Bahamian Babymoon

Remember when I posted about how chaotic my May was going to be? And when I said I planned to drop down to just one blog post a week? And then I basically disappeared off the blog for the last two weeks of May? Oops. Sorry about that.

After moving, we didn’t have internet set up in our house right away and we only had one week to move in and get settled before packing up again and leaving for our babymoon so…life happened. Now that May is behind us it should be back to regularly scheduled (Tuesday/Thursday) programming around here!

Babymoon at Secrets Emerald Bay

Justin and I honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica and absolutely loved it. Ever since coming back from that trip, we’ve dreamed of taking another one. We always had summer 2019 in the back of our minds as a potential time to do it as a combo celebration (Justin finishes up seven years of schooling and career training at the end of June!) and anniversary trip (we celebrate 6 years on June 22). It felt meant to be when we found out we were pregnant – now it could also be a babymoon!

My pregnancy actually made narrowing down dates + location very easy. We picked the Bahamas because it was the only tropical location that did not have a Zika warning at the time we booked and we chose late May because it worked for Justin’s work schedule, my parents’ schedules (since they’re watching LJ) and I was still in my second trimester, or as I like to call it, the pregnancy “sweet spot.” There were actually two all-inclusives we considered in the Bahamas and after looking at both options, we settled on Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.

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We were so happy with our choice! We had great service, excellent food (they had 11 different restaurants with different kinds of cuisines – all were delicious but my favorite meals were at the Parisian and Indian restaurants), and amazing weather. Most of our days were spent lounging poolside but we did sign up for one excursion, a 30-minute snorkeling trip in a coral reef which was a lot of fun, although we did not take any pictures so you’ll just have to take my word for it. 😉

Instead of a day-by-day recap, I’m going to share a smattering of pictures from our trip. Enjoy!

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Fresh off the plane. We couldn’t check into our room right away because we arrived before check-in but the resort allowed us to drop off our bags and get some food. I had the first of many virgin daiquiris – so yummy!

The beachside restaurant was a fun experience – eating delicious food while your toes are sunk in the sand just says paradise.

Most mornings we got breakfast at one of the restaurants but the first morning we were extra lazy and ordered room service to eat on our little patio balcony overlooking the ocean.

The views around the resort were just ❤ ❤ ❤

The cabanas were nearly impossible to snag but one morning we lucked out and got one! It was the perfect opportunity to get a little less sun (so we could stay longer). I also loved ordering the little wood fired pizzas for a yummy poolside lunch!

I kept up my Expecting and Empowered workouts through vacation (since the program comes as a download, I had it on my phone!) which made me feel 0% guilt about indulging in things like the resort’s Chocolate Night.

One of the best things about all-inclusive is you can sample lots of food! Justin loves sushi and I don’t, so he could binge on sushi while I snacked on edamame and vegetable spring rolls, then we headed to the pub for more food later. Best of both worlds!

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Every night they had fires going by the pool, which was a relaxing way to unwind after dinner.

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That feeling you get when you’re finished with an hour-long prenatal massage. 🙂

SO much lounging + reading. I brought several books and Justin ended up reading one of them as well on vacation (I’m hoping to rope him into contributing to my book review – we’ll see!)

While most of our days were spent by the pool, we did venture down to the beach a few times. It was heavenly – beautiful sand and clear, warm water!

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This picture cracks me up. I thought it would be a sweet, romantic shot I think? Like “oh, let’s ask this passerby to snap a pic of us holding hands on the swings! It’ll be so sweet!” Guys, LOOK how far away the swings are from one another! We were both fully outstretched and the swings are different heights, so it just looks hilariously awkward. Oh well!

Lots and lots of bump pictures were taken this week. I loved having so much focused time with Justin while still getting to feel sweet little baby kicks as our littlest one joined us. ❤

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On the way to dinner one night we stopped and asked a worker passing by if she would take a picture. She took the phone and proceeded to hold it at a crazy angle to take the picture. We could not stop laughing at this shot of us super far away and weirdly angled. I guess she wanted to take some creative liberties?

One of the best meals we had all week was at the French restaurant. From the appetizers to the dessert, everything was absolutely delicious and the food presentation was amazing! SO so yummy!

