Where to Eat in San Antonio! Kid Friendly Places you can’t miss.

Dining with kids on a vacation can be a daunting task, especially if you have a lot of places to visit and cover. When mealtime rolls on a trip, instead of dragging everyone back to the hotel to eat, we look for the nearest kid-friendly restaurant or cafe.

And on our recent trip to San Antonio, we were delighted to learn that there were tons of kid-friendly places to eat at almost all main attractions we visited. One could easily spend a three- to four-day trip eating your way through vibrant San Antonio. It’s the perfect place to introduce any kid – toddler to teen – to healthy, tasty, unique and flavorful eats. From Mexican food joints and handmade ice cream to adorable cafes!  

One of the things we are very particular about is vegetarian food, since I am a  vegetarian, my husband eats chicken, and Vir is trying to eat chicken but prefers a vegetarian meal. So, we always look at the menus online before we hit the place. I also love to check out on Instagram how the restaurant looks and feels, and if it’s a casual and kid-friendly place, too. 

The Bottling Department Food Hall at Pearl is a one-stop place for everything from beer, cocktails, donuts, ramen , hamburgers, garden bowls and more. The emerging local chefs are truly the heart and soul of San Antonio’s rich and growing reputation as a culinary destination, and their mix of ingredients, tastes and styles all combine to create a community united by culture and rooted in well-crafted, high-quality food. I loved the prickly pear margarita I had at the pub there. It was one of the best drinks I had in the city! The Good Kind restaurant offers some of the healthiest food in the city. They have a great variety of bowls, cold-pressed juices and smoothies, too. For our drive back home, we also packed some Maybelle’s donuts.

Bakery Lorraine We ate here twice, and love it! I wish they would come to Houston soon. One of the few bakeries I have been where the breakfast and lunch menu is as wide as the bakery menu. Their coffee is very good and food items are healthy and flavorful. Vir ate mac and cheese and croissants, while we enjoyed the tomato soup, sandwiches, and avocado toast. You must stop at the Pearl to sit at the bakery and grab some food to go, as well! And shout out to Doseum Museum for having bakery Lorraine instead of a fast food chain!

 

La Margarita Restaurant & Oyster Bar at the Historic Market Square offers excellent food and great margaritas in a charming, Old World setting. The Tex-Mex dishes and the sizzling fajitas were too good. The service is excellent, and the food is amazing. The live Mariachis was also great, Vir loved the vibe there and for us, the margaritas were spot-on. After shopping at the market square, this is a great place to get some rest, grab some delicious food and head for the next destination. They have outdoor sitting, too. 

Ocho– Location and elegance!! The café is inside Hotel Havana and is situated in a glass conservatory overlooking the River Walk. It is one of the most beautiful cafes I have been to in a while. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks indoors and outdoors. I love that they offer complimentary wifi and serve Stumptown espresso drinks. We had our morning breakfast there, and it was a short walk from our hotel. 

La Gloria is in Pearl Brewery and has a great atmosphere, great food with excellent service and staff! The outside patio is right by the River Walk and it’s covered and has fans! It was a perfect spot to cool down and enjoy some snacks and drinks while overlooking the river. The menu is Mexican; we ate some tacos and got a side of rice and beans for Vir. They also have live music like most of the other Mexican restaurants.


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A Popsicle and ice cream store at the Hemisfair park is a must-visit for everyone. The local husband and wife-owned store offers wholesome treats made with fresh, natural and organic ingredients. If you take the kids to the splash pad or park, you must visit this store and surprise yourself to a unique flavor popsicle. Their popsicles are priced very reasonably, from $3 onward. We got the Tamarind water-based popsicle , while Vir had the mango- and milk-based popsicle. 

For family friendly spots in San Antonio, you can’t miss check our my last post here.

I hope you get to enjoy these restaurants and cafes, and do share with me your favorite spots to eat in San Antonio if you stay or have visited the place. If you haven’t yet visited the city. Check my post here why you should travel there this year!

XOXO

Arushi (2)

 

This post was produced in partnership with Visit San Antonio and Travel Mindset.

 

Family Friendly Spots in San Antonio You Can’t Miss ! Our Mini Summer Getaway

 

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Location : The Doseum

Without a doubt, San Antonio is one of the most tourist-friendly cities of Texas! And I love how it has so much to offer every time we come back.

Our family has been in Houston, Texas, for more than  9 years now, and San Antonio is one of our favorite destinations to go for a long weekend road trip with friends or family visiting us. It is also a great place to chill and enjoy a mini couple getaway. This was our fifth visit, while it was our son’s first time in the vibrant city.

