Jeff Segura
A young millennial Latino dad of 2 living in Houston, Texas sharing his perspective as an involved parent with a love for cars, travel & menswear.

Our family wanted to do something different for Christmas this year. At first, we weren't sure what we wanted to do since Thanksgiving season was pretty busy for us, but soon we knew that we wanted to get a real Christmas tree and decorate our home more than usual. And just as we came to that agreement, Chevrolet reached out and asked if we had any holiday plans. I shared what we had planned and got access to a Silverado Custom Trail Boss to haul our tree! We've had one before, so we knew it was going to be a fun week. Last time , we had a red Silverado Trail Boss LT, and took a trip to the State Fair for the first time. It's safe to say, Chevrolet has been there for a lot of our family firsts.

My parents and sister cut their first real tree last year and they looked, and smelled, very nice. Ashley believed she still had her childhood allergies so we passed up on doing that ever since we met. We came to learn a few weeks ago that there are trees that are hypoallergenic and some that release minimal pollen. We wanted to go check them out and see if we could finally get our real tree! We planned it out and here we are, with a 9-foot tree and plenty of room to decorate it. The tree farm we went to was Dewberry Farm near Brookshire, and besides trees, they have a whole are of entertainment and food for the whole family. It is a cool place and we would love to go back next fall for their pumpkin patch and corn maze, I've always wanted to get lost in one.

Interestingly enough, we ended up getting a tree that is not hypoallergenic, it's called Blue Ice. It smells fantastic and we spent more than an hour roaming through the fields finding the perfect tree and with no sneezing, itchy eyes, or any kind of allergic reaction. This was exciting! The tree also had a bluish green color tone which was very different. So on to cutting the tree it went, but before this all started, we went through a 3 minute talk about cutting trees and safety. And I want to share some of those tips as well as how to safely load and tie down your tree! Here are 9 Tips for Safe Christmas Tree Chopping

1. Be Prepared
Before heading out to the farm, be sure to have an idea of where you are going to place it as well as making sure it will fit inside your home. You definitely don't want a tree that needs the top cut off because it doesn't fit. Also, take some tie-down ratchets or twine ( some places have twine for you) for transport.

2. Stay Warm
Be sure to stay warm. Finding the perfect tree could take some time and the weather will more than likely be cold and wet, unless you live in Texas like us where most people were out cutting their trees in t-shirts! The ground was dry when we went but if it was wet and cold, I probably wouldn't have been as patient in choosing a tree. You could also take knee pads or something of cushion when you start cutting your tree.

3. Choose Wisely:
There are many options when it comes to trees and farms. Look ahead of time and see what kind of trees they have, especially if looking for a hypoallergenic tree or a particular kind of tree. Once you find your tree, be sure to inspect it and make sure it is healthy. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends testing the branching to make sure the tree is healthy.

4. Chop Chop
Everyone's favorite part! We were given a saw but you could take your own. Cut your tree low to the ground and straight across. In the short orientation, we were told to cut 3/4 of the way through and then the other quarter on the opposite side to avoid splitting of the bark. Have a friend or family member hold the tree for you to help cut smoothly and avoid tipping.

5. Use Netting 
At the farm we went to, the staff take the tree that was cut and take it to processing where the tree is shaken and then put into netting. All trees should be put into netting or a sleeve for easy
transport. It makes moving the tree around and tying down easy.

6. Stump first
When loading your tree, whether in a truck bed or on the roof rack of your vehicle, put the stump-end of the tree towards the front to help mitigate movement within the bed of the truck. 

7. Tie It Down Tight
Loop twine through the integrated tie-down hooks and repeat to cinch with a “figure-8” motion securing the tree. This 2019 Silverado has 12 fixed tie downs stationed throughout the bed of the truck to help you secure the tree, whatever size, down. Most trucks have at the least 4, be sure to use them! Bumps and road vibration can move the tree around so make sure this is something you do right.

