Florida Trip in Review

Florida Trip in Review

Last week I (Kelly) spent the week in Florida with my little family and we had the most wonderful time! We went with my in-laws who were gracious enough to let us use their timeshare for the week. It was such a nice week in warm weather with family, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Although we were in Orlando, we did not do Disney. We opted for Legoland instead (our boys are much more into Legos) and we could not be happier with our decision. We got a two day pass where we spent one day at the park, enjoying the rides and looking at all the amazing things built with legos. Legoland was so much fun and so age appropriate for Hunter and Grayson. Hunter was able to go on many more rides than Grayson was, but Grayson didn’t have to desire to go on the rides that he wasn’t tall enough for – so it worked well! And the other day, we left Preston with my in-laws and we did the Legoland Water Park – which I could not recommend enough. Hunter loves swimming but hasn’t loved splash pads/water park type things because he simply enjoys jumping in and swimming, over and over. Grayson is a capable swimmer but is afraid, he does not enjoy water on his face/in his eyes, and does very well playing on the steps at the pool. Even with both boys being such different ‘water children’ and neither of them typically loving water parks…. this was different. They both LOVED the water park at Legoland. Something about having legos in the wave pool made it a bit less intimidating. Anyways, I cannot recommend Legoland and/or the water park enough!

The other days we were there, we stayed at the resort. The boys enjoyed swimming at the resorts pools and going mini golfing a couple of times.

We made amazing memories and all three boys had the best time! We are so thankful to have had this trip with the boys Lolo and Lola and get to spend time with them!

Packing for a Family of 5

Packing for a Family of 5

Being a mom that works outside the house, I need to prep for vacations significantly ahead of time. I usually try to have my husband take the boys out for a half day and just get it all done and laid out. Since I am big on matching the boys, whenever possible, I find packing to be a bit easier … I’m just packing the same thing 3 times! But I lay everything out on the floor and each boy has a row for their clothes. I decide what pieces they are going to wear during the day and which pieces they will wear for dinners out. For dinners out I usually try to compliment their outfits, since I know we will (obviously) be taking pictures. I get everything laid out and the night before we leave it is easy to just place it all in their suitcases! Do you all have packing cubes? I don’t but I think I may get them for our next trip. If you do have them, what are your thoughts?

Next up, I get their carry on bags ready. In each of. their bags they get… their amazon fire tablet, headphones, their blanket & a favorite animal, their snack box, a water bottle, an extra mask, and 1 or 2 small toys.

In their snack boxes (with these stickers for their names) I usually put a Z Bar, fruit strips, some type of fruit and/or veggie, a pouch of some sort, fruit snacks, and then more of a snack type food (think Pirates Booty, Annie’s Bunnies, etc).

How do you get organized for your upcoming vacations?

Winter Break In Florida

Winter Break In Florida

Over the winter break holiday we took a family trip to Florida to escape the cold Chicago days and to get some fun in the sun on the beach! We feel very fortunate to have been able to travel over the holidays and to get to spend extra time with our family.

We spent the week on Anna Maria Island in Florida and had the best time! This was a new location for us, and it did not disappoint! We were not sure what the weather would be like so late in the year but we lucked out with sunny and 70’s everyday.

Gap pajamas sold out – here are similar pajamas

In the mornings we mostly played on the beach in our pajamas (it was still kind of chilly at that time). Other days we took walks for coffee and exploring, went shopping at St. Armands Circle (adorable), and we even found the cutest little pirate ship park that all the kids loved!

