Friday, June 29, 2012

Tips for a Destin, Florida vacation...with a toddler!

One thing I have learned from being a parent is that everything is a learning lesson.  Sometimes, it’s an easy lesson, sometimes it’s not.  What I’ve also learned is to ask those that have essentially “been there, done that” and be sure to share what worked for you (and maybe what didn’t work).
So, here are a few take-aways and favorite spots from our Destin trip:
mama & Annie Louise in matching beach hats!
 Stay in a hotel/resort that is kid friendly.  We stayed in the Holiday Inn tower – it was in a great area, we didn’t have to travel far for some great restaurants, and it was definitely not lacking in the activities for kids.  They have what’s called “Buccaneer Camp” which was more for older kids (like ages 3 and up), but they had nightly activities (including face painting, coloring, magic tricks, bounce houses) which was definitely an added bonus!  The kiddie pool was a favorite spot of ours, and we made lots of other toddler friends.  There’s also a concession-type stand outside, so we never had to leave the hotel for lunch, and we could eat on the deck in our beach-wear!
a little applesauce never hurt anyone!
Keep your child’s schedule….this is key.  Don’t skip naps and don’t change meal times.  Yes, it may stink to leave the beach or pool for naptime, but believe me, you’ll regret it if you skip that nap.  Keeping their schedule is the one thing you can do to keep things consistent for your little one.
TIP: spend your mornings (EARLY) on the's so much nicer!

Don’t overdo it or push it.  I knew AL might not like the beach or the ocean.  But you know what?  That’s okay.  I decided I wasn’t going to push anything that she didn’t want to do.  We went out to the beach with lots of sand toys (that she was familiar with from home) and just let her “test the waters.”  She did not like the ocean at all, and that was okay with me.  I just didn’t want to make her like anything – this was more for me, than for her.  And don’t overdo it…you’ll stress yourself out.  And hello, it’s VACATION, try to relax!
waiting for the sea lion show at the Gulfarium!
Research and plan for rainy days or days you don’t want to spend at the beach.  I didn’t really plan for this, but we made it by the skin of our teeth when Tropical Storm Debby showed up.  Here are some ideas in case you have a rainy day: most hotels have a small section of brochures (which usually have coupons) - browse through them and see if there’s anything that fits your fancy.  We visited the Gulfarium (it was about a 10 minute drive) – from what I had read online, it had recently been remodeled.  It was a little price-y for adults (around $20 each), but 3 and under were FREE.  It was a nice way to spend our morning – we LOVED the sea lion show!  The dolphin show (which was the whole reason we went) was somewhat disappointing because we couldn’t really see the dolphins.  Tip – if you go, stand along the side of the pool – great way to see all the action!  There are tons of other activities including shops, movies, naval museums, water parks, fun parks…pretty much anything for any age!
make sure to add some money to your budget for fun souvenirs!
and no dinner is complete without chocolate cake!
Try to budget for your food.  We had an idea of how much money we wanted to spend each day, and this helped us when trying to plan how much money we wanted to bring with us.  Visit the menus online so you can see a typical meal.  For us, as a family of 3, it usually cost us around $70 a night for dinner (2 entrees, a kids meal and dessert).  You’re on vacation…splurge for the desserts!  Your kids will LOVE it!
ice cream sandwiches make a great snack!
Pack plenty of beach towels, sunscreen and aloe vera (for those sunburns), floats, etc.  – you DON’T want to get down to the beach and not have any of these.  They are typically MUCH more expensive in vacation areas, so stock up before you leave!
another morning on the beach...getting ready to go to the POOL!