8. Tailgate Up
The best way to transport your tree is with the tailgate up. If your tree is bigger than your truck bed, you can put the tailgate down – just make sure to tie a red ribbon on the end of the tree so drivers behind you can see it. Remember to follow local laws about items extending beyond your vehicle.

9. Water:
Make sure you put your tree into water immediately when you get home and place it away from heat sources like fireplaces or radiators that can dry it out. It is recommended to cut 2 inches off the trunk once you get home before putting the tree in water. The tree will drink up a lot of water the first couple of days so make sure to check on the water level throughout the season, very important! That way you can keep it alive and healthy all holiday season long!

Before I go, I wanted to mention how I have seen many posts on social media arguing about what kind of tree is better, artificial or real. I thought it was interesting and concluded that real trees are better. At least for me, my family, and our environment. Artificial trees are cool, reusable, and last many years. The idea was that this would save trees from being cut down and impacting the environment. Times are different today, these trees are grown for the sole purpose of being cut down, once they reach a certain height and age threshold. The environment argument would be invalid in this case since. Most artificial trees are manufactured in China, made of plastic, and full of harmful chemicals that release slowly into our homes. In the end, this is what our family debated on and it comes down to where you live. Maybe you don't have tree farms around you, so an artificial would be best in that case. What's going to happen when our tree dies? Well, in January we can take our tree to the beach where they will be used to protect the sand dunes from erosion. It all goes back to the land we try to take care of. With that, I wish you all happy tree cutting and safe holiday festivities!

This post is sponsored by Chamberlain Group (CGI). These are my own thoughts and opinions.

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas right around the corner, it is time to bring out all the decorations (or start buying them). This is a time where our family celebrates and gives thanks in the company of each other and all of that has to take place somewhere right? For the last 3 years, we have hosted a Thanksgiving and a couple of Friendsgiving gatherings which means plenty of food and, most importantly, preparation. In the process of creating an integrated home with smart devices, we included the myQ Smart Garage Hub and we're using it to the fullest this holiday season! My schedule is very irregular and often times I don't get to do a lot of shopping myself. So whether I am working from home and watching the kids or working remotely, I can have access to my home through our garage that also serves as our storage space.

With myQ, I can open up my garage remotely with my phone. I use this feature to let in family members without a key so they can drop off items in the safety of our home without having to leave them outside. I go ahead and close the garage afterward and carry on with my day worry-free. Through the myQ App, you can also keep track of your garage door activity for those times that someone else might have opened it and most importantly, with so many important things stored in our garage, they closed it. Sometimes we have family members stop by the house and take decorations out of the garage to help start decorating. That's a big help and I'm glad we can get a head start this year as well as free up some time for holiday shopping and maybe even take a day trip. Having this kind of accessibility and insight  to our home allows us to better use our time and spend it with our kids and family worry free.

I think one of the most useful features of having a myQ-connected smart garage is being able to link it to the  Amazon Key App  for free in-garage delivery. With the myQ Smart Garage Hub we were able to easily make our existing garage door opener smart and can now get our Prime orders delivered inside our garage instead of outside our front door. I could be at the grocery store, or even better, out of the city on a random road trip and still know our Amazon Prime gifts will be dropped off safely inside our garage. The Amazon delivery driver uses an encrypted code that’s linked to the package to open the garage door once they arrive and closes it before leaving the property. That is like having automation in your home, at least I think it is. This has been one of my favorite additions to our home, and I will continue to use this heavily throughout the holidays and into the new year. I use Amazon Prime all the time and having my deliveries indoors instead of sitting at my door for a couple of days really brings peace of mind. Now I don't have to cut my shopping short for the fear of having my packages damaged by the rain. (check here to see if you are eligible). 

I am ready for the holiday season! I can't wait for all the decorations to be put up and for the gifts on our holiday to-do list to start getting scratched off, without worrying any of our special deliveries going missing or being damaged by weather. Thanks to the connectivity of myQ, I can utilize my home more efficiently and host my friends and family in the smart home we have created!

