Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baby Bump & New Mommy Super-Giveaway!!!

This one is for all the pregnant gals and new mamas out there! Please enter if you're hoping to become pregnant or have some friends or family members who are soon-to-be or new moms. This giveaway includes four amazing products for four different winners, and new moms everywhere sure will appreciate these!!!

~1~ A $35 gift certificate to Expressiva Nursingwear!

Why they're awesome:
*They have hidden openings blended seamlessly into their clothing, making it much easier and more discreet to nurse in front of people.
*Their clothing really doesn't look like your typical (read: ugly) nursing attire. I can't even believe it when I look at the first nursing nightgowns I owned after I had my first baby. They were shapeless, massively huge, hideous things! Expressiva's Nursingwear is actually stylish, in beautiful solid colors or modern prints. No ducks or teddy bears found here! Thank goodness for that!
*The hidden openings are completely hidden. Nobody will know your top or dress is a nursing top!
*They have great prices and sales! $29 for a nursing dress as pretty as this one? Um, yes please!

Expressiva sent me a nightgown to review, and I love it! The fabric is super soft and comfortable, it holds up great after being washed several times, and the print is cheerful and fun! How I wish I had known about this company after I had my first baby, when I felt like a milk machine who was living in all my ugly nightgowns. I would have felt a lot better about myself wearing this instead!

Even if you're a non-breastfeeding mom like me, this is a great post-partum or maternity nightgown to wear. It's incredibly comfortable and soft and I enjoy wearing it whether or not I'm nursing!

~2~ A pair of Stride Panties of your choice!

These incredible comfortable panties are for anyone to wear, but I especially appreciated them when I was pregnant because of the "light leakage protection" they provide. I think most pregnant girls (especially in the third trimester, am I right?) know what tends to happen when you laugh too hard. . . or sneeze. . . or walk around too much. Yeah, an unavoidable part of pregnancy. And these panties are just great, because when you're wearing them you won't need disposable pantiliners. They're built right in! But the layer of protection is so light and thin you won't notice it's there at all. No bulk, I promise!

I tried the "Seamless Style" panties, and they're so comfy! I like the light, stretchy fabric. They come in a bunch of styles and colors, and the winner of this one gets to choose any style and color they want! These panties are machine-washable and anti-microbial, meaning they freshen and deodorize naturally.

These images provide an in-depth look at their patented absorbency technology:

So what else does a pregnant gal or new mom need? How about. . .
~3~ 3 pairs of maternity knee highs or trouser socks in any color of your choice from Preggers!

These are really great socks whether or not you're pregnant! I appreciated them when I was pregnant, and I still use them now that I'm not!
They provide light "gradient compression" which has been recommended for pregnant women to help energize tired legs, aching muscles, and to reduce and prevent swelling. They're made of beautiful materials so you can look great while your legs are being supported! Pretty awesome!

I really like the level of support these provide. They feel tight while you're wearing them, but not so tight that they become uncomfortable. Anything that can reduce pain and make you more comfortable during pregnancy is great in my book!
~4~ A $35 gift certificate to Milk Nursingwear!

Just like Expressiva, Milk Nursingwear has SO many options for stylish and beautiful nursing clothes! It's wonderful to see several companies who offer comfortable, cute options for new moms!

*Milk Nursingwear also sells stylish nursing accessories, in addition to their fabulous clothing. I think this Peanut Shell sling is the cutest one I've ever seen! I just love the print!

I got to review one of Milk Nursingwear's wonderful nursing tops, and I'm in love with the color and the soft fabric! Their tops are very flattering, and are designed to hide that not-so-attractive postpartum tummy. Their tops are machine washable and come in so many different cute colors and designs!
They have some wonderful prices too! And I like their Milk $ Rewards program, that gives you rewards points for every dollar you spend.

