Push Away the Screen: Staycation at the Gaylord Palms Resort

Recently my family had the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spend 2 nights and 2 full days at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. We had been once before, back in 2009 for their winter ICE Festival, but we had no idea what other amenities the resort offered.

Upon check-in we were told that we would be staying in a Ground Level King Suite with an adjoining Queen Suite. Say what?? Traveling with a family of 5 usually means that we are crammed for space and overwhelmed with "kid clutter" every where, but not on this trip!

There was no way I could even get one room in the camera shot, so I didn't even bother! And besides, we weren't there to spend time in our room, we were there to relax and unwind with our family while being active and pushing away the screen.

We arrived at the resort around 7:30pm and we were hungry and the kids wanted to swim. We all quickly changed in to our bathing suits and with a map in hand, Ronin led us to the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park! On our way to the pool we passed through all sorts of beautiful gardens that had us excited to explore when the sun came up!

Once at the pool the kids were disappointed to see that the water slides were closed, but I had warned them in advance that they wouldn't be open on the evening when we arrived. I think they must have thought I was joking. But what did keep them entertained was Madagascar 3. Yes, we were there to #pushawaythescreen, but with a Dive-In Movie, we made an exception and the kids frolicked and played, stopping every few minutes to catch a glimpse of the movie.

I stayed with the trio and James went off to find us some food. He came back with take-out from Wreckers Sports Bar. A wonderful Cesar salad for him and I, and fish and chips and chicken tenders for the trio. The Cesar salad was made by the dressing. It had to have been homemade. It was SO GOOD with a lot of garlic. Yum.

After a quick dip in the pool, I was ready for an adult beverage so I wandered over to Wreckers (which was the only spot open at this time of night) and got us each a libation. The beer was for me. Wink

Upon our return to our room we had this lovely welcome tray and note waiting for us! The Gaylord Palms motto of "Consider it Done" certainly rang true for us this entire staycation, and this bit of personalization was the icing on the cake.

They also stocked our fridges (yes, we had 2) with sparkling water Smile The kids were very excited for a fun Saturday at the pool, so went right to sleep.

We woke up and since we had reservations to eat Villa de Rosa for buffet dinner, we opted to not eat buffet for breakfast and headed to the Java market for a quick bite to eat. We wanted to be at the pool soon after opening! It's uncanny how James and I think alike for on this morning we both ordered a Greek salad...FOR BREAKFAST! The kids each had a breakfast sandwich. We ate in the St. Augustine atrium, and then James decided he needed a nap, so while he went back to the room the kids and I headed to the Cypress Springs Family Water Park.

You must show your room key, and give your last name when you check in at the park. Apparently it is quite common for locals to try to get in to the pool area on the weekend. When we checked in we were informed that we had a POOLSIDE CABANA!! SWEET! We were given towels, our cabana number and headed down to Cabana 17! I knew James would be quite happy to learn we had a cabana because he is quite sun sensitive! And I was right! He spent quite a bit of time in the shade reading It Starts With Food. Our cabana had a fridge stocked with water, plus 2 chaise lounges, and a dining table with 4 chairs. We also had chaise lounges right outside our cabana.

The kids had an absolute blast! They participated in poolside games! Ella did the hula-hooping contest (see Haley in the water cheering her on!!) and came in 3rd place.

And all 3 of them did the cannonball contest and Haley placed 2nd overall! Very proud of my big splashers!

 

The games took place on the top of every hour beginning at Noon. From 10-Noon my gang just had a blast going down the slides and swimming in the pool!

 

 

And James enjoyed the slides too! Look at that splash he made!

And you better believe that I enjoyed myself as much as the kids did!

But in typical Florida fashion, the storms rolled through at 1:45pm and closed down the pool. We hadn't eaten lunch yet, so we headed back in to the resort to the Key West area (where our suite was also located) and let the kids have a bite to eat at Sunset Sam's. We sat in the sailboat, had a few drinks, and the kids snacked on calamari. If you look closely you can see James in the left side of the photo!

