Trendy Mom Reviews
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Tips for Swimming with Babies

Tips for Swimming with Babies

In today's post, I'll share some tips for taking your baby to a swimming pool.  For many babies, this is a fun and relaxing experience. The water is often very relaxing and allows them to move around and have fun. Our little one always slept extra well after taking him to the pool!  However, you also have to be careful when taking a baby swimming. 

1. Ask for approval from your pediatrician.
You will want approval from your pediatrician because many factors affect whether a baby is ready to go to a swimming pool.  If they are not ready, you may consider getting them comfortable with water by giving them warm and gentle baths.

2. Check the temperature.
Babies are not able to regulate their body temperature like adults, so be sure to check and let your pediatrician know the temperatures involved when you request their approval.

3. Be cautious about the chlorine level.
Babies have sensitive skin, so pay careful attention to whether the pool chemicals are too harsh.

4. Do not allow them to submerge their head or swallow water.
This is dangerous for young babies, especially if they swallow water.

5. Have them wear a swim diaper.
Swimming pools often cause babies to relax and poop. It's not the best combination because you don't want to contaminate the water. In fact, many public pools have rules that babies must wear swim diapers.  Let me tell you that the cost of disposable swim diapers adds up quickly!  We used to buy packages of swim diapers that came out to around $1/diaper.  This is expensive for our little 15 to 30 minute visits to the pool!  The best thing to do is to purchase reusable swim diapers that are soft and comfortable for your baby.  Bumkins makes a fantastic swim diaper that has adjustable sizing, is reusable, and is machine washable. 

These eco-friendly Bumkins Swim Diapers are not just for people who use cloth diapers. I personally use disposable diapers with the exception that I use reusable swim diapers because it's too expensive otherwise. The reusable swim diapers save us a lot of money since we go swimming frequently during summer and I'm able to simply wash them in the washing machine. Each reusable Bumkins Swim Diaper is $12.95 which is approximately the price of one pack of disposable swim diapers. I definitely come out far ahead with the Bumkins Swim Diaper.  If you are afraid of reusable swim diapers because you are used to disposable diapers, don't stress. I have found it to be super easy. These are machine washable. Sometimes I even wash them in the sink.  Its very easy. 

Bumkins Swim Diapers are also very nice because they are adjustable and comfortable. The edging around the legs is comfortable and durable to hold in leaks. I have been really impressed and now recommend them to everyone! Bumkins Swim Diapers are definitely the way to go.

6. Have someone bring a camera.
Some of my favorite memories include taking my baby swimming and enjoying the pure happiness. Nothing is better than a happy baby who is sharing baby giggles!

Have fun with your baby!  They grow so quickly and memories like swimming together while listening to baby giggles is the best.  
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SummerFest at the Gaylord Texan is Packed with Family Fun!

I am in the last trimester of my pregnancy, so it was nice timing to visit the Gaylord Texan to enjoy their trendy SummerFest activities with my family.  This hotel is the perfect destination for families, but is particularly nice for pregnant women like me since there are many indoor activities where you are able to avoid mosquitoes and the Texas heat.  In today's post, I'll share details about the trendy SummerFest at the Gaylord Texan.

The Gaylord Texan SummerFest theme for 2016 is Alice in Wonderland. This trendy theme has transformed the resort into a whimsical and memorable environment.  

Let's start with the gorgeous hotel!  The Gaylord Texan offers an amazing experience with their trendy environment that is modeled after the San Antonio Riverwalk and Alamo, but with the perk that there is air conditioning! They make it so easy to escape the Texas heat. (This pregnant mom appreciates the cool temperature!) Their iconic glass roof with the Texas star lets sunlight in, but the a/c keeps you cool.

Here is a photo of a restaurant along their Riverwalk.

Here is a photo of their Alamo during the evening show, but I'll talk more about this later in the post.

Of course, if you want an outdoor experience, they also have an amazing waterpark that feels great in the summer heat. My husband and son enjoy the outdoor waterpark while I prefer time at the spa and indoor pool!  It's nice that they have something for everyone. Click here to learn more about the family-friendly Paradise Springs water attractions.

Now that I've covered the basics of this luxury hotel, let's talk about SummerFest 2016!  The whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme is amazing. The resort really paid close attention to detail in designing this theme and the activities throughout the hotel.   In preparation for our visit, my husband and I have been reading Alice In Wonderland with our son.  We strongly recommend doing this if you have a little one because it really connects them to the theme and experience.

Let's give an overview of activities. (Click here for the full list and details.)

