Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘southern california’

Champagne Wishes and White Wine Dreams (A day in Temecula)

Maybe you’re a wine connoisseur or maybe you’re a wine newbie, either way…at some point you may be interested in attending a wine tasting.  And if you’re like me, you might be a little bit clueless about wine tasting and what to expect.  Earlier this year,  I had the pleasure of going on a wine tasting tour in Temecula, CA with a group of friends.  I was a little nervous at first because I don’t know a whole lot about wine, but it turned out to be a wonderful and memorable experience!  Here’s a little bit about my trip to wine country and maybe it will help you get a better idea for what to expect on your future wine tasting!

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The first perk of this trip was that our group was able to take a Limo Bus to Temecula from San Diego courtesy of First Command Financial, Inc.  If you’re going with a group,  I highly recommend taking a bus, taxi, Uber, etc. OR make sure you have a designated driver so that you can enjoy all the wine you want without worrying about the logistics of getting home.  Bottom Line – have a plan, be responsible.  The best part of taking a bus is that you can drink on the way! Yay!  We had mimosas and bagels on the way up (again, courtesy of First Command Financial, Inc.) and it made the trip extra fantastic!

Our first stop was Ponte Winery!

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Wine tasting turned about to be way easier than I imagined!  You just walk in, pay for your tastings, and taste away!  It’s $20 for 6 tastings and you can split these with a friend if you aren’t ready for all 6 (which is what I did since I knew we were going to more wineries).  And if you just wanna come for the atmosphere, you can also order a coffee and check out the beautiful gift shop.  Then you can head outside to enjoy the scenery or grab some lunch at the restaurant! And bonus: you get to keep the glass!

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Next, we headed over to Wilson Creek Winery.  This winery is also $20 for the tasting room and keepsake glass, but again you can split it with a friend.

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Wilson Creek offers a great selection of white and Moscato wines and they are also known for their wine slushies!  Yes, that’s a thing and yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds! ūüôā

Another awesome thing about Wilson Creek is that it’s a family friendly winery!  They have a playground for kids, live music, an outside bar, a restaurant, and lots of room for the kids to play and run!  They also had a nice gift shop and plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy!  We stopped here to eat lunch courtesy of Jersey Mike’s and of course, First Command Financial, Inc.

Wilson Creek turned out to be my favorite winery because they make Almond Champagne and it’s fabulous!  ūüôā

Our last stop was Callaway Winery and the price is $10-$25 depending on if you want to do a tour with your tasting.

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This seemed like a smaller tasting room than the others, but it also had the most interesting scenery.  They even have wine stations which are like little wine vending machines!

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You can also enjoy a meal at their restaurant or visit their unique gift shop.  The views were especially spectacular…I could have stayed here all day!

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Seriously, all day…

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Overall,  I had an amazing experience visiting wine country!  Even if wine isn’t your jam,  I would recommend going to Temecula just for the atmosphere and breathtaking views.

Not only did I enjoy my wine…I enjoyed my SWAG, too!

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And of course…wine is always better with friends! ūüėČ

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Have you been to a wine tasting?  What was your experience like?  I’d love to hear!

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

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8 Awesome Things About the LEGOLAND Hotel!

It’s summertime!¬† Which means¬†it’s time for some family vacations and staycations.¬† Last summer we stayed at the¬†LEGOLAND hotel in California and it was the most unique hotel I’ve ever experienced!¬† Combined with the awesomeness of LEGOLAND itself, this is one summer vacation you’ll never forget!¬† Here are some AWESOME¬†things you should expect during your LEGOLAND hotel adventure!

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Legos!¬† – Well there’s the obvious…not only does LEGOLAND have lots of Lego building opportunities, so does the hotel!¬† There’s a pool of Legos when you first walk in the door and lots of Lego displays all throughout the hotel.¬† There’s¬†even more Lego opportunities in the playhouse that’s also in the lobby!¬† And stick around because there will be fun performances and even a Lego building contest.¬† And parents, all of this is conveniently located within a few feet of the hotel bar – which also offers a happy hour. ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

Dancing! – Next, you’ll find that the LEGOLAND hotel really appreciates dancing!¬† They offer nightly dancing events just for kiddos (or kids at heart).¬† It will feel just like a nightclub with a real DJ, strobe lights, and family friendly dancing music!¬† Your kids can let loose on the dance floor while you sit back with a nice beverage, or of course you could show off your moves, too. ūüėȬ†¬† Then hop in the elevator up to your room for another fun disco-dancing experience!

