Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Weekend Vibes: The Drive Ins & Fall Weather

 We are finding that Fall time is VERY different here in Texas than in New York or New England. And boy and I missing apple orchards, pumpkin patches, hay rides and falling leaves. Although I was super excited that the temps here dropped down to the 70's  this week!
I was trying to come up with a few fun things to do this Fall and the drive-ins came to mind. This is probably one of my favorite ways to watch a movie. I am not a fan of the movie theater. I can't seem to find it relaxing or enjoyable, ever. Although I have heard of a few places around here that do the recliner and couch seats and serve food/drinks. We might try that out in the near future.
Generally, we go to the drive-ins in the summer. As you know, the Texas weather right now is much warmer than what we are used to for Sept/Oct. Regardless, I think that the drive-ins are one of my favorite Fall activities no matter where we are. That's when they play the fun Halloween movies and you can cuddle up under a blanket without dying of heat.

We usually bring a truck or SUV and pack tons of blankets, pillows, snacks and even a few chairs. We brought the Buick Enclave this time around and it made for a perfect little bed for the kids. We opened the back and they loved snuggling up to watch the movie together. Our first time to the drive-ins in Texas was pretty rad. We went to Stars & Stripes Drive-ins. This place is by far the coolest one I have ever been to. They had an awesome snack bar with super cute kids meals that came in 1950's paper cars. The kids played with these all night. They also had a brand new playground that the kids got to run around and play on until it was time for the movie to start. We always get there really early so we can tailgate or just relax with drinks for a bit beforehand. We got a front row spot and after we were done with snacks we let the kids run around the grass and play with toys that they had brought.
If you are trying to think of something fun to do this Fall, google your closest drive-ins and go have some fun! It's one of our family's favorites!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Good Bye Summer, Hello Siesta Keys.

It is crazy to me that this summer is done and September is nearly over! We have had an awesome summer here in Texas. So many fun things that we got the chance to do. I can't wait to recap it all later this year. This week we are getting ready to head to Siesta Keys to see my mother. We rescheduled our trip back in August for October in hopes that the red tide would be gone. And it's STILL lingering. Ughhh. But we are hoping and praying that it isn't too bad when we go. If it is, we may skip the beach and we do have a back up plan or two.

After our last getaway, I told you guys that I am all aboard the better eating train this time around! Of course I will be having a cheat meal here or there and some cocktails, yes. But this trip, I am setting up some rules ahead of time so that I can not feel like complete and utter crap upon returning home. You can read my post on that here. Also I like to set intentions before trips so that our trip isn't as stressful.

Rule 1. Eat 60% healthy while away. So first, I researched some places in Siesta Keys that have organic or vegan foods. I found quite a few and so we will try and visit a couple of these places. We are staying with my mom for a little bit and then I also booked a resort with a kitchen so that I can buy some food from the supermarket and have some healthy alternatives and snacks while we are away. I'm going to stack that fridge with fruits, veggies, cheeses and lots of h20. I am the biggest water snob. If my water doesn't taste good, I won't drink it. San Antonio has spring fed public water and much to my surprise, really tasty.  I think I'd even go as far to say that it tastes way better than Saratoga Springs, NY water, (which they are supposed to be known for)!!! :O
Anyhow, my point is I buy bottled water when we are away. I know this isn't the best option since it's wasting a lot of plastic but until I find a better alternative...this is what we do.

Rule 2. Workout at least 2-3 times. I'm also going to pick 3 days during my vacation to work-out. The resort has a fitness center and so I will most definitely take advantage of that. I will most likely do this early in the am so that I get it out of the way. If I only make it to workout a couple times, I want to definitely take a couple nice walks on the beach. That can count towards miles walked.

Rule 3. Pack Ahead of Time & Bring Extra. I always pack like a week in advance. I'm kind of type A personality and that contributes to this pre-packing behavior. lol This also eliminates stress for me because I am the worst over-packer ever. I am one of those people who likes to wear what their mood calls for. And I can't very well pack everything so I try literally everything on and then pack it. I do have like 5 extra outfits just in case but I'm ok with that. Luckily SouthWest gives you 2 free suitcases per person. This is helpful for me. We buy 4 tickets so that is 8 suitcases I can pack...j/k. I don't really bring that many suitcases.

