RV Rental and Vacation

Have you ever thought of renting an RV? We did an RV Rental a few years ago through RVShare and it turned out to be a great trip so we have always toyed with the idea of doing it again. My husband is a pilot for a major airline and doesn’t get time off in the summer, but then COVID-19 came and the airlines were cutting back on flights. We had a week to go on a mini-vacation and decided the RV rental was a good option for us. We usually fly somewhere but we fly stand-by and that’s really difficult now since they cut back on flights the planes are full.

I searched all over RVShare and couldn’t get anyone to respond to my requests to book. So I went to Outdoorsy and found a great RV with availability when we needed. This RV was owned by a family and very loved, I wanted to rent from a person instead of a company because I think they would be more invested in keeping the RV in perfect running shape.

We picked up the RV and drove it home packed it up and were on the road in 2 hours. We brought our own bedding, pillows, coffee pot, some utencils, paper plates, BBQ and movies! We brought a cooler for our drinks and that really helped with the small refrigerator. I brought my Dream Dinners frozen and put them directly in the RV freezer, then when I wanted to defrost I would put it in the sink that day and it would be defrosted by dinner. It was so easy to hand my husband the meat and he would BBQ! We brought all of our food so we wouldn’t have to stop and get food.

Before we left home we plotted our trip and my husband only wanted to drive 4 hours a day. I looked for KOAs because they were open, due to COVID-19 the National Parks were not open. We have found that KOAs are nice and clean so we booked our spots are were ready to go.

While driving we took turns in the co-pilot seat entertaining the driver, playing games, reading and maybe a quick nap.

Our first night was in Flagstaff Arizona. It was a 4 hour drive from our home in Tucson and at least 30 degrees cooler! I was happy to  walk around the Flagstaff KOA without breaking into a sweat. My boys had fun riding scooters, skateboards and bikes. My husband was happy to have a beer and relax.

 

Then next day we were off again. We left Arizona and drove to Bryce Canyon Utah it was a beautiful drive but a little longer then we thought it would be. We were all ready to get out of the RV when we arrived. The campsite was not as nice as Flagstaff KOA but it was good for 2 nights. We were able to have a fire and make smores so the boys were happy.

Last time we rented an RV my husband didn’t enjoy unplugging everything then driving it through the National Park and re-plugging everything in when we got back. This time he  found an app called TURO where you can rent a car from an owner, like VRBO for a car. He found a car near us and they owner dropped it off at the KOA camp sight and then picked it up the next day.

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Bryce Canyon was beautiful! We drove to the end of the canyon and did a small hike, had a picnic then stopped at the sights on the way back.

We left the next day for Zion National Park Utah, this was a very short drive and the KOA we stayed at was much better. They had a pool, small putt putt golf course, and a nice road the boys could ride skateboards and scooters.

Again we used the TURO app and found a car for 3 days. It was great to have a small car to get to Zion National Park. The park was very busy with cars and the roads, tunnels and parking would have been difficult with the RV. We had a great day driving through Zion and took a couple of hikes. The first was on a wall of  sandstone the second hike was after our picnic lunch we hiked down to a river. It was a very hot day so the water was really refreshing.

The boys were begging for a water day after driving by a beautiful lake near the campsite. We did some research and my husband found Sand Hollow State Park Lake with cliff jumping and wave runner rentals. We took the car to the lake and My older son and I rented a wave runner while my husband took the car to the other side of the lake for some fun cliff diving with the crazy younger boy! We all had a fun day and enjoyed lunch at the lake restaurant.

 

After all the fun we had in Utah it was time to go home. We stopped again in Flagstaff because it was half way and unfortunately the road to the Grand Canyon was closed. I really wanted to stop at the Grand Canyon since we haven’t been there in several years, but we decided we were ready to get home and we would go there on our next trip.

All of the driving, hiking, camping, and together time was fun. We were really happy that we went on this little adventure but it is always nice to go home. We would definitively rent an RV again.

My Covid-19 Experience

Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor!! I have absolutely no medical certifications. This is my personal story and I don’t want people to think they will be fine if they get Covid-19.  It is a scary disease.

I was fortunate that I’m young-ish and healthy. I have never had pneumonia and I’m not a smoker. I never even had chicken pox so I assumed I had an amazing immune system that would kick Covid-19 in the ass and spit it out. Well Covid took me down for a week and it was awful. I’m not going to sugar coat it! High fever 100.4- 101.4 most of the day, cough, no appetite, I couldn’t taste or smell anything, vomiting and diarrhea!