Here's a wrap-up of our giveaway, and we'll have 4 lucky winners for this one:
~1~ $35 gift certificate to Expressiva Nursingwear
~2~ Pair of panties of your choice from Stride
~3~ 3 pairs of socks in your choice of color and style from Preggers
~4~ $35 gift certificate to Milk Nursingwear

Here's how to enter to win:
*Become a follower of my blog! Or let me know if you already follow me. Either way, leave me a comment and tell me you're a follower! (Just click 'Google Friends Connect' on my sidebar!)

Get extra entries (up to 20 this time!!!) when you:
1. Like me on Facebook! Just click the button on my sidebar to become a Facebook fan!
2. Look around Expressiva and tell me what you'll spend your $35 on if you're the winner!
3. Sign up for the Expressiva email list for special offers (found on the top left-hand side of their home page here) Important: If you want to be eligible to win the Expressiva gift certificate you must sign up for this email newsletter!
4. Look around the Stride website and tell me which pair you'll choose if you're the winner.
5. Follow Stride on Twitter over here.
6. Sign up for the Stride newsletter on the top right-hand corner of their home page.
7. Tell me what impresses you most about the Preggers website and which socks you would choose if you win!
8. Like Preggers on Facebook here.
9. Go here to follow Preggers on Twitter.
10. Click here and then sign up for the Preggers newsletter.
11. Visit the Milk Nursingwear website and tell me which products are your favorites!
12. Sign up for the Milk Nursingwear email list, found at the top left-hand side.
13. Follow Milk Nursingwear on Twitter here.
14. Like Milk Nursingwear on Facebook here.
15. Mention this giveaway on your Facebook status, and be sure to link to this post!
16. Tweet about this giveaway and link to me.
17. Mention this giveaway on your blog and link to me!
18. Grab my button off my sidebar and display it somewhere on your blog.
19. Leave a new comment on any of my other recent blog posts (doesn't matter which one, I just love to read your comments!), and let me know you did.
20. Tell me which prize you'd be most excited to win.

*Please leave a separate comment for EACH entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner! This giveaway will close on April 22'nd. Good luck!!!

My Disclaimer: I received some free products in exchange for writing honest reviews. All opinions are totally mine and I was not compensated!

Monday, March 21, 2011

4 Months Old!!!

My little angel baby, Brooke is 4 months old!!!

I seriously love this age. In so many ways, I just don't want her to get bigger! Brooke is the happiest little thing. This girl already has a TON of personality, and her smiles and laughs just make my day, every day!

(These pictures with the blue polka dots are from 3 months old. The rest are her newer 4 month old pictures)
At FOUR MONTHS OLD, Brookie baby:

*LOVES to find new faces to smile at. This girl is all smiles almost all the time!

*Has the best laugh in the entire world

*Is SO easy to console. She only cries when she wants to go to sleep, wants to eat a bottle, or wants some attention and someone to smile at her and play with her. All easily fixed!

*Loves her baths. She's becoming quite the little splasher! We usually bathe her every other day.

*Just started wearing size 2 diapers

*Weighs 13 1/2 pounds. She's around the 70'th percentile for length and the 40-50's for weight

*I finally went through all the baby clothes and put away all the 0-3 month clothes. They're now officially too small, and she's fitting the 3-6 month stuff great.

*Has already had two separate colds in her four months of life. It's so sad to hear her all congested and coughing! She seems healthy at the moment, thank goodness!

*Still has pretty blue eyes and a ton of soft dark hair! She hasn't lost any of the hair she was born with, it's just grown longer.

*Still can't roll over. She tries and gets onto her sides, but her arms always get in her way. She does move herself around to face different directions, but she arches her back a lot and I think it interferes with the rolling.

*Has excema on her face. I put special cream on it many times every day, but her skin on her face is just SO sensitive and dry, and turns red and scaly.

*Still sleeps in the bassinet in Mommy and Daddy's room. This is longer than any other baby did, since I've been postponing having the older two girls share a room. But she has a nice, big crib all set up and ready for her, and she'll have her own room very soon!

*Sleeps really well! She usually goes to bed between 8 and 9, and sleeps all the way until 5 or 6 in the morning or (on a REALLY great night) until 8! Yeah, my baby rocks.