For the kids, I pick all of their outfits out ahead of time and usually lay them all out to see what they will look like. I do this because I enjoy it and for no other reason. I love seeing the kids in cute outfits that compliment each other. Scarlett is at the age that she like to pick what she wants now so I try to let her help me pick. Maxwell will let me dress him in anything that I choose.

Rule 4. Be in the moment. A lot of times we go away and we are on the go so much that I feel like the experience passes me by and I don't get to thoroughly enjoy it. This trip is specifically to visit with my mom and stepfather so we plan to be in the moment and really soak up some family time. That is really important to any vacation. What's the point unless you really enjoy yourself and be in the moment?  I may even bring a book to read during relax times instead of being on my phone.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Weekend Vibes: Shopping, Getting Back into Routine & LOTS of Thoughts.

One of the things that I am truly grateful for and enjoy more than I prob let anyone know, are slow Sundays. Most know me as the always on the go, ready for an adventure, Lauren. And 85% of the time that is true. Every once in awhile, I absolutely love a day where I can just sit on the couch with Ty, coffee in hand and a cozy blanket. We let the kids stay in their pj's all day and make a mess of everything. We eat comfort food and watch movies together. The kids are really into the 80's movies that I've been picking lately. So far we have watched Harry and the Henderson's, Batteries Not Included and ET.  They are loving these films! And of course this makes me happy since I'm an old 80's movies junkie.
We are having a slow Sunday over here today. Watching football, meal prepping lunches for the week and yes, I'm having a glass of red wine. It's still 90's over here but I'm in a Fall mood and red wine just seems to go with that whole theme. It barely rained here in San Antonio all summer. And now it has been raining for about a week. Which we totally needed. This also gives us some time to chill and just hang out.

The last couple of weekends have been us getting ready for back to school and getting into the groove of schedules. We did a lot of online shopping but I did take the kids to pick out a few things since this gets them excited for school. I've been doing well with meal prepping for the week's lunches and meal planning for the week's breakfasts and dinners. (I am working on some new fitness and food posts for you all.)  I feel like it's easier to keep focused this way. I have a set schedule now and it has been SO much easier to workout and even get in daily walks/jogs. Life all around has been smoother. I have a love/hate relationship with routine. On the one hand it does make life so much easier. The kids love being in a set daily pattern. I think most kids thrive in this type of environment. But the free spirit side of me gets extremely antsy. Working from home has it's perks: no driving to work, I can work in sweats if I please & I get a workout in on my lunch....but After a few months, I am ready for some crazy adventures!!! I go a little stir crazy. And it's always been like this for me. I have learned to incorporate fun activities into our lives often so that I don't get burnt out with "routine".

Everything in moderation, right?

In other news.....I've come to the realization that I am missing our own house. We came here for a temporary move and so we rented a house. We are in a small 3 bedroom, 1 floor house. Coming from a 4 bedroom, 4 bath, large house on almost 2 acres with a private back yard and a big playroom AND workout area,  it's an adjustment in a lot of ways. AND it's not even the space that really bothers me. I honestly just miss decorating and updating- and having something that we know is ours. Ok it's the space too. Haha.
To be honest, I haven't really done anything here at our house in Texas. We moved here and bought all new furniture (we left most of our furniture behind in NY) and have left it like that since we moved in.

 Back in NY, the kids always had cute rooms themed to their liking. Partially because I wanted to make them smile and partly because I enjoyed decorating them. Here, they had mattresses on the floor with no beds for 3 months or so.  I did finally buy new beds. I JUST bought a new dresser for our room last month. I procrastinated for so long because I just told myself we are moving soon and so large totes all over the bedroom is acceptable. Everything that I brought to hang on the walls, I haven't. It just doesn't feel like our house.  When you have owned, it's hard to go back to renting. I'm not feeling the carpet and tile throughout this house (ugh, HATE carpet) and we have thee teeny tiniest backyard/outdoor area you have ever seen. We have never been out there without seeing one of the 5 abutting neighbors over the not-tall-enough fence. Granted they are all super sweet and friendly, I still miss having a private backyard. And Ty wants a new grill in the worst way, but it's silly to buy a new one when we have a built in one back home.  Update: We bought a grill. 