It was pouring rain outside, and though we were inside, it felt like we were outside. It was amazing! The kids had so much fun exploring and before we knew it, it was time to head back to our room to get ready for dinner.

I brought along a great selection of dresses from Gwynnie Bee and decided to wear this one! I loved it. It was so comfortable, and the colors really popped!

Along the way we had time to explore all of the different eco-systems represented in the resort. The Florida Everglades was Ella's favorite! Ella loves snakes and this was her "I'm excited to see snakes" face.

And we walked though a brick area that had the name of every Florida county of them! We took our pictures next to the three that hold the most meaning for us! James is from Tampa so that's Hillsborough County, I'm from Venice, so that's Sarasota County, and now we live in Land O' Lakes, so that's Pasco County.

Then we were off to dinner! We were greeted warmly by the hostess, shown to our primo view table (which might have been located next to a quick release gate for children to easily depart to go explore the St. Augustine fort??) and the manager came over, introduced himself, shook my hand, and informed me that if there was anything we wanted to eat that we didn't see on the buffet, to please let him know and he would have his staff make it! Talk about the Consider it Done motto coming in to play again!

They had amazing healthy opitions, and here's a sneak peek of my plate(s). Yes, I ate too much. And I drank too much. But it's fine. It's not something that happens often, and I enjoyed every bite and have not one ounce of regret! Both of those plates went in my belly. Tongue Out

An alligator feeding happened at 6:30pm pretty close to where we were eating, so the kids and I hopped over there really quick, saw the show, and on the way back we ran in to Po!

 

And I'll be darned if it doesn't look like I am sporting a bicep!

We explored a bit more after dinner, but went to bed pretty early. I had to go and charge my phone, so went out exploring while the family was in bed and look who I ran across!

We had an amazing Saturday, and got to sleep in a bit on Sunday! The kids didn't wake us up until close to 9am! We did pretty much the same thing as the day before! Had breakfast at Java, James went to take a nap, the kids and I went back to the pool, got our cabana again, and just played until the rain closed the pool down at 3pm. That worked out perfectly because we had a late checkout at 4pm, so we came back to our room, took showers, packed and left.

Having a Staycation at the Gaylord Palms is more like a vacation! We never left the property! There was no need to go anywhere! We had plenty of food options, entertainment options, and of course the pool.

If you are looking for an amazing family getaway, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the Gaylord Palms.

You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!!

Be sure to check out their webpage or social media channels for great promotions and of course their upcoming ICE show which this year will feature FROSTY the Snowman! I sure hope that they invite us back again because we sure loved being guests at the Gaylord!

Have you ever done a Staycation at a local hotel? What did you like best about it?

National Dog Day-A Giveaway

We brought Matthew in to our home on January 21, 2013 and our lives have never been the same. Not only is he a trained autism service dog for our son, Ronin, but Matthew is a constant companion for me during the day while the kids are at school.

I have ALWAYS been a "big dog" person. I love big dogs. By big dogs, I mean anything over 75 pounds. Wink I grew up always having a dog in my house. We had Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, and when I moved out on my own the first dog I got for myself was a Labrador Retriever. Matthew weighs 110lb pounds and I'm often told that he's the biggest Labrador they've ever seen, and my neighbor compares him to a polar bear. Laughing I love it.

It's so weird for non-dog people to understand (like my amazing husband) but Matthew completes me. He completes our family. He makes me laugh, and smile. I love taking him for walks, hikes, and runs and watching him frolic in the rain. I love watching him interact with my kids and how he handles Ronin is just uncanny. I love watching the kids faces light up when I meet them at the bus-stop with Matthew. And my trio LOVE to dress Matthew up, and he'll do anything for his red Kong ball. Even look like a princess!

Is Matthew perfect? No.He sheds. A lot. He poops. A lot. He barks. He digs holes to China when he is burying his bones or balls. But god, I love this dog.

And he is perfect for us.

In honor of Matthew and National Dog Day, I have partnered with Best Bully Sticks to offer ONE lucky reader a chance to win some amazing products for their own dog! 

