Shark Week Fun ROUND UP!

Today kicks off Discovery Channel’s 30th Annual Shark Week! The boys are already shark obsessed so, giving them an entire week of shark filled fun is sure to amp up their love of all things finned, rubber-skinned, and dangerous!

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We start the week off wrestling our favorite float from Wal-Mart. The boys have played and splashed in the pool all morning while we watch the minutes tick with Shaq on Discovery Channel’s online countdown clock!

1O0A79251O0A80081O0A80071O0A80061O0A79901O0A7985While we fill our brains with all there is to know about sharks this week, we’ll be mixing in some of our favorite shark themed crafts, activities, and snacks! Catch our round up below!

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Shark Tic Tac Toe  | Shark Slime | Shark Tank Sensory Play  | Shark Sensory Bin

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Clothespin Puppet | Paper Plate Eating Shark Puppet | Popsicle Stick Shark Craft |

Tube Hammerhead Shark | Tube Shark | Rocking Shark Family | Printable Shark Puppet 

| Painted Popsicle Stick Shark 

Shark Snacks

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Shark Mix Cups | White Chocolate Shark Mix | Shark Bark | Shark Whipped Cups 

Watermelon Shark | Shark Bait Popcorn Mix | Marshmallow Shark Pops 

 | Shark Attack Punch | Shark Drink


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Shark Week Play Round Up

 

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HYATT REGENCY | Sarasota, FL

Last year before having our newest little guy, we decided our fam jam better take as many family trips as a quartet as we could!

One of our favorite Florida trips ever has been our stay at Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, FL! We spent the weekend Kayaking (included in resort fee), shark tooth finding, shell picking, pool splashing + swimming under waterfalls, aquarium visiting, and digging into some really amazing bites (hello, room service!)!

The resort sits above a beautiful waterway and has an amazing breeze when you walk into the lobby! The boys of course were itching to get in the pool or to the closest beach so, after check-in we headed straight for the pool!

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Once we let them get their feet a little wet, we had a super fun surprise! They had never been kayaking in the ocean before so, I knew with the option to do so included in our stay, we had to take them for a swing out to the resort’s private beach!

K was a little timid at first and had to sit right on top of me but, after we got to the open waterway from the canal he was totally into it!

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The private beach was amazing and there wasn’t another soul in sight! We collected seashells, swam, and caught some rays!

After our drive down, pool play, and private family time kayaking, we were ready for some serious grub! Room service is always our go-to when we’re ready to just shower, chill, and fill our bellies! So, we ordered the kids pizza, and shared a Shrimp + Grits dinner and some yummy dessert!

One day two of our trip, we visited Blind Pass Park on Manasota Key to shuffle through the sand for Shark Teeth! We left with a cup FULL of shark teeth of all different shapes and sizes and the boys still bring them out to play, examine, and count them often!

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The water on Florida’s West Coast is stunning! We could have stayed forever if the world would have let us!

Once we had our fair share of sun for the day, we went to visit the MOTE Aquarium back in Sarasota! The boys spied on some super strange and really amazing sea creatures, touched a baby crocodile, watched manatees kiss their tank, played with otters, and saw caimans for the first time ever!

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We wrapped up our trip from the MOTE Aquarium with another order of, yet again, in room dining, and made our way back home bright and early on day 3! This was such a beautiful memory that we made as a family of 4 and I can’t wait to see what this same adventure will bring now that we are 5!

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 Marvel LIVE! Age of Heroes | Save on tickets!

I am super lucky to be a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador! In exchange for sharing my love and thoughts about their super fun awesomeness, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities! Without their generosity, I would not be able to provide my readers with such fun giveaways and/or discount codes like this one!

The time has come…We’re all in full fledged holiday shopping mode and Christmas is right around the corner! Save yourself from the hustle and bustle of downtown traffic to find stocking stuffers for your favorite little heroes by purchasing tickets to see Marvel LIVE! Age of Heroes! Add a few capes and accessories to their stocking with these SUPER awesome tickets, and you’ve got yourself a gift even Santa would love!

