Best Beach in Georgia

Part of me doesn’t want to write this post because I don’t want other people finding out about my favorite place  to vacation, and the other part of me wants to show the world how incredibly beautiful my home-state is.Jekyll Island Spanish Moss

A lot of people don’t know that Georgia has a series of barrier islands, some of which are known as the Golden Isles, and they have absolutely beautiful beaches. What’s even better is that many of the islands were privately owned for decades and then bought by the state and protected, which means much of the islands are untouched and unsettled. If you’re used to over crowded beaches lined with airbrushed t-shirt shops, you need to get away from all the Spring breakers and head to the Golden Isles. Jekyll Island (13)

I have been on three of Georgia’s Golden Isles, and they are all beautiful, but my favorite is Jekyll Island. Jekyll was once a private island for executives including Rockefeller and Vanderbilt and now is a state park that is under a special preservation order but is still open to the public. Because it is a state park, there are very few hotels, restaurants or businesses in general (there are some though, if you want a totally protected, untouched island, go two islands down and get a ferry ride to Cumberland Island where there are wild horses and primitive camping only). The emptiness of Jekyll is much of what makes it so attractive. We spent three days on Jekyll Island in June and stayed at the Holiday Inn Beachfront, which I hate to share about because I don’t want it to always be booked up, but all of the rooms open right out onto the lawn which is along the beach. It is beautiful and the prices were really good. It has a pool, big cabana loungers that overlook the ocean, fire pits with fires at night, a nice boardwalk and bike paths that connect to other areas further down the beach, it’s own restaurants, and is known for having tons of Sea Turtle sightings during their laying season. Jekyll Island  (8)

Just to give you an idea of how beautiful Jeykll is and how absolutely wonderful it is to be there, I took these photos of Brandon and the boys around 11 a.m. on one of the peak weeks of summer. We felt like we basically had the beach to ourselves. Pardon the quality of these and some of the other pictures from our trip, on day 2, Sawyer threw sand at my real camera and it didn’t work for four days…Jekyll Island  (11)Jekyll Island  (12)Jekyll Island  (13)

Amazing, right? Not only did we have so much of the beach to ourselves, but the clouds and constant breeze meant we weren’t melting the whole time. These are at the beach at our hotel, but one of my other favorite beaches to visit at Jekyll is down toward the south end of the Island. The entire beach is lined with huge ancient Southern Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss. It’s dreamy. It also makes it so much easier for Mama’s with babies because you can have shade all day without dragging down a canopy or umbrellas and tents. It’s amazing. There’s also a huge rope swing just on the other side of the parking lot that we did with his cousins when we went a few years ago. It’s massive and swings so fast, I would say save that activity for teenagers or older. There’s also an amazing beautiful beach called driftwood beach that we didn’t visit on this trip. Just google it, it’s beautiful.Jekyll Island Spanish MossJekyll Island Crab FishingJeykll island rope swing

You do have to plan ahead some when you are staying on Jekyll because there are no big grocery stores and not many restaurants, and just as a heads-up there is a $6 toll per day to get onto the island. It’s a good idea to stop by Target in Brunswick on your way to the island if you will need diapers or snacks. There is a small convenience store/gas station attached to a Dairy Queen on Jekyll but the selection is small and everything is marked up a lot. It’s about 20 minutes into Brunswick, which is the closest places with big stores, which isn’t too bad of a drive.

Jekyll does have some really neat historic tours and tons of fun outdoor things to do like Kayaking and fishing and biking, but our kids were content to just eat dig sand for days on end, boogie board, and swim.
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The one thing that Sawyer had been looking forward to the most on this trip was hunting for shark teeth. All of Georgia’s barrier islands have shark teeth found on them, but some are easier than others, and some beaches on each island are better known for it. Usually the beaches that you’re almost guaranteed to find shark teeth on are not the soft sandy ones that you like to play on. Jekyll has one beach, Shark Tooth beach, that is amazing for shark teeth finding, but it’s quite the hike out there and with three small kids, it wasn’t in the cards. I’ll share another post soon about where we found shark teeth on our last day at the beach (on a different island) but here are some awesome shark teeth that my husband’s cousin found on Jekyll a few weeks before our visit. The large one is a Megalodon tooth, which was a shark that lived back when the dinosaurs were on the earth. I couldn’t believe how big it is-jekyll island megladon tooth (1)jekyll island megladon tooth (2)

Isn’t that insane? I totally caught the shark tooth hunting bug and am determined to get out to shark tooth beach next time we’re on Jekyll to try and find a Megalodon tooth. So cool.

