Vacation Re-Cap: Florida 2019

Good morning!

Last week I was pretty quiet on the blog and social media because I was busy soaking up sunshine and warm weather with my little family in Florida. Justin had a conference to attend for work in Sarasota so LJ and I happily packed our bags and joined him for the week. Today I’m just going to give a recap of our trip – spoiler alert: we didn’t want to leave!

Saturday

We flew out early Saturday morning and the plane ride went smoothly. I’ve blogged about my tips for plane rides with a baby before and even though LJ is now a toddler, we still do things pretty similarly. I still swear by bringing a boppy pillow so your lap child has something to sit or lay on and it doesn’t feel like you have to actively “hold” them the whole time. I also always keep him in a sleeper so I don’t have to worry about socks/shoes getting pulled off and he’s mostly covered from airplane germs. After reviewing the flight safety packet (ha!), LJ was able to sleep most of the plane ride.

Side note: a few weeks ago I posted on Instagram that I found my old GameBoy Color and a Pokemon cartridge and my excitement got Justin sucked in too and now he’s playing too! That little light kills me! #beforebacklitscreens #relivingchildhood

Flight 3

We landed in St. Petersburg and got a rental car to make the hour-long drive to our hotel in Sarasota. Before checking in at our hotel we stopped at Trader Joes to stock up on some groceries and diapers (I don’t waste precious luggage space on diapers if we’re gone this long – it’s easier to just buy a pack when you get to your destination!). We stayed at the Westin in downtown Sarasota and it was gorgeous! Since we had been traveling most of the day, we spent the afternoon and evening relaxing in the hotel room, leaving only to grab some dinner. It was nice to just let LJ run around and explore the hotel room. It’s always fun to see what he thinks of a place…and where our items might end up. 😉

Hotel Room Surprise

A general rule for hotels with toddlers: if something goes missing, check a trash can.

Sunday

Sunday morning was pretty lazy with a makeshift breakfast in bed and playing in the hotel room.

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We got LJ down for his nap (a difficult process when you’re all sharing a room!) and he thankfully took a pretty good nap. I’ve blogged previously about hotel rooms with a baby and two of my standard tips are bring a sound machine and your own crib sheet – we try to make it seem as much like home as possible and I do think it helps!

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Once he woke up, we let him run around and burn off some energy while we packed up to head to the beach! The view from our room showed a gorgeous day and we were excited to take advantage. We ate a very quick hotel room lunch and headed out!

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We headed for Siesta Key beach and after circling for a while, managed to snag a parking spot at the main beach pavillion. I had never been to Siesta Key before but this beach is AMAZING!

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The sand is a gorgeous white and feels cool to the touch. It was so pleasant to walk on even though the day was hot. We set up camp and LJ immediately got to playing in it. We enjoyed a couple hours of soaking up sun, sand, and surf.

Well, not surf so much. The water was pretty cold and LJ was not a fan! But he had so much fun playing in the sand, finding seashells, and watching all the other beach-goers. We ended up staying out there much longer than we anticipated because he was doing so well and enjoying it!

After we’d had enough of the beach, we headed into the little village area where there are lots of cute little shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking around and stopped for some food, ice cream, and a souvenir magnet (a tradition on every vacation!)

We headed back to the hotel in time for LJ to go to bed. Since we had to be so quiet and couldn’t watch TV, I opted for reading the book I had brought along before bed.

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Monday

Justin’s conference started early Monday morning so LJ and I hung out in the hotel room all morning. I finally got him down for a nap after 40 minutes of trying (usually it takes 5 at home) and since I couldn’t make any noise and I was so tired after the effort that I decided to take a nap too. I posted about this on Instagram, but this is one of those situations where I tried to see the silver lining. It’s not always easy to travel with a child, but it leads to some special moments that don’t happen otherwise. I haven’t slept next to LJ since he was a six week old baby in a bassinet in my bedroom so it was pretty sweet to hear his sweet little baby snores while I drifted off.

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Justin’s conference was only half-day so once he got back, I quickly headed down to our hotel gym to get a quick workout in.

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We ate lunch in the hotel room and then headed up to the rooftop pool for the afternoon.

The pool was heated and had a fantastic view! It was 82 degrees outside and just the perfect day to lounge poolside and swim. Glorious!

We hung out at the pool until we had to head back inside for naps, dinner, and bedtime.

