Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings

Happy Thursday!

Wow! February is almost over. I know it’s a shorter month, but I feel like it’s flown by.

Since it’s the end of the month, I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is: warm weather destinations/winter travel tips

First of all…I wish I was able to travel somewhere warm in the winter. 😆

So, most of these are just my general travel answers.

1. Favorite warm weather destination

The first place that always pops in my mind is Siesta Key, Florida. It will probably always be my family’s favorite even though we haven’t been for a couple of years. I also love Isle of Palms, SC and San Diego. Even if we don’t go to SK, we at least see the ocean once a year…and maybe more if we are lucky.

2. Packing cubes: yes or no?

Yes! I love packing cubes, and have used them for a few years. I always use them, the kids sometimes do, and Travis never does. This is also the same order of the one who overpacks the most to the least! The kids usually use one to hold socks, underwear, pjs, and swimsuits. I use them for everything.

3. Favorite carry on?

I picked up this bag from Target about a year ago, and it’s my #1 carry on bag. It’s a “weekender” bag, so it’s what I pack for overnight trips as well. Also, it comes in a few other colors.

4. Essential items in your suitcase?

Well, everything goes in my suitcase. I’d say the packing cubes are essential because they keep me organized and squish all my belongings to make room for more!

5. Excursions? Yes or no? Share your favorites.

I really think in all of our vacations, we’ve only been on one excursion…and that was this summer when we went to Mexico. We spent a day on a boat with a stop at Isla Mujeres. We all had a great time.

6. Most random item you always pack?

I do not leave home without my sound machine. I need white noise. In a pinch, I’ve use an app on my phone, but it’s not the same. If we are all staying in one room, we just bring one sound machine. That being said, if we have the kids in one room and us in another, we’ll bring two. Hadley loves a sound machine as well. While my preference is “white noise,” hers is “ocean waves.”

7. Do you use a travel agent?

The only time we’ve used a travel agent was for our Mexico trip. Otherwise, Travis White is my travel agent.

8. Favorite sunscreen?

As much time as we spend at the pool and the beach, I do make sure we use sunscreen. I’m not super loyal to any brand, but these two are typically in my pool bag. The stick is perfect for our faces and the spray is easy to apply. Actually, both are easy to apply, so the kids know to come reapply every other time the pool break whistle blows!

9. Flip flops or sandals?

I’ve been wearing these Havaianas flip flops for years. I have them in rose gold and grey.

Last summer, I splurged on these big buckle Birks from Nordstrom. I absolutely love and them and have zero regrets.

That being said, both Hadley and I have been wearing these Amazon Birk dupes for the past few summers. She has them in white, and I have them in rose gold. I wear them often as does she. As a matter of fact, I think I purchased Hadley’s three summers ago, and I did tell her I’d get her another pair this summer…as her foot has grown a bit, and she’s worn them to the ground!

10. Favorite swimsuit?

I bought this Amazon swimsuit in two patterns a couple of summers ago. I still turn to them more than any other swimsuit.

I do have my eye on this one from Target:

I never think about ordering swimsuits in February, so I hope it’s still available when I decide to give it a try.

other thoughts…

This post got me thinking …about vacations. When I was a kid, we didn’t go on many family vacations. When we did, we went on bigger ones to the west coast, the northeastern states, Minnesota, etc. We did go to the Lake of the Ozarks quite a bit though.

Also, when I was in school, we didn’t have a fall break. Even when I first started teaching in Missouri, I think we only got Columbus Day off in October. Also, while we did get a spring break when I was in school, I’m pretty certain it wasn’t a week. I think it usually fell around Easter. Of course, times were different. Travel, overall, is more convenient. Also, obviously, it’s a longer drive to the beach in Missouri as opposed to Kentucky.

My kids now go on at least three vacations/trips a year. While I’m not saying they are ungrateful about that, but more…it’s all they know.

In all my years teaching, I’ve never really had the desire to go anywhere for spring break. Of course, I’m a home body, but from March – May, I just feel like I’m in survival mode…and I like nothing better than a few days at home with not much to do. I also like to take that time to do things we don’t usually have time to do like go to the movies, go for a hike, sit on a patio at a restaurant and enjoy dinner at a leisurely pace and more!

Fall break was typically only a few days, so we usually would just go to Asheville for a couple of days. Then, for spring break, we usually go somewhere for a few days. Spring break is when we try to branch out and go somewhere different but within driving distance. Through the years, we’ve been to Knoxville, Indianapolis, Nashville, KC (which isn’t new –but from there, Travis and I went to Las Vegas), and Asheville if we didn’t go in the fall.

Then, summer vacation is our bigger vacation. I am glad we try to take our kids to places they are both familiar with but then also places that are also new to them. I will say having a week at the beach in the fall “ruined” us because it really is the perfect time. After that vacation, Travis declared that he was never going on a vacation to somewhere hot again in the summer! Next school year, we get another week for fall break, and we plan to head to the beach again. I’m not sure what our summer vacation will be just yet.

On top of that, we try to get to KC to see my family at twice a year.

There are even some schools around here that just wrapped up a winter break last week which means they have fall, Christmas, winter, and spring breaks…and then summers off too, of course…and it seems some travel for all of those. (Of course, no shade to those people…travel is more of a priority for some…)

Sometimes, we feel the “pressure” to take so many trips every year. Who is “pressuring” us? Mostly, our kids…😂 They do like to go somewhere if possible.

Also, I try not to dwell on it, but it’s easy now to see that we really do only have about five fall/spring breaks left with our kids. Like…when did that happen?

Traveling is such a privilege that I never want my kids to take for granted. It’s a blessing we make these trips/vacations happen, but I also want my kids to feel content with staying home a bit too.

I also wish Travis and I could find the time to go somewhere just the two of us more than we do. I occasionally tag along on a work trip when he goes somewhere like California, but otherwise, being parents to two busy kids with both of us working full time really does take up most of our time.

Anyway, just sharing my thoughts.

The combination of this post and our weather lately, which has been perfect, has me wanting it to be summer ASAP.

How often do you travel? What’s your favorite vacation spot?

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Posted in Travel

Fall Break in Florida Part 2

Happy Wednesday!

Well, we had snow flurries yesterday which is a far cry from 80 degree temps and the salt water we got to experience on Fall Break.

Last week, I shared part 1 of our trip, and today I’m recapping the last couple of days.


On Wednesday, we all had a slow start to the day, and people kind of did their own thing. Some of the moms went shopping and took the girls. I stayed back and read on the screened in porch while drinking my coffee.

Travis took Hayden to the pool for his exercises and stretching.

Then, Travis worked from the house the rest of day as some of the others did as well. I guess this was the point of vacay where we had to put the fun aside and get caught up on work. haha

Then, some of us had some beach time. The girls (Hadley & Co.) spent most of the day at the pool.

The weather could not have been more perfect. I enjoyed my book and my Truly and continued to work on my tan. On this day, I kind of joked about how fun it was vacationing with my family (I was the only one at the beach. haha)

I headed back to the house around 3:00 to shower and rest. Then, it was the “parents night out” for dinner. All the kids hung at the house, and we ordered pizza for them.

We had dinner reservation at Old Florida Fish House. They couldn’t seat all 12 of us together, so we split up with a guys table and a girls table.

