• Travel

    Color Outside the Lines with Crayola Experience

    crayola experience orlando

    Where do crayons go on vacation? Color-ado!

    Or actually, to Orlando, Florida, we go. Cheesy mom jokes aside, our recent family trip down South included an all-day outing at Crayola Experience Orlando. Six colorful hours of melts downs (talking crayon-making, not my kids), too many hands-on activities to count, and lots and lots of coloring outside the lines – can’t think of anything more kid-friendly than that! It was Winter Break from schools, so you can imagine how packed Crayola Experience was with families all trying to entertain the kids.

    Our favorite attraction at Crayola Experience was the Melt & Mold – here the kids can create a ring, shark, car or seahorse souvenir out of crayon wax. Roman and Rhys each picked out a shark mold – no surprise because they love all things aquatic! The Drip Art station is a new spin on a timeless classic. We had fun loading freshly made crayons into the Drip Art machine and watching it melt and drip wax into a swirly-whirly work of art. And of course, we enjoyed the Crayon making station where you can customize the label with your name.

    As if all the creative activity stations weren’t enough, Crayola Experience also has playrooms and interactive floors that get the kids jumping and dancing. Pro tip: Plan out the top 5 attractions you want to hit up in advance. You could easily spend six hours at Crayola Experience (like we did), but if you don’t have that much time, make sure to plan out your visit in advance. All in all, we had a blast and Crayola Experience was a welcome break from the usual Orlando theme park hopping.

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  • lifestyle

    Dinner Cruise Aboard Odyssey Chicago

    This post is in partnership with Odyssey Chicago Cruises. All opinions are mine alone.

    Odyssey Chicago

    If views of a gorgeous city skyline and jumbo lump crab cakes are your thing, then hop on board the Odyssey Chicago and you won’t be disappointed. Last week, the Giant and I treated the boys to a fun dinner cruise on Lake Michigan courtesy of Odyssey Chicago Cruises – in my opinion, one of the very best ways to experience my beloved city!

    This is the fourth time I’ve been on an Odyssey Chicago cruise, but it’s the first for my kids. Our VIP tickets garnered us a special tour inside the captain’s bridge! When we first arrived, the ship’s captain greeted the boys with paper hats before leading the way through delightfully dark passageways, which the boys kept pretending they were on a spy hunt.

    Melissa Diep Family Photo Odyssey Chicago

    If you are feeling brave enough to take on the chilly lake winds, the rooftop lounge will give you the best panoramic views of the skyline from anywhere onboard. From the outside, you can admire famous landmarks like the Willis Tower, the John Hancock, and Soldier Field. It was 20 degrees the night we went, so let me just tell you a little more about the comforts from the inside: Here you will enjoy elegantly appointed decks, climate-controlled dining rooms and 3 courses of delicious plated meals from a seasonally inspired menu. And don’t forget about getting downtown funky town – breaking it down on the dance floor, ya know what I mean? I guess he was feelin’ it that night, because Roman was busting out the crazy dance moves all night long!

    Parking is usually available in the East Garage at Navy Pier, but here’s a little tip: if the parking lot is full as it can be around the holidays or peak times, check out SpotHero and nab a discounted parking spot nearby!

    Melissa Diep Family Photo Odyssey Chicago

    Odyssey Chicago

  • fashion,  lifestyle,  personal

    Back to School KangaROOS Shoes with Payless

    payless kangaroos with pockets kids

    Since school in Chicago and the ‘burbs doesn’t begin until the Tuesday after Labor Day, we have been sure to enjoy every delicious ounce of summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see near daily splashpad and pool activities with my boys, treks into Chicago for city adventures and festivals, and even the rare “ice scream” treat. Usually sugar causes them to magically turn into wild hyenas, but with Back to School right around the corner, I was overcome with an acute sense of time fast forwarding on life and me not being ready for my two older boys to leave my side (my firstborn, Roman, will be attending school for the second year, and this is the first time for Rhys!). Suffice to say, I’m feeling nostalgia for the fading days of summer and nostalgia for wanting to keep them babies for longer, yet also dying to see what amazing little men they will become. Ice cream cures everything, right?

    payless kangaroos with pockets kids

    As every parent knows, there is a bit of ritual involved with Back to School – shopping for school supplies, inventing interesting boxed lunches and snacks, and of course, acquiring some spiffy, new clothes and shoes. When I was younger, my mom used to buy me and my brothers shoes from Payless ShoeSource before the start of each school year. And now that I’m a mom, I do the same thing. With Payless I love that I don’t have to sacrifice style and quality for price, and also that there is endless variety to choose from. When Payless reached out to me to try their new line of retro kicks, KangaROOS, I was thrilled to tap into that vintage childhood style for me and my boys. My hubby was stoked over these shoes because he used to wear them back in the day. As he informs me, “Walter Payton wore them and it exploded in popularity after that!” I don’t remember that at all (I’ll take my sports-obsessed hubby’s word for it), but I do love the retro look and the boys are just obsessed with the KangaROOS Pocketpass Jogger, which are so lightweight and comfy (especially important for children’s play!). But their #1 reason for not wanting to take off their new ROOS? It’s all because of the mini side pocket – perfect for storing tiny treasures! Roman and Rhys have taken to tucking away lucky pennies they find on our walks. Once I even found a dried up bug in there. #boyswillbeboys 🙁

    I think I will start a new tradition this year and tuck in a little love note in each of my boys’ KangaROOS sneakers before sending them off to school. It’ll be my way of keeping them little and reminding them that Momma is always here in spirit.

    Tell me, what would you put inside yours? Use the hashtag #whatsinsideyours to continue the conversation online.

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    *created in partnership with Payless ShoeSource.

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  • fashion,  outfits

    Are You Reading This?

    yellow cold shoulder dress

    I’ve been asking this for days on Instagram and only person answered. Those that visits fashion bloggers blogs, how many of you actually read the contents? How many of you go there just to check out the goods? How many of you do both? I will still continue blogging whatever the answers are but just curious. I’ll be honest, when I visit other bloggers blog, I only go there for the goods. Another thing I’ll have to be honest about, I’m not a writer. I’m a terrible one, actually. Why do I blog? For SEO purposes and this is the only way for fashion bloggers to showcase their style and hopefully earn a little something off of doing what they love, which is getting dolled up! Yes, I love fashion but no, I don’t enjoy writing and I suck at it. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!yellow cold shoulder dressyellow cold shoulder dressyellow cold shoulder dressyellow cold shoulder dress