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    I Have to Stop Calling My Oldest a Toddler

    My family and I were hosted for the weekend at The Hotel ML & CoCo Key Water Resort in exchange for sharing our experience with you! As always all opinions expressed are my own.

    A week and a half ago my big boy turned 4. I cannot believe that I have a four year old. It was emotional when I realized that I don’t have two toddlers anymore. I have a toddler and a preschooler. A whole school aged child. How did that even happen? Wasn’t I just sharing his birth story like yesterday? It’s unbelievable.

    Anyway, we’ve started trying to travel more especially for birthdays. Our children are blessed to have big families and of course.. blog life, so they truly don’t need anymore “things”. We took a big trip to Disney and LEGOLAND this summer and I was hoping to be able to take RJ back to LEGOLAND for his birthday this year. Bonus: knowing your children! My kids LOVE water so I was on the search for an indoor waterpark, not too far from the city where they could “swim” to their hearts content, and have access to other amenities as well.

    Thank God for Coco Key!

    If you live under a rock somewhere, CoCo is an OG when it comes to the indoor waterpark game. Located about 2 hours from our house, it was the perfect distance for us to take a short family road trip. We left in the afternoon and got to the resort early evening. We didn’t get to check out any water park features that evening, but I thought it was great that inside CoCo Key they hosted family movie nights both nights that we were at the hotel. The first night they showed COCO (one of RJs favorites and the second night they played Horton Hears a Who. The boys opted to just watch COCO in the room but I loved that they still had the option of an evening activity.

    The next day was the day RJ probably dreamt about all night. We woke up for breakfast downstairs (the hotel has packages that offer buffet breakfast with your stay), went outside for a little while, and then we waited. RJ asked over and over if we could go to the waterpark but we were waiting for his cousin to show up and he had no idea. When they got there it was finally time and we headed around the corner to the water park (thank God for a first floor room!).

    So how did they feel?

    The boys absolutely loved the waterpark, as expected. I love that Coco Key has something for everyone. They have 2 hot tubs, a lazy river, multiple slides and a kiddie pool plus more. All ages were enjoying the 80+ degree temps as if it were a summer day in NJ. Another cool thing was there were multiple birthday parties going on. I never thought to have a whole party there, but I guess I haven’t gotten that far into mom life and birthday planning yet. They have birthday party packages as low as $228 for up to 10 kids. That is really an amazing price for the fun your kids are gonna have. To check out their rates, you can visit their reservations page here.

    Have you stayed at Coco Key? Are you a waterpark fan? Am I the only one sad that my kids are growing up? LOL

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    Is LEGOLAND Florida Toddler Friendly? – #LEGOLAND Review

    My family and I received complimentary admission to LEGOLAND Florida in exchange for our honest review. All fun was had by us, and all opinions expressed are my own ;). 

    When we planned Zayn’s birthday trip honestly I had RJ in mind. I really wanted to take him to LEGOLAND because he LOVES all things LEGO. He begs me to take him to the LEGO store EVERY mall trip, he watches LEGO shorts on Kids YouTube and he has a good amount of LEGO books. I knew we had to make the trip there during our vacation. 

    LEGOLAND actually isn’t in Orlando, unbeknownst to me. It was about a 45 minute drive from our hotel in Winter Haven, Florida. We packed the kids into the rental, and made the trip without telling RJ where we were headed. I wish I had the footage of when we arrived to the park. He literally started singing “Everything is Awesome” and sang it from the parking lot through the gates. 

    With such small kids, my main concern was would the 45 minute drive from Orlando to LEGOLAND actually be worth it? Would they be able to do anything? Was I setting myself up for toddler meltdowns???

    The trip was 100% worth it! LEGOLAND is designed for kids ages 2-12 and I knew that from looking at the website before making our decision to go. When they designed the park, their littlest LEGO lovers definitely weren’t forgotten and I LOVED that about the park. From the mini splash pad, to kiddie coasters and indoor spaces designed just for toddlers to take a break from the blazing temps, LEGOLAND has it ALL and you won’t regret taking even your youngest children there. 

    RJ honestly loved LEGOLAND more than Disney and when we came back everyone kept asking “did you go to Disney World?” and he responded “Yea but I went to LEGOLAND!” almost every single time. We didn’t even check out the water park side (which I’m sure he would’ve loved because he is OBSESSED with water parks) and for him it is still the most memorable part of his trip. I’m considering taking him back for his 4th birthday in October and staying at the resort because I know he would absolutely LOVE it. 

    What’s the best advice I’d give for your visit?

    – Go during the week. While I was sharing on social media during our trip via instastories a lot of people mentioned to us how they loved it there but the lines were long. We went on a Friday and the lines had virtually NO wait. RJ rode a few rides back to back without having to wait in line. 

    – Bring your own water bottle. There are a lot of water fountains around the park and Coke freestyle machines that they let us refill with water for free! It came in handy because it was HOT and the boys wanted to drink NONSTOP.

    – Get there early. When we first got to the park I thought it small and it definitely STRETCHED way beyond what I imagined. Also, there are 2 parks so you want to make sure you have ample time to visit both. 