My symptoms started on Tuesday with the fever out of no where! I immediately quarantined myself to my bedroom and took some Aleve. This helped a little but I was still sore, achy, and exhausted! Wednesday I still had the fever but now I had a cough! Thursday I decided it was time to go to Urgent Care to get tested.  I had read about a woman that had died who didn’t get medical help until it was too late.  I vowed that wouldn’t be me!

Urgent Care was great, I got a flu test (negative) and chest X-ray that showed the Rock glass they have found in Covid-19 patients. They tested me for the Covid-19 but said it could take 2-10 days for my results! I was sent home with 2 antibiotics and told to only take Tylenol and go directly to the Emergency room if I have shortness of breath. My results did come back in 2 days and it was positive for Covid-19.

I had a routine while I was sick, I would wake up and my husband would bring me breakfast! I had a 1/2 a muffin and hot tea. I love this Citrus Sunrise because it has 200% vitamin C! Unfortunately I couldn’t taste it.   In my “mind,” I loved it and it hit the spot!

 

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After breakfast in Bed I would hop in a warm bath. I had a good warm soak to help open my airways and then I would change into my clean pajamas! I would take some Tylenol for my fever and hop back into bed for some Today Show or whatever I could find.

My family would make me lunch and bring me water and Vitamin water. Again I really tried to up my Vitamin C and the Lemonade Vitamin C water is good.

After lunch I would lay on my stomach on a pillow and watch a movie. I was told to spend most of my time on my stomach to help open my lungs. I like funny romantic movies so I would watch something to put me in a good mood.

Then I would take a nap, sometimes during the movie.

I tried to take another Tylenol before Dinner to help bring the fever down. Again my amazing family would bring me dinner, fortunately I couldn’t taste it and wouldn’t complain because I was being well taken care of! I am thankful for Dream Dinners, so easy to freeze, thaw and prepare!! My husband used a Dream Dinners Meal almost every night!

After dinner I would try and drink more fluids, water, vitamin water, or sparkling water. I enjoyed catching up on The Crown on Netflix then I was ready for bed!

Before I went to bed I used my Breath oil  in my diffuser. It helped me breath and sleep through the night. Plus I took Nyquil to really help me sleep.

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After 7 days of Fever, Cough, and other fun symptoms It was GONE!!! I stayed quarantined in my room for another 7 days. None of my symptoms came back and everyday I felt a little better. My family started having outside dinners together and I really enjoyed (socially distanced) meals together again.

I waited another 7 days until I left my house. I also signed up to give platelets to the American Red Cross. I did an interview for the local news about my experience and why I wanted to donate, I really hoped that my experience could help someone else! If you can please donate blood and platelets, they really need it!

That is why I’m writing this. I have written and deleted it several times because I don’t want people to think this disease is not serious.  Well if you know me, I had it and trust me it was serious.

I had my family get the antibodies tests and my husband and boys Did NOT have the antibodies. I don’t know why, if they have better immune systems or they just got lucky?

I hope this can help you and your family.

5 Tips for Staying Healthy when Traveling

I have chronic sinus infections and they always appear after or during a vacation. This year I doubled my daily Vitamin D3 to 2000 and always take it with Magnesium. This has helped a lot.

Here are some of the things I take with me when I travel to keep me from getting sick:

 

Activate-C

It contains 1,200 Mg Vitamin C!  I got it from a friend selling Melaluca. It tastes good and I can pack a few packets to take with me anywhere, just add water and stir or shake.

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Citrus Sunrise Tea has 200% daily value Vitamin C and it tastes great. You can add sugar if you like it sweeter. I like it because the warm tea opens my sinuses and soothes my sore throat.

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DoTerra Makes a travel size diffuser and it takes batteries!

I love the Breathe Essential oil! I will load the diffuser with Breathe and put it on my neck, bottom of my feet and my wrists before I go to bed.

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My new favorite drink at Starbucks when I’m getting sick is a Medicine Ball.

It’s on the Starbuck’s Menu as Honey Citrus Mint Tea, but if you ask for a Medicine Ball they always know what you mean.

