Fall Haul: Once Upon a Child

Back in Texas, my cousin who knew that I enjoyed dressing up Cassie asked if I’ve been to a Once Upon a Child branch,  I told her that I’ve heard some ads on the radio but I’ve never been to one since we weren’t fortunate enough to live close to any of the branches. For those who haven’t heard of Once Upon a Child, it’s a chain that buys and sells second hand children’s items from clothes to shoes to toys; think of it as a Plato’s Closet for kids.

When we moved here to Indiana, guess what just happened to be 8 minutes away from our new home—yep, a Once Upon a Child. I love planning Cassie’s outfits especially when we’re about to change seasons but it doesn’t mean that I have to burn holes in my pockets. So, I’ve started getting her things for autumn; floral falls, nudes, camels, tangerine, mustards.

Here are some of my Once Upon a Child finds, mostly name brands for a fraction of the price.

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Old Navy Bunny/Floral Dress with Old Navy Denim Jeans (under the dress)- $6.50 for both

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Old Navy Cream Button Top- $3.50

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Zara Autumn Floral Dress- $10.00

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Baby Gap Sweater- $7.50

Garanimals cream white jeggings- $2.50

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Osh Kosh Genuine Kids vest- $3.50

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3/4 sleeves checkered button up blouse- $2.50

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Cream Old Navy Rubber soles Moccasins-$4.50

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Wool Felt Tangerine Toddler Bowler Hat- $2.50

 

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Muncie Local: Water Bowl

Here’s another attempt to explore Muncie and see what it has to offer. For the past few days I’ve been craving for Vitamin Sea and I’m almost positive there isn’t a legit beach close by so I started googling swimming holes, public pools or lakes within the area and after a good while I finally came across Water Bowl. I’m surprised it’s not one of the first few things that came out in Google search considering that this place has been here for awhile (since 1970). Let’s just say I found a local commercial for this place on youtube from 1988…that’s just 2 years after I was born and on there they say…

“Come Join us here in Water Bowl, the hottest place in Muncie”

And it did seem very enticing, possibly “the place to be” in the late 80s to early 90s but I guess the hype eventually died down maybe due to people getting tired of it, or bad marketing strategy or there wasn’t enough publicity, maybe there was a change of management or it lacked maintenance…one can only speculate but it’s still there, its open, they still have events once in awhile and its been running all these years so in a way they must be doing something right. I was just a bit surprised that there were only a few people there considering that it was still summer.

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Online they have a good rating of 4+ stars and to be honest, the place was actually pretty good. Come to think of it I was pleased that it wasn’t packed, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a disliking for super crowded places, I don’t know of its my age showing. Haha.

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There were lounging areas surrounding the swim area and they didn’t charge for those so you could occupy as much chairs and tables as you wanted, I guess they’re banking on people being considerate of one another. Admission was reasonable too, here are the current rates from their FB page.

Admission Prices for Fishing and Swimming
$5.50 per Adult
$2.00 per Child (13 and under)
Children under 3 are FREE

Camping Prices
$10.00 per Adult
$5.00 per child (13 and under)
3 and under are FREE

Season Pass Pricing
Single Pass $150.00
Family 4 Pass $250.00

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Pregnant mama concealing her bump. 😀

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The main area and the snack shack.

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The sand there was pretty okay but it could still be a lot better if they imposed rules like “no pets”, “no eating” and “no smoking” close to the swimming area (or maybe they had them but weren’t strict enough to reinforce them). I noticed 2 cigarette butts close to where we were hanging out (i’m sure you’ll see at least one if you stare at this photo) and a woman got away with not throwing her burger wrapper which eventually flew into the water and I had to pick it up. The swing area had one dog poop probably because they allowed pets within the vicinity.

I’d be more confident to have my baby play on the sand and build sand castles if they paid more attention to cleanliness. In my opinion, the water was pretty clean though.

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Me with my mini-me

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The pirate ship was a pretty cool attraction for kids but it wasn’t running when we were there. The slides are supposedly water slides, I could tell based on the holes on top of the slides. She still had fun playing on the ship though.

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Oh yeah, they have fishes swimming by the shore and these are the small ones so if you wiggle your toes they come closer thinking its bait or worm. I think if you go further down you can even fish. I saw a boy with his fishing pole and he caught a fish twice the size of my hand.

