Six Tips for Cruising with Kids

Going on holiday with the kids is as equally rewarding as it can be frustrating. This is especially true if you are trying to travel to a range of different destinations. Corralling little ones onto flights can be tricky at the best of times and this is only exacerbated when you have multiple transfers and connecting flights to make. Fortunately, there’s one way to simplify the process and let the whole family travel to various places with ease – by taking a cruise.

By opting for a family cruise holiday, you just travel to the departure point, get comfy in your cabin and let the world come to you from the comfort of a luxury cruise liner. No longer the preserve of wealthy pensioners, cruise holidays are available to anyone. Whether you fancy touring the Mediterranean, The Caribbean, or even chillier climes – it’s up to you.

Don’t worry if you’ve never cruised before. It’s easy! And to make it even easier we’ve compiled a short list of tips for getting the most out of a cruise with kids. Read on.

Feel free to take the kitchen sink

It is received wisdom these days that it’s best to pack light when traveling. And usually this is the case. However, on a cruise you have the luxury of your cabin as a base of operations throughout the holiday. You don’t have to pack and repack (beyond a day bag for excursions). Combine this with the fact that there are not lots of shopping options on the seven seas, you don’t want to get caught short by forgetting any necessities. So, don’t worry about packing your suitcases a little fuller.

Also, while cruise ships are chock full of entertainment, there can still be a little downtime at sea. Beat the boredom by making sure you have plenty books and gizmos to keep the wee ones amused, as well as yourself.

Arrive at your departure point a day early

Missing a flight is a pain, but there’s always the next one to catch. This isn’t true of cruise ships. And a 60,000 ton luxury liner isn’t going to keep waiting if you’re late! Make sure you have plenty breathing room in case there are any travel hiccups by arriving at the departure point 24 hours before hand. It not only gives you a buffer, it also makes the trip out much less stressful.

Be picky with your cabin

Your cabin is where you’ll be for the duration of the trip, so make sure you pick the right one. Not all rooms are created equally and some may not have the facilities you need for your trip. If you require a room with a bath for example, you need to make sure you book one. If any of your family are prone to seasickness then be careful where the cabin is located. By choosing a room near the center of the ship, the effects of the sea are lessened and everyone will have a less-nauseas time while they get their sealegs.

Read up on the excursions available

Most cruise operators have a full list of excursions and activities posted well before they set sail. It pays to do your homework on these and choose the ones you want to do. Not only does it mean you’re well prepared, it also ensures you don’t miss out before they are fully booked.

Pack walkie talkies

There isn’t much phone reception in the middle of the ocean, so by packing walkie talkies you can keep in regular communication with the family when you’re in different parts of the ship. The kids will love it too!

Check the age requirements

Different cruise operators have different age policies and you need to know these before you head off. This doesn’t just include minimum ages for the cruise itself, but also the age requirements for kids clubs activities and baby sitting services – if the cruise offers them. A good rule of thumb is that if your child is potty trained they should be able to attend most kid focused activities, but make sure and check.

Top 4 Safety Travel Tips

travel tips

Taking a vacation is one of the things that helps make life fun.  In fact, studies show that four out of five domestic trips made are for leisure. Getting away from it all is sure to be ideal for better health and less stress. However, you will want to be sure to make the most of your trip, and this means not worrying about what could go wrong. The ideal way to do this is to be as prepared as you can be by putting specific safety tips into place before you leave. Knowing these tips will enable you to have fun while taking time off work.

Tip #1: Secure your home

One of the ideal ways to ensure you won’t have any issues with your home while you’re gone is by activating your security system before you leave. It’s ideal to rely on this type of security to keep your home monitored when you aren’t there to do this job.

Some of the things you will want your security system to do is alert others if an intruder enters your property. This could involve creating a loud siren noise that will blast the neighborhood when an individual attempts a break-in.

The more advanced systems may get in touch with the police immediately if this occurs or you could even have cameras installed that enable you to watch your property at any time.

Tip #2:  Update insurance

One thing you will want to be sure to do is to update your health and auto insurance before leaving. You may need to simply review your policy or make some major changes to help ensure you’re properly covered. The last thing you want to do is to have to make an emergency room visit away from your local area and not have insurance.

Of course, if you’re driving a long distance it’s imperative to have the right amount of auto insurance. This will allow you to feel secure if you’re involved in any type of accident. Additionally, having health insurance as an added protection plan can help you feel even more confident.

Tip #3: Plan for travel emergencies

Getting ready to hit the road is sure to be exciting. Regardless if you’re going a long distance or only making a short trip, you will want to enjoy your time.

It’s ideal to plan ahead for any travel emergencies that may occur and below are a few ideas to enable you to do so:

1.  Tell a friend where you’re going in the event you need assistance for any reason.

2.  Pack a food kit to keep in your car in the event you’re stranded.

3.  Do some research and look for the closest medical facility in the area you’re headed. Be sure to put the address in your GPS.

