Saturday, January 13, 2018

Ripley's Aquarium Of The Smokies: Our #Review #Smokies #SmokyMountains #Gatlinburg #PigeonForge #Vacay #TravelBlogger



One of the highlights of our trip to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg  was our trip to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies! If I had to completely and totally honest, this was our favorite part of the trip! I will admit, I wasn't too sure at first... I knew that the boys were going to have a great time at the aquarium, but I didn't think I would. I am more of a "zoo" type of girl, and I honestly expected to be in and out and done within an hour or so.. I mean, it was just fish and stuff, right? 

WRONG! 

I think that I had the most fun of anyone during our trip to the aquarium, believe it or not!  First of all, the building itself is pretty spectacular. Even during the day, when it's not all lit up and cool, it is gorgeous! Just a really cool place! 

We went to the aquarium first thing in the morning on our second day of our trip. It was pretty chilly, around mid forties, but nothing like I was anticipating with snow, etc.. We actually had some tornado warnings, and the parking lot where we parked the car got completely flooded during our visit! Crazy Winter Weather!!! 


Anywho, back to the aquarium. First of all, we picked up our media tickets at the ticket desk. Everyone was so friendly and helpful! It was so nice to be able to chat and relax with the customer service people! Sometimes a review visit is ruined for me before I even begin by rude or just unfriendly service, but not this time! It was such a welcome change! 

I would like to say that this place is absolutely spectacular! It is so nicely done, big and spacious and airy. Not dark and musty like other aquariums I have been to. Like I said before, I had more fun than anyone else! We ended up staying for something crazy like four and a half hours! It's so nicely done, and being late January, the whole place was almost completely deserted, which I have to say that I loved! 




The jellyfish were one of our family's favorite parts! I got some great pictures of them and the boys were just beside themselves in amazement! They really couldn't believe what they were seeing LOL! The only jellyfish they have ever even heard of were from Spongebob, so seeing one up close and personal really did it for them! 



I really thought that perhaps the aquarium's wonderful ratings on TripAdvisor (#1 attraction!! Excellent!!) were overrated... I mean, how cool could an aquarium be? But, I was SO wrong! This place deserves every single award and word of praise! With over 10,000 sea creatures and more than 350 different species, my family really and truly did get a chance to see things that we have never dreamed of! 


Next favorite part? The tunnel! How could you not love a tunnel, with a glass top, and moving floor!? You can see everything in that tunnel,and watching the sharks, turtles, and other amazing creatures swim over your head was really amazing! You can stay on the moving floor and pass through on your own, or if you need to step off and get a closer look, you can do that too! 

The aquarium just keeps right on coming! The giant crabs were another awesome part that the boys really enjoyed as well! I think my sister and I had our own favorite part! There is this really cool shark tank, where you can stick your head up and see a shark up close and personal.. Well, this shark that was in the tank, we aren't sure if he loved us or wanted to eat us, but he really was interested in us. We would go from one side of the tank to the other, and he followed us back and forth and back and forth. It was so funny! I think he probably wanted to eat us, but I will pretend that we loved us and that's why he was hanging out with us! Haha! 

Another one of our favorite parts was the penguins! Who doesn't love penguins!? We spent a good hour at the penguin exhibit, checking them all out and having a great time! Be sure to check out the gift shop on your way out, we got some amazing treasures there that my boys really have enjoyed since our visit! 

I can't believe I underestimated this aquarium! If you have never been, you need to go NOW! You really won't regret it, I promise! I can't tell you much about crowds, but I hear that after 4pm every day is a great time to go... Of course with it being January/tornado/flooding/snowy weather on our trip, we didn't have to worry about crowds haha! 

If you get hungry, there's a great little restaurant inside the aquarium called The Feeding Frenzy! Combos are around $9 for adults, $6 for kids.. Not too pricey considering where you are and what you're doing! You want to also make sure to hang around to touch a stingray in the stingray bay! Divers bring them around every few minutes to make sure everyone gets a turn! 


