*DISCLOSURE: This post is NOT in anyway sponsored by Walmart. As most of you know, my little Cassie started “Big Girl” school this year and her schedule for class picture day caught me by surprise.… More
March 27 – 28, 2019
I know a day in Nashville is VERY limited as there are so many things to do there but we were really just dropping by before our main destination— Atlanta, GA. So after we visited the National Corvette Museum from the previous blogpost we drove to Nashville and I was surprised that it was only going to be roughly an hour and 45 minutes going there plus factor in a short stop over if needed. Of course our first stop in Nashville was going to be a food place so we found ourselves driving to Arnold’s Country Kitchen.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
Address: 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
So if you haven’t been to Arnold’s the process over there is you fall in line, get your food and then look for a place to sit down and that place based on the reviews and from the looks of it is always packed. Now I walked in pushing a stroller and holding Cassie in one hand while I had Marco fall in line. I read the rules and figured, ‘rules are rules’ whether I have 5 kids with me or not so I was a little hesitant but I was going to brave the line. A woman approached me and told me I could sit down and I told her I didn’t want to grab someone else’s seat especially since we didn’t have our food yet, I jokingly mentioned something about not being a rule breaker and she laughed and said I could break them because she made those rules—yup, apparently she was the owner. She told the other employees not to tell me off and that I could sit down with my kids. In my head I was like—OK, I LOVE NASHVILLE, TN. That was honestly one of the nicest things a stranger has done for me in a while.
Of course the food was SOUTHERN and PERFECT and it satisfied our current craving at that time plus it was cheap. Good food and good prices AND good people, now that’s a 5-star rating from us.
What Lifts You Wings Mural
Address: 302 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
So those who know me know that I appreciate taking photos with mural walls ANYWHERE in the world, so here in Nashville they have the infamous ‘Wings Mural’ by Kelsey Montague. She actually has a bunch of similar interactive art all over the US if I’m not mistaken. We checked the maps and it was like a 10-minute walk from Arnold’s, it was a beautiful day so we decided to go for it. We could easily spot the mural because there was a line to take photos and I was genuinely surprised but this is what we came for so we decided to fall in line and I’m glad we did.
Across the street, diagonal to it there’s another mural where the kids and I had fun taking pictures because it was so colorful and right across that mural was Milk and Honey.
Milk and Honey
Address: 214 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Milk and Honey Nashville is a popular local coffee shop (if I’m not mistaken) that had good ratings online so since it was right across from where we were, we decided to grab a gelato and coffee to go. I wish we had more time to try their food especially their baked goods but I can tell you the place has a nice ambiance, its beautifully set up inside and very instagrammable if you know what I mean.
Address: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
After grabbing a little snack our last stop for the day was Centennial Park, we figured it was a beautiful day outside might as well spend the rest of the day outdoors. I on the other hand was just interested in seeing the Parthenon, a replica of the greek former temple. It would be nice to see the ruins of the real Parthenon one day.
People were literally playing outside and having picnics and I wish we had more time to kill in that park but we literally just walked through it, walked to the Parthenon and found out that we needed to bring the double stroller up the stairs so we compromised—we took pictures outside and I gave in to the kids wanting to play in the playground, Marco did offer to stay with them outside while I go in and explore the Parthenon but this was a family vacation so to the playground we went.
Address: 3437 Percy Priest Dr. Nashville, TN 37214
We were totally pooped and decided that we were done with our little adventure so we headed to our hotel to check in. The check-in process took awhile since there was only one guy in the front desk and although he was courteous and everything another customer was giving him a hard time and they were having an ongoing misunderstanding so his hands were tired. We had to wait for a good 30 minutes until they could sort things out, its a good thing the kids were just playing in the lobby while waiting. The rooms was of a decent size and it was overall clean, breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary but the staff serving breakfast was very helpful and polite.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Address: 5209 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
I understand this chain isn’t all over the US but if you find yourself close to one, I suggest you get in. The place was packed and there was a line but they had quick service and the food was WORTH it. My kids are usually picky eaters even with fried chicken (go figure) but both of them were digging in. Don’t forget to get their lemonade too, if you like ’em cold and fresh then this is where to get it even on a cold night.
