Keep preschoolers entertained and yourself sane and you'll survive flights with the little ones.

Keep preschoolers entertained (see train) and yourself sane and you’ll survive flights with the little ones.

Okay, so the key to surviving flights with preschoolers is keeping them entertained and you sane. I make no guarantees that these inflight essentials will keep your little angelic sweetheart from transforming into a demon after take-off or that you won’t try and open the emergency exit door for an escape. But, these things should help keep you all happy for long enough to consider traveling with the munchkins ever again.

1. Bag Of Snacks

A bag of snacks is the ultimate travel essential for flights with preschoolers. Hunger is guaranteed to strike at some point. Snacks will ward off crankiness and serve as a brief activity. Pack a gallon size zipper bag for each kid with their name on it and load it up with their favorites. Be sure to pack the same items for each kid so Pre-K Ultimate Fighter doesn’t ensue. They’ll get so excited when you pull out the bag and let them make their own choices on what to eat throughout the flight. Some of our favorites are Gogo Squeeze fruit pouches, yogurt raisins, Pirates Booty, Pringles individuals, rainbow goldfish, and m&ms.

2. Wipes

If your kids are anything like mine, even one crumb left on their hands won’t do. Avoid meltdown and be sure to stash travel size wipes so you can clean fingers and mouths after they plow through those snacks and definitely after the flight attendant hands them a warm chocolate chip cookie. Thanks, American Airlines! For your own sanity (and their health), you’ll want to plow through the wipes package too to de-germ those funky arm rests, seatbelt buckles, sticky seat back trays, stuck windows, and their hands which have now touched everything from the security line to the gate.

3. Disposable Placemats

Even if you won’t dare open that germ filled seat back tray, they will…and will spread out their snacks all over it. Hurl. For extra sanity (really, wipes can only do so much) stick a disposable placemat on the tray. I like these from Neat Solutions which cover the entire tray and are fun for the kids too!

SkipHop Toddler Backpacks in Dino & Monkey.

SkipHop Toddler Backpacks in Dino & Monkey.

4. Toddler Backpacks

Lighten your load by giving the kids stuff to hold in toddler backpacks. They can carry their own snacks, headphones, and in flight activities and they will love being a “helper.” I love these Skip*Hop Zoo Packs toddler backpacks. Two fit easily under one seat in front of you leaving more space for your carry-on and handbag. Plus, they’re pretty damn cute.

5. Electronics & Activities

I panicked when my husband, who was holding all of our electronics, almost missed our last flight we were taking with the kids. Electronics really are travel lifesavers for families. I like to start their trip on LeapPads that are more educational and hold off on tablets loaded with movies and video games as long as possible. Our latest trick is using old iPhones for the kids so there’s no chance our new phones will fall and shatter (again). Though we’re lenient about screen time when traveling, we try and take breaks with other activities we’ve packed in the kids backpacks such as Magic Paint Posters, Grab-n-Go Play Packs, trains, cars, puzzle books, and a few Target Dollar Spot surprises I sneak into their backpacks.

Entertain preschoolers inflight with Magic Paint Posters.

Entertain preschoolers inflight with Magic Paint Posters.

6. Surprise Gummies

You might think giving your kids pure sugar at the beginning of a flight is the craziest idea ever (and depending on the kid you might be right). But, if your kids aren’t so sensitive to sugar, give kids gummies during take off and landing so their ears (which are prob congested from that never ending cold) don’t hurt them from the pressure. They also help distract little ones from being scared. I like to go all out and get the gummy bears and gummy worms because we normally avoid them and they will be a super special treat. It’s vacation for them too! Prefer to go healthy (and avoid potential inflight seat jumping)? Give the kids yogurt raisins or craisins which work just as well.

7. Trash Bag

I’m a big believer of disposing of things as you travel so bring a trash bag so dirty wipes and empty snack bags don’t end up all over your seats. This helps dispose of your trash quickly and easily when you get off the plane or when you hand it to a flight attendant.

Bring kid headphones…because you might lose it if you hear Nemo or Cars again.

Bring kid headphones…because you might lose it if you hear Nemo or Cars again. Ick, I forgot the disposable placemats!

