Summer Travel Essentials for Big Families

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerIsForSavings #CollectiveBias #WFM1

My family and I are mere days away from our major summer vacation plans to visit my side of the family in Northern Michigan. We are taking all five of our kiddos across the country from the SoCal High Desert to Northern Michigan. We’ll be taking two planes and a van ride to get us to our rural destination and have adventures planned over the course of two weeks. Traveling with our large family will be quite the challenge, but  we’ve travelled together before and I’m drawing off of our previous experiences to get us through this trip of a lifetime. This is my comprehensive list of summer travel essentials for big families like mine.

LG Grace Phone and Walmart Family Mobile Plan, powered by T-Mobile

I use the Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 15GB of 4G LTE† then 2G* the $49.88 PLUS Plan from Walmart Family Mobile. My younger kiddos share their LG Grace phone to call their other parents (we’re a blended family), send them a text, and take pictures. It’s a simple way to stay connected while they travel since they don’t need a phone all of the time. I can easily walk into Walmart knowing I’m getting the best priced no-contract wireless plan, pick the phone, pick the plan, and go. No renewals or contracts to worry about and no late fees or activation fees to factor in. Since they use Nationwide coverage on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE† network, I also don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll have service when they do call and interact with their other parents on the line. As an added bonus, while we’re on the $49.88 PLUS Plan, we receive a free VUDU◊ movie rental credit (valued at $7.00) each time we renew the service.

A printed itinerary

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe a printed itinerary is essential when traveling with a large family. I print off all our confirmations, hotel reservations, and travel details and store them in my trusty paper planner to ensure we have all the information we need. This is also helpful in the event of an emergency or a spontaneous change of plans.

A backpack

With kiddos, even older ones, a backpack is one item I never regret bringing on our summer travels. Someone always needs me to hold something, cuts and scrapes are inevitable, and it gives me a safe place to store sunscreen, bug spray, and extra water. As a serial souvenir shopper, it’s also handy for my inevitable magnet purchase as we explore new towns and areas.

These three essentials have been my true blue sidekicks during previous adventures with my big family. While there’s bound to be a bit of chaos, at least it’s controlled chaos thanks to these helpful tools. I’d love to hear some of your travel essentials and advice you have to offer my large family before we embark on our summer journey.

To learn more about Walmart Family Mobile and their best priced no-contract wireless plans, be sure to visit their social hub where you’ll see how bloggers like me have used the service.

*Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this page or your local Walmart for current pricing.

*Please always refer to the latest terms and conditions at

†To get 4G LTE speed, you must have a 4G LTE capable device and 4G LTE SIM Card. Actual availability, coverage, and speed may vary. LTE is a trademark of ETSI.

◊Limited time offer. Available for lines active with the PLUS $49.88 plan only. VUDU enabled device and account required for digital viewing. Customers must be 18 years or older to open a VUDU account. Movie rental only available in the USA. Free movie rental provided in the form of a movie rental code to the value of a $7.00 VUDU credit. Must be used within 30 days of receiving code. Offer is non-transferable. Limit 1 per customer. Additional terms and conditions on VUDU’s website: Movie rental code allows for selection from available movies for rent.  May not be readily redeemable on all new releases. Code will be delivered within up to 24 hours of the effective account renewal date.

5 Times The Gilmore Girls Made Me Cry

This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you to Netflix for partnering with me. And thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

While I missed The Gilmore Girls when it was airing on TV, Netflix has all eight seasons and I’ve been happily falling down the rabbit hole that is Gilmore Girls for several months now as I binge watched the entire series in anticipation of it’s revival in just a few short days. I’ve fallen in love with Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Richard, Emily, and all of the townsfolk of Stars Hollow. In celebration of the four new episodes we get on November 25th, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from the show that made me reach for the tissues.

1,000 Yellow Daisies


When Lorelai gets a delivery of 1,000 yellow daisies from Max and then that proposal. While I would never really consider Lorelai a bleeding heart romantic, the gesture was just so perfect. Part of me will always have a little flag for #TeamMax just because of that incredible proposal.

Lorelai’s Business School Graduation


Emily and Richard came. And it was one of the few times they showed some transparency and pride for their daughter. Emily cries and Emily never cries. That alone was enough to send me into dry heaves.

Rory’s High School Graduation


“As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized the person I most wanted to be was her.” How do you not just weep after that speech, you guys? How?!

Lorelai’s reference letter


“Once Luke Danes is in your life, he is in your life forever.” The realization Lorelai had shortly after writing the letter and then running into Luke and April at the mall was just perfection. It was like she finally saw all these little things at once and how he’d been a pseudo-father to Rory and the one constant security in their lives. Right in the feels.