The vibe inside had a modern industrial feel to it, I am not surprised a lot of millenials and hipsters hang out at this place. Good food, great vibe and again IG worthy, you’re getting a bang for your buck. No wonder this place averages 4.5 starts out of 5 online.
Grand Ole Opry
Address: 2804 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Before parking for the Grand Ole Opry, its nice to point out that right across it is Opry Mills, an outlet mall. If you are into shopping when you’re on vacation then you’ve come to the right place, plus right next to it the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Every legendary country star has probably performed a concert right here in the Grand Ole Opry, the architecture is already interesting and I wouldn’t have minded doing the tour to learn about its history but we were on a tight schedule and Marco wasn’t really into country music so we had to skip it. We explored the outsides and there are a lot of photo-worthy spots like those two gigantic guitars at the entrance, its hard to miss. But if you are a BIG country music lover then you can’t miss this place.
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214
Even if you’re not staying in this hotel, a lot of people still make a trip to the Gaylord Opryland Resort because of its picturesque hotel set-up where one atrium leads to another. I swear if you walk around, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise with all its greenery. If you’re into botanicals then you would appreciate this resort as it has labels to all its flowers and plants that are strategically arranged surrounding waterfalls and acclaimed restaurants (that are a bit pricey if I might add). Also from my understanding this is the largest hotel in the US that does not have a Casino. Did I mention that they have a boat ride inside? Again, we didn’t have time to do this but I’m saving this along with the newly designed waterpark for the next trip here.
Do take note that if you want to park inside the resort they will charge you $25 even if you’re just there for 5-10 minutes. Now if you do eat at one of their restaurants then they do validate but other than that I would suggest parking outside the mall close to the cinemas and just walk to the resort. That’s what we did.
And that is it for our one-day trip to Nashville, now on to our final destination—Atlanta, GA.
March 26 – 27, 2019
With Marco finishing his second year of residency, we found out he still had 2 weeks worth of vacation that was gonna go to waste if he didn’t use it so we planned a quick getaway and ended up planning a road trip with Atlanta, Georgia as our last stop. We figured if we drive through Kentucky, Tennessee then Georgia we could cross those three states out of our bucket list. So our first stop was Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. From where we live in Indiana, it was a 4 hour drive without the stops and the accidents, we actually made it in good time and decided to have a decent meal with the kids before our trip to the cave. Of course we decided to have our super late lunch at KFC- Kentucky Fried Chicken, we wanted to see if there was something special with their chicken since KFC originated in this state but unsurprisingly the chicken tasted the same, we still loved it though ( although personally I prefer the chicken in KFC-Philippines). The KFC we ate in was right outside the Mammoth Cave National Park and as soon as we were done we headed to the visitor center.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Longest cave system known in the world
Just like anyone with kids, I bet you too have a lot of questions about bringing them on a cave tour and just to answer some of those, I’m posting some answers in FAQ form. Feel free to send me a direct message if you want clarifications or if you have additional questions.
Can you do a cave tour with kids?
Yes, you may. I personally reached out to Mammoth Cave National Park since the information on their website was a bit vague and a Park ranger returned my call and confirmed that they do have kid-friendly tours, you can even bring your baby if you’re willing to. For reference Cassie is 3 y.o and Xavi is 15 months.
Can you purchase tickets on the spot?
In theory, you can although they do advice you to purchase them before hand as they tend to get sold out especially during the peak seasons like spring break and summer.
Which tour is kid-friendly?
They have a list of the tours with detailed descriptions, level of difficulty and duration of tour, the one we took was the HISTORIC TOUR and it is friendly for kids that are around Cassie and Xavi’s age. The specific tour we got was a 2-mile hike inside a cave that would last us an estimate of 2 hours.
