Hiking Black Canyon Trail

I’m back again with another awesome hike in Arizona that you don’t want to miss. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this trail sooner, so the second I started the hike, I knew I just had to share it with y’all. Not only are there incredible views hiking Black Canyon Trail, but the surprise at the end is so worth the four or so miles. 

Right off the i17 north in Rock Springs, Arizona, you’ll find the trail head for Black Canyon Trail. There’s no fee or permit needed for this trail, but you will need good hiking shoes, your backpack of essentials, plenty of water, and if you’re anything like me, a camera. 

We hiked about 4 miles round trip… two miles to the bottom of the canyon, and two miles back out. We saw other hikers along the way and some trail bikers as well, but it wasn’t a super crowded trail, which we loved. 

The views along the top of the canyon looking over the mountains and valleys was incredible. We had some rain clouds overhead, but only experienced a few sprinkles here and there which was dreamy. 

The kids had a blast playing and exploring in the canyon below. Lots of rocks to climb on, a stream to play in, and sticks for pretend fishing and hiking back out. The kids used big rocks to build a bridge across the stream the our furry friends who joined us had a great time too.

After hiking back out of the canyon, we headed about 2 minutes south to Rock Springs Cafe where we enjoyed pie and giant cinnamon rolls together. We had such a fun day. 

If you haven’t hiked Black Canyon Trail, it should definitely be at the top of your list for a moderate hike that’s not too far out of the city with views that will happily surprise you. 

Travel: San Diego with Kids

Hello, Renae here! Thrilled to be sharing one of my absolute favorite US cities: San Diego. I loved San Diego before I had kids but now that I have a little tike I appreciate it even more. I’ll even proclaim it’s one of the best cities for an epic family vacay. There are so many family friendly options no matter what your age. And even lots of low-no cost adventures. Too many, I can’t even cover it all in one post! But I’ll give you a crash course on my San Diego faves focusing on Coastal Greater San Diego attractions.

If you live in Southern Cali your lucky, because San Diego is a very enjoyable Amtrak train ride along the Pacific Coast with incredible views. One of the stops is a pier on the beach! If your further, I’m telling you, this city is worth it! My hubs, Steve Trevino, performs at least two times a year in San Diego, so we’ve been able to explore so many sites & I’ve come to know the lay of the land pretty well.

I typically leave the name of the comedy clubs out of my posts because it’s not about that, but the La Jolla Comedy Store has become a second home and is such a huge part of the reason my family has so many amazing San Diego memories. I’ve been going there with Steve since I first moved to Los Angeles at twenty-one and we’ve remained friends with the staff through the years, so we have literally grown up together. They even threw us the sweetest baby shower in the club green room.

And this is a total over share, but our son was conceived there. So I think you get it! This club is pretty special. If you find yourself in San Diego on a date night, the La Jolla Comedy Store is the spot to see top notch comedians — like Steve Trevino in a laid back atmosphere with an amazing staff. (Seamless but so honest plug!)

Okay, more about San Diego. We’ve had the pleasure of staying in both Pacific Beach and La Jolla. Pacific Beach is known to be populated with a college crowd and gets rowdy at night. La Jolla is definitely more posh and refined, but still has the laid back beach vibe San Diego is known for. I turned in my college ID long ago, but honestly, even with a kiddo in tow, I still prefer the vibe of Pacific Beach. I love the boardwalk, restaurants and shopping that’s close enough to sneak off to during naptime. We stay near Crystal Pier and it’s a fabulous area with everything you need within walking distance.

You can rent a bike at the little shop at the entrance to the Pier. It’s one of my favorite things to do since San Diego has the most temperate climate pretty much year around. You can follow the boardwalk south to Mission Beach. Here there is an amusement center, Belmont Park, with carnival rides, some shopping and dining. Cut across to Mission Bay and there is a great bike path which will lead to a playground and volleyball courts right along the water.

If your looking to rent a paddle board, jet ski or even a boat Mission Bay is where you can do all kinds of water sports. I didn’t believe it until I saw it myself, but you can even rent a pontoon boat with a BBQ grill & hot tub on it. -Seriously! If you’ve got a group, splitting the cost of the boat rental to putz around Mission Bay is a great way to spend a day.

