Extended Stay America – Brickell Miami


Last month during the Hispanicize conference I stayed at two properties. The first was an apartment through AirB&B and the second was Extended Stay America in Brickell Miami. The location was perfect for me because I could leave my car in the parking lot and walk 5 minutes to the free “people mover” to get down to the waterside where the events were taking place. (Uber home from an event in south beach was about 10 minutes and about 10 bucks)

The room I had was clean, comfortable and standard. Exactly what I needed for this business trip. 20160407_163857

The bed was comfy, water pressure was perfect and the kitchen was just what I needed. I don’t cook real food on vacation, but I often wish I had more than just a coffee maker and mini fridge in my hotel rooms. The microwave was clutch, I actually used it a couple times to reheat food I purchased outside. In the mornings I just ran down to the lobby for the grab-and-go breakfast (complimentary) before heading out. They had fresh coffees, muffins/pastries, and fruit available each morning.

extended stay kitchen

Whenever I travel solo, I consider how it would be with the whole family. I could see myself at an Extended Stay America on vacay with the kids doing waffles in the toaster and oatmeal on the stove before heading out for the day. I had a King bed room, but if we had a room with two double beds it would be plenty space for our family of four. Or if they provided pack-n-plays.

Since I was traveling for work, I was online with my laptop for most of the time that I was in the room. The free wi-fi was fast, with no service interruptions. (unlike at my house :() And I liked that there were two desk areas so if I were there with John or a roomie, we wouldn’t have to take turns working at the desk vs working in bed.



The service from all staff was really helpful and friendly. When I first walked in, there was nobody at the front desk, so I waited. After about a minute another guest came down and looked truly shocked that the front desk attendant wasn’t there.  I asked how long he usually waits to get help and he said “I’m actually kind of worried. I’ve been here almost a month and this is the first time I don’t see anyone at this desk.” (Yellow Shirt Dude in the vid)

I’ve heard of Extended Stay before but never used it. I knew it to just be a budget-friendly hotel with a kitchen. In my mind it was for families on vacation and keeping costs low. It totally is, but there was another element at this location…. While there I met a lot of folks taking true extended stays while working in the area and a family from up north who is purchasing a home in Miami but has about 2 weeks before they can move in.

There was quite a sense of community at this location as well. Some of the people in town for long work engagements gathered at the grill and patio set up in the back to hang out after hours… and when I ran into one at random in the elevator, he referred to me as “the new girl.”  (PS: I got invited to the backyard party!) I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was only going to be there a few nights.

What made this location stand out to me was the super friendly people and the most convenient location. The grocery store and a drug store was right across the street. It’s a very “runnable” neighborhood, with lots of families, condos and homes. Granted, I was only there a few nights but in speaking with the folks who were there, anywhere from a week to 6 weeks, they all raved about the place and the folks who worked there.


The downside was the closet space, if I were to stay an extended period of time it just wouldn’t work for me unless I packed super light. The property does have an onsite laundry facility, so I’m totally being picky. If I were in town for a stretch, I’d certainly be making use of that convenience. Also, there is no gym or pool. Now, I knew this location didn’t have it going in, so I wasn’t expecting it. I was in town for business anyway so no pool for me. I did my runs outside and used a beachbody program on my computer. If I were on vacation I’d have to choose an Extended Stay with a pool for sure.

Overall this property was perfect for my needs, and from my talks with everyone staying there perfect for a longer stay as well. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants more cooking capabilities in their room, and a clean, comfy home base for vacation or longer work-related travel.

Or maybe I’m just saying that because this happened:


Have you taken an Extended Stay America vacation?

I’m going to be traveling more often and always looking for great places to stay. This is why I happily partnered up with Extended Stay America for this post.

Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid #thinkaboutyoureyes #ic #ad


This post was sponsored by Think About Your Eyes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received compensation as a thank you for my review

one eye rohan

One day last summer, Rohan came into the bedroom at the crack of dawn as usual. Normally, I would keep my eyes closed and just raise my arm for him to snuggle in and sneak some more sleep in. For some reason I opened my eyes and looked at his precious face and I immediately gasped and jumped up. I tried to keep my voice calm so I wouldn’t scare him, but he immediately gripped on to me nervously. I asked him if he was feeling ok and patted John to wake him up. Rohan said his eye hurt and he couldn’t see. He tried to reach up to rub it but I caught his arm to stop him……

I don’t think I ever got dressed so fast and got to the doctor at record speed.

rohan's eye

(sidebar: this is also the same day I knew I’d have to quit my job soon, because the inconsiderate, audible, exasperated SIGH I heard on the other end of the phone when I called to tell them I had to take my just turned 3 year old to the doctor right away pissed me ALL the way off. – I left about 2 weeks after this.)

The doc said it was an allergic reaction of some sort, possibly a spider or ant bite! I wanted to kill every insect in the world. Anyhow, when we went for his follow up visit after the eye healed up the next week, we were given the news that Rohan was nearsighted and would need glasses very soon. In my head I was like… already?! Oh great. Here comes four-eyes! I’m sorry I did this to you Roey.

Unless you and I are friends in a private convo on Snapchat, you likely will never see me with my glasses on. I have very thick frames and even thicker lenses because of my prescription.  My old ophthalmologist told me I am actually legally blind without correction. Bonus: I’m not able to correct them with lasik or other surgeries either. Not a good candidate.

Isn’t that random.

Ever since I was young I was very…preoccupied with my vision. Before being allowed to get contacts, wearing glasses, and feeling super uncomfortable without them (like swimming at the beach or pool) was the worst. Actually, no…being chased by a random dog while I had no glasses on, seeing colorful blurs whizzing by was probably the real worst. To this day, those few moments I am not in contacts or glasses, I legit feel unsafe. I also get chronic headaches that start behind my eyes all the time… and I feel like so many people dont’ really think about their eyes and vision, and all the things impacted by it… they just take it for granted.

I got my glasses at 4 years old and my prescription got higher and higher each year until mid 20s when it stabilized. Mind you, my mom has a bit of nearsightedness which she corrected with surgery and my dad’s eyesight is perfect. He only needs readers now cuz he’s pushin 60. John’s dad had good vision but his mom has multiple eye disorders.

Fun fact: John went blind in one eye at random one day. He just straight up lost vision and had to see a whole bunch of specialists and neurologists and it eventually came back. (How scary is that?!) I asked him when he last got his eyes checked… it was ages ago. You best believe he goes like clockwork each year to get his eyes thoroughly checked now.

Anyway, back to Ro. We went to another doctor for a second opinion on his eyes and the doctor said he’s not nearsighted at all, and is actually slightly farsighted which is normal and preferred at his age. ::shrug:: I’m still going to be taking him every year to get a full check on those big brown eyes.

So far Kai’s eyes are perfect. Thankfully.

I share all this to say… take care of your eyes folks. They are precious and you only get the two you’re born with. We go to the doctor regularly, and the dentist. In a recent survey of members of Life Time Fitness, they found that some gym-goers neglect their eye health despite being very conscious of their body’s health and fitness.

We need to treat our eye health the same way we do other parts of our body. Don’t take them for granted.

TAYE Gifographic_FINAL

Think About Your Eyes is a national public awareness campaign that promotes the benefits of eye health, urging people to get annual comprehensive eye exams. Go HERE to find a doctor near you.

How often do you get your eyes checked? 

Healthy Relationship Habits To Start Today #naturemade #ic #ad

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

date night

Over Communicate

We’ve always heard that communication is crucial in relationships. It’s healthy to have open, honest communication. Taking the extra second to send a text to check in, or remind your spouse where you’ll be that night can make a major difference in both of your lives. Staying connected throughout your day increases your bond. If communication in your relationship is spotty, try a weekly meeting, or daily download chat sessions. You can also just try opening up a random conversation about something light to get both of your jaws flapping easily.