Can you bring a stroller? Baby carrier?
No, you cannot bring a stroller and yes you may bring a baby carrier, although they don’t allow any backpacks or hiking carriers that go above your head (or was it shoulders) just verify with the visitor center but this is actually very generous of them considering that when I brought the kids to a cave tour at Sequoia National Park, they wouldn’t allow the baby carrier unless it was one of those full cloth slings because they were scared that the plastic would rub against the walls, damaging them for good. More information on the website, I’m just going with what I was told.
So here’s our experience in a nutshell— we picked up our tickets at the visitor center ($34 for me and Marco, the kids were free) and since we were a bit early we toured the area and visited the souvenir shops to get our souvenir magnets.
30 minutes before our tour, which was the last tour for the day (3:15 pm), we stayed by the assigned meet up place until everyone gathered. There was a good 100 people on there, the park ranger or guide gave us instructions and briefed us on what we should be expecting for this tour.
We walked a few minutes towards the entrance of the cave and 10 minutes into the hike Cassie fell asleep, Xavi was already asleep even before we entered the cave, I’m thinking the cold temperature might have lulled them to sleep as they were already tired prior to that.
I wish I could say we took a lot of decent pictures but we were busy trying to keep up with the group while carrying both kids; Marco had Cassie in a the baby carrier and I had Xavi strapped on to me in a sling. The pathways are mostly paved and at one point even spacious, you can walk through comfortably. Most of the stairs had railings too so it was easier to make our way down.
Cassie woke up by the time we reached Fat Man’s Misery which was a good thing coz Marco would have had a difficult time zigzagging through that passage way with her strapped in front of him, she walked in between us and had no problem at all. I did pretty okay even with Xavi strapped in front of me and had no problem when the passage transitioned to Tall Man’s Misery, can I just say I love being small and short. Haha.
There was a short break in between where they gathered everyone and we all sat on benches, they briefed us that the next thing we were about to do was climb 150-155 steps straight.
I know that may sound a lot but the guides are very patient and accommodating and considering that Xavi was still asleep in front of me, I did fine. Cassie walked with Marco all the way up. Side note: if you have a fear of heights, I suggest you DO NOT look down. Overall, the tour was worth it even when the kids were dead weight while we were hiking, there were interesting facts that I learned but will not be mentioning them on here as not to spoil it for y’all if you plan to go. I know, I get a lot of ‘advice’ online from those who have done the tour to NOT bring kids this young but honestly it was an experience that we did as a family even if they won’t be remembering any of it, there was a sense of achievement in our part as parents, besides we’re all about doing things together, haha.
We made it! Xavi’s face says he doesn’t care.
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Address: 535 Wall Street, Bowling Green, KY 42104
So just to mention, all of our hotels on this trip were pretty light on the budget. We made sure they were comfortable, cheap and had free breakfast since most of our activities involved being out and about anyway. For this hotel, they accidentally gave us the handicap accessible room which was fine for the most part. It was spacious and had a receiving room, it had one queen size bed but the sofa was a sofa bed so the kids ended up sleeping there. The bathroom was spacious as well but it didn’t have a bath tub since it was wheel chair friendly so that still worked for me and my kids.
Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant
For some reason we were craving for Mexican food in Kentucky, weird I know but cravings have to be satisfied so thank God there was a decent one close to our hotel. The place was spacious so and the colorful tables and chairs are a sight to see. Food was great as the reviews online mentioned and the servings were big, can I just add that I enjoyed my frozen margarita immensely. 🙂
National Corvette Museum
Address: 350 Corvette Dr, Bowling Green, KY 42101
Marco was actually surprised when I suggested to visit this museum, he knows I’m not really into cars but the idea that this supercar was made and assembled right here in Bowling Green, Kentucky intrigued me. Of course I could just post a bunch of photos of different types of Corvettes through the years but I guess what intrigued me most was the fact that we could visit the actual site of the sink hole that happened right here in this museum and it actually swallowed a bunch of these expensive cars. They actually have a whole area dedicated to it.
