Push Away the Screen: Deep Sea Fishing with Hubbard's Marina

Recently my family celebrated my husband's birthday. We took this opportunity to #pushawaythescreen and do something with the trio that we have been waiting YEARS to do. Take them deep sea fishing.

The sea is a very special place for both James and me. I grew up pretty much living on the Gulf of Mexico, spent my summers at Mote Marine Laboratory, went to college and earned a degree in Marine Biology, worked with Mote Marine Aquarium developing their educational curriculum, worked with top shark biologists on their boats collecting data, and the list just goes on and on. James and I both use the sea as a place to recharge our batteries. To feel connected with Mother Nature, and with each other. In fact, our first date was to the beach.

We've taken our trio fishing to the Skyway Pier and out in our backyard lake, and my Uncle Bobby has taken Ronin out on the bay in Venice, but we've never had the opportunity to take all 3 of them out, way out, fishing.

This is where Hubbard's Marina comes in. I contacted Hubbard's and inquired about fishing trip options. James originally wanted to take the kids for a 12 hour trip. Say what? I pretty much vetoed that, and Hubbard's agreed that for a first time trip, a 1/2 day option was probably our best bet! Not only that but they supplied all the tackle, rods, reel and bait! All we had to do was show up!

We scheduled our trip for a Saturday, leaving the dock at 1pm. Coming from a fishing background I was a bit hesitant that 1pm would be a good time to fish. It just gets so hot, for both the fish and the fishers! But I was assured that the fish would be biting, and that they had an AC galley if anyone needed to cool off!

Everyone was gathered in a waiting area where Ella and Ronin were picked to be the official helpers. They passed out arm bands Smile

We also went over some rules. Did you know that BANANAS are not allowed on fishing boats?? In all my years on boats, I had never heard the banana story before. And wouldn't you know it...I had bananas with me. And beer. And I wasn't allowed to bring my own beer on board either. That's seriously all I had in my cooler. Beer and bananas. Well, and water, grapes and Pringles, but I wasn't going to drag along a 30 gallon cooler just for water. So I took out the water, and rolled my cooler back to the truck.

We boarded the boat, and off we went! Ronin and I headed up stairs (where we were ALONE!!) while James and the girls remained downstairs with everyone else. Wink

Ronin and I had a good time upstairs on the 90 minute or so ride out. Who do you think was the first person to spot dolphins riding and playing in our wake? Yes, ME!

Those beautiful mammals kept us entertained for at least 5 minutes. But the fun was far from over!!

Ronin went and knocked on the captains door and asked if he could come in. Much to my surprise, and to Ronin's delight, the captain said YES!! And he also offered Ronin the opportunity to pilot the boat!

The girls also had their chance, and true to their form, they shared the piloting duties.

But that wasn't all!! Ronin asked if he could use the microphone to wish his daddy a Happy Birthday! Well, first he asked if he could say FREE SNACKS like he did on Jet Blue airlines, but we quickly nipped that idea in the bud! Tongue Out Ella and Ronin each got the opportunity to speak on the mic and they loved it!

The kids loved the ride out to the fishing grounds! Haley went to the front of the boat, put her hands up and yelled "I'm the Queen of this boat." She's such my daughter! Best part...she had NO IDEA I was behind her! Wink

We made it to our destination! We'd be drift fishing which meant we'd just go with the current. It was a very calm day, so we had to move locations a few times, but overall we did very well! Our family caught a total of 12 "keepers" and several that we had to throw back including 2 Red Groupers. I was so hoping for a grouper for dinner. Next time!

James caught the biggest and most unexpected catch of the day! A Spanish Mackerel!

I just love the genuine smiles on all their faces. It made me so happy to see them having so much fun!!

Ronin loved fishing, though the waiting for a fish to bite was difficult for him, but he made friends with the captain and the deck hands, and they made sure he was pretty much always reeling in a fish.



I managed to catch a few myself!

