Going Places in the 2016 Toyota Avalon

2016 Toyota Avalon
I am always up for a road trip anytime of year. So when She Buys Cars and Toyota presented us with the opportunity to test out the 2016 Toyota Avalon on our way to the DFW Auto Show it didn’t take us long to pack our bags and get out on the road.

Toyota Avalon trunk space

The ample trunk space was just the beginning of the long list of features in the 2016 Toyota Avalon making this drive so enjoyable. I may have opted for the scenic route just to get a few more miles in. We were wishing we had more distance to cover before we would arrive. I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that on a road trip, can you? Here’s a few things that really made this ride stand out:

The 2016 Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon exterior
The Exterior: We all know it’s important not to judge a book by it’s cover. Lucky for us, we are talking cars today not books- judge away! There is no denying the Toyota Avalon brings plenty of visual appeal.

Safety: Two elements that really make this an anxiety free drive are the standard backup camera with available projected path and the blind spot monitor. The back up camera video quality is exceptionally clear which really brings peace of mind living in a neighborhood with lots of children and pets. The backup camera also helps guide you into or out of tight spots with ease.

Once you get out onto the road the blind spot monitor becomes your best friend to alert of fast approaching vehicles you may not have seen by illuminating a warning signal on the correct outside mirror.

toyota avalon blind spot

 

The Interior:

2016 Toyota Avalon Interior

Interior comforts matter to everyone. Whether you are the passenger or the driver you will appreciate the attention to detail here, which includes heated/ventilated seating with lumbar support. The Toyota Avalon premium leather seating offers a very contoured feel making everyone, front or rear, feel secure on even the curviest of routes. The roofline allowed room for my 6 ft+ husband to still be comfortable in the back and plenty of legroom too. If you are in the rear seating you will find the center armrest cup holders and trunk pass-through exceptionally convenient to access any items reducing the need for frequent stops. The ambient interior lighting was a nice touch as well.

Performance: Toyota Avalon offers a sport mode option that increases throttle response and quickens the electric power steering (EPS) giving the offers a livelier handling experience anytime during your drive. Toyota Avalon Sport mode

Toyota Avalon Gas Mileage

When talking road trips we can’t leave out gas mileage. For those of you on the conservative side the Avalon also offers an eco option and normal mode in addition to the performance sport mode.  We had different objectives during different parts of our road trip and we are betting you will too. Overall you can estimate about 21/31/24 (mpg city/highway/combined).

A photo posted by Alice Chase (@alicechase) on

You can tell by the smiles on our faces we had a great time on our drive. The Toyota Avalon played a big part in that. To learn more about the rest of the features of this and other vehicles Toyota offers check them out on their website here.

Thanks again to both She Buys Cars & Toyota for this opportunity to get out on the road! Looking forward to going more places together. 

Chase Family Rock N Roll Christmas

Rock n Roll Christmas 2015

We decided to do Christmas a little differently this year. Instead of presents cascading around the tree (gift receipts aplenty), we decided to give the gift of making memories together. Soon after last Christmas our family determined we would set out on an annual holiday trip together instead of exchanging big gifts. We tried to center around something we all enjoyed in one way or another and music was the answer. Thus, Chase Family Rock n Roll Christmas was born. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Chase Family Rock n Roll Christmas

The truth is, how many of us can remember what we got last year for Christmas? Do you remember what you gave? I don’t. We wanted to give something that our family would always have. My hesitation was calmed with the assurance that we were giving gifts that would last a lifetime. (Insert idyllic visions of sugar plums and Rockwell moments here) We were gifting memories and future conversations of “Remember when? ” followed by lots of head nodding and laughter. Well, that was the idea. All fingers crossed.

We took the budget of what we would have traditionally spent on holiday traveling, wrapping, gifts added it up and discovered we had a sizable budget for a family trip. It wasn’t a fortune but it was enough that I wouldn’t constantly be totaling the amount in my head as we went along. I found an amazing deal on airfare for the 6 of us direct from Austin TX to Memphis, TN ($333.36 for all of us!!), a holiday special at the Peabody Hotel, and a vehicle upgrade on our rental car so that we would have enough room not to be squished in. I also looked around to see what attractions had discounted days or coupons.

