Wanna Play 3v3 with the Top U.S. Goal Scorer of All Time, Landon Donovan?

What soccer fan doesn’t remember Landon Donovan’s game winning goal with seconds left in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa? He’s had so many… 57, the most all-time for an American.

Now he – and two other World Cup vets Brian Ching, and Stu Holden – are going to be special guests at the Austin Aztex game this Saturday, August 1, 2015 as part of their three-day stay in Austin for their Helm Soccer School and we are super excited to be able to be there!

Play 3v3 with the Top U.S. Goal Scorer of All Time, Landon Donovan

The Helm Soccer Schools camp welcomes all levels of players to learn under the guidance of Donovan, Holden, and Ching. The Austin camp, which runs from July 31 to August 2, are day camps open to children from ages 10-18, both girls and boys. Fans can find more information on the Austin Helm Soccer School on their website.

As part of their mission, these soccer legends have chosen to partner with the Austin Aztex and give the chance for three lucky fans to play a 3v3 game against Brian Ching, Stuart Holden and Landon Donovan during halftime of the Austin Aztex vs. Portland Timbers II game on Saturday, August 1 at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Round Rock, TX.

In addition, there will be communal areas down at the goal line where the kids’ jumpy castles and mini-soccer games will be. And Stubb’s BBQ is bringing their truck out to serve meals with Big Red, where proceeds raised from sales with help benefit the Aztex Soccer Foundation. You should come on out and join us!

HELM will also auction off additional autographed items at the game, with bidding commencing online and ending at the end of halftime. All proceeds raised from these items will also benefit the Aztex Soccer Foundation. All items, including the 3v3 match, are posted on austinaztex.com

“We are thrilled to bring our inaugural Helm Soccer camp to Austin,” said Landon Donovan. “The Austin Aztex have been instrumental in making our first camp a reality and we are excited to be able to support the Aztex as well as the Aztex Soccer Foundation in helping to serve the Austin community.”

Disclosure: Our family has received tickets to attend the game on Saturday. Being a family full of soccer players, we are all looking forward to it!

Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with Real California Milk

It comes as no surprise to me that California, my home state, is the country’s leading producer of milk, ice cream, butter, nonfat dry milk, and whey protein concentrate. In fact, there are over 1,450 farms and Tulare County alone has 450,000 cows contributing to 99% of these dairy farms are family owned and operated.

Choose Real California Milk - Look for the Seal

When purchasing ice cream, we look for brands made with 100% real California milk that feature the Real California Milk seal. I feel good knowing that the product I am buying is certified as having been made with 100% Real California Milk from Real California Dairy families.

My favorite way to eat ice cream is with cookies, especially my homemade Chewy Chocolate Cookies, but we often make ice cream sandwiches at home with just a few simple ingredients.

Make Your Own Ice Cream Sandwiches
Did you know that the world’s largest ice cream sandwich weighed about 2,500 pounds?

That’s a pretty big sandwich! We will never get close, but today we decided to make some of our own. We chose our favorite store bought cookies right from our pantry and our favorite ice cream made from real California milk, softened up the ice cream a bit, and went to town assembling our ice cream sandwiches. The kids have a blast helping me sandwich the ice cream between their fave cookies. Although it’s an extremely messy process, there is nothing quite as enjoyable as biting in to a self-assembled gooey, sticky sandwich.

If you are a fan of ice cream, you know that there are so many ways to enjoy ice cream featuring the Real California Milk seal – from milkshakes and sundaes to a bowl of good ol’ plain ice cream! For fun recipe ideas, visit the Real California Milk website and check out their ‘Real California Recipes’ online cookbook.

Visit www.RealCaliforniaMilk.com to learn more about the Real California Milk seal and California Dairy.

Disclosure: I have been compensated for my participation in this campaign through The Motherhood. All opinions are mine.

bowl of ice cream photo credit

Fun in the Sun :: Summer Must-Haves for Mom AND Kids

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this summer is flying by! We have been spending loads of time in the sun, which makes most of our days pretty lazy, and it’s been fabulous! Our neighborhood just opened their “Ranch House” complete with a junior olympic sized pool, a splash pad, and two slides that we can’t wait to zip down. Being close to the water is a great place to be to beat the heat. Especially when we have the whole place to ourselves most days!

fun in the sun

My kids are pretty easy when it comes to what they need when we are out by the pool. Give them each a pair of “nose goggles” (the masks pictured here are some they use every day and were only $2.97 at Walmart), a few noodles, cover their little bodies with sunscreen, and let ’em loose!

Noodles as Water Guns

What kiddo doesn’t like whacking their brother with a pool noodle? Or blowing water out one end right in your face? Good times!

Josh can't wait for the slides to open!
Josh can’t wait for the slides to open!

I lucked out the other day when I popped in to my local Walmart. The Mainstays beach towels are on rollback in stores. These full size, thick and luxurious towels were only $8.50 (normally $9.97)! I am going to have to get more, for sure.

