World Oceans Day at Mote Aquarium

I’d never been to Mote Aquarium, though I do love aquariums.  It’s almost 2 hours from my house so I can’t exactly just drop in.  But with the celebration of World Oceans Day as an excuse I was in. My almost 15 year old hates car rides longer than 15 minutes so much you’d think he was allergic but to my surprise both of my teenagers wanted to go to and seemed excited about it.

When you first go into Mote’s Aquarium you enter a big room full of aquariums containing fish both native to Florida and invasive to Florida, like the lionfish, that are in our local waters.  Lionfish are beautiful, but they have such a detrimental effect on the native fish and therefore the reef habitat that people are encouraged to catch them with no limit and there are even cookbooks focused solely on lionfish dishes.  Just another reason for me to be happy to be a vegetarian.  🙂

Tanks I love the clown fish and the starfish, but I’d say my favorite was the jellyfish.  We even happened to be there when they where being fed, which was interesting and very cool.

Jelly Collage

After we went through this area we went outside where they had shark exhibits (I love hammerhead sharks!) and where they where they had a ton of booths to give information on ways we can help avoid polluting the oceans, what to do to avoid hurting loggerhead turtle hatchlings (I didn’t realize how important it is to fill in any holes you dig at the beach to avoid trapping them) and all kinds of family friendly activities like  face painting, making bracelets and necklaces, temporary tattoos (got some!) and listening to a cool band whose instruments where all made of trash.

crowds Collage

After we talked to all of the people at the various booths we went across the street to the mammal area.   This is where you can see the otters, giant turtles, and manatees.  Awesome!

One great thing about this aquarium is that there are people all over telling you all about the individual animal’s backstories and how they got to the aquarium.  We were told not just how the manatees got to be at the aquarium, but also little tidbits about their personalities.  It was just one more reminder of how all animals have a personality beyond just what is known of their species in general or expected behaviors.

Random Collage For the record, otters are crazy hard to get a picture of underwater,  they are so fast!  I don’t know a thing about otters but they seem like such playful creatures it’s hard to stop watching them and walk away.

If you’d like to visit the aquarium Mote is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236.  Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science institution dedicated to research. It’s a great opportunity to support a great cause by having a great time that your entire family will enjoy, even my finicky teenagers.  Who can’t get behind that?

I received 2 tickets to the aquarium as a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with Mote Aquarium in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, of course.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Looking for something different to do with your mom this weekend?  I found the perfect thing.  Thursday I took my daughter and mom to see Beauty and the Beast at Straz center, and a great time was had by all three generations!

I seem to be getting hooked on musicals, but with all of the great shows at The Straz Center can you blame me?  Beauty and the Beast is a story told almost entirely through song, and the Broadway musical includes songs that were not in the Disney movie which I loved.  I spent the evening trying unsuccessfully to decide on my favorite song.

You don’t know how it could be so hard to decide?  Take a look at some of what I had to choose from!

My first favorite? Gaston of course. All of the girls in town and all of the tavern patrons joined in for a rowdy, beer mug clinking good time.  All in the name of cheering Gaston up of course.  So that was my favorite.

But then they did Be Our Guest.  The entire stage was filled with happiness and joy, colors and dancing. Confetti even.  So that was my favorite.

But then Mrs. Potts (Emily Jewell) sang Beauty and the Beast while standing quietly at the edge of a nearly dark stage and blew me away.  It’s amazing that one person can have such a presence. So then…

I decided it was OK to like them all.  And that’s my final answer.

So, moving on.  There were two other parts that really struck me. The first were the scenes in the woods. They were amazingly done, the woods were foggy and creepy and the wolf attack scenes were pretty awesome.  Oh, and the night time scenes with the stars and moon were also pretty amazing.  But that wasn’t supposed to be part of my 2. So I guess make that 3 parts?

The other was the rug during Be Our Guest.  I can’t even imaging being dressed as a rug while flipping around the stage and singing. Talent much? There’s a little clip of him at about the 15 second mark in the video I embedded above, but that doesn’t really do him justice.  I guess you’ll have to go see for yourself!

I won’t subject you to my inner dialogue about which was my favorite character.  You’re welcome.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is playing at the Straz Center through May 10th. Take a look on Straz Center’s site for tickets and times.  Tickets to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast would make a perfect mother’s day gift for a lot of moms out there!

