My sister stayed the night at a Marriott on a local beach this weekend, and was kind enough to invite us over to enjoy the pool. The weather here in west-central Florida is perfect right now, and it was so nice to swim, and warm ourselves in the sun. My mom went with us (that’s her with the girls in the waterfall photos), and she treated us to a Rita’s italian ice on the way home. Yum. I am looking forward to many more trips to the beach this spring and summer. We really do live in paradise.
The girls and I made a chocolate cake this afternoon. I told them we could eat it for dinner, and they thought it was an April Fools’ joke. Only I was serious. I think we should make cakes for dinner more often.
This is one of my favorite cakes. I make it every year around this time when the Florida strawberries are in season. Devil’s food cake, homemade whipped cream, and fresh strawberries marinated in vanilla & sugar. Simple and delicious!
My girls are on spring break this week, so on Monday, we took a quick overnight trip to Orlando. We swam in the chilly hotel pool, had a fabulous dinner out, and spent some time in Downtown Disney. It was a slow paced trip, which we needed because the girls and I are recovering from being sick. Yesterday, we went to see Peabody and Sherman (we loved it!), and this weekend the weather will once again warm up, and I hope there will be a beach trip in our future.
We are having spectacular weather here in Florida right now. I decided it was too pretty to stay indoors today, so we drove about twenty minutes north to visit the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. I always feel like I am on vacation when we visit. You can see the ships come in with the sponges, and watch the men clean them on the boat. While we were watching today, a nice man threw both of my girls a sponge, fresh from the salt water. They were excited. We listened to some live music, enjoyed a snow cone, and had an early dinner at a delicious greek restaurant. That’s my chicken souvlaki in the photo above. Yum.
Today we traveled to visit my husband’s family, a little over an hour away from where we live. We packed a picnic lunch, so after our visit, we could visit Lithia Springs State Park, and let the girls swim in the natural springs. It was the perfect day for a swim, and the water was refreshing, as it stays at a constant 72 degrees year round. I am sure we will visit again once our Florida summer heatwave returns.
I hope everyone is having a lovely day. My girls both have Valentine’s Day parties at their schools, and were very excited to take their cards in to class today. I baked a chocolate cake for the occasion, and look forward to a quiet night at home with my husband and kids. I think pizza and DVD rentals are in order.
I am going to try and resurrect Preschool Style by changing the name to Kid Style, and get back to more regular posts. Amelia just got this Hello Kitty dress from H&M, so I thought it would be a good time to start. Isn’t this dress the cutest?!
It is BEAUTIFUL today in Florida. The weather is sunny and warm with a high of 78 degrees. I knew when I woke up this morning, that today was not a day to be wasted. We decided to take the girls to visit the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary. This animal sanctuary rescues animals, mainly primates, from laboratories, retired acting chimps, and failed attempts at keeping these animals as pets. For a small fee, you can tour the facility, and feed the many different species of primates. After our monkey viewing experience, we went to a favorite old roadside ice cream stand for a cold treat.
I know many of you are experiencing freezing temps right now, so I am sending you sunny greetings from Florida, with the hopes of warmer days ahead for you, too.
We started our last day of 2013 out right with a big breakfast at our favorite diner, Lenny’s. Afterwards, we took the girls to the park for a little bird watching, and jungle gym action. Later that night, I put out a party spread just for the four of us, and we made a fire in our backyard, where we enjoyed some yummy s’mores. It has become a tradition these last few years to have a fire on NYE and a sparkling grape juice toast with the girls before they go to bed. On New Year’s Day, my family came over for dinner. I made homemade cupcakes, and baked macaroni, and my mom brought over pork chops and black eyed peas. It was a lovely start to what I hope will be a banner year!
I hope you all had a very merry holiday with your family! Our Christmas Eve/Day was the BEST. Christmas Eve was spent with my family eating way too much food, listening to my grandparents old 45 records, retelling funny stories from years past, and lots and lots of laughter. On Christmas morning we did it all again! It was really fun to watch the girls open their presents this year, and we have spent much of the day opening up and playing with all of their new treasures. Also, naps.
Last weekend, we went to Orlando for a little Christmas fun. We stayed at a fabulous hotel, the Hilton at Bonnet Creek, where it was warm enough to swim in their heated pool. The pool had a giant slide, a lazy river, and at night we watched the The Lion King while we swam!
The next day we went to Gaylord Palms to experience ICE! This year’s theme was Frosty the Snowman, and it was pure magic. We had layered on all of our winter gear, because they keep the convention hall at 9 degrees. There was a slide made from ice that was a great hit with Amelia, and at the end, a beautiful nativity scene. It was a perfect Christmas get away!
If you are anything like me, you take loads of photographs, but never print them out. I am forever trying to be better about having a hard copy of some of my favorite photos.
I was excited when Mixbook recently asked me to review some of their products, because it would give me the chance to utilize some of the best photos I took in 2013. First, I created a book for us. The book’s design is clean & simple. I chose black so the photos would pop, and I am very happy with the finished product.
Next, I decided to create a 2014 calendar for my mother and mother-in-law. It was fun choosing the photos for each month, and I was delighted to see the quality of the calendar when it arrived. The paper is thick, and the calendar is large, and it will make a perfect holiday gift!