4.  Keep a bag of essentials in your car that may include a flashlight, blankets, and other things to make you feel more secure.

Tip #4: Create a first aid kit

It’s important to have a first-aid kit with you when traveling. This will enable you to address minor accidents with ease and allow you to feel more prepared.

Be sure to have bandages, ointment, over-the-counter pain relievers and other items you may need in an emergency travel situation.

The key to having the most fun on your vacation is to alleviate the stress and enjoy the surroundings. This can be done with a little bit of preparedness beforehand that can allow you to have the peace of mind you need while doing so.

Fall Family Vacation Deals of 50% at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts

We will be visiting in just a few weeks, and can’t wait to see how much fun Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is for ourselves. Don’t worry, we will be sharing all the info with you, as well as our thoughts. In the meantime, make sure you are following on social media @HaveSippy on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine and Snapchat if you are so inclined.

We will be posting some Facebook Like for you as well, so feel free to like and follow the page. Can’t wait to tell you all about it! In the meantime, here is some information for you, should you be interested in booking a trip. We have stayed in a Karisma resort before, and it was lovely.

punta cana resorts

Karisma Hotels & Resorts are offering major savings for family travel at their top family resorts in beautiful and sunny Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and the Riviera Maya in Mexico. From character breakfasts with Nickelodeon stars and family slimings at the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana to a toy lending library with a menu of toys that can be delivered to suites or the beach at Azul Beach Hotel to Little Eko Chefs at Generations Riviera Maya which allows young guests to gain true culinary skills while learning easy and delicious recipes – both parents and kids can prepare to be wowed.

  • Kids are included complimentary with Sliming Savings at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana! Plus, you can save up to 50 percent on vacations booked between now and October 21, 2016 for travel until December 22, 2017.  Special rates start at $190 per person, per night for adults.  Book at or 844-733-NICK.
  • With the Not Another Pumpkin Spice Promotion, guests can save up to 50 percent on vacations booked at Generations Riviera Maya and up to 40 percent at Azul Beach Hotel on vacations booked between now and November 30, 2016 for travel until December 22, 2017. Special rates start at $272 per person, per night at Generations Riviera Maya and $250 per person, per night at Azul Beach Hotel.  Book at or 1-866-527-4762.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts specializes in creating memorable experiences for families that are crafted with the needs of families in mind and are anything but ordinary. With Karisma’s signature Gourmet Inclusive Experience, family vacations are carefree. Parents can forget packing those extra bulky baby accessories and take advantage of the resorts’ amenities, including strollers, cribs, pack and plays, changing tables, monitors, bottle warmers, baby bathrobes, and more. Additionally, there is no need to stress about meals and booking reservations! A Gourmet Inclusive vacation includes all gourmet cuisine served a la carte, premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, 24-hour room service and stocked mini bars with drinks and snacks that don’t cost extra to enjoy. Plus, each resort has unique family offerings such as family suites for up to two adults and three children, swim-up suites, splash parks, expansive kid’s clubs, and character experiences with Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Paw Patrol and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Information and images of Azul Beach Hotel, Generations Riviera Maya, and Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana can be found at .

Traveling With Kids In Hot Weather

Sometimes, travel occurs in the hotter months, or in the summer. This can be hard work when you’re on your own, or with a friend or partner. But when you’ve got a kid, or kids, and are taking them along with you? It is a totally different ball game. Whether you’re traveling to steaming hot sunshine in Hawaii or a hot New York afternoon, you’ll need to be prepared.

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Here is how to make traveling kids in hot weather more bearable for everyone. Here is a clue; It’s all in the preparation.

First off, be sure to give some careful consideration to how you are traveling. Taking your own car is great, as you get to decide when you travel and how. But if that option isn’t available, bus travel is a good alternative. Buses now have good air-con, which will keep everyone cool when it is hot outside. Many have toilets on them too, which can avoid other types of discomfort. Also, be sure to book your bus tickets in advance. You can pick them up on online these days, which is really handy. Get bus tickets from Shofur, for example, and they guarantee clean, safe and pleasant travel. All of which are great words in a parent’s vocab!

Next, you need to think about your packing. Taking the right items with you will make all the difference. Layers are the best way to dress your children in hot weather. If they get too hot, you can strip them down to just one layer. However, if they go inside a shop with air-conditioning, for example, you can keep them warm. Hand-held fans are way more effective than the nearest sheet of paper! Or, consider a little electric hand-held fan.

