Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas

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Six Flags Over Texas Mr Freeze

At least once a season we make a family outing to Six Flags Over Texas. This is always such a fun outing because there is something for everyone to enjoy no matter your level of adventure. We’ve been making a concentrated effort to spend time connecting with our teens this summer as much as possible. This time our whole family was invited to visit and share everything that’s new for summer 2018 at Six Flags Over Texas. As part of our experience, we were provided with tickets, flash passes, and meals so we could experience as much as possible.

There really is a TON to do at Six Flags Over Texas even if you have one or two in your group that aren’t extreme thrill-seekers. Pro-Tip: grab preferred parking and flash passes before you arrive at the park. They are an excellent value and make for an even better experience.

Connecting with Your Teens at Six Flags Over Texas this Summer

Our most recent visit was an exceptionally great time with our teens for a number of reasons. This visit Sebastian made a leap to try his first ever thrill ride- the brand new for 2018 Harley Quinn Spinsanity! They are growing up but definitely still include us in their fun. We enjoy every opportunity to see them grow.

Six Flags Over Texas Teens

On this day, it was obvious our teenagers had grown leaps and bounds since our last visit. Not just because all worries of qualifying for a height requirement were long removed. It was more to do with the way they walked up to the park gates with confidence, keenly aware of exactly where they wanted to go.  It’s clear they are becoming more and more independent with every passing summer.

Six Flags Over Texas Connecting with Teenagers

We saw a lot of them from the back as they walked ahead enjoying each other’s company and finding their own way. Almost like clockwork, they would come rushing back to us excited to share what they just learned, saw, or experienced. It’s so similar to when they were smaller, running ahead but turning back for a certain amount of reassurance.  I love seeing that the world is still full of wonder. Parenting will always be a good deal of experiencing the world through their eyes like everything is brand new. I imagine it will always feel like this no matter how grown up they become.

Six Flags Over Texas Selfie with the Teens

And then, he rode his first thrill ride!!

The Newest Thrill Ride at Six Flags Over Texas- HARLEY QUINN Spinsanity

What came next was a complete surprise to everyone in our group. We have always had a mix of extreme thrill seekers and easier-going personalities. Kaitlyn has always been a major thrill seeker looking for the highest and fastest, while Sebastian has always insisted “life is enough of a rollercoaster” for him. Even if he didn’t want to ride, he always walks through the line with us telling jokes. When it’s time for our group to board the ride, he passes over and waits on the other side. Most rides aren’t more than a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, this time he said he really wanted to take the ride.

Six Flags Over Texas Harley Quinn Spinsanity

We were shocked. The newest ride, just introduced to the park that week, Harley Quinn Spinsanity, was quite the ride to attempt for a first-ever thrill-ride.

This first-of-its-kind thrill-ride was inspired by the movement of a gyroscope and delivers unpredictable, gravity-defying flips, twists and turns. Harley Quinn Spinsanity features a unique futuristic triple box design that allows the gondola to spin around three separate axes while rotating forward, backward and sideways simultaneously at up to 70 feet in the air!

We took a video interview to capture the before and after reactions he had. The video is priceless. I have the whole thing featured on a highlight reel on our Instagram account – you can see that and all the behind-the-scenes of our summer visit here.

What if someone in our group doesn’t enjoy thrill-rides? No Problem! There is still SO much to enjoy!

A larger family always means knowing there will be a lot of preferences to accommodate for. Until this recent visit, we’ve always had to plan for how we would handle those that lived for thrill-rides and those that would rather sit it out while still maintaining an enjoyable experience for all. We’ve got a few different strategies and suggestions for this.

Here’s a list of several activities you can enjoy at Six Flags Over Texas that ensures everyone has a great time!

