Beach Week 2018

Disclaimer: In this post I do mention a few specific items and provide links for them. None of these are sponsored and I was given no compensation for mentioning or linking them. They are all just items that I loved having on our trip and wanted to pass along!

Last week our little family traveled out to Virginia to spend the week at Sandbridge Beach with Justin’s side of the family (his parents, siblings, nephew, nieces). We managed to find a beach house rental where we could all stay together and it was SO nice to get a ton of quality time with each other.  My heart is so full from all the memories made! I buried our three-year-old niece in the sand into the shape of a mermaid. Justin helped our five-year-old nephew learn how to dive into the pool. LJ got to experience the ocean for the first time. I stayed up until midnight just chatting with my sister-in-law about all things big and little in our lives. The grandparents got a ton of baby snuggles with LJ and his 6-month-old cousin. We shared meals, we played games, we talked and laughed and soaked up every minute. It was such a fantastic week!

Justin and LJ at beach

Instead of recapping the whole trip, I’ve decided to just share my favorite memory from the week, which happened on the last day that we were all together. Our rental was only a two minute walk to the ocean and we decided to take one last trip to the beach before my brother-in-law’s family had to leave. We didn’t load ourselves down with beach gear, but instead just threw on our suits, grabbed a few towels and some sunscreen, and headed out. We were only on the beach for about 45 minutes, but it was the most fun 45 minutes of the whole trip.

LJ and cousin

The babies lounged on the towel together and watched Justin and his brother take the big kids to jump waves in the ocean. My niece requested to be buried in the sand again. My nephew and I “raced” away from the incoming waves, laughing the whole time. At one point the entire family ended up in the ocean holding hands as the waves crashed onto our feet. I loved every second! It was such a good reminder that we don’t need a lot of “stuff” to have fun and make great memories. No one brought books to read or sand toys to play with. We just had the sand, the surf, and each other – and that’s all we needed to have the most pure, perfect, magical beach memory.

That being said, we did have a lot of other good memories. I hope you enjoy a few photos of the highlights!

Daddy and LJ
LJ’s first time at the beach – he LOVED it!
LJ + nephew in sand
Justin and our nephew playing in the sand.
Justin, LJ Neice
A sweet moment captured with my boys and our niece on the beach one evening.

LJ and Fiona

My heart can’t even handle the cuteness of Levi in his little floating flamingo, whom we lovingly named Fiona. Our exact one is no longer available but a similar one can be found here. It was such a nice thing to have so we didn’t always have to hold him in the pool, and it allowed him to kick his feet in the water which was so sweet!

Mommy and LJ on beach

As you can see from the picture above from another beach day, we did not always pack light. Ha! This was our typical beach set-up with LJ. My sister-in-law had the brilliant idea to get an inflatable bathtub for the babies to enjoy a little ocean water while staying in the shade. It worked so well!

LJ's beach set-up

The sun shelter was an Aldi Find (anyone else obsessed with Aldi?) earlier this summer. You can find similar styles here and here.

LJ in pool

The inflatable bathtub was also a huge help at the pool! You can find this exact tub here. Also, I have all the heart eyes for LJ’s sweet little striped hat. He does have a brimmed sun hat with a chin strap but he is constantly trying to pull it off his head. For some reason, he tolerates baseball hats much better so this is what we used most often. His hat can be found here.

LJ on Towel.jpg

We are already talking about next year’s beach trip and I can’t wait to see what fun we’ll have! Until then, I’ll just bask in all the sweet memories we made this year. 🙂

LJ looking back at beach

Where is your favorite beach to visit?

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July 2018 Book Review {Part One}

Hello and Happy Friday! I am still catching up on my summer book reviews and July was a BIG month for my reading list. Thanks to a road trip to Canada with my parents and grandparents (hello lots of willing baby-watchers!), I got through eight books. Rather than one huge mega post, I’ve broken up July into two posts.

July Book Review Part One

So here’s part one of my July book reviews!

