in intervals through out the trip and also keep track of things each kid has which helps prevent the car from becoming a huge mess.
 
1) Electronics – no matter what your parenting style is when with  electronics when it comes to being on the road for 12+ hours with kids, electronics can make everyones life a whole lot easier.  We pack a portable DVD player with a variety of DVD’s, Ipads for each of the kids, Nintendo DS’s and Ipods.  It may sound excessive but having numerous electronics allows us to swap them out for charging and as the kids get bored.  Plus headphones are always a must!

2) Coloring Books, Crayons and Notebooks – The kids will get tired of the electronics and get ancy after a while.  My kids all love to color and draw, so I am usually able to keep them content with some crayons for at least an hour.  Its also good to take them into restaurants along the way.

3) Small Toys – I like to go down the party favor isle at Walmart or the dollar and clearance areas and pick up small easy to travel with toys that will keep the kids entertained for a little while.  Some toys that have worked out great are; Playdo, handheld games, sticker books, etch a sketch’s, mini puzzles, exc.
4) Sweatshirts or Blankets – The kids can start complaining about being too hot or cold every hour so I like to keep sweatshirts or blankets on hand incase one wants the air conditioner on and another is complaining their cold.
5) Refillable Water Bottles – Spill proof bottles work out the best for us.  The kids are always thirsty during our road trips, so I like to keep a drink redaly available for them however we learned quickly that if there wasn’t a cover attached to the drink it would end up all over the place.
 
6) Yummy Mess Free Snacks – My go to is Twizzlers Twists, the kids love Twizzlers candy and I like that its an easy snack that is mess free!  There’s no melting mess or risk of spilling and they still taste delicious.

Plus Twizzlers Pull N Peel candy is one of my guilty pleasures.  I could devour an entire bag of this yumminess in one sitting, so I try to keep a bag of it tucked away incase the kids get rowdy and I need a few minutes to escape into my own little world.
 
When we start packing for our road trip, its crunch time and as busy moms we don’t have any time to waste.  Luckily I am able to pick up everything I need to fill and refill my Road Trip Survival Bag at Walmart.  This is very convenient because Walmart is everywhere along our road trip route! 
What are your summer fun plans?

 



Tips for Preparing to Travel to Brazil with kids ~ Plus a Portuguese Language Program Giveaway! #rocketlanguages


With a Brazilian Hubby, my family has traveled to Brazil over a half dozen times in the past 10 years.  We have also had the opportunity to live there for 6 months when Anthony was a toddler.  With all these trips under my belt, traveling to Brazil has become second nature.  However I still remember the stress of the unknown the first time we booked plane tickets.
 
Here are a few tips to help your international travel go smoothly.
 
1.  Get your paperwork and travel plans together in advance.   American citizens needs passports and visas to travel to Brazil,  both these applications require both parents to be present when applying for a minor.  Visas are obtained at your local Brazilian consulate office and you will need to schedule an appointment for this in advance.  The wait time can differ greatly depending on the time of year and what Brazilian holidays are coming up. 
 
2.  Think about where your staying.  When we go to Brazil we stay with family so hotels aren’t something we think about often.  However we did stay at a hotel in Rio once and on Praia da Costa in my husbands state, Espirito Santo.  When staying in a hotel in Rio I highly suggest either reading as many reviews online as you can or going with a trusted resort chain.  The crime rate in Rio is very high and the neighborhoods can range from beautifully upscale areas to favelas that are mainly controlled by drug gangs.  You want to make sure that your hotel is in a safe area before you begin your trip.
 
3.  Add some Portuguese to your vocabulary.  I have used several language programs, but right now my favorite is Rocket Languages.  The Portuguese program is interactive and you are able to record yourself in conversations which is extremely helpful when trying to get the pronunciations correct.  The program is also fully available online with 24/7 access, which is a huge plus for busy families.

4.  Packing, remember that a lot of brands your used to using in the USA may not be available in Brazil depending on the parts your traveling to.  Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have more American brands for things like makeup and baby formula however expect the cost to be at least 3-5 times as much as you’d pay in the US.  If your going to a less touristy area of the country these brands will likely not be available and you’ll have to use the local equivalent and many items are a lower quality.  When our kids were still in diapers and we traveled, I always tried to pack as many diapers as possible to bring with us because the quality of the diapers there, even the name brand packages weren’t very good.  I also packed extra bottles, pacifiers, and formula.  These are all available in Brazil however a $3 bottle from Walmart will easily cost over $30 in Brazil and baby formula was sky high.

5)  Cellphone Service, before traveling check with your cell phone carrier about their international pricing.  If its not available and your cell phone is unlocked, you can go to a Brazilian cell phone companies kiosk in any local mall once you arrive in Brazil and purchase a prepaid sim card.  However we haven’t found a company that offers unlimited data with prepaid plans yet, so we usually spend a lot more than the average person refilling our data with both me and the hubby working online. 

We love Brazil and it is our second home.  Once the planning, packing, and traveling is over, make sure you relax with an agua de coco and enjoy the beautiful country!

Now for the Giveaway!
Enter for a chance to Win the Rocket Languages Portuguese Program:
Giveaway ends: February 27, 2015


 
*I received a press sample of this language program to facilitate this review/giveaway, All opinions are 100% my own*

Camping 101 ~ Tips to prepare for a Great Camping Trip

Camping 101
Technology is an amazing thing, letting us live lives of comfort and keep in contact with friends and family all over the globe.  The downside is it is very easy to find yourself isolated from people who are near to you and out of touch with yourself.  Camping is a great way to connect with friends and family and to give yourself a break from the LCD glow that surrounds us even while we sleep.  

One of the great things about camping is that it is something that you can tailor to suit almost every taste.  If you just want a change of scenery, you can go with very comfortable, well appointed campers and travel trailers.  If you want something a little more traditional but still want the comfort of a hot shower, many campgrounds offer modern amenities.  If you want to go totally rustic you find places suited for that as well, right down to simply stating out a spot in a State Forest and having to purify water and forage for food.  Regardless of how you choose to camp, there are a few tips that are almost always useful.
Preparation – nothing spoils a trip faster than finding out you forgot something important.  We like to keep our gear packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Every time we return from a trip, everything is taken out, cleaned and repacked.  Depending on the style that you choose, make sure that you have a supply of the basics, stowed away to keep them protected.  
Another great way to simplify your trip is to prepare your meals ahead of time as much as possible.  Chop veggies and potatoes ahead of time, you save on time and space.  If you plan your meals ahead of time, you can freeze the meats you won’t use right away.  They will help keep the rest of your food cold and reduce your chance of food borne illness by staying cold longer.
Planning – do some scouting on where you would like to camp.  Many popular campgrounds are booked months in advance, especially on holiday weekends.  Make sure you pick a location with activities that your group will enjoy.  Besides the obvious things like hiking or fishing, camping can be a fun way to closer to popular attractions or save money on a long road trip.
Most campgrounds have maps online, look and see how close the campsites are together.  If a campground is packed in tight and very crowded, you may end up wishing you’d have stayed home if you are looking for a little solitude.  Look at the services available at a particular site.  If a site has large spots for RVs or campers, but no electric hookups, you may end up next to someone who is running a generator, which will spoil your ambiance. 
Prevention – campgrounds attract animals and they are much cleverer than you think about getting into your stuff.  If you are backpacking, if you keep your site clean and if you aren’t in a spot that is camped at a lot, a simple food cache will usually be enough.  Keep your food in a separate bag, tie a long length of rope to it and hang it from a tree branch large enough to support it and keep a bear from pushing it over, but small enough that it can’t be climbed.  
If you are in a campground and near your vehicle, simply put your food back into your vehicle and roll up the window.  Keeping strong smelling food in a Ziploc bag can also help avoid having your meals destroyed.  DO NOT put your food in your tent, not only will you have your food eaten, you will also very likely have your tents and sleeping bags destroyed as well.
Camping is one of our family’s favorite activities and properly planned it is extremely enjoyable.  If you don’t plan, however, it can be a miserable experience that can spoil it for a lifetime.  The time spent away from the rush of everyday life is the perfect way to bring friends and family close together and be an ongoing tradition.