6 Ways to Enjoy Six Flags Over Texas Even If You Don’t Like Thrill Rides

  • Special Events- from educational events to special celebrations of the arts there is always something being showcased to look for and enjoy. For a current calendar of events at Six Flags Over Texas click here.
  • Shopping – Love shopping at the park and plan to visit a lot? Did you know there is a Season Shopping Pass?! Right now for just $19.99 this add-on to your Season Pass will give you a 20% discount on almost all in-park merchandise through the end of the 2018 season — no minimum purchase required!
  • Holiday Festivals – Depending on the season you will often find the park decorated for the holiday and full holiday spirit during Holiday in the Park- or full of spooky Spirits if you visit during Fright Fest.
  • Games – You won’t have to look far to find a game that suits your skill level. All throughout the park, you’ll find various midway games to compete in for prizes.
  • Food-  No matter what type of food is your favorite, you’ll find it at Six Flags Over Texas. In between coasters, get ready to enjoy every goodie you can imagine, from pretzels and popcorn to funnel cakes and brisket nachos. We were also pleased that the vegetarians in our group could find a healthy salad or other option at several locations at the park with no trouble.
  • Live Performances- All year long there are live performance and concerts to enjoy that will keep you singing and vibing as you stroll along. During our visit, we enjoyed a free live concert and danced for over an hour near the concert stage inside the park.

We had such a great time this visit and stayed until the very minute the park closed. On the way home, the backseat was filled with chatter of how much fun they had. The next day, I even received a couple of text messages thanking me for spending the day with them. Texting is true teen appreciation.

I want to say once again how much we appreciate Six Flags over Texas sponsoring this post. These moments of connection with our teens will last a lifetime.

Become Part of the Art at Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles

Museum of Illusions Bubble BlowingI’m in Los Angeles this week for a pretty impressive global lifestyle event but it would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t share about my fun, albeit VERY impromptu visit to the Museum of Illusions last night. After dinner a couple of ladies on the trip with me extended an invite. I was feeling a bit sleepy but knowing it was near the hotel we are staying at and I am typically ALWAYS up for an adventure I decided to risk it. OMG! I am so glad I did. In just a few pictures you will see why the Museum of Illusions is such a great time. If you decide to go I highly recommend organizing a group to join you.

Museum of Illusions falling building

A visitor to the Museum of Illusions is not a passive observer but a full-fledged participant of the paintings created by the best artists. This is a place where photography is not just encouraged – it is part and parcel of the exhibition. The museum of optical illusions is intended to fill visitors’ photo albums with vivid and unusual photographs. Everyone finds something to their liking here because we tried to cover every topic of interest for the humankind. The Museum of optical illusions opens its doors for the viewers of all ages, without restrictions, and guarantees – no one will feel bored!

Museum of Illusions Space Room

Museum of Illusions Hamburger

Ready to plan your visit to the Museum of Illusions ?

Museum of Illusions front desk

Here’s what to know before you go: 

Tickets may be purchased at the door for $25 depending on availability. Get your tickets HERE.

FREE admission for children 5 years old and younger. Strollers permitted. $10 for Children’s tickets (6-12 years old)

No food, drinks, dogs, rollerblades, skateboards, or aliens allowed.

$20 Parking: 1724 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

30+ artworks.

Expect to spend an hour at the museum.

Photography permitted.

VIP tickets include parking, bypassing the line/individualized schedule, personal photo shooting & a special gift.

Museum is open 10AM – 12AM daily. Last Entry 11PM.

Taking New Turns & Turning Heads : The Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R

Everyone has a way of marking the timeline of their life. Your grandparents may have dated theirs with “Well, when Eisenhower was president…” Some will calculate seasons by who they were romantically involved with. Mothers and fathers measure timelines with dates of pregnancies or children’s birthdays. Growing up in an automotive family, the stories I heard always included memories categorized by the cars that were driven. Cars were always a significant part of the story. Just like this one.
At a time when most of my friends were still in college finding themselves, I found myself in a driveway restarting my life in a sporty red Honda Civic. This was a pivotal point on my timeline. Looking back, this place in my past was one of the most uncertain times of my entire life. As a recently separated single mother, this was literally the key to making this new life work. Staring down the hood, I came to a powerful revelation. I was doing more than taking ownership of a car that day. I was also taking ownership of my life. I held the keys in my hand and took a deep breath as if the oxygen filling my lungs would replace the trepidation inside. The next steps would require a monumental amount of endurance, resiliency, determination and confidence.
It was a fun car to drive and great fit for my personality but it meant so much more to me than that. Owning that Civic was the security I needed to arrive on time to the 55-65 hours a week required to make this new life possible. It provided a place of solace when my two babies were incessantly crying and my arms were too tired to hold or rock them a minute longer. Secure in their car seats, we drove until tiny eyelids could finally be seen blinking in slow motion in the rear view mirror. I’d drive a bit longer to make sure that sleep was certain and then find a spot overlooking a lake or park that had gone quiet for the evening.