Tuesday

After Justin’s conference Tuesday, we checked out of the hotel because we were going to spend the rest of the week staying with two of my college friends, Eric and Kaitlin, who live in Sarasota. We dropped off our stuff at their house after lunch and headed to the Jungle Gardens for the afternoon. This place was awesome! It was basically a little zoo with a lot of interactive opportunities for kids. LJ got to go in the petting zoo where he was in goat heaven. He also loved looking at all the different animals!

The paths are all shaded and it really did feel like we were in a jungle. It was very pleasant to walk around!

My favorite part was when we got to a free-roaming flock of flamingos! I’ve never seen one up close before and they are so cool! We got to feed them and they would just walk up to us at eye level – it was awesome!

After the gardens, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner. Eric and Kaitlin love to play games and so once we had dinner and put LJ down we spent the evening playing card games and catching up on life. We’re all pretty competitive so it was a fun evening!

Wednesday – Friday

The rest of the week we settled into a good routine. Justin would head into the conference in the morning. LJ and I would hang out at the house and play a little. He would go down for a nap and I would get a little work done (perk of my work-from-home job: I can do it anywhere!) Justin would come home around lunch and we would hang out in the afternoon. Our friends both work from home so if they finished up working they would join us in games or just lounging. We’d all do dinner together and once LJ was down, we’d play games until bedtime. Rather than recap each day individually, I’ll just share a few highlights from the second half of the week:

-Their backyard pool was the perfect place to lounge and read during naptime when everyone else was busy! It was seriously like being at a resort!

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-Owen’s Fish Camp was a fantastic restaurant for dinner! I wish I had taken more pictures but the back patio (where you can hang out where you wait for your table) had delicious appetizers, live music, and such a fun vibe!

-Games, games, and more games. They taught us a new one called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” which we all got SO into. The final night we beat a really hard level that we had been working on and we all were super pumped!

-Everyone had a light day Friday so we headed to the beach after lunch and it was a great way to end the week! We are so thankful for the great hospitality of our friends!

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Saturday

We left early Saturday morning to catch our flight back to Indiana. It was hard to leave the 80 degree sunshine for 32 degrees with some snow on the ground! But we had a fantastic week and I’m so glad we had the chance to get some mid-February sunshine! Until next time, Florida!

 

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Spring Break Adventures Continued

Hola!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Just finished up a taco dinner (ironically, I did not do that intentionally) and am settling down with J for our weekly Monday night ritual of watching “The Voice.” Obligatory side note: WHAT did Adam do to his hair!? That blonde needs to go. 

Vacation in Charleston

Well, it’s been officially over a month since our little vacation, so I should probably finish up that part two post I promised, huh? Let’s get right down to it!

As I said in part one of my spring break re-cap, Justin and I spent the first two days of break visiting friends in the Chapel Hill, NC area. On Sunday morning, we packed up and headed south to Charleston, SC.

Upon arriving Sunday afternoon, Justin and I were super excited about our hotel. We stayed at the Holiday Inn-Riverview and it was in a killer location! Our window offered a fantastic view of the Ashley River and peninsula.

The rest of Sunday and the entire day Monday was devoted to exploring the peninsula downtown. Our hotel provided a shuttle service to and from the downtown area, which was awesome since we didn’t really want to pay for parking. The shuttle dropped us off at the Historic Charleston City Market and we could easily walk to so many cool downtown places from there!

Highlights from our exploration:

Charleston CoastThis boardwalk was awesome! There were swings to relax in, and plenty of benches as well. We enjoyed just feeling the ocean breeze and gazing out into the water. We could also see Fort Sumter, which was cool since we didn’t actually have time to go out and tour it.

King StreetKing Street shopping! Justin was a real trooper and let me indulge in my window shopping habit. What a guy 🙂

Gilroy'sGilroy’s Pizza Pub. Since Justin indulged me in my shopping habit, I indulged him in his pizza habit. (Seriously, the man is a freak about pizza. He could eat it every day!) We checked out a couple different pizza places but this was by far our favorite! Delicious pizza and a really cool atmosphere. It was the perfect place to eat and watch some March Madness!

Verde VerdeSpeaking of food, my favorite place was Verde, a locally owned and operated build-your-own salad/wrap restaurant. They use super fresh veggies in all their food — my wrap was delicious! A great way to fuel up with some healthy food since vacations are typically times to over-indulge (reference above pizza picture).