This action-packed show for kids of all ages plays Amway Center in Orlando for SEVEN totally rad performances January 12-15, 2018 and features The Avengers, Spider Man, and our personal favorite: The Guardians of the Galaxy! With tickets starting at just $15, it’s an affordable and fun event for us mamas to gift our littles this holiday season!

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Save on tickets by using code: MOM20 at checkout when purchasing online and save 20%! What a SUPER awesome gift idea, #amiright? *Not valid on VIP seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires January 11, 2018!

Want more info about Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes?!

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Check out this quick excerpt from Feld Entertainment about our FAVORITE live show!

“Marvel fans, assemble for this live, legendary battle to defend the universe from evil. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man join forces with Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts, in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb before it falls into Loki’s hands in this all-new, spectacular arena stunt show. Produced by Feld Entertainment, Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes is performing at Amway Center from January 12-15, 2018 for seven performances. Tickets are on sale now. Witness cutting-edge special effects, aerial maneuvers, pyrotechnics, martial arts, motorcycle stunts and vast 3D video projection mapping in this completely new thrilling adventure. Fans of all ages will be immersed in the Marvel Universe and experience it all with their family…LIVE!”

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Marvel Live! Age of Heroes

Get the deets:

WHERE: Amway Center | 400 W Church St #200 | Orlando, FL 32801

WHEN:

 

Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com | Via Phone at 800-854-2196 | Box Office at Amway Center, Orlando.

Make sure to share your experience using: #MarvelUniverseLIVE @MarvelOnTour @AmwayCenter #AmwayCenter!

 

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10 Things To Do Before Your Disney On Ice Experience! + A GIVEAWAY!

This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on thehappeninghousewife.com! Find a full disclosure on the sidebar of my blog.

 

Get your littles ready for a guaranteed spectacular-fun time at Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream with these 10 tips!

Tip #1. Purchase + pick up your tickets in advance. (Make sure to use a discount code on tickets! )

Go the week of and hit up the box office at your show’s arena to save time and skip lines by picking up your tickets in advance! Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Get yours now for the best available seats! Code expires September 7, 2017.

Tip #2. Scout parking areas.

While you’re picking up your tickets in advance, ask the box office attendant or scout out the best parking areas for the night of your show! Make sure to arrive early to find the best parking!

Tip #3. Eat beforehand.

No-one likes to spend outrageous prices on snacks from concession so, take the family out for a nice meal before you head to the arena to keep from rumbling bellies and empty wallet syndrome!

Tip #4. Be prepared with your children’s necessities.

Does your little have sensitive hearing? Pack headphones.

The show falls 30 minutes after bedtime? Put a lovie or small blanket in your bag.

Pack for your family’s needs and anticipate worst case scenarios! (Diaper blow outs, thirsty babes, etc.)

Tip #5. Dress for the event.

TONS of kids dress up for the big show! To make sure your little fits right in, make sure to dress them in their favorite Disney tee or costume!

Need some ideas?

Girls Costumes

Moana

Cinderella

Elsa

Anna

Rapunzel

Belle

Boys Costumes

Maui

Prince Charming

Olaf

Chip

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Tip #6. Locate bathrooms on your seat level.

Make sure to locate the nearest bathroom to your seat and make a stop there before finding your spot for the show!

Tip #7. Set behavior expectations.

Let your kids know prior to walking into the arena what is expected of them. (i.e. no kicking chairs, keep hands to yourself, staying in their seat unless they’re on mom or dad’s lap, try use the bathroom before + after the show and during intermission, spending limit on souvenirs, etc.)

Tip #8. Make a plan for souvenirs.

If you plan on letting your littles choose a souvenir before or after the show, prepare them with a spending limit or budget. The prices can get out of hand at times and you don’t want to be walking back to the car after your show with $150 in light up wands and cotton candy.

Tip #9. Pack binoculars.

