Push Away the Screen: Christmas Town at Busch Gardens 2013

Disclosure: My mom and I were able to attend Christmas Town free of charge thanks to my Elite Status with Yelp Tampa Bay and my kids were able attend free of charge thanks to Busch Gardens and my association with the Tampa Bay Bloggers. All opinions are my own.


Last Friday night my family was invited to experience Busch Gardens Christmas Town. This was the first time I was able to bring my mom along for a Busch Gardens VIP experience and I was excited to share the adventure with her!

When we arrived we were each given a VIP pass and swag bag. The VIP passes enabled us to be able to go to the front of the line for the open attractions (though we also get a special needs pass for Ronin, so we go to the front of the line regardless.) Inside the swag bag there was a really cute ornament for the Christmas tree, some super tasty Elf Munch (well, the kids told me it was tasty, none for me) and drink coupons! Later on in the evening we indulged in a beer for me, hot chocolate for the rest of the family.  

Knowing Busch Gardens as well as we do, and seeing how we arrived right on time (I am a stickler for being punctual) we immediately headed over to SnowWorld to let the kids play in the snow before all the crowds of people would make it impossible for my au-some little dude to have fun.

Our first stop was the snow slides! What fun! I went down with the kids in these giant tire like inner tubes. They were very heavy, and sturdy!

We came flying down the hill, up over a speed bump of snow, and bounced off that red barricade you see in the photo above. It was a blast!

Next the kids actually played in some snow. They built some small snowmen, climbed through a snow tunnel and tried to see how well they could balance on the slippery substance. We chilled quickly and Ronin was really clamoring to get on Cheetah Hunt, so off we went!

We had NO wait for our favorite roller coaster. The kids and I all swear that it goes faster at night! My mom stayed back and held our bags while we enjoyed the thrill of the chase! Ella and Ronin sat together, and I managed to get this quick photo of them enjoying the ride. I absolutely love the look of pure joy on their beautiful faces!

After Cheetah Hunt we decided to take a quick break and took a round trip on the Sky Ride. Because of our special needs pass we were able to go round trip and not have to disembark the ride at all. It was breathtaking to see the park all light up in beautiful Holiday lights from so high up in the park! Haley and I sat together and had a great mother/daughter conversation.

We decided to head over towards the Scorpion roller coaster, a flashback favorite to my own childhood and along the way we came across Penguin Point. This was a new exhibit added this year and my kids really enjoyed it. They were able to decorate these large magnetic penguins, and it really kept them entertained for quite some time! Haley decorated her penguin with a pink bow and lots of fish.

They also had a new carnival game type area where EVERYONE was a winner!! Score!! For $3 you could choose one of two games where you could win a penguin or a candy cane. The prizes just got larger if you actually "won."

Their Nanny spoiled them a little bit and they each walked away with two prizes.

On our way to Scorpion we saw all sorts of Holiday decorations on display! I love how Haley was the one who noticed this Holiday sign! My girl is getting so smart!

The nutcracker display at Holiday Hills was cute and the kids chose their own poses. Super cute. Ronin was even opening and closing his mouth like a nutcracker.

We had a quick ride on the Scorpion and decided to head back for the sing-a-long train. Oh boy. Our train ride had a malfunction! The 10 minute train ride turned in to a 30 minute train ride, and in the middle of the ride, right in the middle of a song, my boy totally just passed out on his Nanny's lap. I kid you not...one second he was singing, the next second he was snoring.

That gave us the clue that we were done with Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Our train slowly made its way back to the station and again, thank goodness for CrossFit as I had to carry Ronin off the train, and just as quickly as he fell asleep, he was up demanding that we go back on Cheetah Hunt. It had become overwhelming for my little dude, and we decided it was time to head back to the car. But along the way back we came across this beautiful angel! Last year they had a very strict NO TOUCHING policy. But not this year!


Ella was the only one of my children that would go up to the angel. Last year all 3 did but that was BEFORE they realized that it was actually a real person!! I think knowing in advance that it was a real woman made Haley and Ronin a bit more timid.

Overall we had a FANTASTIC time at Christmas Town and love including a visit as part of our annual tradition.

Thanks again to Busch Gardens, and Yelp Tampa Bay for providing my family with this opportunity to push away the screen and spend some quality time together.


Push Away the Screen: Pretty Muddy Family Edition

The Tampa Trio and I participated in our first ever mud run TOGETHER this past Saturday. We were invited to experience the family edition of Pretty Muddy. Our wave was scheduled to leave at 12:30, and we arrived at 11:30, so we had a little bit of time to kill. Thankfully Pretty Muddy realized that children would be present and had a bounce house and corn toss game for them to play.

This year the race was held at Colt Creek State Park. Loved that it was held at a state park. I much prefer to pay for parking fees to go to the upkeep of a state park.

First off, I have to say that I loved starting in a later wave. We went out to Busch Gardens the night before so we were all tired and it was nice to be able to sleep in a little bit and not have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive out for a mud run!

Ronin was so excited to run that as soon as they counted down 3, 2, 1, GO, he took off and I caught a glimpse of him way off in the distance after the mud slide, and then didn't see him again until the finish!

The first real obstacle was the mud slide. They instructed us to go down head first, but my girls said "but my mama always says to go down slides feet first" so they refused to go down head first. Silly girls. I did go down head first and got fairly muddy.

We also had a lot of fun climbing walls.

And while the girls said that the mud slide was their favorite, they both really liked the obstacle "Social Networking." It was probably the most challenging of all the obstacles, but they still manged to whip themselves up and over that net like it was nothing!

And before we knew it we were at the finish line where we managed to connect with Ronin who claimed he had already taken a shower. Tongue Out

The kids and I had a totally great time together at Pretty Muddy. Having just completed Tough Mudder in October, Pretty Muddy was really  a walk in the park for me, but I had so much fun with the #TampaTrio. My kids did say that they wished it was longer and I found it weird that there was NO water available on the course but I knew they'd need water even if there was water available, so when I run with my kids, I always bring along my handy dandy Polar water bottle. This came in handy for not only drinking, but also for flushing mud out of eyes. Wink

I hope that they kids and I run many more mud runs together because we had a blast!

Have you ever done a mud run with your kids??

Weigh in Wednesday Week 4

I had a super crazy week. Super crazy. But I still managed to get in to my weekly weigh in and even managed to stay for the meeting!

I was down 2.2 pounds for a grand total now of 6.4 pounds.

I'm feeling pretty good, certainly in control of my food environment, and while exercise has never been an issue for me, continuing to monitor my daily progress with the Polar Loop has been very helpful. I'm still averaging well over 12,000 steps per day.

In the meeting we talked about how to manage our Holiday food items and I was so surprised to hear that so many people deal with food pushers. I guess it's a pretty common theme because at this coming week's meeting we're going to devote the entire meeting to these people! Ugh. I just don't get it. I am the one who controls what goes in my mouth. ME. Sure, someone can bring something to the table, (or home, my husband is known for bringing home a Key Lime Pie right when I'm at my weakest point) but no one has tied my arms behind my back and forced my mouth open. It's up to ME to open it up and allow the unhealthy food choices in. ME ME ME.

If you can't accept responsibility for your own actions, who will??