Holiday, Life and Marriage

Top Ways To Reduce Stress During The Holiday Season

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Let’s be real – the holidays makes this time the most stressful part of the year. Whether traveling, hosting or simply partying at others’ homes, everything can add more stress on top of present shopping, wrapping and decorating. If I have learned anything by being pregnant this year, it’s that you sometimes have to make compromising or let things go that just create stress in your life, and that includes all the little things the holidays bring, so I’m sharing my favorite tips and tricks to help ease the stress of the season.

Don’t Overcommit Your Time

Sometimes invited to tons of holidays parties and various celebrations, but it’s OK to say no! Don’t commit to more than you can or should handle, and pick those that you will enjoy the most or are top priority. Sometimes this has to include Christmas Eve or Christmas Day celebrations – when you have multiple families and different geographic locations, you sometimes have to save yourself from the run around and just say no.

Buy Early And Make A Wrapping Schedule

I always tell people to have all of your Christmas presents bought at least two to three weeks before Christmas – this way, there’s absolutely no stress about last minute orders that don’t show up on time. Make a list of everyone you have to buy for and then slowly add gift ideas leading up to Thanksgiving on it’s. This way, but my the time you enter the holiday season, you already have a ready-to-order list for quick and easy shopping.

I also love to make a “schedule” for myself to get the wrapping done, like wrapping one present per night, or spending 30 minutes on Sunday nights to wrap. This way there’s no last-minute bad wrapping jobs in Christmas Eve and late nights. I also set up a designated room in our home for present storage and wrapping so that I don’t have to clean everything up every time I wrap some gifts and can step in to wrap gifts when I have free time.

Make The Celebration Casual Or Semi-Casual

Let’s be real, there’s nothing worse than getting dressed up for Christmas Dinner only to realize your clothes have “shrunk” a little since last year and you’re going to be uncomfortable all night. Make the night feel a lighter with a casual or jeans-approved attire. Even better, make Christmas Day a pajama party and see who can wear the most festive pajamas!

Do Your Shopping Online And Use Discount Code Apps

I have not stepped into a store to do Christmas gift shopping for almost three years now (in the exception of a few items) and it has been AMAZING! With technology like Google Shopping, it’s now easier to find retailers with the cheapest price for an item you’re looking for, and most stores do free shipping this time of the year. Use apps like Honey or Wikibuy to find discount codes or cheaper stores for your item – both are available for Google Chrome browser add-one and automatically ask you to check when you click checkout. I save so much money using these apps and even more than when I shop in store!

If you must go to a store to get something, try to use stores with the express pick up option. Walmart, Target and so many large stores now offer “order online, pick up same day” options for FREE that helps you to bypass the time and effort of finding an item and standing in line waiting to checkout.

Decor Does Not Reflect Your Spirit

Simplifying your home decor for the holidays doesn’t mean you’re a Grinch in the making. In no way are we obligated to over decorate and have the brightest house on the block, and we do just that. In our home, we have one mantel garland, our Christmas tree and a simple strand of colored lights outside to trim our house. We have typically skip any fancy centerpieces, large displays, and full decor swaps for the holidays that take hours to set up because they just cause more clutter and stress in our already packed little home filled with torn wrapping paper and stacks of presents.

Focus On Traditions Instead Of Monetary Value

Some of the best gifts are about traditions versus how much money they cost. In our house, my mom has always given us socks for Christmas – and honestly it’s become one of my favorite traditions because we neglect this simple thing all year round! Gifting your children with Christmas Eve pajamas the night before or spending a day at home together on Christmas Day to play with your new gifts may be just the fun stress reliever you need to kick off the holiday and enjoy together to build memories for years to come.


 

What are your favorite tips for people trying to make the holiday season a little easier?

 

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Holiday, Life and Marriage

Our Holiday Card Design and the Biggest Announcement Yet!

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OK, anyone who really knows me knows that I eat, sleep and breath the holiday season! There’s nothing that brings me more joy (and stress) than Christmas time, with the beautiful outdoor markets, delicious food, home cooking and family fun. It reminds me of all the beauty in the world when the rest of the year can be so overwhelming. Our Christmas card is our huge kick off to the holidays and this year we shared a very special secret and surprise hidden with in ours – can you see it?