Our recent road trip to San Antonio was completely different than the previous ones! I guess it is the beauty of traveling with kids. The place is the same but the memories we make and the adventures we have are different every time!

The last time we traveled to San Antonio was around 3 years back, when my cousin and her husband visited us in Houston from Chicago. The two of us were pregnant then, and we enjoyed our trip by shopping and eating on the famous River Walk. One cannot miss the River Walk if in San Antonio, and I can’t get enough of it every time we go!  I just love how lively it is throughout the day. 

We ate at the restaurants on River Walk every night on this visit, too. (Note: Usually there is 20-30 minute at most of the restaurants, so we put our names on the list at 2 different spots and explored the place until we got a call for a table that opened for us on either of the restaurants). Also for the first time, we got a full tour on the boat ride, as Vir was super excited to go on it!

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Vir was in awe of the river walk.

I have to say, I am seriously blown away with the number of things we were able to do with our toddler in three days.  From splash parks, to boat rides, historic markets to a museum and more! In this post, I will be sharing a guide to all the must visit places and to do activities in San Antonio with your little ones! I am also sharing some fun family clicks from our family trip. Hope you enjoy them and like these recommendations:

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Location: The Pearl 

The Pearl Experience – I like to call it an experience, as there is so much in one spot for everyone. You can spend half a day here eating, relaxing, shopping and letting your kids run around in a huge park while enjoying the splash pad. From amazing food, a farmer’s market, and night concerts to boutique shopping and a splash pad located right in the center, the Pearl Brewery has something for everyone. I love the industrial architecture mixed with urban style. This is one of the coolest spots to be in Texas for sure. If you visit on the weekend, plan to go to the farmer’s market. 

Historic Market Square– We loved the bright sights and flavors of old Mexico at Historic Market Square. Shopping is one of my favorite things to do at any trip, and we loved exploring at the locally owned shops and stalls, all at a festive indoor mall famously described as the largest Mexican market outside Mexico. If you like Talavera pottery, exotic curios and handcrafted works of art, you will love it here. I bargained and got a lamp and some outfits! Vir got some wooden cars while my mom and Deep enjoyed some flavorful local street food. Do try the Tamarind flavor popsicle!! It was out of this world. 

 

The DoSeum, San Antonio’s museum for kids was such a great afternoon affair.  We spent $14 on tickets per person, parked conveniently in front of the museum and got to stay away from the Texas heat while staying indoors and checking out the interesting and fun exhibits. Vir had so much fun at the bubble area, and I like to say we all did, too.  We made giant bubbles for an hour!

The Little Town was by far one of the coolest towns Vir must have been to! Ha ! He sat on an excavator, drove a food truck, changed the tires of a car and even went shopping on his own. I loved the educational experience. Also, the Sensations Studio is a must visit exhibit for kids of any age.  They can make sound and light come alive by playing with a wide variety of light and sound phenomena! I loved how Vir got to explore the intersection between science and art! We must have spent close to 3 hours there and still couldn’t complete all the exhibits! I was so happy to the see the yummy and kid-friendly food from Bakery Lorraine at the museum! As vegetarians, that was a big win for us.

Hemisfair Park – On one of the evenings, we hit the delightful Hemisfair park. I was very impressed with the water gardens, kid-designed wood and sand playground, which includes a castle and space tunnel! We spent more than two hours here chatting and watching Vir enjoy and make new friends. A must-see! Love that the park was so clean and has something for younger and older kids, too. It’s a great spot to have a family picnic

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch – On our way back to Houston, we stopped at an African Safari with a Texan Twist just 30 minutes away from San Antonio! Truly one of the best experiences we have had in awhile! Imagine seeing more than 500 animals representing more than 40 species from all over the world in the comfort of your own car. We fed ostriches, goats, buffalo, zebras, gazelles and more! This was a winner really. I can’t believe we waited so long to go there. But, well, it was perfect! The weather was terrific, it was cloudy and breezy, and we loved spending close to four hours feeding animals and exploring the 450 acres! It didn’t feel like we were in Texas at all! There were hills! I am so glad we had the Toyota RAV4 for this trip. My son and I took full advantage of it to watch the giraffes and find the deer and kiwis. I loved how the ostriches stuck their necks inside the car for food! Some amazing unforgettable memories were made in this car and trip! Also, there is a petting zoo, a restaurant and a cute store!

