Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Miramar Beach with a Toddler

I'm working on a few posts about my travels over the last few months, but while it's still warm in Tennessee, I decided to knock this one out since it's beachy!

I mentioned in a past post that we went to Miramar Beach near Destin, but I didn't do a post about it because life got busy.  Well, earlier this month we went back with my parents and sister!  Kenny is definitely a little water baby.  We stayed at a timeshare at Majestic Sun, which was just a short walk to the beach.



I will say this... I'm not a beach person.  A couple of hours of beach time for like two days is enough for me!  I like trips planned around food, sights, nature, museums, culture... and I'm prone to a sunburn if I'm not careful.  So both last year and this year, I wasn't overly excited at the prospect of a sandy baby and the beach... and both times I was ultimately happy that we went.

I think the trick has been to follow Kenny's lead on the beach.  We generally stuck to his feeding times and naptimes (last year, I was still nursing, so we nursed on the beach) and he was a happy camper.  This year, since he's down to one daily nap, we would do the beach in the morning, head to lunch, nap in the afternoon, then decide how we wanted to spend the rest of the day.  The nice thing about Miramar Beach is that the sand is pretty soft, and the water can be pretty warm and gentle.  We've been able to let Kenny play near the water (supervised, of course) and he can get into the wet sand and stay cool.

A few of the spots we ate that were worth visiting... Grimaldi's for pizza, the Surf Hut and Pompano Joe's for seafood, and Fat Clemenza's for Italian!  All of them were kid-friendly, with great service.

Am I converted to a beach bum?  Not quite... I still love a swimming pool over salt water.  But because it makes Dan and Kenny happy, I'm content to go every so often, so long as we can eat good food and see some sights in addition to sand!



Here are a few throwback photos to last year's framily trip to the same beach.  Look how Kenny has grown!  We were in a rental house just down the street from the condo where we stayed this year.




What's your favorite family-friendly beach destination?

Monday, September 23, 2019

2019 DAR State Conference, Continental Congress, and Juniors Retreat

Am I even a blogger anymore?  I'm months and months behind!  But I like to come back here and look at old posts, so I figure I'll still update from time to time!

2019 has been a busy year as usual for the Daughters of the American Revolution!  In April, we had our annual Tennessee State Conference, and for the third and final year, I had the pleasure of serving as a Personal Page to our State Regent Mrs. Reynolds.  This year, my Mom took care of Kenny at our place, and I had a fun weekend with my friends in service!  We also had the pleasure of having Mrs. Van Buren visit our conference, during her time as First Vice President General.  She is now our DAR President General!

2019 Tennessee Pages at State Conference
with Mrs. Van Buren

I was also featured in a local magazine, Franklin Lifestyle, about how the DAR supports veterans.  It was an honor to be able to call attention to the positive works that DAR members make in their communities.



In June, for the first time in a few years, I went back to Washington, D.C. for Continental Congress.  I was one of many pages who attended from Tennessee!  For our Page event, we went on a night tour of monuments.  I was also able to sneak away with a couple of friends to visit the National Portrait Gallery.

2019 Tennessee Pages at Continental Congress




And then this month, we had our annual Tennessee Juniors Retreat.  Earlier this year, we lost an incredible member, Rebekah Lemley.  She was our State Outstanding Junior last year and one of the kindest souls you could meet.  So while we were cleaning up Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro, we also planted a dogwood tree in her memory.  We also attended the Constitution Week Bell Ringing at the State Capitol.




As you can see, it's been a busy year for these Daughters, both in service and in celebration!  If you've found this blog while searching for information on joining the DAR, check out more of my DAR-tagged posts.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Pittsburgh with a Toddler

In June, we flew to Pittsburgh for an extended weekend (sort of between a long weekend and a week!) to visit with Dan's family and friends.  It was Kenny's first trip to Pittsburgh, and honestly he was at the perfect age to visit the city!  We flew on a direct Southwest flight, like we've done with Kenny before, and he was pretty good.  We are definitely at the age now where even though he can fly for free, it's getting difficult/uncomfortable if he doesn't have his own seat.  So I'm seeing more road trips (or buying him a seat) in our future, especially now that I'm the proud owner of a minivan!

We rented a car upon arrival, because it was the most convenient way for us to get around, especially now that our extended family has grown and requires more carseats.  That meant we had some flexibility to take Kenny to the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh.  As an added bonus, the museum was offering free admission for Veterans, and with Kenny being under 2, he was also free admission.



Kenny absolutely loved the museum!  They had exhibits with Curious George and Eric Carle (he loves The Hungry Caterpillar) that he really enjoyed exploring.  It was fun to see him get hands-on in an environment designed for little ones.




On the top floor, there is a water play area.  Hindsight, I'd have packed Kenny swimming clothes or strips him down to shorts, because he got DRENCHED.  But he was enjoying it to the max, and I was glad we did that activity last, because he was not happy we had to leave.



We also got to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, a place Dan loved as a kid!  We were lucky again because the zoo had free admission for veterans for the summer, so it was another free excursion for us, along with a big group of family and friends.

Kenny loved the warthogs!

Sidenote:  I was saddened to learn that the zoo was no longer AZA accredited, as we make an effort to support those zoos and aquariums that are.  But this was a fairly recent change due to disputes over elephant handling.  They do have ZAA accreditation (a much newer and smaller organization), and I believe Pittsburgh's a high quality facility, but I know that means it cannot participate in some of the species survival programs and grants that AZA zoos have.





The Pittsburgh Zoo is hilly, but it has plenty of shaded areas and an air-conditioned aquarium to give you relief from the heat.  I didn't love the parking situation, as it's a gravelly hike to the gates, and you have to take an elevator (with stroller) or escalator to get to the exhibits.  But overall, there are tons of animals and lots to see, so much you might not get to all of it in one visit if you have little ones.  I liked the elephants and lions the best, I think.  There were also newborn leopard cubs to see!



I'd love to take Kenny to the Carnegie Museums on a future visit, as I haven't been since Dan and I were dating.  We also didn't get to visit the most kid-friendly area of the zoo, so maybe on another trip we could head to that first.  It was a hot day, and all of the kids (and adults) were just worn out from the hills and heat.  I've also heard Idlewild has a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood area of the amusement park.

Overall, it was my favorite trip to Pittsburgh yet.  We had a lot of time to relax and let Kenny enjoy being around his cousins, uncles, aunt, and Nana, friends, dogs, etc.   And we also were able to show him some pretty cool places to go too.

Pittsburgh has a ton to do for families of toddlers!
We're lucky to always have an excuse to go back.

Kenny's cousin-dog, Taco

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