Travel Recap: Bahamas Cruise

Cesar and I have been talking about going on a cruise for a while now, but just…hadn’t.  One Friday afternoon, Cesar called me from work and said he had just gotten an email about a great deal on a cruise…and, well, did I want to go?  When I heard the price, I agreed it was great and we decided we couldn’t turn it down.  The catch?  It was a last minute deal and the cruise left on Monday…three days later!

Well, after a little convincing on Cesar’s part, we jumped on the offer.  We decided to bring Sophia with us and leave Emma at home with Cesar’s parents.  We were sad to leave her for our 5 day/4 night cruise, but couldn’t imagine bringing her with us.  We’d have to pack a stroller, pack n play, bottles, diapers…etc.  Plus, that girl is wild.  At this age, she’d go stir crazy after five days cooped up on a ship!  Haha!

Anyway, we booked the cruise on Friday early evening and left our house for Port Canaveral early Monday morning. We had such a great vacation!

Enchantment of the Seas at Coco Cay

Our ship, Enchantment of the Seas, at Coco Cay

When We Went:
5 days/4 nights in early September

Where We Stayed:
We went on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas.  It’s an older ship but was renovated and extended by 73 feet a few years ago.  We didn’t have a choice in rooms because we booked at the last minute.  We were in an interior cabin, which was more than okay by us.  Neither Cesar or I get seasick and we really spend very little time in our room on a cruise, so no window worked out just fine!

Our cabin actually had quite a bit of space…more space than a typical cruise cabin and more than any cruise I’d been on.

Enchantment of the Seas Interior Cabin

Our interior cabin

Where We Ate:
We ate on the cruise.  Only.  The only exception was the BBQ lunch they had at Coco Cay one day, but that doesn’t really count because it was provided by the cruise line, too.  Oh, and Sophia had a doughnut in Nassau.  Other than that, we ate all meals on board the ship.

The food was good.  It was pretty much like every other cruise we’ve been on.  Most days, we ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet, Windjammer, then dinner at the My Time Dining restaurant, My Fair Lady.  The first night we just showed up at dinner and were randomly seated at a table.  Our servers, Bryan and Romeo, were hilarious and were especially great with Sophia, so we decided to go ahead and make reservations for the rest of the cruise for their table.

Sophia at dinner on formal night

Sophia at dinner on formal night

Sophia shocked at the size of her dessert!

Sophia shocked at the size of her dessert!

Sophia and our server Bryan

Sophia and our server Bryan

What We Did:
Ate
Ate
Ate…

But really, we…

Went to the beach in Coco Cay. We spent our several hours in the water on that day, getting out only to eat lunch and reapply sunscreen.

Beach day at Coco Cay

Beach day at Coco Cay

Browsed shops in Nassau, including the dreaded “straw market” (why is it even called a straw market anymore, anyway!?). Just thinking back to the straw market makes me nervous! Sophia finally picked out her souvenir (a straw purse with “Nassau” written on it), but not before being hounded and grabbed by almost every vendor in the whole dang place. Literally, they would get a hold of her shoulder and try to pull her into their little shop. Cesar eventually had to throw her on his shoulders to keep people from grabbing her. Least favorite part of Nassau for sure! :-P

Went to a Bahamian Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s an explanation for this one! The whole morning in Nassau, it was raining…hard. We had already gotten off the ship, so we were kind of stuck until the rain died down a little. We found this Dunkin’ Donuts and ducked in there to get out of the rain. They just so happened to have free wi-fi for customers, so we bought Sophia a doughnut (a pink frosted one of course), and connected to the internet to talk to our Emmy! She was just as excited to see us and we were her!

Sophia eating a pink doughnut at Dunkin' Donuts in Nassau

Sophia eating a pink doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts in Nassau

Swam in the pool on the ship and watched two NFL games from the pool.  Probably Cesar’s favorite part of the ship.

Watching the NFL game from the pool

Watching the NFL game from the pool

Played shuffleboard

Went to lots of shows- karaoke, the Love and Marriage Show, the World’s Sexiest Man Competition (ha!), a cake decorating contest, a towel folding demonstration, and a Broadway-type show, to name a few.

Sophia watching the cake decorating contest

Sophia watching the cake decorating contest

Enchantment of the Seas World's Sexiest Man Competition

Enchantment of the Seas World’s Sexiest Man Competition

Watched “Maleficent” in the theater

Shopped on board

Enchantment of the Seas Centrum Shops

Enchantment of the Seas Centrum Shops

Sophia went to the kids’ club, Adventure Ocean Aquanauts, several times. When we told Sophia that she was going on the cruise with us, we were describing to her all the things she could do on the ship. She was amazed at all the things going on, but what she was most excited about was the kids’ club. When we actually got on the ship and to the kids’ club, though, it was a different story. She’s never gone to school or anything, and the only people that have ever watched her are family (we’re lucky…lots of family around!). So when we showed up there and told her that was it, she said, “I don’t think I want to go to the kids’ club anymore. Maybe next cruise.” Cesar and I couldn’t have cared less if she wanted to go or not, so we left the decision to her. She decided not to go that day, but when we walked by the following day, she changed her mind. She stayed for about 45 minutes, but was hooked. She couldn’t wait to go back! She went probably four times, usually for about 1-2 hours at a time. She also went to movie night one night, where the kids came in their pajamas and watched a movie and made crafts. It was nice because we could use any of the phones around the cruise to call and check in, and they also gave us a pager to page us if Sophia needed anything. We only left her a few times, but it worked out great because it gave us a chance to do some adults-only things, including watching an adults-only show and going to the casino for a little while.

