On Family Meditation with Headspace

This post is sponsored by Headspace. Start a daily meditation practice by scrolling to the bottom of the post for a discount code. 

Summer is a powerful time. Magic happens within waves amongst salt water’s healing powers.

As a parent, summer can also sometimes feel like a strange dichotomy of being present in the readily-available peace found in the ocean – while fighting frustration on the days when sibling bickering sets in. According to a recent parenting survey by Momtrends Media, 40% of parents find the summer months to be the most stressful, followed by back-to-school season and the holidays.

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I always welcome opportunities to better myself and when a partnership with the meditation app Headspace came my way it truly felt serendipitous. I tried other meditation programs in the past but eventually couldn’t stick to their many commitments. Headspace was different; within just a few minutes a day, I found myself calmer, more alive, and well aware of the fact that I’m in charge of my responses to the world around me. Headspace never made me feel judged – often reminding me that there is “no good or bad way to meditate”. This app has given me a tool to introduce meditation to my kids (they especially love the animations) with a specific section just for them. We now have a family meditation practice that is beautifully simple to stick with.

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Thanks to Momtrends Media, I had the chance to meet the Headspace team at a lovely lunch event that they hosted in NYC. When I was introduced to co-founder Andy Puddicombe, and voice-of-all-things Headspace, I found myself gushing “but I feel like you’re my friend!” while restraining my arms behind my back before they could unfurl around him in an awkwardly tight hug. If you’re familiar with the app, Andy’s soothing British-accented voice, along with a collection of animations, quotes, and secular, simple meditations – make meditation a part my day that I look forward to and crave.

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Before leading us all in a guided meditation, Andy spoke of his decade of training as a Buddhist Monk. Along with his business partner, Rich Pierson, the duo sought out to improve the health and happiness around the world with the creation of Headspace – the first meditation app on the Market in 2012. Headspace now reaches over 30 million people every year!

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A few things that Andy said really stuck with me:

I love how Andy spoke of mediation as a vehicle to increase compassion, gratitude, and empathy for the world around us. Pulling from his time in the monastery, he spoke of meditation as a means to not just better yourself, but also make a difference in your families and communities while putting something valuable back into the world.

Andy spoke of focusing on the breath to destress. Headspace makes this so simple even for children – with prompts to invite their favorite stuffed animal or toy to join them and rest on their bellies while breathing.

He also asked us to keep a gratitude journal specifically about family. I adore this idea. While we already have a gratitude practice in place in our home – focusing on what I’m grateful for within my children is a beautiful thing.

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As a mother, a person who lives with migraine, and as someone who comes from a public health background – it’s hard to adequately capture how grateful I am to be introduced to something so helpful.  Headspace is wonderful to gift to a friend or family member suffering an acute loss or trauma (there is a grief pack within the brave section) and even coping with cancer and pain management packs within the health session. There are single meditations for things like losing my temper and panicking – along with falling back to sleep, creative writing, difficult conversations, fear of flying and so much more.

I hope you’ll join me in this meditation journey because I want everyone to have headspace! Get 40% of your Headspace subscription for the year (which you’ll need to have full access to the app) with this code:

https://www.headspace.com/buy/checkout/summary?voucherCode=MARINOBAMBINOS

Register and enter the promo code here by July 4th:

Once you log into the app on your phone, it will automatically connect to the subscription you just activated.

Event photos 4-6 via Momtrends. 

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Cheers to Summer

Thank you JaM Cellars for sponsoring this post. Looking for Butter Chardonnay or JaM Cabernet near you? Check out our Store Locator! Just pop in your zip code.

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Although I think I’m built for an endless summer – the end-of-season promise of the return to routine (hello kids in school!) is always welcomed as soon as the cooler evenings begin to roll in. This summer was so good to me – but I’m also ready for what’s next.  The start of September always feels like the Sunday of summertime and JaM Cellars wine helps to usher in the new.

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With pockets of time alone at the beach (thanks, kids surf camp!), I found myself enjoying the ocean alone, spending time with friends, and giving back to myself in ways that just aren’t possible when you’re busy caring for others.

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Even though I may sometimes want summer to slow down – I’m celebrating all the incredible memories and our soon to be new rhythm the right way – with wonderful friends and great wine as we say goodbye to the past few months. I’ve been really enjoying JaM Cellars Butter Chardonnay. It melts in your mouth in the most creamy-licious way. Everything IS better with Butter!

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JaM helps to elevate our informal gatherings with something for everyone with three easy-to-love, everyday California wines – Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cabernet (berry-licious and luscious – this Cab is my JaM!), and Toast Sparkling. Made in the tradition of great California winemaking—rich, bold and luscious – and under $20 too.  JaM creates an instant party when shared with my favorite folks and some good eats too.

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Cheers to you summer 17!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Water Country USA: The Ultimate Summer Family Vacation

Underwater-photography-kids-GoPro-Hero5We hope you’ll find some helpful tips to plan the ultimate summer family vacation at Busch Gardens VA and Water Country USA.

