Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jumping into Summer Safely with Stearns® Puddle Jumper

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JumpIntoSummer #CollectiveBias

Living in the South, being on the water is a way of life, and like most people in the Summer months we tend to spend more than the normal amount of time in or around a body of water. From lakes to oceans to the nearest pool, you will find us floating somewhere trying to ward off that infamous heat and humidity of the deep south.

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Keeping Safe While Having Fun

Because we spend more near larger bodies of water we stress water safety to our littles ones from a very young age. We don’t want to diminish their familiarity, but we don’t take any chances when it comes to their well being. We try to establish boundaries that they understand, and give them tools that keep them safe while they are having fun swimming. One of my all time favorite swim safety aids is the Stearns® Puddle Jumper.  

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Cute wore one when he was younger, and now both the girls wear one anytime we are in or near the water. We have done our fair share of testing water safety devices, and the Puddle Jumper is by far our favorite for beginning swimmers.  

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I love the Puddle Jumper because they are a U.S. Coast Guard approved PDF (personal flotation device) rated for children weighing 30-50lbs. That means it can be used in any water excursion we might find ourselves in, and gives me great ease knowing that is it one of the safest water safety devices for my little ones to be in. I pack them in my beach bag for the pool or the beach, and even use them on our boat!

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The kids love this because unlike other PDFs the fabric is super soft and the Puddle Jumper itself is extremely comfortable. Because of the unique construction of the Puddle Jumper it doesn’t ride up around their necks or have rough straps throughout to keep it in place, which helps to eliminate all that uncomfortable chafing that might occur when wearing a PDF for a longer length of time. The more comfortable everyone is the more fun we can have!

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Give the Gift of Safety

I love the Puddle Jumper so much that I often give them as gifts to little ones. I usually create a little water safety gift basket or - my personal favorite - create a Water Safety Cake to gift. It’s fun and everything is usable to help create a safe and fun summer, and in just a few easy steps you can create your own too.

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Supplies
  • 1 regular sized beach towel
  • Swim diapers (We use approximately 75 size medium diapers. Amount will vary.)
  • Large rubber bands
  • Ribbon
  • Optional embellishments: sunscreen, goggles, safety whistle, etc.

Instructions
1: Purchase a Puddle Jumper. The Stearns® Puddle Jumper 3D Life Jackets from Target are my favorite. The patterns and 3D designs with characters the kids love just add to the fun.

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They can be found on the water sports aisle and are available year round.

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2: I pick out a coordinating towel, purchase the other supplies and then am ready to begin construction of the water safety cake.

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3: Roll up towel and secure tightly with one of the large rubber bands.

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Once secure stand upright leaving the folding side at the top.

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4: Place a large rubber band around the base of the towel. Roll from top to bottom a swim diaper and insert rolled swim diaper centered into the rubber band.

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Repeat until you have the base of the towel completely surrounded.

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Add an additional rubber band and then add a second layer to create a larger base. Repeat the process for a second and third tier until you have the shape of a cake. The top of the towel should be slightly exposed above the top layer.

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5: Attach the Stearns® Puddle Jumper 3D Life Jacket around the center layer.

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Using the Puddle Jumpers on strap is the easiest way to secure it to the cake. Simply adjust the back strap as necessary.

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Once completely assembled the items should resemble a cake with the Puddle Jumper as the centerpiece.

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Note: Attach any optional items during this step.

6: Use ribbon and to hide the rubber bands holding the safety cake together. Place on a tray or wrap as desired. Make it fun!

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7: Gift and let the water fun begin!

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How do you plan to celebrate water safety and jump into your summer?

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To learn more about water safety and Stearns® Puddle Jumpers:


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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Family Vacation to Hilton Head Island: Part 2

Yesterday I shared the highlights from the first part of our family vacation to Hilton Head Island, and today I will share a few more from the back half of our trip. And all this sharing is making me wish I could be right back on those sandy beaches.


Links American Grill

When we aren't beaching it seems like we are eating. Usually we frequent the same few places each year, and then sprinkle in some new ones to try. This year we planned a large family dinner since my whole family would be in town together for at least part of the trip. We had our eyes set on Live Oak, which we fell in love with last year, but sadly learned that they no longer offer dinner.


