Friday, December 30, 2016

Favorite Moments of 2016

It's the last Friday of 2016 - we can not believe it!

This year absolutely flew by. It was year filled with a lot of ups and some downs for both of us, but as we reflect back on 2016 we had some truly awesome moments. Here are some of each of our favorite parts of 2016...



Our Favorite Place to Visit...

JEN
Hmm...this is a tough one because we are always on the go. Last year is what I would call a light travel year for us, but we never seemed to be at home. Looking back on the year, I think my favorite place that we visited is one that will always have my heart - Hilton Head, SC. 



Our trip to Hilton Head was so much fun this year, and was just before our year became unsettled. We are able to look back on this vacation and think of all the fun memories we had and how much fun it was to see all three of our little beach babies frolic in the ocean. We already can't wait to go next summer!

CARRIE BETH
We had some fun family trips this year and made some awesome memories skiing and on our houseboat trip, but I think for me personally my favorite place that I visited this year was San Francisco when we went for the Super Bowl.  



It was my first time in this city and I loved exploring everything from wine country to Lombard Street.  It's such a cool city and I loved it! 

Our Favorite thing to Read...

JEN
Ok, I read a lot in 2016. It's tough to narrow down to just one favorite book that I read this year. Mary Kay Andrews came out with a new book and she is always one of my favorites. "The Nest" made me think. The Nightingale made me cry.  But, I would have to say "Eligible" was my favorite book I read in 2016. 


Eligible was just a book I kept thinking about all year. It was based on one of my favorite books of all time, Pride & Prejudice, and had such a fun modern twist to it. I loved the Bachelor tie in and the ending just plain made me smile. If you didn't pick it up this year, I would definitely say put it on your list to read in 2017!

CARRIE BETH
Reading is something I did not do enough of this year, but my favorite book that I read was definitely Me Before You.  It was SO good and I loved it so much.  Although I still haven't seen the movie, I really want to, but I'm sure it won't be as good as the book, because it usually never is. 




Our Favorite thing to Wear...

JEN
This is also a tough one! I have so many things that I love to wear - especially that I have to wear every single day. If I am being honest though, my favorite thing I wore in 2016 was my yoga pants. 



I know, I know - total stay at home mom cliche, but it's true. We paid homage early on in the year to our favorite pairs, and that set the tone for me for the rest of the year.  (Not that I needed much convincing.) 

I have some new favorite pairs, and some I will share in the new year, but over all this fun polka dot pair was my 2016 winner! Just call me mom. 

CARRIE BETH
I have lots of favorites when it comes to what I wore, but I think the clothing or accessory that gets worn the most in my closet is my leopard belt.  Every time I put it on, Blondie notices as aways says, "You love that belt, don't you?"  She's right though...I do!  It goes with so many different outfits and is definitely my favorite. 




Our Favorite Finds...

JEN
Ok a lot of products come across our desk. A lot. And just in life in general we stumble upon things, but few products stand out to me as a "must-have". My favorite one this year would have to be the Joovy Caboose Stroller



That's right, a stroller is my favorite find for the year. Because when you own enough to cover two hands, you've done a lot of testing. As a new mom to three kids, I had to do a lot of navigating of three different needs and personalities. A good stroller is a necessity, and this one was something that worked for all three of my kids and fit my needs. Totally my favorite find of the year!

CARRIE BETH
I have two favorites this year so wanted to share them both!  My first favorite is the R+F roller and serum that I shared about HERE.  I am literally obsessed with it and look forward to using it every.single.night.  I'm not a consultant and not being paid at all to say this, but I seriously do love it.  


My other favorite find this year has to be my automatic wine opener. It is such a fun gadget and I love having it. I got it for my birthday, and it is still going on the same charge.  I have given several as gifts since then and I even took it as our white elephant gift for a gift exchange party we attend in December.  It's nothing life changing, but it's fun and helpful for wine-lovers like me! 




Our Favorite Kid Moments...

JEN
I don't know if I have a favorite defining kid moment for this year. I would describe it more like a series of moments or a realization. 



These two crazy Cutes have become best of friends. As the year progressed I noticed how much they truly love each other, and how much fun they have together. 

Sure they fight. They fight a lot actually. 

But I have loved watching their relationship from the sidelines, and it makes my heart happy to know they have one another. My favorite kid moment of 2016 would have to be seeing these two do everything together - from playing in the waves, to pretending they're Ninja Turtles, to countless slumber parties in each other's rooms. They are my favorite. 