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Ijeawele

This book is a short, quick read that my sister recommended to me. Just because it’s short doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a big punch – this book makes several thought-provoking points and I found myself nodding along often. The author has so many wise words but is very relatable and never sounds overly preachy. The overarching message is: everyone deserves respect and equality and everyone matters. While it only took me 45 minutes to read, after I finished this book I called my sister and we spent an hour talking about it. Whether you are a parent or not, I think this is an important work that should be on your reading list.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound

This book was recommended to me by a fellow lover of historical fiction. In post-WWII Mississippi, Laura has moved to a farm with her husband and children and it is not at all what she expected. Chapters mainly alternate between Laura’s perspective and those of two men working on the farm, her brother-in-law and a black sharecropper’s son, who have both returned from the war to very different worlds. This book absolutely hooked me.  It covers such heavy topics that it feels weird to me to say it was a great book – in truth, it wasn’t always enjoyable to read and made me feel sick to my stomach at times. But it was a great book because the author writes in such a way that the characters come alive and you feel invested in their story so when tragic things happen, your heart breaks for them. This book was very well-written and gives a haunting glimpse into life in the harsh 1940’s South.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

It feels like I have seen this book everywhere this summer and I can completely understand all the buzz. In this novel, the seemingly perfect suburb Shaker Heights is forever changed by the arrival of an artist and her daughter and before long, the community is divided over a very public custody battle involving the adoption of a Chinese-American baby. There are many little stories within this story and different characters find themselves in various intriguing situations. I often asked myself “what would I do if this were me?” and found no perfect answers. I wish I had read this as part of a book club or something where I could have discussed other perspectives of the different scenarios in detail as they played out. I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it!

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

On Second Thought

Two sisters find themselves with abrupt ends to their romantic relationships and they come to rely on each other in the aftermath and start to move on with their lives. I have read and enjoyed other books by Kristan Higgins so I was excited to dive into this one. Overall the book was entertaining but I did think it got a little slow at times. I enjoyed the alternating narration between the two sisters and I was delighted to find that there were some recurring minor characters from another Higgins book I loved (If You Only Knew). I came to love the characters (except one who absolutely drove me crazy but that was obviously Higgins’ intent) and I was satisfied with how everything wrapped up. While this isn’t my favorite Higgins book, I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Simplifying the Diaper Bag {Newborn}

When my son was a few weeks old, I realized that while I loved being a stay-at-home mom, our days got pretty monotonous and long if I took my job title too literally and spent all of our time at home. I soon got stir crazy and longed for a little change of scenery once in a while so I started to look for small outings that he and I could make out into the world to feel like part of civilization again. In order for these little trips to be successful and (relatively) stress-free, a well-packed diaper bag was crucial.

But oh, how the diaper bag could quickly become a chaotic mess.

Seriously, I *knew* babies need a lot of stuff but I didn’t really KNOW how. much. stuff. that could end up being.  I wanted to hit the delicate balance between having whatever my 7 pound baby might actually need without throwing my back out lugging around 70 pounds of his stuff (which only felt like a slight exaggeration at the time). 

After a little trial and error, I struck that balance and it made leaving the house so much easier. Today I wanted to break down what my newborn diaper bag contained in case there is another mama out there trying to figure out how to leave the house without taking half of it with her. I know that each baby is different and each baby/mama is going to need some different items. This might not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else, but it’s what worked for us!

Tips for Simplifying a newborn's Diaper Bag

First things first, I use this diaper bag. I wanted a backpack style bag so that my hands could be free and I chose this neutral shade so it would go with anything I wore. I love the simple, clean look – I get tons of compliments on the style and people are often shocked it is a diaper bag! I have seen many reviews saying it is too big and “boxy” for small frames. I am 5’2” and it is a little boxy but I adjust the arm straps as tight as they go and it works well for me. My 6’0” husband prefers a slouchy backpack and so he doesn’t love the fit as much through the arms even when he loosens the straps all the way; however, he carries it less often than me so this hasn’t been a big deal.

Magnolia

I also chose this backpack is because it didn’t have 587 pockets. I know some people want a lot of pockets to store things in a diaper bag. For me,  if I see a pocket, I’m going to want to fill it and as a minimal-ish mama, I didn’t want to be carrying around more than I needed just because I had pockets to do so. So I liked that this one had just a few pockets that I could make good use of. This diaper bag has three major compartments and I’m going to go through what I carried in each one.