The setting was beautiful, and the food was delicious.

On our way out, we were able to get a group pic. It turned out so great!

Then, we went back to the house and enjoyed music by the fire. (Not everyone is lucky enough to travel with a talented musician and his guitar!)


Thursday morning was another slow one. Since it was our last day of vacay, we all knew it was our last day to relax.

Most of us eventually headed to the beach. We all wanted to maximize our time there since it was the last day.

Poor Hayden spent most of his time on the couch (or in the pool doing his exercises)

Hadley joined me on the beach. After a day at the pool the day before, the girls were ready to have fun in the sun and the sand.

Since we knew we’d have to start packing up that night and wanted to spend as much time on the beach as possible, we all headed back to the house late afternoon to freshen up and have a late lunch instead of going out to dinner. All the families kind of did their own thing. My family headed in to Seaside to go to Great Southern.

Travis and Hayden wanted one more round of oysters.

We got the calamari app, and I got a salad. Then, we enjoyed ice cream at It’s Heavenly afterwards.

Then, we went back to the house. The kids ran around and played a bit before heading to the beach for one more sunset.

We (all the moms) wanted *casual* family photos, and we made it all work.

We took turns snapping pics of each family. I love how ours turned out. (Some things do get easier with time!)

Hadley took a pic of Travis and me…

The kids gave me a few more smiles…

…before we snapped all the different combos of group kid photos. haha

Love this crew:

The girls, boys, and the oldest girls…

…and then the best pic of all. Thank goodness for a timer on the phone! (We were missing one family, but I love this pic so much.)

Then, we sat down for the last few minutes and enjoyed a beverage while watching the sunset.

It was a good one! Nothing beats a beach sunset.

We stayed until dark, and then headed back to the house. We still hadn’t made S’mores, so that was on the agenda for the last night.

Then, we all started packing up to make the morning easier before heading to bed.


We were all up and at ’em pretty early. I did enjoy one more cup of coffee on the porch before helping clean out the fridge, tidying up the house, and doing a walk through to make sure nothing was left behind. It was all hands on deck (You should have seen the carriage house after a few days with four girls!), but we got it done.

Everyone was on the road by 9. It was quite the drive home. We hit traffic in Nashville, so it was almost an eleven hour drive back. The good thing is the kids were so tired, the slept quite a bit.

I think we all felt like we could have used one more beach day, but it was nice to have the whole weekend to unpack, do laundry, get groceries, and prep for the week ahead.

This trip couldn’t have gone any better. I think it helps that the kids are all at a great traveling age that also provided flexibility for all. If a kid didn’t want to stay at the beach, they could stay at the house. The parents were able to go out one night, all the families could hang, or we could all just do our own thing.

We’ve been blessed with amazing friendships with amazing families. It’s so nice that when the kids became friends, the parents all became friends too. I know this is a vacation (and photos!) that we’ll remember fondly and hope to do again in the future.

Thanks for following along. Now, don’t mind me…I’m off to find my winter coat. Brrr!

Posted in Travel

Fall Break in Florida Part 1


I can’t believe we’ve almost been home from the beach for a week, and I’m just getting around to sharing about the first few days of our trip.

Like I shared last week, it felt odd prepping for our trip as we weren’t sure the exact track of Hurricane Ian. Florida saw a lot of devastation, but the hurricane didn’t make it to the 30A/Destin area.

30A is a “hot spot” for vacations for the southern states. We have lots of friends who go there many times a year. I believe there are direct flights if not from Lexington, from nearby cities. That being said, most of the time, I think people drive. It’s about a ten hour trip. Travis and I had been there once before with friends many years ago. I’m sure we’d go there more if we didn’t have Siesta Key as our main Florida vacation spot thanks to Trav’s family.

Anyway, here’s a bit about the first few days of our trip…


We were sharing a house with three other families, and we couldn’t check in until Sunday. It ended up that Kentucky was playing Old Miss at noon that day, so many of our friends left early in the morning to get to our pit stop of Birmingham, AL by game time. Hayden had a cross country meet, so while many families left in the morning, we didn’t leave until about 2 pm. We arrived in Birmingham around 8:00 and just hung out. We were all the same hotel, so the kids got together, and the adults hung out too. We just got carry out dinner and watched football on tv before going to bed.


Since we still had about 3.5 hours left of the drive, we all wanted to leave by 9:00. Everyone was up and having breakfast before packing up for the rest of the drive. Who doesn’t love a “free” breakfast?

We hit the road, and arrived in the 30A area around 1:00. We were traveling with two families who were pretty familiar with the area as they’d vacationed there quite a few times. They suggested Hurricane Oyster Bar and Grill for lunch, and that’s where we all met up.

I had the lobster tacos, and they were so good. They kids ate and were able to walk around a bit while the adults chatted and ate. Hayden and Travis got their first oysters of the trip.

We were guaranteed check in to the house by 5:00, but just as we were getting into our cars around 3:00, they texted that the house was ready. Perfect timing!

One of the moms ordered groceries for delivery between 3:00 and 5:00. The Instacart person was in the driveway as we arrived. Again, perfect timing!

The house was pretty big and so charming. It was nestled in a neighborhood about 1/2 a mile from the beach, and the neighborhood had two pools…one of which was only a few steps from our house.

The screened in front porch was my favorite part!

We all got settled in our rooms, unpacked groceries, and got organized. There was a carriage house above the garage, and it had a king bed and two twin beds. The four girls got it. It was funny because Hadley kept calling it the “out house” at first. I told her it was a far cry from an out house. Throughout the week, they called it the “other” house, the “back” house, and eventually the “she shed.” They definitely had a good spot!

Our house also had a golf cart, so a couple of trips on that to get everyone there, and we were at the beach by 4:00.

We all sat around while kids played.

Then once we realized how early the sun would be setting (6:30!), we decided to grab some drinks from the house to enjoy while we watched the sun set. I ordered these cups from a Lexington girl (@cupsoncochran) and brought them for us to use on the trip.

I love a beach sunset. I try hard not to miss one while on vacay!

Of course, we had to have some sunset pics on the first night.

Then, we headed back to the house for dinner. I’m so glad we had made the plan to grill out at home. We were back from the beach around 6:45, and had dinner around 7:30. The kids played games, and the Chiefs were on tv. We all hung out, and I think most were in bed around 10.


We eased into the morning with people waking at various times. Before we left for the trip, the moms made a tentative breakfast plan. Of course, we bought cereal, but then we also planned for pancakes, sausage biscuits, omelets and more. We spaced those out throughout the week.

We had coffee on the screened in porch before the moms walked on the beach. There were two other families nearby that we hung out with as well.

When we got back from our walk, everyone packed up to head to beach for the day.

First full day at the beach, and everyone enjoyed it!

The kids caught all kinds of things: crabs, snakes, fish. We even saw lots of jelly fish.

In Seaside square, the moms hit up an early happy hour…

…while the girls walked around, shopped, and got ice cream.

We made it back in time to load up and head to the beach for sunset.

The moms got a pic:

…as did the daughters. Any guesses on what the girls bought while we were at happy hour? haha

This is one of those photos (both photos, actually) that I think we’ll treasure forever.

Are you even a “tween” if you aren’t doing Tik Tok dances by the ocean?

We enjoyed the sunset before heading back to the house.