And I just have to say they have a note-worthy KidZone at the museum, even adults might actually enjoy it. It’s very interactive, kids can pretend to be mechanics and check up the car or you can gas it up or even change the tires among many other things, Cassie and Xavi had so much fun that we might have stayed there for more than 15 minutes.
This is where they give you different perspectives on the ‘Corvette Cave In’, they show you actual footage of the event and show you how the whole ‘Sinkhole Experience’ happened. They also show you what kind of Corvettes were included and the history behind those cars.
If we weren’t in a hurry to head to the next state, we would’ve stayed there longer but we were so off to Nashville, Tennessee we go. Till next time Kentucky!
Heads up: This year’s Boy/ Girl Easter basket ideas are more or less going to be similar just coz I try to be fair when it comes to giving my kids stuff so forgive me if the options are limited. Also the ideas I put on here are more or less the items I have in Cassie and Xavi’s Easter baskets, the list might be missing some items that I decided not to put on here and some I might have already given them prior to Easter just coz this mommy couldn’t say ‘No’ but most of these items I’ve tried and tested so I do recommend them. This post is NOT SPONSORED in any way.
Last year, I got Cassie a wooden ducky plate (her choosing) and it was a hit so I’m getting Xavi his own wooden plate so they can stop fighting over it.
2. Moonlite Storybook ||
We got this as a gift for Christmas and they can’t seem to get enough of it so I ordered more stories for the mobile projector. For the Disney lovers, they already have Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh stories too.
If you’re Catholic or Christian I guess it wouldn’t hurt to remember the real reason for our Easter Celebration, instead of those cute little bunny plushies (that I always fall for) , why not have a Jesus huggy-pillow for your kids. They also have ‘Saint Buddies’ on there, if you want to check them out.
You probably haven’t heard of this brand just because its a local Filipino brand but I swear this line of baby cologne is so good and is gentle on kids. I’ve used it on mine and they ALWAYS get compliments considering that there were times when I didn’t bathe them. (hahaha). But then again fragrance is subjective, you might want to check them out yourself and you would probably find them in your nearest Asian Grocery (the big ones).
I’m happy to see that this series added boys/ men’s life stories to their collection. Its always a good read when its something that can serve as an inspiration or motivation to my kids.
This target brand has come up with fun and aesthetically pleasing wooden toys for kids ever since it came out and as usual this season they didn’t disappoint.This is, bar none, the cutest bowling set I’ve ever seen.
7. Native Shoes ||
We got ours recently from a thrift shop for $3.50 but these pair of shoes are soooo worth it. They’re comfy and they stay on for the most part unless your kid has something against shoes. They’re also perfect for spring and summer.
We’ve tried them personally and my kids have not gotten any allergic reaction to them, they have the cutest designs both for girls and boys and they last longer than stickers.
1. Hunter Boots ||
Rain or shine or snow these pair of boots have lasted Cassie so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll keep seeing this in other bloggers’ ‘ Easter Basket Ideas’ for years to come because they’re really comfortable and durable. I have my own pair and I love them!
Mermaids, Unicorns and Llamacorns—yep, Llama-Unicorns, Llamacorns! Did I mention that you can easily take them off if you wanted to? Just grab a wet wash cloth and rub gently while your kids take a bath.
3. Moonlite Storybook (Rose Gold) ||
If you have a girl and you love this too, you might want to know that they have a Rose Gold option now. I don’t need convincing since I am a big fan of ‘Rose Gold’ myself.
Although the scent says Bubble Gum please don’t expect the actual cologne to smell like bubble gum, this has a mild floral scent to it but we’ve used this for years and just like the ‘ Jellybean’ one Cassie’s gotten the ‘ She smells so good’ compliment every single time. It also lasts the entire day.