4D Wonderland Adventure

Take a trip with Alice through Wonderland in this 4D experience. Grab your 3D glasses (provided) and travel through the vortex tunnel to become part of a real life adventure that includes colorful lights, 3D artwork, and more!
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th 
  • Price: Adults $15 plus tax | Children (4-12) $12 plus tax | 3 & Under: Free with a paid ticket
  • Times:Monday – Friday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm
    Saturday: 10:00am - 9:00pm
    Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
    (extended hours on holidays) 
  • Location: Lower Level Texan Station
Tickets available online, over the phone, and at event. Unlimited Entry.

This Way & That Way Scavenger Hunt

By day, follow the clues and solve the puzzles to find the Cheshire Cats hidden around the atrium. By night, find the glowing clues to solve the riddles hidden throughout the Alice-inspired d├ęcor. Complete either hunt and receive a special souvenir to take home! Prizes can be redeemed at the Concierge desk or at any SummerFest event during operating hours.
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: $10 plus tax
  • Times:  Any time
  • Location: Throughout the property*
*Maps available at hotel concierge and all event outlets

Cups & Canvases

Kids can pick between a cup or an Alice-themed canvas and let their inner artists come to life. Select from one of our pre-printed designs or be inspired by Alice to follow your own path.
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: $19.99 + tax (cup or canvas) or $35.99 + tax (any two items) 
  • Times:Thursday – Friday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm
    Saturday: 10:00am - 9:00pm
    Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
    (extended hours on holidays) 
  • Location: Retail Corridor next to Mission Plaza Marketplace
Tickets available online, over the phone, and at event.

Hatter's Tea Party

Be the guest of honor at the Hatter’s table and enjoy a fun-filled, interactive experience for the whole family. Put on your souvenir top hat, decorate tasty cupcakes and enjoy delicious Wonder Punch while the Hatter creates some nonsensical magic.
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: $25 plus tax
  • Times:Friday: 6:00pm and 8:00pm
    Saturday: 2:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:00pm and 8:00pm
    Sunday: 12:00pm and 2:00pm
    (extended hours on holidays)
  • Location: Mission Plaza Marketplace Patio
Tickets available online, over the phone, and at event.

Wonderland All-Access Pass

Combine the fun in one great offer!
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: $48 plus tax
  • Times: Based on time of event
  • Location: Based on location of event 
Package includes:
  • 4D Wonderland Adventure (unlimited entrance)
  • This Way & That Way Black Light Scavenger Hunt
  • Hatter’s Tea Party or Cups & Canvases (choose one)
  • One 6x8 SummerFest Picture
Tickets available online, over the phone, and at event

Junior Chefs Camp

A great way to inspire the chefs of the future! This fun and interactive day camp teaches junior chefs how to cook, plate, and serve their menu for two parents/family members to enjoy at the end of each session. Bon appetite!
Dates: Saturday 6/18, 6/25, 7/9, 7/16, 8/6
Price: $90 per kid for Pizza, BBQ or Chicken Wings | $60 per kid for Dessert Classes
(Class includes instruction for one junior chef, personal chef hat and lunch prepared by junior chefs for their two parents/family members. *Additional guests can be added for $25 per person. Dining time: Noon - 1:00pm. 12 kids per class max.)
Times: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location:  Zeppole Coastal Italian

  • Pizza (June 18): Make your own pizza with handmade dough, delicious sauce and salad with balsamic dressing with Executive Chef Marchesi!
  • Cupcakes (June 25): Create delicious made-from-scratch vanilla cupcakes and buttercream frosting and learn how to work with fondant with Executive Chef Art!
  • BBQ (July 9): Create pulled pork quesadillas, tacos and corn and become a BBQ Champion with Executive Chef Hartline!
  • Fruit Tarts (July 16): Bake a sweet variety of fruit tarts filled with cream and lemon meringue and glazed to perfection with Executive Chef Art!
  • Chicken Wings (August 6): Make BBQ, buffalo and mango jerk chicken wings, complete with bleu cheese and lime cilantro ranch with Executive Chef Stalters!
Tickets available online, over the phone, and at concierge.

Breaking Through the Looking Glass

A 3D Visual Light Show

Your eyes won’t believe themselves as you see our Mission Plaza walls magically transform into a live 3D canvas! With spectacular Alice-themed imagery, watch as our enormous walls change shape, giant mushrooms appear, animals creep out from the shadows and more!

