Have A Staycation For Father's Day!

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This post is sponsored by Hotel Ylem. These are my own true and honest opinions.



As Father's day approaches, you start rushing for a gift that dad may like, but it doesn't have to be that way when you give the gift of experiences. Think of things that will bring new experiences and memories like a trip or a staycation at Hotel Ylem! I had the opportunity to stay here with my family and we enjoyed it and it was right here in our own city, Houston. You don't always have to go on a distant trip for a good time, look around and you will find hidden gems like this boutique hotel within the city.

In case you are still wondering, Father's day is Sunday, June the 18th! This will be my third, well actually the fourth, father's day if we're counting the time Camila was still in the womb. It's such a beautiful moment that still somehow catches me by surprise. I've always been adventurous and like to explore new places because they bring new experiences. Fatherhood teaches so many new things and at the end of the day, the family will forever be thankful that I was a loving and involved father. But this can only happen when one chooses to be there, it's a choice every father must take in life. I love doing things together as a family, even things like hiking up a steep mountain side or walking around downtown Houston.


Hotel Ylem is only a block away from NRG Stadium and a few blocks away from the Texas Medical Center



The most important thing for me has been sharing time, quality time together, and that's why we value experiences so much. So this father’s day, I invite you to share quality time with the family and look at staying at Hotel Ylem which is located just blocks from the Texas Medical Center. I have been able to see the renovation progress, from the hotel being an ordinary Holiday Inn to one of Houston's newest boutique hotels. Hotel Ylem has partnered with Charity Water and 100% of the proceeds from the mini bar and a percentage from the bar go to this charity. You can find a lot of water elements throughout the Hotel like the decor, restrooms, the carpets, and lighting. 


The word Ylem means beginning, and you can have your new beginning with the family for father's day! The location is perfect to go explore around town, doesn't matter if you are local or visiting. If you want to stay at a new, unique, and affordable place, Hotel Ylem will most definitely make this father's day memorable. As a family, we're constantly going out and exploring new places, and I believe that's the secret to our happiness. Not only is exploring something we love, but we enjoy it together as a family. That's what I want to inspire you with today. To go out and explore and create a new beginning of sharing quality time and exploring the world around you. Who knows, you may find hidden gems like Hotel Ylem !




Check out the vlog from our staycation




Learn more about the Dalwadi family and the motives behind this hotel renovation in the video below



From one dad to another, this day is to celebrate you being there for your family and that's the essence of it all. You being a loving and involved father makes the biggest difference in a family. 
In the case of the Dalwadi family, their father had roots in the hospitality industry and then his children had their own beginning in the industry as well, when Hotel Ylem came to the planning board. What I'm trying to say is that your children see what you're passionate about and will in turn learn how to pursue their passions too. Sometimes they are the same, sometimes they are completely different from what we may have envisioned them to have become. It's ok. We all take different paths in life, but the important thing is to make the best of it all and live life to the fullest, together.

Enjoy your family staycation at Hotel Ylem and have a memorable father's day! 


















What would your staycation be like? What is your Ylem?

Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring Review | Quantity and Quality

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We were awaiting the delivery of the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring and had great expectations, especially after testing the CX-5 Touring AWD in San Diego. I'm hoping to bring you reviews that parents, and car enthusiasts alike, can relate to and enjoy. So let's take a look at the award-winning, sleek design, Mid-size crossover SUV from Mazda.


I drove the Soul Red Metallic 7-passenger beauty down to San Antonio and back to Houston and it was one of the best rides I've taken, despite it being a quick 2 hour drive. You can check out our trip here. The test model had a FWD drive train with a punchy and award-winning SKYACTIV-G 2.5T turbocharged engine pumping out an impressive 310 ft. lb. of torque and 227 horsepower. You almost get instant torque at 2,000 RPM and is a fun and sporty drive when you switch into sport mode and the SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6 speed semi-automatic transmission ( predictive i-ACTIV all wheel drive available ). The 0-60mph comes in at a respectable 8.7 seconds with only the driver and around 9 seconds when loaded. I have a slightly heavy foot, which reflects on our actual MPG's (20 combined and 25 highway). When it comes to taking the turns and distance driving, the electric power assisted steering made the it easy to enjoy the spacious and quiet interior. 