I’ll give away some of my traveling super shopper secrets here. I love shopping in San Diego and always score great stuff on the clearance racks here. The Urban Outfitters in Pacific Beach usually always has a fully stocked clearance section and all along Garnet Ave there are great boutiques. Several of which have a much lower price point than the boutiques in La Jolla. And the Fashion Valley Mall is huge and pretty fabulous. Convince your hubs to take the kiddos to see a movie here so you can shop!

If you want to get up close and personal with Sea Lions or Seals, La Jolla Cove is the place to do it. Don’t ask me the difference between the two. (One has ears and one doesn’t but I have no idea which is which!) While you won’t find a playground in the cove, the rocky coastline offers stunning views, lined with a path perfect for a morning stroll.

You can spot them all up and down Coast Boulevard, but my recommendation is to start at the Cave Store and make your way down to Children’s pool. You’ll see sea caves and a rocky ledge where the mammals like to sunbathe. Don’t worry there will likely be lots of sea lions so you’ll definitely hear and smell them before you miss them. Make sure your kiddos have proper shoes for trekking the sometime slippery terrain. Not sure how I let my kid get so close especially after seeing that video of a sea lion pulling a little girl out of a boat and her dad jumping in the water to save her. But you know me, for the sake of a good pic!

It’s a short walk to Children’s Pool. There is a barrier sea wall you can walk out onto when the waves aren’t too high that’s really cool. You’ll also find a small beach here where seals like to hang out. It’s a little crazy how people and seals all just hang out and play on this beach, but they do. It’s a neat place to stop and stick your feet in the water and every time I’ve been here there has been a lifeguard in the tower.

Playing In Balboa Park is another low/no cost activity. San Diego knocks it out of the park with Balboa Park. It’s another one of those amazing city parks that offers more than you could squeeze in in one day. There is so much to see just strolling around the park. Pepper Grove is a large playground and If your kids are into planes, you can get an awesome view of them right over head coming in to land.

The playground is tucked away right behind the amazing Fleet Science Center. We visited when our little guy was just a year old and while the Science Center did have a designated area for the littles, we could have saved the cost of admission and just gone to playground. The Fleet is perfect for families with multiple or older kiddos or on the rare occasion you end up with unfavorable weather and need to take cover. Balboa Park also offers both a carousel and a train ride, so make sure to bring your cash stash if you want to catch a ride.

And there’s still more in Balboa! The Artists Village is a treat for the eyes with beautifully colored tiles. You can roam each of the little cottages selling art and hand crafted trinkets. The center courtyard has tables so it’s a great place to grab a seat and have a snack.

Then for something completely different stroll over to El Prado, a promenade lined with buildings in the Spanish Colonial architectural style housing 15 museums. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe.

My little man is really interested in trains at the moment so we visited the San Diego Model Railroad Museum which boasts being one of the world’s best model train museums. Garrett loved peeking through the glass to check out all of the trains. We spent a lot of time in the Toy Train Gallery, which had buttons to press to make the trains go and all kinds of cool replicas. They also have a room specifically for the littles to build their own trains and offer a train themed story time and craft making on Thursday mornings.  

And if you’ve got a group of animals like me, then the San Diego Zoo is a MUST. Admission is pricey, but once you experience all this zoo has to offer, you’ll understand why. I recommend starting the day with the double decker bus tour that takes you through the whole park. It’s a great way to get a lay of the land and a glimpse of everything because the park is so vast.

There’s a huge sky bridge that takes you through the treetops and even a gondola ride. And this place has a playground and a petting zoo! —I’m telling you, it’s amazing. Even if I didn’t have kids, its an awesome date. It’s a full day attraction, so make sure to take a break, grab a good meal and an alcoholic beverage. There are restaurants where you can actually get food much better than your typical theme park fair so keep an eye out for those cause your gonna work up an appetite with all the walking.