So we switched gears and decided to try Links American Grill located in the Harbour Town Club House, which just happened to be a short walk from our rental.


The food and drinks were yummy, and the service was excellent. I think my favorite part though was letting the kids take in all the golf memorabilia and letting them play on the golf course afterward. 

Alligator Tour

My little ones are nature lovers. They can tell you facts about animals I've never even heard the names of (Thank you Kratt brothers.). Alligators are everywhere on the island. They frequent golf courses, and most fresh bodies of water in Sea Pines. It's not hard to spot them, and as frequent visitors of the island we know how to spot them and keep to a safe distance. The Cutes think it is so fun though, and this year we thought we would sign up for an official alligator tour.


We made reservations for in the morning, and as many times as I've been on the island I've never done one of these tours or stepped into the Sea Pines Forest Preserve.


I've been missing out.


The tour is via boat, and takes place on one of the lakes in the preserve. It lasted right around an hour, and was perfect the length for our little ones age group. 


The guide was informative, and so knowledgable about all the wildlife on the preserve. So even if we didn't come across an alligator at any given time, he was quick to point out other animals, and share interesting facts. He was also kind enough to answer each and every question The Cutes threw at him. Including L.C.'s deep ones like, "Why are alligators alligators?" or "Why do turtles swim?".


The Cutes were captivated each and every time we spotted an alligator, and I was amazed at how close we could get. It was hard to photograph, but we saw big alligators, small ones, and even new little babies.


It was a fun tour, and the preserve itself is one destination we want to explore more on our next trip back. If you or your little ones love the outdoors or wildlife I would add this to your itinerary if you are on the island. 

CQ's Restaurant

And again, if we aren't beaching it seems like we are eating. Thank goodness for all that island bike riding and walking or else we'd put on twenty pounds with all the delicious food available. How I've never eaten at this next little gem is beyond me. CQ's Restaurant was by far our favorite meal of the trip. 


Mr. Cute and I were able to sneak away for a little date night our last night on the island (thanks family!), and decided to walk to CQ's. The restaurant is located in an old historic home from the 1800's that belonged to the lighthouse keeper at the time. If you are into ghost stories, do a quick google about the homes history and the tale of The Blue Lady.


As a restaurant though the atmosphere had a romantic historic vibe to it, and the food and wine were excellent. I highly recommend grabbing a meal or three here if you are lucky enough to sneak away for an adult only meal.



Other than these few highlights the remainder of our trip was filled with nothing but playing games on the beach, lounging (a.k.a. getting splashed) poolside, and soaking in every single gorgeous sunset we could. We already are counting down the months to when we can venture back to our favorite low country spot, but until then I will have to settle vicariously through one of the 1000's of photos I took...



Have you been to Hilton Head Island? What are some of your favorite things to do, see, eat?  

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Family Vacation to Hilton Head Island: Part 1

We just returned from one of my favorite trips of the year - our family vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We've been visiting the island since I was a child and since Cute was a little baby we've spent a week there each summer with our kids.  

Hilton Head is such a fun place, and the perfect spot if you have an active, outdoorsy family who loves the beach. It has grown so much since I was a little girl, but I love that it's kept to its small town seaside feel without any commercial restaurants or large high rises. I have nothing but love for Coastal Carolina and hope that one day that we visit we decide to stay forever (a girl can dream!). 

This year was a repeat of our trips in the past (sleep, beach, have fun, repeat), but we mixed things up a bit here and there. I'll give you some of the highlights over the next few days, but make sure you take a peek at our past Hilton Head trips as well to get a great over view of the island and what we do, eat, and see.


Where we stay

We have stayed in various parts of the island, but our favorite section is the Sea Pines Resort. We typically rent a condo or home, and this year we chose to vacation in the home we selected last year


It's a large town home that sleeps 14 people. It's located right on the 18th green of the Heritage Course, and with in walking distance from Harbour Town. 


And if it ever happens to come up for sale (and we win the lottery), I know a few people who want to purchase it. 