I received 2 tickets to Pippin as a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, of course.

Color Me Rad 2015 Review

This is the second year that the family and I did Color Me Rad en masse.  We had a couple of different faces this time (same day as SAT testing), but everyone that goes to Color Me Rad is going to want to come back and run it again.

This year we even got my mom to run it – she decided that if the twins could do it at age 3 she had this.  And she did!  The only problem is with this as a first race you’ll have a hard time finding future races to live up to the precedent Color Me Rad sets!  Especially this year.

color-me-rad-biggerBigger, Badder, Radder is no joke.  Twice the color stations, gel (shot from water guns and cannons!) AND the free photos after the event. Seriously?  To top all that off several of the color stations actually had people on each side with different colors, so you were TRULY not getting through without being turned into something akin to a running rainbow.

Before and After photos tell the story pretty well.


Everyone2015What’s funny is the two on the right went to prom that night. They went to the run determined not to get too colored up. Which I took as a challenge. All it took was asking one person throwing color to be sure to get my niece, next thing you know the two of them were having color wars every time I turned around. Just another reason why having a ton of teenagers in the family is underrated!

Oh, and just in case you were worried, they cleaned up just fine. (Told you so, but didn’t really know for sure…)

Kaili and EthanWe ran in the very last group, which the race people were nice enough to let go WAY after the original time due to the fact that apparently my family isn’t the only ones who forgot how to estimate time that morning.  Just another reason to love the Color Me Rad  people, we got there 10 minutes after the last run should have gone, a result of getting three car loads of people headed in the same direction at the same time.  Three ring circuses have got nothing on this family, you should see our holidays when there are 4 times more people.

Anyways, since we started in the last group and ran with 4 year olds we were some of the last people to finish too. We only caught the tail end of the after party, but the older kids ran ahead (am I allowed to call 20 year old+ people kids?) and they had an awesome time.  They got some great videos too, but we seem to have misplaced the charge for the GoPro so there will be no sharing of videos for a while.

Anyways, to make a long story short ( I know, too late for that) if Color Me Rad is coming anywhere near you you should go. Regardless of age or ability this race is tons of fun for everyone.

Disclosure: I received race entries through the Tampa Bay Bloggers’s partnership with Color Me Rad in exchange for writing a review.  All opinion are my own of course.

Finding a New Dojo

Remember how much fun I said Tae Kwon Do was? Well I was telling the truth, it is.

However.   I also mentioned that the class was mostly kids.  As in most days there was only one other adult and some of the kids were as young as maybe 9.  That didn’t make the class any less fun, but it did make it perhaps a bit less challenging after a while.  So the kids (mine, not the ones in the class) and I decided to look for a different dojo that  maybe had a few more adults and that didn’t want us to belt test as often.  The dojo we went to was good and the teacher was great but it often felt like we were just teaching to the test, meaning learning just what we had to know to get the next belt and not really learning as much as I’d like.

We found one!  Just one small thing… we couldn’t find a single Tae Kwon Do place with adult classes that both had classes as many nights as we want to go AND weren’t so expensive I’d have to get another mortgage on the house for the three of us to go. So we’re trying out an MMA place.  A little bit intimidating?  Gosh, I don’t know, let me just tell you about the place.

You pull into the parking lot and you just see the bar and a liquor store.  Two of my favorite places, awesome!  But where is the place I’m looking for?  Oh, look up. It’s over the bar.  There is a little not too lit door between the two places that leads up a dark, steep set of stairs and you can’t actually see what’s at the top till you get there.


Once you get in the gym though, the place is awesome.  I’m sure the bar is awesome too, I just haven’t had a chance to find out yet. But you know I will. Oh wait, we were talking about intimidating.  Did I mention that actual professional and amateur fighters are training with you in some of the classes? Ya…

We went with this place because it has 2 classes a night, 5 nights a week.  That means if I want to go out one night, no worries I can easy make it up another night. They offer MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate/Judo, and cardio kickboxing classes.  Pretty cool, even I won’t get bored with all that to choose from. Everyone is crazy nice and I’ve tried the MMA class twice without even getting injured.  Score!  I’m so looking forward to trying the other classes, I’ll let you know how they go.