If your like me and love the experience of seeing a live game and eating all the stadium junk food your stomach can handle, check out a Padres baseball game at PetCo Park in downtown. We took Garrett to his first pro game here. Traffic and parking is super congested and tricky downtown, so I strongly recommend taking Uber to the stadium. It’s a gorgeous new facility with a grassy knoll where families can lay a blanket and relax next to a playground so your kiddos don’t feel confined to their seat -I’m telling you, I love this city because kids can be kids and parents can still be big kids too.

Those are some of my San Diego favorites, but there is still so much more! You could spend a day in Ocean in La Jolla and Kellogg Park offers a playground on the beach to keep the kids entertained.

And if your craving a good Margarita or homemade tortillas, Old Town San Diego is a great a place to explore. Walk into Old Mission San Diego Church, explore the Old Town Square with its Western Style buildings and shop in the market selling Mexican Imports.

I’m dying to do Legoland with our little man, but we’re opting to wait till he is older and can really enjoy it. I hear it’s a big hit with the 3-9 year old crowd & crazy moms like me. I know I threw a ton of San Diego sites at you, so feel free to hit me up if you have any questions or want more specifics about any of the places.

Here’s a quick recap on traveling San Diego with little ones:

  • All the parks… San Diego has permanent park weather
  • Beaches
  • Seal and sea lion watching
  • Fleet Science Center
  • The Artists Village
  • El Prado and their 15 museums
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Padres game

And of course there’s Legoland and Sea World!

Till the next city, follow us and our adventures on Instagram!


DIY Recycled Doll Desk

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

Hello friends! As you know, my daughter and I love to craft together. She comes up with lots of great ideas, and I just love being creative with her. The other day after a grocery shopping trip to Walmart, she asked if we could use some of the leftover boxes and packages to make furniture for her doll house. I thought it was such a cute idea, so we thought we’d share the DIY Recycled Doll Desk with y’all too!

Didn’t it turn out super cute? Can’t even tell it was a Nature Valley™ Crunchy Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars box and one of the yogurt containers from the Yoplait® Original Fridge Pack turned doll desk and chair. Now that you’ve seen it, I bet you and your little girl want to make one too! 

First you want to head to your local Walmart and pick up some of your favorite General Mills foods. Some of our favorites are Honey Nut Cheerios™, Yoplait® Original Fridge Pack, Mott’s Medleys® Fruit Snacks, Nature Valley™ Oats N Honey Granola Bars, and Totino’s™ Combination Pizza Party Pack. Bonus- when you purchase 5 participating items + scan the receipt with Box Tops for Education Bonus App, you earn $5 (50 Bonus Box Tops) towards your school (offer available through 1/31/18). 

Earn even more cash to help your school get what it needs through the Box Tops for Education® Bonus App. Turn your everyday receipts into cash for your school! It’s free and as easy. Here’s how it works:

  • Buy: Find offers. Buy Products.
  • Scan: Scan your receipt.
  • Earn Watch earnings stack up.

You can earn Bonus Box Tops in the Box Tops Bonus App in combination with the on-pack Box Tops clips and any other coupon, discount, store program or promotion. So be sure to cut out those Box Tops before you get your craft on!

Next, you’ll need tape measure/ruler, scissors, hot glue gun and glue, a pencil/marker, a razor blade, scrapbook paper, ribbon/lace, beads, and a ruler to get your recycled craft on. We measured the height of the desk to be 5 inches tall and 6 inches wide, because that’s what worked best with the size of doll/doll house we are working with (think 11.5 inch doll). We used one half of the Nature Valley™ Crunchy Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars box for the desk, and set the other half aside for later. After measuring, cutting, and trimming the box, we covered it with scrapbook paper and hot glued on beads as the knobs. 

Didn’t it turn out so cute? Next we needed to make a chair, so we recycled a container from the Yoplait® Original Fridge Pack. We covered it with ribbon, paper, and lace and adhered everything with hot glue. 

Girly and pretty, perfect for my daughter’s doll house. 

Once we were finished did the he doll desk, we decide to make a recycled container to store all of our Box Tops! We used the other half of the Nature Valley™ Crunchy Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars box, covered it in paper, and added glitter stickers and a slot to slip the Box Tops in. 

Now we have a cute place to keep them all so they don’t get lost or accidentally thrown away. 