    – Get your child pre-measured. While lots of rides are for littles there are some designed for the bigger kids to enjoy and some rides do have height restrictions. LEGOLAND has the great option to get pre-measured so that your child doesn’t have to go through being measured and turned away after waiting in the line. 

    The boys had an amazing day at LEGOLAND and I definitely want to take them back. I can easily see how people spend multiple days there and I cant wait to check out their themed hotel! It was definitely worth the drive from Orlando and we had a quiet, nap-filled ride back! 

    Have you ever been to LEGOLAND? What’s your favorite amusement park for your littles? 

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    The Suite Life! |Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa

      My family and I were hosted for 2 nights at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed belong to me ;). 

     

    If you don’t know it is ALL DISNEY, ALL THE TIME in our house. I wanted to take RJ to Disney for his birthday last year but timing didn’t work out and I chickened out with taking Zayn while he was only 3 months old. So this year, our plans were SET. Disney for Zayn’s first birthday because we were ALL ready to go. RJ had started asking, I’ve never been, we were ready. I googled for MONTHS about what to do, where to go, how to get there, what to wear what to eat, but most importantly I had to know where to stay. I knew we would see more than Disney on this trip and while I know there are amazing benefits to staying on Disney property, I just wasn’t sure if we were ready for that. 

    *Enter Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa*

    When I came across LBV resorts condo style suites online I IMMEDIATELY fell in love. If we can, I try to stay in suites whenever we vacation for multiple reasons. The comfort, space and amenities definitely make it worth it and more often than not the location is ideal. Our resort was located right next to Lake Buena Vista Factory stores so when we realized last minute that we didn’t shop for RJ’s stepping up ceremony which was the day after we got back, we walked over to Osh Kosh and got the kids cute clothes at outlet price! In case you need further convincing, here is a complete breakdown of why you need to reserve your next Orlando stay at Lake Buena Visit Resort Village and Spa.

    Location 

    I already told you that the resort is located right next to the outlets, but Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa is centrally located close to many of the must see attractions/parks in Orlando. Our first night we drove to Disney Springs, the outdoor shopping complex at Walt Disney World Resort. It was about a 15 minute drive to most attractions, and the resort is also close to many restaurants, and we saw a few other outlets close by. 

    All Suite Style Rooms

    The rooms at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa are BEAUTIFUL. My photography really doesn’t do it justice. The resort features all suite style rooms of different sizes. Each suite includes a full kitchen and a private balcony. There was ample space for our family and we only ended up sleeping in one room (cosleeping problems). The extra spacious suites definitely give the feeling of being at home and would be perfect for families. 

    Outdoor Pool & Bar

    While neither of my kids are swimmers, they both think they can. THE FIRST thing we did after checking out the room was head to the pool located on the resorts property. The boys loved the pirate ship (which actually has a slide if you can tell from my picture) and I loved all the outside seating available. There is also a bar located on the pool deck that serves drinks, ice cream and different “bar type” foods. I definitely went there by myself when I had a VERY BRIEF free moment ;). 

    On-Site Dining & Grocery 

    We went out to dinner our first night but the second night after had a long day at Magic Kingdom, no one felt like going back out. The Pizza Hut express was perfect for all of us to grab something quick to eat. RJs favorite food is pizza and daddy was able to get pasta. Plus there was a fully stocked grocery section in case you needed to grab anything to cook in your full kitchen! We weren’t really grocery-minded but I wish I would’ve remembered to head down there when I realized that I had forgot to bring deodorant. They literally had EVERYTHING. 

    Customer Service

    All in all, the customer service at Lake Buena Vista Resort and Spa made the trip even more special. The concierge was available to answer all the thousands of questions that I had being a Disney newbie, we were able to check in early without there being a lag in service and the smiles were genuine and didn’t feel forced. Even with the resort being as beautiful as it was if the customer service was poor, it would’ve ruined the experience so I’m glad that was not the case. Everyone was more than willing to help us out at all points of our stay and I was so grateful for that. 

    We had an amazing experience at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa and it made our first family trip to Disney even more magical. I’m so grateful for our experience and I would definitely stay here again, check out the spa, and maybe even take an adult trip =). 

    Have you ever stayed on a resort that was off Disney property? Where do you Disney? 

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    The REAL Rules for Roadtrips with Small Children

      Special thank you to Mazda as I received the 2017 Mazda CX-5 as a loan free of charge for our road trip in exchange for my honest review! All opinions expressed are my own! 

    Special thank you to Mazda as I received the 2017 Mazda CX-5 as a loan free of charge for our road trip in exchange for my honest review! All opinions expressed are my own! 

    So I’m not gonna lie, when it came to planning RJs birthday trip I was super excited. As the days ticked down and it got closer??? Dread! I just knew I was plum crazy for planning a trip that would take us 12 hours to drive to with a 3 year old and an infant that hates the car seat! Wtf was I thinking?? Truthfully when road trip day (night) arrived anxiety almost made me cancel. I just knew it was going to be awful and it wouldn’t be worth it. I was sooooooooo wrong. Taking a long trip with two kids this young though did make me realize that the rules of the road are completely different when it comes to traveling with kids. 

