10 Month Update

Friday, February 26, 2016

Previous Updates: 9 Months8 Months | 7 Months | 6 Months | 5 Months | 4 Months

Alana
She is doing well! She has got the crawling thing down now and she just zips through the house! She is just like Lola and loves to go into our bedroom. She is pulling herself up and uses the couch as a guard rail and just walks up and down holding on. She knows how to sit from her standing position too and she can sit herself up when she is crawling around.

We are having some issues with her eating level 3 foods - every time we try to feed her a level 3 she throws up. And we are working on getting her use to a sippy cup. She also loves her Gerber Puffs and yogurt melts. 

We also found out that she needs glasses. So we took care of that and should have those pretty soon. If would recommend any parent take their baby to the eye doctor between 6 and 12 months of age. Getting vision issues caught early is key!


Mom & Dad (a.k.a. Alexa & Matt)
We are doing well. I am still saddened by the loss of Lola. Sometimes I still walk in and expect to see her. And I still talk about her all the time. We probably wont get another dog until some time next year - we're planning a long trip and don't want to have someone watch the dog or board it.

After 10 months post birth I can report that I am 2 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I am hopping the get the rest off this summer.

We have a pretty low key weekend ahead of us. What are your plans?


Quick How-To on Rewards Travel

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A friend of mine had mentioned how her dream was to go to Hawaii but it just wasn't going to happen. I told her it could for almost nothing! I typed this up and sent to her and I wanted to share with everyone. It really isn't that hard to travel for free, you just have to be willing to play the game. See The Points Guy for a more in-depth points education! 


Airline (Houston to Hawaii on a United saver ticket is 90,000 for 2 people round-trip)
Chase Sapphire (1:1 transfer to United)
50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months
+ 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
110,000 points if both you and spouse get a card

Chase United (this bonus can bump up to 50,000 and you get 10,000 for every $25k you spend annually)
30,000 bonus miles after they spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
+ 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user (usually)
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
70,000 points if both you and spouse get a card

Hotel
SPG (Sheraton/Westin brands) American Express (this bonus bumps up to 30,000 once a year)
25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
50,000 - 60,000 points if both you and spouse get a card

Chase IHG Rewards Club (Holiday Inn brands)
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49
120,000 points if both you and spouse get a card

Hyatt
Offers 2 free nights upon sign up. You plus a spouse could have 4 nights at any Hyatt, even their all inclusive resorts in Mexico! Hyatt has locations on Mail, Oahu and Kauai. 

Hawaii Hotels
Hawaii Island (The Big Island)
Sheraton Kona & Spa at Keauhou Bay = 10,000/night (5-6 nights)
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites: Kailua-Kona = 20,000/night (6 nights)

Maui
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa = 12,000 - 16,000/night (4-5 nights)
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa = 12,000 - 16,000/night (4-5 nights)

* A good alternative to a hotel is airbnb.com. We used this when we stayed in Maui and spent less than $100 per night. Now you probably won't be on a beach or in walking distance of a beach but you can't beat the price for Hawaii.
  1. So what you do is open award/mileage accounts with all of these brands first.
  2. Then apply for the credit card you want - First under your name, meet the spending limit and then use the referral link you'll get to sign up the other spouse. Usually these links offer 5,000 - 10,000 bonus points. Then your spouse reaches their spending limit.
  3. Then apply for the hotel card you want and do the same.
  4. After your trip, cancel your card.


A couple "disclaimers" for this type of travel
  • You need to have decent credit scores to get the credit cards
  • You need to have responsible spending habits. Use the credit card more like a charge card and pay off the balance at the end of each month
  • This may take you a year to do but you're getting a vacation for virtually free!
  • You'll want to do your best to take your trip within 12 months of getting the card or you'll get charged the annual fee at your 1 yr. anniversary. This may happen but you're still getting a trip for next to nothing.
  • Some costs: Annual credit card fees, taxes on airlines, resort fees at hotels



Happy Travels! 


Boston: The Rest of the Weekend

Monday, February 22, 2016

After the amazing food tour we headed to Newbury Street to do some window shopping and get a cupcake at Georgetown Cupcakes (like I needed more food). The cupcakes were honestly the best store cupcakes I have ever bought; but since I was so full from the food tour I only bought one. Walking down this street you'll get some pretty views of Church of the Covenant and the First Baptist Church of Boston.

{Boston Public Garden, Washington Statue, Church of the Covenant}
We circled around and walked back up Commonwealth Ave. and headed to Beacon Hill. we passed the Cheers Bar and then headed towards Acorn Street. Acorn Street is famous for its original cobblestone road. To learn more about the cobblestone roads and what became of them click here.

{Acorn Street, Beacon Hill}
We didn't really have anything left to do and we weren't hungry so we walked back to the hotel to relax and look up a place for dinner. It seems like a lot of the really good places to eat in Boston are family owned and aren't open for dinner or on the weekends which was a real disappointment and something I missed while I did my research. So we settled on a German restaurant, Jacob Wirth. We split a sampler and it was perfect.

We walked through Chinatown on our way back to the hotel and then we called it a night.

Between finishing the Freedom Trail, the food tour, walking from the North End to Beacon Hill we walked almost 10 miles! We really didn't even notice it and our feet didn't hurt either. I love this type of city life, where you can walk where ever you need to go. It probably one reason why I love Europe so much...but I also love my 3,000+ square foot house which I would never get in a city unless I was a millionaire.

The following day we didn't do much. We took the subway to the MIT museum because Matt had read they had robots and holograms. We were both thinking the robots would be working and the holograms were going to be like Tupoc and MJ and be like, real life. Well neither was true. The robots were just old robots that were on display with videos showing how they work and the holograms were equally as lame. The whole museum seemed to be a place where MIT grad students put their work on display and people pay to see it.