It contains:

Jade Citrus Mint tea

Peach Tranquility Tea

Steamed Lemonade

and 2 packets of honey

Is it going to cure the common cold? No, but it will make you feel better! I would ask for 1 packet of honey since it has a LOT of sugar! This will help open your sinuses and sooth your sore throat.

 

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WASH your Hands and clean all your surfaces!

I never eat off the tray table on the airplane! Some people change dirty diapers on the tray tables! EW!

Flight Attendants don’t have time to wipe them down!

I always travel with had wipes and wipe everything! If I can’t get to the bathroom to wash my hands before I eat I wipe with these. I don’t like hand sanitizer, I feel like it just rubs the germs in. This wipes the germs off.

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I hope these tips have helped and keep you and your family healthy next time you travel!

Breast Implant Illness

I was 35 years old when I decided I wanted implants. I had 2 boys ages 4 and 2 and I was done having babies! I had just ran a marathon in December of 2008 and I hated my body. I had lost over 50 pounds after giving birth to my second son and I was happy to have the weight off but my boobs made me sad! They looked like two tube socks with quarters in them. I had nursed both of my boys and they had the same favorite breast so that one laid on my knee, and the other one was on my waist. They were completely different sizes and trying to get them in the same sized bra was a joke, one fit but the other was swimming around enjoying all the extra room. I just wanted to look like they were full again.

I went to the doctor with my husband and I showed the doctor what I wanted, I lifted up my arms and said “I want to look like this again”. We all laughed, but I was serious. I wanted a lift but he convinced me that it would be better to get implants, less down time. What he didn’t mention was implants still had some side effects and are not completely safe.  He showed me the implants and told me I would be fine. I had the surgery and recovered nicely. I had 400 saline in my right and 485 in my left implants and they were swollen at first and I hated them. Once the swelling went down I liked them. It still  took some getting use to. I had to wear 2 sports bras to run and had to buy all new clothes.

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Unfortunately the honeymoon was over. I started getting sick a lot. I had small kids but it seemed like I would get the same cold and it would last longer. Then I started getting sinus infections. It was so painful, it felt like my face would explode. They lasted 3-4 weeks and medications that doctors were giving me at urgent care were not clearing them. I started seeing a Ear Nose and Throat specialist. I was getting 4-6 sinus infections a year and he recommended allergy shots. Sure enough I had allergy testing done and I was allergic to Tucson! I couldn’t move so I had to get shots every 2 weeks. FOR 5 Years!!! It slowed down the sinus infections to twice a year but they were still hard to clear.

The sinus infections continued and when I went back to teaching I gained a new ailment. I had plantar fasciitis. It was so awful I couldn’t walk! I had to get cortisol injections in my foot and wear inserts in my shoes. It took months for it to get better. I had to stop running completely. This was the worst. Running was my sanctuary. I grew up running with my dad and after he passed away it was a way for me to reconnect with him.

I gained 30 pounds in 3 months!! I was eating the same (lots of vegetables, low carbs and lean protein) and exercising. I was really stressed with a new job, puppy and running my kids to activities but that was a lot of weight! I tried everything to lose it! I was really struggling.

I was depressed, I was losing my hair, I had weak nails, acne breakouts, anxiety attacks and I was exhausted all the time! I had horrible brain fog and I couldn’t remember anything!  I was cold, this was weird for me, I was never cold!!

Then I found a natural path doctor that put me on Thyroid, progesterone, and testosterone. I was sure I was pre-menopausal and these medications would help me. Nope! It was like putting a band-aid on a broken arm! It helped a little but I still couldn’t lose the weight. I did strict Keto for 3 months and I didn’t lose a pound! I got a nutritionist and she put me on a strict vegetable and fish diet for 2 months and I didn’t lose a pound! She gave me a food allergy test and found that I was intolerant to coffee, chocolate, eggs, lettuce, yeast, grapes and all the unnatural things you find in process foods ( I didn’t eat anyways) I eliminated these things from my diet and then slowly added them back in. Still NOT a POUND!!

My natural path moved out of state and I found a new natural path. We talked at my initial consultation about my implants and I didn’t think they were the problem. She put me on the same diet, gave me some vitamins, new pro-biotics and we would talk about it in 6 months. I didn’t lose a pound. We discussed it at my appointment in February and she sent me home with 2 tests: 1 for heavy metals and 1 for non metals in my body. I took the tests and sent them off! While I waited 2 weeks for the results I started following a Facebook page Breast Implant Removal Support Group. Then I saw all of the other women who were having the same problems I was! It was so inspiring in my quest to get healthy!