The day is here that I’ve been teasing this announcement for what feels like forever! As you know, I’ve recently taken a step back away from public life and blogging to focus on myself because my husband Jeff and I are taking some huge steps in our life… and with that, I’m excited to say…

WE’RE EXPECTING!

My husband was practically born to be a father, and ever since day one, he knew he wanted to be a loving, caring husband AND father in our home. I always thought I’d be the kind of person more career driven than family focused, but my husband and I set ourselves a list of goals to achieve before we considered starting a family, such as financial stability, buying a home, having two cars in good shape, and paying off some debt, and we happily achieved it and could hardly wait for this journey in life!

I’m almost 15 weeks, due May 22, and growing at an incredibly rapid rate! My husband was quite the large baby, and I can already tell this little nugget is taking after him. He or she is currently the size of a radish and is quite the sassy pants – it has dodged the Doppler at the doctor’s office and gives me some wicked symptoms randomly, almost like its daddy, playing tricks on me and teasing me per usual!

We’re only two weeks from finding out the sex of our little one and the anticipation is killing me! We’re both hoping for a boy – my husband is adamant it’s a boy and in my heart I feel like it’s a girl. The old wives tales for gender prediction are pretty split but we’ll soon find out who’s intuition is right!


Stay tuned because I will soon be sharing my first trimester recap all about our decision to start a family, how we found out and how we told our families!

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Life and Marriage

Why I Stepped Away From Life For A While

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Over the last month, I’ve forced myself to take a step back in life. There has been so much going on all summer long that I just felt completely exhausted, even after our week long vacation. On top of that, there are so many changes coming with the season and life that I didn’t feel like I could actually enjoy them. I realized that I really just needed some quality “me time” and I couldn’t put a limit on when that started and stopped. Taking a step back from life doesn’t mean I’m introverted or anti-social, but it’s a reflective period for me to reinvigorate my passions and take time to explore me before I can truly give my best to everyone else.

WHAT I DID

Taking a step back from life is hard – granted, there are certain aspects to make life go around that I couldn’t let go, like work and bills, but overall, I took a few weeks to not make plans, not work more than I have to and not stress myself out with crammed deadlines for anything. My husband works weekends, so those ended up being the perfect time for me to relax around the house and do a few projects I wanted to do but never could fit into my schedule.

I spent mornings getting out of bed when I felt like it, going to the gym and doing what my body was telling me to do, or even catching up on some new movies I haven’t had the chance to watch and baking some new treats. I also enjoyed doing a little “fall cleaning” and getting rid of some of our clutter throughout the house (especially my closet!), and cleaning out our spare bedrooms to be a more organized person. It felt so great to really declutter and relax in a space that felt comfortable again. It was also nice to spend time with my husband for once without being consumed by my phone or running around with others making plans.

Another big project I have been dying to do for over 6 months is our master bedroom redesign. This is the last big room in our house that I haven’t touched since we bought it, but ironically it’s the room I spend the most time in during the few hours a day that I’m home. I kept putting it off because of many factors, but especially because I didn’t have time to make the decisions I really needed to make to get the project started. Check out a quick sneak peak before I share a full walk through soon!

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HOW I DID IT

The hardest part of this was completely clearing my schedule. I had so many things I felt like I needed to do on my days off, but I really needed to focus on making me a priority. I stopped stressing over my hair and makeup on the weekends, often going to the gym completely untouched besides washing my face and brushing my teeth. I took some time away from obsessing over social media and spent more time destressing and relaxing, like taking longer showers, enjoying naps when I felt tired in the afternoons, and just picking up that dinner when I didn’t feel like cooking.

I will admit – this was REALLY HARD. It was hard to step away from life and do what I want to do. I feel programmed to “go, go, go” and get as much done as fast as possible, but taking a step back really opened my eyes to what truly matters in life. Yeah, there are dishes in the dishwasher that have needed to be unloaded for a few days, but I spent time really enjoying our lives and designing our new master bedroom.