This post is sponsored by Chamberlain Group (CGI). These are my own thoughts and opinions.
This has been one of my favorite years as a dad and it's only going to get better with the holiday season getting closer every day.  As soon as Halloween is over, the holiday shopping begins! I haven't written much about Isabela since she was born but since she started walking at 9 months, we have been non-stop. During the holidays we will be on the move, traveling, visiting family and of course, lots of shopping. What are we going to do with the packages we ordered online? As online shopping has increased exponentially over the last couple of years, it is likely that you or someone you know has had packages go missing from their door steps. Christmas is our family's favorite time of year and we cannot have anyone mess with our holiday spirit. That is why I partnered with Chamberlain Group (CGI) to let you know of a smart way to keep your packages safe and away from the elements with their myQ Smart Garage Hub technology.

This year we have done a lot of smart home improvements and the addition of the myQ Smart Garage Hub is pretty awesome. Being able to control our garage door from our smart phones or tablets is convenient, safe and smart! The myQ Smart Garage Hub is really easy to install and I'll also be sharing how you too can enjoy peace of mind with Key by Amazon in-garage delivery. This is way easier than you'd think.

First thing you want to do is to make sure the myQ Smart Garage Hub is compatible with your garage opener through this link (it works with all major brands), check the Wi-Fi signal in your garage and have a mobile device connected to the same Wi-Fi network that your myQ Smart Garage Hub is connected to. Next, we want to go ahead and unbox the product. Unboxing with the kids is always fun, we always open Amazon Prime packages together. Gather the products and then read over the instructions; you'll only see 2 steps and that's because you can find the rest of the installation instructions on the free myQ App. Now we head over to the garage and finish our set up. You will need a ladder tall enough to reach the garage opener, a screwdriver, a drill (preferably cordless) and a 5/32" drill bit. That is all. I love spending as much time with my family as possible so the installation part became a family activity, it didn’t take long and the time together outdoors was fun. As mentioned above, the step by step instructions are very easy and soon you'll be up the ladder drilling 2 holes for the myQ Smart Garage Hub. It'll go right next to the garage door opener so you can connect it to the power outlet above it.

Finally, you have the sensor that attaches to the garage door itself and the installation is complete! Now you can receive updates and track records of activity and also close your garage door from your smart phone (in case you forgot on a Monday morning). If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can unlock more useful features of your myQ Smart Garage Hub – such as FREE in-garage delivery with Key by Amazon. When it comes to the security of our packages and goods this App is a real winner. All you need to do is download the free Amazon Key App. Once that is complete, you can go ahead and link your myQ account with the Key App and you are set. The next time you're shopping on Amazon simply select 'In-Garage Delivery' at checkout. Amazon drivers are then able to open your garage with an encrypted code, leave your packages securely in the garage and close the door before leaving your property.

This holiday season will be a fun one and with the accessibility that technology allows us, we can place an Amazon order while traveling and know that our holiday gift shopping and decorations will be safe from the winter elements or from going missing. Now that I'm done writing this, I should probably go and make a designated area in my garage for all the Amazon Prime deliveries that are coming my way!

This post is sponsored by Georgia Pacific. My thoughts and opinions are honest and based on my personal experience. #ad @GeorgiaPacific

I recently went on a trip to East Texas and learned about an important process that showed me, literally, how plywood was made. My wife and I had the chance to tour Georgia-Pacific’s Corrigan plywood plant as one of the first media groups to ever have access inside the plant. At first I was not sure what to expect since this was all new to me, even after having worked in fabrication plants and refineries in the past. Every place is different and I knew I was going to be learning a lot of new things, from processing to quality control, distribution, end product, and how this renewable resource was being managed to avoid overcutting/ deforestation. 