My results came back that I had 8 different plastics in my body and some heavy metals (that could be Arizona water or lead paint). The plastics I was certain were from my implants!

I decided to have my implants removed. I found a new plastic surgeon, since mine had retired. I explained to him my health issues and of course he didn’t think it had anything to do with my implants. He recommended a lift and I told him my original doctor talked me out of it, he knew my doctor and said he never did lifts. He only did implants because he made more money and it was faster! I wanted to throw-up!

I scheduled my implant removal for the end of April 2019.  I told my friends and family and they were all very supportive. My husband took off  2 weeks of work to stay home with me and my friends created a food train to bring us meal.  I was so grateful for everyone helping me.

The day came to have my implants removed and I was excited!! I couldn’t wait to have them out.  I asked the doctor to remove the capsules if it was possible. He went over everything and I went to sleep.

I woke up and went home feeling groggy but lighter. I don’t remember much from that day but I do remember waking up the next day and my plantar fasciitis was gone! I woke up every day with excruciating pain in my foot for the last 3 years, this was the first time I didn’t have any pain.

My recovery was difficult I couldn’t raise my arms for 2 weeks, but it was worth it. My doctor was able to remove my implants and capsules easily. He sent them off for pathology and said everything came back fine. That doesn’t mean they weren’t toxic to me.

A year later and my plantar fasciitis has not returned! I can eat most of the food that I was previously tested intolerant of. I sleep better, I don’t wake up feeling exhausted, my brain fog is gone, I have only had 1 sinus infection in the past year, and I love my natural breasts.

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I feel so much better in my body with out the implants. If I could go back in time I would have found another plastic surgeon and had a lift instead.

Some people don’t have any problems with their implants, but it’s still a risk. I think my body was allergic to the implants and they were making me sick. I wanted to share my story in hopes that I can help one person that is sick and can’t find the reason.

RV Vacation

Have you ever been to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons National Park and Jackson Hole Wyoming? I wanted to take my family on the trip of a lifetime and explore these amazing parks. After researching hotels, I decided we needed to go a different route.  We didn’t want to spend $400 a night to stay in a hotel and eat out for every meal. We don’t own an RV,  but we wanted to experience an RV vacation with our children.  I have several friends that have rented an RV from RV rental companies.  While their vacations were still fun,  they ended up getting charged for many extras to include dishes, pots, pans and bedding.  I decided to do a little research and found  www.rvshare.com.  On this website, you can rent from the owner. They have it completely stocked for your needs. We found Earl and his RV in Salt Lake City, Utah very accommodating.

Day-1 We flew to Utah to start our trip to save travel time driving and give us more time to enjoy the parks.

Day-2 Earl was very helpful and picked us up at the airport and drove us to his house. He included a BBQ, table and chairs, cooler, and he even included his own fishing poles and tackle box. We unpacked at his house and he kept our luggage so we had more room in the RV. He gave us a tour of the RV and directions on how to do everything. Then we drove to Walmart.thumbnail_IMG_0423

After stocking up on groceries for 13 days on the road, we were ready to go!

Our first stop was at the Pocatello KOA in Pocatello Idaho, http://koa.com/campgrounds/pocatello/ . We didn’t want to drive 6 hours the first day, so we decided to camp after 3 hours and this was the perfect place. The campground was nice, the people were friendly, kids had fun at the playground and the store had wine!

Day- 3 We woke up and unplugged everything and we were on the road again! We arrived at the West Yellowstone KOA http://koa.com/campgrounds/yellowstone-park/ with plenty of time to explore and BBQ dinner! This was the best KOA we have seen! The kids loved the playground, mini golf, indoor pool, jacuzzi, bike rentals and store. We bought wood for the smores and we were ready for “camping”. We stayed here for 4 nights.

Day-4 We took a tour of the Yellowstone Lower loop on the Buffalo Bus Line. http://www.visitmt.com/listings/general/sightseeing-tour/buffalo-bus-touring-company.html. They picked us up at the KOA and brought us a lunch. We saw all the sights of the Yellowstone lower loop including bison, moose, elk and deer. The guide was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot of information in a short period of time. They included binoculars for everyone to use. When he couldn’t find parking the driver would drop us off at a spot and come back to get us so we could still enjoy the sights. We rented a car for 2 days through Buffalo Bus Touring Company. We thought it would be easier than driving the RV all over Yellowstone. They brought the car to us at the KOA and picked it up there when we were done for no additional charge!