I have put off decorating altogether. I feel like we are staying at a hotel for a really long time. And I know it's not ours so what's the point to put all of this effort into something that we are only staying in for a little while? So I guess that is the reason why I haven't done much with our house here.

Since we have been here, I have been so busy with relocation details and trying to figure out schools, doctors, traveling and working on top of that, that I haven't even thought about it much. Once things came together and slowed down, I had time to think and I am realizing I miss decorating and having a home of our own. There are a lot of things up in the air right now. Some that I don't even want to think about right now because they are out of my control and some possibilities that could be really exciting. It's just a lot of unknowns and we won't know until closer to the end of the year. Ty and I talked about when we do leave, do we want to move back to our old NY house or build. I have seen MANY houses being in real estate and I can honestly say that I have never found a home that I thought would be perfect. So we think building is the route we will go. I think that is really the only way that we would get what we truly want.

My style has changed a bit over the years. But ultimately the basics haven't changed. I like an eclectic look. Some traditional, some modern and some modern farmhouse vibes.  I even love west coast feel so it's hard to pull that all together into one house. Everything I love is open, airy and bright. Lots of natural sunlight. TONS of windows. In fact, I love natural light so much that I want an entire wall to be one large folding or floor length window. It would have an open floor plan and a private backyard like our NY home has. Wood floors everywhere, lots of whites and neutrals. I can see it perfectly in my mind and even have a floor plan picked out.

For now I'll keep pinning on my Pinterest board and being ok with the idea that someday soon we will have a home that feels more like ours. When Ty accepted this job, we did so knowing that we wanted an adventure and that is exactly what we've gotten. Our intentions were to experience life differently. We've seen so many cool places, traveled and experienced all sorts of fun new things. It's been a great year and I am so thankful for that!!  And well, the year is not over yet. So we'll just continue on having fun until our next move comes about. Sometimes you just have to let life happen as it does. And often times, it comes together just how it's supposed to.

To all my NY people, I am envious of your sweaters and colorful leaves!! I'm living vicariously through your posts and photos. ;) Meanwhile, over here we are getting a "cool down" from the rain we've been having. We are seeing the 80's and it feels amazing! I hope you are all getting settled back into routines and getting back in the groove of schedules this Fall.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Scarlett & Maxwell Take 7: Back to School

Scarlett is 7 and just started the 2nd grade. Maxwell is 3 and just started his first day of 3 year old pre-k. These kids bring me so much joy and drive me crazy all at the same time. Haha. But I wouldn't trade them for the world! We have so much fun traveling places and exploring new things with them. These two are at such fun ages. Watching them discover and learn and play is such a blessing.

Scarlett: Age 7

Loves: Horseback riding & lessons (still), crepes with applesauce and chocolate syrup, comfortable clothes, any movie with animals in them, carrots & cukes, playing with Cubby, playing school with her brother, American Girls and reading.

Dislikes: Jeans or wearing any clothing that is "scratchy", sweets like cake, cupcakes or donuts.

Currently: Has made new friends in school, has zero front teeth and still losing them! Getting so good at horse riding. She can not canter and is practicing for shows. Mimics everything she is intrigued by and it reminds me so much of myself when I was young. My girl is so stylish. She has a great sense of natural style.

Says: "When I get older I'm going to have 10 boys and 10 girls and live at home with you so you can help me take care of them".
"Don't buy too much stuff Mama, we are saving for a barn and a farm, ok?"

Maxwell: Age 3

Loves: Waffles & Pancakes, Building with his Legos, Paw Patrol & Batman, Swimming, riding his scooter, Donuts, sleeping in our bed or his sister's room. Listening to Benny Goodman on the way to school.