Newborn diaper bag essentials (and a few extras)

The front compartment is “mine” and stores everything I need to carry around for myself.

Mama Pocket Items

This pocket contains: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, and gum. There is also a small pocket in this compartment where I slipped two disposable nursing pads (leaks happen!) and a packet of Motrin. That’s it! It is actually a little shocking to me that this is now all I carry around because my pre-kid purse had m-u-c-h more than this in it, but I have come to find that this is really all I actually need! 

Mama Pocket

The back pocket is for diapering and diapering only.

Diaper Pocket Items

I keep it simple so all I need to do is unzip and peek in to make sure I have what I need before leaving the house. It also ensures that when the inevitable diaper emergency happens, I can quickly access what I need without wasting precious seconds desperately rummaging around. The bag came with a very handy machine washable changing pad that I keep back there. This pocket also contains: diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream,  and this diaper bag dispenser (handy when there is an extra stinky diaper).

Diaper Pocket

The middle/main pocket is where I keep everything else.

Main Pocket Items

This main pocket contains: a muslin blanket, a flannel blanket, three burp cloths, a bib scarf, my nursing cover, 2-3 outfit changes, and 1-2 baby toys.  In the newborn stage, I did not waste precious space on lots of toys. My baby was usually asleep when we were out and about but if he was awake, he was largely entertained by just looking around at people. I stored everything by rolling the items and placing them in vertically so I could see everything in one glance. This compartment also has two small pockets in the back where I stored socks and a hat (due to having a winter baby), a pacifier with clip, 2 gallon ziploc bags (to seal up a messy outfit – blowouts will happen!) and animal links.

Main Pocket.jpg

Notice how when everything is stored like this, there is still so much room on top! This is so handy if I’m out and about and there’s something I need to stuff in there quickly (such as LJ’s coat or a purchase from a store).

This diaper bag also comes with an insulated side pocket which we used occasionally when we needed to take along a bottle with pumped milk. The other side has a pocket the perfect size for me to take along my Swell water bottle to stay hydrated.

Side Pocket

That’s it! My minimal-ish diaper bag. I cannot think of a time where I was ever out and about and realized I was suddenly desperate for something other than what I’ve listed. Simplifying my diaper bag allowed me to leave the house with confidence and have minimal stress and wasted time rummaging around looking for things when I’m out and about. Win-win!

A few tips for simplifying the chaos of a diaper bag:

  • Have 4-5 diapers packed each time you leave the house.
  • Use a refillable wipes clutch so you always have plenty of wipes with you
  • Get in the habit of quickly checking the diapers/wipes before leaving the house
  • Take distinctive burp cloths. Someone gifted me three Gerber cloth diapers/burp cloths with colorful ribbons sewn on. These are the ones I take out and about since they are unique and therefore harder to lose at childcare/playdates/etc.
  • Take multi-functional items. My nursing cover doubles as a car seat cover which was a wonderful asset during the winter and allowed me to get two major uses out of one item.

What is one must-have in your newborn diaper bag?

Traveling with a Baby {Road Trip Tips}

Whether it be day trips, weekend getaways, or international adventures, travel has always been a big part of Justin and my marriage. We love exploring and trying new things and I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a bit nervous that we’d lose the ability to travel once we became parents. What would traveling with a baby look like? Will it be so stressful that we’ll just prefer to stay home? Will we have to stop traveling until our children are older? We had a lot of questions and not a lot of answers with what traveling would look like once there was a third person tagging along.

It turns out that we didn’t need to worry – we have still been able to travel (and actually enjoy our trips!) with a baby in tow. We have traveled by car and plane with LJ and much to our relief both methods of travel have gone smoothly thus far. We have obviously had to make adjustments to the way that we travel and we have learned a few things along the way. Since we are currently at the beach after a 12+ hour drive, I thought I would share some of the tips we have used in our road-trips with LJ (4 multi-state/country road trips under his belt so far!) as well as some of the gear that helps us greatly on these road trips.