Indian Leg Wrestling

So, I’m 44 and if you are about that age you might have had a childhood like mine.  You know, the kind without internet?  The kind where your mom pretty much kicked you out of the house until dinner time?

So what did we even do without the internet?

Actually, I remember having a hell of a good time. Hop scotch, riding bikes in canals (my mom would have KILLED me if she knew), jump rope contests and such. I still remember my best friend and I were swimming in the canals (no alligators in Arizona) and an elderly lady actually stopped on the side of the road to yell at us and tell us all about leeches.  We were very grossed out and got out of the disgusting leech water until she was out of sight.  We never did see a leach but you can bet we checked for them often.  We just weren’t quite freaked out about it to quit our fun in the (thinking back on it totally gross, I’d kill my kids if they did that…) water.

Every once in a while I will subject my kids to pieces of my childhood while telling them how great it is.  They did like The Breakfast Club.  Even I don’t know how I ever loved the Benji movies.  Sorry Benji.

The other day I amazed my 5 year old nephew with my mad hop scotch skills.  Just saying.

But my biggest win to date?  the other night I challenged my younger two to an Indian leg wrestling match.  I totally beat them both twice.  Then they figured it out and I was screwed, but still. We have not all laughed so hard for as long as I can remember.  My older son and his girlfriend came over the next night, we showed them and it was on all over again.  You have GOT TO try this with your kids.  Don’t know what I am talking about?  Here’s a You Tube video showing you how it’s done.  My bummer children of the corn would not let me film them.  😦

It may be called leg wrestling but it is a hell of a core workout if you do enough in a row.  You have been warned.

So go challenge your kids to a leg wrestling match and I challenge YOU not to laugh your you-know-what off. Who said exercise had to be an actual workout? The come back and let me know who won – I’m betting on you!

Sparring the Kids

I STILL have not got back to running.  My official plan of the moment is to start again next week.  I miss running, I just haven’t gotten back into that particular groove.  It’s definitely about time though!

I am still doing Tae Kwon Do three nights a week, and guess what?  As of this week it is four nights a week because I have finally gotten up the guts to go on the night that they spar.  As in get all dolled up in a big thick vest thing, arm and shin guards, and a padded helmet thing and fight.  I can’t even convey to you how attractive this get up is.  Really. The best part?  Both of my sons are there.  Can you say IT’S ON?

Sparring is actually hella-fun.  I’m not exactly an intimidating opponent though, for more than one reason.

Mostly, I have been in very few situations where I did not find a reason to laugh.  Lots and lots of times I am the only one laughing but that hardly helps. But seriously, the first person I was against was like 2 feet shorter than my 5’2″ and maybe 10?  That does not for a second mean that he did not have more experience and knowledge about this than I.  We switched down the line so after each minute of sparring we fought a different person.

Which means I sparred with both of my sons.  There aren’t many moments in life when kicking your child is a sign of being a good parent, and as a matter of fact this may be the ONLY one.  We all agreed we are so going every Wednesday from now on!  🙂

Not to go all squirrel on you but while we’re talking about crazy fun things to do with your kids, check out this post about taking your kids to try flying trapeze school!  I am so jealous.

The second reason I was less than intimidating is this is the first time I’ve been in class when we weren’t told what kick or block or whatever to do, you’re just supposed to go for it.  Mind you I don’t even like doing yoga without a video to guide me most of the time. It was an eye opener to actually have to think of what I should do next instead of being told.

My third reason was just plain weird.  No matter what side someone kicked me on I blocked it with my left arm.  I’m not even left handed so I don’t know where that came from.  But I do know that I will be going into my nice business attire  office job tomorrow with two bruised knuckles and a big bruise on my wrist from blocking right kicks with my left arm (hand). I fear my left hand is going to look like I got in a real fight by morning. Guess what I’ll be concentrating on for the next several classes?

Have you ever taken a class with your kids or do you share a hobby with them?  This is the first time I’ve had two of my three interested in the same thing for more than a week, so I’m pretty thrilled.  Now if I could just figure a way to bribe my daughter to try it. There is nothing like trying to convince a 15 year old girl to try something that wasn’t her idea!   Any ideas?