Our time off-shore ended too quickly and we began our trek back to the dock! It was late (past 7pm) by the time we got back to the dock and we were starving! Lucky for us, the Friendly Fisherman restaurant will cook your catch for you! So that's exactly what we did! We had our fish cleaned at the dock, then took them upstairs for dinner! It does not get any fresher than that!

Was there anything I didn't like about the trip? Only one thing. They allowed smoking on the boat. It really sucks when you can't escape from the smokers. That really bothered me and my family. It seemed that everywhere we moved, someone was lighting up a cigarette. Other than that, it was a GREAT day and I would go back in a heartbeat!

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Have you ever heard of the bad luck banana??
Would you like to catch your own dinner?? What's your favorite type of fish to eat??

Having a TV Crew in Your House!

I had TV cameras and a crew in my house in November 2011 when I filmed a segment for the Rachael Ray show.

It seemed to go pretty quickly and my mom and husband were here acting as "baby wranglers" so it really wasn't all that difficult or challenging. True, I had just home (literally, I was home for 25 minutes before Rachael Ray's people showed up!!) after spending a week in Beverly Hills working on the 2012 Believe Campaign with Jennifer Hudson, so my endorphins were still flying pretty high, so that might also have something to do with how great I was feeling!

This week I had a TV Crew and TV cameras in my house again. This time we were filming a series of news promos for our local CBS Affiliate Channel 10 News.

They were scheduled to be here at 10:30am, and it was expected to last 3 hours. I had an engagement that evening to attend a cocktail party for Bethenney Frankel, and needed to be ready to leave the house by 5:15pm, so I figured I had plenty of time.

The crew arrived and immediately began setting up!

And then I got a quick peek at their agenda. It was long. And filming was going to take place in multiple rooms of the house. My bedroom, my bed, my bathroom, the kitchen, the kids bedrooms, my living room. Multiple scenes in multiple rooms. I don't have a big house, and they had big equipment, and I have a big dog. Tongue Out To say this was a challenging experience is an understatement!! But we made it work!!

We shot my bedroom and bathroom scenes first. This took like 2 hours. Surprised  It was funny! I had to put on my nightgown and pretend to be waking up, turning on my bedroom light, hitting the alarm clock, then getting out of bed, going in to the bathroom, brushing my hair like I was getting ready for work. What made this take so long? A lot of it had to do with the lighting. Our bedroom is very dark (blackout curtains, dark tinted sliding glass doors) and so they had a lot of things they needed to do to make it do-able. And then nearly the opposite in my bathroom! My bathroom is very light.

After the bed/bath scenes I had to change out of my PJ's and dress in business professional attire. This was a bit of stretch for me since I normally wear workout clothing ALL THE TIME! Wink But I found something suitable (no pun intended) and off I went to make pancakes, coffee, and get my little munchkins ready for their scenes! The kitchen scenes took another 2 or so hours. We were quickly off our 3 hour schedule! All this hard work made Matthew very sleepy!

My girls normally L.O.V.E pancakes. It's their favorite food. But after having to do so many takes of them eating pancakes, I started to hear moans of "NO MORE PANCAKES" and they resorted to taking "baby bites." It was pretty comical.

Ronin played along for one quick scene but got quickly bored and spent the afternoon playing with his little friend up the street.

After the kitchen we moved in to the girls' bedroom scenes! This moved pretty quickly!

Then it was time to film me watching the traffic and weather on TV. This is where my acting skills came in to play. Or should I say lack of acting skills! This took some time. Then came the girls and I walking in and out of the house, the girls waiting at the bus stop, and me driving to work! Whew!! We wrapped up at 4:45pm!! Just a little behind schedule Wink

You can see the first three promos here:

30 second promo:

15 second promo:

15 second promo:


Overall, this was a SUPER COOL experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat, though it did make me realize what it must be like to film a reality show. Wozers!!