Rainbow RowRainbow Row. This colorful strip of townhouses is so unique and definitely worth checking out! Plus, it’s right on the coast and within walking distance of Battery Park. We loved walking around this area — so many amazing homes to see! Like this one:

CharlestonBeautiful!

Tuesday morning we headed out early and hit up the South Carolina Aquarium. We loved checking out all the exhibits and even got to see a dive show. I have to say though, my favorite part was definitely seeing Justin attempt to hold his breath as long as a sea turtle. He didn’t quite make it 😉

20140324_102053After the aquarium, we headed to Magnolia Plantation. We toured the house, which was cool, but by far the best part for me was the gardens! Absolutely breathtaking! I loved walking all the paths and checking out the flowers and unusual plants — so much to see and it was all so beautiful!

Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation Magnolia Plantation Magnolia Plantation Magnolia PlantationIt started to rain after we had been walking around for about an hour so we headed back to our hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Wednesday we had breakfast at the top of our hotel (the top floor was a hotel with a beautiful panoramic view of theHoliday Inn ViewAfter breakfast, we said goodbye to Charleston and headed back home. Seriously, this was the perfect long-weekend getaway! We had a fantastic time and will hopefully get to visit again someday!

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Spring Break Adventures, Part One

I’m back!

Last week I took a blogging hiatus because Justin and I took off on VACATION! It was spring break for him so I took some time off work and we hit the road and headed south!

We spent the weekend visiting friends in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. Leah, one of my best friends from childhood, and her husband Kraig moved there about a year ago and it was so great to get to visit them and explore the area!

We got into town on Friday night and it just so happened that UNC was playing in the NCAA tournament so Chapel Hill was a happenin’ place! Every restaurant and bar with a TV was packed so since none of us were super invested in the game we decided to just walk up and down Franklin Street (an absolute must-see if you go to Chapel Hill; this strip had so many amazing little shops, restaurants, and bars) and soak up the atmosphere. It was so much fun! There was so much energy and excitement after they won– it made me wish that we lived in a college town again. So fun!

We spent Saturday walking around and exploring Chapel Hill. We hit up several markets and grocery stores (yes, you read that right. I love grocery stores and the fact that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods were close by was enough to put me in a grocery shopping mood!) and also walked around UNC.

UNC Campus

Justin and I both went to smaller colleges so we were blown away by how huge the campus was! All the buildings were so beautiful and we really enjoyed checking it all out! Justin especially enjoyed getting to sample the water in the drinking fountain under the trademark gazebo. 😉

UNC Chapel Hill UNC Chapel HIll

Sorry about the light streaks; all these pictures were taken on my phone and it doesn’t take good night pictures!

After a day full of walking, we were all super hungry. We decided to eat at the famous Top of the HIll restaurant. We had a pretty long wait to get out on the patio, but it was definitely worth it! The restaurant rooftop is perfectly placed on the corner of a major section of Franklin Street so it has a great view!

Top of the Hill Top of the Hill

The food was so delicious that I scarfed up all my food before I even thought to take a picture! We all four agreed that the food was top notch and the guys loved the house beers they chose. My favorite part was just looking out over Franklin Street and people watching (yep…I’m one of those creepers who love watching other people!)

We also hit up Yogurt Pump after dinner which was the best decision! Their frozen yogurt was the perfect way to top off a great day and I only wish we lived closer so I could further fuel my fro-yo addiction.

Before we knew it, Sunday morning rolled around and we packed our bags, said goodbye to Leah and Kraig, and hit the road to head even further south to Charleston, SC! More on that adventure tomorrow!

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A few outfit catch-ups from the last few teaching days!

pink cardigan, checked shirt, skinnies, leopard flats, chunky pearls

Cardigan: Target (similar here)~ Checked Shirt: Target (similar here) ~ Navy Ankle Pants: Target (exact here)~ Leopard Flats: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Maurices (similar here and here) ~ Renegade Bracelet: Stella Dot (exact here)

blue striped shirt, white jeans, nude pumps, statement necklace

Shirt: Target ~ Jeans: Target (exact here)~ Pumps: Target (exact here) ~ Necklace: Purple Peridot (exact here) ~ Link Bracelet: J. Crew Factory (exact here) ~ Bracelets: Chloe Stack (exact here)

purple cardigan, floral shirt, skinnies, black boots

Cardigan: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Flower cami: Old Navy (exact old) ~ Courduroy skinnies: Old Navy (similar here) ~ Boots: Forever 21 (exact here) ~ Necklace: Lia Sophia (exact here) ~ Earrings: Lia Sophia (exact here)

A “Grand” Christmas Vacation

Hello 2014!