*Doesn't need to be rocked to sleep anymore!!!
This is a recent development. We started putting her down in the crib sleepy but awake, and a lot of the time it actually works! My other two babies weren't ready for that until 6 months old, but sweet Brooke is already falling asleep by herself!

*Still gets wrapped up tight and swaddled for her long nighttime sleep. I no longer swaddle her for naps though, and I'm sure the nighttime swaddling will have to stop soon too. Trying to remember how we weaned my other two off being swaddled!

*Doesn't have a very consistent nap schedule yet, but usually takes a short morning nap, long afternoon nap, and then a very short early evening snooze. She likes to nap in her car seat, the swing, and usually takes her long nap in her bassinet.

*Takes 6-ounce bottles a lot of the time now. A typical day includes four 6-ounce bottles and one 4-ounce bottle.

*Is addicted to her binky, just like all my babies always are.

*Seems sensitive to temperature. It's common for me to find her sweating in her car seat even on a really cold day.

*Has the most gigantic, open-mouthed smiles!

*Loves to cuddle up with blankets. She especially likes pulling them up by her face.

*Reaches out for toys and grabs them, and bats at toys that dangle from her jungle play mat.

*Smiles at her sisters, even when they try to sit on her, poke her in the eyes, "help" feed her by putting stuff in her mouth, and get right up in her face all day.

*Loves to watch the TV screen. She'll just sit there and stare at the colors and the flashing lights. It mesmerizes her.

*Already thinks peek-a-boo, kisses, and tickles are hilarious!
We love our sweet, happy little baby girl sooooooo much!

Fun Finds: An Easter Bunny, Sandwiches For a Cause, and No Spills!

My almost 4 year-old daughter Kirsten was thrilled to pieces when we got to go see a special advance screening of 'Hop' on Saturday with a couple of our friends!

I'm SO glad they finally made a cute, fun Easter-themed movie! I've been thinking for awhile that there are a million Christmas movies and a bunch of Halloween ones but no Easter movies! This one definitely fit the bill for adorable Easter movie. It has the cute, fluffy bunny that you just want to hug, mean mastermind chicks who are still adorable even when they're plotting to take over Easter, and James Marsden in his newest goofy, he's-cute-but-he-sure-is-dumb role (think 'Enchanted' and you'll get the idea).

We really had an awesome time at the super cute movie and Kirsten loved it! 'Hop' opens on April 1'st and will be a huge hit with Easter-loving kids and adults everywhere! Go see it, and take your kids with you!

Have you ever been to Jersey Mike's Subs? I hadn't, until I got to try it out this week. I wasn't expecting anything special, since I ordered the most basic sandwich on their menu. . . Turkey Breast and Provolone. But I happily discovered that the sandwich was delicious! Some things I really liked about Jersey Mike's:

-They cut the meat right in front of you! Fresh, fresh, fresh! And it was much more flavorful meat than I was expecting too.
-Even though mine was on the cold subs menu I ordered it hot, and I loved the way the melted cheese tasted with the turkey.
-The homemade bread was awesome!
-It was just a really good sandwich. Such a step above Subway or Quizno's or most of the other sandwich chains. Everything was fresher and more flavorful!

Deal Alert: This is their March Month of Giving!
Jersey Mike's sponsors a month-long, nationwide fundraiser for Wipe Out Kids Cancer, to help fund pediatric cancer research. They are donating .25 for each regular sized sub and .50 for giant subs sales. If you donate $5.00 you get some specially branded Silly Bandz, and a free drinks and chips coupon. And mark your calendars. . . on March 28'th all day, you get a free sub with ANY donation! I can't wait to go in with my family on March 28'th and make some donations to a great cause while also enjoying yummy sandwiches!
Go here to check out all their locations. Hopefully they have one near you!

I don't know why a truly spill-proof sippy cup is sooooo darn hard to find. We have bought so many sippy cups in the past only to have them leak juice all over the couches and my kids' clothes. Frustrating! The only brand I had ever found in the past that didn't leak was Playtex. But I recently got to try the new Explora Sippy Cups from Tommee Tippee and was happy to discover that they don't leak at all!!!