Box Tops for Education is important to our family because education is important to our family. Although I no longer teach in the classroom anymore and I homeschool, we still support our local schools. Plus, my husband is a high school culinary arts teacher, so education ranks high in our home. 

Recycling is also important to us! So get creative with your ‘trash’ before you discard it! We had so much fun working together on these projects that it turned out to fit right in line with our goal of “less things, more experiences” this year. Get creative with your kids while also collecting those Box Tops for Education. 

Head to your local Walmart for participating General Mills products and download the Box Tops App (iTunes and Google Play) so that you can earn money for your schools too! 

Do you collect Box Tops too? What kinds of crafts are your kids’ favorites?

Easy Nancy Drew Costume

Hi y’all! It’s been a busy week on the blog, and I’m back again to share a super simple but fun Halloween costume with you! We had our homeschool Halloween party at the park this morning, so we needed to come up with a fun costume idea that we could easy put together and could be played in easily as well. My daughter (age 9) is super into mastery books right now, so we decided on this easy Nancy Drew costume and it turned out really cute!

We had most of what was needed for the costume on hand and the rest we pieced together using dollar store items. But doesn’t she look so cute as Nancy Drew?! I love it!

This costume is fun because you need props to make it work. You need a longer coat that buttons up or can tie around the waist, a ‘detective’ style hat, sunglasses and a few other fun things…

Nancy Drew carries her TOP SECRET notebook with her to keep track of her clues and solved cases. We found a faux leather notebook at the store and added tape with the words “TOP SECRET” in red.

Nancy Drew also needs a magnifying glass to look at clues more closely. We have magnifying glasses in our science kits, but you can find them at the dollar store as well.

Nancy Drew also needs to dust for finger prints… so be sure to get a small brush (a makeup brush works well or a brush from an excavation kit) for one of the props.

Nancy Drew also needs a map for whatever case she is working on… this also helps her keep track of clues! 

And since Nancy Drew is always working on solving cases, it only makes sense that she was working on one this morning at the park! Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Jack-o-Lantern… SOLVED! 

We had so much fun with this costume idea! Do your kids like dressing up as book characters too?

Okay friends, I’ve got one more Halloween costume idea coming at you this week and it’s my favorite one to date! Giddy with excitement is an understatement! 


Teaching Kids How To Save

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Greenlight, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #GreenPMG  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hello and Happy Friday, friends! We are really looking forward to the weekend and the weather cooling off. Of course only slightly, as Arizona is still pretty warm up until October or November. Either way we are celebrating temps that are below 100* with a trip to the farmer’s market. It’s one of our favorite weekend activities to do in the fall. This trip is a little more exciting for my daughter, as she will be using her very own debit card for the very first time, Greenlight, the smart debit card for kids. Talk about milestone! So today I thought I’d share some tips for Teaching Kids How To Save money.

If you’ve been around here before or follow me on social media, you probably know that we homeschool. We often incorporate learning into all facets of our daily life and often times we incorporate important life skills to make learning more relevant. For example, we are learning about spending and saving money for math. My daughter (age 9) has been learning about money, earning money, saving money, and spending money for the past 4 years. We started out with piggy banks and have advanced to Greenlight debit card to make it more relevant to her growth and development. 

Here are my top 4 tips or teaching young kids how to save money:

1) Talk about money with your children in regular everyday environments.

This tip encompasses a lot. I often talk to my daughter about money when we are in stores grocery shopping, when I am paying our monthly bills, and when I am taking a trip to the bank to deposit money. Because I am a work at home mom and because our family owns and operates a couple of different businesses, my daughter sees us working and earning/saving/spending money. We have open dialogues about all of these things and it gives her the opportunity to have real life experiences as well as ask questions. 

2) Talk about and model the importance of saving money and ways of doing so.

As I stated, we have been teaching this and expanding on the concept of saving money with my daughter for several years. We will continue to do so as she grows up. Greenlight debit card is a great option for kids! It’s not only exciting for kids, but Greenlight provides extra control and convenience for busy parents who don’t want to miss out on teachable moments. Plus, what child doesn’t want a plastic card like their parents?! 

3) Create opportunities for your child to earn, save, and spend their own money.