Here's some more important info: 


Hours: OPEN DAILY 365 Day a Year

January – February: Mon-Thurs 9am to 8pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
March – Memorial Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Memorial – Labor Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 10pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 11pm

Labor Day – New Year’s Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Adult — from $21.99
Child (3-11) — from $13.99
Children 2 & under — FREE

disclosure: i received complimentary tickets to this attraction in exchange for my honest review. All opinions, as always, are my own! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Our Stay At The Music Road Inn- Pigeon Forge, TN #Review #PigeonForge #Gatlinburg #Smokies #Vacay #TravelBlogger

Well, now that we are back from vacation and everyone is done throwing up, (more on that later!), I can finally tell you guys a little bit about how it went! In a word-fabulous! We had such a great time, and can't wait to go back again soon! 

We had the privilege of spending our time at the Music Road Inn in Pigeon Forge. The hotel itself was absolutely beautiful, and the people there, even better! The hotel itself is just beautiful, and the lobby looks like something out of a movie set! The giant fireplace just made the whole place feel so warm and cozy, like coming home! Check in was an absolute breeze, and Michelle at the front desk was super helpful and friendly. I have to say that we felt welcome right away, and that is definitely a nice feeling! 

Our room was a standard double queen room, and it was beautiful! My sister decided to come with us, so it was three adults and two kiddos, and the room was plenty big enough for all of us! I have two favorite parts of the room: the first one is the bathroom! I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but really! The bathroom is split off into two parts. One half has the toilet and shower, and the other half has a huge vanity with double sink, bench seat, and huge mirrored closet. I loved that! It was so nice to have room to spread out and even sit down when getting ready, because I sure don't get to do that here at home in our tiny house LOL! 

My other favorite part? The view! We had a waterpark view room, which would have been fabulous in the Summer, to watch everyone on the water slide and in the pool from our balcony, but alas, it was still Winter.. However, the view of the mountains in the background absolutely made my stay! I spent most of my time out on the balcony looking at the view! What a beautiful sight to be able to wake up to every morning! 

The beds in our room were fabulous! They were too tall for my small guy, however, and we had to end up asking for extra pillows and blankets to make him a bed in the floor.. This was after he fell off of the bed like five times in the first hour we were there.. I guess he will just always be my clumsy one lol! But, for everyone else, the beds were great! Just ask my dear sweet hubs, who wanted to sleep til noon everyday! 

We had a great time at the Music Road Inn, and I am so glad that we did decide to go in the Winter, although I had my doubts before we left home... It was so peaceful and quiet there and I bet we probably only encountered ten other guests the entire time! I know this is a big difference from what it is like during the busier times of the year, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the perks of being the only ones around! 

The boys had a blast in the indoor pool (and me in the hot tub LOL!), even though us adults thought it was freeeeeezing! I swear, my kids would swim outside in the snow if there was a pool out there! They just don't care! We really liked the fact that the indoor pool was open 24 hours. It was a great treat to be able to just take Tater down to the pool and leave Bean upstairs with Nanny at night time, and be able to spend some one on one time with him. He hardly ever gets a chance to not have his little brother shoved in his face, so he really reveled in his "alone time" LOL. 


We, of course, also spent a lot of time in the arcade, winning all sorts of prizes. My boys (and hubby too!) all have weaknesses for video games, and arcade games, especially the ones where you win a prize... Needless to say, $15 later, we won Bean a ball, and that is about it. (Hey, I said they like games, not that they are good at them! ha!) Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to mention FREE HBO! I am so cheap, I refuse to pay for both HBO and Showtime at home (got to have that Showtime for Homeland and Dexter!), so I was thrilled to be able to watch HBO :) Ahh, perks of vacation! 

Oh my goodness, I can't forget breakfast! Part of the reason that drew us to the Music Road Inn in the first place was the complimentary breakfast. No one in my crew (except me of course) is a morning person. Getting my three guys up, dressed, and off to breakfast at a restaurant is a real chore. Plus, once I get them to breakfast, I pay for all of these meals that no one eats. I mean really.. Bean wants like a tiny drop of scrambled egg and a piece of bacon, and Tater will eat one piece of toast and a banana. Is that really worth me driving the car to a restaurant, sitting down, ordering, waiting, and all that? I think not. The breakfast here was AWESOME! I had heard about the homemade cinnamon rolls before we even checked in, and yes, they do live up to the hype! I loved the fact that the breakfast room was big enough for a bunch of people,and you didn't have to feel crowded and claustrophobia didn't set in! I give breakfast a definite approval here, and that is a big deal coming from my crew! 