Here's why I love 'em:
*My kids carry them around the house, throw them on the ground. . . no leaks! Not a drop! Hurray!!!
*They come in a pack of 2, and each cup holds 9 oz. Our pack is pink and purple, perfect for my two little girls.
*They're made with Advance Flo technology for easy drinking, and the insulation keeps drinks colder longer!
*They're BPA-free and safe for dishwashers and microwaves!
My disclaimer: I really do love sharing great stuff I find with other moms who read my blog! I did receive some free products, food, and movie tickets but was not obligated to write glowing reviews. My opinions are all my own and I was not compensated to write them. I chose to write these reviews because they were all worth writing about!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Travel Tips and Tricks: Navigating the San Diego Zoo With Young Kids!

I grew up going to the San Diego Zoo, and believe me when I say it is a completely amazing zoo! Here's my guide for taking young kids to this zoo and maximizing your time there!

*The first thing you'll see when you enter the Zoo's gates. . . the flamingos!

~1~ If you live in the San Diego area and plan to visit the zoo at least once, it's totally worth it to buy the annual membership. The Koala Kid's Club is especially cute (kids get a newsletter every month in the mail full of zoo news and fun pictures) and very affordable.
If you don't live in the area and are planning to visit the Zoo, scout around for the best ticket prices. We bought the Southern California City Pass, which was the very best deal for Sea World, Universal Studios, 3-day Disney Hopper passes, and the San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park.

~2~ YES, the San Diego Zoo is better than the Wild Animal Park. If you're only going to see one, definitely pick the Zoo. There is a lot more variety and a LOT more to see.

~3~ My favorite days to visit the San Diego Zoo are slightly overcast or cool days, because the animals tend to be more active. If you go on a very hot summer day, the animals will all be asleep or lazing around in the shade. It's usually pretty pleasant in the Zoo because of nice ocean breezes and lots of shade trees, but I still like cooler days best.

~4~ Absolutely bring a stroller or rent one! The Zoo is HUGE and there are tons of hills and you will get incredibly tired from all the walking you'll be doing. Even if your child normally walks, they will be exhausted without being able to ride in the stroller when they want to. It's also great to have the stroller basket for storing your bags, snacks, drinks, and whatever else you choose to bring with you. Since they don't rent out strollers for adults to ride in (darn!), just wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for LOTS of walking and lots of steep hills.

~5~ One of the great things about the Zoo is that ALL ages can enjoy it. Of course very young babies aren't going to care, but young toddlers who have a hard time sitting through shows at Sea World or lines at Disneyland will love seeing the animals at the Zoo.

~6~ Do NOT miss the Children's Zoo! It's adorable! I had actually never been to it until a couple of years ago, and it's really enjoyable for both kids and adults. They actually have animals in the Children's Zoo that you can't see anywhere else in the Zoo, like a Fossa (yes, like on Madagascar. I had never seen a Fossa before, and it was really cool!) It's a section of the Zoo very close to the entrance, and there are lots of animal exhibits featuring:
*Pygmy marmosets (the tiniest, cutest monkeys EVER!)
*Really noisy macaws
*Spider monkeys
*Naked mole-rats (ugly and fascinating!)

*Don't miss the cute photo opps in the Children's Zoo, like this one!

*River otters in the Children's Zoo were SO frisky and fun to watch!

*There's a petting area inside the Children's Zoo where kids can pet the goats!

*If your kids have even more energy to burn after all the walking, the Children's Zoo even has a really great playground!
~7~ My very favorite thing to do at the Zoo is to ride the Double-Decker Guided Bus Tour! It's a great way to start your day at the Zoo, because it's 35 minutes long and covers about 70 percent of the Zoo, so you can get an idea for the layout and pick out animals that you want to return to spend more time seeing. It saves you a TON of walking and gets really great views of a lot of the animals, plus the guides have all kinds of interesting facts about the Zoo and the animals. The bus tour is included with most admission passes to the Zoo.