For local restaurants, check out some of the online guides. Because we wanted to spend most of our days on the beach and didn’t want the kids to fall asleep in the car driving to lunch, we mostly ate food we brought, but we did have lunch at Tortuga Jacks, a delicious Mexican restaurant on the island with portions big enough to share. If you stay at the Holiday Inn, it’s just a short bike ride away.Jekyll Island  (14)

We spent our last few days on our trip just one island up, on St Simons Island, and I will share all those pretty photos later, but I hope you are looking for a beautiful beach to visit, you won’t find anywhere prettier than Jekyll Island. Although, if you decide not to visit, that just means more beach for me, so I’m happy either way 🙂

Atlanta Airport Military Homecoming

For the last year, I have been keeping the biggest secret here on my blog. Because this blog is a lifestyle blog and because it’s a lifestyle/home diy blog and my biggest partner in my diy projects is my husband, it made it even more hard not to share, and hard to write at all. My husband, Brandon, has been gone on a military deployment to the Middle East for the last 9 1/2 months, and he came home about a week and half ago! This was so hard not to write about here, not to reach out and be someone for those of you who can relate to my situation, and so hard not to mention when writing about the boys birthdays, Christmas, or vacations. None of that even matters now though, because he’s home!Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (53)
(I’ve already gotten a few questions- yes, many soldiers do wear civilian clothing when traveling home, especially if they are flying through a public airport on a normal plane. Brandon actually had flown in to the US with the other troops and then was flown to the Atlanta airport from there, and traveled in civilian clothing for that last leg of his journey home).

We had a rough idea of when he would be coming home but didn’t get an exact day until the day before, and didn’t get exact flight info until a few hours before. That is completely common in the military, and so that wasn’t a big deal, but it made the waiting feel even longer, as if time wasn’t going slow enough at the end. I had reached out to an amazing photographer in the Atlanta area, Martine Beher, and was so happy when she was able to be there to capture those moments of Brandon reuniting with the boys again. I really wanted to have those moments forever but also not have to be there trying to juggle a camera and three very tired, wiggly boys (it was around 10:30pm when we finally were reunited). This deployment has been a great learning experience for both of us, but more than anything we’re just so happy to have him home. I’ll let the amazing photos speak for themselves.Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (1)Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (7)Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (11)Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (4)Atlanta Airport Military Welcome Home Photographer (14)
(this is me desperately trying to find a way to keep them distracted and not running around crazy after his flight got delayed coming in)
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Thank you again to Martine, these pictures are so beautiful and capture those sweet moments perfectly. If you are in the Atlanta area and in need of a photographer, she was amazing!

How to Personalize Your Flip Flops (and stop losing them at the pool)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JumpIntoSummer #CollectiveBias DIY personalized flip flops

I know I’m not the only Mom who is tired of having everything packed up and ready to roll, and one of your kids is hopping around on one foot yelling that they can’t find their other flip flop. Somehow we lose them, leave them places, end up with someone else’s, or, quite often, only have one. I can’t tell you how many left flip flops I have that I keep holding on to in hopes that it’s right will show up someday. So far, that hasn’t happened.

As I was thinking about that, and about all our upcoming pool adventures, I realized I could easily personalize my kiddos flip flops with some vinyl and my good hair dryer.
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For this project, you really only need some crafting vinyl (I used 651 thickness, the permanent vinyl) and my hair dryer. If you have a cutting machine, you can simply type out your kids name and size it to your flip flops (I kept mine to 5 inches long for the kids flip flops), then send it to your machine. Weed out the parts you don’t want, and put on the transfer tape. If you don’t have a vinyl cutter, they sell lots of vinyl letters at stores that you can put together to make names or designs.
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Stick it to your flip flops, and rub really really well. I use a credit card to really press the edges down and rub the top until I know it’s stuck. Now, flip flops usually have a bumpy texture, plus we want this to last a long time, so you are going to grab your hair dryer and heat the vinyl up for about 10 seconds until it’s nice and hot and then rub and press down on it really well with a piece of fabric (you don’t want to rub it with your bare skin because it will be hot!)personalized flip flops (2)personalized flip flops (1)

Ta-da! Personalized flip flops that no one will accidentally steal when you’re at the pool! I even made some for myself. The real fun though is kicking off your shoes and jumping in! DIY flip flops

Like I’ve mentioned before, I taught swim lessons for three years, plus we spend a lot of time at the pool and lake, and so I’m pretty picky when it comes to life jackets or swim assist for my kids. I want something that is coast-guard approved for a higher degree of safe swimming and something that allows my boys the freedom to move and swim and learn to play in the water. My sister always used Puddle Jumper® life jackets for her kids, so naturally when my oldest got old enough to swim in a life jacket, Puddle Jumper® life jackets is our go-to.