Themed Rooms! – After all that dancing, you’ll want to check out your room.¬† After all, this is basically the biggest perk of reserving a room here.¬† When booking your stay, you can choose from a Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, Ninjago, or Lego Friends themed room.¬† We chose the Pirate themed room and it did not disappoint!¬† It included¬†a separate area for the kids with a bunk-bed, TV, and lots of space to play.¬† And there’s also a queen-sized bed for adults with another TV!¬† No detail was missed!

Even the fitness center is Lego themed!

Early Entry and Special Parking! – When you check- in you are given a nifty little wristband which grants you entry into the park an hour early.

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You also have access to a special parking lot which is super close to the park entrance and, or course the hotel.¬† Gaining entry to the park early allows you to beat some of the crowds and get going on the fun!¬† Here are a few things you can experience while you are at the park…

Duplo Playtown is a great spot for tiny tots and there are lots of rides for younger kids all throughout the park.¬† Make sure to stop by Miniland to check out the awesome city displays including replicas of the World’s Tallest¬†buildings.¬† The replica of Manhattan’s One World Trade Center is absolutely amazing so make some time in your trip for a little visit! ūüėČ

You’ll probably get hungry during the day, so there are lots of healthy restaurants throughout the park as well as specials for kids.¬† I highly recommend picking up a souvenir cup and refilling it during your stay – it will save money in the long run.¬† You also gotta try the apple fries!¬† Apples, cinnamon, and whipped cream make for a delicious treat!

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Once you’ve fueled up you can sit and relax during a 4D movie, LEGO friends show, or pose with a LEGO character!

After the shows you could hang out and ride some more rides, or you could head back to your hotel room.¬† Which brings me to my next point…

The Pool! – The LEGOLAND hotel¬†has an awesome pool so you’ll want to make some time to¬†relax and enjoy it a bit.¬† They also provide life vests for the kids and towels for all.¬† Lifeguards are on duty and they do a good job of keeping everyone safe.¬† On some evenings, they play a movie that you can enjoy while hanging in the shallow end or lying in a chair.¬† We went in August and the pool was FREEZING in the evening!¬† The kids didn’t seem to mind, but I didn’t last very long!¬† We also had a nice view of the pool from our hotel room!

You’ll most likely be wiped out from the day and you’ll probably hit up your pirate bed pretty early.¬† But you’ll want to wake up early to get started on the next day’s adventures!

Breakfast! – One of my fave things about this hotel is the breakfast!¬† Hotel guests can enjoy a¬†free breakfast buffet and it doesn’t disappoint! A hostess will ask your name to make sure you are¬†a legit guest and then seat you at a table.¬† You are free to indulge on all of the breakfast goodies while a server ensures you have all the utensils and drinks that you need.¬† Again, the breakfast is free but you’ll want to leave a tip for your server/busser.

The Aquarium! –¬† So technically, this isn’t associated with the hotel but I thought it was something I should mention.¬† Last time we visited LEGOLAND we hit up the water park, but because we spent time at the pool we decided to check out the aquarium.¬† It’s not very big, but it was kind of nice that it wasn’t super overwhelming and it was the perfect size for my littles.¬† And they had Legos all throughout the aquarium!

There’s also some extra fun for the kiddos!¬† They can pick up a¬†Log Book¬†and pencil and document their discoveries at different stations throughout the aquarium.

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After you spend some time under the sea, you can head back to the park to enjoy some more fun or back to your hotel for dancing and swimming.

And don’t forget to bring your minifigures along for the vacation!¬† You can trade them at various spots all throughout the park.¬† You can even build your own!

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And we can’t forget about the…

SWAG!! ūüôā

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The hotel toiletries are Coconut-Lime Verbena scented and they smell delicious!  The room is also full of snacks, drinks, hot chocolate, and coffee. Score!  And the hotel will give you a badge to celebrate your special occasion.  You can also collect Pop Badges for completing different challenges.  These are different than the occasion badges and you can learn more about those here.

