It Snowed!

It snowed!!

It never snows in San Antonio so we were really surprised when we looked out the window last week and it was snowing. Not only was it snowing, but the snow was also sticking.

The boys were so excited because this was their first time seeing snow so of course we had to hurry outside to play. They built a small snowman and had a snowball fight. I also made sure to wake them up extra early the next morning so they could play for a few minutes before it melted.

Here are a few of our pictures:

I usually do not like the cold at all but the snow was so pretty. We loved the way everything looked covered in white and we sat on the sofa and watched it fall. I had never seen snow here myself either so it was fun.

Did you get to see the snow in South Texas?

Holiday Laser Show

The Holiday Laser Show is a show put on by the Urban-15 group in San Antonio. The boys love this show. This year’s show was our fourth holiday event on our Texas Christmas tour and it was also our fourth year attending the show.

This is a really cool show with lasers set to music. We’ve sat in a few different spots and the show is best if you sit towards the middle in the orchestra section so that the lasers are going straight over you. I took some video at one year’s show. It’s not the greatest quality but you can kind of get the idea of what the show is like. Click here to check it out. It should automatically start after a few seconds.

If you have the chance to check out the Holiday Laser Show in San Antonio, we recommend going. It’s a fun experience.

Have you ever been to a laser show?

Sea World’s Christmas Celebration

This year we’re heading out on a Texas Christmas/holiday tour. We started off at Sea World San Antonio for Sea World’s Christmas Celebration.

We had reservations at 5 for dinner with Santa. We arrived a few hours earlier so we would have time to walk around. As soon as we walked into what the boys call the lobby of the park, we were greeted by the sound of Mariachis playing. I loved the Christmas outfits they were wearing. Once we moved past the entrance we stopped at Coca-Cola Lane to decide where we were going to go.

JT said that he knew exactly where to go so we followed him. I figured that he was probably going to the penguins and I was correct. He loves penguins. We walked though Peace on Earth and past a few snowmen and into the penguin building.

After the penguins, we headed into Christmas Cove and the boys played a few games. They weren’t the only ones playing though. There were also elves and a mime.

Once we were done in Christmas Cove, we moved onto Sea World’s Christmas Market. First, we met some reindeer and then we went on Rio Loco. The boys were very excited about that and I was happy that the waterfall was turned off so we didn’t get too wet. They had also been wanting to try the air dryer because we were curious about how well it works. It did work but I felt it was harder to get your pants dry. I think if you’re hair was wet, it would probably dry your hair pretty well.

After we finished drying off a bit, we walked a bit further to where Rudolph and friends were and the boys got new shirts to wear and then we headed back over to our dinner.

The dinner was buffet style and included turkey and carved roast beef along with sides and salad. During dinner, the elves and mime introduced Mrs. Claus. Santa joined a little later. He read a story to the kids and then took pictures with them. After pictures with Santa it was time for dessert.

Once dinner was over we walked around a little more to look at the lights before heading out.

We always love going to Sea World during the holidays; the lights are pretty and the theming is fun. It was a great kickoff to our holiday tour.

What is one of your favorite places to go for the holidays?

Palateria San Antonio

The third place we went to since starting our ice cream tour was Palatería San Antonio. We actually went here right after getting ice cream from Justin’s Ice Cream Company on the Riverwalk. Palatería San Antonio is also downtown so we decided we’d head there too since we don’t visit downtown very often.

Palatería San Antonio offers two types of paletas. You can choose from milk based or water based. Connor decided on Strawberries and Cream, JT picked Bubblegum, and I went with Coconut. The boys ended up getting a second popsicle because they really wanted to try Watermelon. They decided that they didn’t really care for the first ones they got but they loved the Watermelon.

We went back a second time about two months later because Connor wanted to get one of the watermelon paletas. When we got there, we noticed that we were walking in a different door. The inside had been expanded and now there is a small sitting area with a few tables and a cute popsicle stick wall. This is a great addition because the first time we went, we had to eat our popsicles super fast because they were melting quickly.

This time around I decided to try Blueberry Banana. This wasn’t an option the first time we went; Palatería San Antonio states that they change flavors regularly. I love coconut so I liked the coconut paleta I had the first time but Blueberry Banana was my favorite of the two.

So, if you’re in the area, make sure to check out Palatería San Antonio. The boys have declared the watermelon paletas as their all time favorite popsicle.

What is your favorite popsicle?

Interactive Fun at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

After a fun and exciting tide pool walk on Cabrillo Beach, we explored the aquarium that led the walk- the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (CMA). CMA isn’t particularly big but there is plenty to explore and many of the exhibits are hands-on.

We started off outside at the Whale Graveyard.

After taking a look at the various whale bones (and touching them), we moved on to the main exhibit hall. The exhibits are divided into Kelp Forests, Rocky Shores, Mudflats, Sandy Beaches, and Open Ocean.