Enchantment of the Seas Adventure Ocean Aquanauts Club

Enchantment of the Seas Adventure Ocean Aquanauts Club

Well, gee, I could go on for a while about all the fun things we did on the ship, but those were some of the best. We were sad when it was over, but super excited to see Emma after a few days away. We are definitely looking forward to being able to take a cruise again in the near future…maybe with both girls next time! We would definitely recommend Royal Caribbean and specifically the Enchantment of the Seas, and would definitely sail with again! Until next time, here’s a couple more pictures from our day at Nassau…

View of Nassau from the ship

View of Nassau from the ship

Cesar and Sophia entering Nassau

Cesar and Sophia entering Nassau

Enchantment of the Seas docked on a rainy day in Nassau

Enchantment of the Seas docked on a rainy day in Nassau

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Meet Mia!

I mentioned in a previous post that we added another girl to our family several months ago…a dog!

Since being married, Cesar and I have wanted a dog but have lived in two different rentals and neither of them allowed dogs. We decided we would get one when we moved to our own house, so we started looking in early December when our closing date was getting close (or so we thought). Our plan was to adopt a puppy, preferably one that was only a couple months old.

We scoured Craigslist and local animal shelters’ websites every evening in search of the perfect puppy, but were having trouble finding one online. One afternoon, Cesar and I ventured into a shelter just to look around because we hadn’t closed on our house yet and our landlord still didn’t permit dogs.

When we walked in, there were a few puppies around 6 months old that looked exactly like what we were looking for…until we got them out. Yikes! Talk about wild. With two energetic little girls at home, a puppy with just as much or more energy might be a little much too handle, we realized.

We wandered to one dog that was very calm and just minding her own business. She laid in her cage and quietly watched as everyone walked by her cage and straight toward the adorable little puppies on either side of her. For some reason, Cesar and I both decided to get her out and take her for a walk outside. We quickly found out that she was a favorite of the shelter’s staff.

We learned that her name Sofia and she had just turned two years old. She was surrendered by her previous owner who could no longer take care of her, and she had just been fixed after delivering a litter of puppies. Cesar and I walked around with her and played with her for a while then decided to go, because again, we couldn’t keep her at our townhouse.

Later that night, Cesar and I were talking about how much we both liked that dog. At that point in time, we thought we were a week or two away from closing on our house and 3-4 weeks from living there, so we came up with an idea. Since Cesar’s parents have a fenced-in backyard and no pets, we asked them if they would consider keeping a dog there for a few weeks until we could take her. They agreed. We talked and talked and talked about it until there was nothing left to talk about, and we decided to go for it.

The next day, we went back to find out how to proceed with the adoption. Sofia had several people interested in her, but we were the first ones to actually start the adoption process, so we were first in line to adopt her. We did all the paperwork, paid the fees while they got her ready to go, and we were on our way with our new furry friend. It happened that quick. There were several tears shed by the employees at the shelter because their favorite girl was leaving them, but we assured them that she was going to a good home.

Our girls loved Sofia the first time they met her, but we had to change her name…fast! There’s only enough room for one Sophia in our house! Sophia came up with the name Mia, and the dog started responding almost immediately. So that was her new name. We walked her around and got her used to her new temporary home, then we went home. We came back every day to feed her, walk her, and play with her.

When we a had a few hiccups with the house, Mia stayed at my in-laws’ for a little longer than expected, but they were very understanding. A couple months later, we finally moved to our new house and Sophia especially was excited to finally get to live with Mia. She loves playing with her and running around with her in our own yard.

Mia has been wonderful with our kids. She listens so well and is very calm. Emma can be a little rough with her sometimes (Emma’s a little rough with everyone and everything), but Mia just licks back. She is a terrible fetcher, but we’re working on that. She doesn’t go through the door until she makes sure we are all already through. You can place a steak in front of her and she will not touch it until you tell her to “go eat”. She gets along with everybody and is perfect with other dogs on the street and at the dog park. We really could not ask for a better dog.

Are y’all ready to see a picture of our sweet four legged friend!?
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I’m serious. That’s our girl.

She is a pitbull mixed with something else, possibly a lab, but she looks like a full blown pitbull. And she looks mean. She is proof, though, that looks can be deceiving. She is the sweetest, most gentle dog, especially with Sophia and Emma.

I’ve never been one to be afraid of any specific type of dog. I grew up with the nicest, goofiest dog I’d ever met, and she was a German Shepard/coyote mix. I just never considered myself a pitbull person. I am not scared of pitbulls myself, but I do know that there is a certain stigma attached to them (which I believe stems from the way certain ones are raised). That’s always made me a little weary of owning one. I don’t want people to come to my house and be afraid of my dog because of the way she looks.