CARRIE BETH
When I think back to 2016 I think I will always remember this as the year that my kids all seemed to find their way and really hone into the sports they love.  They've all tried lots of different sports and activities, but this year they focused on the thing they loved the most and it really shows!  It's been really fun for me to be on the sidelines and see them excel at the things they love. 

Little Mama is SO happy with all-star cheer and I know this is the thing that she will continue to work hard at for as long as she can.  I've never seen her smile so big as I do when she is in the gym and I love seeing her work ethic and dedication to get new skills. 




Blondie is becoming quite the soccer player and while she loves all sports, soccer is definitely her favorite and she loves the team she is on.  




The verdict is still out for Boo-Boo, as he is younger and loves all sports, but he had a blast playing baseball this year and I think it is something he will stick with.  




Our FAVORITE MOMENT of 2016...

JEN
This was a tough tough year, and in so many ways I am looking forward to a "fresh" start, but when I look back on this year the one outstanding highlight that I will remember for the rest of my life is meeting this sweet girl for the first time...



Baby Cute arrived in February, and I was instantly smitten. She was the world's best surprise and I fall more and more in love with her every. single. day. She's been the light of our life this year, and each day her personality shines through and makes us laugh. Meeting our Baby Cute for the first time is hands down my favorite moment of 2016.  

CARRIE BETH
There were so many wonderful moments this year, but my favorite that stands out to me is when I swam under a waterfall at 76 Falls on our houseboat trip with my kids. Having this view to ourselves for the weekend was pretty awesome and something I don't know if we will ever be able to recreate.  



I could have easily stayed on the boat as the kids swam over to the waterfall, but I am so glad I swam with them.  We were all laughing and squealing and just in awe.  I don't know how many kids can say they swam through a waterfall and experiencing that with them was something I will never forget.  




Happy New Year's Y'all!!


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Winter Fun at Reynolds Plantation

Whew! Christmas was a whirlwind this year! It's always a little tricky with how many different sides of the family we have to cover in a short amount of time, and this year was no exception. We had three solid days of back to back holiday events. It's a lot of driving, a lot of coordination, and a lot of fun. And now that the egg nog has worn off and we are coming down from our present induced high, I might not get out of my pjs for a week!

Just before the chaos began, I decided to take my little family on a surprise trip. Most of December the closest we came in terms of a holiday outing was checking out the finely decorated trees in the lobbies of various healthcare establishments. Right before Christmas it seemed that everyone's antibiotics, inhalers, and varieties of cough/cold medicines had kicked in enough that we could trade in our tours of North Georgia urgent cares for something a little more festive. 

On a whim, I heard about some of the holiday events being offered at Reynolds Plantation, and in a rare moment of spontaneity, I booked a room for Christmas Eve Eve. Our little family had a tough year, and on top of everyone being sick, I knew the holidays would be a little tough to get through. Even if only for 24 hours, getting away seemed just what the doctor Saint Nick might have ordered. 

Friday I packed our bags, grabbed Mr. Cute from his office in Atlanta, and made our way Southeast to our lovely holiday destination - the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation.  


Now Carrie Beth has been several times over the last few years, but even though Mr. Cute and I have had a few opportunities to stay we've always had something come up. I had heard from several friends though that it was an awesome local resort for families, and when I heard about some of the holiday and winter festivities on site I knew it would be a hit with my crew. 


The resort has a decadent lodge style feel to it, and the rustic holiday decor greeted you from the moment you stepped onto the property.


With it's big cozy couches and large warm fireplaces it was holiday magic in it's own right. I was there five minutes and knew it was going to be tough to leave.


Pretty enough to eat right? 

Well you can...




The lobby had this amazing larger than life gingerbread house that both kids and adults were in awe over. 


I couldn't believe how large it was, or the fact that it was 100% an actual gingerbread house. Can you even imagine how much time went into creating this? And check out all those ingredients!


I loved that they had a little candy bar set up just outside the gingerbread house. The Cutes made sure to taste test as often as possible whatever treats were left out each time we passed by.


Our room was on the top floor overlooking the grounds, and I was a little nervous upon booking if it would be large enough. I went back and forth about getting a suite for a family our size, but came to the conclusion that the kids would end up in bed with us at some point so I just went with a double queen room.



It was plenty large enough and fit a crib nicely as well. I loved that we would get to be cozy together - especially considering the fun surprise that I had planned later in the evening for everyone.


We had a good laugh at the mini bar too. They must have known Mr. Cute was coming because it contained all his favorites, and the wine bottle coincidentally was named his first name.
Cheers!


Once we got settled in the room we made our way down the festive hallways to the fun ice skating rink set up on site.


