Tips for Visiting Schlitterbahn Waterpark New Braunfels

With temperatures hitting 100 degrees already, I am dreaming of one of my most favorite vacation locations, Schlitterbahn Waterpark New Braunfels. It is a rare thing for me, my husband, my teen and my tween to agree on something but our desire to visit this waterpark again is unanimous. Reminiscing on our last trip, I thought I would share some of the Do’s and Don’ts we will consider when we visiting the waterpark again in the future.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Do Your Research

Schlitterbahn Waterpark New Braunfels is the flagship location and can be found just outside of San Antonio, Texas. We visited the park as part of a larger San Antonio vacation but it definitely takes the entire day to enjoy the fun at the waterpark. It is separated into two sections, Schlitterban East and Schlitterbahn West which are both further divided into two sub-sections. The original park is Schlitterbahn West and is powered by the natural river water from the Comal River. The attractions in the original section use spring fed river water and stays 72 degrees (which can either be cold or refreshing depending on your perspective).

Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Do Plan your Strategy

With over 51 attraction set on 70 acres, this waterpark is enormous! Parking is ample and free. We recommend spending the morning in the East and riding the free tram to the West after lunch. The water in the West section is much colder and will feel great in the afternoon heat. The West also has lots of long tube rides perfect for relaxing (one is even 45 minutes long!) after the thrill rides in the East.  If you did not purchase a Blast Pass (which we didn’t do), head for the attractions with typically long wait times such as the Master Blaster Water Coaster. (Pro tip: Is you stay at one of the lodging options at Schlitterbahn you get to enter the Blastenhoff section of the waterpark one hour early. I personally want to stay at The Treehaus Luxury Suites!)

Don’t Forget the Essentials

While you don’t want to be loaded down for your trip, there are a few items that were necessary for us.

  • Sunscreen. Obviously.
  • Water shoes. Forget fashion…the sidewalks are HOT and you will want to protect those piggies.
  • Waterproof case for phone. I got this one from Amazon and loved that I could still use my phone for pictures and video to capture memories without the risk of getting it wet. I also purchased one for my teen so I could find her if we got separated.
  • Towels. They are not provided at the waterpark and will cost you a pretty penny if you have to buy them.
  • You are allowed to bring food and drink (except alcohol) into the waterpark but we opted to purchase inside the park. There are lots of options and the lines were not terrible.
  • You do not need to bring life jackets or inflatable tubes as they are provided.

 

 

Having a great time at @schlitterbahnwaterparks in #newbraunfels #texas! #hosted

A post shared by Bridgette Duplantis (@experimentalmommyblog) on

Don’t Lose Your Way

If your headed to the waterpark with your family, it’s best to set up a base camp or a designated spot to meet up in case you become separated. There are multiple options such as free tables and chairs, lockers and even elaborate cabanas for rent. When we visited Dollywood’s Splash County, renting a cabana was the best money we spent. However, because Schlitterbahn is so expansive, I didn’t feel like the cabanas were convenient as we never saw the same part of the waterpark twice.  Instead, we rented a locker (which was $10 but you get a $2 refund when you turn in the key at the end of the day) and make it our home base for the day.

Also, you should know that some of the longer lazy river type rides have a “choose your own adventure” theme where you will have to choose which path to take. If you have young kids, you want to keep your group together or decide in advance which way you will go so you do not get separated.

Do Have a Blast at Schlitterbahn Waterpark!

Leave your fear and inhibitions at home! Be a kid again and make memories with your family that will last a lifetime. Have you been to a Schlitterbahn Waterpark? Let us know your tips in the comments below!

Middle School Graduation Gifts for Girls

When I started this blog, my daughter was only 3 years old! Now, she is graduating middle school and will be heading to high school in the Fall. As I searched for graduation gifts, I received so many suggestions from family and friends (plus good ol’ Google searching) so I thought I would share in case you are in need of gift ideas for your graduate, too!

Alex and Ani Graduation Cap Charm Bracelet ($28): My teen absolutely loves this brand so I know this will be a hit! It comes in gold and silver with the year and a graduation cap.

Pandora Graduation Scroll Dangle Charm ($40): If your teen is collecting Pandora charms, I love the idea of adding to their charm bracelet to commemorate the occasion.

The Path Necklace ($55): Delicate and trendy necklaces are always a welcome gift. Especially ones with a special meaning!

Mophie Rose Gold Portable Charger ($40): Heading to high school, I know my teen will be glued to her phone. Extra power will be a necessity.

