2016 Year in Review

This year has been a doozie. We have had our share of ups and downs and I’m looking forward to a new start in 2017.

Here are some of our favorite memories from 2016. 


The highlight of this month was a special birthday surprise for our Princess. We had so much fun as a family exploring Disney World. It really is true that you really see the magic through the eyes of your children. They had so much fun.




This month was all baseball all the time. When we weren’t at practice or games we were putting in extra time at the batting cages.  We also celebrated Little Man’s eighth birthday. 



Spring Break was the highlight of this month. We froze at the beach but enjoyed spending time as a family. This month also started the Orlando City Season.


The definite highlight of this month was the purchase of our new boat! We love this boat and try to get on it as often as possible.


We celebrated a birthday and a Spring recital. 


This little one graduated from VPK.



One word to describe this month – Keys.



Back to school and we welcomed this little cutie to the family.


This was the month of the farmer’s market. We went several times and I never get tired of this skyline.



We celebrated my birthday as well as Halloween.




Thanksgiving and a new hair color were the highlights this month. 




Party was the main theme this month. We went to several holiday celebrations that were great fun. We are also now very tired and I am ready for a fresh start in the new year. I am sure there will be a resolution post soon as I seem to be consistent with those. Hopefully this year will be the year of more blogging. Fingers crossed.

See you in 2017!


Summer Vacation 2016: What We Brought

I think our summer vacation was successful in large part due to the time we took to get the right gear to take. We have taken many trips to the Keys and have learned a lot each time. I think now we know exactly what to pack and what we need to make our lives easy and fun while on vacation.



So every time our kids have gone out on a boat they have been absolutely miserable in their life vests. They must wear them on the boat so I knew this was one item I was going to have to shop around for in order to get the best one. In previous years the ones we had for the kids were very bulky and cumbersome and when they wanted to rest the vest would always rub them in the face. I looked all over, at Academy Sports, West Marine and even Amazon for slimmer vests. I finally just happened upon two in Target and they turned out to be perfect!! The link to hers is here. This is what it looks like on. Very slim and comfy! She had no problems wearing it constantly.IMG_1409


Here is hisIMG_1415

We wore our bathing suits A LOT. It was basically our uniform for the month. I got most of the kids suits at Target and Old Navy. I brought 5 suits each so I didn’t have to do laundry every second (I actually ended up doing laundry every second anyway). 


Here was my outfit pretty much every day. 





I absolutely love the Athleta Twister Bikini. It has the best support and still looks really cute. I have one in Jazzy Purple (shown above) and also Electric Jade. I don’t think I will ever buy another suit top. I bought the Shirred Bottom in Electric Jade and also bought these bottoms from Target and just mix and matched. 50726464


My sunglasses

You MUST have polarized sunglasses to be out on the boat all day. I mean I guess you don’t have to but it makes such a difference in the water color and you can actually see really far into the water while wearing them. These are very comfy and unlike my cheap aviators I normally wear I don’t squint at all. They are cute and protective at the same time. This company is really great to because they have a lifetime warranty! You can read about it here! My whole family loves Costa’s and they are never more perfect than in the Keys. Here is what they look like on.FullSizeRender

Shoes for the Boat

These are tricky because most boat shoes aren’t really adorable. I wanted to find something with a light bottom so it wouldn’t scuff the boat but really needed to grip well and and also be a little cute. These were perfect and extremely comfortable! I just threw them on each day and they had a great grip!

I wore the shirt in the collage as a cover up (along with a rotation of 4 others) and threw on the earrings and I was good to go.

Normally, on all my other trips I would leave off my wedding rings completely. Swimming and snorkeling, I found myself holding on to them so they wouldn’t fall off and I just couldn’t do what I wanted while in the water. Before this trip I came across Qalo rings and ordered one for myself and one for my husband. They are PERFECT. I could wear this and it stays on tight, doesn’t shimmer in the water (hello barracuda) and if it were to slip off I wouldn’t be heartbroken (only $20). I still wear mine every day when I go to the gym. These are so perfect!FullSizeRender


We all had masks, snorkels and fins for the trip. I got these before we left and they were great. The mouthpiece did come off somewhat easily but it wasn’t enough to be a real problem.IMG_1821

Every day we loaded up the boat to head out. I used two of these Thirty One bags every day  to carry what we needed and they were perfect. One held towels and the other one held sunscreen, a grocery bag with snacks, any extra swim shirts, and drink koozies. 