Here’s where we ate on our trip:
The Crap Trap – I give this one a 3 out of 5 stars…it was okay, definitely not the best food we ate while we were down there.
Another Broken Egg – WOW.  We met Molly for breakfast here (she suggested it).  SO good!  If you want to eat a big, beautiful breakfast or brunch, you definitely need to visit this place!
Dewey’s – I give this one 5 stars.  Amazingly yummy and delicious.  Loved the atmosphere and the casual feel.  And the crabcakes…oh my word!  The hush puppies were great, too!
A.J.’s – Another 3 out of 5 stars – good, but not great.  AL loved the location, as we could see lots of boats.  
The Back Porch – 4 out of 5 stars.  Great service, great location…great key lime pie!  And the playground was great for AL to play on after we finished dinner!
Pompano Joe’s – 5 out of 5 for sure!  The service was awesome, and the Teriyaki Tuna…DEEEEEEElicious! We indulged in the chocolate cake for dessert, and it was quite the treat!
*try to include some COLOR in your dinner for your kids – a lot of times, the kids meals are all fried…order a side of steamed veggies to add some green to their plate!
evenings on the beach were the best...cooler temps & not so crowded!
I have a whole post coming up next week about traveling with a toddler.  We had a 7+ hour trip to get down to Destin, so I have LOTS of tips.  
Have any other tips/suggestions that worked for your family?  
Share away!  I would LOVE to add them to my list!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

a beach vacation to remember!

So, we headed down to the Gulf Coast for a few days last week, and it couldn't have come at a better time!  We decided earlier this spring that we wanted to go to Destin for a few days as a family of 3.  We haven't had a family vacation since Annie Louise was born, so to say it was needed is an understatement.

We had an amazing time...that is until Tropical Storm Debby showed up.  Good thing she didn't show up until our last full day on the beach, because trying to entertain a toddler in a hotel room while it's pouring rain outside is HARD WORK. 

All in all, it was a great few days, and we are blessed that we were able to vacation together!

Here are a few pictures from our beach vacation!  Follow me on instagram (@lenawarnock) to see some more pictures, too!

Testing out the beach when we got there...and good thing, we LOVED it!

and we had breakfast with a special friend, Julia!  AL wanted to touch her, of course!

LOVE meeting my favorite glad we were able to meet up with Molly

someone LOVED the beach, especially at night when it was cooler and less crowded!

playing "ring around the rosie" 

here's a look at our friend, Tropical Storm Debby.
This is when I realized we weren't spending our last day at the beach!

at the Gulfarium waiting for the sea lion show...and it was windy!

TS Debby was really getting wild here!  Look at those waves!

Annie Louise waving BYE BYE to the beach!  We'll be back soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Girl Behind the Blog!


Hi, friends!
It's Wednesday!  I usually link up with Mandy at House of Rose for the Stop & Smell the Roses link-up, but today, I'm linking up with 5ohwifey and Our Crazy Beautiful for the Girl Behind the Blog link-up!  

It was a super easy prompt, and I can't wait to "meet" more of y'all!  

I hope y'all have a wonderful day...come back and see us again real soon!  We are a fun bunch!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Annie Louise is 21 months old!

my friend, Lauren, took this picture at Jack's birthday of my favorites!

Annie Louise – 
You are growing like a weed.  

Your development is off-the-charts-crazy.  You are repeating everything we say, which is making us watch our words carefully.  
You can almost say your ABC’s – you usually need a little help around “Q, R, S…”  You are so close!
Counting is just as fun – “one, two, four, seven, nine, TEN!”
And would you believe that you can ALMOST spell your name!  “A, N, I, E! Annie!” is what we usually hear as you “write” your name on your magnadoodle.
In my eyes, you are the smartest little toddler I have ever known.
open mouth kisses are the best!
You love singing.  I love to just sit with you and go through the roll of all the songs we sing – and believe me, there are a bunch.  I have even started pulling songs out of my old school VBS hat to teach you.  Currently, you love “I’m in the Lord’s Army”…the way you say “YES, SIR!” is too cute.
may not love water, but I sure do love my floats!
We have been having a little difficulty in the temper tantrum department.  Lots of “NO!” and screaming and crying when you have to do something you don’t want to do, or when we’re trying to keep you from doing something dangerous.  That wears on mama, but I just tell myself it’s a season in our life (and yours) and soon you will understand.
swingin' - a favorite activity!
You are slowly getting used to the things of summer – just like everything else in your life, we just have to let you do it at your own time.  You hated swimming and the pool at first, but now you scream when it’s time to get out.  You are quite the little fishy.  And the sandbox at SheShe and PopPop’s is quickly becoming one of your favorites, too.
out like a light....
You love to be outside, and it’s one of the first questions you ask when you finish eating breakfast.  You turn your head to the side and lift your little hands up and shrug and ask “outside?”  How can I say no when you ask in such a cute way?
riding in the golf cart at SheShe & PopPop's!
You are teaching me so many things, doodlebug.  I want every day to be full of wonder and amazement for you, because you deserve that.  You are absolutely precious to our family, the shining star in our lives.  
Love you so much,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Rest is defined as:
An instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity

Ah, rest. What a beautiful thing. Do you ever feel like when you are about to embark on a period of rest, that everything that can go wrong, does?

That’s how I have been feeling lately.

SheShe and I planned for this past weekend's trip last week – it was kind of on a whim, but much needed. We decided that we would leave early Saturday morning and hit up some antique stores on our way down. Then, we would spend Saturday and Sunday (Father’s Day) with Granny & Papa at their pool. My goal was to get Annie Louise accommodated to the water so we could make more trips down.

To say I was excited about this weekend get-away would be an understatement. I was ecstatic.

The week before was torture.

Everything was stressful. B was out of town for work. Nothing was easy.

There were many times in the week that I wanted to throw up my hands and say “ENOUGH! I’m finished!”

But then Saturday came, and all was well.

Annie Louise getting an early morning banjo lesson from Papa.  Bluegrass runs in the family!
There is something about getting out of your “zone” for a few days to clear your head. To stroll through antique stores finding all sorts of goodies. To watch your daughter braving her fear of water to swim to the safety of your arms. To eat homemade peach ice cream and know all is well with the world. To stay up way past bedtime so you can enjoy the coolness of a summer evening.

Even though I wasn’t physically resting, my soul found rest.

And it was magical.

We leave in a fews days for our first official beach vacation as a family. I was stressed and worried before, wondering if we should postpone until another time.

I’m ready and willing now – excited for the time I will spend with my little, precious family. I’m so excited to see what kind of adventures God is going to bring to us on our trip…I cannot wait!

How do you find rest when things feel like they are caving in around you?

Friday, June 8, 2012

My gals.

I was having a hard time coming up with a post idea for the end of this week.  It's summer - we're busy being outside and waiting {im}patiently for our trip to the beach.  Less than 2 weeks!!!!

We're kind of on "cruise control" right now, and I just don't have a lot floating around in my head.

Crazy, huh?

Anyways, I started thinking about how I have BIG plans for tonight with 2 of my favorite gals, Lauren and Megan.  We are going to see Ann Voskamp speak at a church, and I cannot wait.  If you haven't had a chance to read Ann's book, One Thousand Gifts, please go get it.  It will bless you immensely.  Ann's writing is so beautiful and touching and inspiring.

I have been waiting for this event like a kid waits for Christmas.  Amidst all the anticipation, I started thinking about how I connected with Lauren and Megan...our story of how we became friends, if you will.

And I just have to smile.

I smile because it was totally, 100% God.  There is NO way on this Earth, that we could have planned it.  Absolutely no way.

And that's the way it is with my closest circle of gal friends.  The gals that sent me cards when I had a miscarriage because they knew I was hurting.  The gals who would pray over me {no matter where we were} because they knew my heart was longing for a baby.  The gals who were my prayer warriors when I saw that tiny, faint pink line start to form on a pregnancy test.  The gals who brought me dinner when I was a mess with a newborn.  The gals who have celebrated every big {and little} milestone of being a mama with me.  The gals who loved me despite what they may have heard about me.

I love them from the very deepest part of my heart.  Thinking about how much I love makes get weepy.

Weepy for a number of reasons...weepy because they mean so much to me and weepy because I was so close to not having them in my life.

There is one single event in my life {apart from getting married and becoming a mama} that changed me for the better.

At the time, I thought it was one of the worst moments of my life.

But God had a different plan.  He made it one of the moments that I thank Him for

If it weren't for this event, this change that happened to me, I probably wouldn't be going to this event with Lauren and Megan.

I wouldn't call any of these women my best friends.