Again, it was a full day at the beach, so I’m glad we planned ahead for tacos at home. Even better, someone had the good call to put the taco meat in the slow cooker. Dinner was basically ready when we got back.

Then, most of the kids settled in for Hocus Pocus 2.

It was a great day.


I had coffee on the front porch before the moms biked to Modica Market for mimosas and breakfast. The mimosas were a great way to start the day. Also, I caved and bought a Seaside sweatshirt too. Hadley gets her love of sweatshirts from me!

Travis drove some of the kids up to the market on the golf cart to pick up breakfast, so we saw them for a few minutes as well.

Once we got back, we packed up and headed to the beach.

I’m glad we got this family pic because that’s about the last time Hayden was at the beach. He’d hurt his leg the day before playing football on the beach (strained a muscle, I guess), so he laid low at the house or did stretches or exercises in the pool the other days.

The beach was never super crowded, and on this day, the water was hardly moving!

I read my book and enjoyed the sunshine.

I went back to the house mid-afternoon to check on Hayden and see what the kids were up to. Then, I took an afternoon nap on screened in porch. It was lovely.

The guys (and Hayden) went out for happy hour and oysters.

For dinner, we met up with the two other families at the Hub (which I think is also called The Big Chill now). This was the perfect place for dinner because it’s all outside, there was a movie playing, and there were many food options.

After a few hours there, we headed back to the house. Again, the kids played for a bit, and we all hung out. We ended up turning on The Addams Family which we all hadn’t seen in forever.

We had a great start to our vacay….I will share the last couple of days next week!

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Friday Favorites, Travel

Friday Favorites {#130}


How was your week? We had a great one because it was Fall Break and we had so much fun in the sun.

Well, I can’t believe it, but it’s the last day of our Fall Break. We went to the Destin area of Florida with a few other families, and we had such a great time. Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined a better trip.

As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

It felt odd moving forward with our planned trip as all eyes were on Hurricane Ian in the days before our break. There was so much destruction and devastation in so many parts of Florida, including our usual vacay spot of Siesta Key.

Amazingly, Hurricane Ian didn’t make it to the Destin/30A area.

I’m sure I will give a more detailed recap, but…

…here are a few favorite photos from our week in Santa Rosa:

While a couple more days would have been nice, we’re all ready for our own beds and can’t wait to see Homer. Truly, it was a great time with great friends. So many memories were made, and it was such a blessing to get away for a bit.

Not Just a Mom:

Wow! Monday is already the second Monday of the month which means it’s time for our monthly link up. We’d love to have you join us.

This month’s topic is: how we host.

Honestly, it’s been a minute since I’ve hosted for a party or get together. Let me know what tips you have!

Weekly Recap:

Even while on vacay, I had a few posts this week:

What are your weekend plans? We will be unpacking and prepping for the week ahead with a few activities on tap as well.

See you back here on Monday for Not Just a Mom.

Posted in Travel

KC Recap


We spent a few days in Kansas City visiting family last week followed by a couple of days at the Lake of the Ozarks with friends before getting back to Lex late Tuesday night.

Today, I’m recapping our trip…

…and linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites because of course a KC and lake trip include lots of favorites.

We try to get to KC every summer, but we were intentional about doing so this year in order to celebrate my Gma’s 90th birthday!

Last Wednesday was our travel day. It’s about a nine hour drive from Lex to KC. Times really have changed now that the kids are older…that drive sure is easier!

Once we got to KC, we went to my dad’s house and met up with my brother’s family who had also travelled from Lexington. We had tacos for dinner and then went to my mom’s for a few hours. We were in bed by 10:00 after a long day of travel.

Thursday we had a slow morning. Hayden’s been training all summer for cross country season. With the heat indices over 100 for our entire visit, he had to get up early to get his workouts in. I will give him credit….he did so every morning we were in KC with no complaints. I did a workout using the Beachbody app (another reason I love it!). We got ready, and then met my mom and Gma for lunch.

In order to beat the heat, we took the kids putt putt golfing which was fun.

After putt putt, we went to Rally House to pick up some KC Royals gear for the game the next day. Hayden had outgrown his last KC hat, and I couldn’t find mine…we all had luck picking something out.

Later in the evening, we went to my mom’s friend’s backyard pool. He always lets us come over when we visit, and the pool is a great spot to cool off!

Piggy backing at he pool is apparently all the rage, and my brother wins for most fun (and strongest?) uncle.

We had a late dinner and then headed to bed.

Friday morning we were up early for family photos. With 103 degree highs that day, we knew we needed pics early, so we wouldn’t melt.

Here’s a sneak peek:

The photos turned out so good. The photographer was the same one who took our wedding photos as well as the kids when they were babies. I will share more next week 🙂

After the photos, we all went out to brunch. Then, we went to my mom’s house for a couple of hours. We had pizza at my dad’s before heading to the Royals game.

Of course, we are “crazy” for going to the game in that heat and the Royals aren’t having the best season, but it was still fun to do. We knew since it was a night game, it wouldn’t be too bad…and it wasn’t. It was definitely humid, but that’s better than being hot.

I joked that Travis purchases tickets based off the price of beer in a stadium and the team’s record…haha The $12 seats were all we needed.

Hayden and Travis walked around before the game started, and Hayden was pumped because he got Bobby Witt Jr.’s autograph on his new hat!

During the 4th inning, Hadley joined the younger cousins at the “Little K” where they met Sluggerrr and rode a couple of rides.

On the way back to our seats, Hadley got this pic of the sunset. So pretty!

Unfortunately, the Royals lost, but we were all still smiling…

…because it was Firework Friday after the game.

These fireworks were spectacular!

Definitely worth more than the $12 ticket price!

It was past 11:00 when we got home, so we showered and hit the hay!

Saturday was our hottest day in KC! The heat index was above 106! That being said, we had a slow morning, and then Travis and I went to see Where the Crawdads Sing while the kids hung out at my mom’s house.

I loved the movie as much as the book. Travis really enjoyed it too!

Then, we went to celebrate Gma’s birthday with dinner and dessert. She had over a week of birthday festivities which included a happy birthday yard sign from my mom and aunt, lunch and cards with her Bridge group, dinner out at a Mexican restaurant (she sent me a photo of her wearing a sombrero and having churros for dessert) with neighbors, and then my mom and aunt organized for many friends and family near and far to send her cards for her birthday. Then, of course, she celebrated with us!

On Sunday, we were headed to the Lake of the Ozarks to meet friends, but we were able to have a slow morning and then go to Whataburger with my mom for lunch. My mom has been there, but we all were excited to try it. Patrick Mahomes owns a couple of them, so Hayden asked me to let Patrick know (via Instagram) that Hayden approved of the burger. It really was a good meal.

Then, it was time to say goodbye to our family which is always tough. We’re always sad to leave.

Then, we drove the 2.5 hours to the lake! My college friend’s family has a condo on the lake near the dam. I grew up going to the Lake of the Ozarks with my grandparents, and have so many fond memories. I don’t think I’ve been back there in 20 years!

This was our view from the bedroom:

We all got changed, and got on the boat for a few hours.

Leslie and I were neighbors in Jones Hall at MU and have been friends ever since.

Her son just turned 12, and her daughters are just a couple of years younger. The kids had lots of fun together.

The kids all took (many) turns tubing.

We all swam and floated in the lake a bit…

…before the boat ride back to the condo.

The sun was setting as we parked the boat, and the air temp was definitely cooling off with rain on the way.

Since it was about 8:00, we had pizza for dinner and were in bed around 10.

It rained overnight, and we took it easy on Monday morning. The slow paced morning with cooler temps was amazing.

Leslie and I went for walk, and then we went to check on the guys who were fishing off the dock.

Around 1:00 we got on the boat, and went to Dock Knockers for lunch. There’s nothing better than lunch on the lake.

The kids fed the fish…

…and then we had lunch.

After that, we spent the next few hours on the boat.

Everyone took turns tubing, and then it was the moms’ turn! We held on for dear life, and had lots of fun.

After we were finished tubing, we noticed smoke coming off a nearby boat…and then we saw people jumping in the water! We motored over there, and a couple other boats were helping out. Thankfully, all was ok, but that was a sight to see!

We pulled over into a nearby cove, and swam for a bit before heading back to the condo.

We grilled out for dinner and then played the Disney version of Apples to Apples. It was a great way to cap off the day.

On Tuesday morning, the plan was for the guys to go fishing before we headed back to Lex. Even though it was raining, they did get up early….so early that I didn’t even hear them get up. I got up around 8:30 and enjoyed another cup of coffee on the screened in porch. We went from 106 degrees on Saturday to 66 on Tuesday morning. It was bliss.

The rain was coming down pretty hard, so the guys came back early from fishing. Everyone had breakfast, and we packed up. We said our goodbyes and were on the road around 10:30.

We really enjoyed our time at the lake and appreciate our friends for being such gracious hosts!

As the kids get older and get busier, sometimes it’s more difficult to get back home. When we do, I love that we are able to do things that I enjoyed doing when I was growing up like go to Royals games, and going the lake was the icing on the cake.

I hope you have a great weekend! Next week is August. I have a love/hate relationship with August. haha

Posted in Travel

Mexico Recap: Part 3 (the end)

Hola! I have one more post about Mexico. Post one was all about our first few days, and post two focused on our excursion to Isla Mujeres. Today, I’m wrapping up our last couple of days on vacay.


Before we went to bed on Wednesday night, I deemed Thursday as a lazier day. I just knew we’d need to sleep in a bit and most likely have less activity time just after such a busy day going to Isla Mujeres.

Well, Thursday was also Trav’s birthday!

We started the morning with coffee in the lobby bar.

Then, we hit up the buffet for breakfast with kids.

After breakfast, Travis and I hit the spa. So, one of the “perks” that was included in our “privileged” package was one hour at the spa for each adult. We decided to book our one hour to start off Trav’s birthday.

When we arrived, the sweetest lady escorted us to the locker rooms and gave us a towel. We each put our belongings in the locker and then met up outside of the locker rooms. We had the whole place to ourselves. She then escorted us to the sauna and suggested we stay in there fifteen minutes, but that she’d check on us…and she did. The sauna is not my fave, and I joked I wouldn’t last five minutes. That being said, I got used to it. She checked on us at around ten minutes, and we were good to get out.

Then, she had us dip in the small cold water pool before heading the steam room. Now, we love a steam room! Again, she suggested fifteen minutes, and we did stay in there the whole time. She checked on us a couple of times and added in mint to the steam. It was so nice and relaxing, plus we did have an ocean view.

After we left the steam room, she said we could get our phones and sunglasses if we wanted because we then got to hang out in the infinity pool for the remaining thirty minutes.

It was glorious.

On other days, from the beach, I could see people up in this pool and there definitely were some who were posing by the ledge and having their photos taken. The sweet hostess offered to take our photo…we did not sit and pose on the ledge. 😂

When our time was up, we headed back to the room and then to the beach for a bit. It was pina colada time, obviously!

Then, we split up for lunch. Travis and Hayden wanted burgers and pizza, and Hadley and I hit up the Mexican restaurant again.

After lunch, Hadley got another crepe! (and I had some ice cream)

Then, I went back to the beach for a bit while Travis hung out in the room and the kids swam in our pool.

After that, we got ready for dinner.

We stopped by the boardwalk for a few photos.

Then, while we waited for our table, I took a family’s photo, and they returned the favor. This view was so nice, and I’m glad to have the family photo for the memories.

We went back to the Grille because we enjoyed it so much on Sunday, and we wanted to treat the birthday boy right!

Honestly, I’d raved so much about the sea bass that both Hayden and Travis wanted to try it.

This time, our table was inside which was much cooler, and Hadley and I had a view of the ocean.

We all got dessert, and Travis picked cheesecake for his birthday dessert.

After that, we headed back to the room. Hayden swam a bit, and we all hung out and then went to bed.


On our last full day, I had requested Beloved for breakfast. This is the place that had the avocado toast that I loved and the chocolate chip pancakes that the kids loved. Travis usually got eggs and bacon. Both times we had breakfast there, we got the fruit plate to share. There were items on there we were both familiar with with also new to us. Hayden did try the fruit on the left…he said it was “slimy but fruity” haha

Also, while we were there, I mentioned how we never made it there for lunch, so Travis suggested I go there on my own because….he took the kids next door to Planet Hollywood. They left around 11:00 for PH and just walked next door. They checked in at the front desk, paid the visitor’s fee, and got the bracelets for access to activities and meals.

I worked out (elliptical) and then hit the beach.

Once I got to my chair, I looked up and loved my view:

I started one more book:

Then, I did hit up Beloved for a solo lunch.

If this meal doesn’t say “last day at an all inclusive,” then I don’t know what does. I ate all the things. They brought the chips and guac with my drink. I ordered the gnocchi (my fave pasta!) and then couldn’t resist the lemon cake for dessert.

While I was eating, Travis texted me the only pic from their day there and said, “Happy Mother’s Day” 😂

Hayden was excited to try a burger from Guy Fieri’s restaurant.

After lunch, I went back to the beach for an hour or so. Since I knew it would be my last bit of relaxation time at the beach, I enjoyed it.

Then, around 4:30, I went back to the room to start getting organized for our return home on Saturday. I also went ahead and showered and got a bit of a nap in before Travis and the kids got back around 5:30.

They filled me in on the lazy river, slides, and restaurants, but Hadley did say she preferred our hotel. I’m glad we made the right decision.

We had a 7:30 reservation for dinner at the Hibachi place again. We all love hibachi and don’t go often at home, so we thought we’d hit it up again.

Our server was so sweet. He was so patient and gave Hayden a few lessons on using chopsticks. Hayden got the hang of it by the end.

After dinner, we walked around a bit and kids played in the game room for about 30 minutes.

The view of the lobby as we walked back to our room was so pretty.

Per evening tradition, Hayden swam a bit in our pool, and then we were all ready for bed by 10:00.

(By the way, on maybe the third night, I finally read the sign outside on our patio and said pool hours were from 8:00-8:00…I guess that’s the big pools and the private pools. It also explains why I never really saw anyone else in their pools while Hayden splashed around most nights. That being said, Hayden was my only night swimmer, and he was quiet…and never in the pool past 9:30. Truly, it was always so quiet at night by our building which was so great.)


Our flight wasn’t until 3:30 on Saturday, so we didn’t have to be in the lobby for our transportation until 11:30 or 12. While we were ready to head home, it was nice to ease into the day. We slept in, packed up, and then hit the buffet one more time for breakfast (and one last churro!)

Then, we went back to the room and made sure we had everything. We were only in the lobby for a few minutes before the van picked us up. The car ride to the airport was about an hour long.

Once we arrived at the airport and got to the check in, it moved so quickly. They had so many Nexus people scattered throughout the lines that they could look at passports, ask us questions, and keep us moving. Once we checked my bag, we headed through the security lines. That was definitely a bit more hectic, but it was fine. We had about 1.5 hours until the plane left, so we shared some sandwiches, hung out, bought some snacks and got ready to board the flight.

The flight took off on time, and the kids slept off and on most of the way. I did the same along with read my book.

We landed at 7:20, went through customs, waited on my bag, and then finished up in security/customs/bag check. Then, we went out to catch the shuttle to our car. It was probably 8:45 before we reached our car. It was a long travel day, but it went so smoothly. Everything was on time, and we hardly had to wait at any point.

As soon as we got in the car, we decided on Chick-fil-A for dinner #helloAmerica and Hayden asked for a country music station! CFA was probably our biggest delay of the day! It seemed to take forever to get our food. We were back in Lex by 10:30. Everyone was excited to see Homer. We unpacked a bit, showered, and were in bed around 11:30.

Homer got lots of snuggles on Sunday…and then Hadley headed to camp!

Shew! If you made it to the end of post #3, you’re the real MVP. Let me know if you have any questions! I’m happy to answer them…especially while everything is mostly fresh in my mind.

Also, did you see the reels I’ve posted on my Insta page? I decided it would be fun to figure out how to make reels as another way (besides these posts) to remember our trip. Hadley was very impressed with what I created…which is the real stamp of approval. haha I’m posting the third reel today! They were fun to put together.

These last few weeks of summer are kind of hectic (what’s new?). I will still be posting…but maybe just a tad bit more infrequently. We’ll see!

As the bellman said when we checked out, “¡Hasta luego!” When I said, “Adios,” he said that means we’ll never be back…”¡Hasta luego!” is better because it means, “See you later!” I loved wrapping up our trip with that sentiment.

Posted in Travel

Mexico Recap Part 2: Isla Mujeres


Usually on Fridays I link up with Andrea and Erika to share all my favorites from the week, but instead, I’m going continue sharing about our Mexico vacation because it’s certainly a recent favorite for us.

I shared part 1 of our trip yesterday, and today I’m diving in to part 2.

Before we left for our trip, we had a few people tell us that we should ferry to Isla Mujeres, rent a golf cart and tour the island. So, Travis asked the front desk for information, and they actually had that excursion available that could be booked through them. So, Travis went ahead and signed us up for Wednesday. We thought that would be a good activity to break up our pool and beach time. It was $100/person and at first, I wondered if we should just get a cab to the ferry, get a golf cart, and do our own thing. Well, by the end of the day Wednesday, I was glad we paid for the excursion because it was such an amazing experience.


Since we were to be in the lobby by 8:30, we decided to keep breakfast simple and go to the buffet. After breakfast, we went back to the room to get packed up for the day. I almost put sunscreen, towels, etc. in our beach bag, but then we decided to use both of the kids’ backpacks. That ended up being a great decision because we were on the go so much that day that it was easier to have our belongings on our backs than carrying a beach bag.

I hate sitting around all wet, so I did pack us all an extra swim suit in case we wanted to change at some point during that day. Again, I was glad that I did that.

A van picked us up to take us to the port. There were two other families in the van with us. At the port, all the workers spoke multiple languages. We heard Spanish, English, French, Italian and more! It was so neat.

After we got checked in, we had to wait a bit for the boats to be ready and for everyone to arrive. We chatted with one of the families from our hotel. They were from Canada and were so nice. Their kids were 15 and 19, and we ended up sitting by them on the boat to and from.

I wondered if any of us were the seasick type. We’ve all been on boats on the lake, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been on a boat in the ocean. Thankfully, we were all good!

Our boat’s name was Marathon which I thought was a fun name considering Travis and the kids like to run. I’d say there ended up being about six families on board (around 25 people) as well as the captain and four or five crew members.

The kids headed straight to the front of the boat. They were excited to see everything. Once we got moving and there was a breeze, I approved that decision. haha

After only about five minutes of sailing, it was time for the snorkeling. Travis didn’t really give me the details on this…but I put on my life jacket and snorkel and hopped right in the water. Seriously though, it all moved so quickly. The main tour guide told us to jump in and stay with the leader. One of the guys just swam holding a life preserver and we followed along…for probably a half a mile…we just kept swimming!

You didn’t have to snorkel, and some people did stay back on the boat.

I could tell the guide kept looking up to count and make sure he hadn’t lost any of the fifteen of us swimming. Hayden really took to the snorkeling, and if I ever needed to find him, I’d just look for the tour guide because he stuck close to him. We did see so many amazing fish and reefs. Also, towards the end, there was an “underwater museum” that had statues.

The boat had moved to pick us up after our 30 minutes of snorkeling.

Of course, there aren’t snorkeling photos but it was a great experience.

Once we got on the boat, we dried off, and got settled for the 45 minute ride to Isla Mujeres.

The water was stunning, and I probably have thirty photos on my phone that look just like this:

…and this…

The main tour guide was awesome. He was funny and knowledgeable. The other crew members continued to offer drinks and were just so kind and fun.

At one point, the tour guide told us to go stand at the front of the boat and he’d take our photo, and I couldn’t love this photo more.

….and then he told us to put our hands in the air! haha

Once we arrived at the Beach Club, the captain said he’d be back in two hours. Included in the ticket price was access to the beach club. We paid an extra $40 (or $50?) for the golf cart tour. So, those who weren’t doing the tour could hang out at the Beach Club, but otherwise, we followed one of the crew members who got us the golf carts and led the tour.

We drove for a few minutes to our first stop.

…which was stunning.

…another great photo op.

Then, we continued the drive and stopped about ten minutes later at Punta Sur. The tour guide told us we had about 15 minutes here.

So we snapped a few pics, and the kids got ice cream, and I got a coconut drink.

Then, we got back in the golf carts and drove around a bit more. Hadley and I were in the back of the golf cart, and had some of the best views as we continued the tour.

There were so many amazing houses with beautiful views of the ocean. We drove through a cemetery, and then ended the tour driving through parts of the town. We even saw some kids outside playing at school.

Then, we got back to the beach club and had about one hour to eat (the beach club buffet was included) and some beach time.

Hadley’s always up for a photo op!

The kids swam for about thirty minutes, and then it was time to get back on the boat.

Once we were settled on the boat, we had about a twenty minute drive to North Beach which apparently is the best part of the island. As we sailed there, the guide pointed out Ricky Martin’s house…or so he said!

We arrived at North Beach at 2:30, and had two hours at that stop. We all disembarked, and at first it was a bit hectic with all the people and shops. Our ticket included tequila tasting at the city center but we didn’t do that.

We walked a few blocks to a less crowded area of the beach. Again, the water was just so pretty and actually cool.

The water by our resort was warmer, and this Caribbean water was refreshing.

After about an hour in the water, we were hungry. Travis said he’d walk a bit to see if there was a good spot to get something quick to eat. Well, right in front of where we’d put our towels was the Playa Norte Beach Club. I laughed because only we would put our towels right in front of a beach club. #bouji

Anyway, we dried off and had about thirty minutes to get a drink and something to eat. Since we were on a time crunch, we just stuck with chips, salsa, and guac since that would be quick. It was so good.

Since we had to walk back to the boat and weren’t completely dry, Hadley and I changed our swimsuits, so I was glad I had the extra suit to wear under my cover up. Just more comfortable for the ride home.

We went back to the dock and boarded the boat for the ride back to port. It was about an hour, and it was so nice out. There were clouds, so we caught a break from the sun…and the kids even fell asleep!

We chatted with another family from Canada. They had two teenage girls, and were super nice. They told us they were staying at Planet Hollywood which was right next door to our resort. Travis had thought about taking the kids to another resort one day to do slides and other activities. They were so helpful with info about Planet Hollywood that Travis did end up taking the kids there on Friday.

Once we got back to the dock, we only had to wait a few minutes for our ride.

Once we got back, it was probably 6:00, and we took about an hour to cool off and swim in our pool and take turns showering.

We were tired but just kept chugging along. We were afraid if we napped, we’d never get up for dinner. haha

We decided to go to Beloved for dinner, and I couldn’t get over the sunset photos as we walked past the pools.

Then, as we arrived at the restaurant, this view stopped me in my tracks:

(and it’s now the screensaver on my phone!)

We got settled on the patio as the sun continued to set.

Hadley was excited to order the salmon (her fave) and I ordered the risotto. Both were so good. I can’t remember what Travis and Hayden ordered.

Unfortunately, while the view was pretty, for some reason, we were eaten alive and left with bug bites that lasted for days!

After dinner, we headed back to our room. It had been a wonderful but long day. We were ready for bed!

I’m so glad we took the trip to Isla Mujeres. I have a couple of friends who have said they stayed on the island on their trips to Mexico. If we ever get back, maybe we will have to look into that!

Weekly Recap:

I hope you have a great weekend. Next week, I’ll write one more post to wrap our trip. Thanks for following along!

Posted in Travel

Mexico Recap: Part 1


Well, I had some time to sort through my photos and look at my notes in order to get started sharing about our vacation.

We were all so excited for this trip, and I’m glad we waited until early July. We were plenty busy in June, and now we still have some summer left after this vacation.

So, let’s get started…


We were up bright and early on Saturday to finish packing last minute items and hit the road for Cincinnati. Our flight actually didn’t leave until 12:30, but we left our house at 8:30. We hit up Starbucks for coffee and breakfast before starting the one hour 15 minute drive. We got our car parked and took the shuttle to check in. The line was pretty long for me to check my bag, but once it got moving, it was fine. Travis and the kids went on through security while I waited to check my bag.

I found them in terminal A, and we had a Subway sandwich while waited to board the plane.

Poor Hadley…our trip started off with some major tummy troubles for her…

…but we were excited to get on the plane.

Thankfully, everything was on time with no cancellations or delays. We were on a chartered flight, so maybe they were having less issues than the other bigger airlines?

Cincinnati to Cancun was a three hour direct flight. We all snoozed a bit, and I finished a book on my Kindle.

Hayden had the window seat and snapped this photo as we arrived:

We landed in Cancun around 3:30, and walked down the plane’s stairs directly to a tram that took us to customs. We got our passports stamped and headed to baggage claim (for just my bag *sigh*) After about twenty minutes, we got my bag and got in the chaotic line to turn in our forms for our stay in Mexico. Then we went outside to find our transportation. Nothing says vacay like a bar right by the transportation lanes. Travis snagged a beer, and we waited about 15 minutes for our van. We used a travel agent, and she set up the transportation through Nexus, and they were so efficient and helpful. We had a van all to ourselves for the 50 minute ride to …

Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres

(Again, with the help of our travel agent, we narrowed down our choices to Catalonia and another resort…I believe it was Dreams, but we ended up showing both to the kids for their input. Dreams seemed to have a few more things like slides and lazy river, whereas, Catalonia had the private pool). A friend of mine told us to join Facebook groups for the places we were interested in, and Travis did that. The private pool was the determining factor for the kids. Again, both seemed like good choices, but in the end, we were very happy with our decision.

This was the view right when we walked in to the lobby…and the ocean can be seen there in the distance.

While Travis checked us in, I hung with Hadley who still wasn’t feeling well, and Hayden enjoyed a welcome drink! haha

Basically, this resort had four main buildings of rooms. The bigger pool (party like pool) was between buildings 1 and 2. Between buildings 2 and 3 was 5th Avenue with restaurants, shops, and often times the nightly entertainment. Then, the family pool was between buildings 3 and 4. Because of the Facebook group, Travis knew to request building 4, and I’m so glad he did. It was the perfect spot for us.

We even got lucky to be at the far end of building 4 with only one room between us and the boardwalk to the beach.

We were in a “Privileged Grand Family Suite and Swim Up.” Besides having enough space for all of us and the private pool, “privileged” status meant we had access to a couple of restaurants that others didn’t as well as the shaded area of the beach, one hour at the spa for each adult, percent off of some items, and a few other “perks.”

This is the view as you walk in the room. It ended up that my kids took turn on the bottom bunk and then the other slept on the pull out couch. That pull out couch was an added bonus that I didn’t realize we had. There was a sliding glass door on the right with access to the private pool. There were smart tv’s in the living room and main bedroom, but we never turned them on.

As you walk in, to the left is a huge area with space to hang clothes, cubbies, fridge, etc. To the right was a really big bathroom and then the bedroom. The bedroom also had a sliding door to the patio/pool.

The room key was on a wrist band. We all had wrist bands, but at first, only Travis and I had the key on them. After a couple of days, we had the kids get the wristbands with the keys.

We got settled, and then I lost Travis. Well, I found him at the poolside bar which was right by our room. How convenient. (That bar did close around 7:00, so it was never loud). He did bring me back my first margarita of the trip. He handed it to me, and said, “I don’t think it’s skinny!” haha We later learned, if you say, “no sugar,” you got a skinnier version of the marg.

We let the kids swim for a bit….

…and then I wanted to see the beach!

The boardwalk was steps from our room.

The sun was setting, so we stayed a few minutes before heading to dinner.

For most restaurants, you needed a reservation for dinner, but not the buffet, so that’s where we went for dinner. When we got there, we realized there was a private room for privileged guests which was a nice touch.

The buffet was so nice, and had so many options. An overwhelming amount of options. Hayden ate all the things, and Travis and I had tacos. #wheninrome Poor Hadley could barely finish her toast.

After dinner, we walked around to get acclimated…

lobby area

This is 5th Ave. where there are shops and restaurants.

We came back to the room, and Hayden swam for a bit. Hadley still wasn’t feeling well, and we all were asleep by 10.


Since we woke up pretty hungry, we just hit the buffet again…and that’s when I remembered how much I love a churro. Hadley woke up feeling 90% better, so we were all thankful for that.

Usually if we had the buffet for breakfast, my fave breakfast was just coffee, an egg, pineapple (and maybe a churro ;).

On the way back to the room, we realized that lizards and iguanas are all around the property. Throughout the week, we really only saw them in the morning, so we knew to be on the lookout…not that they would harm anyone…just didn’t want to step on one…or be startled.