Day -5 After a long day of touring we decided to take a break and we went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center https://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org/ . The boys loved watching the bears play, swim in the water and climb trees! The boys were able to go behind the scenes and hide food for the bears in the enclosure.

Day-6 We drove the Yellowstone Upper Loop! We drove and stopped at sights! We had a picnic lunch in Mammoth Hot Springs with the deer.

Day-7 It was time to leave Yellowstone and drive to the Grand Tetons! It was only a 2 hour drive, but we got stuck behind a heard of Buffalo crossing the road for almost an additional 2 hours! The driver was thankful for the potty break  and lunch delivery service in the RV.  The kids learned more about the birds and the bees!

Our next campsite was the Colter Bay RV park in the Grand Teton National Park  http://www.gtlc.com/rv/colter-bay-rv-park. The RV park was OK, but not as kid friendly as we expected.  We had to pay for showers and cell phone service was impossible! The best part of the park was the fact that we could walk everywhere!

Day-8 We booked a tour ahead of time for the Jackson Lake Breakfast Cruise. http://www.gtlc.com/activities/jackson-lake-boat-cruises . We walked to the dock and enjoyed a scenic cruise to Elk Island. The tour guide gave us information about the island and we enjoyed the sights. I was surprised to hear that the Elk actually swim to the island in the Spring. Occasionally a bear will swim to the island, but it is rare. I kept an eye out for swimming bears.  LOL.   Once we were on the island they had a delicious breakfast set up for us! We ate and enjoyed the beautiful view! This was an amazing experience!

Since it was my son’s 13th birthday, I decided to try baking a cake in the RV oven! I’m happy to report I didn’t blow up the RV and it turned out great! He was a very happy boy!

Day-9 We put on our hiking shoes, packed water bottles, and a lunch. We went on a long 10 mile hike to Hermitage Point and back. The boys complained for 9.5 miles. We saw a baby deer, moose, her baby,  and lots of geese. We had a picnic and the boys practiced skipping rocks.

Day-10 We were on the road again! This time we were going to the Snake River KOA in Jackson Hole Wyoming.  http://koa.com/campgrounds/jackson-hole/ .

At dusk we went on an animal viewing tour with Brush Buck Jeep Tours https://brushbucktours.com/grand-teton-tours/. We saw bison, elk, deer antelope, bears and a moose! It was a very successful tour!

Day 11 We moseyed on over to the A-OK Corral across the street from the Snake River KOA and we went horse back riding! We were planning to go whitewater rafting, but the water level was so high we decided we would rather not.  The water was also still rather chilly.

We all loved the horses and had a great time. The views were spectacular! We even saw a deer on the way back!

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Day -12 We visited the small town of Jackson and enjoyed some shopping. Well, I enjoyed the shopping.  LOL  The rest of my group whined, fussed and complained like babies! Don’t worry, I kept shopping! I loved this little town.  There were lots of fun stores and we found a delicious ice cream shop!

After shopping, we headed to dinner at the Bar T Chuck Wagon! The chuck wagon took us up a road around a river to a secluded forest. We saw Indians and a great show while we ate a Bar-B-Que dinner.

Day-13 It was time to drive back to Salt Lake City, Utah and return the RV! We were ready to go home to sleep in our own beds, shower and see our dog! I think we made life long memories on this vacation. We explored this amazing country, learned new things, met new people, enjoyed family time together, and decided we would take another RV vacation in the future!

 

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Bonus I beat my know-it-all 13 year old to a game of Phase 10!!

Happy Trails!

 

Rent the Runway

Have you ever rented a dress? I heard of the website Rent the Runway  that rents designer $500 dresses for $30-$90 and thought I would give it a try! I had a wedding to attend at a Resort in San Diego in October.  I was 30 pounds over weight and I had nothing in my closet that fit. I really didn’t want to buy something new for $100-$200 in my size, since I was determined to lose the weight! I wanted 2 dresses for the weekend, 1 for the Western theme happy hour Friday night and 1 for the wedding Saturday.