No matter how near or far your seat is, binoculars always add an extra touch of fun to your experience! Grab a pair of these super cute kid-friendly ones for each little to save yourself a mid-show battle!

Tip #10. Pack light + prepare for a security check.

Your show is only a couple hours long so, make sure to only pack the necessities and be prepared for a security check when you arrive!

Want to win tickets to the Orlando show?!

Head HERE to enter!

 

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WIN a Family 4 Pack to DISNEY ON ICE Orlando!

I am super lucky to be a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador! In exchange for sharing my love and thoughts about their super fun awesomeness, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities! Without their generosity, I would not be able to provide my readers with such fun giveaways like this one!

We’re SO excited that Disney on Ice presented by Feld Entertainment will be back in Orlando this September at the Amway Center! The boys can’t wait to get out and do something fun after this long summer spent stuck at home with a very pregnant mama!

To celebrate our excitement and share in all the things we love about Disney on Ice, we’re giving one lucky fam a pack of 4 tickets to enjoy the show!

Want even more exciting news?! Moana, Maui, and their gnarly friends will be ditching the waves to hit the ice for the first time at this year’s performances! K already has his Maui ponytail holder picked out with a side of “you’re welcomes” and temporary tats!

Along with the crew from Moana, you’ll see Beauty, Beast, Anna, Elsa, Cinderella, Flynn Ryder, and my personal favorite-Rapunzel, as they hit the icy stage for a spectacular show!

Enter to win + get more info below!

Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream.

Get the deets:

WHERE: Amway Center | 400 W Church St #200 | Orlando, FL 32801

WHEN:
Sep 8, 2017 Fri 7:30 PM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 11:00 AM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 3:00 PM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 7:00 PM
Sep 10, 2017 Sun 1:00 PM
Sep 10, 2017 Sun 5:00 PM
(*GIVEAWAY TICKETS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR: Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:30pm OR Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11:00am)

Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com | Via Phone at 800-854-2196 | Box Office at Amway Center, Orlando.

Make sure to share your experience using: #DisneyOnIce #DareToDream @DisneyOnIce @AmwayCenter #AmwayCenter

Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Get yours now for the best available seats! Code expires September 7, 2017.

 

Enter to Win!

Giveaway begins 12:00am August 15, 2017 + ends 12am August 24, 2017. Winner will be selected at random. The winner will be notified on August 24, 2017 of their winnings and must promptly reply with 24 hours to confirm, claim, and select their showtime. Tickets must be picked up at the Amway Center Box Office starting Thursday, September 7 during regular Box Office hours (Monday through Friday | 9am to 6pm and three (3) hours prior to any event). Please arrive to pick up your tickets the day of, no later than 30 minutes before show time. Paid parking is available in the nearby GEICO garage.

 

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Disguise Learning with Play using STEM! (+ A Snapology LEGO GIVEAWAY!)

I’m so excited to be partnering with Nakturnal for a giveaway! Read below to find out how you can enter to win a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot- Sebastian Gator! Find a full disclaimer on the sidebar of my blog!


It’s no secret that we eat, breathe, live LEGO and all things STEM-based in our home. Not a day goes by that one or both of the boys isn’t stimulating their brain with those small colorful blocks, folding a paper airplane out of an old piece mail, or manipulating K-Nex into crazy, crime-fighting vehicles and winding roads.

When we realized that Col was a little different than other kids, it took no time at all to see the potential benefits of what STEM-based learning could do for him. Writing, Reading, and Speech as separate subjects are definitely a must-have in your child’s learning plan but, for kids like Colin, a science and mathematical learning environment is the most beneficial way to grow their unique little minds!

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Fast forward to when we had K! We were quick to realize once he was at a play age that typically developing kids thrive in the same STEM-based environment as well! Which made play time between the two of them a bonding experience and way to encourage them to teach each other new ways of learning!

Now that you know our little back story, let’s get to why you’re really here: “How do I disguise learning with play using STEM and what exactly is it?”

  • What is STEM?