I have to say, we really enjoyed our stay at the Music Road Inn, and I especially enjoyed the great job that the maid service did on our rooms while we were there. Super clean, all the time!  Our initial plan was to check out Music Road this time, and then try out a different hotel when we come back during the Summer months, but I really think after our experience there this time, that this will be our new home away from home when we come to The Smokies. I don't even think we need to try to search for another hotel. The staff at Music Road Inn was so nice and really made us feel welcome, I don't ever want to go anywhere else! I can't wait to come back in the Summer when we can swim in the outdoor pool and check out the water slide! (I don't know what I'm talking about, I will be in lazy river for the duration of the next trip, watch and see!) 

I do wish I would have gotten a few more pictures of our room, though. I had big plans to do a bunch of photos of the whole hotel on Saturday morning before we were heading out, but... we had an issue that involved my oldest son catching the flu and throwing up on every tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee (Okay, I am exaggerating, but only a little!) Needless to say, when coupled with the impending Snowstorm Of Doom that was hitting later in the day on Saturday,we decided it would be best to just head on home before things got worse. So, I am going to post a few pictures of Music Road Inn from their website too, just so you can see the things I missed! 

If you are looking for a real family friendly hotel in the Smokies, Music Road Inn should be the one that you pick! I know how happy I am with our stay, and my family really had a great time! If you are interested in checking out their website for yourself, you can click here to go there directly. Or, you can be sure to follow Music Road Inn on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, discounts, and promotions! Thanks again, Music Road Inn staff, and we will be seeing you again real soon! 

We received a complimentary stay in exchange for this post. However, all views, thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: Wilderness At The Smokies Resort - Sevierville, TN #Review #Wilderness #PigeonForge #Gatlinburg #Smokies #TravelBlogger

Disclosure: Our family was given a two nights complimentary stay at Wilderness at the Smokies in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Our family recently concluded our Smoky Mountain vacation with two wonderful nights at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville,TN, which is just north of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Tater, our oldest, has been eyeing this place for years, since we drive past it every time we head to the Smokies. We actually didn't tell the boys that we were headed to Wilderness, we told them we were headed home, and then we surprised them when we got there by telling them we were really spending two extra nights on vacation. Needless to say, they were pumped! 

Our room was an awesome bunk suite located in River Lodge. (River Lodge is the hotel connected to the Wild Waterdome Indoor Waterpark, as well as Lake Wilderness Outdoor Water Park. Salamander Springs Outdoor Waterpark is located across the street at Stone Hill Lodge.) This was a perfect room for us! Our room included a queen bed, and a twin/queen bunk bed, separated by a wall. It also contained a pull out twin sleeper sofa as well. There was plenty of room for the four of us in this room, which was great! It was wonderful to be able to spread out a little bit! Tater took the top bunk without hesitation, and it was so cute to see our sweet little Bean in the queen bed all by himself! The room also featured a microwave and fridge, and a small table and chairs. The best part for us was the private balcony which featured not only views of the awesome Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark but also a few beautiful mountain views as well. The rooms at Wilderness at the Smokies are decorated really beautifully, sort of like a rustic cabin, but still very modern as well. I also loved that there were two flat screen tv's in the room so that we could watch our own thing while the boys watch their own thing! We did have an issue with one of the tv's in our room, but maintenance  was able to switch it out for us and get us another one fast! We loved the room, I could have stayed there forever! 



However, we had MUCH more to do than just hang out in the room the entire time! Our first stop was, where else? The indoor waterpark! It really is an amazing place, there isn't another way to describe it! If you've never been somewhere like this before, you're in for a real treat, and maybe a bit of a shock. The entire indoor waterpark is just incredibly huge and a bit overwhelming, but in a good way! 
Photo Credit: Wilderness at the Smokies
 This place is awesome! We had so much fun, I honestly could have stayed a few more days! There is just so much to do in the Wild Waterdome section, not to mention anywhere else! The big boys (Dad and Tater) had a great time in the wave pool, they stayed there the majority of the time! I love the wave pool better than anything else, but my little guy was a bit intimidated by it, so we hung out in the kiddie area most of the time. The water there is only around a foot deep, and it has a seesaw, sprinklers, swings, and slides. It's perfect for little ones! My big boys had more fun than everyone else, though, no question about it! They rode the Storm Chaser, which is the huge funnel ride that you can see from out on the highway! I would have had a heart attack on that thing! My hubby said that Tater LOOKED like he was going to have a heart attack, but by the time he climbed off the raft, he was begging to go back again! 