After we went through the exhibit hall we went out to the exploration center and then to the aquatic nursery.

Even though we had already been out to the tide pools, the boys were excited to go to the touch pool so we went over as soon as it opened.

The boys weren’t the only ones excited about the touch pool. It seemed that everyone else had been waiting for it to open too. Once we left the touch pool the boys really wanted to go back to the exploration center but it was time for us to move on so we headed to the gift shop before leaving.

Visiting the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium was a nice addition to our trip. Although small, the boys really enjoyed all of the interactive elements that CMA had to offer. They could have spent more time exploring if we had been able to stay longer.

Are you planning an aquarium trip soon?

A Full Day of Fun in Pigeon Forge

We spent two nights in Pigeon Forge. We arrived in the evening with just enough time to check into our hotel and get to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. This left us with one full day to explore. We did so much in that one day though that I feel like we were there longer. We started off our day with breakfast at our hotel, The Inn at Christmas Place.

After breakfast, we walked to MagiQuest which happened to be next door. It was a little too early though and it wasn’t opened yet so we decided to go check out the Christmas Place store. Christmas Place was directly across from our hotel. The outside was the same Bavarian style as our hotel and they had several rooms of full of Christmas decorations and ornaments.

You can see our hotel from the window on the picture to the right.

Once we were done looking around the store, it was time to head back over to MagiQuest.

The boys played MagiQuest for about an hour and then we went downstairs to go through the Odyssey Mirror Maze. After that we walked over to The Island and ate lunch at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

After lunch we checked out the fountain for a little bit. The boys were tired of walking by this point so we even though everything is within walking distance we went back to the hotel and got in the car to head to our next destination, The Tomb escape game.

Once we escaped The Tomb, we went back over to MagiQuest so the boys could play for another hour and then we played Pirate Golf.

After Pirate Golf, it was already time for dinner so we went back over to The Island. We ate at Timberwood Grill. Then we took a look at some shops while we waited around for it to get dark so we could see the fountain show when it’s lit up at night. While we waited we went to the 7D Dark Ride for Los Banditos.

After that we went back to the hotel one last time and that was the end of our day. We had so much fun in Pigeon Forge. The boys absolutely loved it and were ready go back before we even left. There are so many fun things to do. We passed by so many other attractions that the boys wanted to do that we didn’t have time for. Everything is really easy to get too. If you don’t want to walk, or have kids that get tired like the boys did, there is a trolley that you can ride.

I’ve been telling everyone that mentions visiting Tennessee all about Pigeon Forge. It’s such a great place for a family vacation. Pigeon Forge is also right by the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, which is where we headed to the next day.

Have you been to Pigeon Forge? What are your Pigeon Forge recommendations?

Waves of Fun at California Tide Pools

Connor mentioned to me one day that he wanted to go to the tide pools in California. Since we were going to be heading out to Disneyland, I decided to look up the tide pools to see if there were any close by Anaheim. I ended up finding some on Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium also offers guided tide pool walks so I figured that was our best bet. We drove in from Blythe, California and had just enough time for a quick lunch before the tide pool walk.

Before the walk, we gathered in an auditorium at the aquarium and learned the rules for the tide pool walk along with what causes the tide pools and what animals we might find. The boys were already familiar with the animals and knew all about them so they were excited. Once they had told us everything we needed to know, it was time to head out to the tide pools.

Following the guide out to the tide pools.

Once we got out to the tide pools we were free to explore and the guide was there to answer any questions.

The first animals the boys came across were hermit crabs. We found these little guys everywhere; there were tons of them.

The guide even found one that didn’t have a home.

The boys were most excited about finding sea hares. The first sea hare they found was a black one which they were really excited about because the black sea hares are rarer to find. They also found several brown sea hares. We really loved the sea hares. They’re super cute and the boys loved petting them. The brown ones do squirt ink so they have to be handled very gently so that they don’t get startled.

Can you find the brown sea hare in the bottom right picture? The brown ones are camouflaged pretty well. The black sea hares stand out more.

We also found a couple of sea anemones and a sea urchin. The boys really liked these as well. They liked the sticky feeling of the sea anemones. The sea urchin they found was a red one and the guide told us that the reds were rare. She said they usually only sea purple ones.

Besides those animals above, we also found a chiton and what I think are limpets.

The chiton is in the picture to the left.

There was one more animal we found and it was a really difficult one to find. It’s a tiny fish called a sculpin. JT and I kept missing them because they swim away really quickly but Connor was really good at finding them. I finally managed to get a picture of one that stopped on a rock for a few seconds.

We stayed at the tide pool for about an hour and had so much fun. The boys wanted to stay longer but it was almost time for the high tide to come in.