Kendra Scott Adjustable Chain Bracelet ($50): I love the Kendra Scott bracelet because it’s adjustable and will definitely fit my girl. Getting one in her high school colors would be a thoughtful gift.

Foot Doctor Pedicure Set ($25): Help your graduate put their best foot forward with a pedicure kit!

Erin Condren Academic Planner ($25): I am trying to impress upon my daughter that organization will be key as she heads into high school. I love the options offered by this planner and you can customize it, too!

Fandango Gift Card ($20): Movies with friends is a no-brainer. Easy peasy.

Inspirational Wall Art ($33): Let your graduate wake up to an inspirational quote every morning before heading out the door.

 

Do you have any gift suggestions for the middle school graduate? Leave them in the comments below!

Refresh Your Space for Spring

This post was written by The Experimental Mommy and sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com. All opinions are 100% mine.

The temperature is rising, the flowers are blooming and the crawfish boils are plenty here in New Orleans. It must be Spring! While the gorgeous weather has me wanting to spend every minute outdoors, my inner organizational freak is dying to clean a closet. Or a kitchen. Or a bathroom. I’m not picky. Fortunately, BabbleBoxx sent me several items that will make my spring refresh so much easier. If you are looking to refresh your space for Spring, you’re going to want to check these out!

spring cleaning products

    1. My first mission was to clean out my teenage daughter’s bathroom. While she attempts to clean it on a regular basis, the effort she gives is less than stellar. It was time for a deep cleaning. Krud Kutter Heavy Duty Cleaner & Disinfectant achieved the deep cleaning I was looking for. Perfect for the bathroom, it kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs and deodorizes, too. I haven’t tried the Kitchen Degreaser All-Purpose Cleaner yet, but I love that it is non-toxic and safe for food prep surfaces. Follow them on Facebook!
    2. Now that her shower is sparkling, a bit of refreshing is in order. The Waterpik WaterSense showerhead will give her shower an updated feel and help conserve water, too. This water regulating showerhead keeps the flow at or below 1.8 gpm to which is great because my daughter certainly enjoys long showers! Check them out on Instagram at @waterpikshowers.
    3. Heading to the kitchen, I noticed my kitchen sponges could certainly use a spring refresh! The Scrub Daddy Scrub Daisy Dishwand System is perfect for the job. With 3 uniquely shaped scrubbing heads, you can tackle all types of cleaning with one products. I love that you can fill the handle with dishsoap which allows my youngest daughter to clean her lunch kit and water bottle with minimal mess.  The suction cup Base keeps the Scrub Daisy in place at the edge of the sink and its built-in drain directs excess water right into the sink. Learn more by following Scrub Daddy on Facebook.
    4. As a blogger, I receive multiple packages a day in the mail for review. The boxes build up fast in my garage and I always seem to put off breaking them down. But the Westcott Carbo Titanium 8” Scissors made breaking down the boxes a breeze! What makes them the World’s Favorite Scissors? The Carbonitride Titanium bonded blades are 8x harder than untreated stainless steel and will stay sharper longer. I will be able to break down those boxes like a champ!
    5. Finally, it was time to tackle the girls’ closets and store the clothes that no longer fit or are in season. To be honest, I hate storing clothes in the attic because I tend to forget they are there. But my BabbleBoxx introduced me to Duck Pack & Track™ labels available at Walmart. After purchasing the labels, download the Duck Pack & Track™ app (available for
      Apple or Android), place one label on a storage box and scan the unique QR code using your smartphone. Name the box, specify it’s location and log it’s contents so you never forget where your items are again. Check out how it works on YouTube!

    6. With the indoors looking great, something had to be done about the outdoors! My family and I love spending the evening on our deck but the Louisiana bugs are not a welcome addition. I was thrilled to have Mosquito Joe apply a barrier treatment on both our front and back yards which rids yards of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks for up to 21 days. In the days following our treatment, we definitely noticed a difference and were able to enjoy the beautiful weather for longer at dusk.

What products do you find have helped you with your Spring Refresh goals?

best products for spring cleaning

 

What to Pack for a Cruise

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a cruise virgin. Booking our first cruise with two small kids in tow created a list-making monster. I spent many hours searching for ideas and recommendations on what to pack for a cruise because this Mom was determined to be prepared so my family could maximize the fun.  All of my searching, planning and packing paid off because the first time we left port, my family and I were hooked.

We are cruisers.

Since then, we have sailed on the Carnival Dream, the Carnival Conquest and the Disney Wonder on both 4 and 7 night vacations. With some experience under my belt, I thought I would share with you the items that I found most useful to place on your cruise packing list.