Road Trip Tips with a Baby

I know every baby is different and these tips might not work for everyone but these are the things that have helped us to simplify the chaos of travel so we can actually enjoy our time together and look forward to travelling with a baby. 

Tip #1: Start early.

LJ Carseat Going Home

This tip was more for me personally to get to a “we can do this!” mindset. We took our first road trip from Indiana to Virginia when LJ was about 5 weeks old to visit family for Christmas. I think if I had waited months to attempt a trip, I would have stressed out thinking of everything that could go wrong or how it might mess up his routine and I might have talked myself out of even trying. Planning a trip early in LJ’s little life stopped me from having too much time to talk myself out of it and didn’t mess up his (honestly, non-existent) newborn routine and bonus – when it went smoothly it gave me the confidence to continue to travel! I also believe starting early helped LJ form good travel habits (like being comfortable with sleeping/staying in his car seat).

Tip #2: But don’t start early.

LJ Sleeping with Spoon

Whenever Justin and I used to road trip we would pack the car up the night before, wake up early and hit the road as soon as possible. Nowadays, we still have everything packed up and ready to go ahead of time, but we let LJ wake up at his normal time. I breastfeed him, let him play and get out some energy, feed him again, and then hit we the road around the time of his morning nap. In other words, the first 2 hours of the day are like any other day for him. Sure, this means we get on the road a little later than normal (his morning nap is around 9:00 am) but it also means he is tired and will often sleep for a good long stretch at the beginning of the trip so we can knock off a lot of miles. Our trips start on a positive note and this makes a big difference!

Tip #3: Plan for extra time on stops

Fargo Pit Stop.jpg
A photo op during a pit stop walking around downtown Fargo, ND

When LJ was a newborn, stopped when it was time to breastfeed and then he went right back into the car seat and happily slept as we journeyed on. Now that he’s older, he gets pretty fussy after a pit stop if he didn’t get adequate time out of the car seat so we stop at places where we are able to get out for a while. It might mean a rest stop with picnic benches and a grassy area where LJ can roll on a blanket or a restaurant where we can sit down and eat rather than grab food to go. I have even stopped at a Target and just walked around with LJ in the cart. Yes, this adds time to our trips (at least 30 mins per stop) but makes the car ride so much nicer. It allows LJ to get some energy out and get a little mental stimulation and then he is a much happier camper when he gets put back in the car seat. I would way rather extend the trip a little if it means having a pleasant travel companion! 

Tip #4: Slim down the packing list

M&M Bag

Yes, babies need a lot of stuff. But your trip is only going to feel stressful if you can never find what you or your baby needs because you brought so. much. stuff. and your trunk is packed to the brim. A few things we do to try to limit the amount of things we pack are:

-Toys. I keep a few toys in my diaper bag at all times. Other than those toys, I do not pack extras on road trips. LJ is entertained by almost anything we might have in the car. Some things he’s spent significant time playing with before are a plastic spoon (see pic under tip #2 – can you spot it?), an empty M&M bag, a plastic water bottle, etc. He loves shiny and crinkly things and there’s been no need for us to pack a ton of extra toys for entertainment. Saves so much space!

-Don’t pack what you can easily buy. For example, on a week-long vacation where we’ll go through lots of diapers, we don’t waste trunk space taking a bunch since we can pop in to a grocery store or a Target to buy a pack once we get where we’re going.

-Crib Rentals. Our pack n play is awesome but it’s one more thing to lug around/take up trunk space. Many hotels and rental homes will provide a crib or pack n play, often for free or a nominal charge. Just make sure to call ahead to reserve a crib! I also pack my own crib sheet – I think laying on a sheet that smells and feels like home helps LJ sleep in an unfamiliar crib (plus I know that the sheet is clean to my standards).

Tip #5: Helpful Gear on Road Trips

-Collapsible high chair

We use this high chair that folds up like a camping chair and love it. It is compact, lightweight, and an easy way to make sure there is somewhere for LJ to safely sit no matter where we are. I honestly keep this in my car at all times and have used it in so many different situations. I highly recommend it!