Dislikes: Going to bed on time (a night owl like me), meat (he's a natural vegetarian)

Currently: Potty Training, he's the sweetest boy who cuddles me every night, becoming very independent. He is a very simple boy. He doesn't need a lot of toys or things, he is content with just a few things. I love this about him.

Says: Thinks "Fig Newton" is "Big Newton", "I need a wittle bit of help" or "I need a lotta bit of help".
He tells me he doesn't feel good at bedtime so he can come snuggle with me on the couch. When I ask him if he was lying he replies, "Uh huh" and giggles as he cuddles up next to me.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Galveston, TX & Eating Healthy on Vacation

We just got back from a long weekend getaway to Galveston, TX.
We were supposed to leave for Siesta Keys FL on Friday but the red tide put a damper on that trip. My mother lives in Siesta Keys and warned us how bad it is there with this horrible red tide period they are going through. She said the beaches are desolate, the smell is terrible, tons of dead fish and animals washing up on shore, you can barely breathe...the list goes on. We were super sad that we didn't get to spend time with my mom but it was a good decision that we rescheduled.

I really wanted to take the kids on one last little, fun trip before school starts next week. Ty said,  find some place to go and let's go. Being the savvy trip planner that I am,  I got online and within 20 minutes, I booked the San Luis Resort in Galveston, TX. This resort is right on the ocean. I've been wanting to visit a Texas beach. People warned us that the Texas beaches weren't that nice. Buttttttt, now that I've been, I beg to differ. They were just as beautiful in their own ways. I mean, they aren't the New England beaches that I'm used to, but they still had lots of charm. The resort had pretty views and great amenities.  I honestly didn't know much about the area but decided we'd take a chance.

Turns out it was a great pick and we had a fun time playing in the sand, splashing in the pool and eating..... There was a great little pier with an amusement park on it called, Pleasure Pier. Maxwell wasn't feeling the best on Sunday so we decided to go on Monday or Tuesday. Unfortunately, they had the most only weekend hours and were closed Monday and Tuesday so we didn't get to go. I mean, it IS still summer, isn't it? We must have just missed summer hours. The kids were pretty bummed and so were we since the ginormous lit up carousel looked pretty magical in the evenings. If you ever go to Galveston, check it out....but check out the hours online before going as well! We did however spend lots of time on the beach and in the pool. We ate at the Rainforest Cafe that was next to the resort, kids pick. And dined in the Grotto and Steakhouse that were inside the resort.

So let's just talk about that for a minute, can we? Every time that we go away some place, we end up eating out mostly, as most people do when away on vacation. The problem is that we eat really clean and all organic, very little processed foods on a daily basis. Then we go away and are eating a lot of fried foods & processed foods. After about 3 or 4 days of this, I start to feel crappy, bloated and just overall not good. After every vacation I say to myself, "Why do I do this every time!?"  Mind you, I have the occasional cheat meal every now and then on a weekly basis. That doesn't seem to bother me. It's when I eat like that for  a period of days or more that it begins to really effect me. After not learning my lesson for the last 6 or 7 trips that we've been on, I've finally decided to plan out better ways to eat while I am away. I will most definitely eat out and indulge in drinks because I really do enjoy that aspect of vacation. Besides seeing new places, trying new foods is one of the best parts of traveling!  What I will change is being intentional about where and what I'm eating, or at least incorporate some good-gut foods during my vacations. One thing about Texas, (and even those from here will tell you this) there is a LOT of delicious yet unhealthy food to try here.  Haha, I know I will get slack from someone by saying that. Here there seems to be a lot of Tex-Mex, true southern and deep fried foods. These aren't my favorite foods by any means but I still like trying new dishes. No matter where you go, you will find healthy and unhealthy foods/restaurants.

