It’s really hard to think about summer being over, but it is. I’ve gone back to work, Emorie is back in school and we are settling back into our routines. I’m not going to share every single thing that we did, but I’m definitely going to share the highlight reel.
This little cutie turned eight and celebrated her fourth recital and did a fantastic job. She was by far the busiest member of our family this summer: she went to tennis camp, volleyball camp, acrobatics camp, swim lessons, art camp and Vacation Bible School. Thank goodness these camps were all half day camps, or I’d have never seen her!
Aubrey finally, actually let me take some pretty cute pictures of her! She also attended acrobatics camp and swim lessons.
I took a break from blogging to spend more time with my family, and I also discovered a new love- weightlifting. I worked with a personal trainer and have lost almost 35 pounds. Here’s a pic of me in April, at the heaviest I’ve ever been.
And here I am after working with a nutritionist and personal trainer for two months.
We also adopted a sweet little kitten this summer and Emorie named her Daisy. She is a sweet cuddler and loves to play. We are truly enjoying her.
We also took our first vacation as a foursome in two years.
And lastly, my precious big girl went to third grade.
I hope you have had a wonderful summer. I cannot wait to show you some of the really cool things I’ve been working on lately!
Visit on Thursday for a super cute wreath tutorial!
Summer is quickly approaching, and for most of us, summer means pool and beach trips. Those of us with more than one child have a pretty good idea about what your tiny tot will need for a trip to the pool, but if you aren’t sure, I decided to share what’s in our pool bag.
For our toddler, we always pack the following items:
A snack (not pictured). We try to always bring a healthy snack for both kids no matter where we go. Dry cereal works well, as do small fruits (grapes) or veggies (carrot sticks), and things like granola bars or Belvita biscuits.
A swimsuit, a cover up (a hooded towel will work well for a small child), and sunglasses
A sunscreen for sensitive skin
Swim diapers and wipes (if your toddler isn’t quite potty trained. Ours is not).
Diaper ointment and lotion. Some kids’ skin is sensitive to chlorine, so it’s a good idea to have some lotion on hand to replenish their skin’s moisture
Pool shoes and goggles
Something to drink in a plastic, lidded cup
Detangler and a hairbrush (not pictured)
I always feel the most organized and prepared for anything when I create a checklist beforehand, run down my list, and physically check it off. I decided to share that list with you as well. To download it, simply right click on the picture below, save it to your device, and then print it. For best results, do not print larger than 8X10 inches.
Picture it: you’ve finally arrived at your destination on your long-awaited yearly family beach vacation…and you’ve arrived to complete and total chaos. Your hotel/accommodations weren’t what you envisioned, you can’t find half of what you’ve packed, your kids are hungry and grumpy, and you’re about to lose your mind. We’ve all been there, and it’s never pleasant. Sometimes, despite our best planning, our vacations don’t always go so well, and sometimes when you book your vacation the following year, you worry you’ll have a repeat experience.
Worry no more, because an organized family beach vacation IS possible.
The two major things that stress me out the most about vacationing are 1. Spending too much money, and 2. not properly planning for the needs of my family beforehand. Those are the issues I’m going to discuss the most today.
1. Save money before AND during your beach vacation by:
a. I’m a big fan of saving money on vacations. Although vacation lodging is expensive, you can actually save some money. Before booking, browse discount travel websites such as Expedia or Hotels.com. Many chain hotels/motels even offer discounts for military personnel, AAA members, and many other things. Sometimes hotels offer special packages for certain rooms or off site activities that could save you a little cash. You should certainly check to see what reduced rates, discounts, or special rates are available prior to booking your accommodations.
b. It’s super easy to blow your travel budget on meals if you manage to eat out for every meal. If you’re lucky enough to get a hotel room with a kitchenette, or rent a house/condo, you can utilize your kitchen and refrigerator to cook some lunches and breakfasts yourself. A trip to the grocery store for a few cheap, smaller meals is still cheaper than eating in restaurants for every meal.