-Ergo Carrier

Austin, TX

Our stroller takes up a lot of car space, so there have been several road trips where we just take this and no stroller. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and is a comfortable, easy way to walk around with LJ.

-Breastpump

I was able to get the Spectra S1 pump through my insurance and I LOVE because it has a battery and therefore doesn’t need to be plugged in when charged. I can pump comfortably in the passenger seat while Justin drives and then we have a bottle to quickly and easily give LJ whenever we stop. If space is an issue or I just don’t want to take my nice pump along, I have also taken my Medela Handheld Pump. This pump is not as convenient to use but it is a good, inexpensive option to take along, particularly when packing light.

What tips do you have for traveling with an infant?

 

June 2018 Book Review

Before I get started, I want to say that if you are on the East Coast, my prayers are with you right now. We had planned to drive to Virginia Beach today for a family vacation but have obviously needed to change our plans for the weekend. We’re monitoring Florence closely and praying that everyone on the coast stays safe!

We’re still playing catch-up from my summer reading list and today I’m recapping books that I read in June. The theme was “books that start with ‘the'” – haha! Not really but it did work out that way. 🙂 Let’s dive in!

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The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies

Okay I just need to get this out there. I am a huge Gretchen Rubin fan girl. I have read all her books (some multiple times), I have listened to every episode of her podcast, and I have even paid to take her Four Tendencies online course. I think she is brilliant and I am absolutely fascinated by this framework she developed. The Four Tendencies are Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel and your tendency is determined by how you respond to both inner and outer expectations. It is so interesting!

I found this book to be a game changer in my life. I am a Questioner (take the quiz here to find out what tendency you are) and this explains so much about how I respond to expectations that I put on myself (inner) and that others put on me (outer). My husband is an Obliger and honestly, just understanding this one little piece of our personalities has opened my eyes SO MUCH to how we interact and meet one another’s expectations within our marriage. I could go on and on about this all day but I’ll stop myself and just say – I think everyone could benefit from understanding what their tendency is. It has helped me understand others in my life and I wish I had known about it when I was still teaching because I think it would have made worlds of difference in how I presented expectations to different students. A must-read in my opinion.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

This book is about a genetics professor named Don who pretty clearly has Aspergers (though he doesn’t seem to realize it) and attempts to find the perfect wife for himself by creating a questionnaire that will essentially weed out any unfavorable candidates by eliminating qualities that have been problematic for him on previous dates. He gets a little sidetracked from this project when he decides to assist a graduate student named Rosie in search of her biological father. What follows is a quirky, cute, unconventional little adventure. I found the characters to be charming and easy to want to root for. I thought the author did a great job of creating a character like Don who quickly becomes endearing and funny but not in a way that makes you feel as though you are laughing at him. Overall I enjoyed this book! And I believe that it is currently being made into a movie? If so, I will definitely be watching!

The Woman in the Window – A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window

This book follows an agoraphobic woman who spends her days in her house drinking, popping pills, and spying on the neighbors. One day she sees something shocking – or maybe she doesn’t? – in a neighbor’s house and struggles to figure out what really happened and if she is in danger.  I enjoy a good psychological thriller and had this been the first one I’ve ever read, I would have loved it. That being said, it read a lot like like other books in this genre I have already read (particularly Girl on a Train) and therefore was not quite as thrilling as it wanted to be. There were still elements of surprise and one big HOT DANG revelation that made me have to go back and reread passages (the best kind of revelation). The writing is really great and I felt that the plot struck a good balance with being just creepy enough that I had to turn all my lights on without being so creepy that I never want to be alone in my house again. I would definitely recommend it if you like this genre, but be forewarned that there may be stretches where it feels like something you’ve already read.

The Marriage Pact – Michelle Richmond

The Marriage Pact

This book was also a psychological thriller but I found the plot to be much more original and interesting. Newlyweds Alice and Jake are given a mysterious wedding gift by a new acquaintance – entrance into an exclusive group called The Pact whose sole goal is to keep marriages together. What at first feels fun and glamorous quickly becomes quite frightening and controlling. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that I found this book to be both riveting and chilling. I loved it and hated it – I dreaded what might happen in the next chapter but regardless could not put it down. This book had several twists I didn’t see coming and I was on the edge of my seat until the last page. I definitely recommend this one!