I'm a big fan of the new Mazda designs and the front fascia is one of my favorite sides to look at. The daytime running LED headlights and fog lights add some character and plenty of illumination when the sun goes down. The interior, just like the exterior, is beautiful, functional, and efficient. No wonder the CX-9 has attracted so much attention, consumers and awards, It's because Mazda understands that "there's a balance between needs and wants[.] Our goal was to maximize both funcitonality for families and opulence for couples looking for a getaway." Said by Julien Montousse, director of design, Mazda Design Americas, who personally led the design of the CX-9's interior. The design of the Mazda brand is fueled by the passion and oneness of the Takumi craftsmen. Mazda has gotten the design, function, and quality down and that's what we see here today.

Mazda Takumi craftsmen design the vehicles with passion and oneness
You get a premium feel and quality without a premium price.The center console and dash have genuine brushed aluminum trim, soft touch leather, and a very functional toggle stick to move between setting on a clearly visible 8" touch-screen color display. There's an active driving display that projects information, blind spot warnings, GPS directions and speed during the day and at night, clearly visible at all times. The heated and perforated leather seats up front are big and comfortable with the driver having 2 memory driver positions. The leather trimmed steering wheel has a nice ergonomic feel and it's easy to use the controls on it. The GT trim model comes standard with lots of safety features like ABS, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Roll Stability Control, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Keep Assist, to name a few. You get awesome sound out of the 12 Bose speakers! Check out the full list of standard equipment down below. 

The second row can easily accommodate three grown adults, or three car seats. The ease of access is one of the easiest and most comfortable for the passengers.The seats are able to recline to about 120 degrees, so that's a set up for a very comfortable ride. You have 3 zone A/C , so the passenger in the rear can keep cool or warm. I am 5-11' or 6', not quite sure, and getting into the third row was very easy and with the seats up I was able to sit comfortably. I wouldn't be too comfortable for long rides though. If there's no need for the third row, you can fold it down and use the cargo space to carry, your skis, small kayak, or surf boards. Put down both rows for an impressive 71 cu. ft. of cargo space!

So what's the verdict? I believe the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring FWD is one of the most beautiful SUV's on the market and covers all our random and spontaneous family needs. The CX-9  was named a finalist for the 2017 world car and world design of the year awards, it's also won the 2017 WARD's Best Interior Award and Best Engines Awards. There's beauty in the "balance of needs and wants", so if you are looking for a beautifully designed crossover SUV that accomomdates 7 passengers and love to drive, your search just got that much easier. There is quality in the quantity of seats and features, but what matters, is that it's a sporty, edgy and safe vehicle that I enjoyed to drive with my family in it, because driving matters.
Check Out This Review Video Of The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring


Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring FWD

Engine + Mechanical 
-SKYACTIV-G 2.5T Turbo Engine
-SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6 Speed Sport Mode Automatic Transmission
- 227 Horsepower And 310 ft.lb. Torque
- Front Wheel Drive
- Electric Power Assisted Steering
- Independent Front And Rear Suspension
- Front And Rear Stabilizer Bars

Exterior Features
- 20 inch Alloy Wheels
- 255/50R20 All Season Tires
- Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers
- Fixed-Intermittent Rear Windshield Wiper
- Heated Power Mirrors w/ Turn Lamps
- Power Moonroof
- Aluminum Roof Rails
- LED Headlights w/Auto on/off 
- Adaptive Front Lighting System
- High Beam Control
- LED Fog And Daytime Running Lights
- LED Combination Taillights
- Rear Roof Spoiler
- Roof Mounted Shark Antenna
- Power Open/Close Rear Lift Gate

Interior Features
- 7 Passenger Seating
- Tilt-Telescopic Leather Steering Wheel w/Audio And Cruise Controls
- Power Automatic Door Locks
- Power Windows w/One Touch  (4)
- Auto Dim Rear View Mirror w/Homelink
- Soft Touch Leather Trimmed Upholstery
- Power Driver Seat w/Lumbar Support
- Driver Seat Memory w/2 Positions
- Heated Front Seats
- Power Front Passenger Seat
- Genuine Aluminum Interior Trim
- 2nd Row Windowshades
- Mazda Radar Cruise Control
- Electronic Parking Brake
- Advanced Keylesss Entry System
- Push Button Engine Start
- 3-Zone Automatic Climate Control
- Bose® AM/FM/HD/SAT 12 Speakers
- Bluetooth/ AUX Jack / USB Inputs ( 4 )
- 8" Color Display w/Rear View Camera
- Multi Function Commander Control
- Mazda Navigation System
- Active Driving Display
- Centered Armrest w/Covered Storage
- Carpeted Floor Mats