Organizational Items to Pack for a Cruise:

  1. Hanging toiletry bag: Tight spaces in most cruise ship bathrooms calls for exceptional organization. Bring a hanging toiletry bag which will keep the counter top clear and all of your items together in the case of rough seas.
  2. Surge protector with USB ports: Cruising with tweens and teens means bringing a lot a few electronic devices. Every cruise ship room we have stayed in had limited outlets, so a surge protector with USB ports will keep you all charged and connected.
  3. Over the Door Shoe Organizer: Keep the closet clear and hand your shoes on the bathroom door for easy accessibility.

Items to Pack for Cruise Sea Days:

  1. Downy Wrinkle Release: Irons are generally not aloud on board cruise ships. While one may be available in a laundry room aboard, who wants to spend time ironing?
  2. Waterproof phone case with lanyard: Protect your tech from the water activities on the ship or on your excursions.
  3. Light jacket: Attending the on board shows and comedy events is a ton of fun, but the theaters can get chilly.
  4. Highlighter: Every day, you will receive an itinerary of ship activities. Use a highlighter to select your family’s don’t-miss options.
  5. Water shoes: The ship deck can get hot especially near the pool and water slides. These will come in handy for excursions, too.
  6. Motion sickness bands or medicine: Nothing can ruin a trip faster than nausea. Most ships offer some sort of motion sickness medicine but it’s easier to come prepared. We had great success with Dramamine for Kids.

What to Pack for Cruise Port Days and Excursions:

  1. S’well water bottle (Sport Collection): If you’re cruising the caribbean, it’s going to be hot. Fill your water bottle with ice and water before leaving the ship. These bottles kept my water icy cold for a full day on a very hot July day.
  2. Personal fan or mister: Did I mention it is hot? This was a lifesaver to keep whining at bay when we visited the Mayan Ruins.
  3. Mosquito repellent: Some excursions may take you into wooded areas or jungles. You will definitely want bug spray. And sunscreen, too.
  4. Sunglasses: Wear them.
  5. Croakies: After almost losing his beloved sunglasses twice on a speed boat excursion, my hubby is now a fan of croakies.
  6. Backpack: If you’re a Mom, chances are you will be carrying all of the above items for the family. Invest in a quality backpack.

What items did you find invaluable on a cruise vacation? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

 

Top 10 Crawfish Boil Essentials

It’s often said that Louisiana has four seasons: crab, shrimp, oyster and my favorite, crawfish. We are in the midst of crawfish season which means the mudbugs are available, generally a good size, and it will not cost you an arm and a leg to fill your belly. When this perfect storm aligns, get your taste buds ready because it’s time for a crawfish boil!

Top 10 Crawfish Boil Essentials
As a native New Orleanian, I have attended my fair share of crawfish boils in my 43 years of life. Now, I’m not saying that makes me an expert but I thought I would share my Top 10 List of Crawfish Boil Essentials  to take the guess work out of your next boil. But don’t forget to learn how to peel crawfish like a pro before you go!

As a quick disclaimer, this list contains things that I have found over the years to be useful or just plain fun. It obviously is not exhaustive as it does not include the actual crawfish, crawfish pot, crackers, paper towels and other essential ingredients. In building my list, I assume you have the food taken care of and just want to give your crawfish boil a little something extra!

  1. Beverage Tub ($60): Any good crawfish boil will tickle (or even slightly burn) your taste buds….make sure to have plenty of cold drinks on hand and easily accessible for your guests.
  2. Crawfish Boil Toy Set ($35): Boiling crawfish is really exciting to watch for the little ones but definitely not something they can participate in. Set up your mini-me with a cute crawfish boil toy set so they can be part of the action.
  3. Crawfish Table Cover Roll ($40): For easy clean up, cover your table with plastic sheets or newspaper.
  4. Crawfish Folding Table ($99): For even easier clean up, make the trash can part of the table and throw the shells right in!
  5. Festive Crawfish Apparel ($28): Even though the crawfish can be messy, you still want to look good. Join the fun with some festive crawfish themed apparel.
  6. Crawfish Boil Hand Soap ($10): Crawfish are incredibly tasty but they can leave your hands not smelling very fresh. This hand soap is specifically designed to get rid of unwanted smells. Pro tip: Do NOT touch your eyes during a crawfish boil! You will regret it!
  7. Mosquito Repellent ($7): At a crawfish boil, you want to eat the bugs, you do not want the bugs to eat you!
  8. Fun Crawfish Decor ($45): Liven up the party with some fun crawfish themed party decorations.
  9. Crawfish Hair Bow ($20): If your daughters are anything like mine, they need a bow for every occasion!
  10. Crawfish Platters ($2): If you’re having a large crawfish boil, I find that having these trays on hand for guests to transport their food to the table makes serving much more manageable. Bonus: you can hose them off in the yard!