There’s also secret swag hidden in your hotel room.¬† At check-in you are given a scavenger hunt sheet and your room contains a safe that requires a special code.¬† Complete your scavenger hunt to find the code and unlock your safe!¬† I won’t ruin the surprise for some of you…but if you are curious as to what’s inside the box, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a pic. ūüėȬ† Plus you may get¬†a coupon for a free¬†picture¬†book¬†from Shutterfly!¬† I took advantage and received my free book!¬† So it’s legit you just pay a few dollars for shipping!

Pricing: Since it was the summer, we paid around $250 for a one-night stay.¬† The rates are little bit lower during the off-months.¬† They also offer a military discount, but we found that booking online was cheaper.¬† Keep in mind, this is not a normal hotel stay so the pricing isn’t all that crazy.¬† The hotel itself is a unique experience and you will spend a lot of your time enjoying the amenities.¬† The price also included an internet and parking fee.¬† Be sure to check the website for vacation package deals and learn how to save if you bundle with admission tickets.

So bring the fam, sunscreen, and plenty of water and come enjoy the place where EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

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I’m off to review the next adventure! ūüôā

~SM

Have you stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel?  What did you think?!

Feeling Good in Carlsbad

One week ago,¬† I ran the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon!¬† I was really excited to run this half marathon since it takes place in beautiful Carlsbad, CA…plus it was my first official race running as a Bibrave Pro!

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So, let’s break it down!

Expo: The Expo was held in the same location as the actual race, which was new to me.¬† I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done before, but it was nice to get a feel as to where the event would be taking place.¬† The Expo was in the parking lot of a shopping mall- about 2,000 sq ft. all underneath huge tents.¬† Parking was a bit crammed since everyone was at the mall shopping on a Saturday, but there were plenty of parking attendants directing everyone.¬† The Expo was busy, but easy to maneuver…and I was able to pick up my bib number,¬†bag, shirt, and jacket pretty¬†quickly.¬† There was also a DJ playing some pretty energetic music.¬† My two-year-old loved the music and kept saying, “Dance, dance”. ūüėČ

Race Day Parking: This race had the easiest parking ever!  We were able to park at the shopping mall for free Рso tons of spaces!.  The mall is also right off the freeway so it was pretty simple to get in and out. Also, the parking attendants were on point.  They were organized and communicated well so we were able to park super close to the start/finish line!  This race definitely gets bonus points for parking alone!

Pre-race: Gear check was in the same place where I had picked up my bib the day before so that was a cinch.¬† Of course me and the other million¬†runners had to use the restroom all at once and their bathroom system was a little off.¬† They put all the Porta Potties (or Porta Johns for some of you) ūüėČ in a big square and then everyone stood in the middle and just picked one.¬† So the lines really had no order and it got super congested and even more confusing.

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(After it finally cleared…)

The runners were released in waves and I was in Wave 6.  I was pleased to discover at how quickly the waves went!  I only waited about 20 minutes or so before I crossed the start line!

I had plenty of time to get adjusted (physically and mentally) and of course take selfies with @thehungryrunner_!

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Race Course: The marathon began at 6:15 a.m. and the half started at 7:45 a.m. This meant that we all shared the same race course for about 8 of those miles.¬† Another thing that I love about this race is that it’s walker and stroller friendly!¬† I saw a few families out there pushing little people and they were total rock stars!¬† The weather was cool with an overcast so I switched between being hot and sweaty to getting chills throughout the race.¬† The course was an out-and-back and went through the quaint town of Carlsbad and along Hwy 101.¬† It was all pretty flat, with a few small, rolling hills.¬† There were also some slanted areas of the road so you kind of had to watch your footing in those sections.

The views were really unbeatable and running along the water was so peaceful!  And just like a true California morning, you could see all the surfers out catching waves in the cold ocean.