Tater even somehow got me on the Runaway Canyon waterslide raft ride, I don't even know how that happened, but I thought I was going to die! I did have fun though, but I spent a few minutes in complete terror! (Mom does NOT like roller coasters, scary rides, waterslides, or anything like that!) I did survive though, and I actually rode the thing twice! It was pretty fun, once I faced my fears! There is also a huge indoor pool which is three feet deep all the way around, and it has basketball goals inside it. The boys had a great time in there, and I had to drag them out of there when it was time to leave! However, I have to say that the biggest hit of our entire time at the Wild Waterdome was the Smokies Surf Rider! This body surfing ride was their highlight of the trip! My hubs only rode the Surf Rider once, and he really took a tumble! He didn't do it again, I think he was a little bit embarrassed! However, Mr. Tater LOVED the Surf Rider and he just kept on, probably ten or fifteen times! We have a hilarious video of one of his attempts, I will upload it in a little bit! 
We had a great dinner at the Thirsty Miner restaurant, located on the second floor of the River Lodge. How convenient is it that you can eat a real, sit down meal without even leaving your hotel! Love it! The Thirsty Miner has a great deal too, Kids Eat Free with a paying adult meal purchase. We stayed during the week, so our kiddos got a free kid's meal, but if you stay on the weekend, you can get the buffet, and kids get a free buffet too. The food at the Thirsty Miner was really good, and with the kids eat free deal it was cheaper for us than going out to dinner. Plus, we didn't have to leave the hotel, which is definitely worth it! The Thirsty Miner is just one of tons of restaurants or snack bars on site, so you can always get something to eat or drink no matter where you are! 

It would be hard for me to say whether we spent most of our time at the Wild Waterdome or in the all new Adventure Forest dry play area. I think it's probably pretty close to even! My boys (all three of them!) are arcade lovers, so we spent a ton of time there! The arcade is not my favorite thing, but I still had a great time there, and Bean was absolutely thrilled that his daddy won a giant Adventure Forest ball for him from one of the machines! There are so many things to do in the Adventure Forest area, not just the arcade! There's a bowling alley, a snack bar, black light mini golf, a laser maze, laser tag, a rock climbing wall, a huge ropes course, and more! Seriously, enough to keep you and your kids busy for days! I'd say our favorite part was Cubs Climbing Den, which is like a McDonald's Play Land on steroids! It was absolutely huge, and even though Bean took a tumble and ended up with a bloody nose, he was begging to go back in as soon as we patched him up! We had a ton of fun at the Adventure Forest! You can buy credits for each attraction separate, but I would highly recommend buying an "all day" pass or an "all stay" pass, so you can play as much as you want! It's really a great deal! 

See this beautiful view? This is exactly what we saw from our hotel room! Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark looks like SO much fun! I didn't get the chance to go over to Salamander Springs and check out that Waterpark, but the pictures we saw look amazing! That's one thing I can say for certain about Wilderness at the Smokies- what you see is what you get. The pictures on the website really do truly represent the hotel, which is not always the case. It's nice to know that with this resort, you can trust the website to be a guide for you in planning your trip.
My boys and I are already planning a trip back to Wilderness when the outdoor waterparks are open. We have a LOT more adventures planned for this resort already! The boys want to bring their nanny with us next time, so we will have to plan on getting a bigger room, or a suite to fit all of us. I know that Wilderness will have plenty of options for us, no matter what we choose! (Also, if you are trying to plan what to pack for your stay at Wilderness, I would highly recommend going comfy with yoga pants, tee shirts and tennis shoes. If you want some ideas of the perfect clothes to pack, check out this post from GearWare!) 