  • Dates: Every Friday and Saturday night plus Sunday nights over Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day weekends (5/29, 7/3, 9/4)
  • Price: Free
  • Times: 9:30pm
  • Location: Lone Star Atrium

Queen of Hearts Light Up the Night Party

Join the Queen of Hearts & Wonderland friends as we kick off the night with strolling characters, balloon artists, music and more! Fun light-up items will be available for purchase as we get ready to kick off our “Breaking Through the Looking Glass” 3D visual light show at 9:30pm.
  • Dates: Every Friday and Saturday night and Sunday nights over Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day weekends (5/29, 7/3, 9/4)
  • Price: Free
  • Times: 9:00pm
  • Location: Lone Star Atrium

Queen of Arts Tour

Journey through our four-and-a-half acres of lush indoor gardens while enjoying Alice-themed sculptures, paintings, blown glass and more from local artists!
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: Free
  • Times:  Any time
  • Location:  Throughout the property*
*Maps can be picked up at the hotel concierge

Giant Glow Checkers

Grab your friends to play on our super-sized checker board to enjoy some BIG fun!
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: Free
  • Times: 7:00am - 11:00pm
  • Location: Oil Derrick Patio

Wonderland Photo Ops

Find the fun Wonderland-inspired photo opportunities located throughout the resort atriums.
  • Dates: May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: Free
  • Times: Any time
  • Location: Throughout the property

Strolling Entertainment

Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland will come to life as you meet and interact with themed characters strolling throughout our resort atriums.
  • Dates:  May 27th – September 5th
  • Price: Free
  • Times: Every Friday and Saturday night plus Sunday nights over Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day weekends (5/29, 7/3, 9/4)
  • Location:  Throughout the resort atriums

Summer Movies

Enjoy the best family-friendly movies every night!
  • Dates: May 27 – September 5
  • Price: FREE
  • Times: 6:00pm*
  • Location: Private Dining Room at Texan Station
*See concierge for movie schedule

Click here for more details about the events.

Personally, we attended the Queen of Hearts Light Up the Night party and met the characters who also walk through the lobby.  Let's start with the most welcoming character - Alice.  Alice was true to character and was very polite. My son felt that he was in the storybook and thought that he met the real Alice.

Our next visitor was the Mad Hatter.  He was a hit with all of the children. He was full of jokes and laughter. He even teased the little boys and let them chase him with balloon swords.

The Rabbit was also there and checking the time.  He was friendly and also brought the storybook to life.

Finally, the most terrifying encounter was with the Queen of Hearts!  As I mentioned earlier, we read the book with our son before attending this event. Our son said that he was going to ask her why she used flamingos to play croquet. However, when he saw the Queen of Hearts, he completely froze.  She came to our table and demanded that he bow or else it would be off with his head.  It was funny because she stayed in character and his reaction was priceless.

In addition to the characters, we enjoyed rich desserts, face painting and balloons.  They catered to all ages!

After meeting the characters, we also enjoyed the Breaking Through the Looking Glass 3D Visual Light Show.  The Alamo was transformed into a 15 minute show with music and lights that took you through an artistic journey of Alice in Wonderland.  

The clip below is just a short example, but the show is longer and better in person.

We had an amazing time with SummerFest at the Gaylord Texan!  We look forward to visiting again soon to enjoy more SummerFest activities. We hope that many of you are able to visit and enjoy the memorable Alice in Wonderland experience as well!

Learn More
Visit the Gaylord Texan website to learn more.

Thank you to the Gaylord Texan for inviting us to visit!
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Chuck E. Cheese is Making Big Changes for Trendy Parents!

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Chuck E. Cheese headquarters in our backyard of Irving, TX. My little boy joined me for the experience. I initially wanted to visit because I thought that this would provide "good childhood" memories for him, but then learned that Chuck E. Cheese is also focusing on parents as well.  In today's post, I'll share some highlights of what we learned.

We started off with a tour of the Test Kitchen. We received a sneak peek of some recipes!

Their culinary team, including Chef Gregory Casale, welcomed us and shared their creative recipes.  I won't spoil any secrets, but I will tell you about some of the most delicious recipes that actually are at some restaurants now such as their giant chocolate chip cookie! 

We met the famous Chef Gregory Casale for a tour of the Chuck E. Cheese Test Kitchen and then he presented us with lunch shortly after our tour.  I was already familiar with this Culinary Institute of America trained chef because I used to live in Scottsdale, AZ where he was well known for his contemporary American fare in south Scottsdale (relatively close to the Scottsdale Fashion Mall). His restaurant was a special one for date nights and anniversaries because the food was so amazing.  I am also a big fan of the Paradise Bakery & Cafe chain where he was later a national corporate chef. My husband and I frequently visited for sandwiches and cookies! (Once we moved to Texas, we have even been known to drive all of the way to Plano just for a nostalgic lunch at Paradise Bakery because we miss it.) Chef Gregory Casale has since moved to Texas and works for the billion-dollar Chuck E. Cheese company where he is updating the menu to not only keep children happy, but to make it more appealing to parents as well.   It's such a small world that we had never met Chef Gregory Casale, but have eaten many of his masterpiece creations for the past decade.  We had the opportunity to enjoy his culinary expertise in Scottsdale and now he is in Texas!  I enjoyed meeting him as he enthusiastically presented us with lunch at the Chuck E. Cheese headquarters.  I was surprised that he updated the menu to make it much more appealing to parents.  