Race/Crowd Support: So after analyzing the race course before race day, I decided not to bring any water along with me.¬†(Although I did bring¬†my trusty SpiBelt!)¬†¬† That’s because there were hydration stations at either every other mile or in some areas, every mile!¬† I’ve really never seen a course with so many water/electrolyte stops!¬† Also, the crowd was amazing!¬† There were volunteers and spectators cheering us on for the entire 13.1 miles!¬† I’ve never felt love like that in any other race!¬† The people of Carlsbad really displayed kindness and generosity this day!¬† So many people holding signs, giving high-fives, shouting out words of encouragement, and giving out their own food/water for us!

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I have to give a special shout-out to my Stroller Warrior sole-sisters who came out on the course just to cheer and encourage us!  Really so much love at this race!  I also have to give a shout-out to the lovely gentleman passing out tequila shots around mile 2.  It was just what I needed to warm up and get going!

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And then there was a special little guy around the 10th mile…he was just who I needed to see to push to the end! ūüėČ

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And since I didn’t bring any of my own hydration, I appreciated all of the Ultima¬†stops along the way!¬† It really revived me a few times and I couldn’t have completed the run without it!¬† It tasted amazing without a weird aftertaste and didn’t cause any stomach issues.¬†They also had Vaseline at most of the stations which I found very thoughtful!¬†And the bathroom situation was pretty fantastic…Porta Potties (Johns) all along the way! No awkward moments here!

Finish Line: The DJ announced our names as we crossed the finish line so we felt extra special. ūüôā and we were given our medals, some water, and chocolate milk.¬† They didn’t¬† like us hanging out around the finish line since it was chaotic in the area and directed us off to the post-race area.¬† We were then given mylar blankets and “Nom-Nom” bags.¬† The nom-nom bags (that’s what they were officially called) had a banana, chips, and a couple of energy/granola bars in a paper sack.¬† Also, select nom-nom bags contained Golden Tickets which meant you won a bunch of extra prizes.¬† I, nor anyone in my party, had the Golden Ticket. ūüė¶¬† And, to be honest, I feel if something is going to be called a “nom-nom bag”, there should be a lot more “nom-noms” in there.¬† I was grateful for the food and all…I just thought the fancy name gave me different expectations.

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Post-Race: Compared to other races, there really wasn’t a whole lot going on at the post-race party. There were only a few vendors giving out samples and there wasn’t a DJ or any raffle events going on.¬† I retrieved my gear pretty quickly and headed to the beer garden!¬† The beer garden was even pretty quiet.¬† No long lines and no crowds!

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And I was able to score a pretty delicious shrimp taco for about $4.¬† The beer and taco were just what I needed after this run!¬† Thank you, Ballast Point¬†and Taco Picasso¬†for the amazing nourishment! ūüôā

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There was also a¬†Go Cryo San Diego¬†mobile truck offering cryo treatments, but I wasn’t in the mood to get undressed in the middle of a parking lot.¬† I also wasn’t in the mood to drop $30 for 3 minutes of recovery.¬† If you’re not familiar with cryo therapy, basically you dip yourself in a bowl of dry ice to minimize muscle soreness.¬† Maybe I’ll get there one day…maybe…

There was also a spot for photo ops since this race is part of the Triple Crown Race Series!¬† What is the Triple Crown?¬† Well, if you run the Carlsbad Half in January, the La Jolla Half in April, and America’s Finest City in August…you get an extra dope medal!¬† I think having races as part of a series is a great way to get people motivated because who doesn’t love extra bling?!

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So..the moment you’ve all been waiting for…What was the SWAG?!

Here was the pre-race swag

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-The shirt and jacket are a good quality, although they run small so that was kind of disappointing.¬† However, I didn’t think to ask for an exchange.

-The cinch bag is more of a lower quality compared to other races, like the San Diego Half Marathon…but it had a special area to write your bib number for gear check and that was pretty convenient.

-The Tri-City Medical Center swag included¬† chapstick, bandages, and sunscreen packets. All perfect things to throw in your purse, bag, or car…especially if you have little ones!¬† I really appreciate swag that I can actually use so thank you, Tri-City Medical Center! ūüėČ

Sambazon reps were walking around passing out samples like candy!  But this was much better than candy, it was a delicious Acai Bowl!

-Virtual Swag bag Рincluded discount codes and whatnot.  I appreciate these in virtual form because I normally just throw away the paper versions.

