It’s my favorite place to be. As I sit here on my own pool deck enjoying the sunshine and the quiet, I cannot help but reflect on the past week. Our little (ha!) family spent the kids’ Spring Break at their favorite resort. It’s become something of a tradition for us to head to the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort in Miami for some fun in the sun and some much needed quality time together.
We live together, but we certainly don’t have enough quality time. Our lives are busy at this particular stage, and quality time is not something we get much of at the moment. We certainly try to make our time together as high-quality as possible, but it’s not always easy. Between 6 days a week of sports for all four kids – and often more than one on the same day – trying to sleep, run a business, and eat, we are exhausted. Maintaining our social life is more difficult than ever because there’s just not enough time to do all the things that need to be done and the things we want to do.
Quality time is of the essence around here, believe me. The vast majority of our time is spent in the car driving kids to and from activities and sports. Do you know what happens in March when three kids have birthdays and, in turn, annual appointments with their pediatricians? And April when it’s time for high school cheer tryouts and Easter and the first dental appointments of the year for six people? Imagine what happens when one child is sick and needs to be picked up early. There are two SAEC meetings, PTO meetings, and school – so far – three additional school events (one during the day and two after school hours).
We have kids who have to be picked up from school in the afternoons at 2:20, 3:35, and 4:30. Twice a week, it’s pick-up at 2:20, 2:40, then feed our high schooler, pick up the twins at 3:35, and have our high schooler back to school at 4:30, run home to get everyone else, and then leave home at 5 pm so we can be back to the high school before our high schooler’s game starts at 5:30 – and this is the easy sports season. In the fall, pick up is 2:20, 3:35, and 6 pm!
At the end of the day, my bi-weekly nail appointments and every four week hair appointments are nothing more than a maintenance chore for me – I don’t even enjoy them anymore because I am so exhausted and it cuts so heavily into the 5 hours of daytime I have to get everything done and accomplished between drop-off and pick-up.
I’m not complaining…just trying to explain what it’s like right now to be us. Busy, overwhelmed, exhausted, and in desperate need of downtime and rest. Existing right now is a lot of work, but we knew that when we decided to have kids. We knew they’d keep us busy (we just didn’t know that our desire to have three kids would become four because, you know, twins). It’s a lot, but they’re great kids and I wouldn’t trade it for anything even if I do wish there was some downtime somewhere in there.
I also recognize that it’s all my fault. I don’t have to plan so many vacations and trips – we’ve been on four trips in eight weeks (which is actually pretty low-key for us), but three of those trips were in the past four weeks. But we love to travel, so we book trips. And speaking of trips, this past week was one for the books.
Spring Break – or as I like to call it, the one week of the year when it’s just the six of us and no plans. Well, except dinner reservations. And brunch reservations. Otherwise, it’s just family time, 24/7, and it’s so, so good.
This past week was nothing short of amazing. My husband and I are constantly in awe of how awesome our kids are. They’re easy-going, funny, and well-behaved. We don’t have to get onto them in public, or ask them to behave. They follow the rules, they respect the boundaries, and they are respectful. They behave so well in public, and they are so much fun to spend time with. From going down the water slides with them, to floating down the lazy river, to enjoying amazing meals in our favorite restaurants, our kids have become the coolest people. They’re just as comfortable in an upscale restaurant as they are in a casual dining establishment. They are engaging and funny, and we spent so much time laughing and having fun with them this week.
Add to that the fact that my husband and I were able to get up while they slept each morning and run to the gym for a quick workout together, and bring them back to our suite after dinner and say goodnight to them before going down to the lounge for a champagne and bourbon a few of the nights we were there, and you have a couple of very happy parents. We need time, too, and it’s difficult to find that time when we are so busy with the kids and everything else.
