Friday, May 31, 2013

Our DC Vacation!

Our crazy family
I shared with you why I believe Washington DC is a great family trip in a previous post but didn't really share any of the details of our own trip we took earlier in the month. I wanted to take this time to share our specific experience with you because it may give you a better idea of the type of vacation it is.

We left on Thursday night around 8pm to be sure that rush hour(s) would be over and with the hope that Olivia would sleep for the car ride.  We got to DC quickly with no traffic and Olivia slept the whole time. The only downfall was that we arrived to Hilton around 2am exhausted and we had to wake Olivia up to bring her inside and she didn't want to go back to sleep. She was well rested while we couldn't keep our eyes open. Needless to say, we didn't get a good night's sleep or much sleep at all that first night.

Friday, was hot and sunny so we decided to go to the National Zoo.  I was nervous to take the Metro with our big stroller and since the zoo had a parking lot we decided to drive. I had read on the zoo's website that parking fills up quite early so we left our hotel by 9am for the 15 minute drive. Well, driving to the zoo was the biggest mistake we could have made. We ended up getting in a fender bender in a huge traffic circle and it definitely got our trip off on the wrong foot.

Needless to say that after dealing with the police, who were surprisingly nice to us New Yorkers, we got to the zoo much later than we originally aimed for and all parking lots for the zoo were full. We must have driven around for a good 30 minutes looking for parking somewhere near the zoo but you needed special permits almost everywhere. We had just about given up and were going to head back to the hotel when we found some parking by some shops about a half mile from the zoo. Problem was that the meter would only allow for an hour and a half at most. So my hubby needed to make sure he kept going back to put more money in the meter.

Finally at the Zoo

We finally got into the zoo around noon and it was hot. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and then proceeded to see the elephants, Olivia's favorite. By the time we were done eating and visited the elephants it was time for Joe to run back and put more money in the meter. Olivia and I explored while waiting for him. When he got back we went to some more exhibits but before we knew it, it was time to renew meter again. It was hot and I felt bad having him run back and forth and we were still shaken up from our accident so we just decided to leave the zoo. I was disappointed because we only saw half the zoo and didn't make our way to the children's area which was at the far end of the park.  We decided we would try and visit the zoo again on Sunday before we left.

We went back to the hotel and decided we would stay close to the hotel in Bethesda, MD and look for someplace to eat.  We ended up at The American Tap Room.  We had some scrumptious food including a Bavarian pretzel appetizer that we all enjoyed. The service was quick and it was nice to rest and chill out after our exhausting day.

My delicious burger and perfectly seasoned fries

Saturday we managed to get an early start. We learned our lesson on Friday and decided to travel on the Metro. The Metro station was only about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. We took it to the Metro Center stop and could have changed subway lines to get closer to the National Mall but we wanted to maneuver the stroller around the subway as little as possible so we went up to the street level and walked. It only took about 15 minutes to get to the Museum of Natural History.

Museum of Natural History

We roamed around the Museum of Natural History for two hours. If Olivia wasn't so young we could have easily spent all day there but we needed to keep her interested so she wouldn't have any temper tantrums. We then moved on to the Museum of American History. I remembered this particular museum being so great when I was younger but was disappointed with it this time. Then, I realized half the museum was closed for renovations.  We probably only looked around for a half hour at the few things that Liv would like. We then had lunch there and proceeded to move on the museum number three, The Air and Space Museum. By this time the museum was mobbed but we made the best of it. Olivia enjoyed seeing all the planes. By the way, did I mention entrance into all the museums was FREE!!

We walked the whole entire day and then proceeded to walk to the Metro Center stop to catch the Metro back to our hotel.  The station was mobbed and I was starting to panic that we wouldn't be able to get on with our big stroller. We had to hustle but we found room. All in all, the Metro was an easy way to travel even with a baby.

Hanging out at the hotel
Sunday was our last day and unfortunately the weather left something to be desired. It was drizzling and overcast so we decided the zoo wouldn't be a good idea, just in case the rain got worse. We headed back to the National Mall where we could go to the museums again in case of a downpour.  Once we got there we decided to take the walk to some of the monuments. We saw the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. After that, we decided to head to the National Gallery but had to leave because our daughter thought it was funny how the rooms echoed and wouldn't stop screaming. Not a tantrum scream but she thought she was so funny scream. We were so embarrassed because it was mostly older tourists and everyone was so serious at this museum. We weren't asked to leave but chose to do so on our own.  The weather was getting worse  so we head back to the hotel and proceeded to head home.

We had a fabulous time but it was an exhausting trip. We walked so much and tried to jam as much as we could in to each day. Next time, I would like to have a couple more days so we could take our time and have a bit more relaxation time. We just weren't sure how Olivia would behave on her first vacation so we didn't want to be gone long but she did well so we are ready for our next adventure!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day and a Winner!

First of all, I would like to say congrats to Melissa B. who won my Something Special for Mom Giveaway for a bracelet trio!! She was contacted via email. Thanks to all that entered and stay tuned for some more great giveaways!