I did have some guilt because I wasn’t giving time to you all and writing/posting as much as I promised I consistently would, but I think we all agree that we need a break sometimes from the chaos. This time away truly helped to me think bigger and better for the future with so many new and exciting projects coming up to share with you all!

WHY I DID IT

I have hit a season of life that I just feel like I need to cut things out. I’m just one person and I can only do so much, and I’ve spent the last few years pushing myself to the limits to help or please others. My doctors have told me my whole life that there have been long term effects on my body due to high stress levels, and I’m finally ready to put my body and mind first in life. I don’t think I could have done this without my supportive husband. When I’m stressed, I don’t make his “job” of loving me any easier and I have known that for a while but have done nothing about it.

I have finally hit a point when I put my husband and I first above all, instead of worrying so much about what others think, feel or say. In hindsight, I realize the biggest issue we’ve had the last few years, especially while planning our wedding, was that I was trying so hard to please everybody and engage the negative people in our life, and that caused so much stress on me. With our new season of life, I’ve realized that I need to do the opposite to disengage and remove all of the stress and negativity from life that isn’t bringing anything positive to my growth. We need to think about our family in terms of immediate family and close friends, and worry second about extended family and disconnected friends because in the end, we rely on each other most to get through daily life.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Contrary to what I thought would happen, I feel completely refreshed! I didn’t think this would be effective and would ultimately stress me out more because I would be so worried about getting things done, but I’ve truly loved putting myself first. I have eaten food that I previously told myself no in a responsible manner and filled my tank with activities that I actually enjoy.

The biggest benefit to this whole “experiment” was mental health. I have been on the verge of many breakdowns the last few years, and I’m ready for a time in my life to slow down, enjoy the people around me and take in the beauty life has to offer.

My mind feels more inspired to do creative projects and I have truly learned what is important in my life now. I have seen that filling my tank makes me a more emotionally and physically available person for those I love rather than wasting my time on people who just cause more stress. I have began to cancel plans that I really dreaded doing and scheduling get-togethers with those I love or invest in fun activities we’ve been putting off for so long.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Start small – take a weekend, cancel your plans, remove everything from your schedule, and do what makes you happy. The more often you do this or the longer you can do this, the easier it will become to fill your personal cup of happiness and energy to grow and learn. I honestly thought I was being my best self before by being selfless and appeasing everyone, but I realized that things were falling through the cracks, and people who mean everything to me were facing the brunt of my backlash. It’s important you actually take time for the things you love and really appreciate living more, especially when time gets crazy with kids, marriage, work, gym, and so much more going on.

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Vici Dolls – Life’s a Journey Sweater in Oatmeal

Fabletics – Over the feet Leggings

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Home

Our Weekend Master Bedroom Remodel

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I’m not sure I’m any bit qualified to be called a designer, but gosh darn do I LOVE interior design! If I could go back and do my career all over again, it would be a huge debate between archaeologist or interior designer because just putting together colors and items to give a feeling or mood is incredible satisfying. I have known since we bought our house that the master bedroom would be something special – this is a space we live a majority of our lives in, sleeping, talking and relaxing, just my husband and I (and our dog of course!). I purposefully saved the biggest project for last to give myself time to thing about my dream bedroom.

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Inspiration

I probably pinned about 10 different bedroom concepts and eventually settled on a few ideas I knew I loved. I knew I wanted color because the rest of our house is gray and white, and I wanted to stick with our “modern farmhouse minimalist” look we have through out the house – with a twist! I wanted a more masculine approach with feminine accessories of antique brass fixtures and decorative pieces.

The Design

Wall Sconces – $50

I bought these inexpensive wall sconces from Wayfair, and even though I loved the original oil rubbed bronze, it was too dark against our dark colored wall so I repainted them to be an original bronze color, then used the same spray paint on all of our night stand and dresser hardware as well to coordinate. I got them during Wayfair’s Columbus Day sales for 30% off and they were such a steal at only $24 each! The great part is that they have a plug in and can be converted to hard wire depending on which you choose to go with – because I haven’t freshened up on my electrical skills, the plug is a much easier option for now, plus I painted the cords the same color as the walls to try and hide it!

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Bed – $260

I have had the same frame for our bed since before I even met my husband, and with the quick deterioration of every box spring we’ve ever had (my husband is a rough sleeper!), we needed a platform bed that didn’t require a box spring that could support our memory foam mattress. This tufted platform bed from Wayfair is the perfect solution to fit our grey and navy theme.

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Bedding and Sheets – $0

We had this bedding already for a few years and it’s still in really great shape so we saw no need to purchase new linens. That helped to shape our room design knowing that the bedding was so light and we ensured that the dark wall paint complimented or matched the dark sheets we had.

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Shelves – $14

This was probably the cheapest DIY project I’ve ever done in designing our home! Having already had the desired stain at home from previous wood projects throughout the house, all I purchased were four black shelf brackets for $2 each and two 3′ pine boards. A little sanding, staining and quick assembly, and this project was so simple and made a huge impact in our room to warm up the cool tones.

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Wall Art – $40

Instead of trying to find some kind of art or saying to go over our bed, I thought about creating something myself, whether it be custom printing black and white photos to fit the 16×20 frames I purchased (from Michael’s) or doing a calligraphy piece. Ultimately, I thought it would be a truly meaningful idea to write out our wedding vows in watercolor for a simple design that had such a story behind it.

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Side Tables – $0

I previously showed you all how I redesigned these thrift store side tables for $40 with a little paint and new hardware. They truly now match the bedroom and I couldn’t be more thrilled how well they look against the navy wall.

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The Final Result

On a Saturday with some helping hands of family members, we finished the painting, bed assembly and TV mounting which were huge projects. Later that night, the shelves and lamps were hung and the final art work was put up on Sunday. It’s hard to believe we put this huge project together in practically 24 hours, but it was totally worth it! After thinking over the decisions for weeks, preparing the paint, furniture and accessories, it was a great experience to see it all come together.

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Baby, Life and Marriage

My First Trimester Recap

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It’s so hard to believe how fast time is going! We decided to hold the secret to ourselves a little longer than the average pregnancy, but it was all completely worth it because we got to watch our little nugget grow and enjoy the time we had before everyone else knew. With my first trimester closing out at the end of October, I can proudly say I exited my first trimester only gaining 5 pounds, managed to survive the cravings thanks to all of the aversions I had, and did not throw up once! As a mama-to-be tackling her second trimester, I am excited to share this journey with everyone and what I learned in my first three months.

The Secret Sucks!

Keeping the secret is the hardest part. The best thing you can do is lock in a single confidant through the process to vent with to prevent spilling the secret early. Our direct families knew and select few friends, and that was the best thing we could have done instead of spreading the news so early to everyone. Although we were excited, we aired on the side of caution and enjoyed the secret to ourselves until I was almost 15 weeks.

Don’t Stress About Fertility

After actively trying for two months, I couldn’t help but think something was wrong when we didn’t get pregnant. Someone recommended we tried ovulation strips (we used these from Amazon because they are 1/5th the price of store bought and worked just as well) first to make sure I was ovulating, and using those, we were pregnant in our first month! I learned that my cycle didn’t follow the traditional two week rule the “average” woman had and just merely kept missing the window of time. Unless you have a pre-existing medical condition that could impact your odds, don’t stress about fertility. Try some home methods like ovulation tests first before panicking and scheduling a doctor’s appointment because your cycle just might not be what you thought it was since it’s hard to predict when you are actually ovulating.

The Faint Line

I had been doing pregnancy tests for 5 days already around my expected period date – all negative. I was almost positive I wasn’t pregnant that month, but one morning, waking up super early the week of our family vacation, the faintest line appeared and I thought “is that just the water going over the test line or is that actually a colorful line?” The anticipation is killer waiting 24 hours to try the next one, and again faint. After 5 tests and three days, it was undeniable, we were pregnant! I thought I’d cry with excitement when we were planning, but I think my husband and I were in utter shock once the moment actually came. You mentally prepare for it forever but it’s truly not real till you see the line of positive tests on your bathroom vanity. A little word of advice: store-bought tests are SO expensive! I bought these strips on Amazon in bulk when doing initial testing since you go through so many and confirmed with a nicer store-bought test once we were confident it could be a line as a keepsake. They were just as accurate and had the same hormone threshold as the early detection tests, which put the anxiety at ease when we found the first faint line!

Happy Grandparents Day!

Our family vacation just happened to be right at the same time we found out. We planned a last minute reveal – the day we started our family vacation was the day after grandparents day! We tied some Happy Grandparents Day tags to pacifiers and wrapped them in gift bags. That night, at the first dinner together of our cruise, we gifted them to our parents telling them they missed a holiday the day before. As you can imagine, they were so confused, and then were in complete shock! Although, my in-laws had a feeling when I wasn’t drinking or being totally active, and actually asked my husband if I was pregnant earlier in the day – thank goodness he lied! Overall, it was such an exciting moment and we wouldn’t change it for the world!

Changing Habits

The first thing I started when we decided to try for a family was vitamins – a good prenatal became essential to my daily routine, which is why I chose these Nature Made vitamins for a little extra boost. I also tried to reduce as much stress as possible while working on (trying) a healthy diet between the aversions and nausea. The exhaustion was real too and I found myself altering my sleep schedule to get closer to 9-10 hours a night to accommodate our growing baby and my exhaustive days. Fair warning – being pregnant makes you so much more exhausted so fast, even when you only have a little poppy seed in you!

Our First Peek

Seeing our little nugget for the first time at my 8 week ultrasound made everything so real. Up until then, I couldn’t help but think “well am I actually pregnant or is it all in my mind?” The first ultrasound for my husband and I was such a big experience together and I was glad it was only us to experience this together. It’s OUR baby and I love knowing something is coming into this world that’s an equal part of each of us. We made sure to choose a great medical practice that were also the on-call doctors at the hospital we plan to deliver at. This way, when we actually show up at 9 months in labor and the baby is ready, one of the doctors in the practice I’m rotating through over the next few months will be the doctor actually delivering and we’ll feel much more comfortable.

My Changing Body

I have struggled for years with my body, working through my fitness journey and accepting the fact that I am a tall, naturally strong woman and I would never have a model physique like society tells us is expected. Gaining weight is something I’ve always struggled with, being the I LOVE food, have a terrible metabolism due to genetics and I was worried that this experience would make me hate my body. But really it feels like more of an out-of-body experience. I see my body growing and changing and it doesn’t feel like my body. But when I see my bump growing and my stomach firming, I know that’s my little nugget building a new home with me. It feels so special, and for now, I just accept the double chin and weird rolls I’m developing because this body is my nugget’s home.

What’s Next?

Once we found out we were pregnant, my priority was finishing the little projects around the house we’d been putting off, like redoing our master bedroom and finishing some small organization projects. I also began to keep a journal to my nugget to give them one day when they’re all grow to know what it was like for me having them and included photos to compliment a multitude of stories I told. Now, I’m enjoying the process – being so close to finding out the sex of our nugget is KILLING me. My husband and I always said we want boys, and everyone else around us say they want girls but think we’ll have a boy. Secretly, I think it’s a girl – they say the mom just knows deep down and I only felt for a quick few days during the last few months that it was a boy, but in my heart I think it’s a girl. I can already tell he or she is A LOT like its daddy – it tried to play tricks and hide from the Doppler at my 12 week appointment, it gives me wild symptoms at random times and makes me crave food usually only daddy enjoys, and I can already tell it’s a future MMA fighter in training because, although I can’t physically feel it’s hands or feet, I can DEFINITELY feel when it decides to give a good strong kick to my kidneys or my bladder!

My First Trimester Survival Kit

Having the right help to survive your first trimester makes all the difference! And having the right tools helps too – check out my favorite must-haves below to help you survive your first three months as a mama.

Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter And Relaxation Kit – $38.70

To help prevent those pesky stretch marks early on, I use this amazing lotion that is natural and soothing. I use about one tub per trimester and so far not a single stretch mark!

Pink Storks Morning Sickness Candy – $10.99

Sucking on hard candy helps not only to distract your mind, but ginger in it helps to sooth your upset stomach. I found my self sucking on these all day at work and it worked like a charm!

Belly Belt Kit – $19.95

When your pants no longer button, this is a LIFE SAVOR! You may not be ready for maternity pants and still fit in your existing pants in the exception of the button, and this kit helps you to grow until you can no longer fit at all.

Body Pillow – $22.35

Your changing body and new hot flashes makes sleeping a little less comfortable, so snuggling with your pet or significant other isn’t always the best option. A body pillow helps to give you all the support you need and want to get a solid sleep during your most exhaustive period.

Extra Large Portable Cup or Water Bottle – $26.68

The thirst is real, especially during your first trimester where extra blood is flooding your body causing sweating and the increase need for water. Having a cup or bottle that goes everywhere with you is important to keep yourself feeling good and it also helps with nausea.


Stay tuned as we anxiously await to see what this little nugget will be and all the details about being a first-time mama-to-be!

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Travel

Our Bahamas Getaway: Days 3 and 4

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Even though our trip in total was 8 days long, the cruise went too fast with only 4 nights and a handful of days. Days 3 and 4 were some of the best to finish out the family fun, with a day trip to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and a day at sea enjoying all the perks on the Enchantment of the Seas. Check out our explorations and favorite pics!

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Day 3

As our only public port of call, Nassau was a familiar destination to me. My family and I had been there about 7 years ago on another cruise, but I have no recollection of what we did, so it felt like a fresh new adventure. I’m not personally a big shopper and really dislike souvenirs as a minimalist at heart, so before we left on vacation, I made sure to look into what sites are interesting to see and historical learning opportunities. My husband and I are big history nerds and prefer to spend our vacation seeing the world rather than seeing the same t-shirt for the third time. Plus, how can you not resist the charm of brightly colored building and Bahamian culture?

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Once off the boat early that morning, we decided to take a quick hike a few miles to the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. The Queen’s Staircase is 66 step handmade staircase from the late 18th century forged by slaves as a direct route from the city center to the fort. With a now towering waterfall complimenting it’s facade, it’s truly a beautiful and relaxing area. The interesting part though is the walk is very hot, with lots of sun beaming down on you and store-lined streets, but once you steps under the canopies of the Queen’s Staircase, you;re transported to a Caribbean oasis.

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Just up the stairs and a short 2-minute walk down the street is Fort Fincastle, a small, but powerful, 18th century fort designed to help protect the harbor from awaiting foes. For only $3, we toured the fort, saw the cells that some slept and lived in during hot Bahamian days and even got to push the canons around – just in case our ship is under attack! The view was magnificent, with 360 degree views of Nassau city, Paradise Island and the port harboring our ship.

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The midday walk back to the ship was brutal as the heat began to rise, so we decided to relax in the port market for a little fun – and hair braiding! It’s pretty much impossible to go to the Caribbean and not have someone get their hair braided. Enjoy some funny pictures of my husband thinking he looks tough with cornrows (even though he admits they hurt terribly!).

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Day 4

Our fourth and final full day was spent cruising the seas on the Enchantment from Nassau back to Port Canaveral, but we didn’t let the thought of vacation ending get us down! We took full advantage of the benefits of the ship while we could. My brothers-in-law were excited to try the rock climbing wall and trampoline park they offered, while Jeff and I indulged in the peace and quite of the Solarium, Royal Caribbean’s adult-only pool and relaxation area. The day was spent basically going from pool to food and back, relaxing in the warm sun and cool ocean breeze.

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Instead of going to the formal dining room, our group was pretty sick of eating so much delicious food and decided to take it light that night, so we enjoyed our final movie on the pool deck, and I was pretty excited to see they were playing Solo since it was new and I had not seen it. By the way, it was actually pretty good!

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My biggest indulgence during our trip was their breads and desserts! The rolls were so delicious and their desserts are perfectly portioned to taste multiples with minimal sugar so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by one piece of cake!