8. Headphones

Don’t forget to pack toddler headphones so when the person in front of you asks you to turn the sound OFF on your son’s barely audible LeapPad, you have a quick solution to the problem, your kid is still happy, and you don’t go postal on the self-consumed adult who should just be happy the kids aren’t screaming. Sigh. Besides, you may scream if you listen to Nemo or Cars for the umpteenth time. These Kidz Gear padded headphones are volume-limiting and have have passed our kid test. Little ones usually can’t figure out and don’t like the feeling of your ear buds (we’ve tried). Plus, they have the Beats by Dre look to them which this style mama loves.

9. Lovies
Okay, maybe you don’t call them “Lovies” but that’s really what they are…a special blanket or stuffed animal your kid loves to keep happy, feel safe, and (if you’re lucky) feel sleepy. Roll it up as a pillow of sorts if they do sleep on that uncomfortable armrest. Just be sure to take inventory when getting off the plane so their favorite thing isn’t left behind.

10. Hoodies
Although most flights are hot boxes, you do get the occasional freezer flight so bring a cozy hoodie for the kids. Cuddling to keep warm on your lap is cute for a while but gets uncomfortable come hour two. I like solid Ralph Lauren zip up hoodies and contrast zipper American Apparel hoodies because they go with most outfits, are soft, and adorable in itty-bitty sizes.

11. Cups with Lids
Because kids + turbulence = spills, pack a cup with a lid to avoid a soggy situation. Save yourself some frustration by packing empty cups and filling them once you’ve cleared security. Though most times the TSA will let you bring the kids’ drinks through security, they sometimes have to pull you aside while they test the liquid. Toddlers don’t understand “waiting.” Plus, after the TSA agents have had their hands all over it, you won’t want your kid drinking from it anyway. I like these Take & Toss Cups because they have interchangeable lids, are BPA free, lightweight, and can go in the dishwasher and be reused.

12. Wine
Finally, when you’ve tried everything and you’re about to lose it, hit the flight attendant button and order yourself a glass of wine. You’ve never deserved it more…and did you really think you were getting through the flight without it?

Sense Beach House Rooftop Oasis, Miami Beach

Sense Beach House Rooftop Oasis, Miami Beach

Is your motivation to stick to your healthy lifestyle resolutions fading fast at the end of January, like mine (one asiago bagel with butter, please)? Not to worry, Sense Beach House, the chic boutique hotel across from Miami’s beaches, is here to save the not-so-nutritious day. Locals & guests are invited to a Plant-Theory Living Cuisine Workshop this Saturday, Jan. 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Learn tips & tricks to a healthier lifestyle including how to detoxify your body, kitchen, and home, simple daily recipes, and benefits of organic living cuisine, enzyme nutrition, raw foods, super foods, and juicing. This intensive seminar is guaranteed to boost you back into focus for a healthier 2015 all while you relax on Sense Beach House‘s Rooftop Oasis (above). And if that’s not inviting enough, here’s your official invitation…

What: Plant-Theory Living Cuisine Workshop

When: Saturday, January 31st from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Sense Beach House Hotel, 400 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

RSVP: via email alegenta93@gmail.com or call 305-987-3624

Snag your plush seat on that relaxing rooftop today and get back on the nutritious track before you can say “Holy holistic lifestyle!”

About this time, mid-winter, all you fashionistas are probably freezing your leather leggings off and dreaming of beach days in your ruffled bikinis. The perfect solution? An escape to Curaçao for International Swim Fashion Week! This February 19-22, 2015, the first ever International Swim Fashion Week is premiering in the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Is there a better way to escape the frozen tundra and defrost in style? I think not. Especially when the International Swim Week Fashion shows will feature designs from Curacao’s own Aquavita, Lybethras Swimwear from Brazil, Sirénes de Soleil Swim from the U.S., and Island State from Australia…and the venue looks like this…

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao…just try and resist it this winter when it looks this good.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao…just try and resist it this winter when it looks this good.

The elegant lobby at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao

The elegant lobby at the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao

Jun's Sushi Bar, one of the four restaurants at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao.

Jun’s Sushi Bar, one of the four restaurants at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curaçao.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is Curaçao’s premier luxury resort on a 27 acre property with 3 resort pools, a full service Spa, a 24-hour fitness center, 4 restaurants, and a dive & water sport facility. Still haven’t started packing yet? Here’s another reason to head to Curaçao for International Swim Fashion Week this February. Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is offering a “Swim Fashion Week Package” for $1,299 which includes four nights at their elegant resort, a VIP invite to the kick-off party (benefitting a local charity), access to all ISFW runway shows, and a VIP invite to the after parties.