A trip to Busch Gardens VA was already on our family bucket list.  It’s a popular family destination for New Yorkers, whether traveling by car or by plane.  So when we had the chance to experience Water Country USA (just down the road from Busch Gardens), we knew it would be a memorable way to mark the official kick-off to summer!

After a fun vacation, full of whipping down water slides like an exploding-mom-cannon, hearing chants of “ONE MORE TIME!” on repeat, and waiting at the bottom of rides for my super-enthusiastic kiddos, we have a few helpful tips to share.

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UNLEASH YOUR INNER CHILD: When my kids immediately expressed their love for the Nitro Racer freeway, I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as I hightailed it up the line and then came sliding down like an out-of-control belly-down-mom-torpedo.  And the kids continue to talk about the funny expressions and noises that their dad made while rafting together down the adrenaline-packed rides (“He was more scared than we were!!!”).  In our experience, the kiddos love to see their parents let loose and dive head first into fun.  While many of the rides can accommodate for all four of us, there were plenty of times when my husband and I playfully argued about who could go first.  Bring your inner child; the rides are that much fun!

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Map Out a Plan: With a ton of thrilling rides and attractions, it’s great to have a plan. Our do-not-miss favorites include Big Daddy Falls, Aquazoid, Hubba Hubba Highway, Colossal Curl, Nitro Racer and more.

Our kids are on the cusp of being tall enough for many of the thrilling rides while still appreciating the kid-friendly attractions for ages nine and younger.  If you have little ones, there’s plenty of areas designed for their fun at Kritter Korral, H20 UFO, Cow-A-Bunga, and many others.

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GO FOR THE QUICK QUEUE: The option of purchasing Quick Queue will grant you access to short lines and even shorter walks to the top of a few rides. Although your day will certainly still be a blast sans Quick Queue, the passes spit our kids out of the bottom of their favorite rides faster than we could have imagined.

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DINE IT:  With a bunch of delicious dining options, our group consensus led us to Tex-Mex at Hot Spots Cafe.  The kiddos went for chicken tacos, while my husband and I filled up on salads.  The kids will never let a promised vacation-treat be missed, and there are so many fun options for dessert, other than what I assumed they’d go for (ice cream!). Also, don’t forget to purchase a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.

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RENT A CABANA:  Elevate your park experience with your own private shaded area to settle in, store your belongings, hydrate and relax.  A cabana rental comes with a private attendant, locker rental, two drinks per person and even towels to take home as souvenirs.   Even though the park is packed with ample loungers and locker rentals, there’s nothing like having a central (and private!) VIP spot to rest sun-tired bodies after the important work of splish-splashing down water slides.

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GRAB A SOUVENIR: While we’re big on choosing experiences over things, allowing the kids to select a small souvenir is a fun way to add to the vacation memories. In addition to every possible water park necessity, all of the shops are filled with fun trinkets galore.  The kids each chose a goodie from Wipeout Gifts and Apparel.  This is also the spot to grab a new suit and cover-up if you need one! They’ve got you styled with options from Roxy, Quicksilver, Salt Life, and more.

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Get in the Picture:  Special vacation memories quickly become an important part of our collective family story.  And while I’m often on the other side of the lens (like a lot of parents), family photos are important! Our trip to Williamsburg VA is certainly one for the memory books. We can’t wait to return!

Win It! The generous team at Busch Gardens VA wants to set your summer off to a fantastic start with a $100 VISA Gift Card Giveaway for one lucky winner.  Entry is simply: Just leave a comment on this post telling us what you’re looking forward to this summer and follow the official rules below.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post (let us know what you’re looking forward to this summer!).

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#Sweeps” and “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post. Example tweetEnter to win a $100 VISA GC #sweeps via @MarinoBambinos & check out Water Country USA travel tips #SweepstakesEntry http://www.marinobambinos.com/2017/07/water-country-usa-the-ultimate-summer-family-vacation/

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from SheKnows via the sweeps@sheknows email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/13-9/30/2017

Be sure to visit the brand page on SheKnows.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Whole Together

This post is sponsored by Mondelez via MODE Media.  Thank you for reading.

To the beach and home and back again.  Summer ignited in the best way possible, with an unspoken continued commitment to carving out time to be together in the places that make us most happy.

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The coming weeks will be defined by their own rhythm; some completely unscheduled, some structured by camp, with heaps of work commitments for me and my husband.  Regardless of what is going on in each of our lives, our family anchor is always found in the simple moments of togetherness.  For now, we’ll relish in the sort of beauty found in quick trips to our local beach, colored by dollar-store kites and gumball-machine trinkets – bought with saved-up quarters at the boardwalk surf-shop.

As much as summer will linger in our hearts and minds, we’ll soon shift again to adjust to the busyness that coincides with the academic shuffle and after-school activities come September.  But around a table, wherever that may be, over a meal or fun-packed snack, we’ll find ourselves completely present in conversation.

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The children keep me on my toes with their snack requests.  They want fun, and yummy and they want to lend a hand!  As their mom, I need wholesome, real ingredients that will pass the kiddo taste-test.