Surprisingly, no one that has met her has been afraid of her, despite how…uhh, scary…she looks. Even going for walks at the park, people will stop us and ask us to pet her, and that is not normally something people do with “bully breeds”. She is so friendly toward people, they just can’t help it though. People comment to us how well behaved Mia is.

It’s funny. I never, ever thought I would own a pitbull. Mia is the opposite of what we thought we were looking for in a dog, but oddly enough, she fits perfectly in our family. So I guess she is exactly what we were looking for.

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Top 10 Favorite iPhone Apps

For the longest time, I was Team Anti-iPhone and was adamant I’d never have one. Finally, a few years ago when we switched carriers, I was convinced to jump on the bandwagon and bought an iPhone 4. I thought I’d hate it but I’ve grown to love it and don’t think I’d switch back.

I have since gotten an iPhone 5S, which I love even more because the camera is much higher quality. I use my phone for everything: my watch, camera, alarm clock, to-do list, and calendar, just to name a few.

When it comes to apps, I’m the first to admit I’m a cheapskate. I hoard my App Store credits in case I need to use them on something, you know, really important someday. Therefore, most of my suggestions are free or close to it. If I do actually pay for an app, I definitely make sure it’s worth it!

I figured I’d put together a list of my favorite (and most used) apps on my iPhone, so here goes, in no certain order.

1. Instagram- This is pretty much a given. It has become super popular in the past couple years, and I think for good reason. I use it quite a bit for putting up pictures of my kids, so I like to keep mine on private. I love Instagram, but I’m not really on board with those who like to use #threepagesofhashtags on #everysinglepost, but you know, #whateverfloatsyourboat.

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2. Pinterest- I don’t use Pinterest all that often, but when I do, it’s usually for 4 hours straight when I should be doing something more productive, pinning things that I’ll never actually be able to make. But I do like the app and the newer updates make it super easy to use, which I love.

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3. Diptic- There are tons of collage making apps for Instagram, but Diptic is my favorite and the easiest I’ve found to use.

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4. Timehop- This is one of the newer apps I’ve downloaded, but one of my favorites! Timehop lets you connect your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, and shows you your social media activity on this date in years past. It is really cool to see what my life was like on this date years ago, before I had a husband, kids, and responsibilities.

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5. Pocket- This is another wonderful app invention. I always have several articles open in my Safari at any given time waiting to be read. Nowadays, I save them to my Pocket instead of leaving them in Safari, so I can read them when I don’t have any internet service. It’s really easy to transfer them from Safari to Pocket, and when I can’t use my internet, I can still use my phone to read these articles. I so wish I had this throughout my two pregnancies when I spent hours upon hours in my OBGYN’s office (which had zero service as soon as you stepped through the door) looking for something to entertain me.

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6. Our To Do List- This might be my most utilized app on my phone. I searched high and low looking for a good app to make lists in. This is it. I even sprung for the paid version, so that should tell you something. Our To Do List is very simple, which is what I was looking for. The best function is the ability to create lists within lists, something I use a lot. I use this app for everything from a grocery to list to Christmas gift ideas to restaurants I want to try.

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7. Feedly- I follow a lot of blogs, but don’t like to clog up my email with newsletters. I used to use Google Reader, but when they (sadly) closed that down, I switched to Feedly. I actually love it more than Google Reader, even though it is set up very similar. I find Feedly much prettier to look at. I use it on both my iPad and phone and prefer it on my iPad, but use it on my phone on a pretty regular basis too.

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8. Target Cartwheel- I’m all about saving money and I spend lots of time and money at Target. This is my shopping dream come true! There are discounts on hundreds of things in Target. It is organized by category, so items are easy to find if you already know what you’re looking for. But if you’re like me and just browse and fill your cart with random things, you can scan an item’s barcode and check if any Cartwheels are available for it. It’s easy to use and I’ve saved $87 since I started using it six months ago. Yikes, I don’t even want to think about how much that means I’ve actually spent!

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9. Ibotta- This is another money-saving app. Ibotta takes a little more time and effort than Target Cartwheel. The basics: the app has lists of items in grocery stores, drugstores, restaurants, etc. that you can purchase. After buying an item on the list, you scan the barcode and take a picture of the receipt. You submit the claim and they deposit money (usually $.50-1.00) into your Ibotta account. After you earn a certain amount, you can redeem it for gift cards or cash through Paypal. Like I said, a little more work, but for things I was buying anyway, I’ve racked up $23.00 over the past couple months.

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10. Covet Fashion- This is a silly game, but an addicting one! You have a “bank account” to buy clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. They have several “events” going on at a time such as a wedding, night out on the town, and work function. You buy outfits for these events with money you earn for judging other peoples’ outfits. It’s pretty fun for a time killer (not that I really need many of those these days!).