Summer Must Haves

Now, we moms – whether we like to splash around in the pool with the kiddos, or sit on the sidelines – need to be prepared for some fun in the sun. But, really, what more do we need than a plush beach towel, a great pair of sunglasses, some non-greasy sunscreen, and a good book? I’d say you’d be set for some fun in the sun, but if you need anything else I’m sure you can find it at Walmart!

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s Time for a Vacation

Ray and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary while sailing over the Caribbean. We won a pair of tickets on board the Carnival Destiny and were thrilled to experience our first cruise. We didn’t quite know what to expect. While our cruising experience left much to be desired, and we figured we wouldn’t sail on a Carnival cruise again, we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our port stops in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. We went floating down the river and zipping through the sky in Jamaica. We went snorkeling in the deep blue waters of Grand Cayman. These experiences alone left us hungry for more cruising.

Fast forward six years – Ray and I are ready for a big vacation. With so many people to please, we wanted to be certain that everyone had plenty to do and see. We decided on a road trip to New Orleans, exploration of the historical sites along the way, plenty of fresh beignets, and maybe an airboat ride. After a few days in the French Quarter, we will be boarding the Carnival Elation!

Photo Courtesy of Carnival
Photo Courtesy of Carnival

Yes, we are eating our words and have decided to give Carnival another chance to impress.


The Price
When you are looking at cruising during the summer, fairs can be crazy high. We are vacationing during the very week before school begins, so none of our kiddos miss anything, meaning we are sailing during peak time. Now, with nine of us, we had to book two suites – one that sleeps five, and another that sleeps four – so we had to consider that, as well. But, remember – the great thing about cruises is that they are pretty all-inclusive. Sailing out of New Orleans, instead of Galveston, will also save us a bit of change. All in all, Carnival offered the best deal for our family.

The Food
In addition to the fine dining every evening, there is plenty from which to choose. Kid-friendly options were a must for our kids who love to eat. Here is what we will be enjoying on the Elation:
– Sushi Bar
– Pizzeria

– New York-Style Deli

– Mongolian Wok

– Rotisserie

– The Grill

– Taste of Nations

– Dessert Bar

The Entertainment
I am excited for my kids to enjoy Camp Carnival. The kids clubs just look like fun! And that 115 foot Twister water slide into the pool? Yes, please!

Photo Courtesy of Carnival
Photo Courtesy of Carnival

But, that’s not all. There will be plenty for all of us to do while at sea:
– Nine-hole Mini Golf

– Ping Pong 

– Basketball Court

– Volleyball Court

– Jogging Track

– Camp Carnival

The Ports and Excursions
Now, this is what excites me most – I can not wait to snorkel in Cozumel and explore the Chichen Itza ancient ruins in Yucatan. Ray did find these activities available at a much lower rate than what Carnival is offering, so we are exploring the option of booking them outside to save some money. After all, there are nine of us and the excursions add up pretty quick!

Chichen Itza Castle, Mexico  Photo via SOMATUSCANI
Chichen Itza Castle, Mexico Photo via SOMATUSCANI

I can’t wait to share our experience with y’all, but in the meantime I’d be happy to hear your tips for cruising Carnival!

Live Music, Good Eats, Delectable Libations, and Breathtaking Views – All in One Place

Ray and I went out with a friend last night to check out The House of Songs’ new concert series in downtown Austin. The House of Songs has partnered with the Westin to bring local and international artists in for a few hours every Wednesday night. Sahara Smith, from Girl Pilot, played for us last night, with a special guest appearance by Thorbjorn from Denmark.

The House of Songs

Sahara is a native Texan who has always had a passion for singing and songwriting with a delightful sound. Each of her songs were written from her own experiences and she plays from the soul. She is mesmerizing and her bluesy voice is calming and relaxing.

This was definitely a great way to spend an evening. What can be better than enjoying a glass of wine and some of the best biscuits and brussel sprouts around from Stella San Jac, all the while listening to some amazing artists!

Stella San Jac's Flaky Biscuits photo Stella San Jac's Flaky Bicuits

Brussel Sprouts with Candied Jalapenos photo Stella San Jacs Brussel Sprouts with Candied Jalepenos

There is a fabulous lineup of artists set to appear over the next couple of months. I am most excited about the concert on August 19th – Phoebe Hunt and One Village music project. I got the inside secret scoop on this particular concert and, trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

Now, I want to share a bit about this brand new hotel where these concerts are being held — First of all, the Westin Downtown is gorgeous! It has only been open for five days, but the staff is friendly, helpful, and more than willing to give you a grand tour.

We discovered on our tour that the rooftop pool and bar is open to the public on the weekdays. All are welcome to cool off and enjoy a drink made by one of the talented mix masters at this “highest rooftop bar in Austin.”

The views from this rooftop are incredible! You can see 6th Street, Zilker Park, Ladybird Lake, and more. Watching the sun set over the buildings of downtown Austin was just breathtaking.

6th St View from Rooftop Bar at Westin Downtown Austin

View of Downtown Austin from the Rooftop Bar at the Westin

Let me know if you’d like to join us next week for a good time!