I’ve shared how John and I are in competition. This is part of our play. Remembering to play is a way of keeping your relationship fun, upbeat and fresh. It’s hard to get bored or complacent if you’re always in a light-hearted challenge, or game. Play doesn’t have to be something official like doing a race or obstacle course together. You can randomly tickle your partner, or just make a silly face to keep the mood light. Not your style? Reminding your partner of something funny you two did or saw together is one way to get laughing and open the gates to play.

Get Healthy Together

Taking care of your health is a big part of keeping your relationship healthy. We want to feel great and also look great for our partner. Start eating healthier, drinking more water and taking daily vitamins. You can begin an easy exercise routine and ramp it up as you get stronger and fitter. Gyms often offer discounts for couples joining together.

Here are some healthy habits I’ve made in 2016 to get you started:

Nature Made (the best-selling vitamin brand) is giving away 20 $50 gift cards to Walmart! Enter to win below:

Nature Made Wellness 6

I-C will randomly select 20 winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Check out the Nature Made Daily Boost program when you have a moment and visit Walmart for lots of Nature Made products at a low price every day.

Remember the Kids!

kaya nature made

Parenting together makes for a healthy unit overall. It’s important to share the duties of parenting so that no feelings of resentment or overwhelm evolve. Including your kids in activities you would normally do solo or as a couple helps the family bond get stronger. Something as simple as going to Walmart as a family or taking a walk together after dinner has an impact, and (bonus) is a healthy habit you can all do together.

What healthy relationship habits do you have? 


I Bribe My Kids And I’m Not Ashamed to Admit it

bribe these

I love being a mom of two crazy kids. You already know they’re my whole world. But having them 21 months apart is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that they can be the best of friends in the future and now they are on similar wavelengths and levels on so many things. The curse is all the: whining, fighting, complaining, competing, hitting, sleep avoidance, hunger strikes, “No”s … let me just stop here because the list could go on forever.

I’ve learned that as a mom we start doing things we say we’d never do. The anti-TV mom gives the kids screen-time all day. The strictly clean-eating mom gives fast food burgers more often than not…. you get the point.

My Never was that I would never have my kids running the show….

Can we say…FAIL!

These children know they have so much power. It’s ridiculous. They straight up play me. (Exhibit A) One part of parenting I always saw on TV but never thought would be a reality in my own life is: Bribery. I figured my kids would whine and fuss and I’d just find sly mommy ways to trick em into doing what I want them to….. Because I’m the grown up of course… I run the show right?



I have to bribe those children sometimes….and I’m not even ashamed to admit it.

So now I find myself saying things like “If you do X you can do Y” and I don’t even blink an eye. I’m all about the end results… by any means necessary. So if I have to give you a few chocolate covered raisins for you to sit down, be quiet and eat… I’m going to do it.

Luckily… my kids are as quirky as their mama…. and I bribe them in the most odd ways.

roey brushes

I have said…probably 8 to 10 times this week alone: “If you ____, I’ll let you go brush teeth!” to which I received loud “YAYs” and squeals of joy from my little nuggets….followed by impeccable behavior until tooth-brushing time.

I have no idea why they enjoy brushing their teeth so much, but I’m guessing it has something to do with Elmo and Thomas on their Orajel toothpaste tubes. (Which they insist on holding tightly in one fist while they brush with the other hand.) We also use light-up tooth brushes so that adds to the fun factor.

The kids also will really fall in line quickly for bribes including play doh, the outdoors and the library… but brushing their teeth, closely followed by some sort of chocolate treat are the top bribes.

John has jumped on the bribery bandwagon. His go to is little chocolate candies…and glowsticks. Just the other day I heard a very distinct “If you ___ then you get ___.”…and suddenly our bathroom was a disco.

glowstick bribe

So bribery is now a family affair. I’m a little nervous that the kids are going to start acting out more often because they know a treat will come from it… so we may have to change our tactic eventually… but for now.. with my toddler and preschooler we’re going to keep the bribery alive. I just hope they continue to love brushing their teeth as a treat!

Do you bribe your kids?