Rory’s Bon Voyage Party

"Bon Voyage"-- Fearing it will rain on RoryÕs graduation party in Stars Hollow, Lorelai enlists LukeÕs help to organize the town in creating a tent out of tarps, shower curtains and other miscellaneous spare plasticin GILMORE GIRLS on The CW. Photo: Bruce Birmelin/The CW ©2006 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The whole town coming together. Everyone’s love for Rory just spilling out. Luke sewing together all of those tents. And then Lorelai being told it was him. Their moment of finally being on the same page, being unafraid to love each other again.

Other mentionables: when Luke makes Lorelai a chuppah for her wedding to Max, when Luke and Lorelai have that first dance and seem to fall in love right there in the middle of Stars Hollow, when Rory cries over Logan which is just all of us at some point in life.

Plan your Friday night dinner with the Gilmores on November 25th ( was there ever really another option to debut the new episodes rather than on a Friday night?) on Netflix. I’ll bring the Pop Tarts if you bring the burgers.

My Family’s Perfect Fit | Capital One Auto Navigator

This post is sponsored by Capital One Auto Navigator. Thank you to Capital One for partnering with me. And thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.


In our blended family, our vehicles are members of our family. We do plenty of driving between homes in our long-distance blended families which means we spend a great deal of time in our cars. Not only do we rely on our cars to get us from home to home, but we also depend on it to keep us safe as our children grow and our family evolves. We’ve come a long way from squeezing three car seats into our little four door Hyundai, and while our current vehicle fits all of our needs, we know it won’t be long before we’re ready for that minivan we’ve been dreaming about. When we’re ready, we know Capital One’s Auto Navigator site will be there to guide us.


The Capital One Auto Navigator is a great tool for families like mine (or anyone, really!) to utilize when purchasing their next car. The is a re-imagines car buying experience that allows us to not only find our dream car, but also check on the financing without risking our credit score. First, we can find out in minutes how much we can pre-qualify for without having our credit score affected. From there, we can test drive (see what I did there?) our financing options based on term lengths, vehicles, and prices. The Auto Navigator will help us to achieve a monthly payment that’s comfortable and the best fit for our family.


We can also use the Capital One Auto Navigator site to help us search from over 12,000 dealerships to find that minivan we’ve been dreaming of using handy filters like price, make, model, and more. The Auto Loan Navigator gives us confidence to step into the dealership with financing in hand and a car already in mind so we can save time, money, and even pesky haggling.

To check out the Capital One Auto Navigator for yourself, visit them here and test drive your own options.

Time for an Upgrade? | Capital One Auto Navigator

As a one income family, we take careful measures with our budgets make sacrifices to ensure our family’s lifestyle of having a stay at home parent. For three years, we were a one vehicle family that carpooled, picked up, dropped off, and did whatever we had to until we paid off our car and could finance a new-to-us used vehicle. Last year, all our hard work paid off when we were finally able to purchase a second car for our family. After three years of driving just one car with over 100,000 miles on it, we were desperate to get an additional vehicle into our lives. We didn’t have anyone to guide us or give us advice, so we went at it alone. We ended up with a car we loved, but it would have been helpful to have some guidance and to know what exactly we could qualify for before starting the whole process.


Shopping for a car can be overwhelming and other than the idea of a sweet new stereo system, it doesn’t appeal to me much – if at all. But with the Capital One Auto Navigator® site, we can go through each step with ease. From shopping vehicles near us to calculating our payment, they’ve reimagined the car buying experience with a one-stop-shop for everything we need so we can conquer it with confidence.

One of my favorite features is the ability to find your dream car right from their Auto Navigator site. We’re hoping to upgrade within the next year to a Kia Sedona and we were able to search over 12,000 dealerships for the exact make and model for sale and received several results. From there, we are able to find out what our estimated monthly payment would be and even get prequalified without risking our credit score.


When we’re ready to upgrade later next year, my first stop will be the Capital One Auto Navigator site where we will confidently be able step into the dealership with a dream car in mind and financing in-hand. Visit the Capital One Auto Navigator site for more information and to get started today.

