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Share Your Kauai Tips!

18 Apr

Back when Travis and I were planning to get married, it was our dream to get married in Hawaii. That didn’t work out, so then it became our dream to honeymoon in Hawaii. But then the heat pump at my townhouse broke. Sigh. So then, our dream became to go to Hawaii for our 10-year wedding anniversary.

We celebrated 10 years of marriage back in October…and it’s happening!

It is NOT a drill. We are GOING TO HAWAII!

As if that isn’t enough of a reason for celebration… it gets even more exciting.

This is our first kid-free vacation in 7 ½ years.

The last time we traveled kid-free was our babymoon cruise when I was pregnant. Which now that I think about it, wasn’t really kid-free since Jack hitched a ride in my belly.

So the fact that Travis and I are finally going to Hawaii AND we are going just the two of us is basically like a honeymoon all over again!

After much consideration, we decided to go to Kauai. We booked a fabulous looking condo through HomeAway in the Poipu area. Our condo is about a 5-minute walk to Brennecke and Poipu Beaches (voted ‘Best Beach’ in America by the Travel Channel). We are also within walking distance to Shipwreck Beach, if we want to mix it up a bit.

We rented a car so we can get around the island easily, but most days we will probably just walk to where we need to go. Our plans are to be really lazy, eat delicious food, spend time on the beaches, and go for a hike or two.

The only other thing I’ve booked is a mountain tubing adventure trip. We will be four-wheeling through the Lihue Plantation before hopping into a tube and taking a nice ride through the open canals and tunnels. At the end of our trip, we will enjoy lunch and a swim in a nearby natural swimming hole. I. Can’t. Wait!

Other things on our potential ‘to do’ list:

  • Go to a luau (current front-runners are the Smith’s Family Luau or the Auli’i Luau)
  • Catamaran tour of the Na Pali coast/dinner cruise (Captain Andy’s has been suggested)
  • Eat all the food
  • Drive the Waimea Canyon
  • Rum tasting at Koloa Rum company
  • Coffee tasting at Kauai coffee
  • Visit the Kilauea Fish Market
  • Hanalei Bay (shopping/dining)

So, here’s where I’d love your help! Is there anything you think we absolutely shouldn’t miss? Do you have a restaurant or food recommendation that we should be sure to add to our list? Anything you think we should know? Something that I should absolutely add to our pack list? Feel free to fill up my comments section with your tips!

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Date Weekend Fun in Northern Virginia

13 Mar

This past weekend, my parents generously kept Jack overnight while Travis and I had ourselves a bit of a date weekend. I HIGHLY recommend getting away for even a night if you can, because even if you are only an hour or so away from home (like we were) it is such a mental refresh!

For our date weekend, I booked us at a Springhill Suites in Northern Virginia. The hotel was super nice and clean… and less than $100 for the night, which included breakfast. Once we arrived, we checked into the hotel and immediately went rummaging for some food nearby.

After filling our bellies at Elevation Burger, we decided to go do some wine and cider tasting at a couple nearby wineries.

First stop was Corcoran Vineyards where we had the choice of tasting their ciders or their wines, so we went with a cider tasting. From there, we went to 8 Chains North where we did a wine tasting and also enjoyed some locally made chocolates!

We started to get a bit hungry again, so we went back to the Loudon One area to buy our movie theater tickets and then went by SlapFish. To be honest, we chose that restaurant because the name made us giggle… but we were too busy making yummy noises to laugh when we got our Clobster Grilled Cheese and Lobster Grinder Roll! HOLY WOW it was soooo good!

After dinner we had some time to kill, so we stopped by B Doughnut, Starbucks and killed some time in the Barnes & Noble.

And THEN… we saw Captain Marvel!

AHHH, so good! I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to love this one as much as I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War. The bar was set very high, but I LOVED Captain Marvel and it was a fantastic addition to the series!

It was also a great end to our date day! We enjoyed the comfy hotel room and had the free hotel breakfast in the morning — I just love those make-your-own waffle set ups! We hung around the room and watched some HGTV until check out at noon, then hit up Lost Creek Winery for one last tasting.

