A Lifestylye Blog

Our family had the amazing opportunity to enjoy an all-inclusive package trip at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in San Jose del Cabo in Mexico sponsored on behalf of my husband's company- Legacy Builders. It was a bit of a gamble deciding whether we would bring our toddler daughter with us and in the end, we're so glad we did! This resort helped make our decision just that much easier with kids activities/water park, all you can eat food (no need to think about preparing food), room service and lots of outdoor space. So my experience may be a little biased in that way. But hey, if you're going to travel with children, this is likely the way to go. It saves so much headache and stress in the long run. I share some more about what we learned below!

1) They can add so much fun and spontaneity.  Chaya was such a joy. She forced me to laugh more, get out more, play in the water more (much longer than I planned), splash around more, let go, run about the hallways, meet new people and more!

2) Their minds are full of so much wonder. I found myself enjoying a lot more of the simple things like walking around, enjoying the feeling of sand between my toes, sitting in front of the fire and just watching its flames bow in and out for minutes at a time, facing my head up and stretching my arms out wide to feel the ocean breeze, seeing airplanes fly in and out of the airport wondering where they're coming from and what their story is. Seeing the world through their eyes enhances things beyond our usual imagination.

3) They still need some structure. Naptimes, lots of snacks, mealtimes, downtime balanced with playtime were still a means for survival traveling with this toddler. But we maintained flexibility with these things. Sometimes we slept on a lounge chair outside by the water and sometimes we went back to the room. The first two years of Chaya's life I battled with guilt that we didn't follow this regimented structure for naps, meals, bedtimes and where she took and had them. But I've learned that with some of the flexibility we've maintained with how those happened, Chaya has actually turned out to be an amazing traveler because of it! We were able to still stay out late, watch the shows and have our fun as we have learned to have her adapt to OUR schedule versus the other way around.

One late night, we were all cozied up by the outdoor bonfire as we were greeted and joined by another beautiful young family with a daughter right around Chaya's age. We shared great conversation and laughter over our alternative parenting styles for bringing our children with us on this type of vacation and allowing them to stay up late with us. So all you parents out there who follow similar suit, you're not alone and you are not being bad parent! Shake that guilt away.

4) They need options! Especially during the "travel" parts in the airport and on the airplane. I stocked up our bag with lots of her favorite snacks, water, ipad with games and movies pre-downloaded, a change of clothes, markers, a sticker book, kids headphones, and a mini ball to bounce around during layovers. But she also enjoyed random knick-knacks from my purse like sunglasses, a hair-tie, a pen, etc. Anytime we were on the verge of a meltdown (aka boredom), we switched out one activity for the other to keep things interesting.

5) Your trip doesn't have to suffer! While we don't plan on always brining our children with us when we travel in the future, we found for this earlier toddler age that bringing Chaya with us was an amazing enhancement. Twos don't have to be terrible. We adjusted our expectations and knew we probably weren't going to go deep sea diving or fly-boarding together. But we still very much enjoyed the more family-friendly activities that were available to us. We took turns when needed. During naptimes and after Chaya had gone to sleep we still enjoyed quality time together and romantic moments. We built special memories and strengthened our family bond. It was a beautiful trip and hopefully this will encourage and give hope to other parents who either do not have the child care resources or who are simply not ready to take that long and far of a trip separately. You can have it your way :)

**We're so thankful for Legacy Builders who supports families, provides amazing opportunities like this one and rewards hard work. My husband and I have experienced tremendous freedom in time, finances and relationships. We couldn't have found better people to work with, do life with, and grow business with together. 

Rice: A food that has gotten a bad rep in the health food, diet world. But, if I may, I'd like to redeem this wholesome dish and turn it into something that can work for us no matter what or where our health goals fall. What's great about this "fried" rice dish is that it is versatile, can mold to fit the veggies of the season, packed with your choice of protein and can be flavored and spiced to create a delicious and satisfying meal. I learned to perfect this recipe from a dear roommate of mine when living in LA who gave me the missing ingredient that I could never pinpoint to make it resemble the rice I would crave from the restaurants. See below for more details and a sample recipe structure!