This week, we saw a lot of parents at the resort with their families, and I couldn’t help but think. They were so overwhelmed with their small kids. There were meltdowns and fits, crying, sobbing, screaming, and parents who were so over it just trying to make happy memories with overstimulated, overtired kids who are still too young to really get it. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. I couldn’t help but tell one mom by the pool earlier in the week that it gets so much better. In a year or two when her youngest is a little older, she and her husband will get to lay on their lounge chairs together and watch their kids go down the slides on their own, run around between the pool and the lazy river without a care, and play without becoming exhausted before lunch. They’ll be able to eat their meals hot and without helping anyone else with theirs, and everyone will make those happy memories.
But at the same time, I was so happy that we are past that stage of having little kids. We are finally living that life of enjoyment and peace and happiness. It’s so much more relaxing and the time is so much better spent with the kids. Life is really good right now, and there is no place I’d rather be than together with my five people.
They are my everything, and I love them.
On that note, here is my recommendation for anyone staying at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort in Miami:
Room to book – The Junior Suite. We prefer this room because it’s 700-square feet, but it has two queen beds and a large sofa bed. The regular suite is 1000-square feet, and the king bedroom is private, but the living area only has a sleeper sofa and not much additional space. As a party of six, we do need three beds and the additional space. The Junior suite bathroom is also lovely. It has a large bathtub, a large stand-alone shower, a massive vanity perfect for a large family getting ready at the same time, and a private water closet with a bidet – a hotel room with a private water closet in the bathroom is a MASSIVE win for me. It also has a spacious balcony with gorgeous golf course views.
Restaurants – We prefer to make reservations at the hotel rather than leaving. While the JW Marriott Turnberry is breathtaking, I will admit Miami is not my favorite place. Traffic is a nightmare, Atlantic coast beaches are often dirty and covered in seaweed and rough surf, and the tourists are awful. Corsair is lovely for brunch and dinner – do make a reservation and do ask to be seated outside on the golf course. Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina is perfectly upscale and also has a lovely menu – it’s the kids’ favorite. Please do make a reservation. There is also a Starbucks on property, but you cannot order ahead. I would go after 8:30 or before 7:30 if you want to avoid waiting for 30 minutes. The pool bar and grill makes the best cocktails and has a great lunch menu! When the kids are in bed, we like to leave Addison in charge and head down to the lobby lounge, Soff’s, for a cocktail. They have a great champagne menu and wine list, and they make some of the best old fashions (my husband does appreciate their bourbon selection, too). They often have live music in the form of a piano player, and the vibe is elegant, sophisticated, and smart.
Activities – The Water Park! Let me preface this by mentioning I despise water parks. I mean – I actually hate them. They are dirty, disgusting, and so damp. But Tidal Cove is the on-site resort water park for resort guests only (you can buy a ticket if you are not a resort guest, but it’s $250/day per person). Admission is included in your stay (which also makes the cost of our suite so much more reasonable when you think about it!). There are multiple water slides, a surfing area, a lovely lazy river, private cabanas, a large pool, and a kiddie pool area. We run in at 9 am and have the attendant put down covers on our chairs, bring us towels, and reserve our seats after we are done with the gym and before we shower and bring the kids down for the day. I recommend seats in front of the water slides since that’s where our kids are most of the time.
Off property – on the rare occasion that we do go off property, it’s to head across the street to the Aventura Mall (the kids do love Cheesecake Factory and Sugar Factory and they are both there – and Addison regularly needs something from Lululemon and the Nordstrom there is a great one). Dining off property? We recommend Juniper on the Water. It’s just four miles from the resort on the intercoastal, and the food and outdoor dining and sunset are spectacular. Otherwise, GG’s Waterfront in Hollywood is an equally lovely dinner option if you want to sit outside and watch the sunset over the intercoastal.
The staff at the JW Marriott Turnberry is nothing short of spectacular. From the moment the valet opens your car door, you are treated like royalty. Other than the door to your room, someone is there to hold all the doors open for you at all times, and they are excited to chat with the kids and hand out cute gifts. The front desk staff and the concierge are professional and friendly, and they are also the most accommodating. The bartenders, waiters, towel attendants, housekeeping staff, and everyone is quick to go out of their way to make sure you feel extra special and cared for, and the ambiance is indescribable. You get what you pay for, and what you get here is excellence.