Discover Utah and the World at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

A HUGE thanks to Loveland Living Planet Aquarium and Mom It Forward for providing tickets for my family and sponsoring this post. As you can see, we had a blast!

My kids weren't out of school for a week when I heard the dreaded, "I'm bored" statement. Since this isn't my first go at summer vacations, I was prepared. We all hopped in the van and headed to Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper, Utah.

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I hadn't been to their new location and was super excited to see the space. When the first thing you see when you walk in is a giant whale hanging from the ceiling, you know you're in for an impressive time!

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The first exhibit on your right is, appropriately enough, all about Utah. It contains all the fish and critters local to our state, which I think is important to show our children. We definitely have more than brine shrimp and the Great Salt Lake.

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Travelling around the exhibits is like taking a trip around the world. You don't just walk from tank to tank, you learn about each species and what their natural habitat is like. I love trips like this where my children are being entertained and learning at the same time

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.A very popular stop on the global tour is the penguin station. I honestly could have watched them all day. They each have so much personality! It was so fun seeing them interact with each other, swim in the water, waddle, and jump.

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.It was quite the jump going from Antarctica to South America, but that's the exhibit we headed to next. There was a distinct temperature and humidity shift in this space to accommodate the birds, frogs, and everything else living here.

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We had the chance to watch these fish being fed. I wasn't sure what they would eat, but I didn't expect to see chunks of papaya floating in the water. These fish have excellent taste.

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I didn't expect to see ducks at the aquarium, but these two kept us busy avoiding the water they'd intentionally splash on you. Pretty sure Daffy and Donald's personalities were based on these two.

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My middle kiddo wasn't a fan of the splashing, so we took a break in the lobby where they had a hands-on lesson about the fishing industry. He even taught us about it later that day.

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Not going to lie, this is my favorite animal in the aquarium! I was so excited to see that the Asia exhibit houses two Clouded leopards. What can I say? I like big cats and I cannot lie.

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I never thought I'd think a catfish was cute, but this guy just looked so happy to be there, he reminded me of The Incredible Mr. Limpet.

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One of the busiest and coolest exhibits is the domed tank that you walk through. Different varieties of sharks, stingrays, even sea turtles swim right over your head. It's like being in the ocean.

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I think this picture sums up our trip perfectly. My kids were in awe of the amazing world we live in and all the animals, fish, plants, and people in it.

Simplify Dinner with Gobble

Thanks so much to BrandCycle for connecting me with Gobble and letting me try their service for free!

Before I had kids, I would cook dinner every night. With each child, those night got fewer and farther between. I feel like I'm constantly on the hunt for simplified dinners for my family, so when I was asked to try Gobble, I jumped at the chance.

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If you haven't heard of Gobble, it is a meal subscription box for the busy home cook. You select meals each week that are made in just one pan. They're 3-step recipes that you can get on the table in less than 15 minutes. Seriously.

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Everything comes in a box, even the meat. Large frozen packs are included to keep everything nice and cool during shipping.

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The three meals I chose were Thai Basil Chicken with Brown Jasmine Rice, Balsamic Glazed Flat Iron Steak with Oven Roasted Zucchini Fries, and Grilled Flank Steak and Fajita Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing. Each serving size is between 500-700 calories. Not bad for a quick home-cooked meal.

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The seasoning packet for the flank steak was delicious and not too spicy for my kids' picky palates. I hadn't grilled yet this season and was reminded of how nice it is to not heat up my whole house to cook one steak!

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My kids only wanted to eat the steak (big surprise), but I made them eat the salad too and they didn't complain one bit. The cojita cheese added a great freshness to an already bright, summer salad.

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A couple days later I made the balsamic steak. I was curious about the zucchini fries, since they were breaded with a garlic-seasoned coating. I sort of forgot they were in the oven, but they didn't burn and still turned out amazing.

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The balsamic glaze was delicious. Based on my previous experience with balsamic vinegar, I was nervous it would overpower all the other flavors, but it didn't compete at all. It actually complemented the zucchini fries beautifully. All in all, it was a great dish.

I am a serious Gobble convert! The meals were healthy, quick to prepare, and tasted amazing. Gobble wants YOU to try their service too and have offered my readers $50 off the first week of meals! Just visit Gobble.com and enter code SECRET50 to receive your discount. You'll have to let me know which meals you choose!

Easing Road Trip Travels

We live at least an hour away from any family members, which means our kids are no strangers to travel. Because they're so dependent on electronics, they don't know what to do when they're in the car without wifi. I'm all about forcing children into creativity through boredom, just not when I'm stuck in a confined space with them for hours. So this summer, I'm using some brilliant downloads created by BYUTV's Relative Race to ease tension of travel.

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Since our trips revolve around family, it's only fitting that the activities are all about recording memories and getting to know each other better. Each family member gets their own set of worksheets to capture new experiences and write down old ones.

My favorite fun section is Part 8: Animals. You can check off how many cows, horses, sheep, dogs, and other animals you see. Another page has you replace your road trip companions with animals, drawing how each one would look. Get ready to laugh at your illustrated self as a giraffe or a badger!

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The heartfelt pages of Part 10: Reflections will have you thinking not only of your personal journey, but of those that have traveled before you. Family members are asked to share the story of an ancestor who overcame a challenge. Even though travelling with my kids can be challenging, it's nothing compared to what grandparents, great-grandparents, and others have been through. It's because of them that I have a family to travel with, family to go visit, and a reason to connect with the world around me.

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The second download are conversation cards. Relive the past and learn more about each other by sharing a funny story about a family pet you had growing up or describing a place that has special meaning for you. Use the answers to the prompts to create vacation plans for the future!

Click the link below to download the worksheets for your next family road trip.

RELATIVE RACE ROAD TRIP ACTIVITY WORKSHEETS

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