You can bring you own food and have a picnic there! We got some snacks and sandwiches, packed for our drive and had lunch there. The tickets are fairly priced to $24.50 per adult, $22 for senior citizen and $15.50 for kids 3 -11 years. If you are a local or live in the neighboring cities, I highly recommend getting any annual pass. We plan to go back again in winters!

Natural Bridge Caverns – Although we didn’t go there on this trip with Vir I wanted to include it in my list here, as it is definitely a great place to visit with older kids. We have been here twice already in our past trips to San Antonio. I found it to be a very unique attraction, honestly a geographic wonder underneath Texas! There are different tour options to choose from. All tours are guided, and tickets can be bought online. We have done the Discovery Tour and Hidden Passages tour. Both the tours were wonderful, and the guides were quite knowledgeable and engaging. Hidden Passages tour is slightly longer than the Discovery Tour.

Castle of the White Giants

Source: Natural Bridge Caverns

The former involves more stairs and probably goes deeper down. The latter covers more area and passes through some gigantic stalactites and stalagmites formations, including the Watchtower, a majestic 15-meter formation which is the largest column of the tour. Wear waterproof shoes if you can and active wear or shorts. Tickets range from $18-$25 depending on the day you visit. Buy ahead of time and save. There are also zip lines and other fun activities for older kids. 

If you have enough time, I recommend doing the Natural Bridge Safari and Caverns on same day as they are just a few miles from each other. 

I hope you find this guide useful to travel with your kids to San Antonio! For places to eat with kids in San Antonio click here

XOXO

Arushi (2)

 

**This post was produced in partnership with Visit San Antonio and Travel Mindset**

Top Family Friendly Spots in San Antonio0

Healthy Homemade Popsicle Recipes for Toddlers + Kids

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I have been lately posting a lot of stories on my Instagram of the popsicles batches I have been preparing for my son to be beat the H town heat. And as promised to all my followers who sent me so many DMs, here are the recipes to Vir’s favorite popsicles that are easy to make and healthy too!

It’s hotter than hot in Houston and so these nutritious and healthy popsicles end up as snacks and even sometimes as a meal on those hard days with a toddler.

The recipes are extremely simple and has almost 3- 4 ingredients max.

You need these 2 very important things to start with the process.

1)      Ice Cream Mold

2)      Blender

I planned a trip to my local grocer Kroger on the weekend to get all the fresh fruits, yogurt and ice cream molds. While shopping I came across the Brawny Tear-A-Square® paper towel! I cannot tell you how much I hate wasting paper napkins and tearing an entire sheet to just clean a little spill or to have to use as a napkin while feeding.

The award-winning Brawny Tear-A-Square® just solved such a huge waste problem for me, as the quarter sheet size works for both clean-up and as a napkin! Just the right size of paper towels a toddler can use. It is perfect for home use, picnics, barbeques, road trips, just anywhere. I highly recommend getting this product and trying it out. I wished I found them during Vir’s Birthday Party, I threw so many napkins out that just had a little bit of cake on it or were just left on the floor.

Below are my most recommended popsicles that you and your kids can enjoy. To make them interesting I added some layers with yogurt for a bit extra!

Strawberry, Blueberry Watermelon Smash

IMG_6422These are 90 % fruit and 10% yogurt for that extra zing. It helps balance your electrolytes.

I hate wasting food and fruit especially. A big watermelon sometimes at our home gets wasted and so I made sure I blend it with other fruits to get the taste, strawberries add some more sweetness and the blueberry adds the deep dark colors ( It can also make it tangy ). You can choose to add sugar or replace blueberry with lime for a zing.  I didn’t add either.

Pour the blended mixture in ice mold upto ¾ till top and freeze for 3 hours.

After 3 hours use some store bought strawberry or vanilla organic yogurt. And pour it in the remaining portion of molds to fill up the rest and add a layer.

Check after a few hours. It should be ready to eat!

These are beautiful looking, tastes awesome like any other fruit popsicle in the market minus the sugar.

Mango Mania!

IMG_6454I had been wanting to introduce mangoes to Vir, he somehow hasn’t appreciated the fruit as much. I guess because it’s a bit tangy and not as sweet as alphonso mangoes.

So, I took 1 whole peeled mango, added 2 tbsp sugar and some whole milk to make it smoothie like and not entirely fruity. Please see how much sugar you need to add as some mangoes can be tangy.

Like above I poured the blended smoothie in ice mold upto ¾ till top and freeze for 3 hours.