So grab your man (there’s a 18-hole Pete Dye designed championship golf course too), your best sunnies, and a ticket to the Caribbean to get your tush in a bikini, your toes in the sand, and your fashion show tickets before you’re frozen solid. You can thank me later.

The survivors of Core Fusion Bootcamp at Exhale Spa in Downtown Miami

The survivors of Core Fusion Bootcamp at Exhale Spa in Downtown Miami…I’m second from the right.

Earlier this week, I met up with these blogger babes, media mavens, and journalists for a Core Fusion Boot Camp & a Nutrition Workshop at Exhale Spa in the Epic Hotel in Downtown Miami, thanks to Shayne Benowitz. As you might remember, I was recently inspired to get active again. (I seem to have taken a sabbatical from that in 2014.) So, I was psyched to be invited to Exhale Spa Miami and RSVPed immediately for this event. Clearly, I didn’t know this was about to be Survival of the Fittest. I was even warned by several people to “be prepared, this class is no joke.” That should’ve been my cue to run for the hills. But, the heavenly smell in Exhale Spa was addicting (seriously, I need to pump that scent through my house) and these adorable crop tops, smartly placed front and center at the entrance, gave this fashion girl serious motivation.

Cute crop tops = instant core fusion motivation to this fashion girl

Cute crop tops = instant core fusion motivation to this fashion girl

Besides, the studio looked so peaceful to me…

The calm before the storm in the Exhale Spa Miami Studio before Core Fusion Boot Camp.

The calm before the storm in the Exhale Spa Miami Studio before Core Fusion Boot Camp.

Ready for Core Fusion Boot Camp…or so I think.

Ready for Core Fusion Boot Camp…or so I think.

Ha! Wrong. This was a killer class. And by killer, I mean burpees & pushups & leaps in the air with medicine balls, never-ending running planks, power yoga, and belly burning ab work…all at warp speed…for 60 minutes. Somehow, I powered through it and even felt amazing afterwards, not to mention, damn proud of myself for not crawling into the fetal position on my mat 5 minutes in. I’m pretty sure our petite instructor, Alexandra, had a lot to do with that. She was high-energy the entire hour, took the time to help everyone perfect each pose, and wisely reminded us that the body is stronger than the mind thinks it is. And thank god for that. Hands down, the best workout I’ve gotten in…okay, well I can’t actually remember when. But it’s now 5 days later, there are still parts of my body that ache, and I want to go back for more.

Post-workout fuel from Jugo Fresh. I LOVED the Summer Chia.

Post-workout fuel from Jugo Fresh. I LOVED the Summer Chia.

After class, our instructor, Alexandra, sat us down (thank god) for a Nutrition Workshop over juice & “sprouted sandwiches” (wrapped in collard greens) from Jugo Fresh. She gave us the low down on foods that are great (and not so great) for getting and maintaining a flat bikini-ready belly. Here are a few tips which you may have heard already, but a reminder never hurt anyone.

Belly Nutrition Tips & Suggestions

  • Cut out carbs & sugars…they’re your worst enemy. Too bad they taste so good.
  • Sugar is like a drug…the more you have, the more you want/need. Try and avoid it as much as possible.
  • Drink green tea instead of coffee…it’s the sugar you’re putting in it that’s so bad for you. Goodbye, salted caramel mocha frappacino.
  • Use 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for cooking…it’s much healthier than soy oil or any of the others and helps reduce belly fat.
  • 8 cups of water is not the suggested daily amount anymore…divide your body weight in half and that’s the amount of ounces you should be drinking each day….and drink all day, especially before meals.
  • When at all possible, swap out rice or pasta for extra veggies whether at home or in a restaurant.
  • Eat more green leafy veggies, cherries (powerful antioxidants), & avocado (helps with weight management & the body’s absorption of nutrients)
  • A healthy snacks is celery or apples with almond butter
  • Plantain chips instead of potato chips
  • Use collard greens or lettuce instead of bread for wraps and burgers
  • Full fat, grass fed dairy is the best dairy for you
  • Milk has lots of sugar! Try to switch to almond milk.
  • Try not to eat breads for breakfast…think proteins…eggs, bacon, sausage.
  • Fruit & Veggie Juices will give you the same nutrients as eating the raw food but you won’t get the fiber
  • Watch your yogurt labels (preferably before you eat). They tend to have TONS of sugar…especially the greek honey yogurt I just shoved down. Oops.
  • Be a food detective and read ALL your labels for carbs and sugar quantities.
  • Eat at home more…you’ll know exactly what you’re eating. Most restaurants only care about the first part of that saying, “A moment on the lips…”
  • For dessert, because you know you’ll never cut that out completely, opt for a piece of dark chocolate or the panacotta over the cakes and cookies.
Exhale Spa's Snacks…you had me at chocolate.