At the end of long days like this, inside this car was where I shed tears, sorted through my thoughts and worries, and reassured myself “we really were doing a good job getting there ” (even if I didn’t quite know where “there” was yet). Through every curve, tight corner, and rough patch I got there.
Several years later, I found myself handing over the keys to a new owner. It very much felt like the end of a journey. I was both relieved and sentimental thinking about the feat it was to purchase that car at that point in my life. It was the proof I needed to refute echos of “you’ll never make it on your own. You are going to fail”.  But I hadn’t failed. I had persevered and proven to the world I could.

seaplane Honda Civic Type R

Years went by without another Honda in my driveway but late this summer, I received an invitation to sit in the driver’s seat of a 2017 Honda Civic Type R as it makes its entrance into the US market. We would arrive by seaplane to stay at the beautiful Alderbrook Resort & Spa, driving the winding roads of Washington State, and have the opportunity to fully test the Civic Type R with a few fast laps on the track at the Ridge Motorsports Park. Beautiful scenery, luxury accommodations, and fast driving who could say no to that?

Yet, I hesitated for 3 days before sending back my reply of acceptance. It wasn’t due to lack of excitement about the invitation. Ties to emotional memories are powerful in that way, friends. Somewhere deep inside hid a small part of myself wondering if the smallness I felt in years past would come rushing back when once again I positioned myself in the drivers seat of another Honda Civic.

This certainly wouldn’t be the same Civic from my past- FAR from it. In a respectful parallel, I was also now far from the young 22-year-old woman who once stood alone trying to regain her confidence. Was I really as strong and confident as I imagined myself to be? Was I trying to prove something to myself? This invitation offered an opportunity to find out. I knew there was definitely a story to be told here. If nothing else I’d have the opportunity to prove my driving skills as the limited production Type R is manufactured in manual-transmission only.

On the track Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R has been sold in Japan, Europe, and Australia for decades now. Enthusiasts in the US have been anxiously awaiting its release here in the states. The mere mention of the front-wheel-drive lap-time record at Nürburgring of 7 minutes 43.8 seconds, delivering 306 horsepower and 296 pounds of torque seemed to be all thats needed to create an inner desire to get behind the wheel.

On the track in the Honda Civic Type R

Taking New Turns and Turning Heads in the Civic Type R

Bell Helmets Honda Civic Type R

My drive opportunity during this trip in the Type R offered the full range to experience every capability this car is equipped for. It allowed us driving speeds of 122+ mph on the track at The Ridge Motorsports Park. You’ll never find out how truly capable you are until you position yourself in a place to challenge yourself and your limits. This seemed like the ideal place to test limits.
On the track Honda Civic Type R

Even at increasing speeds the Type R enters every turn with precision, simultaneously keeping its passengers firmly embraced in its red and black sport seats.

The D-shaped steering wheel, sport pedals and aluminum shifting knob are a consistent reminder of what this car is engineered for. The distinctive design of the Type-R is as functional as it is head turning.

Honda Civic Type R rear view
Side angle of the Honda Civic Type R

Checkered flag Honda Civic Type R
It’s so head turning in fact that my drive partner Scotty ( you can read her take on the Type R here) and I were flagged down along our route by a local and his wife, to discuss how he could purchase a Honda Civic Type R of his very own that very day. Obviously, we couldn’t sell him ours but we assured him we’d connect him with someone who could.

