Vacation

Someone once told me “say yes to opportunities and adventures!” so I said YES to a weekend away. Kiki’s one Christmas wish was her very own suitcase and she’s being “dying to go on a trip” so on Friday night when I told her to pack up her suitcase, her first question was “where are we flying to”…which led me to explaining to her that travel doesn’t always include an airplane and that concept was not quite clear to her until we got in the car and drove for 4 hours to Key West. let’s just say she prefers flying 🙂

We went to the Keys to support my friend J run her “Nth” marathon…this woman is a super human and a wonderful example to both me and Kiki. Her determination, strong will and hard work are absolutely superb and it was such an honor to be there at the finish line to cheer her on! Makes me want to get back to running races again and it was a great lesson for Kiki of determination and how important it is to finish whatever you start. I am not sure that Kiki got all of that, but she was quite interested in the medal and that left quite an impression on her that she wants to run one day to get the medal.

The weekend was everything I asked for and more; we enjoyed an abundance of food, laid-back charm, and beautiful scenery.  The four hour car ride with Kiki was quite smooth…we talked, we sang and decided that both of our favorite color is now ocean turquoise blue!

Key West with Kids 5

Key West with Kids 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views on our way down were quite spectacular! I have to admit I was nervous how she will take the ride, and packed a lot of car appropriate entertainment [coloring book, her writing agenda where she practices her sight words, iPad, small toys and snacks], but she barely needed any of them. Once we got to the island we did tons of walking [close to 20 miles], ate delicious foods, indulged in ice cream, sunsets and sunrises!

Key West with Kids 4

Key West Sunset

The island is absolute magic of pastel-hued, conch-style homes, a complete feast to the eyes. It’s an easily walkable quaint city, not really kids friendly [read: open containers, bars galore and bustling night life] but it’s easy to get around it all, and still enjoy it with a kid. And to be honest, I am not the one to shield her from life, and she is still oblivious to so much of it and I kind of just went with the flow. We did all the touristy stuff…the Duval Street, The Hemingway House, the Southernmost point buoy, Mallory Square, KW Lighthouse and Cemetery, and my favorite; endless walks on side streets, chasing roosters, and playing treasure maps with Kiki. Walking the island was somewhat challenging to Kiki…she whined a lot, and when I say a lot, I really mean A LOT…so to get her mind off of walking, J got her a map of the island and she pretended to be our tour guide!  Needless to say on our way back, Kiki slept most of the ride and I took in all the breathtaking views of the sunset and reflected on loss and love.  We are both missing our sous-chef. We talk about Brinkley all the time, and it’s so hard not having her with us. So much emptiness…

Key West with Kids

Though it was a quick weekend gateway, we returned home refreshed and eager to lace up our sneakers and get running! The first run was a hard one, but to get my mind off of the actual running, I started planning our weekly menu and until I figured out each day, I wasn’t going to stop. Somehow I finished with 3 miles under my belt…[we shall not mention the time it took me to finish those 3 miles, but I finished it]. There is absolutely no theme to this weeks menu, but rather just trying to eat the foods we already have in the fridge and the pantry since I have not made it to the grocery store….Usually my best menus are created on my runs or in a shower…

weekly menu

Monday: Chicken soup for the soul

Tuesday: Mama’s night out

Wednesday: One Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies

 Thursday: Sausage, Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Parmesan Pasta

Friday: Turkey Sloppy Joe Nachos

Saturday: Homemade pizza party

Hope your weekend was a glorious one too and you enjoyed the extra day off…what will you be eating this week? Please share with me, I need some ideas….

Vacation

Last weekend was a VERY big weekend for
us… Kiki and I went to Disney World for the first time (her first time)!

Disney World

Walt Disney World

For the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping her by telling her we were going to a hotel. The Disney part was one big surprise and I could not wait to see her face once I told her where we were really going! When I finally did tell her…there was a big pause and her comment was “why do we have to go to a hotel to go to Disney when we have Disney store here by our house?”. Obviously, she didn’t get the concept of the park…or maybe I didn’t explain it to her correctly. None the less, in a car we loaded and made a 4-hour drive to the most magical place in the world. Thankfully I made this trip with a very good friend of mine and her five-year-daughter. Everything with a friend is easier!

Everything with a friend is easier

Since we were there only for a weekend, we decided to visit the Magic Kingdom only…plenty to see and experience. Depending on when you go and what time you arrive, Magic Kingdom might be very busy. Your best bet is to plan out which rides and attractions are must-dos for you, and aim to do those first. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle in the distance from the start of Main Street, USA is just as magical a view for a toddler as it is for an adult. The Main Street exuberates magic! There was magic in the smallest of details…let me just say that Disney World is a well oiled (money making) machine! Not a detail was missed!