5. Flower Sunglasses ||
The girls will look so cute in these and they will be rockin this during summer, I will link one that I found on amazon for cheap but the one I got Cassie was cheaper and I got it from Target’s dollar section.
6. Basketweave shoulder bag ||
The link on here is not the exact one that I got Cassie, I got hers from Crazy 8 for less than $10 since all the Crazy 8 stores are closing but can we all just agree that these basket weave shoulder bags are the cutest.
I’ve been waiting for this book to come out just coz Mother Teresa has been an inspiration especially to a lot of Catholics, I would want my daughter to know about her and I wouldn’t mind if she picked her as a role model.
From, kitchens to doll houses and farm houses, Hearth and Hand creates the cutest pretend play sets. They don’t just make the kids fall in love with their toys, even the moms are crazy about them and this is no exception. I don’t do gardening but this caddy will spark my interest.
ONE….. I cannot believe my little boy tuned one. Even before celebrating Xavi’s birthday I already felt bad. They say second born children don’t get as much ‘attention’ as the first but Marco and I wouldn’t really know coz we both are the first from both sides. I would beg to differ but looking back, Cassie had things she didn’t even need until she turns 4, Xavi on the other hand gets stuff when he needs it (desperately), you get what I mean. It’s not necessarily bad but its the truth, we have the tendency to go all out on the first.
For Cassie’s birthday, Marco and I DIY-ed a bunch of things, we planned her first birthday at least 6 months in advance but then again we still lived in Houston, we knew a lot of people, Marco was still reviewing for his USMLE, I was working part time and we still lived with my parents so we had all the time and all the guests to invite. This time around it was different, it’s only our 2nd year here in Muncie and we’ve only started establishing relationships and meeting people with kids like us. Marco is busy working and I stay at home with both of them so that doesn’t really give us any time to prepare but then again we don’t really have a lot of people to invite so we opted to do it at a play place, Escapades. It’s simple, easy and convenient, I wouldn’t have to think of what to serve the guests since we had to order from their menu, I don’t have to figure out how to entertain the kids, plus they had beautiful murals in their party rooms and I said “hey, since we don’t have a theme for Xavi’s birthday yet let the mural be the deciding factor” , so outer space it was. Escapades had three party packages to choose from but since most of Xavi’s guests were little like him we opted for the simplest one. The cake was already part of the package but I wanted that to be extra special, I approached my go-to local cake maker but Chef Maggie had a lot of things going on and she referred me to her friend another local cake maker and the cake, the cupcakes and the sugar cookies were a hit. Not only did they look pretty but they were De-lish-shooooos!
For party favors, I’ve learned from my mom how important it is to somewhat be in theme with the party so I ordered a bunch of stuff online, I’ll link some of the ones I got from Amazon on here: Rocket Ship Bubbles , Outer Space Stamps, Outer Space Rubber Duckies and then I got some the Outer space bouncy balls and small green alien from our local Party City. I threw in some Milky Ways, Pop Rocks anything that would somehow give out the ‘Outer Space’ vibe and added just a bunch of other random treats for the kids. I figured I’d leave it up to the parents to figure out which ones NOT to give their kids.
The blue paper bags I got from our local Dollar Tree and I browsed online for an astronaut image I could paste on it, the little “Thank You” labels I also got online, I edited it to make it small and added the ‘Thank You’ caption on it and there you have it, personalized party favor bags.
And then we ended up adding more kids and I didn’t have enough party bags so I had to make a different set of goodies since I was too scared the party favors might not make it on time even if we ordered them with prime so here’s the other set. Thank God I still found some alien squishies from Party City, I had to get regular bubbles and make do of whatever treats were available.
The first time I made a DIY piñata was for Cassie’s first birthday and I said to myself I was going to make that into a ‘party tradition’ of mine, somewhat like ‘Mommy’s Labor of Love’ . So far the only time I’ve missed was for Cassie’s third birthday and the only reason why I didn’t make one was because we decided to do a trip instead of having a real party so I don’t know how I pulled it off but here it is, I know it looks easy but it’s been more than a year since I’ve made one and this shape is probably the most complex out of the three I’ve made.