My wife and I arrived at the entrance of the plant were a large pile of logs greeted us, and it was interesting since I had previously thought that sights like that were only found further up north, like in Washington or Canada. We were surrounded by the aroma of freshly cut pine trees and a beautiful sunny day. The first order of business was to meet our guides and other media colleagues. Then we got a Happy Mill Box which had a personalized hard hat and a vest with our blog names on it. It has to be one of my favorite packages! Soon after, our safety orientation began and was, as expected, simple, to the point, and emphasized staying together within the safe zone. There are a lot of moving parts in a plant, from machinery to personnel on vehicles and staying on the marked pathways was the best place to be throughout the tour. 

We walked with the Operations Manager and walked through the whole process beginning with the arrival of the logs. We learned that in order to operate around the clock, they needed about 75 trucks a day. That is a lot of wood, and it is all put to good use. The plant runs on its own steam power which uses wood chips for boiler fuel. Every part of the log is used, even the sawdust and pieces of wood that get soiled with oil or lubricants, they are sold as a byproduct. I was amazed at the whole process, especially the efficiency of production which was aided by some automation. We came to learn that this Georgia-Pacific plant was one of the only plants in the country that uses robot automation. Walking through the plant was like a maze, I surely would not be able to backtrack or remember where we went, space is all put to use and seemed like the whole interior of the facility was being used from the floor to the ceiling.

Toward the end, we began to feel the heat inside even though it was a cool day out. The steam and walking through hot drying racks were really starting to heat things up. Most of these chambers were over 200 degrees. There were so many moving parts and being able to see it all was a once in a lifetime trip. It may not be on everyone’s bucket list but I learned some really important things and got an answer that I hadn’t been able to get answered. After the tour, we went back to the main office for lunch and some discussion followed by Q&A. 

The one question I wanted to ask since I arrived was: How are the forests being managed to keep up with the high demand of building material? Are trees simply being cut down without proper management or replanting of trees. This is the great thing about being able to tour places where many of the products around us are made, we get to see and understand how it works. I learned that trees are replanted and cut at three different growth stages. The source for the Corrigan plant was a 300,000-acre forest managed by foresters who make sure this renewable resource is not overused and still be able to keep up with the demand. I left with a greater understanding of the plywood around us and what it takes for a log to become the finished product. Learning about plywood was something new and exciting and now my wife and I can go home and share this all with our daughters, family and friends. To learn more about GP’s work and programs, visit: www.gp.com

This post is sponsored by Sparkling ICE but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Fall time is the season that most here in Texas wish we had a little more of. There really isn't a defined transitional period; it all happens abruptly. Some things that gradually carry us towards Winter are all the fall traditions our family and others have. Things such as fall family pictures, visiting a pumpkin patch, carving and decorating for festivities, and walking through a corn maze. These are the things that bring our family together during this season and that is without fail. Our Fall gatherings also include food and refreshments whether we are hanging out inside or outdoors. One of my favorite beverages to bring around is Sparkling Ice, I've tried just about every flavor but the ones in this pink variety pack are my favorites. My family and friends enjoy them just as much too and that is why I love to have a pack when friends and family are around.

Our pumpkin patch tradition started 4 years ago when Mila was born and we have gone every year to stroll around and take pictures with the kids since then. It's a great time to let the kids run around or ride on the wagons. We have to resort to celebrating the Fall without the Fall weather but that also allows us to enjoy our beverages cold since the weather here is still in the high 80's! The four flavors of the pink pack variety are Black Cherry, Peach Nectarine, Coconut Pineapple, and Pink Grapefruit. As mentioned above, these are some of the best! And what my family loves the most is that these refreshing drinks are naturally flavored, sugar-free, and caffeine-free. 

We love being able to get our family together and continue this tradition! As Mila gets older she always asks us when October is so we can go pick our pumpkins. Now that she's in school it's so funny because she's learning the seasons, and told us it wasn't Fall yet because the sun was still too hot. 

While it's mostly fun & games when we visit our favorite pumpkin patch, wrangling all the kids to get into one picture, and to smile is one of the hardest things. Having a couple of things to bribe them, like they're favorite sparkling drink really helps! 

To find out where to get your own Sparkling Ice Pink Variety Pack for all things Fall, click here!