Post-race swag

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The obligatory banana along with goodies from the “nom-nom” bag as well as full-bottle samples of¬†C2O Coconut Water and Suja Juice.

Race Photos – Not free, but they started posting them that evening!¬† I couldn’t believe how fast they were available!

Scenery swag!  I always count beautiful scenery as swag!

And, what about the Bling?!

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She’s a beaut! And I really appreciated the detail of the race date etched in so I can remember this day forever!

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There’s me recovering in my Legend Compression Wear! ūüėČ

Pricing: Pricing for the half/full ranges from about $80-$150 depending on how early you register. As of now, the 2018 half is only $79!¬† That’s a great deal!¬† You can sign up here!

Overall Opinion: Overall, I really enjoyed this race!¬† I thought it was well-organized with AMAZING support from both the organization and the community.¬† Parking was great and the views were fantastic!¬† The only cons were that the post-race party was a little disappointing and some people aren’t fans of out-and-back courses as they can get a little boring.¬†I would definitely do this one again!¬† I enjoyed running this with friends especially since I knew that I wasn’t going to PR at this race.¬† If I were to give anyone advice for prepping for this event, I would say to stick with your training even through the holidays!¬† When you sign up for a January half marathon, that means you are training through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years..so factor in your travel, family visits, food, and alcohol!

After all, it’s not everyday you get to run ON the 101 with no traffic! ūüėČ

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I’m off to prep for the next event!

***Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon in exchange for an honest review as part of being a Bibrave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro (ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

~SM

 

 

 

 

The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo

Do you have a food allergy?

Do you enjoy eating healthy foods?

Do you enjoy learning about new products?

Do you like networking with bloggers and authors?

Do you LOVE scoring SWAG?!

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you won’t want to miss the upcoming Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF) in San Diego!

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The event will be held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on February 11-12, 2017.  More details about the time, location, and parking can be found here.

I am really excited to attend this event not only to score SWAG, but to also learn more about healthier food choices and to network with other health-minded individuals.  There will be tons of samples as well as classes and presentations!  Check out the schedule here.

As a bonus, the event is being held in a beautiful location! The Del Mar Fairgrounds offer great views and are located within walking distance to the beach!  So snag a hotel and check out the sights after the Expo.  It would make for a pleasant weekend getaway!


So what should you expect from this event?

  • You will get to explore over 100 vendors and brands!
  • Samples and Coupons!
  • Discounted items to purchase at the expo!
  • Classes and presentations about living a more gluten-free and allergen-friendly lifestyle!
  • Free bag to carry all of your SWAG!
  • An opportunity to meet authors and bloggers!

This will be an amazing event that you won’t want to miss!  I hope to see you there!

Tickets cost between $5-$35 and you can purchase them here!

And the sooner you purchase, the more you save! Use code “ADVANCE” to save 20%!


As an added Bonus, I will be giving away tickets this month on my Instagram so make sure you are following me (@theswagmama) so you don’t miss your chance to win!

***Note: I am receiving complimentary admission to the Gluten Free Allergen Friendly Expo in exchange for participation in the blogger program.  I am also associated with the affiliate program for ticket sales.

~SM

Aloha, beaches!

Last month I ran The Aloha Run¬†in San Diego¬†on a beautiful day near Mission Bay!¬† This event has a 5k or 10k option and I ran the 5k with my mini-runner in the Bob Stroller.¬† The pricing for this run ranged from $30-$55 depending on your registration date with an option to add a timing chip for $2.¬†I actually¬†was able to run this for FREE and¬†I’ll tell you how a little later on.¬† So onto the race breakdown!

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Expo/ Packet pick-up: There was a packet pick-up option the day before the race at Road Runner Sports.  I was unable to make it in time so I snagged my stuff the morning of the race. This is one of the perks of pushing a stroller during a race Рyou always have a place to stash all of your race goodies.

Parking: Free parking was available close to the race start line if you arrived early enough.  I, of course, arrived last minute so I had to park about a half mile away in a big dirt lot.