This year we’ve got three in life-jackets and so as the pool season started up, I went to Target and let Rhett pick out his own Puddle Jumper® life jacket. He’s right in the weight range (30-50lbs) and is ready to start really learning to swim and have fun in the water.20170608_110613

Puddle Jumper® life jackets are US Coast Guard approved life jackets, with adjustable buckles in the back to ensure the right fit, and they are a life jacket I trust. Rhett loved the fun, 3-D designs and was so excited to pick out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® one. I love that he can learn to swim with it on.
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These jackets are great, they stay on through all the jumping in, running around and swimming that my kids can do!Puddle Jumpers  (4)Puddle Jumpers  (2)Puddle Jumpers  (3)
See that buckle in the back? I love that I can adjust it to fit, and he can’t reach it so we don’t have worry about him taking his lifejacket off.

The summer is just starting for us and now with our Puddle Jumper® life jackets and personalized flip flops, we can’t wait to get out and make memories and have fun at the pool and lake.  We are in the water as much as possible in the summer. What are your favorite things to take along to the pool? Do you have a favorite pool toy or beach bag? I’d love to hear it, we’re always looking for more great pool-side supplies!

Memorial Day

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Lake season is back as wonderful as ever this year. We’ve been out to my parents lake property at least three or four times and it never feels like enough. We spent the long Memorial Day weekend out there for four days and the boys still cried when we had to leave.

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My parents have a wakeboarding boat, fishing boats, kayaks, canoes, jet skis, a paddleboat, four wheelers, everything you could ever want to play on and have a great time. We are really lucky to get to have somewhere so wonderful to go spend our weekends all summer  (and winter) and be together as a family. As fun as all of the boats and things are, it’s really the time spent with family that makes it a special place.

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Sawyer caught his first fish over the weekend. He’s always had those Disney poles that have the fake rubber fish on the end and was too young to realize he wouldn’t catch any thing with that, and since I liked not having to worry about a 4 year old walking around with a long stick with a hook on the end, it was fine, but this summer he was ready to move up to a real pole and real hook and bait. He was excited when he caught something but not so much about having to help take it off the line to throw it back in.

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We spent a lot of time on the water with fun swim breaks and time at the rope swing, and can’t wait to get back out there.

5 Backyard Car Activities

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #UltimatePitStop #CollectiveBias

I don’t know about your families, but my kids love playing outside, and they love playing with cars. We’ve been getting excited for the new Cars 3 movie to come out on June 16th, and since it’s summer and the kids love to be outside, I thought it would be fun to come up with some backyard car-related activities for our boys. They always play so well together when they are outside and get worn out twice as fast, which means this Momma can get a much needed nap! Here are the five summer activities we’re doing to enjoy cars outside:Hero1

1. Turn your slide into a racetrack!- My kids love playgrounds, and they love toy cars. What better way to keep them playing happily than to turn our playset into a racetrack?

The only supplies you need are some foam tape (I used foam window insulation tape) and a pair of scissors! The foam tape usually comes in 10ft rolls, so just make sure you buy enough for your slide. It’s only a couple bucks per roll, so it doesn’t cost too much to add additional lanes; I wanted to have three lanes, so I bought two rolls. Having my kids play happily together is always the goal, so I wanted each of my boys had their own lane so they could participate and so more cars could race at one time!diy slide racetrack (10)

Clean your slide so the tape will stick (caveat- this tape pulls off great if you just leave it on for an hour or so, but if you leave it on all afternoon in the heat, it will stick permanently. You can still pull it back up, but it will leave behind some gunk which you can get off with goo gone or a paint scraper), and then start at the top of the slide and slowly stick down the foam tape until you get to the end, create lanes for the cars. The window tapes foam is thick enough that when the cars hit into it, they will stay in their own lanes and keep racing.diy slide racetrack (12)diy slide racetrack (1)