Off to Memphis

We had a lot we wanted to do on our trip! I’ll detail all the great places we visited in separate posts soon but to name a few places we stopped while in Memphis: Graceland ( a total MUST if you are in Memphis), Sun Studio (probably the favorite place for all 6 of us, Arcade restaurant, a couple of vintage thrift shops, Beale Street, crossed the Mississippi River, and ate delicious BBQ.  We even took a day trip to visit Nashville. Music abounds in these places and coming from Austin made the perfect transition to show our children and teens a music rich history. It was a wonderful experience.

elvis sun studio memphis

I can’t say I didn’t have my doubts from time to time, before and after the trip. I mean we were TOTALLY breaking tradition.  How would everyone feel  Christmas morning without a physical a stack of presents to open? Would we miss all the shopping and wrapping? What do we do on Christmas morning?!?

Full disclosure: We did have a few surprises Christmas morning. We all purchased smaller, thoughtful stocking stuffers for one another. The only rule was that all gifts were to be thoughtful, and no one was required to give. I gave each of the children a copy of our family picture that we took at Graceland together and am finishing up a family photo album of our time together this season.

All fears dissipate when I look back at these photos though.

Memphis Rock n Roll Christmas

These special moments can’t be purchased or planned for.

Peabody Rock n Roll Christmas

They can’t be wrapped up with bows or carefully tucked away under the tree but they were the very best we could have given this season and I am so happy we did.

It really has been one of the most relaxing Christmas seasons ever. We have spent our time talking with one another and doing all the “little things” that really make holiday time special. We’ve watched movies together, cooked holiday meals, baked cookies and made hot chocolate. Most of all we haven’t felt rushed or mentally ( or financially) exhausted wondering if everything on the list was checked off.

What has been the best part of your holiday season ? Have you ever done something that broke tradition during the holidays?

Nickelodeon SpongeBob Subpants Adventure at MoodyGardens

Nickelodeon SpongeBob Subpants

Recently, our family was invited to the preview the newest attraction at Moody Gardens, the SpongeBob Subpants Adventure and stay at the overnight at the lovely Moody Gardens Hotel & Spa. Our accommodations were lovely and so close to all the attractions. The kids were excited to read over the brochure of all the attractions we would see the next day.

Galveston Moody Gardens hotel spa & convention center kids

After a great night of restful sleeping, we all woke up bright and early. We pulled back the curtains to see a great view of the pyramids and pool from our window.

Our view from the room moody gardens hotel

Everything is so close that we left our car and luggage at the hotel and just walked over to the attractions. Our first stop was the SpongeBob Subpants Adventure, located in the Discovery Pyramid. Because we were invited to visit on a special media day, we were able to hear  from executives and directors from both Nickelodeon and Moody Gardens involving the partnership and unique technical features that made this attraction possible. Each child received a character toy and periscope lens to celebrate the event. Patrick was a big hit!

Sebastian and patrick SpongeBob Subpants

Once you enter the exhibit there are large aquarium tanks filled with all the underwater sea life that is animated in Bikini Bottom. From jellyfsh, starfish, seahorses and plankton, it’s all there. Seeing them all in real life made quite the connection for our children. Sebastian even used his experience here for a school project.

Spongebob Subpants Moody Gardens adventure kids

Nickeloden Moody Gardens Spongebob Subpants jellyfish

Before the show begins, a guide greets the audience and selects a few underwater sea guides to be “button pushers” for the submarine. Kaitlyn and Sebastian were excited to both be chosen for our showing. Of course, they had to answer a few questions first to show they were seaworthy enough for the adventure.

nickleoden moody gardens spongebob subpants guests

Once the audience is seated inside and everyone has their 3D glasses on, Patrick comes out and asks several questions to get started. The questions and responses are different every time based on the audience so you’ll never see the same show twice.

SpongeBob Subpants Adventure

Another unique feature of this attraction is that it engages all your senses. When water splashes you will actually feel water( not a ton, so don’t worry). When Spongebob roasts marshmallows you smells of campfire and toasted marshmallows are released, and when the SpongeBob subpants submarine descends to Bikini Bottom on the ocean floor your seat feels like its moving with it. It is a total sensory experience! Children and parents wearing 3-D glasses reach for bubbles and 3-D objects during the Spongebob Subpants Adventure inside the Discovery Pyramid at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.  In the background through the portholes can be see Goo Lagoon.