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To those interested to visit Water Bowl, here’s the

Address to Google: 6811 North Old State Road 3 Muncie, Indiana

Those who use Waze, I suggest you use Google Maps for this place because Waze hasn’t updated their map and I got lost twice, It kept making me miss a turn and I had to drive 15 minutes more when it recalculated.

But to sum it all up, it was a fairly good experience, a perfectly relaxing day for me, Marie and Cassie. If the weather is right and you should happen to be in the area, make sure to drop by.

~Rhea

Houston Local: Downtown Houston Graffiti Art (Part I)

For months now we’ve planned to visit Downtown Houston to visit the graffiti art within the city but for some reason something always comes up and we end up postponing our plans for another day. In a way a there’s a slight urgency to see these outdoor artwork  because some of them aren’t permanently there and what I mean by that is sometimes artists change their work and it gets replaced by something else so while they’re there its best to take advantage of it.

Today, my husband woke up and suggested to randomly visit downtown so we could finally see some of Houston’s graffiti art work. We figured since we’re moving to Indiana in a few months, now would be a best time to explore Houston so we headed to Halal Guys first for lunch since we’ve been craving it for days now and the location we wanted to go to was approximately 7 minutes away from it so that worked out perfectly fine.

Here are some photos that we took during our visit. For those who are interested to see these murals here’s an address to put in your GPS:

1503 Chartres St., Houston, Texas 77003

I just wish there was someone who could tell us the name of these pieces. Anyone knowledgeable? Shoot me an email or comment down below. I’d love to recognize the artists and their artwork. Thanks!

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Oh, btw today is the First Day of Spring. How apt that our day turned out to be full of life and full of colors, just like spring. Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

~Rhea

Houston Local: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

It always amuses me when people say “I’m bored”; I feel like theres so many things to do in this life that even our time on this earth would not be enough. It might be just a matter of perspective and I’m trying to raise Cassie to see things the way Marco and I see it. As much as my little family and I would like to travel and go on a lot of adventures I truly believe that not all adventures entail money (well, maybe gas money), that’s when being resourceful kicks in.

Unconsciously, I’ve been on a mission to prove my point, locally this community has a lot of things to offer and its a matter of learning how to take advantage of it. We’ve visited the Houston zoo for free but you’d have to know that they do that mostly on the first Tuesday of each month, Thursdays are usually free admission days for museums especially the Children’s museum where I’d like to take Cassie soon and then there’s one and a million parks here in Houston and the near outskirts that are waiting to be explored.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was a gem that we discovered 17 minutes away from home. It’s a local Hindu temple that opens their doors to visitors even those of different religion and their architectural construct does not fall short from what India is known for. I could go on and on about our visit to the temple but I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.

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The first photo we took as soon as we entered the premises, I had to tell him to stop acting all goofy since we were in a temple and all

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I though that the temple would be a good place to take pictures of Cassie but she fell asleep right before entering the gates

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Today’s #OOTD

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The fountains opposite side from where we entered

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Steps going up to the Mandir (temple), no photographs and no shoes allowed beyond this point

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Had to check out the intricate details up close, that college class I took on India really taught me to appreciate not only their architecture but everything else that’s embedded in their culture

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Coming out of the mandir. The walls, the ceilings, the floor and everything else was breathtaking, if only we cold’ve taken pictures inside.

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It does make a beautiful background thus acquiring that unofficial nickname of “Houston’s mini Taj Mahal”

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…he just had to pose that way. Ugh

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The temple vicinity is very friendly to visitors, they have signs and guides all over the place

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Family photo by the structure across the mandir, thanks to a friendly temple-goer who randomly offered to take our picture

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Color pop against the plain white details. Can’t get enough of these carvings.

I was a bit disappointed that Cassie slept the entire time because I wanted her to explore the grounds and run around to check out the fountains but on the other hand I’m glad she slept so Marco and I could appreciate the place without any crazy distractions, haha. We can always bring Cassie  back here next time. If you’re a Houston local, this place is a must-see but before you come visit please check their website and familiarize with their rules as this is a sacred place to them and a place of worship. Before you leave the area, please visit their gift shop, make a donation or try their daily vegetarian lunch buffet (we have yet to do that). Oh yeah, I hear that they light up the temple at night and it looks magical, you should definitely drive by to check it out.

Well, there you go…that’s another thing to do here in Houston. I don’t think this place will ever bore me. Enjoy!

