Thursday, January 21

Two week Florida packing plan and list

Back in Florida in 2013 when Tenley was 4 months old
Some of my cute Florida family
Had to throw in a pic of us in Harry Potter World of course;)
As you now know from the title of this post (if you did not know before), the babies and I are going to Florida for two weeks in mid-February! We can't wait! We bought the tickets for cheap back in August so it's been a long wait! I'm really bummed that Dalin most likely can't come for more than a few days toward the end of the trip, but I'll be so relieved to enjoy some much-appreciated WARM weather and get out of the house for a little while. Plus we're meeting up with my New Hampshire family so that's very exciting! I'm psyched to see my brothers and mom (my dad may not make it due to work) as well as my wonderful Florida aunts, uncles, and cousins! I love them all so much.

Obviously I'm also over-the-moon excited at the idea of flying alone with a one-year old and a two-year old...(ha ha) but really, I'm not that worried because we have flown more than a dozen times in the last two years. (Here is a post I wrote a long while ago about how I do it with littles if you need it!) And with just three hours of flying time from Minneapolis to Orlando (broken up with a layover), it should be a piece of cake compared to my past six+ hour flights (those are the lamest).

But packing is another matter. I don't mind packing. In fact, I enjoy packing for my husband and children. I like organizing everything in the best way and making sure no one forgets anything (mostly my husband;). But packing for myself is another matter. Honestly, I don't know why it's such a headache for me. Who actually cares what I'm wearing on vacation?! I shouldn't, but I do. And I never know the proper amount of clothing to bring. 3 bathing suits? Or 5? Like, come on, get it together, Olivia, it's not like I'm selecting a major in college.

But I pack for myself last every time, and every time I get nervous I won't have the shorts I want when I'm sitting on a beach by the Gulf, or the shoes I'll want when I'm at a theme park in Orlando. I'm a mess...that's why I usually have my best friend and master/professional packer, Megan, pack for me (but unfortunately she and I see each other so little that this is usually an impossibility...though she did pack for me when I left for college;).

So now, in late January, I'm going to be ahead of the game. I'm going to make a list, then start packing in early February for MYSELF so I can get that sorted away before doing anything else. And I'm sharing my thought-process with you.

The first thing that I think about when I'm traveling somewhere is the time of year and the weather.

In mid-February to early March last year, Orlando had highs of 83-degrees and lows of 52-degrees, but the average was about 72. So logically, I need mostly t-shirts, shorts, sandals, and swimwear. I probably need two sweatshirts at the most, and 4 pairs of leggings or jeans (since it gets "cool" in the mornings and evening and I tend to adapt fast to Florida's weather). As for the other things, I need maybe two dresses for attending church down there.

Since we are staying with family much of the time and should have access to a washer/drier, I really should not need more than ten days worth of outfits (and even that probably is unnecessary). So my list should look like this:

2 sweatshirts
10 t-shirts (I doubt I can narrow it down further)
6 pairs shorts/capris
4 pairs leggings/jeans
2 dresses
4 swimsuits
2 pairs socks (I never wear sneakers...I don't believe in them;)
1 pair sneakers (I lied...though I really don't wear them except on...excursions...and rarely then)
2 pairs sandals
1 pair flip flops

2 necklaces (I always forget jewelry...I usually have one pair of earrings on the whole time)
4 pairs earrings


1 razor
2 pairs contact lenses
travel-size contact solution
eyelash curler
eye shadow
spot corrector
Aveeno non-scented baby lotion (my favorite besides Melaleuca's Body Satin lotion...but it's $$$)
brush (the one thing I tend to "forget" or decide not to bring for some reason)
travel bottle shampoo
travel bottle conditioner
travel toothpaste

Other necessities:

iPhone & charger
camera & charger
iPad (same charger as phone)
journal & good pens
wallet!! (cleaned out vacation-version)
travel-size pillow (for flights)
pull-ups/undies for Tenley
diapers for four days (I buy a package there usually)
package of wipes
snacks, snacks, snacks
gum or mints

car seats... }:[   (ugh, our toddler car seats are MONSTERS)
double stroller (if I could wear Declan I would bring the umbrella stroller, but he's getting heavy and I am going to be riding the coasters with my family so it's best to have a stroller that fits both kids...though I'm seriously tempted to buy another umbrella stroller in Florida to use because they're just SO much more convenient!)