 Some important things to remember about Wilderness At The Smokies: 

  • Don't forget KIDS EAT FREE at the Thirsty Miner restaurant! It's a great deal! 
  • Make sure to check out the "All Stay" pass for Adventure Forest, another great deal! 
  • Towel cards are also provided for your towels at the waterpark. Simply exchange your card for a towel, then when you're done, exchange your towel for a card.. Easy as that! 
  • Lifejackets and tubes are provided in the waterpark, so don't worry about those.
  • Arrive before check in? No worries! You can preregister for your room and start playing in the waterpark right away!
  • Same goes for check out: you can check out of your room and spend the rest of the day in the waterpark. This is a great way to get extra time to play! 
  • Don't forget all the extra amenities on site: the gift shop, candy shop, paint your own pottery studio, fitness center, laundry room and more! Spend some time just exploring the hotel, there really is so much to see! 
  • You can rent Redbox movies in the lobby of both Stone Hill Lodge and River Lodge if you want something special to watch on your stay! 
  • Make sure to follow Wilderness at the Smokies on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with news, deals and promotions before you book your stay! 

Thank you to the great folks at Wilderness at the Smokies for hosting us and helping us to make some great memories! We'll definitely be back! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Should I Stay In A Cabin Or A Hotel? (Smoky Mountain Vacations) #Smokies #SmokyMountains #Vacay


When you are planning a trip to the Smokies, one of the hardest things to decide is where to stay. If you are unfortunately like me, it is one of the biggest and most important things to plan as well. I have to first figure out the WHEN of a vacation, followed by where we will stay. I don't feel like I can really start planning properly until I have those two things figured out. That means, none of the fun stuff can be done until I figure out the WHEN and WHERE. It can be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you have never been to the area before. Let's talk about what you need to know to help you decide! 

COST: 
If your family is like ours, it's important to make and stick to a budget before you ever leave for vacation. The good news is that when it comes to the cost, cabins and hotels are pretty comparable. Of course, you will find hotels that run at the very, very low end of the spectrum, and you can find some pretty pricey hotels and cabins as well. It all just depends on what you are looking for. I would say that on average, a cabin will run between $100-150 a night, and a hotel room is pretty close to the same. Of course, you can splurge and spend way more than this, or you can really scrimp and stay somewhere for cheap, but for the most part, the prices are close to the same. 

LOCATION: 
Where you want to stay is going to be a big part of where you stay. Generally speaking, cabins are located, well, in the mountains. Hotels are located in town, usually on the "strip" or very near it, and within walking distance of attractions, restaurants and shopping. If you stay in a cabin, you are most likely going to have to drive everywhere. (There are exceptions to this rule, as you can find a few cabins that are located near downtown Gatlinburg, within walking distance of the strip). Is it important to you to be near all of the excitement, or are you looking for peace and quiet? Do you want to be near the national park so you can go hiking at a moment's notice? This will help you decide which is right for you. I personally hate to drive in a busy place, and I especially hate to drive at night, so for our family, a hotel usually just works better. 

PRIVACY: What kind of vacation are you looking for? Is this a fun family adventure, or a romantic getaway? Is this a relax and recharge kind of thing, or a be in the middle of the action fun fest? Those answers will help you decide where to stay. If you are looking for peace, quiet, relaxation, and privacy, a cabin is definitely the choice for you. You can get a cabin where you are completely secluded, with no one anywhere around. If you choose a hotel, it's likely that you are going to have some "neighbors" through the duration of your stay, and there is no way to tell if they are going to be the quiet type or not. If you don't care about quiet or privacy, a hotel might be more your style. 

WEATHER: 
This might sound silly, but make sure you consider the weather before you decide where to stay. The snow on the mountains might sound beautiful, but sometimes, mountain roads can become impassable and cabins might not be accessible. Same for after a heavy rain, sometimes cabin roads can become flooded. Usually, your cabin rental company will be able to tell you if there are any issues with the roads to your cabin that you should be aware of. Also, if you are planning to stay in a hotel and use the trolley or plan on walking to your attractions, don't forget to have a back up plan in case of rain. It's no fun standing in the pouring rain waiting 20 minutes on a trolley! (ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS!!) 