Race location: The event was held at Tecolote Shores Park in Mission Bay near Sea World.¬† Many races are held in this area due to its flat, paved course (although some spots can be a bit narrow when trying to push a stroller). It’s also a very scenic area along the water and the weather was great in the morning, but it got pretty warm later on.¬† Luckily, the race began at 7:30am so I was able to enjoy some of the cool breeze before the heat set in.

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Race Course/Organization: Again, the course was flat and paved…however it was quite a crowded race.¬† And since it is considered a fun run, many people were walking and hogging up the whole sidewalk.¬† The 10k started 15 minutes prior to the 5k and we were separated into waves about five minutes apart.¬† I started a little towards the back since I had my stroller and wasn’t planning on trying to PR.¬† This was a big mistake because I got stuck behind tons of walkers…so if you plan to run this race in the future, and I mean actually RUN, then I suggest starting at the front.¬† But the course was unique in that there were various areas of Hawaiian entertainment along the way.¬† How fun!

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Finish Line/Post-Race party: We were greeted at the finish line with a beautiful medal (my mini even got one!) and some water that tasted not so great.  There were lots of vendors and there was finally a good DJ!  He stayed near the band and gave out prizes to the dancing audience.  He also was the one getting us hype during the wait time in our waves at the start of the race.  People were also walking around handing out leis to everyone, but I think it would have been more dope if they had given them out along with the medals at the finish line.

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And two of my fave vendors were at the race: Hubert’s Lemonade¬†and Arctic Zero!

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My mini also approved of these flavors!  Check them out!

Overall impressions of the event: I loved the location, especially since it was right next to a playground so my daughter could let out some energy after being in the stroller for a while.  The scenery was also beautiful and fit perfectly with the Hawaiian theme.  The only downfall was that it was crowded, so I would start towards the front next time.  Overall, I had fun and really felt positive vibes throughout the event! I liked the different elements of Hawaii that were incorporated throughout the race and the volunteers were all very friendly and helpful.  I also ran this with a couple of other Stroller Warriors which made the post-race experience even more fun!

How did run for FREE?!  The Aloha Run held a contest on their Facebook page about a month before the race.  The challenge was to write a short poem about running and the post with the most likes would win a 5k entry (not including the $2 price of the timing chip).  Only about four of us entered and I shared on my personal FB page asking people to help out by liking my entry.  And my friends totally rock cause I won! So a big Mahalo to all of you that helped me score a free race entry! Many races run these types of contests on their Facebook pages so keep a lookout and you could win, too!

So what was the SWAG?!

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-A beautiful medal with leis

-A unisex cotton shirt, which ended up being too big

Kashi granola bar

Jenny Craig granola bar

Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar – this was delicious!

Kashi Go Lean Clusters bowl

Bio Freeze gel sample

Gaslamp Popcorn Co. All Natural Kettle Corn

Wanu Vitamin Water

Coola Sport Sunscreen – this has really great reviews!

-Bunch of coupons and flyers

-Free race photos

-Beautiful scenery

And¬†the hula skirt¬†moves! ūüôā

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What do you think?¬† Did you participate in The Aloha Run and score some great swag?!¬† Or maybe you ran the Long Beach Aloha Run and had a different experience?¬† I’d love to hear!

See you at the next event! Aloha!

~SM

 

 

 

 

Six Reasons to Attend the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair!

Every April and October, the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair¬†comes to town and it’s a whole weekend filled with fun for the whole family!¬† So why should you go?¬† I’ll give you six reasons!

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  • Del Mar – The event is held in the¬†coastal and¬†picturesque town of Del Mar at the Fairgrounds.¬† It’s right off the freeway and it has a fairly large parking lot.¬† I’ve always found a parking space fairly close to the entrance with no issues.¬† It’s also right near the beach!¬† So after you attend the event, you can drive a few blocks and see some pretty amazing views!

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  • The Shows and Performances – The expo provides an opportunity for local dance and drama groups to show off their awesome talents!¬† These shows are all included in the price of admission so check the performance schedule before you head out so you don’t miss your favorite group.

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  • The Animals – Keep an eye out for your chance to get up close and personal¬†with a unique animal or reptile!

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  • Outdoor Activities – Make sure you¬†take the kiddos¬†outside to jump in one of the many bounce houses or take the zip line for a spin.¬† There are also bungy jumps, human hamster balls and rock n’ roll bands providing some sweet entertainment!¬† This is where the tiny ones can burn off some serious energy!