I know it sounds trivial, but God has a funny way of working things out.  He knows what you need when you think you have it all figured out.  I shake my head, almost in disbelief, but it's no time until I know He had His hand in it the whole time.

All that to say, never judge a person based on what someone else says.  You never know, God may slap you with a little bit of humility and make that person your best friend.

Trust me, I know from experience!

To these gals in my life {you know who you are} - I love you, all of you!  You picked me up when I was in some of the darkest places in my life, and for that, I thank you.  You are precious to me, don't you ever forget it.

Did God bring certain people in your life in "strange" ways?  Tell me about it!  And then, go tell that friend what a blessing they are to you!  I plan on doing that tonight, too!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Make your own "Hey Y'all" frame!

I don't know what it is about summer, but I always get in a serious crafting mood.  

It's intense, y'all!

I have been loving all the frame wreaths that are making their way around pinterest (follow me HERE).  I knew I had a few frames leftover from Annie Louise's birthday party (we used them as photo booth props), so I began thinking about what I wanted mine to look like.

And crafting and creating I went...I am so excited to show the almost complete product!

I used a large turquoise blue frame, created a paper bunting banner and added tissue paper flowers.  I'm still deciding if I want to add some yellow gingham ribbon to it, but I'm not sure where I'm going to hang it yet, so I'm still undecided.

Here are the basic steps I did to make my frame - it was super easy (I'm horrible with taking pictures during the creating, so any questions you have, feel free to ask):
1. Find a frame & take back and glass off.  Spray paint to match your decor.

2. Decide what you want your bunting to say - mine says "hey y'all" so I knew I would need 8 pieces of coordinating paper.

3. Take a scrap piece of paper, fold in half and draw a triangle (make the triangle the appropriate size to fit your frame).  Cut the triangle out - when you open it, it will look like a diamond.

4. Trace and cut your pattern onto each sheet of paper.  I used a sharpie to write "hey y'all" on each piece.

5. Use string or twine to hang the bunting (put the twine in the middle of the triangles after it is folded).  I used a glue stick to keep the twine in place and to hold the paper together.  Hot glue the bunting into place.

6. You can use silk flowers to embellish it or make your own tissue paper flowers.  I made the tissue paper flowers by taking a couple of pieces of tissue paper, folding it until it was in a small square.  Cut a flower shape out of it (scalloped around the edges).  Staple once in the middle to hold all the pieces together and fluff.  Super easy and cute!

7. Hot glue the flowers on the frame as you like.  I stuck a small piece of cardboard in the corner so that I could glue the flowers to something stable.


I'm definitely going to make another one of these to match Annie Louise's upcoming barnyard bash - I'm thinking of using a bright red frame I have and adding lots of gingham paper for the bunting!  

An easy project that can be completed in an hour or so!  I can't wait to find a spot for it and enjoy it all summer!

Are you making anything special this summer?  Share away!  I'm always looking for new projects!

Have a great day, y'all!

Stop & Smell the Roses - Cleaning Edition

Hi, there!  If you're a guest today from the Stop & Smell the Roses link-up...WELCOME!

Stop and Smell the Roses

Today, I'm linking up with Mandy from House of Rose for the weekly Stop & Smell the Roses vlog link-up.  Mandy started this link-up as a way to take a few minutes out of the week to talk about what you're thankful for, and it has really grown!  I love watching everyone's vlogs each week, and I hope you'll join along, too!

Cleaning is my "thing", and these are some of my FAVORITE products!  I love Method products because they are somewhat "natural" and they smell HEAVENLY!  Plus, they do a pretty good job at cleaning, too!

Just so you don't forget, here are the products I featured in today's vlog:
All Purpose Cleaner in pink grapefruit
Foaming Hand Wash in lemon mint
Tub & Tile Cleaner in eucalyptus mint
Antibacterial Toilet Bowl Cleaner in eucalyptus mint
Le Scrub Abrasive Cleaner in eucalyptus mint
*All products are from Method - you should be able to find them at Target

Have your own favorites?


I love trying new products and finding what works best for us!

thanks, y'all!  see you next week!