Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Tips for Vacationing in the Dominican Republic

Somehow we always plan our vacations at the last minute and end up with wonderful trips despite being stressed that we can't find a place to stay. We have gone to Myrtle Beach, Disney World, Top Sail Island, Hilton Head, Savannah, and many more. We have camped, rented houses on the beach, stayed in resorts, and in hotels.

This year we wanted our vacation to be different and very memorable. We wanted to book it ahead of time so we didn't run into problems of not finding something. This time we wanted to use a travel agent. It just so happened that I knew one! We have been Facebook friends for years and as I have gotten to know Lisa I knew she was my first choice.

We wanted to go on a cruise but after talking to Lisa about all the other wonderful places to see we changed our mind. We ultimately settled on The Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort and Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. She even sent us pictures from her stay and told us first hand what to expect. She handled everything and sent us all of our paperwork very quickly. I was amazed at how fast and efficient she was.

The staff were super friendly and spoke mostly english. The language spoken is predominately Spanish with a few French speaking Haitians in the mix. Over all we did not have much of a language barrier. 

Like a cruise there are ample opportunities to eat. There are 5 buffet Restaurants and 8 A La Carte Restaurants. We ate tons of fruit! The pineapple was our favorite but we got the opportunity to try starfruit, passion fruit, Papaya, Guava and many more. 

The views were spectacular! It was heaven. I could live in a tropical paradise like this. The ocean was clear the skies were super blue and the breeze off the ocean was calming and serene. 

We had so much fun and learned a lot while we were here. I thought I would share a few tips that will help make your trip as memorable as ours was. 

1. Take plenty of sunscreen. The sun is more intense there and you will get burned if you aren't careful. Take more than you think you need. Sunscreen there is $40 USD a bottle! I kid you not! You do not want to spend your vacation in the shade because you ran out of lotion. 

2.  Take plenty of $1 dollar bills for tips. We tipped bar tenders, the porters, the casino worker who took her time out of her evening to help me when I injured my knee, the guys who drove the trams, etc. There is a safe in the rooms. I would advise you to use it. Not just for your tip money but your passports, credit cards etc. 

3. Take a First Aid kit with you!! Someone is bound to scrape a knee, get scratched etc. It happens to all of us. The clinic is very expensive and want cash up front. Avoid it if at all possible. They do sell bandaids but it's $2.00/ bandage. They do not sell them by the box! Make sure you bring things such as Neosporin, bandages, etc. Anything that will prevent infection. Do not clean wounds with water from the faucet. Use bottled water only. I ended up with a bad infection in my knee and Cellulitus because of a scraped up knee and not much in the way of covering it. It's been three weeks and I'm still on antibiotics, the swelling and pain have lessened. Take it from me. Bring your own bandages! 

4. Brush up on your high school Spanish. Not only is it a great opportunity to teach your kids about other languages, but the locals appreciate your effort.  There were a few times that they would get so excited about talking to us that they reverted to rapid Spanish. It helps to know a few words so you can get the gist of what they are saying. 

5. Men 12 years and older, bring pants and collared shirts for dinner. Women may dress as they like for dinner. Ladies use your best judgement but I would recommend a sun dress. It's still warm in the evenings until after 9 or so. 

Over all, we had a blast. We rode on a catamaran, had a barbecue lunch on the beach, rode a speed boat, played mini golf, had alone time with our oldest daughter, visited the site where the movie Blue Lagoon was filmed, found and held starfish and so much more!

Would I recommend visiting Punta Cana? Absolutely! It really was a trip to remember. I loved being able to show my kids a different culture, teach them another language, and to experience food from other countries. It truly was paradise!

If you need someone to help you plan your next vacation, Lisa with Farnesi Travel is your girl!! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

For Sale

It's really happening, after talking about it  for months and many weeks of painting and repairs our house is finally for sale. Don't get me wrong, I love this old house. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we bought this place.

We had an inkling, but you never know until you get in there and start the remodeling process. The house is 97 years old. It's a grand old house and has lots of memories for many people including our neighbor. But it's time to move on.