I browsed the dresses and found 2 that I loved. When you click on the dress you can see the model and click on her back view. Then you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and see Real women wearing the dress, read their reviews, and see their dimensions. Also, you get an idea of jewelry or shoes to help accessorize the dress.  After extensive research I had the courage to guess my size and how the dresses would fit.

I ordered my dresses for a 4 day rental and paid $30 for the 1 year membership. With the membership you get free shipping and returns,  free dry cleaning, free back up size, plus a free dress for your birthday. I awaited my dresses arrival like a kid waiting for Christmas Day!  Tuesday I received an email that the dresses I ordered were unable to be used. I’m assuming an angry girl ripped them off  trying to fit them over her head in a moment of panic. We have all been there.

The email included a phone number to call and a very sweet apology. I called immediately and went to my computer to browse the dress selection. While talking to the stylist (a man, who I don’t think  has ever had to talk a woman off a ledge before) did a good job, but he kept pushing yellow dresses on me, I don’t wear yellow Ever! I tried to find something in my color pallet and my size available the same weekend everyone in the country was using the service. We finally found 2 dresses that I thought would work. He had them shipped overnight to me.

WEDNESDAY THE DRESSES ARRIVED!!! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! Until I tried them on. Then I cried myself into a sobbing mess laying on the floor. They didn’t fit! I could barely zip  the floral one over my waist.The blue one was extremely tight all over, in fact both breasts would not stay in the dress at the same time! So, I called back my friend at RTR and we had another go at finding something for me. This time I was much more realistic about my size and went up 2 sizes! Big breasts get in the way again! They had 2 dresses available in my size that I liked. In fact, they were sending me an extra  green dress just in case! Unfortunately I had to leave for the airport Friday morning and they would not arrive here in time. I had the RTR associate ship them to the Resort in San Diego. Then I went to my closet and prayed something would fit, just in case. I found 2 dresses in my closet that would fit, but I would not be happy wearing either of them. This was a really special wedding at a Resort in San Diego. I wanted to look like a princess, not her evil step sister!

Friday morning I was packing and getting ready to leave the house when my cell phone rang. It was UPS and they wanted my address. They had my dresses at the Tucson UPS main office. I wrote down the address and we drove there on the way to the airport. I picked up my package and looked inside. The package included the  2 dresses for the wedding but I was missing the blue one I wanted for happy hour that night. I called back RTR to find the missing blue dress and they said it was on the way to the Resort in San Diego.

We arrived at the resort and the dress was no where to be seen. I went to the Western Theme happy hour in a black dress from my closet. It fit, but I didn’t like it. It was like being on a diet and eating a salad with out dressing while your family eats pizza!

Fortunately, out of the 2 dresses I did receive I was able to wear 1 of them to the wedding. The green one was too tight, one breast would have to stay home. I went to the wedding in the floral Rent the Runway designer dress and I felt like a million bucks!! Sure I was overweight and old, but I felt like a princess in this beautiful dress! I received many compliments on my dress and it really made my night! I put the dress back in the bag and shipped it back to RTR! It was pretty simple.

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What did I learn from my experience? Be more realistic about your size, maybe take measurements? If you plan on renting for an out of town event pay for the 8 day rental? Will I rent from RTR again? YES! I’m planning on renting from them for a Gala I’m attending in March! I have lost 20 pounds and I’m hoping my experience will be easier. At least this time it’s in town.

If you would like to try the service:

https://www.renttherunway.com/shares/c0e29e1bc7253416a561a463c712878de0f04395-publicLink?utm_source=rtr&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=undefined

Tell them Paula sent you! I think they know me by my first name by now:)

BIG THANK YOU to Jaime Williams for the beautiful jewelry from Chloe & Isabel!

https://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/jwilliams

 

RENT THE RUNWAY UPDATE!!

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I rented another dress for a Gala I attended this weekend! I loved this little black dress! It was tight in the chest but I wore a sports bra and the situation was under control! I received many compliments on the dress and it felt great wearing something that was so stylish! I have to admit, I have event anxiety! I love going to events but I get a little anxiety worrying about what I’m going to wear. This really helped relieve my stress because I knew my dress was perfect!