Once you have talked about and modeled money usage, it’s important to allow your children to participate in it too. Because we are a family of entrepreneurs, my daughter has participated in a couple of handmade craft fairs where she creates and sells her own products. She uses her own money to purchase the materials and then she collects funds and stashes it away for whatever she’s saving for (currently it’s a car…yes, she’s only 9 but we are planners and dreamers, people!). 

Once she has a certain amount of money, she asks me to put it onto her Greenlight card for saving. I love the convenience of Greenlight and the parental controls. I love that I can use their convenient automated allowance feature to “set it and forget it” because we all know busy moms can tend to do that. I also love that I can give my daughter independence to spend her money while I retain control over where her money is spent and how much she can spend in certain stores. For example, she is allowed to use her Greenlight card at the local craft store with a limit of $20 to spend, and I can set all that up through the Greenlight app on my phone. 

4) Teach your kids how to keep track of their money.

I think it’s important for my daughter to really be in tune with her own money… the spending and the saving. If she is hands on with it, I think it will be more meaningful to her. Therefore, I created a printable kids’ bank register where she can keep track of her deposits and withdrawals and I thought I’d share it with y’all!

Simply download the printable, print it out, cut into 3 pieces, cover with cute paper, and staple together. Go through the steps of adding and subtracting monies with your kids and remind them to use it every time they use their Greenlight card. 

I hope you find these tips useful! And I just know you are going to love the convenience and safety that Greenlight card offers to parents and kids. Be sure to download the app to your smart device (available for IOS and Android) and sign up for Greenlight before 10/30 and they will deposit a $20 bonus into your account after the 30-day free trial ends. *Deposit bonus made approximately two weeks after free trial ends.* Sounds like a good deal to me!

How do you help your kids learn about saving and spending money? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! 

Back-to-School Family Movie Night

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Snyder’s-Lance, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Pop4Captain http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hello there makers! We have had such a busy first week back to school, how about you? I thought we would celebrate the completion of the first week with a Back-to-School Family Movie Night, complete with fun snacks and some simple decorations. With the pre-order of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, we can hardly wait to get our movie watching on!

We are all so excited for the new Captain Underpants movie DVD release. Not only is it the perfect movie for family movie night, but two of my favorite comedians, Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, are the voices of the main characters.

So we decided to theme our family movie night Captain Underpants style, complete with red caps and white underpants. 

We decorated the kitchen table with red pompoms, a table cloth, some white paper clouds, and a couple of fun signs. We also picked up a couple of our favorite movie snacks, Pop Secret popcorn and Lance cracker sandwiches. 

I made red paper capes and white paper underpants and glued them onto small paper bags to hold the Pop Secret popcorn. They were really simple to make and turned out so cute.

We love Pop Secret because it’s a delicious, high-quality snack that people can feel good about sharing with their family… not to mention the great butter taste! Yum! What’s family movie night without the popcorn?!

Lance crackers are one of our go-to snacks.  They have been making little sandwiches for over 100 years with two awesome crackers on the outside with incredible spreads between. Two of my favorites are Peanut Butter Honey and Grilled Cheese! With real peanut butter or real cheese between crispy baked crackers, up to 5 grams of protein, and no high fructose corn syrup, Lance provides a variety of sandwich crackers that are a tasty and satisfying snack solution for your family’s busiest school days. 

To make these crackers even more fun, I added salami capes and pepper jack cheese underpants! They made my daughter giggle quite a bit and they tasted great… mission accomplished. 

After a long week, cuddling up with my favorite snacks and favorite people to watch a fun family movie is just what we needed. 

Want to have your own back-to-school family movie night, too? You certainly can! We bought our Pop Secret popcorn and Lance crackers at Walmart. Plus, the Captain Underpants DVD is will be available in Walmart stores 9/12! Be sure to reserve your copy now by pre-ordering today! While supplies last.

How do you celebrate the first week back to school? Does your family like movie nights? I’d love to hear about it!


Travel: Visiting Cleveland with Kids

Hello! Renae here and I’m happy to be back and sharing more about traveling with kids… little kids to be exact. So today let’s take a trip together! If you are planning on visiting Cleveland with Kids, I’ve got some great tips and places to share with you. 