Another item I wouldn’t be able to live without is this waterproof  phone case. It was perfect. I even loved it just to keep my phone from getting wet while on the boat. The underwater pictures turned out pretty good too!IMG_7347


Food and Drink


You definitely need one of these if you go on a boat, to the beach or anywhere you take your cooler. They are perfect for keeping things like sandwiches (or limes) from getting soggy in the melting ice portion of the cooler. There are also Tacklewebs for your boat. These are great for keeping things organized while you are on the water.IMG_1681

If you are visiting the Keys during the summer it is really really hot and if you enjoy beer I would recommend bringing lots of koozies. I normally keep some in my purse because even restaurants have a tough time keeping beer cold. It is just really hot. Having koozies handy really helps. IMG_7323


If you forget one, some places will loan one to you.

They even have koozies for wine glasses!IMG_1473

Another item for keeping drinks cold is a Yeti or RTIC cup. We used these every single day. They keep drinks cold even overnight. We have both Yeti’s and RTIC’s and we didn’t notice a difference. They both work great! I also brought one of these bottles and we used it to mix up margaritas and mimosas. IMG_1537

So that is a little look into what we took on vacation that really helped to make our lives a bit easier.  I know that when you are prepared from the start, you are able to spend more time having fun. If you decide to take a Keys trip or any boat trip really, maybe some of these things will help you too.IMG_1653

Here are the other posts if you missed them!

Summer Vacation 2016: Where We Stayed

Summer Vacation 2016: What We Did

Summer Vacation 2016: What We Ate


Summer Vacation 2016: What We Ate

We ate really well while on vacation. I mentioned here that we ate in a lot which not only saved money but also saved my sanity. Taking children to a busy restaurant at night after a long day in the sun is not my idea of fun. If we did go out to eat it was normally for lunch when everyone wasn’t too tired and the restaurants weren’t too busy. 

Here is a look at some of our meals over the course of the month.

Breakfasts looked something like this for me. The kids ate eggs and bacon almost every.single.day.IMG_1421


Lunches were salads if we were home, sandwiches if on the boat.



Dinner was normally on the grill.




We did go to a few restaurants that really stood out.

While in Key West we ate at Schooner Warf for lunch and it was great!


Fish Dip


Tuna Nachos


Conch Fritters


Blackened Snapper Sandwich

IMG_7321This place was no frills. It is open air and everything is served on paper plates with plastic silverware. That didn’t bother us at all because the food was DELICIOUS. 

We also ate lunch here one day. We sat by the water and it was great! The shrimp were amazing.IMG_7354


Mango Mojito


Royal Red Shrimp – These were a special and were amazing


Fish Dip


Cracked Conch


Mahi Sandwich


Conch Chowder

While in Marathon one day we ate here for lunch. They are known for their Lobster Reuben so I gave it a whirl. It was great!



The No Name Pub was close to us in Big Pine Key. We ordered take-out a few times and ate at the house but we did go in for lunch one day. Their pizzas are great and their fish dip is amazing. I got the Taco Pizza and it was great. I love any kind of pizza you can put a salad on. Sorry it is really dark in there so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. IMG_1677

We definitely ate at home a lot but there are no shortage of great places to eat while visiting.

If you are ever in Big Pine Key you definitely need to put these places on your list.

Square Grouper – I have personally never been here but everyone I know who has gone has loved it. I would suggest going for dinner and getting there early. It fills up fast!

Bistro 31 – This place is a great spot when you want a restaurant to cook your catch. We did this last year and it was fabulous. We brought in wahoo and the chef fried it for us. It wasn’t heavy at all. Super delicious! Their spaghetti was also great.


Wharf Waterside – This is another great dinner spot. They have live music and great specials. Their mussels are wonderful!IMG_1659



Boondocks Grille & Draft House – This would be one of my least favorite as far as food goes, but the atmosphere is great. There is live music and the whole restaurant is open-air. The kids also like it here 1. because their meals are served on take-home Frisbee’s and 2. there is a put-put golf course attached. So be ready for your kids to beg you to play the entire time you eat-ours did. I would suggest the appetizers over the entrees. IMG_1432


Eating in the Keys is somewhat of a sport in and of itself. There are so many amazing places to explore. You could really center a whole trip around just restaurants and I would definitely recommend doing that if you have the opportunity. 