Kauai Hawaii

Kauai Hawaii

I fell in love with Kauai in 1991. I graduated from high school and spent the summer with my best friend, her sister, and dad who lived on Kauai. We were immersed in the culture of the island immediately.  It is truly a natural Island. There are no sky scrappers or high rise hotels, and no motor boats are allowed on the Island. The people of Kauai are very friendly and they have kept the Island pristine. I loved exploring beaches and finding hidden gems, we had friends that took us to beaches that only the locals knew about. It was fun relaxing on a deserted beach and the only footprints were ours. Since hurricane Iniki in  1992 the chickens have taken over the island, but not much else has changed. 14522832_10155328691169517_6101411876087716352_n

For our 10 year wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday Mike and I celebrated in Kauai. We went in September while the kids were in school and were able to non-rev (fly on another airline and only pay the taxes). We stayed at the Barking Sands Military Base and enjoyed a week of relaxing with out the kids. Mike fell in love with the island and agreed we would be back one day with the boys.

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I wanted to share my love for the island with my family.We tried to non-rev to Kauai 2 years ago and spent 2 days at the airport with no luck. I decided to buy tickets this time and travel in the off-season to save some money. The funny thing is, the Hawaii Islands don’t have an off-season! Fortunately my boys have a week off in October for “fall break” and I found airline tickets were much cheaper then June or July!

My boys were so excited, we have never bought them airline tickets before!

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When we arrived in Kauai we went to the local Walmart and stocked up on food for breakfast and dinners. I knew we would be out to lunch most days but I really didn’t want to eat out for lunch and dinner. Fortunately I remembered to bring my own recycling bags. The grocery store in Kauai don’t use plastic or paper bags.

When we arrived at the Barking Sands Base we rented boogie boards, beach chairs, and a surf board. We were ready for our vacation to start.

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After dinner at Shenanigans! Great place to eat and watch the sunset!

We spent a couple of days catching waves at several different beaches. Poipu beach was one of our favorites, on our way there we made a quick  stop at the Blow hole! http://www.kauai.com/spouting-horn .   Then we had to go to Puka Dog for lunch! I don’t usually eat hot dogs but these were AMAZING!!  http://www.pukadog.com/

We took the boys on a sailboat tour of the Na Pali Coast with Captain Andy’s excursions https://www.napali.com/ . They loved the sailing and enjoyed riding on the trampoline net in the front of the boat. We all had a nice time snorkeling and the lunch was delicious. I think the best part was watching the dolphins swim and jump out of the water alongside our boat!

We tried to book a Kauai River tubing excursion, but they were booked 3 months in advance! For the whole week!!

Instead we went to Princeville Ranch Adventures https://princevilleranch.com/ . We hiked, paddled our canoes up a small river then went zip-lining through the forest. Then the boys jumped in the hidden swimming hole. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch and then hiked and canoed back home. This was a really fun excursion. The guides were locals and had vast amounts of information about the plants and all of the Island!

Everyone wants to go to a Luau! Kauai has 2 large private Luau’s and I recommend both of them!

The first time we went with out kids we enjoyed the  Luau Kalamaku https://www.luaukalamaku.com/. It was very nice, but really a Hollywood production. I didn’t like eating during the dancing, I  couldn’t enjoy the show while eating.

This time we decided to take the boys to the Smith Family Garden Luau https://www.smithskauai.com/garden-luau/. We rode the train around the grounds and enjoyed listening to the guide talk about all of the different plants and birds. They have a beautiful estate to explore before the show. My kids liked chasing the chickens:( When we arrived at the dinner we were surprised with an open bar! This was a nice treat, the Mai tai’s were delicious!

The dinner was amazing and they entertained us with a few songs and some dance instructions. After dinner we went to watch the real show. This was a nice story about the islands and how the Luau and Hula came to become.

A trip to Kauai is not complete with out a drive up Waimea Canyon,  “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain. https://hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/waimea-canyon-state-park/ . We drove up the canyon and stopped to take some great pictures of the red dirt. This dirt became famous after the 1992 Hurricane when all of the clothes at the t-shirt shops were covered in the red dirt. It wouldn’t wash out, but the store owners decided to make them as Dirt Shirts. Now you see the Dirt Shirts everywhere in the stores. By the way, the airport TSA will take your red dirt away from you. I hope it was returned to the same place!

We enjoyed a nice hike in the canyon and were blown away by the views. With the elevation change we noticed cactus, shrubs, eucalyptus trees and even pines. It was breathtaking!