There was a golf course at the resort and one morning we decided to walk the back nine holes after breakfast. It was about a 2.5 mile walk – the course follows a peninsula and the views were just GORGEOUS! We were amazed by the houses on the course too; the one pictured above had stunning views of the ocean, a sand volleyball court, an infinity pool, and a lazy river! The course wasn’t very shaded and it got hot FAST so I was thankful we brought water although I did wish we had gone even earlier in the day.

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One night after dinner, Justin decided he was still hungry so we went back to the sushi restaurant and he ordered a ton of sushi for “dessert” (I happily munched on a little edamame). His sushi-loving heart was so happy ha!

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I think there was only ONE day that we didn’t get to the pool because we were doing other things, but for the most part we spent a ton of time there every day. It was so nice to just relax without a care in the world and lounge/read/swim/repeat.

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The sunrise on our last morning was one for the books! I enjoyed watching it from our balcony as I read and worked on some upcoming blog posts.

One last stroll on the beach before checking out on the last day. We were so thankful for such a rejuvenating week!

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Farewell, Bahamas!

 

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Dating Your Spouse

I don’t remember a lot of advice I was given during the newborn haze of the first few weeks of LJ’s life, but I will never forget these words from our pediatrician at his 2 week check-up: “You are the foundation of his life.” Basically, he said we can do a lot of things to help LJ grow and develop but the thing he is going to see every single day is US. The stability of our relationship and how we treat one another is going to be one of the biggest things that he watches as he grows. Our marriage is a huge part of LJ’s life and will form the foundation for his childhood. The pediatrician took a few minutes to specifically encourage Justin and I to make sure not to lose ourselves or our marriage to our new job as parents, but to continue to foster our relationship and prioritize one another as well.

I mean, wow, right!? What an amazing reminder to brand-new, slightly-overwhelmed parents to not get so wrapped up in parenthood that they forget what started the journey in the first place: their relationship. Justin and I were so appreciative of this reminder that we can love our son SO much, want the absolute best for him, try our hardest to be great parents, and still want to prioritize our marriage.

I blogged about our recent trip to Chicago last week. We take LJ with us on a lot of trips, but this was one we took without him. It was so wonderful to have a few days away together and we both felt reconnected and rejuvenated and ready to get home and love on our boy on Sunday! Obviously, it doesn’t always work to do something big like a multi-day getaway; but Justin and I have really tried to take our pediatrician’s advice to heart and remember to prioritize our marriage and spend time together. It doesn’t mean we have to spend a lot of money, or even any money at all, but it is important for us to connect and enjoy our marriage together every once in a while. Sometimes it’s just talking on the couch during LJ’s naptime. Other times we go out for a movie, sporting event, dinner, putt-putt golf, etc. It keeps our marriage strong, helps us focus on our love for each other, and is just plain fun. We are always ready to come home and give LJ so much love and attention afterwards!

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Together again – ready to love on LJ!

Today I’m sharing a few ways that Justin and I utilize to spend one-on-one time together. These are ways that work for us – they may not work for you and that’s totally okay. I encourage you to find what works for you and your partner and carve out some time to focus on the relationship that started your little family: your love!

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Relax together after LJ’s Bedtime

We have a few shows we both really enjoy watching (This is Us, A Million Little Things, and occasionally The Bachelor depending on the season and main person). Some days one or both of us may still have some work to finish on our computers so we will have those up while we watch but it’s still fun to be together while the show plays so we can discuss our thoughts during and after. Some nights we both are totally finished with work and there isn’t a show we want to see so we’ll curl up together on the couch, usually with bowls of ice cream, and watch a movie together.  It’s such a fun, relaxing way to just spend some time together! Of course, there are days when it feels like Justin and I are just counting down the minutes until LJ goes to bed and we’re both so exhausted from our long days that we just kind of zonk on the couch and do our own thing. It’s always nice though to watch something together.

Screen-Free Time

Occasionally during naptime or after bedtime, we’ll intentionally set 30 minutes of screen-free time. TV is off, computers are shut, phones are away, and Justin and I just sit and talk. We might talk about our days, our dreams for the future, our plans for the week, or whatever else is on our minds, but it’s always just nice to have focused, uninterrupted time to reconnect. The busier the season of life, the more important I think this time is!