Secondly, I would like to say Happy Memorial Day!! I hope everyone enjoyed this holiday weekend but more importantly, I just wanted to express my deepest gratitude to the men and women of the armed services and take a moment to honor those that gave their life for this country.

We had a mellow day at the park. We brought some lunch and then we let Olivia play on the playground and we walked down by the ducks and had a little impromptu photosession. I had to share a few photos of my adorable little girl. Love her many expressions!!


Me & My Girl

Her "stink face"


Having so much fun!

Such a big girl!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Washington DC : A Fun and Cost Effective First Family Trip

On the National Mall

I couldn't have been happier with my destination choice of Washington DC for our first family vacation with our 16 month old baby girl. Originally, I had booked a weekend trip to Cape Cod off Groupon but as last weekend was approaching I was starting to panic that the weather might not be the greatest. If that was the case what would we do all weekend? I searched online for indoor activities but nothing seemed quite appropriate for my daughter's young age.  So I decided to cancel those reservations and book a trip to DC instead because I used to love going there as a kid and teenager and I knew there was plenty to do both indoors and out.

A comment I got from several people was that "isn't your daughter too young to go to museums?" Well, yes she is too young to understand the history and meaning behind everything but she isn't too young to enjoy seeing "cool things" in her eyes. She just loves being out at this age. Besides, all the Smithsonian Museums are FREE in DC. Yes, FREE!!! So even if we were in a museum for only 10 minutes, nothing lost. These museums include: Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, National Zoo and numerous others. For a complete list of museums you can check out the Smithsonian website.

Outside the Museum of Natural History

Besides going to the museums which can take a day each you can visit all the National Monuments and take some fabulous photo ops. Just be prepared to walk A LOT. So bring your best stroller and best walking shoes because you will be exhausted at the end of this trip. There is always the Metro which is the DC subway but sometimes it was just easier for us to walk since we had the stroller to maneuver around. That being said we never had a problem getting on the Metro with it but just be conscientious of not traveling during rush hour.

Now unless you have about $500/night to spend on a hotel, you will most likely not be staying in the heart of DC. Although the tourist area of DC is gorgeous there can be some seedy areas on the outskirts so I was very careful in selecting where we stayed. We used to stay in Bethesda, MD when I was younger so I decided that would be my best bet. We ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn for a fabulous price. I suggest checking online for pricing though, because the website offered a cheaper rate than the price they offered when I called but they ended up matching the price. the hotel was only a 5 minute walk from the Metro which we took to the heart of DC. It was only about a 15 minute ride so the savings was well worth it. There was also a Marriott and a Hyatt right by the Bethesda Metro.

Bethesda was such a nice town or should I say city that I wish we had more than two full days so we could have spent an afternoon walking around there. It had tons of shops and great looking restaurants that we didn't get to take advantage of but we plan on coming back soon and staying a little longer.

If you love history and like having a vacation full of fun education and amazing sights I highly recommend going to Washington DC.  Stay tuned for my next post which will have the specific details of our trip and it may give you more insight on a trip to the Nation's Capital.

Hanging out by the Reflecting Pool

Monday, May 20, 2013

Win $150 Paypal Cash!!

Hey everyone!! Sorry I haven't had a post in a while. I have lots of good stuff coming your way. In the meanwhile, why not try and win $150 Paypal cash!! I am thrilled to be a part of this great giveaway for Girl Booklet's one year anniversary.  Be sure to check out her blog and enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's the Bzz?! Bed Head On the Rebound

After doing much research on websites where you can legitimately get free samples I stumbled upon Bzzagent.  I signed up and answered all my available surveys. I answered them all because I wanted a better chance of getting a campaign. There have only been a few new surveys since I initially answered the large lot of them. 

After being a member for about a week I was lucky enough to get the Bed Head Campaign! One I am truly interested in. Within a short period of time I received my full size Bed Head On the Rebound and samples of Elasticate and Recharge shampoos and conditioners. I couldn't believe the great products and samples I was getting for free!

What I received in my BzzKit

So I had to try my new products immediately and I couldn't have been happier with the results. I used the Recharge shampoo and conditioner and then styled my hair with the On the Rebound. I am extremely picky about styling products and was pleasantly surprised with how my hair looked.  My curls were formed enough so they didn't look frizzy and "puffy" but on the other hand they didn't look "crunchy" or wet, a very hard balance to find. 

I have been using On the Rebound ever since and am happy with how my hair looks each and every time so it wasn't a fluke. I definitely plan on buying this as my new "go to" product once I run out of what I was given.  My only suggestion to the company would be the packaging is a little awkward. Now that I am about half through my product I am having difficulty getting it out of the tube. I know there is still a lot of product in  there so I don't know why this is happening. All in all, a fabulous product that I would highly recommend trying. 

My curly hair!