We moved here two days before my youngest was born. He's now 8 years old. He has never known anything else but his beloved house. He's been there through many room remodels, painting projects, repairs, and making the house ours.

Remodeled House

 Our lives are now filled with obsessive cleaning,  house hunting,  leaving the house multiple times a day only to return and do it all again the next day. We are tired but hopeful that our next chapter in a new house will happen soon.

So please bear with me and my craziness as we continue to work on staging our house, doing minor projects, and packing up to move. There is a lot to do and I may not be around everyday, but I am here. Drop me a line on Facebook and say hi!

I'd love to hear your time saving tips on moving, open houses, and staging a home!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Amazon Prime Free 30-day Trial

Note: This post contains affiliate links

I know that Prime Day was a bit disappointing to most. I did go shopping that day, and sadly, I didn't find any HUGE deals that I wanted to snatch up. I did buy a iPad charger though. Lame I know. It's a sad day when your charger dies and your kids can't charge their iPad. I had to. That's all there was to it.

Despite, the fizzle of the sale, I have to say I love Amazon Prime! There are days that I just don't want to go to the store to get one thing. I know I will get it in two days. Even on Sunday! I'm always ordering ingredients for my lotions, salve for dogs, sunscreen, dream cream etc.  And you can't have to many cute tops, summer toys and of course craft supplies.


Shopping isn't the only perk of Amazon Prime. We also stream TV shows too! If we can't find it on other streaming portals we can on Amazon. Shows like Extant, Orphan Black, Defiance, Under the Dome, and Grimm to name a few. And we can't forget all the great movies available for rent or to buy!


We have been a member of Prime going on two years. Ours started because we  wanted to do all of our Christmas shopping online and we soon discovered streaming TV shows, borrowing books for Kindle (yes you can borrow books!), and free two day shipping!

Want to give it a try? Get your free 30-Day Trial today! Seriously, It's worth a try. I promise you you will love it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook Review and Giveaway

I deal with anger on a daily basis. It can be exhausting, stressful, and depressing.  Over the years,  I have learned how to calm my kids and redirect their anger while building their self esteem and acknowledging their feelings.

Wether you have a typical child or one that has special needs we all struggle with anger. It could be in the form of sibling rivalry, outbursts, tantrums, homework struggles, computer time battles etc. There is away to have emotionally intelligent children. But it takes practice. 

Lots and lots of practice.

Enter The Whole-Brain Child WorkbookBased on their New York Times bestselling book, The Whole-Brain Child, internationally acclaimed neuropsychiatrist Dan Siegel, M.D., and brain-based parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., have created a workbook to help parents understand the science behind their child s developing mind and survive the everyday parenting struggles that accompany each stage of growth. 

Drs. Siegel and Bryson declare the workbook free of rules, obligations, or guilt it s simply a tool for parents and caregivers to find more help with support, move towards a deeper understanding of and connection with their children, and gain a fuller understanding of themselves as parents.

What you can find:

  • Tools for solving sibling conflict, homework struggles, screen time battles, tantrums, outbursts, sulking and more.
  • Practical, age-specific exercises and activities
  • 12 whole-brain strategies, which can become a shared vocabulary for parents, grandparents, caregivers, clinicians, and educators 
  • Interactive format that allows journaling to integrate ideas with each person s own parenting approach
  • Cartoons, graphs and illustrations

Here is peek at what you will see in this workbook. 

I spent a couple of weeks writing in this workbook and trying out the techniques. I have to say, it has made a HUGE difference in me and my kids. My kids feel validated and I am less stressed and angry.  This summer has already proven to be a happy one all around. I am not perfect and I don't always implement what I have learned. We all have those days and that's ok. But for the most part as a family we are happier, my kids feel they can tell me what's really making them upset and know that I will listen. 

That is HUGE in my book. 

I love The Whole-Brain Child workbook so much that I have decided to give one copy away! This is for US residents only. Giveaway ends July 10th. 

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