*For the very best views, of course, sit on the top level of the double-decker bus. I took this shot of the giraffes from the bus!

~8~ The map of the Zoo can be overwhelming, because it's SO large and includes so many animals. It's impossible to see it all in one day, so make a list beforehand of all the animals you and your kids REALLY want to see. You'll be able to see many other animals, but if you have a list of the animals you can't possibly miss, it will be easier to plan your routes around the Zoo accordingly, since there are many different options.

~9~ Really don't waste your money on the Zoo's meals. Overpriced and not yummy. I like to pack a lunch and snacks with us, and then plan on eating somewhere really delicious in San Diego for dinner after leaving the Zoo, like my very favorite Mexican food in Old Town!

~10~ You'll have to miss some animals, but don't miss the pandas! One of my favorite exhibits is definitely the pandas eating their bamboo (constantly!), and the pandas are one of the reasons the San Diego Zoo is world famous.

~11~ My kids absolutely love riding the Skyfari Aerial Tram. And it is pretty amazing! You get to ride up in the sky with gorgeous views of the entire San Diego Zoo and neighboring Balboa Park, and it's included with your Zoo admission! Plus it's a great way to save yourself walking up the steepest hills in the park. If you ride the Skyfari from the bottom (near the Zoo's entrance) to the very top, it lets you off at the Polar Bear Plunge, which is pretty much at the very top of the Zoo. I love to ride it up there, go see the polar bears, and then walk back down through various exhibits. When you walk down the super steep hills you'll be glad you didn't have to walk UP them to get to the polar bears!
~12~ Take a fully loaded camera with you, and snap away to your heart's content!

~13~ Don't miss all the FUN photo opps they have at Polar Bear Plunge. We always get some of my favorite photos of the entire day by the polar bears!

(This one was new. . . SO cute!)

~14~ Elephant Odyssey is a really great exhibit. Besides elephants, they also feature the lions and jaguars and really cool playgrounds and statues!

~15~ The gorillas are always fascinating. The huge glass viewing windows make it really easy to watch them!

~16~ Zoo parking is actually free! This is really nice in a town where parking is pretty much never free.

~17~ San Diego often has beautiful sunsets as you're leaving the Zoo, just like this one!

Please share your favorite San Diego Zoo tips with me by leaving a comment!

Tips From a Semi-Clean House

{Thanks to the makers of Pine-Sol® for sponsoring my writing. Share your "scent story" here for the chance to win a trip to a Scentsational Destination sponsored by Pine-Sol®. One grand prize winner will receive a choice of four amazing trips. To learn more about the Scent Away Sweeptakes, visit here.}

I love having a clean house. I just really don't like cleaning. That's the honest truth of it all! So I would say my house is semi-clean. I don't let dirty dishes pile up in the sink, I like to keep my counters clean, I clean up toy messes and spills and various other kid messes more times a day than I can count. But my house is most certainly not pristine or perfectly organized. (Are ANY houses with three young children in them like that???)

When I clean, I like to get as much done in as little time as possible. So here are just a few of my favorite tips, tricks, and shortcuts that make cleaning quicker and easier. From my semi-clean house to yours!
1. Sometimes I feel like my house looks just fine. That's when I like to use the "critical eye" trick. Start from your front entryway, and imagine that you're a very critical person entering your home who's never been there before. Suddenly you see things in a whole different light, and not a good one. I like to work my way back through the rooms, de-cluttering and fixing things that the "critical eye" detects right away!

2. I keep antibacterial wipes underneath the high chair. It's much easier to just wipe everything down each time my toddler eats there than letting the gunk build up over time.

3. I keep a small plastic hamper on our stair landing. Clothes (especially socks!) always somehow end up downstairs, and when they're dirty or I have dirty kitchen towels it's so convenient to just toss them in the hamper rather than remembering to haul it all upstairs each time.