AMENITIES
What, if any, amenities are important to you in your accomodations? Did you know that you can rent a cabin with it's own private indoor pool? Seriously! Hot tubs, pool tables, game rooms, exercise equipment, these are all options that you can get in your own private cabin. However, there are also some amazing amenities at the hotels in the Smokies! There are several hotels that offer complete spas, indoor or outdoor water parks, on site restaurants, and more. Decide what amenities you want/need beforehand, and your search will be much easier! 

SIZE OF YOUR PARTY
How many people are tagging along on your vacation? If you have more than will fit in a standard hotel room, your costs can quickly add up if you need to upgrade to a suite or add on additional rooms. The great thing about renting a cabin is that you can find one that sleeps anywhere from 2 people up to 22 people,and everything in between! If you are having a big group event like a family reunion or wedding, it might be more sensible for you to go with a cabin. You can also cook all of your meals at a cabin, since you will have access to a full kitchen, and that can save some serious cash! 

CONVENIENCE
For me, one of my favorite things about vacation is the "ease" of everything. I like to leave our hotel room, and walk straight to the restaurant or show that I want to attend. I like to hop right on a trolley from my hotel parking lot. I don't want to drive, I don't want to navigate, I don't want to cook. In other words, when I am on vacation, I want to do as LITTLE "Thinking" as possible. For me, a hotel is best for this, since I am in a central location that is convenient to everything. Ideally, I don't get back in my car until it's time to drive home! If driving doesn't bother you,however, a cabin might be the best choice. Keep in mind that unless you get a cabin close to downtown, you will have to drive to the grocery store, shopping, shows, restaurants and anything else that you want to do. 

Hopefully, this post will help you to decide whether a cabin or a hotel is right for you. We like to switch it up and stay at different places when we visit, so we always get a different experience! We wholeheartedly recommend the Econo Lodge Riverside in Pigeon Forge -we had a great experience there when we stayed for a week last Fall, it felt like home! The Music Road Inn has also been a favorite of ours in the past, they have a great atmosphere and a very family friendly atmosphere. If you are in the mood for some REAL family adventure, you can't beat Wilderness At The Smokies. Their THREE water parks and family adventure center will keep you busy and make sure that you sleep good at night! As for cabins, I would recommend Arrowhead Cabin Rentals! Do you have any favorite hotels or Smoky Mountain Cabins? Let us know in the comments below!! 

How To Have An Awesome Baby Shower. For Cheap. #Baby #BabyShower #Games #Party #Shower #CheapFun



Today I'm going to tell you how to have an awesome baby shower. *Your results may vary.*

My first advice would be, do not wear THIS shirt. 

Now that you have that down, let's go on. 

1. LOCATION. Location is important. We kind of ran out of time and opportunity when planning my baby shower, so by the time we got serious about planning it, all our locations were already full. So, we had my baby shower at my sister's townhouse. It was very cramped and crowded, but we had a great time! And it was free to have it there. Definite Plus. 

So, start early if you want a certain location! For free or cheap locations, try your local parks, a friend's backyard, a church, or check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Rule of thumb, though: Start early! 

2. DECORATIONS.  There are SO many cute baby shower decorations, you could spend your entire budget on that in no time! But, you don't have to... We went online and found a few really cute things to order, to make a certain "theme." These are some of the things we found online below. I would recommend checking out the images below:




After we ordered a few things, we bought everything else from the dollar store in the same solid colors. It was much cheaper that way, and we still had a "theme". 


Here's another one of my favorite baby shower decorations: hang baby clothes and socks on a clothesline, and use it for a decoration! This is super cheap and cute. We just used clothes that I had already bought for the baby, so it didn't cost anything! Everybody really loved this idea! You can totally browse Pinterest for more baby shower DIY decorating ideas!

Another thing we did, but forgot to take pictures of: we put water in old baby bottles and used them as balloon weights. It was really cute, and also FREE! Bonus points if you tint the water pink or blue :) 

3. FOOD. Perhaps, for this fat girl, the most important part! We just made a lot of little "snacky" type things, so everybody could just eat whatever. We're talking sub sandwiches, dips, veggie trays, fruit kabobs.. Nothing hard to put together, and nothing expensive. There are literally thousands of Pinterest ideas out there, so I am sure you will come up with something exciting! 