Exhale Spa’s Healthy Snacks…you had me at dark chocolate.

Hope these smart belly nutrition tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. Five days later, I’ve passed on a bagel, I’ve purchased green tea (though I have yet to really give up that coffee), and I’m, at least, thinking about the amount of carbs in cheese fries before I order them. Full diet transition may take this foodie a while. But, as for being active, I’ve already recruited friends to sign up for Core Fusion Boot Camp classes with me. Clearly, Exhale Spa Miami has motivated me to get it together in 2015 with both diet and exercise. After all, life truly is survival of the fittest, right?

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Our ride: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Our family reunion ride: Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas

Over the holidays, 30 members of my family and I were lucky enough to have a family reunion on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas for 5 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back. We had a fabulous time. Here are 12 reasons why family reunion cruises rule:

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

1. You Can Get Lost

Seeing your long lost relatives again will be wonderful…at least for the first few days. But, let’s face it, at some point you’ll need a break from all the together time (and inevitable drama). There are plenty of places to get lost and not found on a cruise ship. Our ship, Liberty of the Seas, had 15 decks and plenty to see…including jaw-dropping sunsets.

2. Entire Family Tree Pictures

On family reunion cruises, you’ll have nightly opportunities to take an entire family tree picture. My suggestions? Meet 30-45 minute before your dinner seating so everyone is looking their best. Pose on the grand staircase so everyone can be seen, from Grandpa to baby Ethan. Then, go to your “happy place” while it takes the photographer 5 minutes to get everyone to look at the camera, smile, and not blink. Didn’t get a framer? No worries, the photogs will be ready to shoot the entire gang again tomorrow night…that is, if you have the patience for it.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

3. Matching Family Reunion Gear Seems Cool

On a cruise ship, matching family reunion gear seems cool. Why? Well, first off, your family won’t be the only ones wearing it. Also, though some cruisers are trés chic, most? Not so much. So, get your artsy-fartsy family member to have a hand in the design and your matching family reunion gear will be the best on the ship. We chose to do matching hats instead of family reunion t-shirts as, well, there’s more chance everyone will wear them…and more than once.

4. Big Family Dinners Every Night

The beauty of family reunion cruises is that you can do your own thing during the day (because not everyone will want to spend hours in the arcade like my 5 year old) and plan on meeting up each night for the dinner seating. Our big family dinners every night were so much fun because we could catch up on who won Bingo and who climbed the rock wall that day and it was just the right amount of time ALL together. Make dinner even better by having one person in the family assign tables each night so everyone sits with each relative at some point.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can't even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can’t even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

5. Drink Packages + Large Groups = Fantastic Stories

If you like your cocktails, get the drink package for sure as you’ll get your money’s worth. Entertainment seems to be guaranteed with that package too with a big enough group. It seems that on cruises, drink packages + large groups = fantastic stories…like when my Aunt Marian stayed out all night dancing at the hip hop club…by herself.

6. Everyone Can Afford It

Cruising, in case you haven’t heard, is one of the most inexpensive ways to travel…especially internationally. So, nobody can get out of going on the family reunion cruise because they “can’t afford it.” Need a bargain cruise? Try vacationstogo.com…today I saw a 3 day Bahamas cruise for $229…and remember, food is included.

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

7. Adults Only Time

Family reunions bring kids of all ages and sizes and obnoxiousness levels. Luckily, family reunion cruises come with Kids Clubs (that kiddos usually love) and Adults Only Pools & Solariums. Give yourself (and everyone else) some adults only time. If your incredibly adorable children are annoying you, imagine how the rest of the family feels. Plus, parents are allowed to decompress, eat a meal while it’s hot, and complete a conversation every once in a while.