~Rhea

Destination: Big Bear Lake, California

January 2-4, 2017

Seeing snow while spending the holidays in California was like the cherry on top, the Mendezonas planned a skiing/snowboarding trip to Big Bear but I was more excited that Cassie was going to have her first snow experience. I was already assuming that she would fall in love with snow so quickly given the fact that she has a current obsession with things cold (ice, A/C, freezer, ref…and the list goes on) also explaining one of her all-time favorite expressions “told told” (cold cold).

There were 14 Mendezonas and half of us haven’t encountered snow long enough or don’t live in snow. Period. It’s a good thing the L.A-Mendezonas had enough snow gear for the rest of the Mendezona boys while Mami made sure the ones who didn’t have snow gear had one especially the babies. We even visited the snow gear outlet store a few days before the road trip. Wow, I didn’t think staying warm and comfortable at the same time would be a lot of serious work . I guess its different when you take solo skiing trips, I remembered my first trip to Colorado a few years back and packing wasn’t this crazy but when you prepare for a family of 14—it is a PRODUCTION. Imagine all the snow boots, all the thick jackets, all the thermals, all the mittens, all the gloves, all the snow goggles not even counting the snowboards and the ski equipment, yes, it was definitely a production.

Day 1

Our drive there has got to be one of the least boring drives I’ve taken in my life, not because Cassie was screaming until almost half way through the drive but because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. For some reason snow makes things look so magical.

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3 cars and 2 hours later the Mendezonas made it to their Air bnb cabin in Big Bear and the boys were in charge of most of the hard labor of carrying the luggages up the stairs. (photo below for reference, hahaha).

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The kitchen and dining area. Excuse our luggage.

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The living room by the fireplace

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Bedroom on the 1st floor

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Upstairs bathroom had one of Cassie’s favorite animals—Owl.

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The loft upstairs aka the boys area

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The second floor’s very own cozy nook

Once we kinda got settled in and we semi-explored the house, we headed out for late lunch at this local place that was called Mountain Munchies. It might have presented itself like a hole-in-the wall but service was excellent in the form of our server being really patient with us.

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What I got, chicken Fried Steak. It was meh.

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Our view from outside the diner.

After late lunch, we headed out to a play area where the kids could play with snow but Cassie was fast asleep so I decided not to wake her up so we decided to stay inside the car to keep warm. The remainder of the day was spent on cooking, running errands, settling down and family bonding time over random movies by the fire place. Oh,  and marshmallows by the fire place.

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This one is out cold and missed playing with snow.

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What dinner preparations looked like

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These two cousins bonding over giant marshmallows

Day 2

Of course we tried to follow our planned schedule to leave by 9am for our snow activities and of course we failed miserably. Did I mention there were 14 of us and 2 bathrooms? One thing I’ve learned from situations like these is the “Early bird gets to bathe in hot water”, I’m telling you icy baths are no fun especially when they’re least expected.

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Good Morning!

Our view outside the cabin.

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The girls and one little pikachu photo bomber, my godson Teo. Haha

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She just wanted me to put her down so she could play with snow

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“let go of my hand mommy”

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Chilling (literally) by the side snow with these cuties while waiting for everyone to head down

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Photo op before heading out to the slopes

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Two hours and thirty minutes after our planned time we made it there.

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We parked our snowboards. What a stash, haha.

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And even then we still took long in buying our lift tickets and renting out snowboard boots and what not

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This one wasted no time and started exploring

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Ordering lunch to this view

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Cassie wanted to see the view for herself

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The scenery from up the slopes

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Cassie: It’s about time daddy

Marco, finally came down after a few rounds of snowboarding and he decided to play with the kids in the snow

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Me and Pilica with the babies

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Mami and Mikel had to make a miniature snowman to stop Teo from crying, he loved it but wouldn’t take a picture with it. (Yes, that’s beans and mac and cheese. )

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Although someone gladly posed next to the itty bitty snowman. Haha, Hi Dieg.

A short recap of today’s events, most went snowboarding, some went skiing, one got sprained and mami and I stayed with the kids. The highlight of my day was seeing Cassie go crazy over snow, she loved it so much that she’d get mad at me for taking her back to our waiting area. In fact she loved it so much she was willing to go with anyone who could take her back to the play area even if it wasn’t mommy.

Day 3

Everyone else had the rest of the morning to do more snow activities but Marco, Javi, Mami, Pilica, Anya, Cassie and I had to go down first since Marco had to fly to Houston earlier a day before me and Cassie for an interview.

~Rhea