Okay, Dammit, now you know Bean's real name. But don't EVER tell, k?

Here is our blue ducky punch, also a big hit!  

It's so easy and cheap, you won't believe it!
Here's how to make it:

Baby Shower Duck Punch: 

1 bottle (container/jar, IDK what to call it) Blue Hawaiian Punch
1 Two Liter of Sprite or Seven Up
Vanilla Ice Cream Scoops
Ducks, of course! 

Pour the Sprite and Hawaiian Punch together. Float several (8-10) scoops of ice cream on top. The ice cream will melt and have this bubbly, cloudy effect. Don't forget to add your ducks to the top! You can use Pink or Red Hawaiian punch instead if you are looking for a pink duck punch for a girl baby shower. :) 


4. GAMES. Well, you probably already know that almost everyone hates baby shower games. But, you still have to have SOMETHING. We tried really hard to come up with shower games that were not overdone, and not embarrassing for anyone, like the chocolate diaper poop game, or drinking from a baby bottle game. Those are not fun for everyone! Here's what we did at my shower;

*Candy Game* this one was a little cheesy, but overall pretty cute. You print out a list of clues, and then everyone has to write down the candy that is associated with the clue. Here are some of them:

Time Alone After Baby= Zero

Mom's Tummy After Baby= Jelly Belly

You hope the OB doesn't have= Butterfingers

Hospital Bills=100 Grand

Breastfeeding=Milky Way

Contractions= Now & Later

Some of these were easy, some were super hard! Click here to find the complete list.

*PlayDough Babies* 
This one was probably my favorite! At the beginning of opening presents time, everyone gets a little ball of Play Dough and a toothpick. Everyone has to make a baby out of Play Dough and nothing else.  This is good because it keeps everyone from getting bored. The mommy to be gets to judge the best baby at the end of the shower. Here are some pics from our Play Dough babies:



This was so funny! Some really looked like babies, some like frogs, and some like, well.. balls of play dough! Don't forget, with this game, the mom to be is supposed to judge all the babies and pick the one she likes best for the winner! :)

*Paper Sack Game*
Also a very cheap one. Take a certain number of  brown paper lunch sacks and put one baby item inside each. Some of the things we did were diaper, sock, bottle, pacifier, hairbrush, rubber duck, etc.. Staple the bags closed. Now have everyone pass the bags around without looking inside, feeling to see what they think it inside the bag, and writing down their guess. This one was pretty cute too. Bonus that the mom to be gets to keep all of the props that were inside the bag :)




**ETC.** 
Another thing we did at my shower, which was REALLY helpful was to include on the invitation for everyone to bring a package of diaper to be included in a prize drawing. We put everyone's name in a hat, and drew a name out. That person got a $25.00 restaurant gift card. Everyone really liked this. The person who won got their money back for buying  the diapers, and we got enough diapers to last 2+ months! 

I've never done favors at a baby shower, just the prizes for the games, but there are so many cute things you could do.



*FUN* 
My main advice for your baby shower is to just have fun. Try not to stress about details. The people who are at your baby shower are there because they love you and care about you, not because they want to see how much money you spent. Take lots of pictures and enjoy your day! (Also, if any of you are wondering about great supplements and vitamins to help increase your chances of getting pregnant, or just staying healthy in general, you can read more about that by clicking here!)





Monday, January 8, 2018

Best Hotel In The Smokies: Econo Lodge Riverside: Pigeon Forge! #Smokies #SmokyMountains #Vacay


Well, everybody. We're now a few weeks into our first year of homeschooling, and I am a few weeks into college life. So, how's it going? Let's just say... I am SO ready for our vacation,and I am counting down the days until we hit the road for the Smoky Mountains! We had so much planned for our trip this past January, and with all of the snow, tornadoes, and vomiting inside random stores (Yes, all of this happened. I swear.), we didn't really get to cover everything as much as we would have liked. So, we're heading back at the end of September and I can not wait! Its my favorite place, from the shopping to the sights, to the outdoors and the mountains, it's the best place on Earth! 