I’m excited to partner with Orajel™ as a Smilehood ambassador for 2016. Orajel is one of the most trusted brands of pain relief and oral care solutions for babies and young children and we have used it exclusively for Rohan and Kaya from the teething tablets, to the finger toothbrush to the toothpastes they fight over. I’m joining forces with several moms to share about oral hygiene for out little ones as well as our experiences with the brand.

This post was sponsored by Orajel but you already know everything above is 100% me. Visit Orajel’s website to peep their extensive product line and get tips on keeping your children’s teeth healthy. (With or without bribery.)

brush ro

Stork Stories: My TTC Journey

belly kiss

You already know how baby crazy I was before getting pregnant…. before getting married even, lol. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and I was ready for the hard work it entailed because of how much I helped out with my little bro. I was excited to start a family after John and I got married.

I wrote a post years ago that was a journal entry about my TTC Journey with Rohan. I honestly thought it was just a fluke getting pregnant, and that IF we made it to the birth, he’d be an only child. If you haven’t read that old post (or don’t want to because it’s crazy long, and has no pictures lol) here’s the short version:

We stopped birth control and started trying to conceive our first child in January 2011. By August I got a bit worried and went to the doctor who suggested I have a histerosalpingogram done to check the health of my uterus and faloppean tubes. The test showed that my fallopean tubes were damaged and likely hindering pregnancy. I was referred to a specialist who told me I would never be able to conceive a child naturally, and that I would need In Vitro Fertilization. IVF is expensive, stressful and not guaranteed. I was so worried and stressed out, yet I started saving and planning for the procedure because John and I more than anything wanted to be parents.

belly hug

I was still doing the do with John throughout all of this stress in August and September, and when my period was late, I took a test. It showed positive! I called my doctor who asked me in right away. She tested me there and it was negative. I couldn’t believe it. I was like a sad zombie in her office and she suggested a blood test just to be sure. The next day she emailed me with the subject line “Pregnant” and I was officially the happiest girl in the world. We had to do frequent tests to make sure we were still trending in the right direction with my (and babys) hormones. But…After a scary, high risk, semi-bed rest pregnancy, I gave birth to my son Rohan and have never been the same. Almost 2 years later I gave birth to my daughter Kaya and our birth family is now complete.

My experience with TTC had a happy ending, and I’m so grateful. My heart truly goes out to the women dealing with longer term issues with infertility, complications with IVF, and those who simply are taking a bit longer than expected to conceive.

I know as women who want to be mothers it’s a scary feeling thinking “what if I can’t?” It’s scary to feel like you may be “broken” or have a partner who’s not able to create a family with you.

belly love

This post is sponsored by the Stork OTC device which may be able to help other women have a happy ending to their TTC journey as well. The device is a one-time-use cup that holds your partner’s semen up to your cervix to improve the chance of his swimmers reaching the finish line. You know how we’ve all heard about people who go all upside down in crazy yoga poses when trying to conceive to up their chances..?.. Well..  yeah… this is a more elegant way of doing things.

I showed it to John and his first response was “we’re NOT having any more kids” ha!! But he agreed that it was a really cool device that he would welcome if we were trying for baby number 3. I am not ashamed to admit that I was the girl who put her legs up in the air after making love juuuuust in case the old wives tales were true. I figured, hey, gravity has got to be on my side! I would totally use the Stork OTC device. (I kinda wish it was around back in 2011, it would have saved me a few cricks in my neck…but that’s neither here nor there)

stork otc

Anything we can do to help our fertility, we do it. We take the vitamins, we get healthy before conceiving, avoid the “bad” foods, drink water. We chart, do our temps. When we’re serious about getting pregnant, we do what’s necessary, and anything we think will help up our chances. I’m glad this is on the market now. The more we’re able to do, the more empowered we feel and more confident (read: less stressed out!) we are about the baby making process over all.

I don’t know where you are in your family planning but this may be a really good option for you or someone you know. I’m really into this stuff so I’m participating on a Twitter chat on 4/21 at 9pm, join me there! #storkstories.

You can also follow The Stork OTC (Stork OTC Site) on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep up with what they’re doing.

How was your TTC Journey?