Recipe (serves 5):
 1 1/2 cups pre-cooked brown or forbidden black rice
2 cups protein of choice (I used chopped pre-cooked chicken breast)
2 cups veggies of choice (I used 1 cup chopped carrots and 1 cup snap peas)
4 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
2 eggs
1/2 cup green onions
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil
3 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos or 1 tablespoon MSG-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon MSG-free oyster sauce (or fish sauce as an alternative)

Preparation: Begin by sautéing garlic and carrots in avocado oil for about 5 minutes until garlic is lightly browned in large pan or wok if available. Then add rice, chicken, liquid aminos and oyster sauce and mix well. Let cook and heat for another 5 minutes. Create a circle in the middle of the pan by pushing the rice contents to the sides of the pan. Crack and place two whole eggs into the middle of the circle and let cook until well done. Then scramble eggs in this small circle by whisking spatula around. Once completely scrambled, mix eggs into the surrounding rice. Lastly, I like to add snap peas at the end to prevent overcooking them and to maintain some crunch and texture. Then add sesame oil and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Plate and serve onto your favorite dish and garnish with fresh green onions for an extra burst of flavor and refreshment to the meal. 

Bon Appetit and Enjoy! 

Being a work-from-home mom, it can be easy to overlook the need for some intentional mommy-and-me dates and outings. I mean, we already spend so much time together! But planning special outings that are outside of our usual routine add some color and variety to our time together. It also reminds me of why I chose and fought for the opportunity to work from home: to make memories, foster early learning, participate in bonding and just have more fun!

This past week we ventured to Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum. It is only a few blocks away from us living in Midtown which helped make timing our visit less overwhelming. Museums like the Crocker Art Museum may seem too advanced or irrelevant for a near 2 year old, but I was so impressed to see that there were special children's' areas with some creative activities. And aside from the children's spaces, Chaya also enjoyed walking around, mesmerized with each room and space providing many different shades of lighting and colors. A perfect recipe for a nap to come soon after!

Our main event for this visit was to attend the children's story time and tour. There was plenty of variety of walking, sensory play, reading and problem solving. A few of the questions asked were indeed too advanced for Chaya, but toddlers are such sponges and she fed off of the intellect of the older children in the group.

Overall, it was a wonderful time! Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum has made their venue so inclusive for all ages. And as a parent, I am always reminded that it can also do us adults some good enjoying being a kid again too. Some basic tips I followed which helped make our Mommy-and-Me visit to the museum just that much smoother:

1) Check calendar of events prior to visit

2) Be ready for lots of walking (bring water and snacks!)

3) Plan to visit a few hours before nap time

4) Keep an open, go-with the flow mind

With the warmer weather we've been having here in sunny Northern Cal (70 degrees!), tacos have been such a refreshingly sounding dinner option for the family vs the usual cozy winter soups.

After weeks of heavier cooking and dinner recipe experimenting, I can always rely on the quick, easy, and healthy option of tacos to give me a break and still fill my family up in a balanced way. This recipe can be made in so many different ways depending on what your family likes or what is on hand in the fridge. I aim to make sure there are components of lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrate and some fresh veggies involved (yes, I know tomatoes are technically a fruit!). On weeks where we've already had enough red meat, I like to go for a fish meat option as a nice and different change from chicken which is our most eaten meat choice. Some of the best fish options for fish tacos include tilapia, halibut or cod.

For fresh veggies, our local Co-Op grocery store had these delicious heirloom tomatoes in season and we took full advantage of using them as a beautiful highlighting topper to the tacos. For healthy fats there is a homemade guacamole (==> recipe) full of flavors of lime and garlic. Avocados are a great option for healthy fats vs the usual cheese topping. For spice, I usually just buy the pre-mixed taco seasoning and look for packets that have minimal preservatives, pesticides etc. The goal here is to be quick! So I am okay with the occasional pre-packaging for spices in this instance. We love the organic artisan corn tortillas from Mi Rancho for our complex carbs. Next comes some sliced red onions, a sprinkle of chopped jalapeños and a spritz of fresh lime juice for a flavor bursting mouthful with each bite.

On the side, for additional fiber and protein, I like to mix some refried beans and brown rice for a nice take on the traditional casamiento dish. I add some himalayan pink salt and fresh garlic for additional flavor. This rice and bean dish is a great, easy to chew option for getting more nutrient-dense calories in my toddler daughter who can be quite the picky eater at times.

So this is a very basic show of some thought processes involved when meal prepping and whipping up dinner on the go! Lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs centered around some fresh veggies. Tweak it, make it just as is- you've got options to keep things flavorful and fun in the kitchen with (hopefully) minimal effort. See below for more pictures!

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