I’m so happy that Connor mentioned the tide pools because it was absolutely amazing and we loved it. If you have a chance to visit the tide pools you should definitely go. It is well worth it. We had the best time and the guides from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium are also great. Connor especially loved talking with the guide and showing her the animals he found.

Have you ever visited tide pools?

Movie Review- Smurfs: The Lost Village

This past Saturday we attended an advanced screening of Smurfs: The Lost Village.

Smurfs is one of the TV shows that I loved to watch when I was little. That being said, I’m always excited to see a new Smurfs movie and this one was no exception.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is a fully animated movie that centers on Smurfette. As the only girl Smurf in the village, Smurfette wonders who she is and what her talents are. She’s determined to figure out what exactly an ette is.

Throughout the movie we get to watch as Smurfette, Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty go on an exciting and dangerous journey through the Forbidden Forest to find the lost village. Along with the new dangers they discover in the Forbidden Forest, they also have to race against Gargamel to ensure that he doesn’t get to the lost village first.

Smurfs: The Lost Village was fun to watch. One of the things that I loved most about it was the animation. I especially loved the animation in the Forbidden Forest. I thought it was beautifully done and all the creatures, plants, and scenery inside the Forbidden Forest were magical, colorful, and a wonder to look at.

Besides the great animation, the Smurfs delivered adventure and laughs. It is truly a great movie for the entire family.

**Connor Says:**

“I liked it; it was a good movie. The Forbidden Forest was cool. My favorite character is Clumsy. He’s clumsy, nice, and he would make a good friend, but I probably shouldn’t ask him to go get something. Everybody should go see the Smurfs movie because it’s cool and Gargamel is funny. I also like Gargamel. He is my second or third favorite.”

**JT Says:**

“It was good. My favorite character was also Clumsy. I also liked Gargamel’s cat because he was funny.”

Smurfs: The Lost Village comes out in theaters everywere on April 7th. Get prepared to watch it by making these Smurfberry Pies or learning how to draw Snappy Bug (he was my favorite).

Have fun and we hope you enjoy the movie as much as we did!

Dinner Show Fun at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede

We were really excited when we found out that Pigeon Forge has several dinner shows. The boys love them so we knew we had to go to one on our road trip. The dinner show we decided to go with was Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. We made a great choice because it was so much fun!

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My intention was to arrive early to see the horses in the stable as well as the pre-show in the Dixie Belle Saloon. Unfortunately, we ran into traffic on the way to Pigeon Forge due to construction; so we missed the pre-show completely. When we walked through the Dixie Belle Saloon, everyone was heading off to their seats.

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I had pre-purchased souvenir boot mugs for the boys so we picked those up in the saloon before finding our seats.

I purchased preferred seating which is in the first three rows. We ended up being in the second row and had really great seats.

As is typical with these types of dinner shows, the tables were set before we sat down. Everyone had a plate, bowl, coffee cup, and a mason jar for soda.

The meal is served throughout the show. We were served creamy vegetable soup, bread, chicken, pork loin, a potato, and dessert. We all enjoyed our food. My favorite part was the soup. I really liked the creamy texture and it had a great flavor.

Of course, the main part of Dixie Stampede is the show. We really loved the show. It was so much fun. There were horses, bison, pigs, dancing, and songs. If you’ve ever been to a Medieval Times, this is similar in that you cheer for your side. I also really loved the changing background. You should be able to see it in a few of my pictures.

After the show, the cast lines up around the arena for pictures and autographs. The boys got an autograph with our section’s cowboy and Skeeter.

This is Skeeter. He was the boys’ favorite.

Once we left the arena we went to the gift shop. After that we went outside to see the horses in the stables. We were able to see them but they were all facing the opposite way.

We had so much fun at the Dixie Stampede that Connor was asking to go to one of the other dinner shows the next night.

Have you ever been to the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede? What was your favorite part?

Digging for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

I learned about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas a few years back and had been wanting to go. We finally made it there this year. After we an overnight stay in Texarkana we drove about 1 1/2 hours to the Crater of Diamonds.

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Before you go out to the field you can take a look at the exhibit inside the visitor’s center. You’ll learn about the Crater of Diamonds as well as how to find diamonds and what they look like.

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Once you’re done inside the visitor’s center you can head outside. There is another exhibit outside as well a place where you can rent tools. The boys had small shovels and we rented a screen but we really didn’t use it.

When searching for diamonds you can either surface search or dig. We did a little bit of both. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend here so we walked along and searched the surface and then the boys would pick a spot to sit and dig.

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We didn’t find any diamonds but the boys had a lot of fun. They also find a lot of cool rocks that they liked as well as some very small quartz. Here are two pictures I took to show the variety of different colored rocks that we saw.

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The boys were sad to leave because they wanted to keep digging but after this we were driving on to Little Rock for lunch and then to Tennessee.

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