After 3 hours use some store-bought vanilla organic yogurt. And pour it in the remaining portion of molds to fill up the rest and add a layer.

Check after a few hours. It should be ready to eat!

This was a hit, as Vir got excited about the yellow color. You can also add pineapple and make it a tropical smoothie without the milk.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Pop!

IMG_6478This was a hit especially last week when my son was sick and wasn’t eating a lot. I tried to give him milk and he kept refusing it. So, I took his store-bought chocolate milk, add 1 tbsp of peanut butter and half banana and blended it.

You can add sugar too or even honey. I added 1 tbsp of sugar as the peanut butter had no sugar added to it. Taste the smooth mixture when you are done blending and add accordingly.

Pour the mixture in mold and added the rest of the banana pieces in the mold and set it to freeze. Check after 3 hours.

I had fun making these popsicles as they are super easy, healthy and flavorful. To beat the mess while cleaning up or just simply holding the popsicle Brawny Tear-A-Square® came to our rescue. The sheets are durable, strong and the perfect size! You can find them at a Kroger near you.

For the Tangy Coconut and Kiwi Kicker click here. I posted this a while back.

Tip: While removing the popsicles from the mold, make sure you run hot tap water on the mold to easily remove the popsicles.

Have a fantastic summer and do share with me your favorite popsicle flavor!

 **This post is sponsored by Kroger as always, all opinions are mine**

XOXO

Arushi (2)

5

The 10 Best Educational, Interactive & Engaging Apps For Toddlers & Preschoolers

TOP 10 APPS FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS (2)

The right amount of screen time is a completely personal choice for all the parents to make and I would like to stress I am not promoting the use of devices on this post today. However, we live in a device obsessed world and setting limits on screen time is a more crucial point to think over than ruling it out completely. One of the greatest struggles we’ve experienced as new parents has been how to foster digital savvy‐ness in our child– while we don’t want to shield him from today’s latest technology.

Responsible use of media currently is important, and tablets or phones can be used for either reading books out loud, or for learning apps and games that could be like educational toys. Or for example sometimes watching language promoting cartoons (in our case Hindi cartoons) while eating dinner or having lunch at the restaurant. (moms just banish that mom guilt, we can eat at least 1 meal in peace)

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics has offered guidance on children’s and adolescents’ media use saying, “Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under two, discourage screen media exposure.” 

We are constantly looking for some new ways to entertain our energetic toddler without feeling guilty about, while offering something that offers creativity, is educational and engaging!

So, I am rounding up some apps that is my top picks. We have often used these on our long flights and have usually downloaded them just days before to keep him interested.

Recommending apps for kids of age  1-5 year below

  1. Lego Duplo Train (Age 2+ )– This app is a lot of fun – first it FREE,it’s Lego there are Trains ! One of Vir’s favorite, build tracks, choose the wagons, load the train , drive it and also make bridges. It is almost like a puzzlelego
  2. Talu Town for (Age 5 and under) – Another app we recently introduced to Vir. In this app kids drive around a virtual city and help friendly characters with various tasks—disguised as mini games. I love how all the tasks help in practice counting, matching, sorting, shapes, puzzles, and more. Completing each task allows them to earn stars, which can be used to buy new cars and outfits.talu
  3.  Artie’s World (Age 3-6) – We started using this a month back and love it. Artie’s World is a playful app that teaches kids how to draw with a dot-to-dot system. Kids trace basic and irregular shapes to draw toys, vehicles, and animals, then watch as their creations come to life with funny animations. The app is simple enough for young kids, and there is no reading requiredartie
  4. Woodie Hoo Animal Friends Ages 2+ . This game can be played  at the kid’s own pace and stimulates to learn with fun, colorful, high quality animations and pictures. I like how it hold’s the attention for a good amount of time. Note there are in app purchases.

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 5. Alphabet Flash cards 3+ to Pre-Schoolers -This app helps to learn the alphabet by using digital flashcards. Our son has learnt all alphabets with practice and this was helpful too part from books.

6. Sago Trucks and Diggers (Age 2+) One of my son’s favorite he likes to play it till date. Kids can drive a dump truck, pile dirt high and dig deep in the ground with diggers, cranes and bulldozers. Great for motor skills and no in app purchases.

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7.My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Age 2+) This is a unique app and promotes imaginative play. The app is basically an extension of Eric Carle’s classic book. Vir really enjoyed it as he was reading the book and could see the caterpillar in action. On the app daily, the caterpillar is up to some new challenges and things to play with including painting, making music, and watering your garden. After around 6 days, your caterpillar is quite large and makes a cocoon, emerging the next day as a beautiful butterfly. A great lesson on the life cycle!

