Another Summer in the Books

Summer is my absolute favorite time of the year. I work exponentially hard throughout the school year so I can relax and enjoy my vacations, which is exactly what we did this year.

From Mexico to the Texas coast, we had quite a few adventures with our little man in tow.

Corpus Christi

After Mexico we decided venture somewhere a little more local. Usually we enjoy South Padre Island in the summer but we decided to try our luck in Corpus Christi. I’ve heard good and bad things about CC and honesty, we enjoyed our trip and we will definitely be back. I found a great little beachfront Air B&B that we really loved. The only bummer was all the rain! But, even with the torrential down pours, we were able to enjoy the beach and explore the Corpus Christi Museum off Science.

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels

We booked a trip to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels early in the spring and honestly, I was only slightly looking forward to it. I did my research and found a ton of toddler activities throughout the parks so I knew there would plenty for our little water baby to enjoy. I on the other hand, am not a fan of water parks. We decided to stay in a little cabin located in the park and the location was great but other than that, I was unimpressed. I think we will save water parks for when baby O gets just a little bit older.

We did however have a pretty good little road trip and stopped at our favorite restaurant in Bastrop, Maxine’s on Main (check it out if you’re every there!)

Galveston

Our final trip of the season was just this past weekend. We decided to join our friends on a little last-minute getaway to Galveston. Of course, it once again rained, but we were still able to soak up the sun, play in the sand, and enjoy our time together.

Unfortunately our sweet little summer is coming to an end but don’t worry, we already have lots of adventures planned for the fall!!!

Baby O’s First Big Trip

They say that traveling is good for the body, mind, and soul and I overwhelmingly agree. We knew from the start that we wanted to instill our love of travel and adventure into our children and in order to do so we started right away. At 6 months baby O was on a 14 hour road trip to Colorado. At 12 months another mini road trip to see Santa. And at 18 months, we decided to take baby O on his first international vacation to Mexico.

The unpredictability of traveling with a little one had me not only apprehensive but very anxious. So many unknowns, would he be okay? Fussy? Sleepy? Throw a fit? I was pretty confident in my ability to calm him down in any situation so we packed up and headed to Mexico with a dozen of our favorite people.

When I planned this international family vacation to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, I wasn’t anticipating a pandemic and I was completely unaware of how traveling with a toddler would be. Overall I was pleasantly surprised! Our first big vacation with our little one was a complete success! 1800+ miles away from home, 4+ hours on a plane, and zero meltdowns; he did so well!

Here are a few things I learned on this trip:

  • When traveling with a baby/toddler:
    • Pack snacks ! Not just for the airplane but for the resort/hotel as well. Baby O eats a lot and frequently. Snack are a necessity at all times of the day!
    • Keep them entertained. Whether your little one needs screen time, toys, or books, pack them all!
    • We took advantage of baby O being under 2 and he sat in our laps on the plane. Next time he will definitely get his own seat.
    • If possible, book the plane ride during baby’s nap schedule. Baby O slept on the plane both ways!
    • Pack extra necessities such as sunscreen and diapers. We packed enough but if we needed them, they were expensive at the resort.
    • When traveling to Mexico for the summer stay on the pacific side. The other side is swamped with seaweed from May to September. If I would have known this in advance I would have booked Puerto Vallarta instead of the Riviera Maya area.
    • Book a local photographer for family photos! It was inexpensive and easy to do.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first big trip with baby O. We soaked up the sun, enjoyed family time, and were able to watch our sweet boy enjoy vacation as much as we do.

Elephants!

I know I’m not alone when I say this school year was beyond exhausting for teachers across the globe. We have undoubtedly earned this years summer vacation. But, instead of spending our first weekend at home recuperating and decompressing, we packed up and headed to Fredericksburg to visit the elephants at The Preserve.

When I first heard that there was an elephant preserve in Texas I knew I had to go. Elephants are hands down my favorite animals and I’ve always been fascinated with them. After doing my research I booked our Air B&B and tickets to see the elephants. I figured this would be the perfect way to celebrate the end of a rough school year.

As always our Air B&B did not disappoint. If you’ve never rented an Air B&B I highly recommend you do so.

We checked in the night before so we had time to relax before the big elephant adventure. It was a good thing we prepared ahead of time because the Bearded One was a little under the weather. Lucky for us me and baby O had plenty of room to run around the AirB&B while the Bearded One rested up.

The day of our elephant encounter started off rainy but cleared up by the time we arrived. I was a little nervous that baby O would be scared of the elephants and I didn’t know what to exactly what to expect.