The Cutes were beyond excited about this. Cute has become fascinated with all things snow and winter related and has religiously asked to go for months now. As for L.C., well you can thank the lovely people of Arendale for her excitement.


It had been a good 20 years since Mr. Cute or I had put on ice skates, and he was a good sport about being the one to keep up with The Cutes first.


In the end though we weren't needed. The kids picked it up pretty quickly and after about half an hour both were skating without holding onto the wall at all. I was pretty impressed - especially with L.C. who just turned three!
After an hour the kids still wanted to skate, but the adult part of the party needed a break from their skates. It was so much fun, and I knew we would make another lap or two around the rink before we left so it was easy to break away from to see other things.


We decided to take a walk on the grounds and check out the lake. On our way to the lake we stumbled upon this fun playground and basketball court.


I'm not sure who had more fun at this discovery. The Cutes loved it, but...


Mr. Cute LOVED it. 


It was such a fun afternoon of play, and I think I was reassured that I made the right choice for a last minute family trip. I loved how kid friendly and relaxed everything turned out to be.


The lake is one of our happy places, and we couldn't help but feel relaxed as we were able to catch the sunset just before dinner sitting in these fun adirondack chairs. We learned later that you can rent actually rent this lakeside space to have dinner by these cute little chimneas


We logged that for later because it was such a gorgeous view!


Once everyone's stomach began grumbling we made our way to Gaby by the Lake for dinner.


Their entry sign cracked us up! But it was just another nod to the casual laid back elegance that the resort had presented to us so far. We loved the lake views and the southern style fair. I would have taken more photos to share if the kids candy high hadn't kicked in from earlier, and L.C. decided she absolutely loved visiting the bathrooms at Gaby's - apparently the hand washing was superb. 


After dinner, we made our way back to our room to get ready for s'mores by the campfire that the Ritz offers each night. I'm so glad we crossed the lobby at this time because we were able to see the gingerbread house all lit up. 


And we were able to hear the carolers. There were several other families with kids (and dogs) staying, and it was so fun for The Cutes to sing and dance to some of their favorites with new friends.


Now here's where our plan went slightly askew. I thought s'mores were scheduled for 6:00p.m., but my tired eyes didn't notice it was really 8:00p.m. We couldn't wait up that long because I had a fun surprise scheduled for that time. So we changed our plans and headed to the game room that specially set up for the holidays. Trust me, none of the kids (young or old) complained.


Just as we were snuggling into bed we heard a little knock on the door. 

Surprise! Santa's elves! 

To be honest this was one of the reasons I booked the trip. I heard you could schedule an elf tuck in for the kids. The kids were beyond excited and L.C. could not stop jumping up and down on the bed clapping her hands and telling them she loved them. 


The elf tuck-in is by reservation only and you have to pay a small fee, but it includes milk and cookies for each child, a book with a special message from Santa to keep (extras available), bed time stories, and tuck-in service. 

We chose to give each of the kids a copy of The Night Before Christmas. The concierge called me several times to confirm the spelling and ages of the kids, check on any food allergies, and make sure everything was just right for them. 

It was so easy! Most definitely something I hope they cherish and remember through the years. 


The next morning, after a bed shuffling night of sleep (see one room was the way to go), we made our way to a yummy buffet breakfast at the onsite Georgia's Bistro


Again, no photos, but trust us it is worth trying. Yum!


We had some down time before we had to hit the road back home, so we made our way back to the rink. It opened at 10a.m. and for a little while the kids had it all to themselves. They skated for about an hour, and the moment their skates came off they asked when we could skate again, and Cute asked if he could do hockey. If they weren't snow obsessed before I think they are now. 


We couldn't leave without saying goodbye one last time to the candy station gingerbread house, and while we munched we played some games. There is a huge game room off the concierge desk that guests are able to get any game, puzzle, and coloring book you can imagine. When asked it was one of The Cutes' favorite things about the resort. 


I loved that they had such a fun time, and I was so glad that we were able to get this fun break together before the holiday chaos. But listen we will totally be back. Now knowing it's only two hours away from Atlanta and SUPER kid and dog friendly, it makes for such an easy trip. 


 And there were so many activities we didn't get to take part in. We are a huge golf family, and the on site golf for both kids and adults is spectacular. The trails around the property are beautiful, the spa I've heard from Carrie Beth is amazing, boating and water sports galore, and let's talk about The Library lounge just off the lobby that we didn't get to visit. ;)


And if none of that is enticing enough, the complimentary hot chocolate or hot apple cider is worth returning for alone. 


Now back to my post holiday lounging...


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