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It was a sad day when we had to get off the boat and begin our two day drive home, but this vacation was one for the memory books with our two families coming together and having so much fun!

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Travel

Our Bahamas Getaway 2018: Days 1 and 2

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Our first year anniversary was a huge celebration this year, and when my husband proposed we plan a second honeymoon (since our original honeymoon got switch around due to Hurricane Maria), we couldn’t help but take the opportunity to get away. When we thought more about how we were one family, we turned it into a massive family vacation with both of our parents, and my husband’s siblings and grandparents – talk about major coordination!

This trip took a lot of time and many nights of work, but in the end, we had an absolute blast as one family celebrating a special time in our lives. Read all about our first two days of our adventure and my favorite tips to planning your next getaway!


DAY 1 – PORT CANAVERAL

I don’t count the two days we spent in the car driving to Florida from Chicago as part of the vacation, although the laughs were endless in the car with my parents. Day 1 truly started when we met up with the whole family. We opted to book a 4 night Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas – my in-laws have never been out of the country so it was a great starter trip to experience, plus since we were so well taken care of on our honeymoon and still had a blast, we have sort-of become Royal Caribbean loyalists, especially for a mostly adult vacation of late night fun and delicious food.

Once through check-in at the port and on the boat, we spent the afternoon venturing around the Enchantment of the Seas while awaiting for our stateroom. We ate our way through the Windjammer buffet and saw amazing amenities like a rock wall and trampoline park. The kids couldn’t resist the urge to jump right into the pool immediately and we enjoyed the Sail Away Party on the pool deck before dinner.

Our group dinner was made extra special when the staff made sure all 12 of us fit at a single table for quality bonding time, plus the food was absolutely phenomenal! It became hard to turn away multiple entrees when it was so delicious – I felt bad leaving food on my plate.

After dinner, it was immediately back to the pool to relax and enjoy as the wind blew through the deck from sailing the Atlantic. The great part is that it was Monday night and they played football on a big screen right over the pool so no one missed a beat on vacation! Ultimately, day 1 was exhausting as is, so keeping it low key made the day nice and relaxing

TRAVEL TIPS

  • Your first day on a cruise is usually very crazy – don’t plan any activities and leave your schedule open to see the whole ship.
  • Spend an hour watching your ship sail away from port, it’s truly magnificent!
  • Make sure to try all of the food options before sticking with one all cruise. On our first cruise, we spent the whole trip in the buffet and didn’t realize how amazing the dining room food was until it was too late.

 


Day 2 – COCOCAY, BAHAMAS

Day 2 meant a relaxing day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the northern Bahamas. Because our party was so large, we booked two private bungalows on the island’s south beach which separated us from the public crowds. This was possibly the best decision we made the whole trip because we were able to have quality family time without losing people or worrying about crowds. Plus they were feet from the water and truly relaxing!

The bungalows came with floating mats, beach loungers, ocean views and catered lunch so we didn’t feel like we missed a beat of the main beach experience. We even brought our own snorkels to enjoy the magnificent wildlife with lemon sharks, sting rays and jellyfish swimming by our feet. When we wanted to tender back to the ship or check out some of the island shops, a quick shuttle service took us back to the main beach for fun – although, we spent almost all day at south beach!

Once we were back to the ship mid-afternoon before we sailed off to Nassau, our group enjoyed relaxing afternoon peace and quite (mostly in the form of naps!) before a delicious dinner again in the dining room. This night was formal night, so it was great to see everyone in their Sunday best enjoying delicious food and drinks. That night, we indulged in some late night bites at Windjammer while enjoying a cinematic classic, American Graffiti, on the pool big screen. My absolute favorite was the homemade corn dogs!

TRAVEL TIPS

  • If you’re planning a beach day during your trip, see what the local rental price is for equipment. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to buy it on amazon or at the local store and bring it yourself.
  • If you want to take an excursion, it’s worth the few extra dollars to book through your cruise line in the event that something happens, like cancellations or the excursion runs past port departure time.

Stay tuned for part two of our adventure, featuring our day in Nassau and 24 hours at sea!

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