Now, excuse me while I go do some additional Burpees to work off all the vacation food.

Next up, I will post about what we took. A good trip all depends on good gear. I will share what worked for us.

If you missed where we stayed, you can find it here.

If you missed, what we did you can find that here.


Summer Vacation 2016: What We Did

Our Keys trip was really jam packed. We really made the most of every day. We found a routine and went with it. 

Unless the weather didn’t cooperate we went out on the boat at least one time a day. Whether it be snorkeling, fishing, or just riding around, we really wanted to get on the water as much as possible. 

Our days pretty much went like this.

8-8:30- Get up and moving. Coffee and breakfast and taking our time.IMG_1423

9-10 – This was normally my exercise time. I would either walk or do my own “boot camp” style workouts outside using this app.  
11:00 -Pack up the boat and head out to snorkel, fish, and hit the sandbar. I did paddle board one day also!









4-5 – Head back home, swim in the pool shower up.

6-7 – Make and eat dinner.

10:00- Lights out and then start all over again the next day.

These were typical days but we did manage to get some other things in too. 

One day it rained a bunch so we couldn’t go out. That day was filled with lots of “Crazy Eights”.


One day we went to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. This was great for the kids. We learned a lot about different turtles and what we can do to keep them safe.IMG_7291






We also took a couple of trips to Key West. Although it was very very hot, we did have a good time. IMG_7298






We mostly ate in on this trip and I cannot say how great this was. As much as I LOVE going out to dinner it was so much easier to not have to get everyone cleaned, dressed and packed up into the car after a long day outside. We used the grill A LOT and it was perfect!

We also took the boat back out a couple of times after dinner to catch the sunsets. So perfect!!IMG_7326




We had such a great time. There are so many things to do in the Keys. Even if you don’t have a boat there are tons of ways to get out on the water. Hiring a charter is easy and there are plenty! I think just being together every day was great for us. We have been to the Keys many many times without a boat and we still enjoyed ourselves. 

This will definitely go down as one of the best vacations we have ever taken. Such a great time.

If you missed where we stayed it is here.

Next up – what we ate!


Summer Vacation 2016: Where We Stayed

We just returned from a wonderful month-long vacation in Big Pine Key, Florida. We had a truly unforgettable time. We were so fortunate to be able to take this trip and we really made the most of the time we had together. I’m going to devote a few posts to our vacation. I’ll share where we stayed, what we did, what we ate and what we brought.  I am by no means an expert only using this as a way to share our experience.

We used HomeAway Vacation Rentals to book our house. We stayed here and we couldn’t ask for a better place. Our family of four stayed the whole month, and we split the weeks of the month up with friends and family who shared the house with us one to two weeks at a time. This house was perfect for 8 people. We didn’t feel cramped and everyone had their own space. You can see the inside from the listing. What made this house though was the backyard. The pool was perfect to entertain the kids when we weren’t out on the boat (and perfect to hop in after a long day out). The tiki hut was a great place to relax and be outside without being too hot and miserable. The dock and sea wall provided the perfect amount of space for the two boats we had and the landscaping was just beautiful.IMG_7232









Outdoor Shower




Big Pine Key is located in the Lower Keys about 30 miles north of Key West. You can see from the map where it is in relationship to the other Keys and South Florida. Big Pine definitely has a very laid back vibe. You don’t go for the nightlife and restaurants like in the Upper Keys or Key West. You are definitely there to enjoy being out on the water each day and resting each night to do it all over again.

We took our boat out almost every day and it was incredible. We brought our masks, fins, snorkels and fishing poles then each day we set out on adventure. There are so many things to explore by boat. Where we stayed is the “Start” and each day we would head out and try new things. We would go to the patch reefs that were very close. The water wasn’t as clear but there were so many fish to see while snorkeling. 
Map 2

Our favorite by far was Looe Key. It took us about 35 minutes to get there each time but it was worth the trip. The water is so beautiful and there are so many different types of fish, coral and sea life. It is part of the Florida Keys National Marine SanctuaryIMG_1831





The sandbar was also a favorite. The kids swam and explored and the grown-ups floated and relaxed.