Each encounter only allows about 30 people so it wasn’t crowded and we all were able to interact with the 3 beautiful Asian Elephants (Rosie, Kitty and Becky).

They staff did an amazing job explaining everything about these fascinating animals. They were knowledgeable and made the experience not just educational but interactive and fun.

We were able to give Rosie a bath, take pictures with Becky, watch Kitty get a pedicure, and so much more. Everyone was allowed to interact with “the girls” and baby O wasn’t even scared!

Giving Rosie A Bath
Elephant Feet!

Overall I give this experience 10/10 and I would definitely do it again! (We might wait until Baby O is a little older and more attentive).

If you’d like more information please follow this link:https://www.visitthepreserve.com/ . The staff said they would soon be adding more animals and exhibits so stay tuned!

Up Next…

Having a baby has been the biggest adventure of our lives and I have loved every single minute of parenthood. But, traveling isn’t quite what it use to be. The Bearded One and I use to spontaneously book an Air B&B, pack an overnight bag, and hop in the car, which is an absolutely impossible task these days.

Don’t get me wrong, we still love to travel, and we plan to take Baby O on endless adventures, but it can get a little tricky these days.

First of all we have to plan our adventures a little better, and account for any little bump in the road. Will he be fussy? When will we need to stop to change a diaper? Can we stop by a restaurant or should we eat in the car? So many questions with a plethora of possible scenarios!

All of those little details can be worked out, we are quite flexible when it comes to travel and preparation. The biggest question is, where can we take a toddler?!

Not all of our old favorite stomping grounds are necessarily toddler friendly. While I’d love to take him to a local brewery, or outdoor concert, it just isn’t possible to expect him to sit still for a lengthy amount of time. Baby O is a wild one and he definitely needs to be entertained at all times. He needs to run and climb and explore his surrounds…which begs the question, where do we take him?!

We do have a few vacations already in the works but we would LOVE some realistic suggestions! (too tiny for theme parks, Disney is out of the question!)

We are for sure going to Mexico on our big Anniversary trip with family and friends, and we are excited and nervous about that one (first plane ride for Baby O)!

We’re also taking him to The Preserve, an elephant sanctuary only a few hours from home. I am super excited about this one and I hope he loves it! (Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out https://g.co/kgs/DhrhAp ).

If you have any suggestions, ideas, personal experiences or advice on fun toddler trips for this summer, please share! We want to make the most out of every moment with our littlest adventurer.

Spring Break Shenanigans

With our masks on and our hand sanitizer packed, we managed a few Spring Break adventures close to home.

First we decided to take Baby O to the downtown Houston Aquarium. It wasn’t a terrible experience, and Baby O seemed to enjoy himself, but I wouldn’t go back. It was overly crowded, people weren’t very kind, and honestly, there wasn’t much to see or do. Overall I give it 4/10.

Although the aquarium wasn’t a huge success we decided to try again the next day with a trip to the Houston Zoo. Other than getting caught in a chilly 40 minute thunderstorm, the zoo was a pretty good experience. It wasn’t too crowded ( we did have to book tickets online ahead of time) and there was plenty to see and do. Baby O saw lots of new animals and was even able to get out of his stroller and run around. I’d give it a 7.5/10.

We had a pretty good Spring Break and are already planning our next big adventure!

Quarantine Chronicles Continues

I never imagined our sweet little baby would be growing up in the middle of a pandemic. All of the weekend getaways and spur of them moment adventures we envisioned seem pretty far out of our reach given our current situation. But, despite the hell of a hand we’ve been dealt, we’ve managed to make the best of the situation.

Although baby O isn’t a world traveler quite yet, he has managed to have few little adventures of his own. (All precautions were taken for all of our small travels)

We were fortunate enough to get to go visit Baby Os great grandmother before the bearded one and I returned to work. It wasn’t an over the top-extravagant family vacation but it was a once in a life time experience and seeing the two of them together was worth the 10 hr car ride.

Baby O spent most of his summer at home but not even a pandemic could keep us from visiting our State Fair of Texas this year (we had to go, I bought matching shirts in December!) O got to meet Big Tex, taste a Fletcher’s corny dog and even had a bite of the infamous fried Oreo (we never give him sweets!)

We’ve had a few other outdoor adventures such as the pumpkin patch but nothing quite elaborate yet.

Sometimes I feel honestly feel like O is missing out. But, on the other hand, we’ve been able to spend so much quality time with our little guy. We’ve watched him grow and flourish and reach all of his milestones despite this never ending pandemic.