Magic Kingdom

We did not stay on Disney property, but if you are staying in Disney for more than one day, I would highly recommend it, it’s worth it. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which was absolutely charming, but I will leave that review for a separate post.

As soon as we got to the hotels, Kiki went to sleep, and I stayed up a bit setting up my wish list. Next morning we had a nice quiet protein breakfast at the hotel and headed to the Magic Kingdom.

As soon as we got off the bus we went to pick up our tickets and our “Magical Bracelets”! Disney World was built around the concept of families. The magic bands provide such carefree Disney experience – with a little bit of magic, our bands were synched to my profile on the my Disney experience website and they hold all the information for your trip: hotel stay (if you are staying on property), tickets to the park, fast passes, dining reservations and even our credit card. Believe it or not, you don’t even need your wallet! I was pretty impressed. It was pure magic! They have made life as easy as possible for parents and fun for kids.

Kiki’s favorite rides and huge success included the carousel (more than just one time), Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin!

“Under the Sea” – visiting Ariel at her Grotto and “It’s a small world” ride.

She was in her element at the “Mad Tea Party” and could have gone again and again, but I was seeing stars by the end of the first ride…

Cinderella’s Castle of course….and an adventure of the Swiss Family Treehouse

The next day we had a date with Chef Mickey for brunch!

Here are a few tricks and tips on Disney
experience with your toddler

  • The Disney App – make sure you download
    my Disney experience app to plan your trip. It offers a map, wait times, fast
    past selections, dining reservations, personal wish list. It really gets you
    (an adult into the Magic of Disney and you will feel better going in prepared).
  • Bring your stroller – a stroller in Disney is a
    must. I brought Kiki’s stroller, but you can always rent one as well. It’s
    great for long days, naps, carrying all the snacks, all the toys you’ve bought
    and what’s best there was supervised “stroller parking”. It’s a lot
    of walking even for grown-ups and unless you want to carry your 40lbs kid, give
    them a place to rest. Kiki took a beautiful hour long nap and she was like new
    for the second park of the experience.
  • Naps – Disney is overwhelming, a lot to take
    in, so count on meltdowns , encourage your child to take a nap…it didn’t make
    sense to me to go back to the hotel and take a nap, when I got a good walk around
    and she got a great nap and everyone was happy. This is where strollers are
    key. She was able to rest as I moved around the park and she had energy for the
    second part of our day.
  • Food – One of the great things about Disney
    Parks is they don’t blink twice about you bringing in your own food and drinks. That said, however, eating at the Magic Kingdom is
    as junky or as healthy as you want to make it. The healthiest menu I found was
    at Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland) and I actually enjoyed it. The kids’
    meals come with carrots or grapes and milk, and if you would
    prefer a different (read: less healthy) side or drink you must specifically
    request that substitution.  Character dining is great fun but usually,
    always must be booked in advance (sometimes MONTHS in advance), but we opted
    out of it since we had a date with Chef Mickey the next morning.
  • Snacks – bring snacks!!! Bring lots of snacks!
    Of course, every corner is filled with snack options, but having your
    child’s favorite is definitely a big help. I certainly overpacked on snacks but
    was thankful to have them at moments’ request. I packed a variety…Annie’s
    gummy rabbits, go-go squeeze, organic fruit roll ups, veggie chips, sesame sticks, apples…
  • Toy purchases – We are definitely in the “I want, I want..” stage…she wants all the toys. So before we even got to the park, we made a pact/pinky swear that she will get one toy on the way out of the park. We agreed that she could look at all the toys during the day, pick her favorites and then at the end of the day we will purchase one toy. This worked magic…though it might have also sped up our exit out of the park because she was eager to get her new toy. We both kept our promises and bought one toy with no tears and no asking for more toys. She was overjoyed to get the Ariel doll! and I was overjoyed that there were no tears and negotiations!
  • Saftey – Disney is busy, Disney is crowded and it takes a second to loose a sight of your child, so talk to them about safety before you get there. Make sure your child knows your name and not just mommy/daddy, make sure they know exactly what you are wearing and who they should talk to if they get lost. For a younger child or one with limited verbal skills, a basic ID tag with the child’s name and your cell phone
    the number will be a big help in case your child were to become separated from you at the parks.
  • Let them pick their rides – as a type A person this was a tough one for me, so I suggested the rides and then Kiki picked them. She was quite shy and timid and I let her choose her comfort level. I wanted her to experience it ALL, but after all, this trip was for her.