I’m going to let you in on a dirty family secret. My husband’s tour dates were booked before Garrett (our son) was born, so even though he’d be so delicate, we decided he’d be taking his first road trip at 3 weeks old. At the time, I couldn’t anticipate what a hormonal mess I might be, and I imagined it would be such an important family bonding time that I wanted us to be together no matter where we were. For me, the thought of being on my own with a newborn seemed scarier.  Since we knew we’d be doing a lot of traveling, we decided to introduce a lovey. It was actually a tip I got from a sleep training book. The idea is to introduce a special blanket or animal that comes out at naptime and bedtime to help signal it’s time to sleep. We took it a step further and slept with the lovey in our bed before Garrett was born so that it smelled like us. That way even before he could see it, he could smell it. We figured in a state of constant change, it was something he could always have that felt familiar to comfort him.

And yes, it’s become one more thing we have to make sure to pack, but it’s been really helpful when we’re sleeping in different beds all the time. One of my girlfriends called him Carcass because his body is flattened out with no stuffing which coincidentally makes him easier for traveling. My husband loved the name because it sounded manly, so Carcass stuck.  And somewhere along the line Carcass became such a comfort that he didn’t just come out at bedtime. He was joining us for alot of our daytime exploring. He’s even really helpful on those first sleepovers with the Grandparents, or transitioning to nap time at daycare. My kid might grow up to be like Linus from Charlie Brown dragging around his smelly germ infested blanket everywhere, but for now Carcass is so worth the help he brings at bedtime when we’re sleeping some place foreign all the time. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen Carcass all over Cleveland. He’s a main character in my instastories.

Carcass: Our Dirty Little Secret. Don’t worry, I’ve already scoured the Internet to make sure we have a back up.

So how’d we end up in Cleveland? My husband, Steve, had been out on the road for about a week and it was time to get the band back together, so Garrett and I hopped on a plane by ourselves to meet him in Cleveland. Lucky for me, Garrett slept most of the way. I wish I could offer advice on techniques for how to hold a lap child on a plane without an arm falling asleep or your fingers tingling, but I haven’t seemed to master that yet.

When I told a girlfriend who used to live in Cleveland I was going there she asked “Why?”.  And then right before I got there, I learned Cleveland is referred to as “The Mistake on the Lake” and not just by haters. It says that on Wikipedia too. But, I have to say, downtown is nice, clean, and offers so much to do. With the Kimpton Schofield Hotel as our landing pad, we were able to take in so many sites just walking around with the stroller. And downtown Cleveland offers so many great hotel & restaurant options.  One morning we had breakfast At Yours Truly in the Playhouse District and scoped out the countries largest outdoor chandelier.

And 4th Street is an awesome alley way lined with bars & restaurants with plenty of options and outdoor seating. It’s the perfect combo for a mom & tot. Outdoor seating so you don’t have to worry about disturbing the tables next to you, plenty of great people watching to keep everyone entertained, and a relaxing spot to sit have drink while the little one eats. We loved our dinner at Pickwick.

When your visiting a new city, I recommend grabbing the local paper. I usually find free ones in a coffee shop. Cleveland has all kinds of cool stuff happening down at the Harbor including a summer concert series. It’s a city that embraces music for sure. On our stroll to the Harbor we found cool murals, art & large speakers playing music in public parks.

It’s a nice 15-20 minute stroll from downtown to the Harbor & the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The museum is packed full of really cool stuff from Elvis, to the Beatles, to Katy Perry and does a great job of walking you through the history of music and its political reflections. We went on a weekend when U2 was in town and the place was packed. If you’re going to do this one with a kid who’s too big to be strapped in a backpack or refuses to stay in the stroller, I recommend visiting on a less busy weekday so you can actually take everything in.  I was super nervous about loosing my kid amongst all the people in the many nooks and crannies of this museum. If you’re looking to buy a souvenir or gift for a music lover, the museum store is huge and actually has lots of unique merchandise.