STEM is a way of learning based on the idea of educating children of all ages in four specific areas — Science, Technology, Engineering, + Mathematics in an applied, hands on approach. Rather than teach the four subjects separately, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

Pretty cool, huh?

  • What are the benefits of STEM?

1. It’s CURRENT!

In a technology-based society, science is forever changing and growing. As work places change by frequently updating their software, and equipment that we use in our daily lives becomes more advanced, STEM knowledge is vital. Staying up to date on the latest techy trends is a must in today’s world!

2. GET CREATIVE!

Creativity is one of the many benefits of a STEM education by implementing the idea of “Learning by Doing!”

Ironically, creativity is also the result of a STEM-based education ! STEM-based learning encourages students to get their hands ‘dirty’, solve problems, create new designs and functions, and make tools out of something that otherwise wouldn’t be!

3. INNOVATE, INNOVATE, INNOVATE!

With the growth of technology, is the freedom to invent and engineer almost anything you can dream of! Starting at a young age, we can encourage our kids to use their minds and create the impossible with STEM.

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1. OFFER THE RIGHT TOYS

I’m totally not suggesting that you go out and spend hundreds on an entirely new toy collection but, when birthdays and holidays come around, encourage friends and family to give more significant gifts that stimulate learning rather than the typical stuffed animal or piece of junk that will end up in a garage sale pile a few months later!

Some of our favorites:

  • LEGO
  • Magna-Tiles
  • Tegu Blocks
  • KIDS FIRST Engineering Tubs
  • Marble Run
  • Lincoln Logs

When choosing toys, try to make sure they incorporate and/or encourage one of the following: tinkering, building, circuit creation (adding pieces and parts to the toy that make it GO! or turn on and off), problem solving, or tech-based growth and learning.

Does the anticipated and totally loathed “LEGO dump” have you resisting adding them to your STEM collection?! Check out my post to help with that!

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2. ALLOW UNINTERUPTED + FREE WILL TINKERING

Sometimes, regardless of the mess it makes, you just have to let your little ones free with their tinkering toys without borders. I know, I’m with you. Walking into our home to a ‘road’ of K-Nex that stretches from the front door to, well, I don’t ever really know where, can be super annoying and seemingly pointless but, they’re actually using their little minds to create something super awesome and through the mess is some really great learning!

3. HELP + ANSWER WITHOUT FRUSTRATION

I know this one can be a bit difficult, especially when your knee deep in your own project but, when your little comes to you for advice or answers, they’re seeking you out for a reason! Curiosity is natural for growing minds and by shooting them down or showing frustration when they’ve asked the same question every single day for a week, you’re discouraging one of the greatest forms of learning. If you don’t know the answer to a question yourself, let them watch as you figure it out. Whether it be from a book, video, or the internet, seeing you seek out an answer encourages them to continue doing so through you.

4. ALLOW FREE PLAY WITH CRAFT SUPPLIES

Yes, for real. I mean, don’t give your kid all access freedom to liquid glue and finger paints but, offer them a bucket of dry supplies! Rubber bands, tape, twine, paper clips, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, clothespins, dowels, empty toilet paper rolls can all be used in creating some really awesome things. Change it up every other week or so with fresh supplies and new tools!

5. TRY A “BUILDING SNACK” TRAY

Similar to free play with random craft supplies, you never know what your little one will come up with when you offer them a tray of “building snacks” at the table! We love pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, grapes, sliced olives, cheese cubes, and cheerios. You’ll be amazed at their first cheese cube-pretzel stick car with grape wheels!

6. INCORPORATE EDUCATIONAL SHOWS DURING SCREEN TIME

If you allow screen time in your home, there are a TON of education shows that go hand-in-hand with STEM-based learning! One of my favorite things as a mom to my littles is walking in on them super indulged in old school Bill Nye and The Magic School Bus. I love when they approach me to spill their guts about friction or some other super sciencey topic three days after watching an episode. It’s always a proud moment for us, even if they got it from a screen!