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I would say those ten apps are my favorite and most used apps on my iPhone. A few honorable mentions are Facebook, Words with Friends, Urbanspoon, and Goodreads. I hope you’ve seen something on here that you haven’t heard of and now you love it too

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Here we go again…

I’m just terrible at this whole blogging deal. I keep meaning to update, then get busy with other things (including but not limited to 2 busy little girls, a husband, a dog, a house that needed renovating, and a part time job).

Anyway, here I am again. I guess I should catch y’all up on the last five (!!!) months! Let’s just jump right into some Instagram pictures, shall we?

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1. Cesar and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary in February. Five years! I really don’t feel old enough to have been married for five years.

2. Valentine’s Day 2014- I have to say, I’m pretty sure I had the two cutest little Valentines around.

3. My girls are about 1/16th Irish, so they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green and chowing down on corned beef and cabbage.

4. Cesar celebrated his birthday in March also. We had a yummy lunch at a newer restaurant in town with my family and his family, then had a picnic dinner and went for a walk.

5. We’ve made many trips to Disney since the last time we’ve “talked”, but this trip was particularly fun. We took Sophia and left Emma with my parents (sorry, girl!). We arrived in the early evening and closed the park down at 1am. There were hardly any people there, so we got to do so much in one night!

6. Since I found out we were expecting a second daughter, I’ve dreamt of dressing my girls in matching Easter outfits. I found these adorable dresses at Target and could not have been more excited!

7. Moving day- finally! After owning our house for almost six months, we finally moved in the middle of May. We had lots of help, so it wasn’t horrible, but it was an exhausting day. Well worth it, though.

8. Sophia turned three at the end of May. I could hardly believe it. This girl is growing up so fast before our eyes, but I am so proud of the sweet, smart, hilarious little girl she is becoming. She had a such a fun birthday!

9. A couple weeks later, our baby girl turned one. It just doesn’t seem possible either. Emma is our “wild child”. She’s a good girl, but will definitely give you a run for your money. Not an hour goes by that I don’t laugh at something Emma does.

There it is…the past five months rolled into one post. Maybe I’ll finally get around to introducing you to our four-legged girl and possibly even show some before and after pictures of our house. Until next time…!

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Our Family Lately

Goodness, it’s been awhile. As usual.

We’ve been having a good time as a family of four! Well, technically I guess we’re a family of five now, since we have adopted a four-legged friend. But we’ll save that for another post.

Since we last met, lots has gone on! Here are some highlights:

Emma went to Disney for the first time. We took the girls to Magic Kingdom. Sophia had a blast, like she normally does, but at 4 months old, Emma could not have cared less.
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Football season came and went. We don’t really want to talk about it. Us Gator fans like to pretend it didn’t happen. But on the bright side, our girls look cuuuute in orange and blue!
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After seeing pictures of Cesar (at about 4 years old) dressed up as Superman for Halloween, Sophia decided she wanted to be Superwoman. She chose Minnie Mouse for Emma. I have to admit, they looked pretty cute!
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Emma started eating solids. Pretty funny stuff. Here’s where she tried peas for the first time. Actually, she loved them and this face was because there were none left.
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Christmas. Sophia was at such a great age this year at Christmas! We did all kinds of fun things!
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We bought a house! We became homeowners the week between Christmas and New Years. We absolutely love our house, but unfortunately, there have been some problems with the whole renovation process and we have yet to move in. Once we have finished renovating and decorating, I will share some of the changes we’ve made.
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We spent New Year’s Eve at my parents’ house, where some of Cesar’s family joined us. I thought for sure Sophia would be worn out by 9pm, but she outlasted us all!
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And since then…well, we’ve just been staying busy keeping up with our girls. They’re both super mobile now (Emma started crawling about a week after she turned 5 months and pulling herself to a stand at about 6 months)!

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Travel Recap: San Juan, Puerto Rico

As I mentioned in my previous post, a few weeks ago, Cesar and I and the girls went to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a long weekend trip. Some friends of ours got married on a military base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. We had been talking about going to Puerto Rico for quite a while, so when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it. After hours upon hours of research by the money conscious spouse in our marriage (that would be me), we decided our best bet would be to stay in San Juan and commute the 2 1/2 hours to Aguadilla the day of the wedding.

We were nervous that Puerto Rico would not be kid friendly, but were pleasantly surprised that it was. We walked around everywhere with our double stroller (which is approximately the size of a small SUV) and everywhere we went was very accommodating. There were lots of things for kids to do, too, so we were really glad we brought the them with us. Sophia had a lot of fun and so did Emma (sleeping, eating, and pooping 98% of the weekend away).

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When We Went:
For 4 days in the end of August-beginning of September

Where We Stayed:

We stayed in the heart of Old San Juan at the Sheraton Old San Juan. I would recommend this hotel to anyone and everyone. It is right by the cruise port, so we heard it can get pretty busy/loud when the cruise ships dock, we didn’t have any problem whatsoever.

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We stayed on the top floor (9th), which was perfect because the hotel’s pool is located on that floor. The room itself was huge. Nothing really special, but there was a lot of room to move around, which is helpful when traveling with two young kids and all the loot that accompanies them.