3 Reasons Why I Use a Smart Toothbrush

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BrushingEvolvedBBB #CollectiveBias


Technology is a fairly large part of my life. I use it daily not only for entertainment purposed like watching shows, surfing the Internet, and streaming music, but also in my home for temperature control, leak detecting, and more. Creating a smart home is important to me because it allows me some freedom while helping me pay close attention to details. When I discovered the NEW Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Toothbrush at Bed Bath & Beyond, I knew I could benefit from having a little extra guidance in my oral health department. A few months back, I was (literally!) knocked on my rear when a cavity abscessed, requiring several dental appointments and expensive oral surgery. I’m not sure I ever took my oral health as seriously as I should have before that painful abscess. Now that I’m aware, I ensure I keep my choppers in tip-top shape with regular care and effective tools including the NEW Philips Sonicare FlexCare Connected Toothbrush. While there are several benefits to using a smart toothbrush, these three reasons why I use a smart toothbrush were my favorite benefits and ultimately helped me decided to make the switch.

Real-time Feedback


The NEW Philips Sonicare FlexCare Connected Toothbrush grants me easy access to personalized, real-time feedback through the free Philips Sonicare app. I can actually see where I’m brushing and where I need to pay more attention. The app gives me real-time visuals and information like how good of a brusher I am, if I’ve missed any spots while brushing, and even if I’m applying too much pressure or using an excessive scrubbing motion. This is so helpful because there are always one or two spots my dentist will have to scrape extra plaque out of when I visit her and she remarks how most people forget those places. I’m hoping that at my next visit, she won’t have to do any extra scraping!

Timing Monitor


I’m going to admit that I never brush my teeth for the full two minutes that’s recommended. It just seems like I cover all the areas I need to in much less time. I love that the FlexCare app times me and lets me know when I’m actually finished brushing rather than when I think I’m done. Two minutes is much longer than I realized!

Goal Setting for Oral Health


Achieving my healthiest smile yet is easy with the FlexCare. I can set and track my own daily goals (whiter teeth, healthier gums) with personalized coaching, tips and alerts to help me meet them. I can also focus on trouble areas that my dentist identified, such as gum recession or plaque buildup.

Using technology for helping me to achieve my goal for better oral health has been a natural next step for me as someone who enjoys applying technology for a smarter life. The NEW Philips Sonicare FlexCare Connected Toothbrush promises up to 10x more plaque removal and healthier gums in just two weeks by using these features to aid in achieving oral health goals. For me, the experience has helped to create better brushing habits by showing me where I’m lacking and where I’m doing well so I can adjust accordingly.



Learn more about the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Connected Toothbrush by visiting the social hub where you’ll find additional thoughts, tutorials, and more on oral health from bloggers like me.


Amazon Underground, FREE Apps and Games!

My oldest son, Collin, fancies himself a gamer. His interest in technology was clear from a early age and at almost-seven-years-old, he think he’s a total pro. In fact, when we went back to school shopping for clothing, the only shirt he wanted was a graphic t-shirt that read: Trust me. I’m a gamer. He introduces himself to new friends as Collin the gamer and then immediately asks them if they are also a gamer. Collin has interest in everything from gaming systems to photo/video equipment, and of course, his beloved Amazon Fire Tablet.


My little gamer loves experimenting with an trying new games. He has his classic favorites that remain in his rotation, but he’s never afraid to try something new. With the settings on our Fire Tablet, he has to come to me to download any new games. While I love to foster his excitement for technology, unfortunately I’ve had to turn him down many times because I just don’t want to fork over extra money for a game I’m not sure is something he’ll be keeping. But with Amazon Underground, I’m able to give him a little more freedom since we have access to over 3,000+ apps and games. With over 300+ premium education apps, Collin also gets to supplement his homework with what feel like games to him, but are actually new ways for him to be excited about learning through technology. And yes, he also gets to choose and enjoy other games that interest him like Zootopia, Sonic Dash, and Angry Birds.

A video posted by Holly Sosa (@ourhollydays) on


Amazon Underground gives you all the same access to your trusty Amazon shopping, just with a cool upgrade that gives you access to all of their free games and apps. To download it, simply go here and follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll have to enable the unknown sources in your settings, but that’s just so that you’ll be able to download the apps through Amazon since most Androids default to GooglePlay. Once Amazon Underground is installed, just use the menu button to start browsing and downloading.


Collin loves exploring for new games and there’s not more whining about how much games cost. For me, it’s been a great reward system for him (and his siblings!) when he does well in school or at home with extra help. There’s no reward my little gamer dude loves more than trying out a new app.


Learn more about Amazon Underground and see their catalog of 100% free apps & games here. You can also gain access through your Android smart phone or Amazon Fire Tablet here.

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

ZTE Grand X Max 2

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ZTE Grand X Max 2. All opinions are 100% mine.

Recently I had the opportunity to get my hands on the ZTE Grand X Max 2, one of the latest smart phones (or phablets) exclusively available at Cricket Wireless. As a tech-loving gal, anytime I get to play with my social media apps and the camera features on a new phone, I get stupid excited about it.

The ZTE Grand X Max 2 features a six inch FHD LCD display with Dolby Audio and Hi Fi Music quality. The camera contains a wide angle front camera and dual rear camera with a Bokeh setting to give that background blur most photography junkies desire. It also features high powered LTE smartphone streaming quality and runs android Marshmallow OS. The screen quality is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a phone and browsing my blog was such a fun way to test out the capabilities of the phone.

ZTE Grand X Max 2002

ZTE Grand X Max 2003

ZTE Grand X Max 2004

ZTE Grand X Max 2006

Cricket Wireless offers easy and affordable plans starting at $35 monthly after (a $5 AutoPay credit) and that’s with monthly taxes and fees included. They offer a huge selection of phones and a reliable 4G LTE network with more coverage than T-Mobile, Metro PCS, Sprint and Boost. Their service is crystal clear way out here in the High Desert boondocks, which surprised me. In the past I wasn’t sure about Cricket, but they’ve proven to be equal to, and in some cases superior to, the leading wireless companies.

ZTE Grand X Max 2001

ZTE Grand X Max 2005

ZTE Grand X Max 2007

When we got the ZTE Grand X Max 2 it was supposed to be a phone for me, but because the service works so well, my husband has been using it at work where most of the employees don’t get any signal at all. My husband has also had a fun time playing Pokèmon Go (shhh, don’t tell him I told you!) on the bigger screen display.

When you bring your number to Cricket to make the switch from your carrier, you can get the ZTE Grand X Max 2 for $129.99. If you’re an existing Cricket customer, you can get the phablet at $169.99. Available to purchase at and Cricket Wireless authorized retail locations. Locate a Cricket Wireless authorized retail location

For more information on the ZTE Grand X Max 2, visit and check out their plans to see what fits in your family.

Disclaimer: Buy ZTE Grand X Max 2 for $129, port number to Cricket and activate a new qualified plan, minimum $40 per month. Fees, other charges & restrictions apply. See store for details.

Visit Sponsors Site

Girlfriends Guide to Car Shopping Trends

This post was made possible by iConnect and Autotrader.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.


Last year my husband and I took the plunge and purchased a second vehicle. After three years of driving just one car with over 100,000 miles on it, we were just desperate to get an additional vehicle into our lives. We didn’t have anyone to guide us or give us advice, so we went at it alone. Explorers in the world of car buying.

Shopping for a car can be overwhelming and other than the idea of a sweet new stereo system, it doesn’t appeal to me much – if at all. But there are some trends to be aware of if you’re in the market this year. From longer test drives, smart shopping, and buying CPO, here are the details on a few of the latest car shopping trends.

Extended Test Drives

While each dealership has different policies, many are allowing for extended test drives. More and more, dealerships offer overnight test drives with a limited amount of miles to get buyers more familiar with the vehicle they’re considering. As a mother, I love this idea because I’d like to have a chance to see how my family fits in the car, the amount of space we’ll have, and how comfortable I feel in the car.

Smarter Shopping

In the age of technology, buyers are relying more on their phones to help ensure they’re getting the best prices. When my husband and I purchased our new car last year, we relied heavily on our smart phones to help us find a dealership, read reviews on the vehicles, and ensure we weren’t getting taken advantage of where price was concerned.

Buying Certified Pre-Owned

With three year leases expiring, it leaves room for shoppers to land a great deal on a certified pre-owned vehicle. Vehicles will be coming off lease between 2016-2018 which means cars with low mileage, up to date maintenance, and in good condition will be available for purchase making this a trend to be on watch for.

In the end, I sent my husband off to do the negotiating and haggling before we settled on a price and financing options with our dealership. Even with him representing us though, that night was filled with phone call after phone call to me about this deal or that. We ended up with a vehicle we love, but we’re not alone in wishing the car buying experience was different. According to this article, in 2015, Autotrader did a study that showed only 17 out of 4,002 people prefer the current car-buying process and the rest want significant changes, particularly in the test drive, deal structuring and financing paperwork. Hopefully these new trends in car buying, which include smarter shoppers, will inspire change soon.

For more information on car buying and it’s latest trends, be sure to check out the Girlfriends Guide to Car Shopping from Autotrader and Kelly Blue Book, the most visited car shopping information websites.

All You Need Is Love | Netflix Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you to Netflix for partnering with me. And thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

My kiddos just can’t get enough of the new Netflix Original Animated Series Beat Bugs. And I have to admit, it warms my heart to hear thing singing classics like Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (I’m LIVING for Pink’s version featured in the episode) and more Beatles tunes.

Beat Bugs follows five best friends – Jay, Kumi, Crick, Buzz, and Walter – on their adventures while learning about life lessons in an overgrown suburban backyard (which is their entire universe). Each episode is about 15 minutes long, which I find to be the perfect length for my toddler, and features a song created originally by The Beatles.

Inspire by our new bug friends, my kiddos and I got together to make our own cover of All You Need Is Love together. We’re no Von Trapp family (one child refused to dance and instead laid on the floor), but we had fun.

A video posted by Holly Sosa (@ourhollydays) on

Think you can do better? Netflix partnered with me to give away a six month membership to one of you. To enter, you’ll need to head over to my Instagram page for details and to share your best #BeatBugs performance. Entries will close on August 30th at 11:59PM PST. Winner will be announced within 24 hours.


Follow Netflix on Facebook for the latest releases, previews, information on Netflix Originals, and more.

How to Install a Water Leak and Freeze Detector

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser Honeywell. All opinions are mine alone. #ConnectYourHome #CollectiveBias

As a homeowner, I’m all too familiar with the ups and downs owning a home can bring. Last summer, in the middle of a heat wave, our air conditioner broke and needed to be fixed…twice! A few years back, our kitchen sink sprung a leak and shortly after that, the faucet broke. But while all of this can be overwhelming at times, I take pride in owning a home and love knowing that it’s ours. My husband and I have been taking steps towards creating a smart home that helps us to minimize some of the problems that can come with homeownership. Recently, we took the first steps towards creating a smart home with Honeywell’s Lyric™ Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector along with a Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat (both available at Home Depot) to help us monitor our home and potentially prevent costly problems in the future. Ya hear that kitchen sink!? Never again!

water leak and freeze detector013

The Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector by Honeywell is a wireless device that offers a way to observe water-related appliances and pipes and could reduce the risks of leaks and frozen pipes. The device syncs to an app on our phones and will alert us when it senses potential water leak or pending issue. Included with the detector is a four foot long water sensing cable that can be placed around objects and along floors, cracks, or other spaces and can be extended with additional cable sensors for up to 500 feet of continuous coverage. It’s AA battery operated with up to three years of battery life and works off of our home’s Wi-Fi.

It was stupid easy to install our new water leak and freeze detector. In fact, the Lyric app took us through it step by step. Talk about creating a smart home!

I simply opened my Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector and removed all of the contents.

water leak and freeze detector001

I downloaded the Lyric app and opened it on my phone. Then I chose the add new device option.

water leak and freeze detector002

From here, I followed the on-screen commands and installed the included AA batteries.

water leak and freeze detector003

water leak and freeze detector004

I checked to ensure the blue LED light was pulsing.

water leak and freeze detector005

And then I slipped on the back portion of the detector.

water leak and freeze detector006

water leak and freeze detector007

Next I named my device kitchen sink since that’s where I was going to be placing it.

water leak and freeze detector008

And then I connected it to my home WiFi.

water leak and freeze detector009

Once the detector was connected, the LED light changed to green, signaling I had activated my new water leak and freeze detector.

water leak and freeze detector011

water leak and freeze detector012

The app shows me the temperature and how humid it is. And of course, will alert me if there is a leak under my kitchen sink.

water leak and freeze detector014

The device was placed under my kitchen sink, laying flat like in these photos. It was literally that easy. The included wire is an additional four foot long sensor for if you’d like to mount your detector to the wall and place the wire around objects, cracks or additional areas, but my kitchen sink is a small area and I didn’t need to use it. Though, it would be handy for a basement or laundry room.

Our new Lyric™ Thermostat makes me feel like I’m living in the future. Just a quick swipe of my hand activates the screen. I can control the temperature from my phone, turn the air conditioner on or off, turn the heater on or off, and it even displays the weather for the day. Using the app (which we also used to install it), I can also create shortcuts for what I want the temperatures set to when I leave the house, when I go to sleep, or for when I’m on my way home. With the The Smart Cues™ feature, I can even set a reminder to change our air filter. Yup. I’m definitely in the future.

water leak and freeze detector015

water leak and freeze detector017

water leak and freeze detector018

From the Lyric™ app, we are able to monitor all of our smart home devices and control them with the touch of a button. It’s surreal to me and I’m nerdy excited about taking these steps to create a connected home that helps give me peace of mind.

You can find the Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector through the Honeywell website or at The Home Depot along with the Lyric Thermostat. Be sure to follow the Honeywell Facebook page for all the latest on creating your smart home.