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8.Daniel Tiger’s Stop and Go Potty (Age 2+) – This app helps in toilet training and helps in understanding important bathroom routines. There are some games too that  are simple and appropriate for the target age, and the narration is excellent.

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9. Bimi Boo Kids Baby Piano (Age 1+) This app has been one of the first musical apps Vir started with. It allows little ones to develop creativity, an ear for music, hand-eye coordination, fine motor and attention.

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10. Peek a Boo Barn (Age 1+) was one of the first few apps that we introduced to our son when he was 2. He learnt the names of animals and sounds within days. They have many other apps but first definitely try this.

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Please do share with me in comments your most recommended apps too.

Thanks

Arushi (2)

Top 5 Legacy Gift Ideas for Father’s Day – My Fox 26 Houston segment

Hey Friends!!

I am so excited to share with you all my segment today with Fox 26 Houston. I was invited to do a Legacy Gift Special for Father’s Day and share some unique and quintessential gifts the network’s viewers on 14th June 2019 in Houston, Texas.

This is truly such a fantastic feature for me and my blog right before my blog’s Third year anniversary and I am so grateful to you all for all the support. It means a lot!

Unfortunately I hadn’t slept the entire night prior to this segment as my son is sick and is having a temperature which keeps coming back every few hours. And at 3:30 am in the morning it went over 102 and poor guy was shivering too much. He slept at 6 am and I caught a cat nap of 30 mins, since I had to be ready by 7:30 am and wanted to make sure I am able to hide my tired eyes with all the concealer 🙂

Thankfully my mom is here for few months and was able to take care of him when I had to leave at 8am and my husband too went late to his office.

To watch my segment CLICK on the image above

For the segment I wanted to make sure I share some timeless treasures for Father’s Day. Legacy gifts are increasing in popularity. And they truly are special and unique. Thanks to the amazing anchor Jose Grinan and Sally Macdonald for having me on their show.

Life Untold: This Father’s Day wouldn’t it be amazing if you could share dad’s life’s story including photos with your children and their children and future generations?  A Life Untold is a rare, story-telling company that makes it easy to turn anyone’s life story into a captivating and professionally designed hardcover book.  Think of it as a “do-it-yourself” autobiography where your dad answers over 100 detailed, thought-provoking questions.  Then A Life Untold captures those answers and turns them into a beautiful book for anyone to read.  Hard-copy or digital, these books will forever tell the history of your cherished father. This concept is meant not only for the person being talked about in the book (your dad,) but also for all who want to read it. Imagine all the great stories and experiences in dad’s lifetime put to paper and printed. This concept of encapsulating a person’s life story is not like anything else out there.  After all, it is not just a  gift  …. it’s a legacy left for generations to come.

Personalized pottery at The Mad Potter in Houston : Simply visit a pottery studio with the kids and paint a special gift for dad on a ceramic piece. I made the ceramic plate with Vir’s feet when he was under 6 months. His feet are so tiny here and this is one of the cutest pieces of art in our house. I am going to save this forever hopefully and maybe pass it on to my son’s wife.

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DNA kit: Here is no one quite like Dad. After all, he is the story-book-reader, the scraped-knee-healer, and the piggy-back-ride hero of childhood. And even though no one is exactly like dad, there is someone who is at least partially like him: YOU. In addition to the piggy-back rides, your father also gave you half of his DNA.  This year how about thanking your dad (as you wouldn’t be you without him) by giving him generations of knowledge about his own family line?   Family Tree DNA is home to the world’s largest genealogical DNA database.  With the simple swab of a cheek….in 6 weeks’ time your dad can find out his unique ethnic origins, can locate  relatives dating back hundreds of years with 99.9% accuracy and so much more.  So this year how about giving dad a FamilyTreeDNA genealogy test for $69 which is a gift that will last a lifetime.  After all it’s not just a gift ……it is his legacy!!

The Articulate Gallery: Melt dad’s heart this year with hand print-art made from their infants, toddlers or small children’s hands or have a photo taken of dad with the kids and then display that art in the coolest line of frames ever! Articulate Galleryframes come fully equipped with awesome slot-sides that make it super easy to display 2D and 3D children’s artwork versus just putting stuff on the fridge! The frames allow for easy rotation of the art and provide easy access to switch out pics without ever having to remove the frame from the wall thanks to the slot sided function.  So whether it’s a picture of your little ones painted hand art or perhaps a photo of dad with the kids…. Articulate Gallery Frames make some of this year’s greatest dad gifts around.  Please see more detailed information below. I am excited to gift this to my husband so he can place it on his office cabin wall. You can buy them for just $26 on Amazon.