 

How to Make a Mardi Gras Bead Dog

Now that Mardi Gras has come and gone, what are you going to do with all those beads? Since my kids are on break from school (and I am tired of hearing that they are bored), I decided to show my youngest how to make a traditional Mardi Gras Bead Dog. I remember making hundreds of these cute dogs when I was little and even tried to sell them around our neighborhood.

With mounds of throws in my living room, beads are in no short supply and this kept her occupied for hours. She loved it so much that she decided to film a tutorial for you all to enjoy!

Did you make a bead dog? I’d love to hear how it turned out! Want more Mardi Gras fun? Check out the top 5 places you can score a New Orleans King Cake!

Mardi Gras Bead Dog

Win an American Girl Luciana Prize Pack!

For long time readers of Experimental Mommy, it is no surprise that we are huge American Girl fans! From the dolls to the accessories and the books to the American Girl Cafe, we love it all! But with the release of their newest doll, Luciana, I am officially a fan for life. A female scientist doll? Be still my heart!

Win an American Girl Luciana Prize Pack -- Ends 2/2/18 @American_Girl
American Girl’s doll of the year, Luciana Vega officially launched on January 1st and is a “champion of STEM and a natural-born leader who puts her whole heart into making her dreams a reality,” says Katy Dickson, president of American Girl. I’ve teamed up with some of my blogger friends to offer one of our readers their own Luciana Doll, Book, Space Suit, Accessory Pack and Flight Suit!! The Space Suit is currently available exclusively to AG Rewards members through 7/31/18. Membership is free and sign up can be done at www.americangirl.com/rewards.

 

About Luciana

Luciana is the latest in American Girl’s long line of inspiring characters that encourage girls to think about who they want to be and how they want to make their mark in the world—no matter the challenges they may face. In Luciana, girls will meet a creative, confident 11-year-old girl and aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars. And, while she has the skills and smarts to achieve her goals, she also learns that being a good leader and team player right here on Earth is the best first step.

Win an American Girl Luciana Prize Pack -- Ends 2/2/18 @American_Girl

Luciana’s world comes to life via a beautiful 18-inch Luciana doll, featuring warm brown eyes, medium skin, and dark brown hair with a distinctive purple streak to show off her creative side. Other STEM-inspired outfits, accessories, and products that reflect her Space Camp® experience include Luciana’s Flight Suit and Space Suit, her Maker Station, and a Mars Habitat loaded with science and research essentials for hours of pretend play. And—for the first time—girls can further engage in Luciana’s world by downloading the American Girl app and scanning her catalogue pages and products to unlock exclusive content, including augmented reality, trailers and videos, space simulations, quizzes and challenges, and much more.

Win an American Girl Luciana Prize Pack -- Ends 2/2/18 @American_Girl

Giveaway

We are delighted to offer one lucky winner a Luciana Doll, Book, Space Suit, Flight Suit and Accessory Pack of their own. This giveaway runs from 1/15/18- 2/2/18. Enter to win via the Giveaway Tools form below. Good luck.

Win an American Girl Luciana Prize Pack -- Ends 2/2/18 @American_Girl

The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to USA, 18+ only. Limit one entrant per household. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Instagram or Klout.
This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not.

Do Good, Feel Good (and get free McDonald’s fries, too)

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with McDonald’s. All opinions remain 100% honest.

There are few things I love more on this planet than McDonald’s french fries. Of course, my family and my friends come first and second but the fries come in a very close third. But what’s better than hot, crispy McDonald’s fries? FREE McDonald’s fries and helping charity, too!

McDonald’s 15th annual national fundraiser to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities® kicks off November 7th and runs through November 19th at participating restaurants nationwide. Customers who visit McDonald’s can support families staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Louisiana by donating $1, $3, or $5. Customers who donate will receive a “thank you” coupon for free small fries or hashbrowns (no purchase required, valid through November 30th).

I have been a donor to RMHC myself because I have had a chance to see the effects of their work on families who need it most. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Louisiana serves an average of 85 families of seriously ill children seeking care in the New Orleans Metro area each month.  In addition, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile offers free immunizations for local children.