Last week we took a trip to San Antonio. It wasn't in our plans, to be honest, but since our trip to Austin had to be put on hold, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take to the road in the 2019 GMC Yukon XL Denali. About 90% of our road trips have been to San Antonio, and believe it or not, there are always new things we've found to do. I've wanted to go see the San Antonio Botanical Gardens for about 2 years now, and we decided that we were going to make it our goal to make it happen on this trip. The space and comfort in the Yukon is almost overwhelming! There is more space than most of us could use on the daily, plenty of power, and feels light in contrast to its size and weight. I was excited to drive it on the trip. We could take as much as we wanted, and in fact, we did. We actually overpacked with plenty of room leftover. 

But even before we left to the Alamo City, my brother wanted to camp on the beach and since Austin was no longer on the plans we packed up that same day and headed down a short drive to the beach. We love camping, and doing that on the beach is one of our favorite things to do. This was Isabella's first time camping out and it took her a little to get used to the new noises and unfamiliar tent environment. Everyone slept soundly throughout the night. Except me. I stayed up since I wasn't sure how close the high tide was going to come up. You can see what happened to us on the last beach trip

Car seat installation was easy, the third row comes down at a push of a button and made loading so easy. Mila loved the retractable running boards which made it easy for her to get on board. We arrived at the botanical gardens in no time and with a respectable 15.2 MPG average. I couldn't wait to see what awaited us. From a distance, you could see the towering housing structures, which look pretty cool. We walked through the different environment settings and admired the many different plants we hadn't seen before. There is a tropical, desert, and a palm tree enclosure and they are all awesome. It was a little warm for the babies and we also brought along Ashley's great-grandpa, so we had to take it easy and make sure we didn't keep anyone too long in the heat. On our way out, we walked by an atrium with a waterfall and we stopped here for a little so we could cool off.

I had to stop and look at the many citrus trees and even saw some banana trees that were going to give fruit soon along with an avocado. The grounds are very nice and saw that they are currently working on expanding. I can't believe it took two years to finally get to experience this awesome place. There are many things here that I would like to go back to and see but we will have to save that for our next visit. It was high noon by the time we headed back to the Yukon and I am so glad that it was remote start and cooled seats. This is a must, especially here in Texas. The temperature was at 102 degrees and we were all feeling the heat so we took a break from the sun and head out for lunch.

After our lunch, we made way towards downtown to hemisfair park to see the Tower of the Americas and spend some time at the nearby park. We didn't go up to the observatory deck this time and simply enjoyed the grounds around and let the kids play. This is a special city to us and we love that there are things that we have yet to explore and experience. Who knew that this little oasis was near downtown San Antonio. I only found it while scrolling through photos of the city and came across a picture of the structures against a clear blue sky. It got my attention and I couldn't believe that this was in the city. It looked modern and in a way reminded me of the cool Gardens by the bay in Singapore. I'm really glad we were able to make this trip happen.

With 420 horsepower on tap and 460 ft. lb of torque, we were able to drive around town effortlessly and in style. How light this vehicle actually feels is surprising and makes for a much more enjoyable driving experience. The 6.2L engine is the same one found on the Sierra Denali we drive to Palo Duro Canyon earlier this year! The cargo space is an impressive 121.7 Cu. feet with the third and second row down. I thought the Chevy Traverse was a lot, but the Yukon XL has lots more space! We love both vehicle but when it comes to being able to tow, haul people in comfort, and move effortlessly, the Yukon XL Denali is the way to go. I tried the space in the third row and I sat in there pretty comfortable with decent leg room. We all loved the big GMC and were seriously spoiled with heated and cooled seats, powered third row seats, and as mentioned twice already, the power and space, it's a winner for us. This is what we would prefer to take on long road trips. Wouldn't mind trading some MPG's for more comfort and cargo room. 

Can't thank GMC enough for allowing us to take the Yukon XL Denali on this memorable trip and we hope to inspire you in taking a little adventure!