A Night Sky: I wasn’t able to share this amazing piece on the segment as unfortunately there was a shipping delay. But I can’t wait to see the package when it arrives. How about giving dad a framed picture of the Night Sky Star Map of the day he was born or the day he turned to be a dad!  After all, that was a day or night that changed the world.   The Night Sky makes an incredible, memorable gift with a star map of the night in history that you choose!  This framed artwork and memento will be treasured for years to come as it is a way to memorialize a special dad in dad’s life. With this service, it is simple to create an 18″ x 24″ star map of any night in history! Your unique and personalized star map is printed on high-quality, Art Matte paper with over 190g weight. Choose from 8 different styles at any place or time in the world to memorialize what is special to you or to the recipient.

I hope you like all of the above legacy gift ideas that are unique and a great alternative to the traditional Dad’s Day presents.

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Love

Arushi (2)

The snazzy mom

Vir’s Construction Themed Birthday Party

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Unlike last year where we decided to go on a vacation with our 2-year-old to Los Cabos on his birthday, this year we celebrated our son’s third birthday party at our place. One of the major reasons I wanted to have it at our home was that I hardly got to invite my friends and family over last year. With all my travels, pending projects and of course never having enough time to complete errands- planning a party, potluck or dinner was never on my list. However, this year I am hoping to host more parties and get together for our friends and especially now when our son is getting older and making so many memories.

Vir’s Third Birthday is such an important milestone for us. He is a preschooler (unbelievable), full of energy and questions, finally potty trained (Thank god!) yet still in that adorable toddler stage where he wants his independence but still wants mom and dad around for everything. I made sure to make his big day truly special and so we went and choose a theme that is exactly what he wanted and cared about at this age. TRUCKS and TRUCKS and all kinds of trucks. He clearly knows way more heavy-duty vehicles than me and often corrects me if I call a dump truck just a truck.

I took me 2 weeks to put together his Construction Theme Birthday Party at our place. I think this was by far my biggest Pinterest mom moment. I thought through every detail and scanned several stores to land the items I needed for the party and visualized in my head.

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Invitation: I wanted to make an invite for Vir’s party, I always make the invitations on apps like Canva or order from Shutterfly. But I decided to buy a template from Etsy store, I looks for the right card and was very happy with my choice.

 

Decorations: The most important element that truly brings out the theme of a party are the decor pieces. From Amazon, to Etsy, to local Boutique shops and party stores I went and shopped everywhere. We used our dining table as the main table to display the cake and construction items. The key pieces I used for the construction theme birthday party were:

You can also get

  • Yard Signs
  • Banners
  • DIY cardboard dump trucks backdrops

 

Dinner wear: For adults I kept the simple and goodquality plastic plates and cups, but for kids we stuck to the theme and included the below

I avoided black as much as I could and used more yellow and blue colors for the theme. I used a lot of black and grey on Vir’s first birthday party.

Snacks and Kids Table: For kids we rented 2 small center tables with 16 chairs from a party place so that the kids could comfortably sit, eat and play the games there. It was tough to have them all seated in 1 place for long, but I was so happy at different times of the party several kids sat to eat, chat and play. Apart from candy on the center table I has these items on the kids table

  • Fruit Punch flavor Juice packs
  • Veggie sticks
  • Fruit Salad
  • Sandwiches
  • And of course, Cakeimg_5277

 

Construction Birthday Cake: I had so many designs in mind for the cake and found so many great ideas on Pinterest. Having visualized a lot of yellow on the center table I stuck with a blue 2 tier cake for 40 people in chocolate flavor. The kids loved it and most of all Vir was so happy! We got it from Alphorn Bakery, I have ordered all our event cakes from there.

Party Activities and Games for Toddlers : This Birthday party had 15 kids mostly of the age 3 and under, except for a couple of 6-year-old. Initially I was looking for a party entertainer mostly a balloon twister and I couldn’t find a good one as it was too last minute.

Not many party entertainers fit in a construction theme, so we made 2 simple activities, but the biggest hit were the 20 construction trucks out of which Vir owned most and few I borrowed from our friend who has a 4 year old equally obsessed with trucks as Vir.. All the kids found their favorite toys and played together. It was amazing that there was no crying and yelling for any toy!!