Children and parents wearing 3-D glasses reach for bubbles and 3-D objects during the Spongebob Subpants Adventure inside the Discovery Pyramid at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. In the background through the portholes can be see Goo Lagoon.

After the show, the kids and I personally got to speak with Gerald Raines, vice President of Recreation Business Development for the Nickelodeon Group. He was so genuine and interested in what we thought of the attraction and Nickelodeon as a brand. It was an awesome opportunity for the kids to see that their voice makes a difference and that their feedback is valuable.

Moody Gardens NIckeloden  Executive

Kaitlyn did such a great job during the show that the film crew found her afterwards and asked permission to interview her next!  She shared how this interactive adventure is an incredible experience that was both entertaining and educational for those visiting. I was really impressed with what a great job she did. She had a lot of experience presenting in her class this year so she wasn’t nervous at all!

Nickeloden Moody Gardens Spongebob Subpants Interview

Afterward we walked over to Rainforest pyramid for lunch before we explored some other exhibits at Moody Gardens. There is SO much to see and do. I highly recommend putting this on the list of things to do this summer. The best part is that this attraction is included in any Moody Gardens value pass. You will want to see everything I promise!!

For my readers: I have a special online discount code to share with you!!! This includes $5 off the price of a Moody Gardens One-Day Value Pass (actual price: $59.95, discounted price: $54.95). *discount code expires on June 30, 2015, and is limited to up to 6 one-day passes for one transaction*

 DISCOUNT  CODE: MGBLOG10

For more information, call (800) 582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org

NEW SpongeBob SubPants Adventure at Moody Gardens

Spongebob SubPants Adventure Moody Gardens

Next week my family and I will get to preview the NEW SpongeBob SubPants Adventure at Moody Gardens before it debuts to the public on May 23.  We are so excited to have the opportunity share a first hand experience of this incredible new attraction with you!! Keep your eyes open for all the details next week. Until then here’s a preview of what we will be experiencing:

SpongeBob Subpants Adventure

The SpongeBob SubPants Adventure is a one-of-a-kind interactive experience that allows guests to go on a submarine voyage to explore the world of Bikini Bottom with the help of their captain, Patrick Star. Visitors are able to choose their path through the wild and silly deep-sea adventure and have real-time conversations with Patrick.

Children and parents wearing 3-D glasses reach for bubbles and 3-D objects during the Spongebob Subpants Adventure inside the Discovery Pyramid at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.  In the background through the portholes can be see Goo Lagoon.

Children and parents wearing 3-D glasses reach for bubbles and 3-D objects during the Spongebob Subpants Adventure inside the Discovery Pyramid at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. In the background through the portholes can be see Goo Lagoon.

The attraction takes visitors from digital to real time through exciting 4D sensory elements bringing the adventure to life through scents, like the smell the sunscreen, bubbles they pop above their heads and bouncing beach balls.
This attraction takes excitement to new depths in a non-stop whirlwind of surprises with fun for the whole family to enjoy only at Moody Gardens.

Admission is $18.95 for adults and $16.95 for seniors/children and is included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT only for our readers! Until June 30th 2015- You can get $5 off the price of admission with the code :MGBLOG10  *note the discount is limited to up to 6 one-day passes per transaction*

For more information visit www.moodygardens.org

Travel Tips : Packing Like Pro #travel

Between myself and the hubs, we’re doing an immense amount of traveling this year. What’s awesome about that, besides getting to see some really cool places, is that we have also discovered some pretty cool packing tips too. Since I’m getting all packed up for Mom2.0Summit this week, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite travel tips to help you Pack like a Pro on your future trips.

Packing ProTip No.1  

Pack small jewelry in a PillBox

packing protips  travel tips

 Packing ProTip No.2

Wrap warm styling tools in potholder & secure with hair tie before adding to your suitcase.

packing protips  travel tips

Packing ‪ProTip No.3
Wrap shoes in a showercap to protect clothing in your suitcase.

packing protips  travel tips

 

Aren’t these GENIUS??!? Well, if you thought thses were cool- just wait…. We’ve got a few more tricks in our suitcases but we’ll have to unpack those for you in another post. I’ve got to get some sleep so I can  I catch my plane early in the morning.

For now, Share some of your best travel tips or packing #momhacks with me in the comments below!