Outside in the heat, a wide-brimmed hat will do more than just protect their heads. It will also keep their heads cool. Plus, the wide brim will protect and cool their forehead and neck. Of course, sunblock is a must in hot weather. You can use it to cool them down also. Keep it in a cool bag and it will go on nice and cold. Or get a mist; these usually come out much cooler than those in bottles.
You also need to give some thought to your activities. If you will be inside a lot of the time, you’ll be fine. But what if you’ve got outdoor activities planned, like hiking or swimming. The right clothing, hat and sunscreen will go a long way. But so will keep them in the shade. Or, if they are out in the sun, having them go in the shade every half an hour or so. This will keep their body temperature down, and generally, keep them happier! Sunstroke is not fun.

Finally, be sure you keep your kids hydrated. It will keep them happy and functioning, and will again ward off sunstroke. Being dehydrated can just lead to mild things like headaches, but again, this is not something you want to deal with while traveling.

Why Won’t My Garden Grow? Gardening When You Don’t Have a “Green Thumb”

My son and I love to garden, and dad gets in on it as well- at least on the vegetable gardening portion. I’ve always wanted one of those amazing, fragrant rose gardens (of course, with other flowers in the mix as well) and my son shares this dream, perhaps oddly.  He loves to run around in gardens, and now that he’s older, take photos of all of his favorite flowers. Roses top that list.


We plant seeds inside each year as well, and transplant the ones that can live outdoors outside when the weather is right.  My son loves watching his little greenhouses grow.  They are also fun 4H projects for the end of the year now that he’s old enough to participate in those clubs.  There are all sorts of cute kits we like to try, as well as the traditional seeds and dirt.


We also grow a fruit and (mostly) vegetable garden every year.  We don’t have a large yard, and neither of our gardens are huge- just rows along the fences. But we enjoy it, and that’s what matters. Some of the plants we grow from seeds, others from “starter” plants from home stores, and this year from these interesting pods from Miracle Gro. (Read about them here if you want.)  I hadn’t seen them before, but he likes them, and most of them are growing pretty well so far.


We are also going to pick up some hanging baskets this year for strawberries and hulaberries- which are similar, but have a pineapple flavor. We usually grow them on the ground, but thought we’d try something new this year since we are growing both blackberries and blueberries this year as well.


Last year, I didn’t do much with the garden.  It has quickly become over-run with weeds and growth.  My bushes, plants, and flowers (bulbs too!) have just not been doing well, and it’s frustrating.  The bulbs have been rotting in the ground, 2 out of 4 rosebushes have died over the past 4 years, 1 out of 2 azaleas have died (and the other won’t grow), and neither hydrangea is growing or doing well. I’ve been composting, tilling the soil, fertilizing, and winterizing the plants- and with no luck.


This year, as gardening season finally gets started here in NJ, I’m really making an effort to figure out what’s going on with my poor garden.  Is it the soil, the sunlight, some kind of bug- or just a terrible gardener?

We started with 2 days of garden cleanup, weeding, tilling, etc, and put a few new plants in.  Let us see how this season progresses.

Wish me luck, please!


Tips for Catching Your Kids on Film


Getting precious memories of your kids is probably one of the best parts of having a smartphone. No longer do you need to fumble around with film or have to remember to bring your camera. Instead you always have your phone with you, and it’s ready at a moment’s notice. The following are a few tips and tools to help you capture the best smartphone pictures possible:


For a lot of situations, the automatic settings on modern phone cameras are great at capturing everyday moments. But if you need something more, knowing what other modes you have access to will always be advantageous.

  • HDR: This combines two or more separate shots, one that is more exposed to capture shadow details and one that is less exposed to get the highlights. These photos are then merged together and give better dynamic range to the scene. The downside is that it takes multiple photos for HDR to work. This can lead to artifacts in fast-moving objects, such as children, and HDR also takes a few seconds to process, meaning you don’t have the same burst capability as you would otherwise.
  • Manual/Pro: Here you have access to more settings such as ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation, which gives you control over the look of a scene. If your kid is running around in a dark room, you can increase the shutter speed and the ISO to make sure you don’t get a blur across the frame.
  • Slow Motion: Not only has the smartphone replaced a dedicated camera for many situations, but it also has replaced the camcorder. Kids can move fast, especially if they are excited, so the slow motion mode of a Samsung Galaxy S7 is great for capturing that new trick they learned or their game-winning hit. Just remember that slow motion needs more light, so shooting outside or in an otherwise brightly lit area is recommended. When shooting in slow motion, you also won’t be able to take advantage of 4K — shooting instead in 1080 or 720 HD — but this is still more than enough for most people.

Camera Apps

One of the most popular photography apps is Instagram. Before sharing your photos with your favorite social network, so friends and family can see what you kid is up to, try out some of Instagram’s filters. After Instagram’s latest update, you can even have up to 60-second videos posted with ease.

If sharing isn’t what you want, a photo editing app such as Snapseed is great for on-the-go editing. The simple interface uses your finger to drag for more or less of the feature you are tweaking. Snapseed also has presets available to achieve a specific look.