After naptime we would head to the pool. Kylie absolutely LOVES the water and it was so fun to watch her jump in and splash around. Hunter has recently taken off with swimming so it was exciting to watch him try new tricks (like cannonballs). Grayson is timid in the water but still ventured out more than ever, it was wonderful to see his confidence grow as the week went on. Preston is not the biggest water lover – he was happier searching for salamanders!

boat ride and an ecology tour
Happy Anniversary!
fun evening swims

Places to eat:
The SandBar – the perfect place for lunch or happy hour in my opinion (especially if you have kids). The boys had the best time running around on the beach while we waited for our food. Definitely recommend The SandBar.
Mar Vista – Beautiful scenery! Another nice place with kids because the outdoor space is decently large and there is a dock to walk out onto as well.
Bayou Tavern – a quaint pizzeria on Longboat Key. We had a delicious dinner here, probably one of my (Kelly) favorite dinners.
The Ugly Grouper – this place is a must do for everyone. Great outdoor space (even a game section for the young, or the young at heart). I highly recommend the pretzel bites for an appetizer!
Viento Kitchen + Bar – at the Zota Beach Resort. We ate here on NYE and had a delicious meal. The restaurant was beautiful and the setting was lovely.

Weekend in Texas

Weekend in Texas

Last weekend was another weekend away for me (Kelly), but this time the whole crew came with me! We spent the weekend in Texas with 2 of my most precious friends and their sweet families. In total there were 6 adults and 7 children (4 years old and under). To say that we had fun is an understatement… I am STILL recovering!

Every year our families get together, either here in Chicago or in Dallas and it has been the most fun seeing our children grow up together – even though its long distance. This year, more than ever before, all 7 kids clicked and started playing immediately and didn’t stop until we left! It was just the most precious to witness all the little ones have the time of their lives together.

Seeing that things are not “normal” right now (and the fact that there were so many of us) we did not do much outside of the house. Lots of playing outside, water balloon fights, evening swims, and nerf guns. All that and the parents even got a babysitter (or 4) to have a nice dinner away!

We had the absolute best weekend and my boys are already wondering when we are going to see our Texas friends again!

Weekend in Scottsdale

Weekend in Scottsdale

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get to go on a quick trip away to hot and sunny Scottsdale, AZ with a college girlfriend! We both have 3 kids all around the same ages so the two of us have been “out of commision” the past 5 or 6 years to take any trips without the kiddos. This trip has been about a year in the making and we were determined to go through with it, even when we thought it might not happen for a little bit.

Pool time!

We stayed at The Boulders Resort & Spa and had the most wonderful time together. Unfortunately things were pretty limited at The Boulders because of COVID (which we anticipated would happen). The spa was not open yet, restaurants were not fully open, and menus were smaller than normal. Even with that though, we had a great time there.

tank * similar shorts * similar sunglasses

The grounds were beautiful and both mornings we were there we went for a nice long walk to start the day. We chose to walk to breakfast both days even though the resort has golf carts to take you wherever you want to go (it is so spacious). After a delicious breakfast we headed to the pool to lounge by the water the rest of the day! I can’t remember the last time I sat by the pool … and for an entire day – it was so relaxing!

COVID vacation

One of our nights there we ate dinner at the resort and the other night we popped over to the Four Seasons Scottsdale for dinner and drinks. We had the best time at FS for dinner and had the most delicious charcuterie board, highly recommend.

Hotel robes are always a good idea

Although a getaway during COVID isn’t the easiest, I am so glad I got to spend such quality time with my sweet friend!

Northern Michigan Travel

Northern Michigan Travel

Last week we spent the week up north with family in Petoskey, Michigan. It was a much needed time to unplug and get some quality time with our loved ones. We have been going to Northern Michigan since we were as old as our babies are now, so it is a very special place to us. Typically we go to a family camp, Camp Michigania, through the University of Michigan Alumni Association, but it didn’t open this year. Although we were majorly bummed that we didn’t make to to camp this year, we were so excited to be able to spend time with family during the week we were all supposed to be there.

Due to the change in vacation plans, we did not do too much outside of the house we stayed at, but we wanted to give you some ideas that you could do if you ever make a trip up north. If you have not been to Northern Michigan, then you should try to make it up there. It is absolutely beautiful (it also has great skiing for the midwest in winters!). We stayed in a house on Crooked Lake and there are so many other wonderful lakes that have similar rental options. Camp Michigania, where we normally go, is on Walloon Lake and we absolutely love Walloon!