You can be a part of the good by participating in the national fundraiser! From 2010-2016, McDonald’s USA has raised more than $260 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities through the national fundraiser, restaurant donation boxes, and penny per Happy Meal donations. Simply stop by your local participating McDonald’s and donate $1, $3 or $5 from November 7-19, 2017 and the smile on your face won’t just be from doing something good. Fries. Don’t forget about the free fries!

Taking Halloween to a Whole New Level of Scary

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with AtmosFX. All opinions remain 100% my own.

For the last several years, the idiom, “scared of my own shadow” described my household perfectly. My two young daughters were scared of everything Halloween so our decor ranged from happy pumpkins to friendly ghosts and certainly didn’t include anything remotely ghoulish. But now that my girls are older, it’s time to up our game and get into the business of scaring the neighborhood on Halloween and I found the perfect way to do it.

AtmosFX Digital Decorations Projector
We completely skipped over the goblin inflatables, strobe lighting and creepy music and dove straight into the insanely realistic world of digital decorations by AtmosFX.

Through the magic of digital projection with our Digital Decorating Kits and a little help from props, screens, and Hollywood-style magic, you can quickly turn any room or space into an unforgettable experience.

I couldn’t describe it better. Atmos FX is so much more than traditional decor. It’s an experience. To make the holidays come to life, all you need is the Digital Decorating Kit which includes a projector, mounting tripod, remote control, and AtmosFX Standard Window Projection Material. The kit comes with an SD card pre-loaded with 14 AtmosFX Digital Decorations: 8 Halloween-themed scenes, and 6 seasonal scenes focusing on Christmas and other holidays.

digital decoration set up
The standard window projection material feels like a thin vinyl material (pictured above) and comes with adhesive strips to easily mount to any window. Once your surface is ready, find an ideal spot for your projector, plug in your SD card and select which digital decorations you would like to display. It’s that simple…but the results are fantastic!

digital decorations
I also received the semi-translucent nylon Window Projection Material which I used on an interior door frame to spice up decor for a recent party. I liked this material better as I felt the image was crisper and the material seems like it would hold up longer. But both materials worked just fine and scared the heck out of people walking by our home! Would it scare you?

What I love about the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit is that it is not just for one singular holiday. The kit comes with scenes for Christmas, Easter, birthday parties, Valentine’s Day and more. How many holiday decorations can you use for more than one season? I would venture to say none which makes this an unbelievable deal!

How will you digitally decorate this year?

 

 

Writing with the Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily Fountain Pen

This post was written by guest contributor Maureen of LumenNOLA. The pen reviewed here was provided by the manufacturer.

Hey pen friends! I have long been a fan of Faber Castell writing instruments, but must admit that most of the Faber Castell items in my home are art supplies used by my husband, who is a visual artist. I was therefore excited to be offered the opportunity to try a fountain pen of that brand. I have been a fountain pen fan for many years, and I love to experiment with new writing tools of all kinds.

The pen arrived packaged in a white box with a drawer tray, and accompanied by an instruction booklet. The pen has a descriptive tag attached to the clip. The clip itself is springy, but solid. I would have no concerns about using it to attach the pen to a notebook, or the pocket of a bag or briefcase.

Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily Pen with box
The Op Art fountain pen is thinner than the pens that I usually gravitate to, but guess what? With its interesting grooves and lines, combined with a light well-balanced weight, it felt very comfortable in my hand. The surface texture prevented my fingers from slipping toward the nib as I wrote. I have had that problem with other narrow pens.

Faber Castell Water Lily Pen
Also different from my standard preference was the nib size, medium. I like a fine line, especially with European made pens, which have naturally broader nibs than Asian made pens. Like the pen surface, the Op Art nib was also a pleasant surprise. It is a very smooth-writing, steel nib that lays down a solid line! It is a pleasure to write with. The pink of the barrel paired beautifully with a purple ink (my favorite ink color!).

The silver cap of the pen securely snaps onto the section, or onto the back of the pen to write while posted. I found the pen top heavy with the cap posted, but know that I never write with pens posted. The extra weight might balance very well for someone who prefers a heavier pen.

Faber Castell Pink Fountain Pen
The pen has a steel nib embossed with dots, the Faber Castell logo, and the nib size indicator, M for medium. There is no breather hole, which is consistent with other Faber Castell fountain pens I have written with.

The cap also has the logo and company name embossed.

The more I look at it, the more mesmerizing I find the grooved surface of the pen. The construction was solid. All attachments fit well, with no loose joints. The Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily is a nice pen to treat yourself or someone else too. And what a great way to introduce a pop of color and interesting texture as the darker evenings of winter approach!