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When booking our hotel room, I booked it through an online travel site as a package with our flights and rental car. Something somewhere between the travel site and the hotel got mixed up and we had a bit of a problem checking in, but the check-in receptionist and on-duty manager figured it out and were very nice about it.

Where We Ate:
Genesis Restaurant (Old San Juan, PR)- This restaurant was right outside of our hotel. After we checked in on Thursday night, we wandered around and found this place. Their specialty was mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made with mashed plantains usually served with some kind of meat on top. We were excited to try it and it certainly did not disappoint!

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Cafe Manolin (Old San Juan, PR)- Breakfast on Friday morning. It was good but nothing to get too excited about.

SOS Burger (Cataño, PR)- We ate at SOS Burger on a whim. After Casa Bacardi (in Cataño) on Friday, we took the shuttle back to the ferry dock and planned to ride back across the river to OSJ and get something to eat there. Almost directly across from the ferry dock sits a little old shack looking building that ended up serving us the best (and by far the cheapest) meal of our trip! What drew us in was a.) it was 250 degrees outside and we needed drinks, and b.) there was some good music coming out of that little old place. Turns out, the reggae music coming out of there was being played live by Jorge, who we assumed was the owner of the restaurant (still don’t know whether he was or not, but he was the only one who worked there). Sophia, Cesar, and I all three ate pastelillos (basically pastries with savory meat or cheese filling), a juice, a Diet Coke, and a Heineken for about $15. Talk about a bargain!

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Fueguito (San Juan, PR)- This restaurant is a cool Argentinean restaurant inside the mall that we ate at on Friday night. They had tons of restaurants in Plaza Las Americas, which was very strange to me because at our mall, we pretty much have Sbarros and Panda Express. There was two parts of the restaurant, Tierra de Fuego (a sit down part) and Fueguito (order at the counter then they bring the food to your table. We opted for Fueguito because the mall was almost ready to close. We really liked this place, and it came with a ton of food for the money.

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Panadería y Repostería Flor de Asturias (Carolina, PR)- Before the Museo del Niño on Saturday morning, we ate at this place suggested by a local. If you have no Spanish skills, you might want to skip out on this place because this is not a touristy area, and it didn’t seem that a lot of people around here spoke a lot of English at all. Hopefully you do know at least a couple words though, because this palace was worth stopping at! We had sandwiches here, which were delicious! A little weird eating sandwiches for breakfast, but that’s what everyone else was eating. You know what they say…when in Rome…

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Cafe Mallorca (Old San Juan, PR)- This restaurant was suggested to us by the hotel concierge for a quick breakfast before heading to the airport on Saturday morning. It was within walking distance from the hotel (maybe 7 blocks or so). Their claim to fame are their mallorcas (a kind of sweet bread), but we ate just plain eggs and toast. It was pretty good though and we were in and out of there quick.

What We Did:
Walked around checking out the streets and sights in Old San Juan- This picture was taken early (uh, 9am) morning. It is pretty quiet in Old San Juan in the mornings. We really liked wandering the streets in OSJ, but because of our lack of time, didn’t get to do it as much as we would’ve liked.

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Casa Bacardi- Fun just to do it. It cost Cesar and I each 50 cents for the ferry (kids were free) and about $3 for the shuttle, but the Casa Bacardi tour itself was free. It was pretty cool to hear stories of how the company came about and hey, you get two free drinks apiece (and kids get two free juice or soda coupons).

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Castillo San Felipe del Morro- We showed up too late in the day for the tours, so we just wandered around by ourselves, but it was still neat to see. There were tons of restaurants and shops around, as well as lots of street vendors.

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Ate piraguas from a street vendor near the fort- Piraguas are Puerto Rico’s version of a snow cone. There are vendors near the fort who have little carts with a big ol’ block of ice and a whole bunch of syrups. They hand shave the ice, pour your flavor on top, and serve you your piragua either through your car window or not. I got piña (pineapple) and Cesar got parcha (passionfruit).

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Shopped at Plaza las Americas- It’s no secret…I love shopping, much to my husband’s dismay. This was the biggest mall I’ve ever been to, I’m pretty sure. There were tons of shops and restaurants, and we didn’t even make it around the whole mall in the couple hours we were there.

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Visited Museo del Niño in Carolina, PR- Sophia absolutely loved this place. I wish we had more time here than we did, but she had such a great time here. It was $10 each for Cesar and I and $6 for Sophia, and well, well worth the price. I was very surprised at how few people were there though.

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Well then. That post was a lot longer than expected, but I’ll finish up real quick…

Overall, I absolutely loved Puerto Rico. You feel like you are a world away from home, but from Jacksonville, we were just a 2 1/2 hour flight and didn’t even need passports. It was also a very cheap trip, all things considered, compared to other trips we have taken and/or want to take. Cesar and I would love to go back, but we are thinking about going for a weekend just the two of us so we can experience the Old San Juan nightlife that everyone talked about. We would definitely recommend Puerto Rico for a family vacation and look forward to hopefully going back someday!