That’s all you need for your kiddos to have hours of fun racing their cars, running down to get them, climbing back up and racing again!  It only take about two minutes to set up but has already provided hours of fun for my boys. We just used Amazon Prime to get the Disney•Pixar Cars 3 Crazy 8 Crashers Smash & Crash Derby Playset from the new Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 movie, and as soon as we opened it, they were out there on the playground running Lightning McQueen and Mrs. Fritter down our racetrack and into the derby. I love seeing them use their imaginations and come up with different “scenarios” for the cars. I also like the track came with two different ways to play which spring boarded Sawyer into thinking of more ways for Lightning McQueen to enter and try and escape the derby. I love toys that encourage my kids to make their own stories and think outside the box. It always makes for longer play and more fun for everyone. Hover over the image to shop this toy and more Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 merchandise!

© 2017 Disney/Pixar
The cars from this set are so fun because they wiggle and bump into everything as they drive which had the boys laughing lots!
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I did decide to get my cutting machine out really quick and made  “START” and “FINISH” decals just to add to the “race track” feel. We’re also working on Sawyer learning to read, so I try to incorporate words into as much of our day as I can. One of my favorite things about them racing their cars on the playground is they have to run up and down that ladder over and over to retrieve their cars, and that is a great way to wear active kiddos out!

2. Make a backyard city- I’ve seen some awesome tutorials on Pinterest using 2X4s that are painted black with small white stripes  in the middle to make roads all over the yard. Kids get to rearrange them and build cities. We love to keep our Amazon Prime boxes and save them for making cities like this. We go outside with finger paint and they can decorate the boxes to look like sky scrapers and then put them along the roads as towns and buildings. It’s a great way to encourage creativity and keep them busy!

3. Backyard “Carwash”- diy slide racetrack (8)
On those hot days of summer, one fun outdoor activity is to make a “car wash” for the kids to ride bikes and cars through. Simply hook your hose up to a sprinkler on the back porch and let the kids ride through. My kids love it when we do this, especially if I put out buckets of soapy water and sponges to clean them with. We like to add to this playtime by getting chalk sticks and getting them a little wet, then the kids can draw all over the cars and then go clean it off in the carwash. They love washing off all the chalk and then starting over again.diy slide racetrack (5)diy slide racetrack (7)diy slide racetrack (4)

4. Have a “demolition derby” after it rains!-The hardest days of summer for a Mom are always the rainy ones. The kids get restless inside, and so do I. Just like the Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 Smash & Crash Derby playset, you can let your kids get out and get muddy and have a pretend demolition derby. Have some towels and clean clothes at the ready, and send them outside with some cars that you don’t mind getting dirty, and let them have a demolition derby with them! It might be a good idea to have this one followed by #3.

Another fun idea to go along with the derby is to let your kids “fix” their cars afterwards. Amazon has a really cool Just Play Cars 3 Mack Mobile Tool toy that comes with kids tools that you could let them pretend to repair their cars afterwards. My boys love to fix things and pretend to work on things like Dad, so I know any kid would love that toy.

5. Backyard “Drive-in” Movie-When the days is done and your kids are ready to slow down a little, invite some friends over and have everyone bring their favorite bike or car to sit in and watch a move on a projector in the backyard. You can even provide cardboard boxes and let kids decorate them to look like cars to sit in during the movie if they want to. We got a projector for Christmas and the boys have been waiting for it to warm up so we could watch a movie. Amazon has some really cute Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 bedding that you could have for when the evening starts to cool off and if they fall asleep in their cars after doing car activities all day, you can just wrap them up and put them to bed in it. They’ll have sweet dreams of Lightening McQueen.

There are so many great ways to get outside and get your kiddos playing and get excited for the new Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 movie. We already bought gift cards to take the kids when it comes out on Friday and they are so excited. Don’t forget to head to Amazon too as your pit stop for all things Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3! We’ve been eyeing some of the cute Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 apparel  for our kiddos to wear to the movie, and they even have a LEGO Juniors Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 Race Building Kit that would be perfect for any fan of the movies, plus it can all come in two days with Amazon Prime!

Are you planning on heading out to see the new Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3 movie on Friday? Let me know who you’re bringing with you! Your kiddos? Husband?