If not for it's perfect location, gorgeous decor, fun backyard pool, and all around amazing details...


Then for it's spectacular views...


It's located right on the water and each night you are rewarded with amazing sunsets. 


Each night, once the golf course shuts down for the evening, everyone heads outside on their porches, or on a blanket on the course, and watches the views. This alone would make me want to scoop it up and make it mine forever. 

And if they aren't willing to sell ever, I have a my eye on one or ten more in the neighborhood...


The Beach

Obviously the main reason for the trip is going to the beach. The vacation home is located on the water but doesn't have beach access, so we head over to the Sea Pines Beach club. It's a quick drive, bike ride, or trolley ride to there and it's such an easy set up. 


Our first night, after a poolside pizza dinner we decided we just couldn't wait and headed to the beach. We were just going to take a quick walk on it at sunset, but my kids are total beach babies and couldn't stand not to run straight for the water. 


Clothes and all. Between the water and rolling in the sand, it was obvious I should have just kept them in their swimsuits. But the fact they were in their "real clothes" I think just added to the fun. 


We make our way to the Beach Club at least once a day. We roll in, find a spot (it's usually not crowded), set up our tent and let the kids go. Because it is such a family friendly vacation spot, most often they find a friend or two to play with, and have a blast sun up to sun down. 


Harbour Town

Harbour Town is one of most popular spots on the island. It's filled with great restaurants, great shopping and great activities. Our second night after we did a full day of beach fun we made our way to this favorite spot. 


We were quite humbled as we strolled through the harbor this year. We knew that there was a hurricane that hit the Golden Isles and Carolina Coast last Fall, but due to family issues going on at the time we largely were unaware of anything outside of our little bubble and thus somehow missed how grand the devastation was in this area. 


After speaking with some locals while eating dinner we learned that for months Hilton Head had to do a massive clean-up. Entire marinas were destroyed beyond repair (or no longer exist), and Harbour Town's was one of the ones that suffered the most damage. The pier was ripped apart and swept away. Most of the yachts and boats in the basin were damaged or destroyed as they were pushed up onto land from the storm surge. Googling photos of what it looked like right after was shocking. 

The island has done a great job rebuilding and getting things back open. Currently there is a lot of work going on in Harbour Town to rebuild the pier, fix any building that had damage from the storm, and updating things to make it safe. Even with all of that though going on, the rest of the basin is still in working order. 


We dined on a little surf and turf (Mr. Cute the surf and me the turf) at one of our favorite restaurants - The Quarterdeck.



We always choose to sit outside and take in the view and atmosphere. The kids love this spot too since there is usually room for them to dance and sing along with the musician playing each night. 


This night they were excited because the musician gave The Cutes a playlist they could look through and turn in requests. 


Cute took this job quite seriously. He wanted to make sure he picked just the right music to make the whole restaurant get up and dance. 


After we ate we noticed there was a new guy hanging around Harbour Town. 


Albert the Alligator is a new friend, and he visits Harbour Town every Sunday evening with games and activities to play with the kids. 


Kids loved this section and Albert would join in and take photos the entire time. I noticed a lot of older kids liked this activity. The playground is located just behind this spot, but if you have a child who is in those pre-teen years this might be a fun activity to put on your radar since the games were suitable for their ages too. 

Off Shore Fishing

Each year the boys typically take a day to play golf. This year they decided to switch things up. Mr. Cute came up with the idea to take everyone off shore fishing now that he thought Cute was old enough. He, Cute, and my dad charted a trip out of Shelter Cove marina. (If interested I can get you specific information.)

They did a half day trip and saw tons of action. They caught tons of fish, but the highlight of the trip was that Cute caught six sharks! 


To say he was excited was an understatement. 

Mr. Cute is an avid fisher, and said that he will be planning another trip the next time we visit. All the boys said it was a blast, and they wish they could have stayed out longer. Mr. Cute felt like the half day was perfect for this age group though. If your crew likes fishing he highly recommends it. 


That wraps up the highlights from the first half of our trip. Tomorrow I will share some more adventures from the back half. And now to day dream about going back... 

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