My thoughts are that we will try to stay only at places that have a kitchen or kitchenette so that we can try and cook some of our own meals there. This would eliminate the need to eat out as much and also incorporate some healthy raw foods. Maybe sub breakfasts for going out to eat. Another thing I am going to do is to research the restaurants before we go and see if I can find some organic or clean-eating restaurants. I am also going to pack a bunch of clean snacks for travel. This will eliminate eating junk food as we travel on the plane, or to our destination. I am open to new ideas and would love if you would share them with me!!! This is a learning process for me since I never thought twice about eating healthy 2 years ago. I'm finding it isn't as hard as I thought it would be. It is more about making small choices to healthier things. Moderation is really key for me. Anyhow, I have a whole other post that I am working on with things that I have planned and lined up for the next trip coming up. Stay tuned for that.

For now, I will leave you with some photos from our getaway.... 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Blisswood in Cat Springs, TX: Unplugged & In Tune

Deep in the heart of Texas lies a 500 acre ranch in Cat Springs.  Horses roaming the front yard. No wifi or tv's.

The only thing for miles and miles is land. In fact, we had to go to the store to grab charcoal that we had forgotten and it was a good 35 minute drive to the closest store, which was a small town market.

On Memorial Day weekend, we rented a house with a pool there at Blisswood Bed & Breakfast.  It was called the "Dog Trot House". It was the only house on the ranch with a pool and I am very glad that we decided to rent the house with the pool since it was mostly hot and humid during our stay. We spent quite a few hours splashing in that pool. We took plenty of walks around the ranch as well. The kids got to ride horses and we spent one of our mornings feeding all of the animals on the ranch during an early morning feed tour.
It was awesome!!

In addition, the kids got attacked by red ants a few times. I got stung by theeeee biggest bee that I have ever seen in my life, I was greeted each morning in the bathroom by numerous caterpillars, centipedes and God knows what else... and we smelled like farm for a few days. But it was worth every single second. I have said before that since we have come to Texas, my love for seeing new things has grown.  I love to see how different life is all over this small world that we live in. How interesting and complex each new place can be. Cat Springs, Texas was no different. It was an experience I soaked up and won't soon forget. With no wifi or movies or tv, the kids just ran freely through the ranch. They played in the dirt and connected with the animals. It gave me such joy to watch Scarlett run out in the front yard to make friends with the horses in the pasture. Maxwell digging a dirt road for his trucks was equally as satisfying. Ty told them stories of his summers on his grandfather's farm in Vermont. Wide-eyed little children eagerly listened.

Waking up at 5:30 am wasn't as much of a task here. I looked forward to every sunrise. A little quiet time with my coffee, some soft music and that beautiful sun creeping up an inch at a time to wake every sleeping creature under it. Every single morning, I sat in that rocker watching the fog let off the green and that ever so peaceful horizon. What inspiration it was. I swear it was a writer's dream.  Carol is the owner of the ranch and she kept a book in the house of the background of Blisswood. I loved reading about the history and even taking a look at the old black and white framed photos of the past owners hanging on the wall. I made sure to leave some notes there in their memory book. This trip was ultimately another "noise-free" vacation that our family needs time and time again. If you read my post to Big Bend (HERE), then you will get the "noise-free" reference. It's so important to disconnect with the chaos and live in the moment.   It's impossible to do anything else at a place like this. I got to pay attention to every single cannonball that Scarlett made into the pool. I really watched as Maxwell made a road through the dirt with his diggers. Ty and I had a few good laughs about things that only we think are funny. We made meals together in the old, rustic kitchen. I adored that little farm house so!  The only noise we had there, was good ole' music. So we did some dancing too. One evening while we were playing cards on the porch, a big storm came through. Once it passed,  we got to watch the lightening in the distance, frolicking through the clouds. It was divine. 

 If you are not a nature lover, this place might be a bit too extreme for you. However, there is something to be said about living simple for a while. As you can see by the photos, we did enjoy out time here. At the bottom of this post, I left a little video that I made of our trip there. Also, a couple videos of the places where we stayed while there.

Our video of the trip here:

If you want to take a peak at where we stayed, check it out here:

Here is another house there that we almost stayed at: