Spring Break Vacations – Then and Now

Ahh, Spring Break!  It is that time of year when we are all ready for winter to end and want summer to get here, now!  It is that special treat you give yourself during the school year for all the hard work you are doing.  If you are in college, it is the ultimate party week.  If you are a parent, it is an excuse for a vacation.

This is the first year in many years where we live close enough to our home town that we decided to treat ourselves to a relaxing “get-away” vacation, since we will have more opportunities to drive home to see our family. We now live within a day’s drive to Florida.  Seeing as how neither Scott or I have been there, that is where we set our target for.  We picked the vacation city of Destin, Florida thanks to the many recommendations of neighbors who had been there.  We couldn’t wait to go visit this town that raves white sandy beaches, water sports, food and fun!  We also decided to throw in two nights in New Orleans.  We would be passing by that way anyhow and I have been dying to visit, so we figured what the heck!

New Orleans was very cool, crazy and like stepping back in time when we visited the French Quarter.  We had one full day there so we visited the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas for the kids.  It was very neat and the kids enjoyed themselves.  I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more ocean type fish, like dolphins or sharks, seeing as how we were right by the Gulf of Mexico!  My only other complaint from the frugal parent perspective was the cost:  $70 for the 4 of us to see it!  OUCH!  But we bit the bullet and went anyhow since we wanted something kid friendly to do.  We toured the French Quarter by car one evening as we didn’t want to end up in a dark alley with the kids surrounded by questionable characters (safety first!) and then revisited the next afternoon for a sunny day of shopping in all the right areas.  (What can I say, we are cautious tourists!)

After New Orleans, off we went for Destin, Florida!  Hello, white beaches of soft sugary sand!  Talk about paradise!  We scored a hotel right by the beach and the weather was in the mid 70s all week long!  (Here’s a sweet picture of my husband Scott and I in Destin near sunset!)  We brought most of our beach gear with us as we drive the ever handy mini-van.  However, we didn’t have any boogey boards so we went to the local Walmart and bought two for the kids to use.  (They had them for rent, but the cost of week’s rental would have been more than a purchase…so now we own two!  There’s the frugal parent coming out!)  So our first day at the beach was a humorous and exciting experience of watching the kids learn how to ride the boogey boards.  I will tell you that H-Man is a total natural.  M-Cakes took to the board very good as well and they just had a blast!  I’d say we spent about half of each day at the beach and the other half at the hotel’s pool.  It was very, very windy this week so after 3 hours of intense wind, you needed a break by the hotel for some relaxing and diving in the warm water.

One thing I knew we would be encountering while in Florida was the college Spring Break crowd.  I hit Spring Break with Chrissy back in 1994.  We drove 24 hours straight with another friend of ours and had a blast.   We laid on the sand, met new groups of college students (okay, boys) and partied our butts off.  Yes, there was also a lot of drinking involved.  I will admit that.  It was college and we were submerged in Spring Break central.  (Here’s a cute photo of me and Chrissy at a Mexican bar.) I remember our next door neighbors were a group of boys from Colorado and one of them wore a cowboy hat everywhere.   They were always everywhere we were, so we opted to visit Matamoros, Mexico with them to have safety in numbers.  (We may have been partying college girls, but we were SMART ones!)  Matamoros is a border town by Brownsville, TX that was popular for younger college kids to go visit because there was no age limit in their bars.  Seeing as how we weren’t 21 yet, that was a big lure for us.  I will never forget the culture shock I experienced as I crossed the border into this run down, poor border town.  There were buildings in need of much repair, the streets were dirty, and there were little kids selling cigarettes and roses on the street corners to all of the college kids.  We quickly ducked into a bar, bought some drinks and danced the night away.  I remember going there once during the day as well to do some shopping and it was my first real glimpse at the world around me and it taught me that our life in America is pretty darn good.

Flash forward almost 20 years to today and I’m seeing all of the groups of girls checking into the hotel while groups of boys hang by the pool checking them out.  Was I really that age once going through all the same motions?  Yup.  I was, believe it or not.  It was fun watching them all running from room to room and hearing snippets of their conversations in the elevator.  Our first night in Florida killed any hopes I had that I was still as young and as hip as these college kids.   Shouting, laughing and banging doors were the sounds we heard for hours in our hotel room as we tried to go to sleep.  My daughter was on the pull out sofa, unable to sleep.  We had unfortunately landed a room near the elevator (prime gathering spot) and by a room of party girls.  Oh my word, these had to be the most loud mouthed, inconsiderate group of kids ever!!  (Okay, they aren’t “kids”, but I can’t think of any better word to describe them right now)  I had opened my door several times and looked at them to try and give the subtle “you are disturbing us” look.  It would work for a few minutes, then FAILED.  I was trying to be cool.  I was trying to remember what it was like when I was there age.  But I couldn’t TRY any longer when 1 a.m. rolled around and these twerps were shouting in the hallway!  I opened our door (they ducked around the corner out of my line of sight..but I knew they were there) and yelled over them until they stopped shouting.  “You know we have KIDS down here that are TRYING to sleep.  You are NOT the only guests in this hotel!!!  I would appreciate it if you would take your PARTY into your ROOM!”  Pause……  A young man answers:  “Yes ma’am.” (very respectfully)  Yup, I got the “Ma’am” line….I’m old.  LOL  “Thank you!” I replied and shut my door.  I didn’t hear a single peep the rest of the night or any night after that!  Oh yeah baby!