And there you have it! Have you read any of these books? What else should I be reading?

30

Yesterday, I turned 30 years old.

Years ago, 30 seemed like a number to dread. I thought it would feel like the end of my ‘youth’ and the beginning of ‘middle age’ instead of a number to celebrate, yet when it actually came, what I felt was excitement. Excitement for what the next decade will hold: watching my son grow up, hopefully expanding our family, finding our dream home. I am excited for the parts of the world we’ll explore and the everyday adventures we’ll have as a family. I’m excited to continue to walk hand-in-hand with my husband as our relationship continues to strengthen each year. I’m excited to see where life takes us.

One of my close friends asked me yesterday what my “pow” and my “wow” were from this past year of my life. I hadn’t heard of this question before, but she said a “pow” is something that was difficult or sad (a lowlight) and a “wow” is something you’re really happy about or proud of (a highlight). At first my obvious “wow” was giving birth to LJ. Motherhood has changed my life in innumerable ways and I can’t imagine life without my son. After that though, I spent some time thinking about what else I was proud of over the past year and what kept coming back to me was how much I’ve grown to just accept myself. A huge part of my 20’s were spent worrying about what others think of me. I was so driven by my perfectionist tendencies, I wanted to be well liked by everyone and I clung to regrets and past mistakes to the point where it would suck so much joy out of my present days. I was self-conscious, insecure, and I spent so. much. energy. just trying trying trying to be everything to everyone.

I noticed a shift in this thinking after LJ was born. I started listening to the Happier podcast during his nap time and slowly I started implementing small things in my life to decrease my stress and increase my happiness. Through the podcast, I learned about The Four Tendencies and this opened a window into my understanding of myself and how I respond to expectations. This led to me actually taking The Four Tendencies online course when it was offered in the spring and I gained even further insight into myself and my relationships. I started following a few Instagram accounts that preach self-love and the importance of self-care, and I stopped following accounts that made me feel bad about myself. I began listening to other podcasts that inspire me in various aspects of my life: my belongings, my time, my relationships, etc.

All of these things took place little by little over the course of a year and I didn’t think much of them individually at the time, but as 30 approached and I realized I wasn’t dreading this birthday but was actually excited about it, I discovered that all of these little things added up to one big thing: self-acceptance. I’m excited about 30 because I like who I am at 30. I like thinking of what this decade will hold because I like who I am in this decade. This past year, I have learned a lot about myself, I have challenged myself, and I have grown in ways I wouldn’ t have predicted. I have come to accept that there is no shame in my wife/mom game – I do what I believe is best for my son and my family and that isn’t going to look the same for anyone else. I am happy with my body – it carried a human for nine months and won’t ever look like it did at 24 but gosh dang I am so thankful for it. I am happy with myself – I have flaws but I also have strengths and I am learning to let go of the little things that don’t matter so I can focus on what does.

So bring it on, 30. I am so ready for you!

30th Birthday Weekend

Good morning!

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Mine was extra special because Justin planned a surprise getaway to South Haven, Michigan to celebrate my 30th birthday (which is actually tomorrow) and we had so much fun! While he planned everything out in secret, he did tell me about the trip a couple weeks ago because he had arranged for my parents to watch LJ overnight and he knew I would want to prepare mentally (first night apart from him!) and to make sure to pump a little extra milk to add to our small freezer stash so LJ would have plenty.

Just a warning, this is going to be a long post because I can’t resist recapping our trip!

Saturday

After dropping LJ off with my parents on Saturday morning, we started our drive to South Haven. Justin went all out and booked us a suite at Yelton Manor Bed & Breakfast and while check-in was not until 4:00, we were able to park our car there upon our arrival at noon. We decided to leave the car and walk the 7 blocks to downtown to start exploring. We started out on Phoenix Street and immediately spotted the South Haven Farm Market. The market was full of delicious food, unique crafts, live music, and gorgeous flowers. We enjoyed walking around and checking out all the booths!