10 Great Travel Games to Make Road Trips Fun

After spending 70+ hours in a Van with 3 kids over the past few weeks, I learned what works and what doesn’t to keep them happy and entertained.
Here is a list of 10 great Travel Games to help you make a road trip fun!

 

Melissa & Doug License Plate Game

License Game
Road trip Add excitement to travel with this sturdy, reusable classic travel game. Learn the name and location of all fifty states, identify states by their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route…this is truly fun on the go No loose pieces to leave a trail.
 

Zynga Words with Friends To Go Game

Words
Play this travel size Words with Friends game whenever the urge for words strikes! Based on the addictive online game, this portable word game lets you create words vertically or horizontally that connect to previous words. The player with the most points wins, and when the game is over you can store the tiles and game board inside the portable case. Take your wordy fun on the road with the Words with Friends game!
 

My Friendship Bracelet Maker Traveler

Friendship Maker
Celebrate friendship and creativity with our portable Traveler Friendship Bracelet Maker. The Traveler features a weaving work surface with slide-out storage drawer and 20 pre-cut threads in bright shades that appeal to every child. Color instructions are included.

Find It Games At the Beach

FindIT
Find It at the Beach is a contained adventure. It features ocean blue end caps and over 40 hidden items with a beach theme in soothing blues, greens and coral colored pellets. This is an exciting game that is a great travel game with its enclosed pieces that will never get lost. Will you find the ray, whale, beach chair, shark, bathing suit or light house in this contained adventure. The hard to find penny is still included in the Find It At the Beach game. Play Find It At the Beach in your home at the cabin, car or office. Includes Find It At the Beach game and a check off pad. Find It can be played alone or as a timed game with friends.

Hasbro Travel Guess Who Game Fun On The Run

Guess Who
Hasbro Travel Guess Who Game Fun On The Run.

Spot It! on the Road

Spot It
Spot it! has officially hit the open road. Each colorful symbol is something you would see on a typical road trip. This edition has a new way to play while in the car: Travel Bingo. Whether you’re in the big city, cruising down the highway, or just around town, there is always something to spot. Be sure to pack Spot it! On the Road to bust backseat boredom wherever you go. This little tin has everything you need for endlessly fun car games! Includes 55 cards in a tin canister.

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Hangman

Hangman
These fabulous, travel-style games bring new fun and convenience to old family favorites. Innovative flipping pieces won’t get lost. Includes one game board with erasable whiteboard, self-storing marker and eraser. Great for the road and at home. Exceptional Quality and Value.

Curious George Travel Cube

George
Take the fun anywhere. Curious George wants to play his favorite games with you. This travel-sized cube has a convenient carry it anywhere handle and comes loaded with bingo, two classic card games and a fun new four-in-a-row game all featuring curious George and his friends. Learning fun, number, color and shape recognition, matching and strategic thinking. Product contents 1 game board in 4 pieces, 1 deck of 40 cards, 1 rules card, 60 tokens, 25 bingo tile, 1 spinner and 1 game rules manual. Age 3+, number of players 2 to 5. The wonder forge features family games designed to bridge generation gaps and build family bonds. Its preschool sub-brand, i can do that. Games, is designed to celebrate the “can do” in every kid, with games that engage children physically, socially and creatively.

Educational Insights Travel Blurt!

Blurt
Now you can Blurt. on the go. This handy, portable version of best-selling Blurt. includes 75 new Blurt. definition cards (450 new Blurt. clues), cardholder, scoreboard and magnetic pieces. Take turns passing the cards, reading the definitions and blurting out the answers.

Let’s Go Fishin’

Fish
Try to get the most fish in this classic action-packed game! For 1 to 4 players, Contents: Deluxe plastic game base, 21 colorful fish, 4 plastic fishing poles, rules. Requires 1 x C battery (not included). 4 Years +
 
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