Thanks to my friends over at News Channel 10 for coming in to my house and working so well with us!

Have you ever had a TV Crew in your house?? What for?? How did it go?? Leave me a link in the comments so I can go and check you out!!

Push Away the Screen: Top 5 tips for Adventure Island

As summer vacation draws to a close, I had the amazing opportunity to Push Away the Screen and take my kids to Adventure Island.

Adventure Island is a 30 acre water park full of ways for you to have fun with your family while keeping cool!

From thrilling slides like Gulfscream and Riptide to the more laid back areas Splash Attack and Fabian's Funport, there is guaranteed to be something for everyone in your family!

My family really enjoyed the Rambling Bayou, a Lazy River offering a relaxing trip around the park, while riding on an inflated inner tube. You float through a  misted rainforest and a flowing waterfall. We did this "ride" both with and without tubes. My son enjoys "running" through the river, swimming, and being pushed by the current. With a maximum depth of 3 feet it's a great way for him to practice some of his swimming skills, and when he's tired, he can float on his back and be pushed by the current.

We also enjoyed a few "family style rides." The Calypso Coaster (which can be experienced by single or double riders) is a high speed open flume ride with twists and turns that dumps guests in to a 3' pool at the end. I rode this with Ronin, and my girls rode together. There were a few other family rides as well, but we didn't get the opportunity to experience them all on this visit as the park was very crowded and my gang is not much for waiting in lines.

Having been to Adventure Island a few times each summer (except for this summer, we only made it once) I have my top 5 tips to share with you!

  1. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! Adventure Island allows guests to bring a 15X15X15 cooler in to the park. I was able to pack lunch and snacks for my gang. This meant we were able to steer clear of the typical theme park food, and eat our healthy foods! I also brought in my own chilled bottled water and that certainly came in handy!
  2. WEAR WATER SHOES! Not flip-flops, but real water shoes. I wore my Merrell River Glove Water Shoe and it was great! Lightweight, but kept the hot sand and pavement from bothering my feet! The ground at Adventure Island is very hot for my feet, and the bottom of the Lazy River can be hard on feet, too. My kids didn't want to wear their water shoes, and while they didn't complain there were quite a few times when they were hopping from one foot to the other due to the hot ground.
  3. GET THERE EARLY!! Getting to the park at least 15 minutes BEFORE it opens is key to finding your perfect spot to set-up for the day. Yesterday the park opened at 9:30am, and we arrived at 9:37am. By the time we had our bags checked, and picked up our tickets it was after 10am, and we high-tailed it to try to find a spot in the shade and we were lucky enough to find a place tucked in the shade of some oak trees. We managed to snag the last table and it wasn't much later that I noticed people setting up towels on the grass. Getting there early also means you can get on some of your favorite rides without much of a wait. As I mentioned earlier there were quite a few rides we didn't get the opportunity to experience simply because the lines were too long, and having a special needs child often means we physically can't wait in those long lines and Adventure Island doesn't offer a special needs pass like Busch Gardens.
  4. KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE!! Growing up in the Sunshine State, I've become pretty awesome at predicting summer storms. Even though it was only 2:45pm, and the skies over Adventure Island were blue and shining, I could see something brewing off in the distance, so I told my gang it was time to pack up. They weren't happy with me, but went about doing what I asked. By the time we got to the car it was 3:15pm, and we started our drive home. Within 5 minutes it began to sprinkle, but by the time we made it home we were in a full-out downpour, which eventually turned in to a severe thunderstorm complete with a tornado! So be smart when playing outside. Know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Tongue Out
  5. RELAX! With more than 50 lifeguards stationed throughout the park, roving security, ample life-jackets, it's a great opportunity to just let go and have fun with your kids. I'm not telling you to let the non-swimming toddler experience the wave-pool on their own, but you can allow your kids to be kids, and just enjoy watching them having a blast!


Have you been to Adventure Island, or any other water park? What tips do you have to share??