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We use all of these tools in our day to day life as a family and although it took a little practice, it’s now just routine! Our family truly enjoys play time together AND apart because of this method and as parents we’ve learned to embrace the repetitive questions and constant mess of LEGO!

 


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Giveaway closed.

Congratulations to Jenna!


Want to win a Snapology Sebastian Gator LEGO Set?!

(Recommended for ages 6+)

As parents of special needs + typically developing kids, we know from experience that every child is different and so is their preferred method of learning. So, as a soon to be family of three crazy boys, all different and unique, we’d love to know: Which of the ideas in this post is your littles’ favorite way of STEM-based play? (Haven’t tried one yet? Answer: Which idea are you most likely to implement first?) Comment below to be entered!

*Winner will be chosen at random 10 days from the post date on July 23, 2017 and will be notified via email. US entrants only please. Prize is a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot, Sebastian Gator, mailed directly to your home!


Curious about Snapology?!

Snapology is a STEM-based kids’ facility that hosts totally rad play dates, birthday parties, field trips, workshops, + summer camps where littles (ages 1 and up) use LEGO, K’nex, art + mosaic, code, robotics, and more to learn through play! Sounds super awesome right?! Well, they’re looking for someone interested in becoming a franchise owner in the Central Florida region! Give them a call or apply online today if this sounds like the spot for you!

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6 Ways to Stroll with Evenflo Pivot

A huge thank you to Evenflo for gifting this stroller to our growing family in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions and thoughts are 100% my own.

Florida, sweet Florida!

There aren’t many places that you can spend the first weekend of March in swim trunks and flip flops and for that reason, we’re so happy to raise our babies in this sweet Sunshine State! For us, March calls for open windows, fruit picking, diving into the questionable temperatures of the pool, and renewal of our annual passes to the Central Florida Zoo!

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Over the weekend, we hopped in the car and made the short trip to visit the zoo! I’ve been dying to test drive our new Evenflo Pivot Travel System since it’s arrival and knew the zoo and all it’s terrain would be the perfect spot (even though the cheerios on the tile and our super plush shag rug did offer substantial terrain on the night of our new stroller’s unboxing).

What I really loved about pushing the Pivot around all day is the “toddler seat recline to bassinet” action. (Side note: We have a luxury brand stroller that I had to have JUST for the bassinet and to tell you the truth, the whole seat removal and replace with a bassinet and vice versa, is a TOTAL pain.) With the Pivot, there’s a lever on the back of the seat which reclines it ALL.THE.WAY. down to a bassinet. I really just can’t get over how much of a time and energy saver that is. How do you get it back into seat mode? Pull that lever and lift up. Seriously, it’s that easy! There’s a buckle on the back side of the seat to give the seat shape and keep it stable. I’ve got to give it to Evenflo for making it so easy and affordable to leave the extra bulky bassinet behind and transform your stroller from sit to sleep mode in 2 easy steps, WITHOUT the hassle of unlocking, removing, and storing a bassinet!

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Not only does the seat transform into a bassinet but, it can be unlocked and reversed for a parent-facing stroll. This was perfect while we waited in the long line to renew our membership before entering the zoo! The belly bar is easily removable and has an awesome snack tray which occupied little K with carrots and cucumbers during our wait!

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Once we got into the zoo, we just flipped the seat around and he was content all the way until he needed to exercise his bitty legs when we entered the petting area!

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Going through two toddler stages, several strollers and wagons, tons of terrain and adventure, and the constant feeding of growing boys while on the move, I think it’s safe to say that we’re pretty experienced when it comes to knowing a good push to bad push in a stroller and the severe need for a well thought-out stroller basket.

Knowing that we’d be spending our entire day at the zoo, changing from play clothes to swim suits and back again, and snacking during our visit, the large and realistically functional basket on the Pivot, was a HUGE plus. It’s super easy to get in and out of, with a large enough space for two towels, a wet bag, lunch box, and more! I can’t thank Evenflo enough for creating this stroller with such an easy to access basket! TOTAL LIFE SAVER.