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My Week in Instagram Pictures

Wow, I have a ton of pictures from the last week. Cesar and I and the girls went to Puerto Rico last week for a friend’s wedding and made it into a little vacation. It was our first vacation as a family of four, and geez…it was chaotic to say the least! But we had a good time just the four of us navigating Puerto Rico’s crazy (and sometimes scary) roads. More on Puerto Rico later. But for now, let’s get into my week in Instagram pictures. They are a little out of order this week…I used a new program to make this collage and well…I got a little confused.

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1. Before we left for Puerto Rico, we went to my parents’ house for dinner one night. My dad has a little garden that Sophia likes “helping” in, so even though she is extremely helpful with his garden, he went ahead and got her her own seeds to plant.

2. Here we are at the airport and on the plane leaving for Puerto Rico! We ended up taking Sophia’s suitcase as a carry-on, so she insisted she wheel it around the whooooole airport. That would have been fine and dandy if we hadn’t hit traffic on the way there and had about 45 minutes to get through security and get to our gate. Luckily, good ol’ JetBlue was running a little late, as usual. As you can see here, we were all happy to be heading out of Florida on our way to Puerto Rico!

3. This one’s a little out of place, but this was a sign I liked at the wedding we went to. It was very appropriate for this wedding. Everyone definitely wore their dancing shoes. I forgot mine (oops) but it was fun watching everyone else dance. Haha!

4. This was on Friday after we went to Casa Bacardi. We were on our way back to the ferry to get back to Old San Juan and it was like 200 degrees outside. We planned to get lunch after we got back to Old San Juan, but saw this place, SOS Burger, and decided to stop. This ended up being one of the best (and cheapest) meals of the trip.

5. The first night we were in Puerto Rico, we wandered around the cute little street our hotel was on in Old San Juan and stumbled upon Genesis Restaurant. It was really good, and Sophia decided she loves passionfruit juice at that meal. She drank like 10 more during our trip.

6. This was at Casa Bacardi in Cataño. It was fun, but again, it was so hot.  And yes, it was appropriate for children!

7. Just a few short miles from our hotel (which took like 20 minutes) was Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We got there too late that day so we missed the tours of the fort, but we wandered around by ourselves. They had vendors all up and down the streets, so afterward we stopped and got some very highly recommended piraguas (shave ice that is shaved by hand).

8. Most of the touristy things in San Juan and Old San Juan close by 6:00pm. So on Friday night, we decided to venture into the heart of San Juan and find Plaza Las Americas (not my idea!). That mall was huge. We shopped for a while, got Sophia a stuffed dog at Build-a-Bear (which she herself named Rico for Puerto Rico), then ate dinner at an Argentinean restaurant called Fuegito.

9. On Saturday morning, before the wedding, we drove about 20 miles away to Carolina, where they have a children’s museum (Museo del Niño). When we arrived, the parking lot was pretty empty, so we looked and found out they open at 9 every day except Saturday (when they open at 10). We stopped at a store on the corner and asked a local where we could go to eat breakfast and kill an hour. He directed us to Panaderia Flor de Asturias. It was so good, but we were way outside of the tourist area of Old San Juan, and virtually no one spoke English around here. Luckily, Spanish is Cesar’s native language and I minored in Spanish in college.

10. Sophia had so much fun at the Museo del Niño and these were just some of the fun things they had there. Sophia was absolutely in awe that they had step stools that folded down for her to step on to wash her hands in the bathroom. They also had an entire row of kid sized toilets. We could’ve just saved the $26 admission cost and taken her to play in the bathroom. No, really. That’s how much she loved the bathrooms.

11. The wedding we went to was on the Coast Guard base in Aguadilla. It was a really fun time for Cesar, Sophia, and I. Emma took the opportunity to catch up on her sleep.

12. On our way home from Puerto Rico, we flew over the Bahamas on a very clear day. This is a picture I took of the Bahamas from our seats.  We had a great view!

13. In the Museo del Niño, they had a Mini City. It was so cute, and had a whole little town of about 15 different places, complete with a police station, bank, mayor’s office, and fire station. Each of the places had activities and outfits for the kids to dress up in.  Sophia loved this part of the museum.

14. From Old San Juan where we were staying to Aguadilla was about 2 1/2 hours. It would have been bad, except for this view we had for about half of our drive.

15. Since we missed the first Gator game when we were in Puerto Rico, we were excited to watch the second game. Sophia and Emma were not impressed (neither were we).

16. At least my littlest girl (and my biggest girl too!) looked cute, despite how terrible to Gators looked.

That’s the week I’ve had, as described through my Instagram pictures. I will do a Travel Recap post on our trip to Puerto Rico as soon as I can, because we had such a great trip, but until then…

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My Week (Uh, Month…) in Instagram Pictures

Sooo, since I’ve been gone a while, I haven’t done an Instagram post in a while.  And, well, I still use it quite a bit so I have tons of pictures to share.  I’ll at least try to catch you up to the beginning of July, now that it is officially August (yikes!).  I do apologize that the majority of these are of my kids, but you know, when you’re a mom, that’s just what happens.  And my girls are just the cutest darn things I’ve ever seen.  That too.