We also spent a morning at the Cleveland Downtown Aquarium. It’s on the smaller side, but had plenty of interactive stuff to keep our kiddo entertained. There is a decent sized tortoise enclosure where you can get pretty close and we got to pet a knarly looking lizard. There is an awesome “walk thru” tank where you can see large sharks swimming all around you. And if your feeling brave there’s a tank full of sting rays you can dip your hand in and touch.

My son didn’t know what time zone he was in and was awake till an ungodly hour, so I was on the hunt for ways to stay busy after 5pm that were a little more kid-friendly than a comedy club. I discovered Memphis Kiddie Park. It’s a 15 minute drive from downtown, but was super sweet and easy. The park has been around for over 2 generations and definitely has a vintage feel to it. Each ride will cost you a little over 2 bucks and we didn’t have to wait in any lines. They have a concession stand that sells your typical carnival foods.  I enjoyed it because it made for such relaxing evening watching Garrett enjoy himself on the rides… even though his face might not look like it in the photos.

I’m a huge fan of children’s museums in any city, but Cleveland’s was closed for renovations, so we found ourselves checking out the Science Center. Side note: On our travels, I’ve learned that aquariums are typically a little pricier than museums geared for the younger crowd. Just something to keep in mind if traveling on a budget is a high priority. This Science Center is several stories, with an area designated for the under 7 crowd. Our little guy is obsessed with balls so we pretty much split our time between the toddler area and the Lego exhibit. I feel like I’m really doing a stellar job of exposing him to all kinds of germs and building his immune system (LOL).

They also have a great rooftop outdoor water play area. I was pretty impressed with the cafe here too. They had several healthy options and more than the typical concession stand offerings. There’s also plenty of picnic tables along the water if you prefer to dine alfresco. This one was totally worth the cost of admission.

Don’t forget to get a pic with the iconic Cleveland sign in the Harbor. It’s hiding behind the Science Center & Hall of Fame. You can also catch a cruise of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie from here. I wish we’d had the time to do a boat tour. Cleveland has a ton of cool bridges and I’m sure a sunset river cruise would make for some great family photos.

On a mommy of a toddler note: Garrett peed and pooped in the potty 2x on the last day because he said/asked for the potty and wanted to. Super exciting, but I’ve got some anxiety about how we’re going to keep the progress going and manage it through airports and on planes. Should make for another adventure! Add it to the bucket list.

On the return flight the plane was practically empty, so we got a whole row to ourselves. I realized traveling with a lap child is much tougher. There’s way more freedom when he’s got his own seat. Room to color and play on his own tray so we’re not nearly as desperate for the tablet. And even better, my legs aren’t numb and I can use both hands. Awesome!

Thanks for following along on our adventures. We have lots more exiting trips before the summer is over including New York & San Diego. And I’m quickly learning that travel needs and suitcase must-haves are constantly changing as our little rugrat grows, so feel free to shoot me any questions you have!

Travel take-away: Remember to check out parks, museums, zoos, aquariums, and new restaurants when you visit a new city with the kids! 

Continue following our traveling adventures by following me on Instagram!

14 First Day of School Photo Ideas

Happy Friday! Time for the last Must Have Craft Tip post of the month to round up our back-to-school ideas and tips. The first day of school is always an exciting day so why not document the occasion in a fun way? Today I’m sharing 14 First Day of School Photo Ideas!


 I know I love documenting the first day of school… and the last! It’s so fun to see how much your kids have grown and changed over the school year… or years for that matter! Let’s check out some of my favorites that I think you’re going to love too.


 Family Class Photo from Pinterest

 First and Last Day of School Photo Prop from Fynes Designs


Don’t have time to make one of these props or have chalk sitting around to write on the driveway? I’ve gathered some cute printable signs that will work just as well and are just as fun!
 All of these ideas are so cute and are fun to do to keep those memories of the first day of school forever! Which one is your favorite? Do you have a first day of school photo idea that you do with your children?
Stay tuned next month for a whole new topic of Must Have Craft Tips and More posts! 


Have a great weekend! 