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Now, let’s talk about the push!

I’ve had my fair share of stiff wheels, blow outs, terrible turns, and squeaky strolls when it comes to strollers. Five years ago, being a first time mom, I was so excited to have an over the top, drop-in, majorly bulky travel system. BIG mistake, HUGE.

Going into our second baby with a toddler on the run, I REFUSED a travel system and instead told myself I’d be a baby-wearing feign. WRONG. (I mean, I love wearing but, I’m certainly not an 80% of the time baby-wearer. Heck, I’m not even a 30% of the time wearer.) Eventually, I caved and purchased a Sit and Stand…TERRIBLE. The idea was great but, the push was so difficult that we never used it.

Now onto my third baby, with TWO toddlers CONSTANTLY on the go and a storage unit full of mom knowledge acting as my brain, it’s easy to know what works and what doesn’t in only a matter of minutes (BEFORE purchasing and exiting the store to find you’ve made a huge mistake weeks later). Even my husband can appreciate a good stroller with an easy push and after our day trip, we both agreed that Evenflo has totally nailed it with the Pivot! Each of us had a chance to push through dirt and rocks, over boardwalk trails, water covered walkways, and mulch with ease!

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We wrapped up our long day filled with tons of snacking, playing in the sun, petting and visiting our favorite animals, and test driving our newest addition and I think it’s safe to say that every one came home a happy camper!

After a little thought, hubby and I have both decided to let go of our luxury stroller (with the bassinet) and replace it’s spot in the back of the mom mobile with our new Evenflo Pivot!


Want a full list of the 6 Ways to Stroll with the Evenflo Pivot? (Of course you do, that’s why you’re here!)

  • Front Facing Carseat Drop In
  • Rear Facing Carseat Drop In
  • Outward Facing Bassinet
  • Parent Facing Bassinet
  • Front Facing Seat
  • Parent Facing Seat

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Because each system comes with a SafeMax Infant Car Seat which features an Anti-rebound bar, we can’t wait to install it in our family car to bring baby #3 home!

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5 Reasons to Visit: Ravine Gardens State Park

Last week we crossed another Florida State Park off of our family’s bucket list: Ravine Gardens State Park. It was BEAUTIFUL and totally worth the trip!

So, the boys and I collabed and came up with these TOP 5 reasons to visit the park THIS SPRING:

1. ELEVATION, ELEVATION, ELEVATION! There aren’t many places in Florida that you’ll find much elevation and this park DEFINITELY offers it! Make sure to climb the tall set of concrete stairs up to the bike trail and look down on the ravine. It was a hike for this pregnant mama but, so worth it.

 

2. The suspension bridges ROCK! Okay, so this was the boys’ FAVORITE part of the park, for obvious reasons. Neither of them could resist running across the rickety bridge from one side to the other love the ravine.

 
3. Azaleas are in FULL bloom. EVERYWHERE. Make sure to bring your camera along for the trip. The park hosts a monthly photo contest for photographers and momtographers alike and this month’s theme is Azaleas. The park is full of beautifully blooming purple and pink flowers that are simply irresistible.

 
4. The perfect picnic spots. Pack a lunch but, don’t pack an entire cooler. You’ll need something to carry up and down the steps throughout the park so, a thermal backpack or soft lunch box would be my recommendation! There are several shady spots throughout the park perfect to picnic!

 

5. Downtown Palatka (Specifically, Magnolia Cafe). So, this isn’t entirely relative to Ravine Gardens State Park BUT, only a FEW minutes away from the park is Historic Downtown Palatka. Home to the amazing and super adorable Magnolia Cafe. After out hike, all of our bellies were ready for something delicious and Magnolia Cafe offered the perfect brunch menu for our little family. This clean little spot had a menu filled with Crab Cakes Benedict, Belgian Waffles, Sandwiches and Wraps, and the tastiest “Redneck Benedict” you’ll ever put in your mouth. The eggs were poached to perfection and we all left super full!

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