Besides being excited about our little getaway,
I was more excited to share this experience with Kiki for the first time. A quick
summary of our experience – I am glad I waited until she was four…she was
very shy, timid at times, overwhelmed by everything. Even meeting Princesses
and other Disney characters were too much for her. Though she’s obsessed with
Princesses, her favorite was Minnie Mouse character and she was going crazy
looking for Daisy the whole time. Her favorite ride was the carousel and Aladdin’s
Magic Carpet! All in all…we will do it again…but not any time soon. Perhaps
waiting a bit and her expressing the want to go will be my que. In a mean time,
we will make a few extra visits to our local Disney store and the carousel that is a few blocks away from our house that seems to provide endless hours of joy and entertainment!

Until next time…..

Vacation

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend! Was it a good one?  Hope you enjoyed yours as much as we did ours. Life lately has been a bit crazy to say the least, so having a few weekends in a row with Kiki was a pure delight. And having a long weekend together, well, that was like a cherry on top!

I think the Fourth of July weekend is one of my very favorite holidays of the year. Ours was packed with quality time together and with friends! Actually this weekend was the epitome of what summers should be all about…Backyard BBQ’s, swimming, breakfast in bed, brunch, watermelons by the water, raspberry popsicles, movie nights…. I wish every weekend was like this! In between all the pooling, swimming, BBQing and Fourth of July parading, I did a little bit of reading and lounging around on the patio….it’s finally looking like the outdoor space I imagined it to be…pictures to come as soon as the table arrives and completes the space!

So to sum up our weekend in photos….this was our view pretty much the whole weekend!

Long Weekend Holiday

You probably won’t believe when I tell you this, but I am cutting down on coffee… I have replaced one cup of coffee with a cup of green tea and feeling great….but this ice-coffee was out of this world. If you find yourself in Oakland Park area, the Alchemist is a place to go…you won’t regret it!

ice-coffee

We entertained ourselves running through rainbows and jumping on our favorite colors…somehow all the colors were Kiki’s favorite!

jumping on our favorite colors

On Friday night, we ventured out to Miami Beach for a dinner party… My friend’s home was one of the coolest places I’ve been to, it was like walking onto “Something’s Gotta Give” movie set – an impeccable NYC meets Hamptons home with a view. And the food…oh my the food… simple, flavorful, refreshing and delicious! My hats off to the chef Ken!

Saturday, it was all about being patriotic! Kiki was very excited about the 4th of July especially after I explained to her that this holiday was America’s birthday and fireworks were the candles, she couldn’t get enough of it. If it was up to her, we would be still celebrating! And this was the first year she wasn’t scared of the fireworks and she thoroughly enjoyed it!

Our 4th of July evening with friends was so much fun. We have been getting together with the same families on the Fourth of July for 3 years now. It’s such a special tradition and one that we hope will continue for years to come.

These three ladies have known each other since they were only a few months old and suddenly they are looking so grown up. I know I am sounding like a cliche, but how is this possible?? Time is truly flying by!

Beautiful as always – my camera phone didn’t do it justice.

This photo sums up the weekend! Tanned skin, fireworks and waving an American flag. All signs of summer!


And this is pretty much how we spent the rest of our time…and I foresee this upcoming weekend with a bit of more of the same view! I don’t mind it, the least!

After indulging in the most amazing and abundant brunch in town on Sunday at Made in Italy Gourmet, we chatted and discussed the important topics – kangaroo costumes, monkey butts, giraffe’s long tongue, cheetah spots, etc….We left with our bellies and hearts full….Thankful for the friends whom I can call family!

By the end of the weekend I was too exhausted to cook, but I knew a very long Monday was waiting for us, and we needed our veggies, protein and carbs to balance out all the sweets. Powered by laziness, I got a bit creative…a one pan wonder – honey garlic chicken and veggies.  Tender, juicy chicken breasts baked to perfection with potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli. All cooked on a single pan! EASY! and Kiki approved!

We were dragging this morning, though. But it was a good tired. The kind where you feel exhausted but thankful for such a fun time. I hope you’re like me and took in every minute of the time and enjoyed the long evenings and early mornings of each day this holiday weekend. And now begins another week! Hoping my productivity level skyrockets tomorrow! Cheers to a fulfilling weekend and productive week! let’s do it again!

@lifewithflavors

LET'S BE INSTA-FRIENDS