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  • Interactive Exhibits – The main focus of the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair is to educate the community on all of the awesome opportunities for the kids of San Diego.¬† Take some time and visit the vendors and partake in some of the demo activities that many of them offer.¬† The kids might be able to kick a few balls, run through an obstacle course, tour an ambulance or hop in a photo booth.¬†They will also¬†love¬†spinning the prize wheels at some of the tables! And if you have super tiny kiddos, don’t worry…there is a mommy and daddy lounge for nursing, changing or just some quiet time for sleepy babies.

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And last, but not least…my favorite part of the Expo!!¬†Can you guess?!

  • SWAG! – You will not leave this event empty handed!¬† You will be loaded up with samples, coupons and maybe even some prizes!¬† I actually won free movie tickets and got free photo booth pictures!¬† My daughter also¬†loved spinning all of the prize wheels and getting lots of stickers and tattoos!

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These are just a few reasons to attend the Kids Expo!¬† Checkout the website for a full list of vendors and schedule of the entertainment and shows.¬† Also, note that this expo comes around twice a year and each time the vendors change.¬† So basically, it’s almost like a new event each time you attend!

What about pricing?¬†Tickets are $10 at the gate (children 12 and under are free), but you can save money by purchasing on the website.¬† The outdoor activities also require a wristband which is a separate purchase. But, again, you can save money by bundling and purchasing packages online.¬† Also check Groupon for group deals! I received free tickets both times I attended through local mom’s groups (I scored these tickets from Mom’s Guide to San Diego).¬† Check out mom’s groups on Facebook and Instagram and search hashtags for a chance to win free tickets!¬† Unfortunately, parking is $10 and there really isn’t any way around that.

Have you attended the San Diego Kids Expo¬†in the past?¬† What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s event?¬† I’d love to know what you think!

See you at the next event!

~SM

Legoland California

“Everything is awesome…everything is cool when you’re part of the team!”  If you love hearing this song on repeat, then you will LOVE Legoland! ūüėČ  So I had the pleasure of visiting Legoland California (there is another one in Florida for those who don’t know) and I wanted to share a few of my experiences in this “awesome” themepark! ūüėČ See what I did there?

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Tickets: We purchased our tickets at the ticket office on the military base, which gave us about a $30 discount per ticket.  I also had a coupon for a buy one adult ticket, get one child ticket free…so we purchased that ticket at full price – which was about $117.  This was a hopper ticket where you can choose between the water park and the aquarium.  We chose the water park since it was a hot day and my tiny humans love splashing in the water.  The tickets we purchased on base also included a free second day to be used before the end of the year.

Parking: Parking is $15 for regular parking and $25 for preferred (upfront) parking.  The preferred parking was sold out this day so we parked in the general parking.  It wasn’t a long walk so it wasn’t too bad, although I was surprised there wasn’t a golf cart or shuttle service for those who may have a harder time walking long distances.

Season/Hours: We went on a Thursday and got there around 1pm.  P.S. it’s July…in California soooo I was melting by the time we got to the gate.  The park hours are 10am-8pm so keep that in mind when planning your trip.  They stay open until 9pm on weekends, but it’s still an early closure time compared to other theme parks.  Even though it’s prime tourist season, the parking and park itself wasn’t too crowded.  We got in pretty quick and moved easily around the park.  Also, unlike many theme parks, they don’t do fireworks here unless it’s during Fourth of July.

First Impressions: Everyone was very friendly and cheery and eager to help.  I would almost venture to say they were friendlier than the Disney staff (maybe everything really IS awesome in Legoland).  We headed to the information booth to get maps and our “First Time Visit” pins so we could plan out our day.  The attendants were super helpful and explained which rides the kids could ride as well as how to decipher the map.  You can also download the app to help navigate the park and view the wait times at each attraction.