We left Kauai with a tan, some t-shirts and endless memories. My boys fell in love with the Island. They now have an appreciation for Hawaiian culture, Kauai’s unique natural beauty, and how annoying free range chickens can be! I got tired of saying “shut the door or the chickens will come in!” We would all love to return one day, maybe when Southwest starts flying to Hawaii? Don’t ask, I have no idea when that will happen! A girl can dream!

Military Discounts and Deals

My husband has served and protected our great nation for over 18 years. We are a proud military family. Now that he is a reservist, we still receive some military benefits and I love to share some of the great deals we have found. Unfortunately not everyone knows about them, so I’m sharing some of the best!

Resorts all over the world:

Armed Forces Vacation Club

We stayed at a resort in Orlando Florida that we booked from the  Armed Forces Vacation Club. We stayed 6 nights in a condo at a lovely resort for $250 for the week! It had 2 bedroom, 2 bath, full kitchen and laundry facility. The resort had access to a lake and other fun activities.

https://www.afvclub.com

 

 

Florida- Shades of Green is a resort at Disney World! I have not stayed here but I heard it was great. When I tried to book a room at the resort it was full 6 months in advance!

At this website you can also get reduced tickets for Disney World Parks, Universal Orlando, Sea World, and more! You can purchase the discounted tickets even if you are not staying at the Shades of Green. You must have a person with a military ID with you when you use them and there is a limit to how many tickets you can buy per ID.

http://www.shadesofgreen.org/index.html

 

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California- Most military bases have a Information, Tickets, & Tours (ITT) office. We have bought discounted tickets at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for Disneyland & California Adventure, Sea World, Legoland and San Diego Zoo. For a family of 4 we have saved hundreds of dollars going through the ITT.

http://www.dmforcesupport.com

 

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Naval Base Coronado- hotel on Coronado on the beach! This is a great place to stay and relax, but its really hard to get a room so I advise you call months ahead of time!

https://www.navy-lodge.com/lodge

 

Hawaii

Honolulu– Hale Koa is a resort walking distance to the beach. I have never been but I heard its great!

http://www.halekoa.com/

 

Kauai– Barking Sands is several beach cottages on a private beach on the Navy base. It has 2-3 bedroom cottages with full kitchens, laundry facility and deck looking out to the ocean. It is on the West side of the island and a bit of a drive but it is so worth it!

http://pmrf.greatlifehawaii.com/lodging

http://get.dodlodging.net/propertys/Barking-Sands-Beach-Cottages-PMRF—HI

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For tickets and prices to Luau’s, helicopter tours, and much more go to the website and click on Information, tickets & travel:

http://www.greatlifehawaii.com/

 

 

Oktoberfest on Mt Lemmon

14344690_10209952213384833_8101544094105007380_nAs a Tucson native I have never experienced Oktoberfest on Mt Lemmon! I decided to fix that this year! I wanted to celebrate my birthday (25 again) with my girlfriends in the mountains at Oktoberfest! I had the cutest t-shirts made and they were a hit!

After a quick drive up the mountain we were shocked at how cool it was outside. Some of us even changed from our shorts into pants in the mini van! Don’t worry the parking lot was empty.

Parking was $5 per car so we piled into two mini vans to save money. Admission was free! We bought tickets for lunch and beer. The prices were very reasonable $6 for food depending on what you wanted and $4 for beer. Everything was delicious! I highly recommend the fudge in the sweet shop!

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We brought chairs and hiked up the hill to get a great view of the festivities. The music was a nice charm, they played authentic German music and people danced and laughed. We did not dance but we laughed a lot. Children ran in the grass and did cartwheels down the hill. Some of the brave people in my group rode the ski lift to the top of the mountain and enjoyed the sights. I was not one of them, it was my birthday and I wanted to sit on my but and enjoy the day.

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I love the fact that we can drive 45 minutes up Mount Lemmon Highway and everything changes. We can see fall leaves changing, feel the cool mountain air,  and enjoy our surroundings with out stepping on a cactus or a rattlesnake!

If you have the time please go check it out! It is family friendly, just make sure you have a designated driver or rent a cabin for the night! Hurry Oktoberfest is over soon!

http://www.skithelemmon.com/

http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/usa/arizona/tucson-area/mt-lemmon?from-date=2015-07-15&to-date=2015-07-19

Happy October!