Safety and Security Features
- Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- SKYACTIV Body - Ring Structure
- ABS With EBD And Brake Assist
- Dynamic Stability Control
- Traction Control System
- Roll Stability Control
- Trailer Stability Assist
- Advanced Dual Front Airbags
- Front-Side Impact Airbags
- 3-Row Side Air Curtains
- Blind Spot Monitoring
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
- Rear Backup Sensors
- Lane Departure Warning
- Lane Keep Assist
- Smart Brake Support
- Smart City Brake Support
MSRP : $40,470
22MPG - City
28 MPG - Highway
Price As Tested: $41,810
20MPG Combined
25 MPG Highway



 




20" Alloy wheels







2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring Driver's View

Sport Mode Toggle switch for a much sportier and stiffer ride.






7 passenger accommodation with sand leather interior

12 speaker BOSE sound system

3-Zone climate control

What features in a car could you not live without?

The Lessons My Toddler Taught Me In The First Two Years

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Camila has turned 2! It's such a surreal moment but it's the reality we can't avoid. From the moment we decided to have a baby to today, I have learned many things that I'd like to share with you all. I was 21 when I became a dad and I was seeing life from 2 perspectives: as a son and a dad. So for all the young parents and parents to be, here are some valuable lessons I've learned in these 2 short years. You can check out our birth story on the vlog below!



Here Are Some Valuable Lessons I've Learned



Things Will Most Likely Never Go As Planned

I'm the kind of person that likes to be spontaneous but also plan things out and try to stay on schedule. It's only ever gone that way once or twice (lol). I've learned to always be flexible with our plans and leave some time for random happenings, meet-ups, last minute kid parties, or wrong directions ( happens quite often ). No matter what happens at home, on the road, on the plane, or wherever our journey takes us, I enjoy every moment and remind myself that our daughter will never be this young again.


24/7 Parenting


There is nothing that will truly prepare you for the responsibilities of being a parent. We researched, studied, took classes, and of course, we learned a lot, but once your baby arrives, it's a never-ending learning experience. I loved the laughs, the cries in the middle of the night, the sleepless nights ( even when I had to get up at 5 am). I was there and that's what matters and make a difference in a child's life. I still remember when I would wake up in the middle of the night and rock Camila for over 2 hours, it was tiring but I loved every second of it at the same time. My wife and I initially designated responsibilities each of us would do, but we quickly disregarded that because we felt that as parents, we would be there for our kids at all times, not only when it was our turn to change the diapers or make them a snack, but 24/7.






Learn To Appreciate All The Things In Your Life


I love to go outside and play with my daughter. She sees things I don't see and I learned to appreciate the beauty in all things in this world. She's fascinated by the little bugs, butterflies, rocks (she loves rocks!) and anything she can get her hands on. I first became aware of the beauty, in what would otherwise be seen as trash, when she picked up a small twig and was in awe of the shape, texture and seeing something new up close. I probably would have told her to throw that away or have taken it from her so she wouldn't poke her eye, but I observed, and I too, was amazed by the little things we tend to oversee all the time. Soon after she was done looking and feeling the twig, she threw it back. As adults, we have many things going on that make us forget to enjoy the simplest of things, like twigs, or seeing your child explore the world around them.



Trust Your Instincts

I would need all of your hands to count the times we have received, comments, "constructive" criticism, and tips on how we should parent and raise our daughter. I wonder if we got so many of these because we were young parents and everyone wanted to tell us what to do. Don't get it twisted though, there were many people that gave us great advice and tips that really helped, but we had to go trust our own instincts and use our better judgment with some of the things shared with us. We were always polite, grateful and heard everyone out but at the end of the day, we are the parents and it is our responsibility to raise our own daughter. So yeah, it takes a village to raise a child, but not the whole world. 


men's street style outfit



Do The Things You Love

You shouldn't stop doing the things you love once you become a parent. Making time for those things is you make it happen. It's much different now with a child because priorities are different, but you could manage your time to do it all. This was the hardest thing for me. Coming home from work, going to the gym or go for a run, playing with my daughter, eat dinner, and the day is over. Sometimes you do have to plan ahead, get friends together for an outing or find someone to watch the kids while you go out. Because time flies and kids need our quality time, we often let our passions dissipate into the past. If it's something you've put aside, gradually fit it back into your day or week. You could even try to do what you love with the kids or the family as a whole! Go travel, go for a run, play music, draw or paint!