 Being a part of this campaign has been a great experience. I hope to get more campaigns soon.  If you are interested in trying products for free and sharing the info with your friends I highly recommend signing up for BzzAgent.  I will keep you posted with any new campaigns I receive!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Something Special For Mom Giveaway Hop Event

The month of May is a special time to celebrate Mothers. Whether you are a mom yourself or you're doing something special for your own mom, the Something Special for Mom Giveaway Event is for YOU! A great group of bloggers have come together to show you special items you might like to receive or give as gifts this month. You'll be able to enter to win these great products from May 10th-26th thanks to the Blogging Mamas Network! Be sure to hop around to all of the participating bloggers, in the linky below this giveaway, as they have some great prizes to share with you! Make sure you also enter the Grand Prize - a $250 Gift Card to Mía Mariú! One lucky Mama is going to look so pretty with all that eco-friendly makeup!
Mia Mariu Giveaway
I am excited to be a part of this giveaway extravaganza and am giving away three bracelets that any mom would love. I know I would that's why I designed them. Check them out!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out these other great giveaways!!

  According to Jenny, So Easy Being Green, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Something Special for Mom participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Who Should Make the American Idol Finale?

Yes, I still watch American Idol even after vowing I will never watch it again after every joke of a decision. I still cannot find it in my heart to give it up. Although, for the past few seasons it's usually just on while I do something else and I'll look up if I hear something really like.

For once, I finally feel the correct people are in the top three and for that reason I was truly looking forward to tonight's episode. Unfortunately, I was utterly bored and the episode truly lacked amazing moments, of which I thought there would be many. The one stand out moment in my opinion was Candace's performance of "Somewhere" from West Side Story. I would say this would solidify her spot in the finale but I have doubts on whether or not the teeny boppers who vote will appreciate that song. I truly hope they do.

I have to say I did truly enjoy watching the girls go home.This is always my favorite part of every season. It was extremely emotional and was teary eyed through each home coming. I completely lost it watching Kree and her sister. I cannot believe how strong she is even with both her parents being deceased.  Her video package was by far the most touching and will probably gain her some votes.

Watching the recap as I am writing this, there is no reason I shouldn't have enjoyed tonight so I am bit bewildered.  I think it comes down to a few strange song choices and the fact that the songs seemed extra short so they didn't go everywhere they should have.  I think the biggest disappointment was all the song choices for Kree. I love her but the correct songs weren't chosen for her. Come on "Perfect" by Pink. Really?! I love that song and I love Kree but that is such a mismatch.

Who should make the finale?! I honestly don't know.  Before tonight I would have thought Angie and Kree with no question in my mind but after tonight Candace should be one of the two.  As far as the other spot I don't know.  It will most likely be Angie's because she has been on fire the past two weeks but there's something that I don't connect with. I personally would love to see Kree in the finale but I think bad song choices cost her that honor.

Whatever the results tomorrow, I cannot complain because again, all three are super talented and I have no doubt in my mind that they will all have long careers in the music industry. What are your thoughts? Who should make the finale?

Fun Do It Yourself Spring Wreath

Want to create a fun and colorful wreath?! This wreath is simple and fun to create and would make a great gift! What mom wouldn't love a handmade present from their child no matter how old?!

You do not need much to create this playful wreath. Just a few rolls of tulle, a 12" wreath, some embellishments and a hot glue gun to fasten those accents.

The basic supplies-tulle & a wreath
Step 1 - Choose the theme for your wreath. This will help you decide the colors you want to go with. I wanted to do something bright that could be used as decoration for the Spring and summer.

Step 2 - Go get the supplies needed! You can find tulle at most craft stores: Michaels, AC Moore, Joann's , etc.

Step 3 - You are going to start tying your tulle around your wreath in your desired color pattern. A few tips: I left the plastic packaging on the wreath so tulle didn't get stuck on the wreath straw and I used approx. 13-14" strips that I tied in regular double knots around the wreath.

Step 4 - Add your embellishments. I shopped for these after the base of the wreath was created which gave me inspiration. I hot glued the flowers I found on the wreath.

I hope you all enjoy creating this simple and fun wreath. I would love to see photos of the wreaths you created to possibly feature in a future post. All photos can be emailed to dancewithadolly {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Just Make It!

 I had one of my good friend's weddings this weekend and was searching for weeks for the perfect dress to wear. I finally found a dress that I was excited to wear at the last minute.  This didn't leave me much time to find amazing accessories and shoes.  I went to the mall, Target, Kohl's, Old Navy, just about everywhere you could think of. I had a specific vision in mind and just couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.

I finally decided the day before that I would make my own jewelry. I design beads out of polymer clay so I would just design beads to match my dress exactly. I mixed the clay, baked the beads, glazed the beads and constructed my pieces all in an afternoon with a toddler running around and I couldn't have been happier with the results.

Designed & Made By Me!
I had a fabulous time at the wedding and several compliments on my jewelry. I definitely plan on making my own jewelry a lot more often and deciding on it a lot sooner so I have even more time to create something sensational!

The Bride and I