    1. Be prepared to spend some time in the back seat. 

    Comfort played a big factor when we were thinking about the long drive. I knew I’d have to spend some time in the back seat between two car seats consoling one kid or the other and I was happy it wasn’t a SUPER struggle in the car we drove for our trip. The 2017 Mazda CX-5 had a decent amount of space in the backseat even with 2 car seats back there. I’m not gonna lie though I’m still SOMEWHAT small even after having two kids haha. I don’t think my boyfriend would have fit back there.  

    2. Speaking of time, don’t even watch it. It doesn’t matter when kids are involved.  

    I tried to plan our departure time perfectly. Both times according to their sleep schedule. I convinced myself that if we left during a time they were normally asleep that we’d have more time with them asleep in the car and it’d make the drive a little less painful. I think RJ woke up within 1 1/2 of us driving down with a cheerful “Good morning Daddy!” Ready to take on the day… at 5am.  

    3. Don’t put a limit on stopping. You will stop. 100 times or more.  

    When we road trip alone, my boyfriend makes it a habit to remind me 1000 times that he IS. NOT. STOPPING. He’s obsessive about getting to our destination and he always says “I’m stopping ONE TIME”. Ask to stop again and die. Except this trip. We stopped. I can’t even remember the amount of times but it was ALOT. Thankfully, we only had to stop twice for gas since the CX-5 averages 26 highway mpg. We got to stop at bigger rest stops and didn’t have to worry about just getting gas and leaving. Kids need to stretch their legs and everyone was a lot more pleasant after taking a break from sitting for hours. We stopped at Chick fil a’s that had play places so RJ could run some energy off and I even let him run around a rest stop at 5am *shrugs*. Sorry not sorry. We had a long drive and he wasn’t hurting anyone. A couple 20/30 minute stops made a BIG difference in how the drive went. 

    4. The drive is still part of your trip, use it as an opportunity to make memories.  

    I quickly realized RJ was just excited to be on an adventure. He loved looking out of the sunroof at airplanes and pointing out different things in the sky, and he loved sticking his head out of the sunroof even more. He also loved sitting in the trunk which is super spacious in the CX-5. He called it his cave! This is definitely a time to relax and not be super crazy with the rules. Within reason and safety first of course! He wasn’t sticking his head out the sunroof while we were driving or anything LOL. 

    So basically, like anything with toddlers/infants involved, there are no rules on road trips! As long as everyone is comfortable, not screaming their. heads off and everyone makes it to their destination then I’d call it a #momwin! 

    What has your road trip experience been? Have you braved the road with small children? Interested in reading more about the Mazda CX-5? Leave your thoughts below!

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    FALL for the East Coast – Captain’s Quarters Resort is An AMAZING Family Destination

    RJ turned three 2 weeks ago and we desperately wanted to get out of New York. We’re trying to step our travel game up so when we got the opportunity to head to Myrtle Beach for the weekend it was a fast and obvious YES! 

    We set out on our road trip EARLY Thursday morning and arrived at Captain’s Quarters Resort that evening. It was a LONG trip but we were immediately excited to get out of the car. No one was more excited than RJ especially since he had some birthday loot waiting for him once we got to our room. 

    IMG_2121 from Tanay Howard on Vimeo.

    I’m going to admit I’m a habitual trip checker and I researched everything up and down when I’m headed on a trip. I was sooooooo happy with our hotel choice and I knew after a good night’s sleep RJ was going to be EXCITED to check out the pools. Captain’s Quarters boasts an impressive 15 water features and we tried just about all of them! Myrtle Beach still has beautiful weather at the end of October so we were able to enjoy both the indoor and outdoor water features which RJ LOVED. 

    Everything at the resort was super kid friendly and they truly pride themselves on being the friendliest resort on the beach. This was our first birthday trip, our first trip as a family of four and our first long stay away from home all together and I couldn’t have been happier with our stay at Captain’s Quarters! 

    Fast Facts About Our Stay – Captain’s Quarters Resort Myrtle Beach, SC

    • We stayed in an Angle Oceanfront Suite. The view was beautiful (see below). Captain Quarters has a variety of room accommodations to fit families of various sizes. Accommodations can be checked out here
    • Level 6 Entertainment Center hosts a variety of games, 20 AMF lanes of bowling and a bar. We fully took advantage of the fact that each guest receives a free game of bowling per day!
    • Captain’s Quarters has several dining options. Our favorites were Loco Gecko, and the Vista 9 buffet-style breakfast. I’m bummed we didn’t get a chance to get a window seat because the view up there is amazing! 
    • The back of the room key is a discount card to a lot of local places around Myrtle Beach. Though by the time we realized this it was our last day, and the boys randomly got a cold so we took it easy most of the day. Check out all the places it can be used here
    • Fall and Spring are the best times to visit Myrtle Beach as the ocean waters are warm and inviting, the sunshine and ocean breezes are abundant, and there’s more elbow room on the beach.

    Where was your last family getaway? Have you been to Myrtle Beach?  

    My family and I were provided complimentary accommodations by Vacation Myrtle Beach to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed belong to LifewithTanay. 

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