We will continue to take all of the necessary precautions during this unprecedented time and hopefully squeeze in an adventure or two. I know we have O’s whole life to travel the world and I look forward to what’s to come.

Baby O’s First Adventure

“Let’s drive 14 + hours with a 5 month old. It will be fun!”….said no sane person ever. But, that’s exactly what we did.

After packing up the entire house (mostly baby stuff) we loaded up the car and headed to Colorado for baby O’s first big adventure.

We had no idea what to expect. Would he sleep? Would he scream? How many times would we have to stop? Just like every other first time parent challenge, we jumped in head first and winged it.

I’m not going to lie, there were times in the car he was inconsolably upset, but those were few and far in between. Overall, he did pretty well, especially when I crawled in the backseat and kept him entertained.

Other then the minimal stress of the car ride, Colorado was stunning as always.

The first few days we were there we had crazy weather. It snowed…in June. This was not just Texas slushy snow either. This was beautiful, huge snowflakes that actually stuck to the ground for a bit. We of course had to take all the mandatory snow pictures and let baby O experience his first snowfall!

Once the snow cleared up we were able to do what we do best, hike and enjoy the outdoors. In previous years we never really contemplated our hikes, we just lightly packed and headed to the mountain. Not this time. We thoughtfully and throughly packed for all of babies needs. We even bought a pretty neat hiking backpack for O….he lasted an hour in it…. Although we didn’t make it to the top of Hoosier Pass, we still enjoyed our time together and being able to witness baby O’s fascination with the great outdoors.

Baby’s first big vacation was a success and I can’t wait to travel the world with our little adventurer. First stop, Colorado, next stop….

St. Augustine Beach, FL

Our first time in the Atlantic Ocean and it did not disappoint.

Here are some key observations from our St. Augustine Beach adventure:

  • The beach was not at all crowded, it huge and we had lots of space to spread out
  • The beach and town were clean and well taken care of
  • The food was delicious (Sunset Grill & Antonio’s)
  • Old Town has great shopping and historical sites
  • Everyone was friendly, great customer service
  • Lots of activities, parks, museums, trolley rides, historical tours, etc (we went to old medieval torture museum)
  • Drive A1A instead of the interstate for better views (we took it down to Daytona Beach)

The Beach

St. Augustine Old Town

Savannah, Georgia

We fell in love with this southern city the moment we drove down Jones St. (Also known as one of most beautiful streets in the US)

The old oaks dripping in Spanish moss lined the brick laid streets and exemplify the historic homes. This city is rich in history, so much history in fact that we felt compelled to learn all about it on a classic trolley tour.

I found a decently priced day-night trolley package online and decided to indulge a little. We began the Old Town Trolley Tour by hopping on at one of the 15 stops throughout the city. During the 90 minute tour we saw famous monuments, churches, homes, cemeteries, and heard the stories to go with each. The trolley tour allowed you to hop on and off at any stop throughout the day.

We hopped off at City Market for lunch then decided to walk the shady streets of Savannah on our own.

During our own exploration we visited Forsyth Park, the cemetery and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which was absolutely stunning.

Forsyth Park

Cemetery

Cathedral

Later that evening after a delicious Greek dinner on the river (Olympia Cafe) we hopped back on our night Ghost Tour. The ghost stories told by the conductor were the best part, and we were able to explore the haunted Andrew Lowe house (we didn’t see any ghost 😉).

On our final morning we headed to Tybee Island to see what all the hype was about. It’s a classic little beach town, full of charm, old hotels, family run businesses, and a pretty neat little pier.

Overall Savannah was amazing and we’d love to come back (hopefully when the weather is a little cooler).

Tips and Advice:

  • Rent and AirB&B in the historic district
  • Go on a trolley tour
  • Wear good walking shoes
  • Shop and dine on River St.
  • Swing by Tybee Island

Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola Beach was absolutely stunning. It claims to be the “whitest sands in the world” and I wouldn’t argue with that statement. The white sands and crystal clear water compares to the beaches we’ve fallen in love with in Mexico.

We stayed in a beautiful little AirB&B (Casita Sage) in Pensacola then made the short drive to Pensacola Beach for the afternoon. Beach parking was free, chair rental were free (I think we just got lucky) and the water, views, and beach were indescribably perfect.

After spending a few hours on the beach we ate at a delicious little place called The Shrimp Basket and we were not disappointed.

Our overnight stop in Pensacola exceeded our expectations and we are already planning a summer vacation there for next year!