8. Keep Calm & Carry Nothing

One of the things I love most about cruising is that you don’t have to schlep anything around with you…no wallet or cash or even a handbag if you don’t want. All you need is their “SeaPass” card, as it’s called on Royal Caribbean, which gives you access to your cabin, checks your identity on and off the ship, and can be used for additional purchases like the sea-themed Christmas ornaments my kids had to have. By not having to think about the extra things, everyone can relax a little…or a lot.

Entertainment for All…Sorry, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

Entertainment for All…Board Games, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

9. Entertainment For All

With entertainment for all on a cruise, there’s no chance of boredom. Plus, nobody has to plan activities for the family reunion group as there are endless options of how to pass the time while cruising. Our favorite activities with the kids included the arcade, mini golf, the H2O Splash Zone, watching the Flowrider, Bingo, the Ice Show, and the Dreamworks Breakfast. But, everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves too with rock wall climbing, cupcake decorating, the spa, the gym, the casino, and the comedy club…to name a few things.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

10. Unplugging Required

Though we’ve come a long way with internet speed on cruise ships, you’ll never get the same high speed connection that you have on land. So, using your cell phone while cruising often results in frustration and you’ll end up putting the thing down for once (Wow! It’s not attached?), relaxing, and maybe even truly connecting with your family.

Formal Night fanciness.

Formal Night fanciness.

11. You Look Maaahvalous

Even 3 day cruises now have a formal night. Whether you translate that as suit & tie and cocktail dresses or go big with tuxedos and gowns, you and your family will probably never look better. We all have to make some effort with formal night. Be sure to take a picture for evidence and post it on FaceBrag (I mean, Facebook)…because you look maaahvalous.

12. There’s No Going Home

Once you’re onboard, you’re in it for the long haul. There’s no going home once this family reunion ship has set sail. So there will be no escapees. Family time must be had…like it or not. My family LOVED it and I hope yours does too. But, if family overload strikes and you want to throw yourself overboard, please refer to reason #1. And remember, you have to disembark eventually.

My little one, sad to disembark.

My little one, sad to disembark.

SoulCycle opening the doors in Miami

SoulCycle opening the doors in Miami

It’s not often I write about exercising. That’s because I tend to lose interest quickly with most (yawn) workout routines. You’ll more likely find this girl at Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning than a gym. But every once and a while, I’ll find something fun and challenging that will reinspire the active girl in me. That happened last weekend at the opening of SoulCycle COGA in Miami.

For months, Catherine (my NYC friend) and I have been chatting about SoulCycle coming to Miami…and how it wasn’t happening fast enough for me. When I lived in Manhattan several years ago, there were only one or two SoulCycle locations. Luckily, one of those was right near my apartment on the Upper West Side. So, in one of my motivated moments, I tried it out and LOVED it. Evidently, I wasn’t the only one as they now have 36 locations nationwide. Thankfully, the 36th opening is here in my hometown, Miami.

Sick SoulCycle Bike

Sick SoulCycle Bike

I’m not sure exactly how SoulCycle inspired me to be active again after just 45 minutes. Maybe it was having a part of NYC with me here in Miami or the fresh white and yellow sleek look of the spinning studio. Maybe it was the selection of super cute workout clothes at the entrance or spending time with my best friend who came with me that morning or making it through class ALIVE. Maybe it was our instructor, Soeuraya, with her sick flock of birds shoulder tattoo or how she would tell the class, “You look so damn good.” Maybe it was these awesome yellow spin bikes or as simple as getting my blood pumping through my veins again. Maybe it was because for the first time, I passed on the Bruléed French Toast at the Cheesecake Factory at brunch after class and ordered an egg white omelette instead.

Whatever it was, it worked and I’m hooked. Just in time too. Those donuts are starting to catch up with me. New resolution for 2015?  Be an ATHELETE LEGEND WARRIOR RENEGADE ROCKSTAR and look “so damn good” ASAP. Until then, you’ll find me at SoulCycle COGA.

Post SoulCycle Class in Miami. I survived and loved every second.

Post SoulCycle Class in Miami. I survived and loved every second.

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