We had lunch at Area Four which I read had great pizza, the pizza was good but when we walked in the door at 11 for lunch and they asked if we had a reservation I was a bit shocked. I guess this is a really happening place! They told us it would be a 15 minute wait and we were literally seated in 5 seconds.

After we headed back to the North End to get some goodies from the places we visited the day before. We stopped in a cafe and grabbed a snack and headed to North End Park to sit and enjoy it.


We went back to Beacon Hill for dinner at this quiet but very good restaurant called The Paramount. After walking back to the hotel, the day's walking came in at almost 7 miles. We took our coats off and turned the TV right as the Super Bowl was starting and we called it a night.


Love the Workout, Hate the Rules

Friday, February 19, 2016

I have the rest of our Boston trip typed up but I just need to edit and add pictures, in the mean time here is my rant about Pure Barre...

I have talked in the past about how I have taken Pure Barre classes and how I love them. And I still love the work out but I am over the "rules" the studio has decided to enforce (who knows if it comes from corporate or not).

My relationship with Pure Barre started in 2014 when me and friend signed up for the $99 monthly unlimited classes introductory rate. Then they had a back-to-school special, 3 classes for $33. Then they had a Labor Day special that I decided to jump in on. I think it was like $120/month for 3 months. And then I got pregnant...and then I got HG and couldn't work out because of the constant nausea. After a hospital visit I asked them if they could pause my membership and they said no, that they could only extend it by a few weeks. Well it just didn't work out because I was constantly nauseous and I lost the money.

During my time away from the barre they enforced a new rule: If you need to cancel your class you have to do it 4 hours before the the class starts or you'll get charged $25. That's $25 on top of what you're already paying (whether it be a drop in fee or monthly membership). I don't really understand this because they aren't loosing any money by you not showing up since you pay in advance. And I don't think this 4 hour window works for parents with young kids or working folks. After all, I could register for a 6pm class and something comes up at work around 4 and I need to cancel...oops! too late, I'll get charged $25.

For Valentine's Day they were offering $10 drop-ins (regularly $25) so I thought I would take a class over the weekend. When I went to put my things in the locker I saw a sign that said, "We will no longer allow you to leave class early unless its an emergency." First of all, who are you to tell me what I think is an emergency or not?! And how do you know if I'm lying? And does this mean I can't step out to use the bathroom during class too?! And if you aren't going to ALLOW me to leave class early then you better start this damn thing on time! Which you NEVER do!

I'm done, over it, bye Felicia!

And I hate how the instructor always complements the other instructors/owners that are in the class too, "You're looking great Pure Barre Owner!" Well I would hope she looks great and is doing a good job, she owns this damn place...

Okay, I'm done :) Have a great weekend y'all!

Off the Eaten Path, Boston

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

We started the day by finishing the Freedom Trail (see the first half of the trail here). Making stops at:


We did not cross the river to see the USS Constitution or Bunker Hill.

After all of that we met up for our food tour of the North End. This was such a great tour and a great way to try a little bit of food from all the amazing places in the North End.

Our guide was Paula who owns and does the Off the Eaten Path tours. We started at 10:45 and met at the Paul Revere House. Then we headed to Galleria Umberto's for some pizza and arancini. Both were delicious! This place opens at 10:30 and closes when they run out of food. Best part is that nothing on the menu is over $5.



Then we headed to Cantina Italiana where we had some nice little pastas with red sauce. After the pasta we headed to The Wine Boggeta which specializes in natural wines. Then we went for dessert at Cocoanuts where we sampled some sweets and had some amazing caramels that didn't stick to your teeth!


On the last leg of the tour we headed into this little hole in the wall, literally, to get some of the best bread ever at Bricco Panetteria! They don't use mixers here, its all done by hand and its all amazing. And last but not least we headed into Cafe Paradiso for some cannolis (that were piped to order), espresso and homemade gelato.


I loved the tour and Paula did a great job telling us about the history of the North End and the history of some of the restaurants we stopped at.

This day is surprisingly not over, more to come!


An Introduction to Boston: Day 1

Friday, February 12, 2016

Our first weekend away from the little one! It was nice to have time for just the two of us!


When we flew into Boston we flew in during a snow shower. And because of that we sat on the runway for an hour while they de-iced the plane at our gate. Once we got off the plane we checked into our hotel and we hit the trail...the Freedom Trail! On our first night we covered 7 of the 16 landmarks:



7 – Old Corner Bookstore (a Chipotle is currently renting the building...how historic) 


This may seem like a lot but it was only 1.4 miles starting and ending at our hotel. After realizing that the place I picked for dinner was only open for lunch we walked until we saw something appealing, which was a place called The Back Deck. It was good and atmosphere was casual. Then we walked back to our hotel and called it a night.


Valentine's Day Ideas for Mom

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We're not big on Valentine's Day in out household... Mainly because my husband thinks its a stupid, made up holiday. But we do get each other cards and I did get him something silly to push the fact that we need another dog.  BUT as a new mom I will take all the pampering I can get, so here are some Valentine's Day ideas for Mom...or me :)



1 - Some fun earnings to accessorize the wardrobe
2 - A great new bag because moms are always carrying more stuff around. Seriously, I travel with like 3 bags, wtf?!
3 - I love, love, love this candle from Target
4 - Flowers. I know they don't last long but I love having fresh flowers in the house
5 - A great new skin care regiment with Nerium!

Other good ideas would be a night out for just the two of you or a nice massage!

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?