c. Kids eat free at some restaurants. If dining out is on your itinerary, you may want to find restaurants that are family friendly. Depending on the age of your children, you may even be able to find a few restaurants in which your kiddo’s meals will be “on the house.”
d. Don’t go shopping. I know this one sounds crazy, as it’s one of the things some of us look forward to when we go to the beach. BUT, before you shop, ask yourself: is this something I can do at home? Is this really something I need to buy right now, on this trip? Are similar stores available back home? If you can answer yes to two of those questions, don’t shop. Wait until you’re home, where prices will likely be less in a “less-touristy” area.
e. Search up discounts before booking excursions or activities. Sometimes your hotel concierge or front desk staff will have an inside scoop on coupons or discounts for local fun and games. You’d be surprised how often you can find discounted rates on aquarium tickets, local mini golf attractions, or amusement park admission via your hotel’s front desk.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible by…
a. Researching the area before you book your trip. If you’re headed to a destination you’re already familiar with, skip this step. BUT, if you’re traveling somewhere new, you may want to make sure your family will have plenty to do. Make sure there are lots of fun activities that aren’t too costly your family can enjoy. You also want to research the area so you’ll know where nearby drug stores, minute clinics and pharmacies are in case you need them. Familiarize yourself with the area so you will not have to spend so much time looking for streets and landmarks.
b. Create checklists. Before you start packing, write out a checklist for each family member and what you’ll need to pack. Be mindful of any planned activities or excursions you’ll be participating in as you’re thinking about your packing list. Create a checklist as well for what you’ll need while traveling to your destination. For your kiddos, it’s a good idea to have some snacks and quiet activities on hand to curb boredom. Make sure when you pack that you aren’t rushed. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll be more likely to forget things. See also What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag! and Vacationing with kids: How to simplify.
c. Pack your vehicle the night before your trip, if possible. Packing the night before will save you some time, will cause you to be less stressed when you leave for your destination, and will give you time to realize you may have left something behind.
I hope you have enjoyed our travel tips. Tune in next week for our favorite products for traveling to the beach.
Last month, my husband and I visited the towns of Landrum, South Carolina; Saluda, NC, and Tryon, NC. I’ve already briefly written about our trip once, but wanted to write a little more detailed post for you about our experience.
Tryon is a small town, but there is a lot you can do. There are a number of stores, galleries and shops downtown you can visit.
And of course, you can make the short drive to Pearson Falls for a lovely hike that ends at a 100 foot waterfall.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a $25 Visa Gift Card. To be eligible, you must comment below with the activity you’d most be interested in in Tryon: shopping and dining downtown, hiking, or visiting the Tryon International Equestrian Center; follow Organized and Simplified on Facebook, and enter the raffle.
Last weekend, the hubs and I took a little anniversary trip sans kids…our first anniversary get away since our first anniversary eight years ago.
We stayed at a gorgeous bed and breakfast in upstate South Carolina. It was called The Red Horse Inn. It’s very secluded, peaceful and the views are to die for. It’s also just a short drive from three cute little mountain towns.
Isn’t that view amazing?
Red Horse Inn offers cabins you can rent, but we stayed in the main inn in the Gable Room. This was the view from our balcony:
Our room was clean, comfortable and very cozy.
Our bathroom was huge with a big deep jacuzzi tub for soaking in.
One of the coolest things about the Inn is that it’s a totally personalized experience. This card and letter awaited us when we arrived.
We also had a very delicious breakfast waiting for us in the room each morning. There was oatmeal and grits, coffee or tea, huge and delicious muffins, fresh fruit and yogurt.
Christian, the innkeeper, is very friendly and accommodating. He even directed us to some delicious local restaurants for dinner, and his recommendations were on point!
We also enjoyed exploring the local towns of Landrum, South Carolina, and the North Carolina towns Tryon and Saluda. I will write more about visiting the towns next week.
We also hiked to a 90 foot waterfall.
More on that next week, too.
All in all, it was a great experience and a wonderful weekend, and we will most definitely return.
And if you’re looking for a relaxing, beautiful place to visit, I highly recommend The Red Horse Inn!