Kids Watch Everything You Do

Most of us have heard this and kind of dismiss it, but once I became a dad, I saw how much smarter and quick to learn, kids really are! No joke! I can remember a few things from the time I was around 2! My daughter was picking up things she saw from us when she was just 6 months! I'm careful with what I say, how I say things, the things I do, and in turn, work on my bad habits as well. I once got mad at Camila for doing something, only to realize that she picked that up from me. Kids are quick to learn so if there is something we wouldn't want them to pick up, we should be a bit quicker.





More Patience

What happens when we run out of patience? Find a way to be a bit more patient. Apart from finding the time to keep doing the things I love, this was the hardest. It's easy to get frustrated when your kid isn't listening to you (remember the first lesson), but remaining patient for a bit longer could be all it takes. Kids can pick up the things we do quick but they don't always learn the things we try to teach them quickly because every child learns differently. As I mentioned above, time flies and we wouldn't want to make our kids grow up that fast right? So this requires some patience and lots of love. This applies to all the things in our lives. From packing bags before going on a trip to making breakfast/lunch/dinner for the kids, patience will more than likely be on standby for those moments you need it most.

tender nest portraits

champagne grooming


There are so many beautiful moments we have created together and I've learned these things through simply being an involved and loving father. Of course, it's not easy, but these lessons have made it all a bit easier. I hope you have learned a thing or two! Go and be the best parents you could be and feel free to share the things you've learned as a parent or parent-to-be down in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you!

Here is our Birth Story!


What are some things you have learned as a dad or mom?
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An American Roadtrip Experience

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It was on a late Monday night when I received a call from my friend Juan when I got asked if I was available to take the drive from Houston to Connecticut. I'm always down for a roadtrip, eve if it's within 12 hours notice ( yeah it was last minute ), but that worked for me so why not right?! We drove through some historic and legendary places like, Nashville, The White House, Sleepy Hollow, and New Orleans. Even though I was going on this trip alone, it opened up many new destinations that I want to go back to with my family. 

I have to admit, this was the longest drive I've ever done, but also one of the most beautiful. I would like to thank Juan ( Juan Of Words )  and  Anjelica ( Crafty Thrifter ) for their consideration and allowing me to go along with them on this trip. I was asked to drive since Juan is still recovering from an accident. The cool thing is that we both have similar roadtrip habits, like stopping in different cities and taking detours to go around traffic. In case y'all missed it, our first roadtrip together was when we drove down to Miami for Hispanicize 2017, You can check it our here

One thing I mention a couple of times, is that I have never been that far up north before ( previously Indiannapolis) . We arrived in Gladtonbury, Conencticut ( A suburb of Hartford ) after a day and a half of driving. I love driving, so this was a great experience. I got to see the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and so many cool things in D.C. . Somehow we ended up in the village of Sleepy Hollow ( the town where the legend of the headless horseman is based on ) and even though I had never seen the movie I enjoyed reading up on the town's history and as soon as I got home I watched the movie! 

So over the span of 5 days, we clocked over 56 hours of drive time, over 4,500 miles, and visited some cities that brought together an American experience! You can how the trip went, the friends I ran into, and the cities we will be going back to soon, all on the vlog below! What are some cities you would add to your roadtrip?



I left the DSLR at home since Ashley was going to need it more than I did, so I packed the gorillapod, phone clamp, rode video mic me, and my iPhone 6s Plus for all the video and photos. These are some of the cities we stopped in.


Elvis on Broadway in Nashville

We made a stop in Nashville for lunch

Hanged out at City Steam in Hartford, CT

There were some interesting art installations in downtown Hartford

Art Museum in Hartford

Add caption

We stopped in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow

hudson river
The Tappan Zee bridge over the Hudson River

We stopped at a Greek restaurant for a quick bite

We made it to New Orleans and walked around the French Quarter

Bourbon Street in the French Quarter

live music and street performer in the French Quarter

Bourbon Street - French Quarter New Orleans

Musician playing in the French Market Square
Cathedral in the French Quarter

What would your version of an American roadtrip be like?

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