My Week In Instagram Pictures

Row 1 (L to R):

1. When Sophia graduated from round 2 of her ISR lessons, she was beyond proud of herself.  I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate and she told me she wanted to make cupcakes.  So off we went to the grocery store, where she picked out what kind of cake mix, icing, and sprinkles she wanted.  We ended up with chocolate cupcakes, pink and purple vanilla icing, and rainbow sprinkles!

2. Emma and I when she was probably 3 weeks old.  She loves to sleep with her face buried in my chest.

3. With both girls with me during the day while Cesar works, unfortunately there are many times when I am nursing Emma that Sophia has to play by herself.  She loves being near me though when I’m feeding her little sister, so the iPad is the perfect solution.  She has all kinds of learning games she plays on it, so I don’t mind too much!

4. My sweet big girl loves feeding her little sister when Emma takes a bottle.  Of course, Cesar or I always help her, but she loves being involved.

5. Emma was about 3 weeks old here.  This was right after her third doctor appointment since leaving the hospital to check her weight, and she was finally back up to her birth weight (yay!).  She lost quite a bit of weight while we were still in the hospital and had a hard time gaining it back at first.  We have since started supplementing me nursing her with formula, and she has more than made up for it.

Row 2:

6. This was on 4th of July.  We went to my parents’ house for a cookout for lunch and both girls fell asleep almost instantly.

7. This was also at my parents’ house on 4th of July.  We had a fun day swimming and cooking out.  And, the girls looked super cute in their matching 4th of July outfits!

8. A beautiful picture I took from where we watched fireworks.  This picture has no filter applied.

9. Towards the middle of July, Sophia, Emma, and I rode to Orlando where my parents were staying for a few days for a conference my mom had to go to.  We were going to camp out in their hotel room for the night, but ended up having a car problem that had to be fixed ASAP, and extended our stay an extra night to give the mechanic time to work on it.  This picture is wall art at a restaurant called Burger 21, which I loved.

10. This was at the hotel in Orlando.  The had two huge fire pits out near the pool and Sophia loved going down to sit and watch.  She was completely mesmerized.

Row 3:

11. This picture was also in Orlando (last one, I swear!).  I like having a few matching outfits for Sophia and Emma, but they’re hard to find unless I order them online from somewhere I don’t normally shop.  Most places they have a newborn section which only goes up to 12 months, then a toddle section that is 12 months and up.  Well, Emma wears size NB and Sophia is in size 18-24 months, so there is usually not too much that matches for the two of them.  Anyway, here’s a matching outfit I found at Target for them.  They are so stinkin’ cute!

12. When Emma turned a month old, we had family pictures taken.  We hired a photographer that came recommended from a friend to come to our house and take pictures of the four of us.  This is what Emma wore, which I think might be the cutest newborn outfit ever made!

13. Since we went to the Magic Kingdom for the first time a couple months ago, Sophia has grown more and more fond of Monster’s Inc.  When Monster’s University came out, everywhere we went we saw commercials and toys and books and anything else you can think of.  She kept saying she wanted to watch it, so one night, we took Emma to Cesar’s parents’ house and took our big girl on a date to see it.  She was so good and loved the movie!

14. This was one night after dinner when we were getting ready to go for a walk.  Sophia picked out her “exercise outfit” and insisted that she needed to stretch beforehand.  I don’t know where she gets this stuff from, but she really cracks us up!

15. Emma was born with a ton of hair!  This was one night after her bath, when she had crazy post-bath hair.

Row 4:

16. This is when Emma was about 5 weeks old.  She was swimming in her newborn clothes.  In most of them, she still is!

17. One day we were leaving the house to go run errands and Sophia asked me to take a picture of her.  This is what transpired.

18. Emma’s one month picture.  I was a little late on posting this to Instagram, which is why it’s a little out of order.  She was making all kinds of crazy faces while we tried to take her picture.

19. Sophia loves shopping at Target.  You can tell by the look on her face.  Her daddy pretty much hates this idea!

20. Last weekend, my mom, sister, and I went to a Gator’s football clinic for women, which is really fun if you are a Gator football fan.  You listen to all the coaches talk about football and about the upcoming season, then tour the weight room, locker room, offices, etc.  After that, you go onto the field and do a bunch of drills with the coaches, which are really fun.  This is leaving the tunnel and entering The Swamp.

Row 5:

21. Cesar and the girls came to Gainesville with me for the night.  The next day, when we left, we stopped at an exit to find somewhere to eat and found a Chuck E. Cheese.  We decided to go since Sophia had never been before.  It was absolutely packed, but Sophia had a ball.  It cost us all of 5 bucks for tokens to keep her occupied for about two hours.  Score!

22. Before we left Gainesville, we stopped at Trader Joe’s, which is my absolute favorite grocery store.  We don’t have one anywhere near us though, so I jumped on the opportunity to stop before we left town.  Here’s our two big ol’ bags full of groceries that we really didn’t even need, but bought anyway.