4. I love multi-surface wipes! Clean up messes, dust, polish, and then just throw it away!

5. Cleaning becomes much more enjoyable when you listen to some great, upbeat music while you clean. If you don't have a lot of time, just turn on 3 or 5 songs that you love and tell yourself that you'll diligently clean for the entire length of those songs.

6. I like to put used dryer sheets in the bottom of the trash can to absorb odors. It's great to have another use for them and I like the scent! I also use them to dust electronics, like the TV screen.

7. Take a minute and fold your dishtowels. Crumpling them up in the sink or on the counter looks so messy, and it's easy to just fold and hang them up. Same thing goes for bathroom towels!

8. Whenever I juice limes or lemons, I like to put the rinds down the garbage disposal. The citrus cleans it and makes it smell fresh!

9. Try to go through piles or coupons, junk mail, and other papers often and toss anything that's expired or that you know you won't use. Paper clutter is one of the fastest things to build up and it can easily be overwhelming!

10. I keep pretty boxes in various sizes on my counters and in areas where clutter tends to build up. Anything that looks cluttery I can just toss into the boxes and go through it when I have more time. You wouldn't believe the variety of items I end up putting on those boxes! You can usually find great cardboard boxes with pretty designs at Michaels or Ross.

Don't forget to enter Pine-Sol®'s Scent Away Sweepstakes for the chance to win a trip to a Scentsational Destination. I was selected for this Pine-Sol® sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

What are some of your favorite cleaning tips and tricks? I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Travel Tips and Tricks: Navigating Sea World With Young Kids!

Ahhhhh, Sea World.
I grew up going there all the time, and my dream for the longest time was to be a Shamu trainer at Sea World when I grew up. Sometimes I still wish I had done that! We took Kirsten to Sea World San Diego in January, and had a wonderful day there! Here is my guide to help the less-experienced navigate Sea World with young children. (Even if you're experienced, it always helps to read new ideas and tips!)

~1~Make sure you have a FULL day planned. This is not the park to go just for a half day. You will need the entire day to experience everything. Since we went in the off-season, the park closed at 5 pm. Weigh your options when you decide whether to go during the off-season or the busy season. The benefit of the off-season is, of course, fewer crowds. But in the summer and over the holidays the park is open until 10 pm! There's just something much more magical about seeing the Shamu show all lit up at night! More theatrical!

~2~ This kind of goes without saying, but make sure you take your camera with a fully-charged battery and be prepared for some really awesome action shots during the shows!

~3~ I don't say this for every theme park, but definitely for this one. . . Bring your own lunch and snacks! The food they sell there is very over-priced and not at all tasty.

~4~ Good thing to note: Sea World is very BRIGHT. There aren't many trees to provide shade, and all the show seating areas seem to sit fully in the direct sunlight. Even if it's a cool day, dress in layers so you can take your sweatshirts off when you find yourselves baking in the direct sun. Take sunglasses and hats! You'll thank me!
(See how bright that sun is? Yeah. . . not so great for photos)

~5~ When you first get into the park (or even beforehand, since they post the show schedules online), figure out which show times you want to attend and plan your route for the day. There are so many fun viewing areas and petting areas that you'll be able to stop and see between the shows. If you have the time, go see everything, but here are a few of my MUST-see exhibits:

*Forbidden Reef- Pet the friendly and surprisingly cute manta rays that swim all around the huge pool. It only takes a few minutes and it's lots of fun!
*Shark Encounter- You get to ride a moving walkway underneath a tunnel full of sharks!
*Wild Arctic- Awesome underwater viewing areas for beluga whales, narwhales, and polar bears, plus a fun motion-simulator ride! And my 3 year-old was tall enough to ride it!
*Rocky Point Preserve- Pet and feed the dolphins! You do have to pay for fish to feed the dolphins, and keep a sharp eye out for seagulls who love to appear out of nowhere and steal the fish!
(With dolphins so friendly, they smile right at you!)
*Penguin Encounter- SO cute! Plus it's extremely air-conditioned, so a nice place to take a break from the heat if it's a hot day.

