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?

The Brightest Holiday Lights in Austin are on the 2015 Trail of Lights (Dec 8th-22nd)

Austin Trail of Lights 2015

Seeking out the most magical display of twinkling holiday lights with your family this year? After relocating last fall, we soon came to find that we didn’t have to look any farther than the Trail of Lights Austin TX to complete our holiday tradition.  Surrounded by TWO MILLION lights, taking 15, 000 man hours to assemble, there is certainly no shortage of holiday magic here.  Our family was given early access this year to share some highlights and help you plan a wonderful visit with your friends and family too!

Austin Trail of Lights couple

This year, visitors to the Trail of Lights have a host of new reasons to celebrate their holiday in grand Austin style. Beginning Dec 8th- 15th, gates open at 7:00 p.m, admission is FREE for guests of all ages. the last 7 nights(16th-22nd) admission is $3.00 and tickets can be purchased online or at the  gate box office. I highly recommend buying in advance here or at H-E-B stores.

Trail of Lights light tunnel

There is plenty of free fun to be had on the trail but you will get one of the best views from about 90′ up. The downtown skyline view from the top of this classic ferris wheel is totally worth the splurge, each ride 6 tokens ( 1 token=$1), so plan to include that as part of your visit.

City view of Austin from ferris wheel

Inside candyland, the kids can play carnival games operated by the sweetest elves you’ve ever met and receive a sweet treat in exchange. If all this fun has you hungry for more than candy, you will find more than 30+ food vendors onsite.

Candyland Trail of Lights

We ended the night taking nostalgic carousel rides capturing glimpses of the Zilker Tree on each rotation. We all left sharing a little more Christmas spirit than when we arrived.

Trail of Lights Carousel

For more information on planning your visit, be sure to check out the Austin Trail of Lights FAQs. Make sure you are following Austin Trail of Lights on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest to join in the conversation, ask questions, and post pictures after your visit!

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!