After our tasting, we stopped at the Roots 657 Café for an AMAZING lunch. I got the country pulled pork sandwich with a side of corn pudding and Travis got the bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. We did a little splitsy action, so we both got a little of everything and YUM.

All in all, it was a fantastic date weekend and I ate way too much delicious food. So yeah, it was perfect.

Do you go on date weekends?

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Jack is 7!

18 Feb

Each year on Jack’s birthday I get a little teary as I remember his birth story and the month we spent in the NICU. If you are a more recent follower, you totally can’t tell looking at my giant child that he was born at just 31 ½ weeks! Well, here we are, 7 years later… and he’s growing up so fast.

{sob}

This year to celebrate his birthday we had two mini celebrations. Last year’s kid party was a little overwhelming, so this year we decided to have something on a smaller scale. The weekend before the big day, Jack invited two of his favorite friends to join him in painting some pottery. After the masterpieces were complete, we walked across the street to a fun local ice cream parlor and ate a bunch of ice cream. While Jack forbade ME from singing Happy Birthday, apparently it was okay for his two friends to serenade him. So. Freaking. Cute.

I took a bunch of photos, but won’t share them here because I don’t like putting pictures of other people’s kids on the internet. But believe me… it was adorable.

Jack’s actual birthday was on Friday (February 15th), so Travis and I visited Jack at school and joined him for lunch in the cafeteria. We decided to keep it a surprise that he was coming home with us, so after lunch he went back to his classroom before the teacher had him gather his things and go to the front office (this is totally a school rule, we weren’t allowed to take him straight from lunch).

This was apparently a terrible idea. He’s never been told to go to the front office before, so as soon as he rounded the corner and saw us, he burst into tears. He cheered up though when we told him we were going to Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight trip RIGHT THEN!

This was actually our 4th year of visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA. They had a really good special for the Friday night of Jack’s birthday – I guess most people don’t want to go to an indoor water park for their romantic Valentine’s trip – so I hopped on it! When we got there, they said we qualified for a room upgrade, so not only did our room have a fireplace… but it also had a little bunk bed section just for kids.

We had such a fun time and came back home on Saturday night. On our “way home” (totally not on our way, but we had a gift card) we stopped by our favorite Mexican restaurant and had them do the birthday song, complete with clapping and a sombrero!

In honor of Jack’s 7th birthday, here are 7 things about Jack:

#1: Jack STILL looooooves his mommy. I know at some point he won’t be my number one fan and will probably turn into a sullen stinky teenager, but we are so not there. He’s happy to hug and kiss me, even in public. And I LOVE it!

#2: Jack lost his first tooth on his 6th birthday and another one a few weeks later. And that was it. While his front top teeth have been slightly wiggly for months and months… he hasn’t lost any other teeth.

#3: For Jack’s pottery painting birthday play date, he picked a little hedgehog figurine to paint.

#4: Jack is still obsessed with LEGOs. He will spend over an hour building his various inventions and has stories to go with every single thing.

#5: Jack’s current favorite thing to watch on TV is Youtube videos by Unspeakable all about Minecraft. He likes to get ideas for Minecraft worlds and then create them on his own. He also thinks the Unspeakable guy is hilarious.

#6: Jack is currently loving the fluffy robe he got for Christmas from us. The moment he gets home from school, he throws off his shirt and wears his robe with his pants like a little Hugh Heffner.

#7: Current favorite foods are egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs, cheeseburgers, spaghetti with meatballs, steak, ham sandwiches from Subway, and mini chocolate donuts.

Happiest of birthdays to my super awesome, fantastic, lovable Jack!

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Celebrating My Sister’s Wedding with a Family Cruise

12 Dec


We had the BEST time last week on our amazing cruise! I’ve actually been putting off writing this post because I’ve just been savoring it and don’t want to admit that it’s over.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a year of weddings. My brother (Jason) got married in September, my sister (Kelsey) is getting married in May and my other sister (Katie) got married last week… in St. Thomas.

For Katie’s wedding, she decided to have an amazing cruise vacation on the Oasis of the Seas with 60 of her closest friends and family. The ship cruised out of Florida and then had three stops – Nassau, Bahamas, St.Thomas, and St. Martin – as well as a few days at sea. While on the ship we had her bachelorette party, an amazing rehearsal dinner, a cocktail hour, group dinners in the dining room, etc. The actual wedding was held on St. Thomas at Villa Botanica, their botanical gardens.