Truck Coloring Pages and Crayons– I downloaded this  that I found online and gave it to the kids.

 

  • Pound the Nail Game: I was sure that kids will enjoy a fun pounding session. Just give each item to the kids and ask them to pound the nails. Offer more nails and Styrofoam when kids are done with one session. The game was huge hit and surprised everyone. You need:
  • Styrofoam cubes
  • Plastic Golf Picks
  • Toy Hammer

 

Sand Play Site: You can also make a sand play area if you have a backyard and can take the party outdoor. We didn’t do it as we have a town home and no backyard or outdoor space.

  • Construction Pop up photo booth– This was also a huge hit. I forgot about it until the end of the party but all the kids who hadn’t left loved taking their pictures and seeing them too. I got this from Arnes in Houston.

Party Favor for kids: I found the cutest party favor box from here ! The sell 12 boxes per pack so I ordered 2 bags. In the favors I kept sunglasses, whistle, fun bracelet, small trucks and candy for kids. Also, the hard hats, hammer and a gas balloon each was used as a favor. For older kids and babies, I got age appropriate gifts.

Party Food for Family and Adults- All the parents and adults in the house got good few good hours to chat and indulge in adult conversation as kids the were busy having fun. We had drinks and snacks items as the party was from 3pm-6pm. Here is the food we kept which hardly got wasted

  • Cheese Platter- 5 Cheeses,Dry fuits and jams with crackers from Whole Foods
  • Tomato Basil Bruschetta from Whole Foods
  • Caprese Sandwiches from Whole Foods
  • Cut Fruit Platter from Whole Foods
  • Samosas from Tarka Indian Kitchen
  • Chips
  • Dry fruit
  • Chocolate Balls
  • Lemonade
  • Wine
  • Beer

Family Matching Outfits: We also coordinated our outfits with yellow as the primary color. Instead of wearing the family construction T shirts we wore our regular outfits but stayed in theme through color. I wore a Yellow Striped Jumpsuit (sold out), Vir and Deep wore matching yellow bow ties and my mom wore a yellow shirt.

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I hope you have a great celebration and these ideas help you prepare better!

XOXO

Arushi (2)

 

Our Family Friendly Adventure near Cancun.Fun activities & Things We Did With Our Toddler

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One country or city that I have been returning every year for a vacation is Cancun, Mexico. Of course, the proximity and cheap flights from Houston is a huge advantage! The place is a haven for the conventional beach goer looking to lounge by the turquoise water or the emerald green waters in Playa Del Carmen, but the unique and remarkable experiences Cancun has to offer is amazing. The three times I have been to Cancun earlier I not only relaxed at the beaches but got the opportunity to truly experience the nature, history and ecotourism of the place.

The last family vacation the three of us took outside of US was to Portugal in Sept 2017. Although I travel a lot for work and recently got back from India on a 2-week vacation with my son, me and my husband and my son needed to go on a full family trip together. I had been craving this family getaway a lot and so just 3 days prior to our travel, I went and booked everything for my birthday weekend in April.

Yes just 3 days ahead of booking and planning is not very efficient as I like it to be, but I have realized spontaneous plans have their own fulfillment and excitement even after having a toddler. Having been to Cancun before I knew what to expect in terms of logistics and so it was tad bit easier to plan a 4-day itinerary.  Our focus of the vacation was to relax and enjoy the simple moments. So, it simply meant avoiding any huge water parks, historic sites, or long drives with our son unlike our previous trips.

You can catch a snapshot of our travel on my Instagram Highlights .

Accommodation

We simply choose to relax at our favorite All Inclusive hotel Sandos Caracol that has been our top choice for staying in Cancun and also in Los Cabo. You can read my previous post on our Cabo getaway here.  We loved the Cancun resort too when we stayed there 4 years back when our son wasn’t born and were truly impressed by the amount of activities it had for children. It was a no brainier that we wanted to stay at this property with our son this year too. I love it so much that my review for the property got selected in the online Trivago magazine. Also, when travelling with kids it is easier to go for all inclusive restaurants as there is no worry about meals and meal prep and we being vegetarians always check the cuisines available at any resort and see their menu too before booking. Sandos Caracol was rated by Expedia as the first place in the world to spend an eco-friendly vacation.