Taking the Shot

Kids can move quickly, so you have to be ready to capture the right moment. Being able to launch the camera app quickly and easily is going to go a long way in making sure that you’ll capture the moment. Most Android phones are starting to move to a “double tap” of the home/power button for a quick launch of the camera. Otherwise, you can set the camera to open when you swipe up from the corner of your lock screen.

This also applies to the shutter button. Knowing where you need to press ensures you are not going to be fumbling and miss the moment. If you have the option, setting the shutter to release on touching the screen ensures you have a nice big button to press when the time is right.

Rest Rite- Get a Great Night’s Sleep

Disclosure- I received the below in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own and honest. For more, see “I Disclose”.


As many of you who have been pregnant know, getting a great night sleep after you are to your 2nd or 3rd trimester can be incredibly hard. I can only wish that I would have found this great product with my previous 2 pregnancies. The Rest Rite has been a pretty neat tool to use on my really rough nights.

About Rest Rite:

The Rest Rite Sleep Positioner is an innovative new device that was designed to train your body to sleep in the best position for your needs by repositioning you as you sleep in a comfortable way. It can also be used as an over the counter breathing aid while serving as one of the best home remedies for sleep trouble on the market. It is safe and comfortable.

The product then acts as a “bubble” that gently encourages you to stay off your back throughout the night. It can also be placed on other parts of your body to encourage a different sleeping position.

It can help with:

  • Snoring and Sleep Apnea
  • Pregnancy
  • Injury
  • Heartburn
  • Reflux
  • Back Pain
  • Gerd


We all know that pregnancy causes havoc on peaceful nights’ sleep. The American Pregnancy Association says that sleeping on the back during pregnancy can cause health issues such as backaches, difficulty in breathing and a decrease in circulation to the heart and the baby. They recommend Sleeping on the Side position for a better, healthier night’s sleep and even better, on the left side to improve circulation and move nutrient-packed blood from a mother’s heart to the placenta to nourish the baby.

The comfortable Rest-Rite Sleep Positioner attaches directly onto the back with easily-removed, residue-free, medical grade adhesive, and gently helps to remind a pregnant woman to roll back to her side if she accidentally rolls onto her back while sleeping. It won’t shift during the night, making falling and staying asleep easier.


My Thoughts:

I was incredibly impressed with the Rest-Rite. I am just now at the end of my 2nd trimester and staying asleep at night is starting to become tricky. I typically am a side sleeper, so being pregnant and having to sleep on my side has never really been a problem for me. I will tell you that now this far along into my 3rd pregnancy my body has a hard time some nights staying on  my side thanks to that little thing called gravity. 🙂 . I have been impressed on the nights that I have used the Rest-Rite and would definitely recommend it to any pregnant friend that was having rough nights and having the problem of rolling onto their back.


If you are interested in purchasing this amazing product, head on over to their website and order a box for yourself to see how great it is!

Road Trip With the 2016 Mazda 6

Over the course of one of our recent excursions, we were given the opportunity to try out the new 2016 Mazda 6.  With tons of bells and whistles as well as a super efficient engine, the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine takes efficiency to a whole new performance level, with better EPA-estimated highway MPG than the competition.


This car is a fun to drive, and the ride is smooth.  From the side front and rear radar, all your sides are covered and as long as you are careful, good driving is easy to do in such a safe environment.  The Mazda 6 also has the added benefit of a stellar safety system.


This includes standard safety featureslike advanced front air bags, front side-impact air bags, side-impact air curtains*, Dynamic Stability Control* with Traction Control System, 4-wheel ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist, Available Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert*, Smart City Brake Support*, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning*, Lane Departure Warning System*, High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Close Proximity Warning*.


Overall this car was a blast to drive.  The handling felt like I was driving a larger car then I was, which kept me further from the vehicles around me (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  It was still something to get used to.

Especially since this is the first time I have had the pleasure of using the HUD to display speed and directions.  This is a small projected image on a see-though screen near the bottom of the windshield. This acts as a quick information window which can be glanced at while driving without distracting the driver.  (My husband loved it, he thought it was one of the coolest things about the car and he talked way too much about it- for me, it was a little unusual.)

It had a ton of trunk space, which really matters for any family. Perfect for travel, but also for those every day activities like shopping or heading to the grocery store. This model also had a GPS unit that was easy to use, and if you are like me, a necessity for getting from point A to point B once you are out of your comfort zone.  The front and back seats had lots of leg room- and head room.  My husband is nearly 6’4, and he was able to fit comfortably into the car without his head hitting the top. This is unusual.  For bigger people, it’s good to know.  My son had room in the back, even when I had my seat back.  We were all comfortable- something I can’t usually say in most cars.

Be sure to keep an eye out and check out the Mazda 6 at a local Mazda dealer near you.