Best Bully Sticks sent Matthew

12 Inch Jumbo Odor Free Bully Sticks (x2)

10 Inch Spiral Odor Free Bully Sticks (x2)

Monster Gullet Jerky (x1)

And he LOVED them!! Seriously. This dog can chew and he chewed through these sticks and came back begging for more!! He just could not stop licking this one and I think I even heard him moaning with delight!

And they would like to give ONE of you a 25 Pack of 6 Inch Odor Free Bully Sticks!!

It's easy to enter! Just follow the Rafflecopter directions below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Technology Saved My Life: Part 1

Reflecting on my 212lb weight loss journey is something that I do on a daily basis. Seriously. Having lost the weight of 141 DOZEN Krispy Kreme glazed donuts is pretty incredible. Sometimes I'm still in shock that I managed to do it. But I did. Without the help of drugs, surgery, wraps, or shakes. But there is ONE thing that I used. One thing that saved my life. What is that?? TECHNOLOGY!!

You might be scratching your head thinking "how did technology save her life?" Let me explain.

Back in 2008 when I began my life changing transformation I didn't tackle diet and exercise at the same time. Weighing 369 pounds and being a realist, I knew that if I attempted to change too much at one time I would become overwhelmed and likely fail.

What I did first was begin to exercise. But I needed to know how effective was my exercise plan? Was I burning the calories that the exercise bike at the gym told me? I had to know. Enter technology...in the form of my very first Polar product, a F7 Heart Rate Monitor.

And what my F7 told me was that I was NOT burning nearly as many calories as I thought I was. It also taught me that I wasn't working as hard or as effectively as I could be. Polar's motto of "Listening to your body is one thing, understanding what it is telling you is an altogether different story" was so true for me. Once I embraced that I was capable of doing more, I started to do more. And as I began to do more, my training evolved and changed and so did my need for my training products.

As I approached the anniversary of one year on my journey and losing 100 pounds,  I decided to treat myself to a new Polar. A top of the line RS800CX. I LOVED this piece of technology. It kept me accountable and on a steady path of fitness success.

But Polar has so many great products and again, as my journey evolved, so did my fitness needs. I also needed heart rate monitors that could be worn as accessories. Tongue Out With having 3 young kids, and a very active life, always on the go, I am not one to change out my watch after a workout. So I needed something that could go from the gym to the office, to a PTA meeting, to a cocktail party.  My first foray into this was a beautiful lime green FT40. I got so many compliments on this watch, but it still didn't have quite all the functions I was looking for.

So I got another one. This time a snazzy FT60 in Berry. And this baby...this baby took me where I needed to go! This piece of technology is the one that I currently use 80% of the time. Why only 80%??

As I have gotten more involved in sports, I have an need to know how fast I am going, how many miles I am going, what my heart rate is, what my elevation is, and as much as I love the FT60, it can't do ALL that.

I also have a beautiful RC3GPS that I wear when I am running or outdoor cycling. This HRM is amazing, but it's bulky, totally not water friendly, and not as pretty as my Berry FT60, so it's only worn for certain fitness occasions.

It's hard to believe that I went from that to this. But I did. With the help of technology. And if you look close enough in the "this" picture, you'll notice my RS800CX on my wrist. Wink

 

But more than this...Polar and Technology have opened so many doors for me. By posting my pictures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, I have inspired, motivated and been able to share my journey with thousands of people. In turn, I have been motivated and inspired by thousands of people. People that I would have NEVER met if I didn't embrace technology and the world of social media. Technology doesn't have to bring us further apart, technology can connect us in ways that we never thought possible.  Technology enabled me to start this blog. To be able to share my story, my message with whomever wants to read it! And your support, your comments help to keep me inspired. I have made friends all over the world, and have had the opportunity to meet a lot of these friends in real life. I've made connections with local fitness bloggers and have genuine, honest to goodness relationship with these women. I trust my children with them.  All because of  technology.

But as I mentioned fitness was only one aspect of my journey. I also had to change how and what I ate. And I used technology for that, too. I'll explain that in Part 2.


Have you made friends through technology? Have you been able to meet these online friends in real life?

Does technology assist you in your fitness journey??