Fans of the Honda Civic Type R We continued the transition from track to road finding the only difficulty was making the mental shift to drive lower local speed limits, shifting gears was always smooth. It was fun to drive fast but it just as comfortable for long drives on the road. Outfitted with comforts of a 7 inch display, 12 speaker sound system, and climate control you’ll find yourself wanting to spend more time in this car. If your day to day life is like mine seeming to always move along at record speeds, well, this car can certainly keep up with that too.

The three drive modes in the sporty Civic Type R (Comfort, Sport, and +R) offer ideal driving dynamics adjusting things like steering and throttle response, transmission, and rev matching which made transitioning from a speedy track drive into a comfortable road trip nothing but smooth sailing.

Honda Civic Type R drive modes

Honda Civic Type R alderbrook resort

As we completed our drive and pulled back into the property at Alderbrook Resort & Spa, I had a few minutes to reflect in my suite before our group would be actually setting sail for an evening dinner cruise on the Hood Canal.

Alderbrook resort and spa

 

I noted that not once had my concerns of the past hindered my day or drive. My day had been filled with meaningful conversations, new experiences, beautiful scenery, and a feeling of truly being present. Isn’t the ability to appreciate every beautiful person, live fully in the moment, and just find ourselves with the ability to be present the goal we all have for our lives? I’m pretty certain that’s the only KPI that truly matters. Achieving a life we are proud to live. Well done, Honda.

Although reassessing a journey of where we’ve been and how we got there can make us all feel vulnerable, ultimately it helps us arrive at a place of authenticity. It helps us to reaffirm the confidence in ourselves at every stage of our life.

Alderbrook resort and spa room

Many Thanks & Appreciation to Honda
It was an honor to be a guest of Honda experiencing the Type R drive in such a thoughtful and authentic way. As is typical, all accommodations and travel were provided. Additionally all experiences, opinions and storytelling are authentically my own.

Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining

 

Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Taking Time to Inventory Life

California Coastal Views #KiaSBEXp

Late last week, I was sitting down with a friend over coffee and the best breakfast tacos Austin has to offer (more on that later) recounting how fast life moves. It seemed impossible that sections of life that felt so lengthy and exhausting at the time were only a mere 24-36 months in total. It felt like a lifetime. In some ways it really was a lifetime ago, depending on how you measure a life cycle.  It was a different life I lived then. I was a different person then.

Just keep swimming. Keep moving forward.

Keep moving forward. Keep swimming. That’s how I lived a good deal of my early life. It wasn’t so much a life plan I was enacting as it was mostly self-preservation but as I retold sections of my life’s timeline, I evaluated just how very much I’ve lived, endured, succeeded and failed in these 30ish years of mine.

So much. Life is SO MUCH sometimes, isn’t it?

This morning as I take stock in this first half of 2017, I realized this year has brought quite a bit to the table by itself. In this first six months we’ve: welcomed a new baby to the family, I became the weekend wife, leaving a place that felt like loosing “my person”, finding a new home, having our entire life packed in a u-haul and then having it stolen from our driveway (for the record, I still can’t believe that happened), a new job, new schools, a two-week road trip, passing of pets that were like family to us, several speaking engagements, and graduations. I’m sure I’m forgetting so many other things in between because life often moves too fast to take inventory.

Kia Optima SXl Coastal Views

This week I’m fortunate to have been invited on a trip where I get to pause and finally do that. Kia Motors America invited a group of us to the Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, CA to spend the week especially designed to allow us a little time to relax, reflect and take inventory. They paired us with some of their most luxurious vehicles, the Kia Optima SXL and the Kia Cadenza, for a drive up the scenic California coast. During our time here we’ll be treated to extended dining experiences, spa treatments, vineyard tours, kayak adventures, and dinner cruises. There is also a good allowance of time built-in for me give attention and consideration to the details of life that may have been overlooked. After all, the details are often the most meaningful memorable parts.

A lot has happened in this first 6 months of the year. I’d be foolish to think that 2017 has any intention of slowing down for the last half. I’m taking inventory, resetting and getting ready. Good things are on the way, friends. Really good things.

You are Amazing #KiaSBEXP