If you still have someone left to buy for, or want to create a gift for yourself, you should head on over to Mixbook. They are offering up to 50% off with the promo code MIXMAS through 12/19!
I hope you enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends. Our day was pretty great. We started the day with doughnuts and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, we lazed about in the afternoon watching movies, and I spent some time in the kitchen getting the food ready. Can I just say that peeling potatoes is not my favorite. Anyway, the food was delicious, and we all had a great time laughing and telling stories from years past. The girls got to wear their new xmas pajamas, and we watched Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, and are now watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The day was filled with tradition and love, and I have so very much to be thankful for!
p.s. I have finally started an Instagram account. I can be found @modernmommyblog.
The mister and I just returned from a five day cruise to Cozumel Mexico. It was our first trip ever without the kids, and it was AMAZING. Our days were filled with naps, margaritas, delicious food, lounging about in the sun, and it was just what we needed to reconnect and relax.
We visited a couple of beaches in Mexico, where it was warm enough to swim in the ocean, and we had a blast being serenaded by mariachis, eating the BEST guacamole ever, and shopping for handmade goods at the market. I bought the paper mache puppets in the photo above for the girls, and the tiny Day of the Dead diorama for myself.
We took the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa, so it was really easy trip across the bridge for us. I was lucky enough to win $100 gift certificate for the spa on board ship, so I spent half the day in the spa getting services, and loving every minute of the pampering.
I feel refreshed and ready to take on the hectic pace of the holidays. Three cheers for vacations right before the Christmas madness.
I was recently asked if I would like to receive a Ziggle from Radio Flyer, and write a review for my readers. I was excited to review this new toy, and certain it would be a hit for my girls. To ride the Ziggle, you twist the front and wiggle the back, and off you go! Maggie is three in and half now, and she has a blast riding all over the place, and really gets her speed up, too! This riding toy is designed for children 3-8 years old, and has an adjustable seat that will grow with your child. Amelia is six, and she enjoys riding the Ziggle, too. Maggie is not quite old enough for a bicycle, but can keep up when her sister when she is on her bike. If you have a young child, I would definitely add the Ziggle to their Christmas list.
*The Ziggle was given to me at no expense, but the opinions are my own.
The girls picked out their own costumes this year. Maggie wanted to be Jewel Sparkles Lalaloopsy, and Amelia chose Cleopatra. We sprayed Amelia’s hair with black hairspray per her request, and I was a bit nervous it wouldn’t wash out (it did). Amelia had her fall festival at school tonight, and the girls had a lot of fun trick or treating, playing games, and hanging out with their friends. I hope you all have a great weekend!
We will FINALLY get our first cold front of the season this week, and I can not wait! I spent the morning tidying up the deck right off our house in preparation for the nicer weather and alfresco dining. After hiding out in the air conditioning for months, I am really looking forward to opening up the windows, and getting outside more for family time in the yard. Our deck really is magical at night.
We’ve just finished carving our pumpkin. The girls requested a cat this year, and my husband freestyled this fun feline for them. It always feels so festive to have a glowing pumpkin in your home. Tomorrow, we will go to a favorite fall festival for rides, cotton candy, and games. I can’t believe this month is more than half way over!
Last night we took the girls with us to the 34th annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday. I was very excited to see one of my favorite contemporary jazz singers, Jane Monheit, perform. Jane sings some of my favorite standards, and her voice is a blend of Doris Day, Judy Garland, and Ella Fitzgerald. Maggie & Amelia really enjoyed her version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. We had a great evening eating dinner (and dessert) picnic style, the girls danced to Latin jazz, and we all snuggled on the blanket under the stars and full moon.
When my sister and I were kids, my parents would take us every year to the festival, and it is one of my favorite childhood memories. I am certain that being exposed to jazz at such an early age help to influence my deep love of jazz music today. I am happy to keep this family tradition going with my children.
If you ever find yourself visiting Clearwater in the month of October, this music festival is not to be missed!
This morning, we celebrated Amelia’s 6th birthday with friends and family at one of our favorite parks. Amelia requested a Madeline theme, and it was really fun to put together. We have been reading the Madeline books for years now, and Amelia loves that the stories take place in Paris. I kept the party simple with ham & cheese croissants, fruit salad, mini eclairs, and homemade cupcakes. Amelia had a blast playing on the playground with her friends, and the kids squealed with delight when the piñata, shaped liked Madeline’s famous yellow hat, was finally busted open.
This morning, my mom and sister joined the girls and I on a little road trip to visit Sweetfields Farm. It was our first time visiting, but it definitely won’t be our last! I always try to find a fun local pumpkin patch with different fall related activities for us to enjoy every October, and this farm had everything on my wish list. We enjoyed a hayride, fresh apple cider, a hay maze (they had a giant corn maze, too), a beautiful pumpkin patch, a treehouse with slide, vegetable picking, pig races, pumpkin painting, and so much more. It was a hot summer like day, but we will finally get a break in our weather later this week, and I can not wait. I hope you all are enjoying a fun autumn weekend, too.
I have spent the morning cleaning and decorating for fall. October is a favorite month for me, as we celebrate Amelia’s birthday, and my wedding anniversary. We have a bunch of fun things planned for the coming weeks; a visit to a pumpkin patch, fall festivals, a birthday party, and Halloween, of course.