Your hostesses,

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The Scrap Shoppe | Flamingo Toes | Mine for the Making | A Glimpse Inside



Best Back-to-School Lunch Box Notes

Hello Makers! Can you believe that the new school year is just around the corner?! Where has this summer gone? This month for Must Have Craft Tips, we’re helping you gear up for all the Back-to-School season with all sorts of fun tips and organization ideas. For our post this week I’ve gathered up the best Back-to-School lunch box notes! These are so fun to print, cut out, and slip in your kids’ lunches throughout the school year, making lunchtime at school a little more fun!

We’ve got lunch box notes for boys and girls of all ages and you can easily search Pinterest for even more when you run out! I didn’t include them in this round up, but there are also holiday lunch box themed notes too! Here are some of my favorites that you could use all year round.

Marvel Lunch Box Notes

Lunchbox Jokes

Inside Out Lunch Notes

Disney Princess Lunch Box Jokes

Emoji Lunch Notes

Minions Lunch Box Notes

Back to School Printable Lunchbox Notes

LEGO Lunch Box Jokes

Star Wars Lunch Box Notes

Pokemon Lunch Box Notes

Frozen Lunch Box Notes

Harry Potter Printable Lunchbox Jokes and Notes

Cute Lunch Box Notes

Superhero Lunch Box Notes

Fabulous and Fun Lunch Box Notes

Star Wars Lunch Box Jokes

American Girl Printable Lunch Notes

Minecraft Lunch Box Notes

TMNT Lunch Box Notes

Peanuts Lunch Box Notes


Aren’t these lunch box notes and jokes so cute and so fun?! Try printing a few off and pre-cutting them before school starts. Put them in a drawer that you can easily find them in for when you start packing lunches again for the school year. Such a simple way to create happiness and memories for your kids while they are away at school.

Join us again next week for more Back-to-School tips, tricks and ideas that you will love! Have a great weekend!


Your hostesses,
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The Scrap Shoppe | Flamingo Toes | Mine for the Making | A Glimpse Inside






Painted Feather Sneakers

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Spellbinders but all ideas and opinions are 100% my own. I only share products and companies with my readers whom I love and think they will too.

Hello Makers! I’m always looking for fun crafts to do with my daughter, especially during the summer. Now that she’s 9, finding her own style and picking out her outfits and doing her own hair are things she’s starting to do more and more. So when she asked me if we could make her some new shoes, I thought it was the perfect craft… especially with back-to-school season coming upon us quickly. New school year usually equals new shoes. Here’s what we came up with…

Didn’t they turn out so cute? They were really easy and fun to make, so I thought we’d share the how to with y’all so you can make some too!

You’ll need:

Using the Platinum 6 and the feather die, cut out vinyl feathers. Yes that’s right… this sweet machine cuts through vinyl and super smoothly too.

My feathers were cut in seconds. Look at those clean cut lines too. 

Peal the back off the vinyl feathers and place them on the sneakers. Smooth out the vinyl and make sure the edges are pressed down really well to prevent bleeding.

Remove shoe laces and then stuff your sneakers with newspaper to prevent painting the inside of the shoe. I also covered the tongues with newspaper to keep them white. Cover the surface with plastic and spray your shoes with the fabric spray paint (found at your local craft store and please read the directions on the bottle before painting). Originally we taped off the plastic soles of the shoes, and as we were painting we changed our minds and pealed the tape. It’s personal preference, really.

Allow dry time between coats of paint and be sure to turn the shoes in all angles so that you can be sure you cover the shoe completely. 

After the fabric paint is completely dry, carefully peal off the vinyl feathers, and remove the newspaper.

I love the bright the white tongue and feather against the teal paint. They really turned out so great.

My daughter loves how they turned out. Although I helped and supervised this project, she was definitely apart of all steps and had so much fun creating her new sneakers. 

Would you like to win a Platinum machine of your very own?! I promise  you that you’ll love everything about it and the projects you can make using it are endless. All you have to do is enter the giveaway form below. Simple, right?! And, if you want even more chances to win, visit the other blogs participating in this giveaway and enter there too! We are giving away 3 Platinum 8.5 Machines!! Woohoo! Plus you’ll get a chance to see what creative idea they came up with using the Platinum machine. The giveaway will close on July 21, 2017, at 11:59PM MST and will be announced shortly after that. Best of luck! 


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