Flights

We booked our flights from Kayak.com it gives you excellent pricing comparisons with several airlines and is extremely easy to navigate. I often put price alerts on it for destinations I plan to travel in future and get a great deal. Cheapoair and Google flights are also other sites where I like to compare and explore pricing.  Google flights has a fantastic map capability that shows you where all you can travel for the filters you put in at the time of your search.

Local Transport

For local travel within the city I recommend booking cabs at the hotel or at the airport itself. They are legit and give you best pricing. Our hotel pick up and drop off 1 way costed $100. It depends where you are staying. We stayed in Playa Del Carmen which is 45 mins away from the airport.  Also we have always traveled locally in a cab or in the tourist buses for any activity or excursions we signed for. They pick and drop you at the hotel, are safe and you also become friends with other travelers.

Important Things to carry

 While travelling with children you end up carrying a lot of gear. However, minimizing it has become key if you travel a lot. This time I chose not to carry any stroller. It really depends what stage your child is in and what you prefer, and are comfortable with. As Vir is growing I have got him the habit of using the Micro Scooter more often to travel in parks and on sidewalks at a controlled speed. One of us is constantly jogging with him or navigating him as he is still learning the sense of direction. The scooter was very useful in the resort, especially for exploring new sites and we also used it as an activity in the evening. The resorts are very big, and kids tend to get tired. Umbrella strollers help a lot in such cases too.

I also ensured we had only one suitcase with all our stuff in it and 1 backpack for each one of us without any carry on luggage. I only carried Horizon milk packs for my son as I wanted Vir to drink the same milk he has at home. They are convenient  to carry everywhere. We also packed some snacks for the flight but apart from that we didn’t worry about his food. At our resort there were 4 restaurants that had a full buffet every day with a kid’s section too and of course a huge spread of desserts.

Things we did

Honestly this family vacation was all about less hassle more fun. And from our previous trips I have realized planning long itineraries and things to do takes away all the fun. So, we relaxed for 4 full days in our resort and didn’t step out at all! One of the reasons was also because of the weather , we couldn’t make it to the swimming with the dolphin activity on the last day as it started to rain. Yet we don’t think we missed anything.

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Beach and the Swimming Pools

Seriously Sandos Caracol has so much to do!! From heading to the beach every day and to lounging in the different pools in the afternoon, we made sure we spent the most time outside. Vir is at an age where he is not yet ready to go in the water and preferred playing in the sand. So while he got to play in sand, I also got to catch up on beach Zumba and sports throughout our trip and my husband got to read.

 

Animal Farm

One of our top things from the hotel was the little animal farm. We went there at least 5 times a day as Vir is such an animal lover. They have donkeys, pigs, sheep, ducks, deer and even peacocks and peahens. The birds were free to roam around and were not in any cages and were very friendly as well. Vir fed the ducks and even the peacock. Also, there were monkeys iguana, raccoons and herds of coati that roamed freely in the resort and didn’t bother anyone.

 

Cycling to Mayan Sites

There were free bikes for adults and kids and with toddler seats too. We biked twice around the biking trails in the resort and stopped at 2 historic Mayan ruin sites.

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Cenotes and Eco tours

I love how Cancun have so many Eco tours and excursions to offer and there is a huge list if you look here. But with a toddler we were limited to some activities only. I am glad I did soo much in my earlier trips with excursions, but I also got to a take a dip and experience the cenote in the resort and spot turtles and fishes while snorkeling. The gear was provided for free and was open to adults and kids of a certain age.

Daily Shows

If you followed my IG stories we landed on my birthday at the resort and I was so glad they had a Dream Girls show that night and it was perfect way to end the night with some dance and music. The resorts literally have its own theater where every evening there was a new show. For kids they had a superheroes show which I found hilarious! My son had a blast. However, our favorite is the elaborate Mayan show with elaborate costumes, music and great performances in a great atmosphere outdoor with an open buffet.

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SPA

No trip end without a good spa break. Me and my husband did an alternate day of getting some deep tissue massage therapy during our son’s naptime in afternoon. It was reasonably priced. They also had some specials every day, and I also got a body scrub for free!

I feel like there was soo much to do already at resort we didn’t even think of venturing outside. However, we plan to go back soon and hopefully by then Vir will be able to join us in some excursions and fun activities and sports. Next thing on my list to do in Cancun is to swim with the Whale Sharks. They are gentle creatures and are, for the most part, solitary by nature. In contrast, during the summer months from June through September, the area just north of Isla Mujeres attracts a huge number of whale sharks gathering together to enjoy the plankton-rich waters.

 

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Where are you planning to go this summer with your kids?

XOXO

Arushi (2)