23.  The other day, Sophia and I dropped Emma off to their Abuela’s house and ran some errands.  I asked her where she wanted to eat lunch, and she matter-of-factly told me “Chick-fer-la”.

24. We visited Nanny (my grandmother) yesterday and out of all the toys she has there, she wanted to sit in a cardboard box.  She told me, “Mommy, I’m in the bath!  Scrubby, scrub, scrub!”  Here she is scrubbing herself clean.

25. Last night after dinner we went for a walk around our neighborhood.  Obviously one girl is much more excited about it than the other!

 

Sorry that was so long.  Kudos to you if you actually got through it all!  I’ll try to do these more often so I don’t have to do such a huge one all at once again!

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The Happiest Place on Earth!

The Happiest Place on Earth_Magic KingdomSophia has always loved all things Disney.  Her first birthday party had a Minnie Mouse theme, she has more Disney stuffed animals than she can count, and she loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when it’s on TV.  So, not surprisingly, Cesar and I had been discussing the idea of taking her to Disney World (as in, the parks) since she was about 18 months old.  Kids are free until their third birthday, so it would just be buying tickets for Cesar and I…perfect.  We talked about all the possibilities- one day pass?  Three day?  Seasonal?  Annual?  Geez, the number of options when it comes to purchasing Disney tickets can really stress out a research freak like me.  Finally, about a month before Sophia’s second birthday, we decided to go for it.  But not without a little research first.

One day pass.  Cheapest option for sure, but definitely not the biggest bang for our buck.  We could only choose one park and I’d feel like we needed to spend the whooooole day there to get the most out of our money.  Umm, that was a big no with a two year old and a 7.5 month pregnant mama who was already starting to waddle.  One day passes were out.

Three day pass.  We didn’t really want to go for three days in a row with Sophia- we thought it might be too much.  With the flex-pass or whatever they call it, we could go three separate days and we could probably fit some time in at all four parks if we chose the right tickets.  But what if she loved it and wanted to keep going back (which we were thinking was a very strong possibility)?  We would have wasted like $150 each then would have to buy more tickets anyway.  Hmm.  Three day passes- nope!

Seasonal pass.  I knew from the beginning that I didn’t like the idea of seasonal passes for us.  We had them when I was younger and it worked out nicely for us, but for Cesar and I, there are too many blackout dates.  With Cesar working an hour away in the complete opposite direction from Orlando, there are only certain days we could go and wanted to know that our Disney tickets would be good for the days we wanted to use them.  Plus, if I was going to spend several hundred dollars on passes for the year, I’d rather just spend the extra $200-something and get annual passes.  Soooo…annual passes it was!

I researched and researched and researched online to figure out how I could get the best deal.  I ended up buying annual passes through AAA.  It was a little cheaper than buying them directly through Disney and it came with a free Diamond parking pass.

At the end of April, we took Sophia to the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  She had an absolute ball!  When we first got there, a parade was just starting.  She did not turn her eyes away from that parade for a second.

The Happiest Place on Earth_ParadeAfter the parade, she wanted to meet the princesses.  She couldn’t believe the princesses in her books were real!  Her favorite was Cinderella.

The Happiest Place on Earth_PrincessesThen we rode the train to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo.  She was so excited to ride them both and just laughed and smiled the entire time!  She and Cesar rode Dumbo while I watched.  She was having so much fun controlling the lever on the Dumbo ride.  I think Cesar regretted that decision.

The Happiest Place on Earth_TrainThe Happiest Place on Earth_DumboNext stop was meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy.  She squealed when she saw Minnie Mouse and she even tried sneaking under the ropes to meet her before our turn.

The Happiest Place on Earth_Daisy and MinnieWe also shopped a little, rode on the Carousel of Progress, ate lunch in Tomorrowland, and visited a few other attractions.  Believe it or not, that was a full day’s worth of fun (which equaled about 8 hours for the aforementioned 7.5 month waddling pregnant woman).

We have been to Epcot since then, which was even more fun for me (at about 38 weeks pregnant).  We are really happy with our decision to buy annual passes and are definitely planning on going lots now that I’m no longer pregnant.  Next up…Animal Kingdom!

 

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Recipe: Magic Shell

Have you ever tried that magic shell stuff?  You know, the stuff that comes in a bottle and is all liquidy until it hits your ice cream, then magically turns hard?  I’ve had it a few times, but it’s not something I have ever had on a regular basis.  I never really understood it.  Never understood how it magically turns hard like that. Wellllll…I stumbled upon a recipe for it and assumed it’d have quite a few ingredients and there’d be some sort of weird steps to turn it into this magic stuff.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  This is pretty much the easiest recipe ever…2 ingredients and literally 5 minutes from start to finishPlus, it’s so much cheaper and better than the bottled stuff!

Magic Shell
(recipe from Gimme Some Oven)

Ingredients:
1 c. chocolate chips
2 tbsp. coconut oil

Mix chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then stir.  Continue microwaving in 10 second increments until chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from microwave and let sit until it comes to room temperature.  Serve over ice cream.

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