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Food: We got some food at the Pizza buffet and again, the staff was super friendly with helping us find the right spot.  We also discovered that several of the restaurants offered free meals for kids (with the purchase of an adult meal) after 5pm.  We were a little early to take advantage of this deal, but I was surprised that many of the eateries offered so many healthy options and salad bars.  It was great to have choices other than fried foods and greasy pizza.  I ended up purchasing one of the collector cups for $9.95.  Sometimes I think these are a scam, but since it was an excruciating hot day I knew we would be drinking lots of fluids.  The cup included $1 refills at any restaurant, but next time I will know to bring lots of water and drinks for the kids.  And if you download the app, you may receive 10% off your refillable collector cup purchase.

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Water Park: The water park is much smaller than typical water theme parks, but it’s great for smaller kids.  There are also a couple of splash pads placed throughout the main park which is a great way for everyone to cool off when it’s super hot.  The tiny kids loved the water park and the bigger kids (my husband and bro-in-law) liked the water “thrill” ride.  They also have a lazy river type ride but the line was too long so we didn’t check it out.  They have plenty of beach chairs and benches for you to rest as well as lockers/showers, concessions and towels for purchase.  They also offers cabanas for $250 a day.  They include a private area with chairs and a mini fridge.  This is a great option if you plan to spend the whole day at the water park with family or if you wanted to split the cost with friends.

Legos, Legos, Legos: So the park is literally made of Legos.  Like everything!  I really enjoyed seeing all of the Lego sculptures.  There is a work of art everywhere you look!  My favorite exhibit was Miniland – tiny cities made up of…you guessed it – Legos!  Take special note of the One World Trade Center Lego building in the New York City sculpture – it’s the tallest Lego tower in the country (26 feet)!

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And this is where the magic happens!

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I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to strategically place each one of these Lego pieces!

Rides/Shows/Play areas: There were several rides for smaller kids and a couple of thrill type rides.  I will say most rides are geared for ages 12 and under so don’t expect any crazy adrenaline-pumping rides when planning your visit.  There is also a 4d Lego show, but we didn’t get a chance to attend this day.  They have a few outdoor play areas for smaller kids as well as indoor play spaces filled with Legos.  You can literally bathe in Legos if that’s your jam.  I took the opportunity to make my own creation….a Lego apple martini!

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Ninjago:  This is the new area for 2016 so it’s pretty hyped up (it’s mentioned in every Legoland commercial here).  It’s actually a fairly small area, but there is a rock climbing wall, some sculptures and the Ninjago ride.  The ride is an indoor virtual reality experience where you are given 3d glasses and then you use your hands to fight ninjas that pop up on the screen throughout ride.  You score points for each ninja you take down and the goal is to get the highest score in your four-person car.  This really was an arm workout more than anything, but I’m sure that a ninja aficionado or a six-year-old would find this to be a more exciting experience.

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Souvenir Shops/Extras: I will say that there are lots of things to see at this theme park!  So much that we didn’t have a chance to see everything!  There are plenty of souvenir shops so that you can remember your day at the park and you will see Lego characters periodically walking around although we didn’t have time to get photos with them.  There is also a face painting station and lots of gaming areas.  We stopped by the ticket table on the way out where we received a free extra day!  It can only be used between September-November, but it’s still a nice incentive!

Hotel: I will also note that there is a hotel on site – within feet from the entrance of the park.  This is something that we may invest in on the next visit so that we can get the full experience.

SWAG:  There wasn’t really any obvious swag besides the 1st Visit pin…but we did get an extra free day as well as the souvenir cup.  My brother-in-law also played one of the basketball games.  It was $20 for 9 balls and he’s a pretty amazeballs basketball player.  He ended up making two goals so he received two stuffed animals…and like a good uncle, he generously gave them to each of my kiddos.  I was surprised at the awesome quality of these toys!  They were huge, full-sized stuffed animals made of a soft, plush material – not like the cheap, carnival stuffed animals you typically win at a county fair.  This was a nice surprise and again, the young man running the game was super friendly!

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And we received a coupon from Shutterfly for a free photo book! Can’t wait to cash this in!


Overall, it was a great day!  I can’t wait to go back and see all of the exhibits and rides that we missed on the first day.   Stay tuned for part two the Legoland California experience!  I’d also love to hear about your Legoland adventures!  Please comment below!

“…Everything is awesome when you’re living out a dream!”

~SM

 

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