I could go through the entire week day-by-day, but I thought it would be more fun to just hit some of the highlights!

What I read:

I was super excited to turn off my phone (and all social media) for the duration of the trip. I had asked you all for some book recommendations before I left and you certainly delivered! Many of the suggestions are on my ‘to be requested at my local library list’, but I did download a bunch of books to my Kindle (mostly free) and got some reading done.

  • The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  • Match Making for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson
  • The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

I loved all three of the books and highly recommend all of them. The first two books were free on Kindle Unlimited and The Kiss Quotient cost $10 to download (but you could probably reserve it at your library if you are patient).

What we did on the ship:

The Oasis of the Seas was an amazingly huge ship… much bigger than any ship I’ve cruised on before. In fact, the balcony in our room overlooked Central Park… an actual PARK with living greenery in the center of the ship. There were tons of places to eat, as well as lots of different activities like the kid’s camp, zip lining, and rock climbing. There was even an ice skating rink and an aqua stage.

 Jack loved the kid’s camp, especially when they offered science lab and art studio activities. We also all tried rock climbing, and Travis and I both did the zip line across the ship. Travis and I also took a sushi making class where we learned how to make our own sushi!

We also saw a bunch of shows… our favorites being a diving show at the aqua theater, Fly With Me (a show with aerial acrobatics), and Frozen in Time (an ice skating show).

We also ate ALL the food. The rehearsal dinner was at 150 Central Park and it knocked our socks off!

{In this photo from left to right is: Jack, me, Katie (the bride), Kelsey (her twin), and Jaclyn (my new sister, by way of my brother’s marriage). Me, Kelsey and Jaclyn are all about the same height within an inch or so… Jaclyn is just wearing super tall heels. And yes, we all kind of look alike!}

What we did off the ship:

Nassau: For our Nassau, Bahamas stop we decided to book an excursion which took us by ferry to the Blue Lagoon Island and included a Stingray Encounter. Upon arrival, we spent the first portion of the day sipping fruity drinks and floating around the ocean.

At the end of the day, we walked over to the animal area to learn about and touch the stingrays. Jack wanted NOTHING to do with them, but both Travis and I were able to pet the stingray, kiss it, and even put our fingers in its mouth to feel its teeth.

Yeah, that’s right. I put my finger IN a stingray.

And I totally love that photo of my husband cracking up!

 St. Martin: I’ve been to St. Martin a few times before and it is one of my favorite islands. I spent a week there about 15 years ago with my friend Annie and have re-visited the island a couple more times on cruises. Once we got off the Oasis, we walked a bit, grabbed a taxi, and then rode the scenic route over to Mullet Bay.

The water was perfect. The beach was perfect. I basically never wanted to leave.

The wedding:

St. Thomas: Due to an emergency on board the ship, we ended up getting to St. Thomas later than planned. However, even with a little delay the wedding was fantastic. Our uncle officiated the wedding, I was honored to serve as Matron of Honor, Kelsey was Maid of Honor, my new sister was a Bridesmaid, and my brother was a Groomsman. It was quite the family affair.

And yes, there were tears.

After the ceremony my sister and her new husband, Craig, did the sweetest choreographed dance for their First Dance. And then the rum punches happened… so many rum punches. And SO MUCH dancing. It was an amazing night!

I probably have a million stories I could tell from the cruise. I know I certainly have a ton more photos… but didn’t want to spam you with them all. I can’t wait to see all the professional photos from the wedding and may share some more at some point, maybe with my rehearsal dinner speech…

All in all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate my sister and her new husband. He’s been with us for 11 years, but now he has been formally welcomed into the family! It was such a great way to spend the week and it made it even more special that I had my parents, siblings, their spouses/fiancé, and a ton of their friends on the vacation with us.

Oh, and we also got a pretty fantastic Christmas card picture by the full sized Christmas tree in the Promenade. ON THE SHIP.

So I guess I should probably start thinking about Christmas now. And ordering those Christmas cards. Oh yeah, and Christmas gift shopping. Um… and cookie making.

Sigh… I think I want to go back on vacation…

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