I have been on Christmas break for the past two weeks and it has been WONDERFUL! At first, I set out with the intention to blog at least once or twice, but once our travels started I got way too involved with our family and friend time and decided to unplug entirely. It was so nice to just soak up every minute with loved ones!

Step one of our break was to go visit my family in Ohio. Since they live about 7 hours away from us, I don’t get to see them often. This was the first time I had been home in six months! It was SO nice to be back for a few days.

When we were home, Macie was introduced to my sister’s cat, Simba. After a rather timid greeting, they both got along well for the time we were home. I was very impressed!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comChristmas morning, Justin and I woke up SUPER early . . . to go to the airport. Not exactly your typical Christmas but we were excited nonetheless! And at least it was a white Christmas!

simplifythechaos.comWe flew out to Phoenix, AZ for my college roommate’s wedding. The wedding wasn’t until Saturday, but we wanted to go out early to get the chance to explore the area. From the airport, we got a rental car and drove up to Flagstaff. By the time we had arrived, it was dark; however, we were able to drive around and see some beautiful Christmas lights!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comWe also hit up a Sonic because it was literally the only thing open. Justin had never been to one before (!!!) so he was excited. How’s that for our first married Christmas together?

simplifythechaos.comThe next morning we woke up super early and headed out to the Grand Canyon. I really wanted to catch the sunrise! It was SO worth the loss of sleep!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comSTUNNING! Pictures simply do not do it justice.

We traveled back to Flagstaff for lunch and hit up a place called NiMarco’s Pizza. It was recommended to us from a friend who has lived in Flagstaff and it did not disappoint! Definitely a must try if you are in Flagstaff!

simplifythechaos.comI wish we would have had more time to explore Flagstaff but we needed to head back into Phoenix for the bachelor/bachelorette party so we got on the road after lunch. The drive was so scenic — I loved every minute!

simplifythechaos.comAfter a super fun lingerie party for the bride-to-be, we headed out into Phoenix for a joint bachelor & bachelorette party. We hopped around to a few different bars and restaurants before ending up at a place called The Duce. Honestly, I had some reservations when we walked up to what seemed like a huge warehouse but inside it was like no place I’ve ever seen before! A combination bar/karaoke lounge, it has ping pong, hula hoops, a clothing store, milkshake/sweet shoppe stand, and tons of other random and fun things to do. It was absolutely amazing! We loved it.

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After my friend Kelsey and I rounded out the night with a crowd-pleasing rendition of “It’s Gonna be Me” by N’Sync (crowd-pleasing in that they liked the song choice…not necessarily our singing!) we called it a night. So fun!

Justin and I were able to do a lot of sightseeing and some hiking in the days before the wedding. Our favorite was a morning hike that overlooked all of the Phoenix area. It was breathtaking!

simplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.comThe wedding took place at a winery about an hour outside of Phoenix. It was such a beautiful setting and the weather was perfect!

It was so good to see all of my best friends from college and celebrate my friend’s wedding! Justin and I both agreed we have to come back to Phoenix sometime. We loved everything about it and had such a great time there!

simplifythechaos.comAfter a super-early flight back, my family picked us up at the airport on Sunday for a quick lunch and reunion with Macie (she was VERY excited to see us!)

simplifythechaos.comAfter lunch, we hit the road to Virginia to celebrate Christmas with Justin’s family.We had a great time visiting with them! I especially loved playing with our little nephew, who absolutely loved playing with my phone and taking pictures of himself.

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Overall, Christmas was a HUGE success and we loved every minute! Now it’s back to work and starting out a new year!

Happy 2014! May your year be blessed!

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Today’s outfit was almost entirely composed of Christmas presents. What a fun way to start the new year!

01-02 Outfit

Sweater: Old Navy

Blouse: New York & Company

Pants: New York & Company

Pumps: Maurices

Bib Necklace: Forever 21