Outdoor Activities
We had so much fun going on boat rides and tubing…. even our 90 year old grandmother went tubing! If boating isn’t your style, paddle boards, kayaks, and sailboats are available to rent to spend time on the water. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time on the water.

Bring your bikes if you are driving, if not then rent them! There are a handful of places to go biking, walking, running and even hiking in the area. Bear River Valley Recreation Area has a 1.5 mile path along Bear River. Little Traverse Wheelway is a 26 mile paved path that will take you from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix. Another option that is even longer is North Western State Trail. This combination paved and gravel path goes for 32 miles in all.

One activity that we do at Camp Michigania that we replicated was archery. This was Hunter’s first time doing archery and he LOVED it. Grayson (and the babies obviously) were a little to young to enjoy it the way Hunter did. Other than that, a bunch of yard games were so fun for the littles to have access to all week. In the middle of the week we had a Camp Michigania inspired Family Olympics with sack races, a water balloon toss (turned water balloon fight), a balance the egg relay race, penny drop, and so much more! We had a great evening of games – and you don’t need to go anywhere to do them, you can host your own Family Olympics in your backyard!

Petoskey
Again, we wanted to be as safe as possible during our trip so we didn’t want to be around too many people but when we did venture out we were happy to see that everyone was wearing masks and was being safe. Downtown Petoskey is adorable and fun to even just walk around. They have cute boutiques for shopping and a number of little coffee shops to pop into. After playing at the lakefront park, we stopped at Petoskey Pretzel Co and got the best soft pretzels we’ve ever had! Although we didn’t go out to eat in Petoskey we have heard that Chandler’s, Petoskey Brewery, and Vintage Chop House & Wine Bar are all wonderful places and easy to bring kids to.

Charlevoix
It is a tradition in our family to go to Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix, Michigan. Charlevoix is about a 30 minute drive from Petoskey, but is just as adorable. Weathervane was a hit with the kids because it is on the river so they loved watching the boats go by while waiting for our food. The restaurant is at a point on the river where there is a bridge that will open up for taller boats to go through from Lake Charlevoix to Lake Michigan, and that was super exciting for the little ones to see. Another restaurant that was recommended to us in Charlevoix was Smoke on the Water, and it is just across the river from the Weathervane.

Harbor Springs
This year we went to dinner in Harbor Springs on our last night. In all the years we’ve been coming up here we have never been to Harbor Springs in the summer. We can not get over how darling this little town is! It is picturesque and has an all American look to it. We ate at The New York Restaurant and had a delicious meal. Although they were wonderful there, this may not be a place that we would recommend taking your kids- it has a quieter atmosphere. Harbor Springs has a number of restaurants on the water that we will try next time we are in Northern Michigan including Stafford’s Pier Restaurant and Willow. Harbor Springs is also home to Nub’s Nob which is consistently ranked number 1 for skiing/snowboarding in the Midwest.

Mackinac Island
We did not make it up to Mackinac Island this year, but typically we do and we love it there. Mackinac Island is just a quick ferry ride away from Petoskey and it is the sweetest little island to visit. There are no cars for personal use on the island which is a nice change of pace and you literally get a bit of fresh air when you are there. You can rent bikes by the hour, half day, or full day to get around the island and there is no shortage of carriage rides as well. Two years ago, when we were in Mackinac, we rode around the island with the boys. They had a great time enjoying the ride and throwing rocks in the water along the beach. Mackinac is known for its bike riding, but no trip is complete without the famous Mackinac Island Fudge. There is no shortage of fudge on the island and every place we have tried over the years has been delicious. Kilwins is a favorite of ours.
Here are some throwback pictures from the last time we were in Mackinac, 2 years ago. Look at those little babies!!!