Without further ado, here are some photos from his birthday at Escapades. I wish I could’ve taken more pictures with the guests but we were at a play area so the kids were busy running around and enjoying the place.
The simplest and quickest dessert table I’ve set up, a good 10 minutes or maybe 7. hahaha. The moon cake, stars/alien cupcakes and moon sugar cookies we ordered from a local bakeshop called Concannons as back up for the galaxy set I ordered. Actually if you get a party package from Escapades, you get a Concannons birthday cake with that and I thought that would be great for Xavi’s smash cake. And since we were getting a cake from them I figured why not order a different set of cupcakes and sugar cookies so they ended up making the stars/alien cupcakes and the moon and star sugar cookies ( I decided not to display the stars).
Did I not say that Escapades has awesome murals? It’s more impressive up close and the best part is you don’t have to worry about your party backdrop, its already built-in.
My little astronaut enjoying his balloons, we got his costume on Amazon too and it fit him perfectly. I’m also linking it here.
Quick family photos before the kids started to reach in for the goodies. I love it when the guests enjoy the dessert table, even if this was just a simple one.
Thanks to my parents for flying all the way from Houston just to celebrate their 1st grandson’s First Birthday, that meant a lot to us.
A moment with my little boy before blowing his candle.
Thanks to the Rousseaus for always being there for us.
Xavi with Tita Ditas, missing Tito Steve in the picture.
Poker face with Daddy, someone’s getting sleepy
His sister had to help him blow his candle. Happy Birthday Xav!
We also did the piñata before the birthday boy fell asleep. I designed a pull-a-string one to avoid any injuries with the kids. We know how crazy it can be with that piñata stick.haha
He fell asleep as soon as grandy carried him, he was sleepy alright.
The gift table, spot the ‘Under the Sea’ mural from the other side of the room
We had to open gifts at home.
…but this little boy didn’t want to get messy, a few icing on his mouth and the rest were just in his hands and he refused to lick them. Haha, Smash Cake FAIL.
Again, thanks to everyone who made it to our little boy’s First Birthday, your presence made his day extra special!
*DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVED THESE PRODUCTS COMPLIMENTARY FOR REVIEW PURPOSES. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.
Let’s be honest, the past few months I haven’t really splurged on any makeup since stay-at-home moms activities involve house chores, watching the kids and doing groceries for the most part so I feel like there really is no need for makeup other than those cheap drugstore ones I get for my daily look (yes, some days I still try to not look like a “mombie aka Mom+zombie). So you could just imagine how pleased I was to make it to the Influenster Smashbox 24 hour concealer campaign.
This concealer retails at $24 in Sephora so its a little bit over my budget for daily make up, the ones I get from the drugstore are less than $15 so it would be something I’d use on special occasions maybe, the coverage of this concealer is commendable though. The shade that I received to try out was LIGHT MEDIUM WARM OLIVE and at first I was unsure that it would work out well for me since I usually get something ‘WARM BEIGE’, surprisingly it matched my skin perfectly fine. The petal shaped applicator makes it easy to apply especially under the eyes and its easy to even out the concealer .
With my drugstore concealers, it normally takes a lot to mask my dark circles since they are very pronounced but I literally just needed a dab on both sides to cover them with the Smashbox 24 hour concealer. I made sure to try it out early morning to test the 24-hour coverage claim and although I did not leave it on for exactly 24 hours, I observed it from morning till night and it stayed on without needing any retouches, it also did not accumulate any build up through the course of the day. And before I end this short review let me just put it out there that this product is VEGAN and CRUELTY-FREE, so it’s definitely a TWO THUMBS UP for this mama!
With Smashbox 24-hour concealer
Late night Target Shopping and I haven’t found the need to retouch it since I put it on this morning.