This time, we are going to be staying at the Econo Lodge Riverside in Pigeon Forge! Now, most of you guys know me pretty well, and you know that when it comes to a hotel, I need to have affordability. I just do. It's in my nature, and I think even if we were millionaires, I would check out hotel rates and compare them to make sure I found the very best deal. Well, I am happy to report that the Econo Lodge Riverside has some of the very best rates in all of Pigeon Forge. But, if you know me, you know that affordability is not the only thing that I need from a hotel. 

I also need info. Lots and lots of info. Months before any trip we take, I scour the internet, reading reviews of every single place we plan on going, and making all of my decisions before we even arrive. I am a planner. So, sue me. Anyway, I was thrilled to see that the Econo Lodge Riverside is rated #10 of 94 hotels in Pigeon Forge! To me, that is a huge deal. I really trust my fellow Trip Advisors, and they have never steered me wrong on hotel reviews in the past, so we are really looking forward to staying at the Econo Lodge and seeing if things there are just as great as my Trip Advisor Friends say they are! 
What else do I need from a hotel? I need a pool. A good pool. Actually, this is not my rule, but my sweet three year old Bean's rule. You see, of all the vacations we have been on, all of the trips we have taken, even the overnight trips where the hotel was just a place to crash and drive home the next day, Bean's favorite part is always "the pools". No. Matter. What. So, for him, a good pool is a must. I mean, the rest of us do enjoy the pool, but nowhere near as much as he does. I swear, when we take this kid to Disney World, we're gonna come home, and ask what his favorite part was, and he's going to say "the pool". It's just his thing, so I have to pick a hotel with a good pool! 



What do you think, friends? Will my little fish be impressed with this big pool? I think so! 

What else do I need from a hotel? A free breakfast. I know, it might sound like a silly "must have", but it's true. When traveling with two kids as ahem, moody, and ahem, spirited as these two, waking up, getting dressed, and going out to breakfast every morning IS. NOT. HAPPENING. I found that out real quickly when I would drop $6.99 a piece on a kid's breakfast at some sit down restaurant. Somebody would take a bite of a banana. Someone would take a bite of a donut. Someone would spill their chocolate milk. And there you have it, breakfast is over. SO....  a hotel with a free breakfast is a must when it comes to my kids. I can either sneak them a quick little snack back up to the room, or if they are acting decent and presentable, they can come down and eat their one bite of food. Either way, no stress for me! Yay! 


Those biscuits and gravy are already calling my name!! What about you!? There's nothing like a no stress, no mess hotel breakfast! 

What else do I need from a hotel? Well, at the risk of sounding like an idiot, let's just say that I am a bit "directionally challenged." When we go on vacation, I drive. I just do. And, I get us lost a lot. So, a hotel that is easy to find, right on the main road? Yes, please! Especially in a place like Pigeon Forge, being right on the main road and in the middle of the action is important to me! I need to be able to walk to things, and I want to be able to have easy access to a trolley in Pigeon Forge so I can get where I need to go with no worries! So, yes, being easy to find is a must for hotels for my family! 



Can you tell that we are really excited to stay with Econo Lodge on this trip? The boys are also really excited that the hotel is on the banks of the Little Pigeon river, so we can hang out there and feed the ducks, how much fun will that be!?! Love it! I know, we haven't stayed there YET, so I can't give you guys the personal pictures and the in depth review that I want to do, but it is coming, so stay tuned! I really do have a good feeling about this one ( I have that hotel sixth sense you know, haha!!) and I can not wait to relax and get away here! But, you want to know the best part of all? I can not wait to wake up to a view like this!! 
Isn't it easy to see why this is my favorite place on the entire planet? Ahhh...... Get ready for us, Pigeon Forge, we'll be there soon! 

Make sure to check back regularly for our updates and reviews of our latest trip to the Smokies! If you are interested in booking a room at the Econo Lodge Riverside, click here!! You won't be sorry! Also, make sure to "like" their Facebook Fan Page for the latest news, deals, and promotions!! Click here to stay in the know! 


My family will be provided with a media rate discount and/or complimentary stay during our visit in exchange for our honest thoughts and reviews. No monetary compensation is provided, and all thoughts and opinions are always 100% our own. 
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