*Oh, and don't miss the otter tank! These little guys are just TOO adorable!
~6~ If your kids are not the type who can sit through shows that are 20-30 minutes long, they (and you) might not have too much fun at Sea World, since the shows are such a major part of the park. This is why we decided to only take our 3 year-old who loves to sit through shows, and left our 21 month-old (who does NOT) with her grandparents. Of course, you may not have that same option that we did, but it's something worth noting!

~7~ Don't get to the shows too late, or you will not find seats! The shows will either fill up or you'll have to sit WAY over on the side. It works well to have one parent go in early to save some seats while the other parent takes the kids to see some animals.

~8~ If you do take young kids who might have a hard time sitting still, definitely be prepared with LOTS of snacks and drinks. My favorite trick: Suckers! You could buy them in the park for $5 each or buy them at a party store before you come for 15 cents, and having a few of these tucked into the bag was a lifesaver for keeping Kirsten happy while waiting for the shows to start!

~9~ Really, go see ALL the shows! Do not miss any, they are all so fabulous! Kirsten's favorites were the Sea Lion show (tons of funny antics and the trainers are very kid-oriented and play to the crowd!) and the Pets Rule show.

~10~ I'm not making any promises, but I've found that if you sit on the very back row of the "Splash Zone" you'll have an awesome view and will usually be either completely dry or just a tiny bit sprinkled with water. This is especially true for the sea lion show!

~11~ The brand new show right now is the Dolphin show, and it was really beautiful! They introduced cirque du soleil-style acrobats into the show, and it's very cool to see it all together with the dolphins. One of my favorites of the day!

~12~ It's nice to end your day at Sea World with the last Shamu show. It's just the perfect ending to a great day at the park! And if you go when they have their evening hours, make sure you watch the Shamu show after dark!

~13~ They've changed their shows quite a bit since the unfortunate incident with the trainer being killed. The trainers don't get in the water during the Shamu show anymore, and they no longer choose a child from the audience to stand next to Shamu and feed and pet him. A little sad! But still a great show.

~14~ Don't miss the rides! When I was little Sea World didn't have ANY rides, and now they have three!
*Shipwreck Rapids is great, but only if you want to get wet! Because you WILL, and possibly very soaked. Perfect for a hot day though!
*Wild Arctic has the fun motion simulator! Kirsten loved it!
*Journey To Atlantis roller coaster was closed when we went there, but I've been on it in the past. I love a good roller coaster!

~15~ If you have Sesame Street fans (and I do!), they will probably want to stay the entire day in the Sesame Street Bay of Play. This is SUCH a fun play area for kids! They have tons of space for kids to run and play and climb, a giant sand box with dump trucks and other toys, and a few fun rides for kids (Elmo's Flying Fish was the biggest hit, we rode that one three times!)

~16~ If your kids like the Sesame Street characters, check the schedule for the times the characters will be available for photo opps. They let you use your own cameras! Kirsten was THRILLED to death to meet Elmo and Cookie Monster. She still talks about it and tells me, "I touched Cookie Monster's eyes!" (Because she did, she poked his googly eyes!!!)

My friend snapped these photos of Kirsten and her daughter with Elmo and Cookie!

~17~ Take a stroller! Or you can rent one there. Even kids who aren't normally stroller riders will get tired of walking around Sea World all day. It's not a huge park, but it's plenty big for small legs!

~18~ You aren't allowed to bring strollers into the shows with you because they don't have the space for them in the aisles, so they provide large stroller "parking lots" outside the entrances to the shows. Take your valuables with you, and if you have a fancy stroller you might want to consider renting one for the day. You can rent singles or doubles.

~19~ The stuffed animal souvenirs they sell of all the animals really are cute! It's a fun idea to let your child choose one to take home with her. When I was little I had a Sea World stuffed animal collection, and every time I went I chose another animal to add. I still have them somewhere!

~20~ If you can, go with friends or family in a group! There's even more people to save seats at the shows, and it's a whole lot of fun!

Any great tips or tricks that I missed? Please leave me a comment and share!