Let me share some examples. The salad bar makes it easy to pack nutrients into your diet. The generous selection of veggies in different colors covers a variety of nutrients. My personal favorite is the roasted corn, carrots, and peas for colorful toppings. I also like that they provide optional salad recipes for you to use at the salad bar. The Asian salad is a popular one thanks to their trendy dressing. 

Among the surprises were that they removed mayo from many recipes and reduced calories. For instance, the new pasta, bean, and potato salads all have gourmet touches. Here is a photo of a bean salad that is packed with protein.

The boneless wings are among my favorite menu items because they use all white meat and delicious sauces.

The next set of photos include pizzas.  They previously had a blind taste test and found that the new pizza recipes were rated better than many competing pizza chains.  

This is the Philly Cheesesteak Pizza.

The next is a Spaghetti & Meatball Pizza. This is my son's favorite!

My favorite is the Crispy Chicken Pizza. It tastes like Chicken Parmesan on a pizza.

They also changed their breadsticks and generously sprinkle them with Parmesan and seasoning.

Flatbread sandwiches are trendy lately. The Chuck E. Cheese team has great ones on their menu.

Here is a close-up photo to show the generously stuffed sandwich.

Finally, new Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies are coming out!  These aren't available everywhere yet, but watch for them soon!

This is amazing when it comes fresh out of the oven!

In addition to the updated menu items, we also learned some other gems about Chuck E. Cheese. For instance, something that really stood out to me was the CEO's vision for appealing more to parents. He said that even on a "worst visit", 99 out of 100 children will still want to go back to Chuck E. Cheese.  We laughed because we agreed that our children would never say "no" to a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.  However, CEC decided to up their game to appeal more to parents by focusing on value and improved menu items.  Let me share a few important points.

Tokens/Cards: You may have noticed that their prices for games are lower than many competitors that charge $1.50 to $2.00 for a video game. Chuck E. Cheese charges significantly less per game. Speaking of currency, they also switched over to electronic cards which is particularly nice for those of us with young children.  In honestly, I found tokens to be a bit gross. I never knew where some of those tokens had been, so a nice clean (germ-free) card loaded with token credits is appealing to me!  Plus, you are able to register the card and have them reprint a new one for you if you lose it.

Menu Items: As I mentioned above, Chuck E. Cheese hired one of our favorite chefs to make the menu more appealing to adults. Parents have been noticing as Chuck E. Cheese recently had their best quarter in 15 years!  I have to admit that I am in this group of parents that now has favorite Chuck E. Cheese menu items such as the boneless wings, Crispy Chicken pizza, and thin crust pizza.

Mommy & Me Classes:  These trendy classes were piloted at a location in Michigan and are coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth metro soon!  I am thrilled about this because it's such a fun idea and a great deal.  The classes will be offered in the morning before Chuck E. Cheese fully opens.  They have a great curriculum to help you bond with your little one while also meeting other moms. The price point is surprising - for just $8.99/person (you + your child), you receive the class, lunch, and tokens. This is much cheaper than any competing Mommy & Me classes that I am aware of in the area and even includes lunch. The curriculum is comparable to other Mommy & Me classes that I attend, so I am excited!  The class elements include:

  • Welcome
  • Introductions + Mommy Chase
  • Warm-Up
  • Song
  • Freeze Dance
  • Story
  • Motor Skill Development
  • Puppet Show
  • Lunch
  • Craft
They pack a lot into the class so that it is an excellent value! Plus, the environment is welcoming to encourage you to stay and make friends after the class. In our experience at other venues, parents often leave after classes because there really isn't anywhere to hang out and get to know each other. However, at Chuck E. Cheese, it is natural for everyone to stay and get to know each other better because the class includes a lunch buffet and tokens for moms and children to stay longer.  It's such a great concept!

Finally, we had a tour of the Animatronics center.  This is where they record the videos for use nationwide.  My little one is really into robots and technology, so this was an amazing memory for him. The staff showed off the fancy equipment and had the characters put on a show for us!  

In summary, my son calls our visit to the Chuck E. Cheese headquarters "good childhood".  He left the Chuck E. Cheese headquarters with amazing memories. As a parent, I also left with enthusiasm for Chuck E. Cheese because they are upping their game to be a trendier attraction for parents as well!  The value, convenience, updated menu, and upcoming Mommy & Me classes are transforming the Chuck E. Cheese experience.  The team that we met includes trendsetters that we think will change the industry!

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