Utilize grandparents (if possible)

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I know we are SO lucky to have parents who want to be very involved as grandparents. Both Justin and my parents adore LJ and love to love on him. We are also lucky that my parents only live just over an hour away and frequently babysit LJ (we know Justin’s parents would love to do this too but they unfortunately live several states away). I personally think it’s important to take them up on their offers to babysit not only so Justin and I can have some time to reconnect, but also so LJ can develop a relationship with his grandparents. It is so sweet to watch their bond grow! My mom often offers to come watch LJ at our house so we can have a date or take him to their house for a day/night/weekend. I had no problem leaving him in their care early on (they first babysat him at 2 weeks old for 2 hours so we could attend Justin’s work Christmas party nearby) but I did take much longer to feel comfortable leaving him overnight. They first watched him overnight when he was about 8.5 months old. It went so well though – they loved it, LJ had a great time (they sent lots of pics and videos), and Justin and I got to enjoy a little getaway for my birthday (read the recap here). Once we did it once, it became much easier to continue to do and increase the length of stay. My parents just had LJ for 4 nights while I joined Justin in Chicago and it was amazing. They all had a fantastic time and Justin and I both agreed that it was so nice to have time away together to relax, explore Chicago, and just spend time together.

I will say – yes this is a “free” option for us, but we do try to be conscious of the fact that it’s not free for my parents to drive an hour or buy groceries for LJ when they keep him overnight. We try to split driving (I’ll drop him off, they pick him up) and I’ll typically send along some food for him in addition to what they have. If my parents come to watch him so we can go out to dinner, I will try to either have dinner made for them to eat or they know they can always raid our fridge/pantry if they need. We never want them to feel like we’re taking advantage of them and want them to feel appreciated for all they do!

Swap with friends

I realize that many people don’t have the option to have grandparents babysit for a variety of reasons. Justin and I also swap free babysitting with friends. We have close friends who actually live in the same neighborhood as us so it’s super convenient to drop our kids off at each other’s houses. This isn’t something we keep track of, like your-turn-my-turn, but it’s more of a “when we need each other, we’re not afraid to ask” situation. We watch their two little boys if they need us for a dinner (they’re also into intramural sports so we sometimes watch the boys if they have a game in the evening) and they watch LJ if we need a date night or have something else going on. We 100% trust them and vice versa so it works really well for us.

Split a babysitter

There was a night when both we and our “swap” friends needed a babysitter, so since we couldn’t swap with each other, we split a babysitter. It was much cheaper to pay one person to watch 3 kids together and split the cost than to find two separate babysitters. I dropped LJ off at their house and the babysitter was great with all three! Problem solved!

Mega-Swap, or the “Night of Chaos”

One of my friends had the brilliant idea to create a kind of “mega babysitting swap” amongst our group of friends. There are six families with 12 kids between us. Each couple takes one month and picks a night to host ALL the kids at their house so the other couples can have a date night. It’s a pretty hectic night for the hosting couple (hence we playfully dubbed it the “Night of Chaos”) but you only have to do it 2x each year and the other 10 months of the year you have a free babysitter and date night each month! I will say that each couple has at least one member certified in CPR/First Aid and we are all parents who handle a variety of situations, which definitely adds to our comfort level with something like this. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have trust and confidence in each couple that was part of the group. But it works really well for us and it’s a great way for Justin and I to make sure to carve out time each month to do something together!

If nothing else, take him along!

Our friends hosted a Christmas party and we didn’t have someone to watch him so we just took him along in his jammies. We set up a pack n play in their guest room, brought our sound machine and his wubbanub, darkened the room, and just put him down there at bedtime. When we left at the end of the night and got him down from upstairs, guests who showed up after we put him down said “wait, there was a baby up there!?” He didn’t disturb the party and we didn’t disturb him. We’ve done this a few times now and while it is still preferable for LJ to fall asleep at home, this option works well if we need.

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I know not everyone feels comfortable with this and that’s okay. You don’t have to do it if it doesn’t work for you! I will say that the more we do it, the easier it becomes. We travel enough with LJ that he has gotten used to sleeping in places other than his crib in his bedroom and he does a good job in other environments. If we never had him sleep anywhere else, he probably wouldn’t do well with a pack n play in a guest room during a Christmas party. But because he sleeps other places often enough, now it’s super easy to put him down somewhere and have him go right to sleep! He transfers well to the car seat then and back to his crib when we go home. I would just encourage you to try it a few times and see if it works for you. The first time didn’t work flawlessly, but we kept at it and LJ got better at it (and so did we) and I’m glad we didn’t give up.

 

What works for you in making time for your spouse? What dates do you enjoy together?