We made our way back to the room and then went to the beach for a few hours. Travis and Hadley rented the kayaks and had a great time. Hayden and Hadley went back out for a bit too. It was a good activity for them. (Also, there was a kids club at this resort, but I think it went to age 12, and my kids were fine just hanging with us. Again, the private pool allowed them to swim while Travis took a nap or I read) Later in the trip, we found the game room…I do think the kids would have used it a bit had we found it sooner.

I started Emily Giffin’s new book…I read it in two days. Loved it.

Then, the kids wanted to check out the other pool. Now the bigger infinity pool with waterfall and a few other things was “Pool A”….but my friend who was there a couple weeks before us mentioned it as more of a “party pool”…later in afternoon…and that did seem to be true. (This pool also had activities in the morning like aerobics, games, and more) We were there until around 2:00, and it was fine. (Also, both pools closed around 8:00 every night) The kids had a great time, and then it was time to find lunch.

We ended up on 5th Ave. at a burger/pizza place. Travis and Hayden got burgers, and Hadley and I had a couple of slices of pizza.

After lunch, I went back to the room. We stopped by the bar at the family pool and got a couple of margs. They kids and Travis hung out in the family pool…and this was my view from our pool:

(peep Hadley doing a handstand. haha)

We had a 7:00 dinner reservation at the Grille. This was our view while we waited:

Travis and Hayden ordered steaks, I had the sea bass (so good! and one of the reasons we went back there a few days later), Hadley had Caesar salad and mashed potatoes. She loved every bite.

(All the restaurants had the QR code that you could scan, and then for the dinners, you always had appetizer, entrée, side, and dessert options that you ordered all at once. The “Executive” level people had a few extra menu items and a couple of extra reserved tables and an additional restaurant…I guess those are travel members/time share holders?) We never had an issue getting a reservation, but Travis stayed on top of it, and you could do your reservations two days in advance.)

After dinner, we headed to 5th Ave. for the nightly entertainment. (I will say that if you were staying in the buildings between 5th Ave, the entertainment was always over by 10:00, and some nights the entertainment was in the theater or by the lobby)

Monday : 4th of July

Monday was the 4th of July, and Travis and I got coffee at Beloved which was one of our favorite restaurants. You don’t need a reservation there, but it’s reserved for “Privileged” and “Executive” guests.

We had coffee with a view and then took the kids to the buffet (Hayden loved the buffet!) for breakfast.

The buffet was decorated in red, white, and blue which was fun…so was Hadley!

Travis had already been to the gym, so I decided to get my elliptical workout in while I actually felt like doing it.

Then, we had some beach time…

Travis and the kids went back to the “party” pool for a bit while I stayed at the beach and read my book. Of the four of us, I enjoy the beach the most. That being said, I don’t get in the water much…it’s more about the view and shade of palm trees while reading that means vacay for me.

Travis and the kids were back in the family pool chatting with a family we ended up seeing most every day. They were from San Antonio and had kids my kids’ ages. Hayden suckered Travis into buying a football, but that is what kept Hayden entertained in the pool…and they’d play with the other kids too.

While I got ready, the kids hung out in our pool before dinner.

We had 6:00 dinner reservations at the Mexican restaurant (Adelita). Needless to say, they make a good margarita and guac! I got the fajitas, and they were amazing.

After dinner, we went to the beach for about 30 minutes to watch the sun set, and snap and 4th of July family photo.

We sported our red, white, and blue in a lowkey way. 😉

Then, we went and watched the entertainment. It was USA themed with all kinds of popular songs, dance routines, and some of the dancers were dressed as Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, the Statue of Liberty and more.

Around 10:00, we headed back to the room. Right as we got in our room, I heard fireworks. Hadley ran outside, and we were able to catch a short fireworks display from the resort next door. It was brief, but it made my American heart happy!


We started the morning with breakfast at Beloved. And…this is where I fell in love with their version of avocado toast (avocado “tostada”).

One thing I’m glad our travel agent told us to do was bring cash…mainly ones and fives to tip the bartenders, servers and cleaning staff and others. We didn’t have a single bad experience. Every server was friendly and made every effort to get our food out to us, refill drinks, and more.

More beach time…where I finished my book.

The kids had strawberry daiquiris…

…and then the weather turned iffy. These were the only rain clouds we saw all week.

….and there are all three of my people realizing maybe they should come in!

Right as they got out of the water, it down poured. We grabbed our stuff and headed straight to the kayak rental hut. After 15 minutes, the rain moved on and we went back to Adelita’s for lunch.

Tacos on a Tuesday…is there anything better?

Between pool A and 5th Ave., there was a crepiere that Hadley was dying to try. They served ice cream too, but both kids got Nutella crepes. This place was just open during the day, and there was also a couple of food trucks there too.

I went back to the beach and started my second book of the trip while the kids and Travis went to the family pool.

When we got back to our room, this is what we found:

(I had flashbacks to our honeymoon and seeing these fun towel displays) The kids thought it was so neat!

We had dinner reservations at the hibachi place (Ayami), and we sat next to a sweet family from Chattanooga. They had four young girls!

I chose sushi as my app, and it was so good. The chef provided wonderful entertainment while cooking our meal.

Then, we hit up the theater for the entertainment. The performers sang and danced to American songs through the decades. We enjoyed it…especially Hadley!

Well, that’s the first part of our trip! We really did have a great time, and with each day, we settled in and relaxed a bit more. We also became acclimated about where things were, restaurant options, reservations and more.

Thanks for hanging with me for all the pictures and details. I never know what others may want to know…plus, I want to remember what we did.

Part 2 will be all about Isla Mujeres. It was such an amazing experience.

See you back here tomorrow!

Posted in Travel

What I packed for vacay


Well, I had hoped to share part 1 of our vacation with you today, but time has just gotten away from me.

Re-entry has been hectic. Travis went to work early Sunday morning for a horse sale this week, and I’ve been unpacking, doing laundry, prepping for the kids’ activities, and more.

Funny story: I went to Walgreens early Sunday morning. When the worker said, “hello,” I responded with ,”Hola!” #oldhabitsdiehard

On Sunday, Hayden ate Ruffles chips we bought at the Cancun airport and made a turkey sandwich with turkey that was opened before we left, and we had Panera for dinner. So, I felt like I needed to get some groceries yesterday, to say the least!

Also, you know when I shared with you that I’ve taken over 700 photos of Homer since we got him three years ago? Well, I apparently love turquoise blue water just as much! So, I need to sift through my photos and get going on those posts.

I did get my suitcase unpacked yesterday (everyone else’s got unpacked Sunday along with laundry), and I decided to finally look at what I packed and make a master list/template for me to use in the future.

Like my closet re-organization post, this may be more for me than anyone else, but I know I will like having this as a reference point.

Packing (and unpacking) was a bit easier thanks to having my closet and drawers organized. It was easier for me to see what I had in order to pack. I bought a few new things, but overall, I went with most of my favorites, some of which I’ve had for months or years.

So–a little back story. I’m a chronic over-packer. That’s it. End of story. Going in to this vacay, Travis knew I’d be the only one to check a bag. This was true, but good news is I used to over-pack a large suitcase. This time, I over-packed using my new (for my birthday in January) medium sized suitcase. #babysteps.

Anyway, nothing like travelling internationally to make you want to just walk off the plane and straight to customs rather than wait a half hour for your bag putting you middle to back of the customs chaos line. (For the record, it was chaotic in Cancun and quiet (but slow to get bags) in Cincinnati.)

So, once we got home, I did what I’ve always said I wanted to do. I took out what I didn’t actually wear on vacay, and then repacked what I did use in to Hadley’s suitcase to see if I could ever actually be a carry on packer…


TA. DAAAA! (Well, I did have to sit on it to zip it, but a good amount of stuff is in there.)

The clothes on the left are what I didn’t wear, and then that’s Hadley’s suitcase.(My mom got the kids these suitcases (20 inch carry on size) for Christmas 2020, and they’ve been perfect.) Travis got me a new medium sized one from Macy’s during an after Christmas sale. #perksofJanuarybirthdayshopping

Now, real talk –a few of my shoes aren’t in there, but they weren’t ever in my suitcase. Thankfully, Hayden is a very light packer, and my few sandals were in his suitcase.

I still swear by packing cubes, but have you seen these Ziploc Space Saver bags? Travis picked up two at Home Depot, I believe. I used one for the dresses I took, and he used one as well. On the return trip home, I still used one for my dresses, and then we used the other for most of our dirty clothes (seen below)

My carry on was my Weekender bag from Target. I bought it in May; I’ve used it a few times, but this was my first time using it on a plane.

In it, I packed a beach bag, a couple of pairs of sandals, two books, my Kindle, my curling iron, two purses, three hats (beach hat, sun visor, and ball cap)and a few other random odds and ends. I told you…it holds a lot, and it wasn’t even packed to the brim.

It seems to go in and out of stock, and I think there are a couple of variations, but it’s a great bag.

Now on to the real point of this post….my checklist for future beach vacations in hopes that I can become a carryon girl.

On the plane:

  • I wore my long black muscle tank dress from Target that I’ve had for years along with my favorite Amazon cardigan. I also wore my faux Birks.


  • underwear, bras, sports bras, socks (I didn’t over-pack in this department)


  • one pair of lightweight pj pants
  • night gown
  • t-shirt
  • pink pj set (from Target)…these have been my favorite this summer. (top // bottom)


The gym was so nice, and I’d set a goal of working out three times, but hit the gym for the elliptical twice. That being said, on our boat day, I swear we swam half a mile on our snorkeling tour, so that counts as exercise!)

  • 2 shorts: black and gray
  • black tennis skirt
  • 2 workout tops

Tank tops:


  • One black pair and one army green pair of lightweight shorts to wear with tanks.


  • 4 swimsuits
  • 3 coverups (including my favorite new blue one and the green one I purchased earlier in the summer)
Coverup and belt bag


  • 8 dresses (really seven dresses because I wore one on the plane) (I originally packed 10 dresses…I know, I know…too many!)


  • Faux Birks (I wore on the plane to and from as well as other times)
  • Braided heel sandals
  • Tennis shoes for working out
  • Flip flops for pool and beach
  • Two pairs of flat sandals (I definitely could have just brought one, but sandals are light-weight and easy to pack!)


On the plane, I used my cross body shoulder bag purse.

These were in the Weekender bag:

  • Lululemon belt bag (I used this so much…when we went to breakfast, lunch, excursion, and it fit easily in the beach bag)
  • Favorite Amazon crossbody purse (I have it in beige, and it’s on sale!) I used this every night when we went out to dinner and to watch the entertainment in the evenings)
My purse!


I packed these in my carry on bag:

  • Beach hat. The one I have, I bought two years ago from Nordstrom. It’s my “go to” beach hat. (Usually on vacay, I feel like I have to wash my hair every day (which isn’t something I usually do) because of the salt water and heat. This trip, I got away with every other day because of dry shampoo, and I even wore this hat a couple of times to lunch or dinner). I don’t see mine on Nordstrom’s site, but this one looks similar.
  • Ball cap — I have so many, but usually bring my Patagonia one on vacay.
  • Sun visor – I got this one last summer and love it. It’s easy to pack because it rolls right up. Sometimes, my head gets hot when wearing my other hat, so this visor is perfect for blocking the sun and letting my head breathe. (If they makes sense?)


I always pack my makeup bag, but then I usually pack one or two more other travel bags with travel size things, skin care, etc. This time, I just put everything I needed into the makeup bag, and just used one travel bag for my Dime Beauty skin care products for day and night. (We used some of other bags in this set to hold our passports, medicine, etc.) My cosmetic bag fit perfectly into the corner of the suitcase.

Plane Ride Home:

  • This dress came in a couple of days before we left, and I love it. I wore it to dinner one night and then on the plane ride home with a gray sweatshirt. (I usually get cold on the plane.)

….and that’s it. Well, that was still a lot, but it’s less than what I brought.

Things I packed that I didn’t wear:

  • 3 blouse shirts/sleeveless tops
  • 2 swimsuits
  • workout leggings and top
  • white jeans (I love white denim and will wear in the summer, but I guess I’m more of a dress person, especially on vacation)
  • one tank
  • 2-3 dresses
  • Denim shorts
  • long sleeve shirt
  • and a couple other things, I’m sure!

Now, I know there will be quite a few who read this list and will still think I packed too much…and you are not wrong. 😆 Others, will be super impressed that I condensed my packing down to these items in my packing cubes.

Shew! It’s such an effort for me to pack that I always put it off. Honestly, more than packing, it’s the other odds and ends that leave me scatter brained (all the chargers for all the things, books, Kindle, medicine, swim goggles, etc.)

I hope to share about the first part of our trip later this week!

What are your packing tips? I clearly need to add them to my packing routine. I will thank you…and so will my family! 😂

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Posted in Friday Favorites, Travel

Friday Favorites {#120}

Hello! How was your week? Ours was amazing.

We spent our time at Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres this week, and it was a wonderful family vacay.

I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

Here are some favorites from the week:

I’m sure our Mexico vacay will be its own post (or 2?), but here are some fave photos from the week.

We flew out of Cincinnati on Saturday.

A margarita within a few minutes of check in to our hotel…

We had a private pool right next to the family pool which ended up being a perfect luxury on this trip.

The beach was only a few steps away from our room.

We celebrated the 4th of July in our (low key) red, white, and blue.

Daiquiris on repeat…

Tacos…on a Tuesday!

We took a boat (& snorkeling) excursion to Isla Mujeres.

The views were breathtaking.

The water was amazing.

The kids had so much fun.

Nothing beats sunsets at the beach.

Trav’s birthday was yesterday, and we spent some time at the spa.

Then, we celebrated with a birthday dinner at the steakhouse.

Hayden really embraced the all inclusive life, Hadley loved swimming and activities, Travis enjoyed “Mexican apple juice” (cerveza!), I read three books this week, and we all have sun kissed cheeks.

As always, we loved the family time, but we are ready to be reunited with Homer.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Even on vacay … 😂

Weekly Recap:

I had a full week of posts…

Not Just a Mom:

We have our NJAM link up on Monday.

This month’s topic is: family food traditions. We hope you’ll link up with us!

What do you have planned this weekend? I have a feeling re-entry will be rough for us. We’ll take the weekend to get back on track with all the things.

See you back here on Monday!