Our vacation week gave me an opportunity to have some crazy memories of those days gone by and smile at them a bit and laugh.  It has also allowed me to be thankful that I am done with those years.  I remember thinking I knew it all back then and that I had it all together.  Looking back I now know I had a lot to learn still and am happy with where I am at in life.  I have an amazing husband who works so hard for me and our children.  His job allows me to stay home full time and take care of our children and our home.  We have two beautiful children that bring daily joy to our lives.  Our Spring Break vacation gave me time to cherish them even more, sprinkled with a bit of the memories of days gone by.

~ Alicia

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A Few of Our Favorite Things This Week

Our lives are often times very hectic and chaotic.  We don’t always stop and appreciate the small things happening all around us.  In this day and age, it is important to make a conscious effort to recognize the small things or moments that fill us with joy and wonder or make us insanely happy.  Our plan is to start sharing our fun finds or special moments with you once a week from here on out.  We’d love to hear about yours as well!

Chrissy’s Favorite Things:

1. My Friends.  I received an email from one of our best girlfriends wanting to plan a Girl’s Night In soon. I love getting together with girlfriends. It is the absolute best, most relaxing and therapeutic feeling ever! (The only bummer is Alicia and our other out of town friends don’t live close enough to come as well.)

2. My Mail Delivery.  Yesterday, when I opened my mailbox I was delighted to find the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer had arrived. My friend, Shannon, calls this newsletter Food Porn and I couldn’t agree more. 😉  I can’t read it without getting totally hungry!

3.  A New Dessert.  I decided to try a recipe for Black Bean Brownies which I found on Pinterest. (If you are interested in the recipe you can check it out here.)  I was initially thrown off because they didn’t have a lick of flour in them and, of course, beans in brownies doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Be that as it may I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Boy, was I delighted and shockingly surprised when they turned out to be really quite good.

4.  A New Movie.  I happend to see a new 5 minute trailer for the movie Snow White and the Huntsman.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this movie.  I’ve always enjoyed the Snow White story and love that this movie tells it in such a dark, dramatic way.  Charlize Theron plays the Evil Queen and although I never would have pictured Kristen Stewart as Snow White, she seems to pull it off well. 

Alicia’s Favorite Things:

Well I am on vacation this week!  We have visited New Orleans, Louisiana & Destin, Florida!  It has been a much needed family vacation and we are having a blast! The only bummer is that it has to end.  Be that as it may, I still have several favorite things that I used this week while on my vacation!

1.  My family.  I have to put them first this week since I am on vacation with them!  We don’t get long, quiet breaks (just the 4 of us) all that often.  So having this family time is just unbelievable!  I love my husband and children so much and I’m enjoying this time to reconnect and relax with them.  🙂

2.  My Kindle.  My brother gave me my Kindle a few years ago as a Christmas present and it is probably one of the best presents he has ever given me!  My Kindle is totally rock awesome.  I love that when I finish a book, I can “shop” on my Kindle while driving through the back highways of Louisiana and get a new book, instantly!  Scott and I also love playing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on it.  It was interesting to figure out how to play this game while he drove the van, but we managed.   It helps pass those long hours of driving to your vacation spot!

3.  My Kindle Book for the trip:  “Nearly Departed in Deadwood” by Ann Charles.  This book has me hooked, line & sinker!  It reminds me of the Stephanie Plum series that I read a while back and I just love the mystery, comedy & a little bit of romance all mixed together!  I also have to admit that Chrissy has turned me into a “series” junky and I love that this is the 1st book in the series, so I know I’ll have more to read.  I hate saying goodbye to those characters that you grow to love in books, so a series is great!  I highly recommend it!

4.  My go-to jewelery piece for this vacation has been my Metal Works necklace that I bought last summer from Premier Designs.  I love, love, love this piece as it can be casual with a T-Shirt or go with a nice blouse and work for a great dinner out.  It is 38″ long, but I tend to double it up quite a bit and wear it layered, which looks fabulous.  Or go longer and it is super fancy! 🙂  (The catalog insert here shows the necklace as item F)

5.  Another favorite item of mine this week is my beach bag filled with all of the necessities for lounging on the white sands in Florida.  I have all of the beach towels for the family, sunblock, my Kindle, our camera, a bag for sea shell collecting and of course some water!  A good, big beach bag is a must have when on a vacation like this!

So there you have it!  A few of our favorite things!  We hope you liked them and maybe even discovered something new in the process!  Have a fabulous day!

~Chrissy & Alicia