South Haven Welcome

We continued down Phoenix Street just taking in the town and getting our bearings a little bit. We soon worked up an appetite and decided to grab a quick bite at Venezia Pizza. The place didn’t look like much on the outside, but the server was so warm and friendly, the food was delicious and very reasonably priced (we split the sampler platter), and the chef gave us extra large portions because we had to wait on our meatball. It was a great spot for a quick and filling lunch!

Venezia Pizza

After lunch we continued our walk out of town towards the water.

South Haven 1

South Haven is a harbor town on Lake Michigan and has nice little beaches and a pier with a lighthouse. We walked all the way out to the lighthouse and enjoyed the gorgeous views.

South Haven lighthouse

South Haven 4

J on edge of pier

On the way back from the pier we had to stop and get some ice cream at Sherman’s right there on the beach. Even though the day was pretty chilly, I can never turn down a local ice cream joint and this place did not disappoint!

Sherman's Ice Cream

We walked back into town and started checking out some of the little shops. There are so many unique places in South Haven – we stopped in shops with home decor, quirky children’s toys, beautiful clothing, and even one shop entirely dedicated to blueberries! It was just the cutest downtown!

South Haven 5.jpg

We headed back to Yelton around 4:00 to check in. We were greeted by innkeeper Elaine who was so warm and friendly. She showed us around the main house of the inn, which was built in the 1980’s but looks like a hundred-year old house. It had so much character and so many cozy little nooks and personal touches like a 24/7 popcorn machine and a cake stand filled with fresh brownies. We left the main house armed with not only our room key, but also a triple chocolate brownie, popcorn, and a DVD from their impressive movie collection.

Yelton Guest House

Our room, the Biltmore, was located in the Guest House and was gorgeous! Justin surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries he had brought along and we relaxed and watched our chosen movie (The Post – so good!) and then took a nap. Side note: If there is something more luxurious to an almost 30-year-old mom than an uninterrupted afternoon nap, I can’t think of it.

We freshened up and headed back into town to catch the gorgeous sunset and grab a delicious dinner at Taste. I had their ultimate grilled cheese and tomato parmesan bisque while Justin had their spicy tuna sushi. We then split a cookie pie which was divine. Please enjoy this picture of our delicious dessert and my awkward hand placement – ha!

Taste Cookie Pie

We finished off our evening at Clementine’s with some after-dinner drinks. While we ended up talking about LJ quite a bit, it was so fun to get to stay out late and just enjoy one-on-one time with Justin.

Sunday

After sleeping in (another luxury!), we moseyed down to the main house where we were treated to a heavenly breakfast. We each sampled several different dishes but my hands-down favorite was their blueberry breakfast cake. I can’t say it enough – the Yelton had so many special touches that made our experience so lovely. I can’t recommend this place enough!

We had some time before check out so we headed across the street to the north beach and walked the shoreline. The water was so cold but it was really pleasant to walk barefoot in the sand.

Lake Michigan

Back at the Yelton, we said our goodbyes (and snagged another brownie) and headed back back downtown toward Old Harbor Village, a unique cluster of shops and restaurants right along the water.

Old Harbor Village

We decided on lunch at Admiral Jack’s, a restaurant located on a riverboat where we enjoyed lunch (cheeseburger for me and fish for Justin) while watching boats go by.

Admiral Jacks

After lunch we wandered through more shops downtown before heading to 12 Corners Tasting Room for a wine tasting. The tasting room wasn’t too busy and we enjoyed chatting with the servers while sampling delicious wines. We left with a bottle of their Beach Cottage Vacation White which I can’t wait to enjoy at a later date.

12 Corners

Next we stopped in Black River Tavern where Justin enjoyed a local brew and we watched a little football before we checked out the last few shops we hadn’t gone into yet. We finished our time in South Haven with one more sweet treat from Kilwins.

Kilwins 1

Kilwins 2

Even though we had so much fun exploring the town and spending some time together just us two, we both agreed that we couldn’t wait to get back to LJ. We were so happy to hear that he had a great time at grandma and grandpa’s house and we got lots of smiles and snuggles with him back at home.

And now, after a fun and relaxing weekend away, I am officially ready to bring on 30!