Is there anything I'm forgetting? I'm getting so excited! I love having something to look forward to! (Even though the thought of leaving Dalin for ten days is still making me sad). And I hate to admit it but I'm reallyyy enjoying the ache in my muscles from another day of Insanity. It's nice to feel like things are happening (and give myself hope that I might see a bit of improvement a month from now). I even made what I would consider a "healthy" smoothie today (it had yogurt in it :P) and it was insanely delicious. (I was concerned about tossing the plain Greek Yogurt in there because MAN is that stuff gross--it's like curdled milk!--but the smoothie was excellent.)

What trips do you have planned this year? I'm pretty sure we'll be flying a lot this year...probably three separate trips after Florida. Gotta fly while we can before Declan turns two and we have to start paying for four of us...Yippee.

P.S. The last time I flew was with the kids to Minneapolis airport in December when I made a rookie mistake and stuck our Kindle Fire HD in the pocket in front of me on the plane. We switched seats during our stop and I forgot about it all the way until I got to the hotel. Even more embarrassing for me, was the fact that it had no case on and wasn't labeled anywhere. Plus it was locked when turned on so there was no way for someone to figure out it was ours...basically it was like a blank device. : | So even though I put in a lost item notice on Southwest's website (and even though I knew exactly where I left it), there basically was no hope of it being found and now that it's been 30 days, I'm pretty certain it's lost forever. So I had it erased and I'm really sad it's gone because I actually used to watch movies and read on it (and Tenley used it for her alphabet games). So learn from me--LABEL your devices on the outside in some way, and don't be a dummy and leave it on the airplane! It probably would have been more likely to be found in the airport even. Sigh...I'm still a little sad.

Tuesday, January 19

Favorite clean romantic novels


Here's my list of good clean romances to read. I've been really into them again lately. Many of them were read during college or even way back in high school and I may not perfectly remember how much I enjoyed them at the time, but I will do my best to provide accurate ratings. If you haven't read them and need something clean and cute to read, I'd recommend something from this list.

Quick note: I honestly like them all, so the 5-star system is kind of moot, but basically a 5-star rating means I think the book is pretty much perfection, a 4 is very, very good, and a 3 is just something to do in between finding better options.

Pride and Prejudice  - Jane Austen 
Sense and Sensibility 
Northanger Abbey 
Mansfield Park 
Jane Eyre  - Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights  - Emily Bronte (I love the classic romances...clearly from the first several books on this list)
Edenbrooke  - Julianne Donaldson (I LOVED this book! It is easily in my top ten, maybe even top five favorite books)
Blackmoore ★ (Still very good, but I liked the first book most!)
Austenland - Shannon Holt (Very good book. I loved the movie, but the book is quite different and definitely better)
Midnight in Austenland ★ (I wanted to rate this higher, but the bar was set so high after Austenland that I felt a little let down. Also, I was very frustrated by our protagonist. In every circumstance I would hope she'd do the opposite of what she did! It was very aggravating) 
Mistress of Mellyn  - Victoria Holt (I read this at my teacher's recommendation in high school and loved it. I just read it again recently and enjoyed it again--especially because I forgot the secrets in it)
Twilight  - Stephenie Meyer (I don't care what people say about Twilight, I think it's a cute story between two high schoolers. Maybe I'm just too easy to please. Oh well. It makes me happy)
The Host ★ (I like this even more than the Twilight series but there's only one book)
Ella Enchanted  - Gail Carson Levine (Love this twist on Cinderella. Also, the book is way different from the movie. It's really well-written)

Books I want to read:

North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (I loved the episodes on Netflix. I hope the book is as good or better!)
Emma - Jane Austen (I don't think I've read this fully and I should probably do so at some point.)
Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale (I only read the sample and wasn't super excited by it so I moved on to something else, but I'm willing to give it another try)
Princess of the Midnight Ball - Jessica Day George
Wildwood Dancing - Juliet Marillier

Truthfully, this list would have been QUITE a bit longer if my tabs with all the clean book suggestions hadn't crashed. So, I'll leave this as it is for now, but as always I LOVE suggestions!

Please comment or message them to me!!!!!