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I recently picked up Honey Maid Teddy Grahams in both Honey and Chocolatey Chip flavor. Sandwiched between a dab of sunflower butter or hazelnut/cocoa spread makes for a tasty snack that the kiddos love.  I’ll soon tuck these tiny bears into little lunch boxes along with handmade notes. And I imagine that this fun and simple snack, once packed into beach bags will remind the children of our family summer fun.

This is Wholesome

 

No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will.  Honey Maid provides wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. 

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On Summer Days and Cold Treats

“Is there school tomorrow?”, my little guy asks every single night when I tuck him into bed.  “No darling, It’s summer!” I reply. “Yay!” he declares before his sun-tired body drifts off to sleep.

I suppose we’re all highly aware of the fleeting nature of summer while enjoying the peace and harmony that our collective favorite season brings.  Our days are marked by daily visits to our local beach and the sweetest reconnection with seaside friends.  We’ve returned to the sprinkler playgrounds where the kids once teetered around as toddlers and took their first swing rides.  And the mountains of artwork, stacks of library books, and sidewalk chalk masterpieces reflect the sort of simple joys that childhood summers are built upon.

I am so very grateful for it all.

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Along with humid temps and salty air comes requests for cold treats (lots of them!). For many summers past, I could simply whip a frozen banana to fill the kids’ cravings.  Not anymore.  Their growing tastes are much more sophisticated and their standards a lot more ridged.

We recently tested out Ruby Rocket’s, healthy, low-sugar popsicles. Honestly, I didn’t think that the big girl would go for them after reading the box: “Veggie and Fruit Pops! No sugar added! Spinach ingredients? Come on mom!”

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Both the kids gobbled them right up – with Rock-It Red, their agreed favorite and Galaxy Green, mine. I can’t tell you how excited I am about our new treat discovery.  Here’s what I love:

  • Non-GMO and 70% organic ingredients
  • Nothing artificial
  • Lowest amount of naturally occurring sugar (4-6 grams) of any Popsicle on the market
  • Probiotics
  • Yummy factor!

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Most definitely a healthy treat the entire family can enjoy!  Check out the Ruby Rocket’s store locator to find a NYC store near you and enjoy this buy one, get one free coupon.

Wishing you all a beautiful summer!

This post is sponsored by Ruby Rocket’s via The Motherhood.  Thank you for reading.  Content and opinions, as always, my own.

 

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Family Glamping at Firelight Camps

When are we ever going to sleep in a tent, mama?” my seven-year-old pleaded after sifting through shoe-box photos from my New England childhood.  There’s something about the impending end of the school year that stirred up a sense of adventure in all of us –  but I was unsure about my overall confidence in successful family camping. Adjusting rocks under sleeping bags and schlepping all the proper gear perhaps just isn’t my speed anymore.

So when we were invited to go “glamping” (aka glamorous camping) at Firelight Camps, in Ithaca NY, we couldn’t wait to experience this rising travel trend.  We’d get to sleep in a tent with luxe amenities and be immersed in the outdoors – without roughing it on our own in the dirt.

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Located on the lower grounds of La Tourelle Resort & Spa, our large canvas tent (#15) came equipped with elevated hardwood floors, a king-size bed with 300-thread-count-linens, a private balcony, personal lanterns, mesh screening, and serious safari style.  A bathhouse, showers, and central lounge tent are just a short walk away with complementary locally-inspired breakfast and wine hour in the evenings. From girls glamping getaways to family summer camp experiences, and primitive pursuits Firelight Camps offers so many ways to experience an unforgettable fill of the outdoors in serene comfort.

We didn’t realize how badly we needed a family escape – disconnected out in nature – until we were in the midst of it.  With a direct path to the picturesque Buttermilk Falls State Park, we spent the majority of our time wandering around the property, and off in the trails admiring the lush forests, waterfalls and gorge-laden beauty of the Finger Lakes.

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I suppose that I went into this trip excited to teach the children about my love of nature with experiences gleaned from my childhood and time spent living on Oahu.  But as life often goes the kids are the ones who guide and lead us.

They remind us to stop and look up.

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And take as much time as needed to explore and pause and collect our thoughts.

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The beauty in this trip was found in the simplicity of being together, unplugged.

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And watching excitement over new discoveries and experiences.

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S’more-making experts by visits end.

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We had great conversations with our fellow glampers around the campfire well into the evening hours.  Over glasses of local wine, we made instant friends – meeting people who also found humor in my husband’s poncho.

Firelight Camps Glamping Ithaca New York Wine Hour

At night, we returned to our tent with a lantern in hand, admiring nature silhouetting on our massive canvas walls.  We laughed until our bellies hurt after I lost my cool over an Olympic-sized daddy long legs.  While the kids told stories of big hawks, jumping frogs and walking through real-life waterfalls.  Cocooned in our tent, we fell asleep to the tranquil sounds of the wind whistling through the trees and the hum of an epic downpour.

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Elevated camping indeed.

 Accommodations provided by Firelight Camps.  Content and opinions, as always, are my own.

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