We really enjoyed staying in Big Pine. It was perfect for what we wanted do to. I really enjoy staying in the Upper Keys too though. But if we are going to stay for longer than a week we will definitely head south and stay here.

Tomorrow I will share what we did while we were there. 



Summer 2016 Bucket List

I cannot believe the summer is almost over. Our kiddos go back to school on Monday and man it feels like we just celebrated the end of the year. We have had an amazing fun-filled summer.

We knew our Keys trip would take up the bulk of our summer but that didn’t mean we weren’t going to get in as much summer fun as possible.

Here is our Summer Bucket List chalkboard. IMG_0958

And here it is now that we have reached the end of a really memorable summer.IMG_1943

We did almost everything on the list!

Library 1x a week – Before we left for our vacation we made sure to go to the library at least once a week. I really wanted to keep their reading going so they keep sharp for the new school year. 

Movies – We saw 2 movies. One before we left “Finding Dory” and one when we got back “The Secret Life of Pets”. The kids love movies and when it is brutally hot outside, it is definitely nice to have a cool place to escape for a couple of hours.

Bowl – This was a fun one! The bowling alley here had a program where the kids could bowl for free during the summer! You pay for the shoe rental ($4) and you get two free games. Parents pay $2 for games and $3 shoe rental. It was such a great deal! It was also great to change it up and do something different and  be indoors (see brutally hot above).IMG_7202


Splash Pad – One of the YMCA’s in our area has a Fun Pool that includes a waterfall, water canons and all kinds of fun splashing. The kids took a quick swim test then they were able to swim around. This was perfect. I went to my kickboxing class then after we changed into our suits and played in the water for a bit. 

Eat popsicles – No brainer. This happened quite a bit. I even think they were breakfast a couple of times #norulessummer.

Golf – This is one we didn’t get to. Boo. This is one of my New Year’s Resolutions too!! I have got to get to the course soon.

Paddle Board – I got to do this in the Keys. I LOVE paddle boarding. Not only is the scenery beautiful but it is a great workout too!

Fish – We did this in the Keys too! IMG_7395

Go Tubing – Sadly we didn’t get to this one either. We will have to save it for next summer.

Beach – Yes! We only had a couple of actual days at the beach. But the time we spent there was fun.

Zoo – We didn’t make it to the zoo this year. We just ran out of time! I tell you this summer seemed super short!!

Picnic – We actually did this unintentionally. The park we planned on going to was closed so we just threw down a towel and had an impromptu picnic outside the gates. IMG_7212

Keys – Yes! I will have a few posts on this.

Ride Bikes – Absolutely! Think we are close to having two kids without training wheels over here. Lookout neighborhood, these kiddos are coming!

Make lemonade – We did this too. Although the kids think I don’t make it sweet enough. #sugaraddicts

Make s’mores – We made these and took them on a sunset cruise in the Keys. So fun.IMG_1586


Get ice cream – We did this plenty of times too!IMG_7191


I would say we have had a very successful and exciting summer. We have made so many amazing memories and I can only hope my kids look back on these times and remember how much fun we had being together.

I’m sad to see summer go but I will be honest, I am really looking forward to getting back into routines, schedules and activities that come with the school year. 

Hoping you had a fun and memorable summer too!



Spring Break 2016

We definitely made the most of our Spring Break this year. We decided to take a last-minute trip to Treasure Island for the first part of the break. There, we rode on a beautiful boat, took a day trip to Tarpon Springs, watched Zootopia, hit the beach and explored Downtown St. Pete. 






Sunshine Skyway Bridge



Lunch at Mykonos by the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs.


Grilled octopus. So delicious!


Greek salad- there was potato salad hidden at the bottom. My favorite!


Gyro of course. Open-faced so we could share


Wine and apps at Locale Market





Beach day fun!

We explored Downtown St. Pete.


Lunch at Moon Under Water

IMG_6920Their curry is amazing.


These Banyan Trees were amazing.





Gelato at Paciugo


The second part of the week was spent at an amazing resort not too far from home and celebrating Easter.

The kids had a blast riding the Lazy River and swimming in the pool at The Omni near Disney.




Trying to give herself bunny ears.

We celebrated Easter Saturday and Sunday. It was a weekend filled with food, laughs and plenty of egg hunting. 





This Spring Break was definitely one to remember. We stayed up too late, slept-in, ate a ton and just enjoyed each other. Can’t wait to plan for next year.