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

Travel Tips

Packing the Essentials for Camping ~ The Best Place to be is the Middle of Nowhere! #BBBestSummerEver

 This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

Every year my entire family gets together and drives into the woods to spend a week camping, fishing, swimming, and toasting marshmallows.  We have been doing this since I was a my kids age and I still enjoy every minute of it.  It has become my favorite part of the summer.

My aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends all set up tents in a huge row of camp sites and spend the morning fishing at the river while cooking bacon and eggs at the picnic tables.
  Then enjoy floating in the river all day, laughing and reminiscing about the last 30 years of fun at the campground.  My husband, however, usually falls asleep on a float and finds himself in a bush along the river.
The campground we call home, has a lot for everyone to do.  From beach parties, to turtle races, its impossible for the kids to get bored.  The best part of continuing this family tradition now that I have a family of my own, is seeing the fun of camping through my childrens eyes.  I love seeing them bonding with their cousins and learning things that they would never learn sitting infront of a tv all week!
Every night we get together and barbeque before the kids get to make s’mores, tell campfire stories, and play flashlight tag.
With the world often feeling like its becoming a very scary place, there is something about camping that brings out the innocence in my children and makes life slow down.
As if that wasn’t enough on the weekend nights, we trade in flashlight tag for a family glow dance at the pavilion.  The big kids and the little kids shake their booties till they fall asleep in our arms dancing to “We Are Family”.  These are the memories that will last forever and I’m proud that they are experiencing these amazing adventures.
After camping my whole life, I have learned that most people don’t forget to pack the big stuff.  I have never heard of someone showing up to the campground without their tent and rarely have I heard of someone forgetting a grill or cooler.  However somebody always forgets the small stuff, and without bug spray, a can opener, or sunblock in the woods for a week can lead to misery.
Have you ever camped with a sunburn?  Its not fun at all!  You have no way of controlling the temperature while your depending on mother nature.  A sunburn can make you freeze all night and burn up all day.  Carrying wood for the fire, sleeping on an air mattress, and running through the woods goes from normal camping fun to a miserable achy day. 
So what’s on the top of my packing list every year?  Not my tent or chairs, I know they’ll get packed, on the top of my list is my Banana Boat® Sunblock!  We are living outside all week, we are in the sun weather we plan to be or not, that’s why in order to keep everyone healthy and happy all week I apply and reapply sunblock on my kids and myself all day, everyday. 
I always have a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Sunscreen Lotion for the kids faces, and a bottle of Banana Boat®  Sport Performance® CoolZone™ Continuous Spray Sunscreen for my husband and I with me.
Banana Boat® keeps the kids protected so that I can keep the fun going!
I also like to pack some other necessities that are easy to forget in a small plastic bin that I can keep on the picnic table without worrying about any rain.  Some of my easy to forget items are Band-Aids, Neosporin, bug spray, prescriptions, Motrin and tummy medication, an extra flashlight and batteries, zip ties, and antibacterial wipes.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

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Getting Ready for Our Next Road Trip! #BBBestSummerEver

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.
Summer is finally here!  We plan to take a road trip down to Florida again this year after having an amazing time last year.  We leave Boston before the sun comes up and head south, trying to make it to South Carolina by sun set.  My brother is still in Charleston, along with a piece of my heart.  I fell in love with Charleston during our first trip down there a few years ago, and that love has grown deeper each time we have returned.  I love the southern living, the front porches, the people, and the beauty.

After spending some time soaking up life in Charleston, we get back on the road and head south to Clearwater, Florida.  However there is no driving through Georgia without getting Georgia peaches!  I’ll never forget the first time we drove through and I grabbed some a stand for a snack, the kids and I were hooked on the most tasty peaches we’ve ever had and ate about 5 pounds that day.  The peach stop is now a set stop on all our east coast road trips.
After stocking up on peaches, we continue down to Clearwater.  Clearwater Beach is my most favorite beach.  The water is crystal clear, warm, and calm plus the sand is soft and fluffy.  Beyond the beach there is so many fun activities to do in the Tampa Bay area, from Zoo’s to Boat rides.
After Clearwater, we head over to Orlando for some amusement park fun before starting our return trip home.
I love taking this road trip during the summer because the kids are out of school and we have more time to spend relaxing and enjoying each stop, without worrying about getting back home before school reopens.  However the Florida summer is hot, actually more like sweltering.
It is hotter than hot, humid, and sticky but so beautiful at the same time.  We spend lots of time outside, at the beach, poolside, and doing day trips.  This means we need sunblock every single day, all day.  During last years trip we went through a bottle of sunblock a day keeping all five of us protected, and I anticipate the same for this year.  So before we hit the road I will be making a special trip to Walmart for sunblock and all my summer fun must haves.
My go to sunblock is Banana Boat®,  its a trusted brand in my family.  I like the protection they offer, the scent is great, and they have a full selection of all the sunblock types I look for.

For the road trip, I have a bag that stays in the front center of our van with all my essentials in easy reach, including my sunblock stock.  I have a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Sunscreen Lotion for the kids faces, and a bottle of 
Banana Boat®  Sport Performance® CoolZone™ Continuous Spray Sunscreen
for my husband and I. 

The Sport Performance®

CoolZone™ spray is my biggest obsession, especially in Florida!  It sprays on cold and instantly refreshed me when I’m hot and sweaty, it’s awesome and like dropping ice on yourself without getting wet.  This turned my mood around on many hot days walking around an amusement park!

We are sweating and swimming a lot in Florida, so I make sure to apply at least 2 tablespoons of Banana Boat® to each of us every 2 hours during the day.  The kids get sick of getting out of the water or breaking from the sand castle building, so we like to try to make up songs to sing with a little dance so that putting on sunblock is fun.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

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50 Fun Spring Staycation Ideas in Massachusetts

Photo credit: Jared Vincent / Foter / CC BY
It’s been a long cold winter in Massachusetts and spring hasn’t felt much better.  It is actually snowing outside right now!  However the 10 day forecast is calling for a full week in the 60’s next week, so us New Englanders can breakout our shorts and tank tops!
If your like me, you are happy that Spring is finally showing up, and right in time for school vacation week.  Now we can venture out of the house to have fun and burn off some of this built up energy from a long winter!

Need some fun ideas for what to do this spring break?  Here’s 50 great options to help you plan out your school vacation outings in Massachusetts.
21) Dr. Seuss Garden
36) One Stop Fun
42) Eastern Point Lighthouse
49) Liberty Ride in Lexington

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.

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