Mixing High and Low on Vacation

Happy Monday, loves!

It’s an exciting week in the Raiford house. Addison, our oldest, has her favorite week of summer – cheer camp. She’s been going since she was 5, and she’s been with the same group of girls since. This means my schedule is crazy, but she loves it, and her performance at the end of the week is always so much fun! It’s also Father’s Day, and we have so much to celebrate with Craig. He’s the best dad in the world -and we all know it.

It’s also a week for the books, because, you guys…I’ve started packing for our Caribbean vacation. Which isn’t until next week! Anyone who knows me knows I’m in panic mode the night before we leave on vacation because I’ve packed nothing. This time, however, I’ve started packing. Perhaps it’s because my husband and I spent time Saturday coordinating our dinner outfits, or perhaps it’s because things we’ve ordered for vacay have started to arrive, or perhaps it was the post-dinner parking lot fashion show Friday night. Whatever it is, I’ve started packing – and it feels really good to have things crossed off my checklist already (you guys, I’ve created my vacay checklist already, too!).

Caribbean packing is easy for me. Swimsuits, coverups, and dinner attire. And 78 other outfits I don’t need, of course.

My style has always been a good mixture of low and high-end pieces. I prefer certain items high-end (shoes, bags, glasses, jeans, dresses etc.) and some items I don’t care as much about. If they’re trendy and on-style for the current season, they aren’t investment pieces for me. I’m sharing how I mix high and low pieces for a tropical vacay by sharing a few of my favorite new purchases for vacation.


Shoe Obsession

I’ve been on the fence about a great pair of white pumps for a few months now. I’ve been weighing the idea of white shoes with four kids who love to step on my toes, the rainy Florida weather, and whether I’ll actually wear them. Last week, I decided I’d been thinking about them so much, I needed to have them to wear with the gorgeous gown I ordered for dinner one night. My favorite shoes are always, always, always Manolo Blahnik, so I went with these. They arrived Thursday – and I’ve already worn them to date night Friday night and church on Sunday. Oh, the compliments! I also like to pretend they make my pasty legs look tan. A girl can dream, right?


Swim Suits

I typically don’t splurge on swimwear. However, I’m very particular about my bottoms. Cheap, trendy bottoms tend to snag and look bad after one or two wears, so I always buy Victoria’s Secret bottoms. I’ve learned they are the ones that last a long time and hold up quite well no matter what I sit on (the dock, the boat, the pool deck, etc.). Tops, however, I don’t care about. I mix and match my tops and bottoms, anyway. These VS cheekie ruffle bottoms are my favorite – I have them in every color ever made over the years, and I wear them season after season after season.

I also recently bought this scalloped suit for a trip we took earlier this month. To be very honest, I hate the bottoms. The scallops don’t hold up, so they end up needing adjustments every 30 seconds. I skipped out wearing them, but I love the top. You can go with this one or this much more affordable version.

I also bought this pink top from Express. Full disclosure – it hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m super excited about it! For only $20, it doesn’t matter too much if I don’t love it.

Swim Coverups

This has been the worst year – ever – for swim coverups. I haven’t found anything I love, anywhere. I always love a good Lilly Pulitzer coverup, but the one I bought is no longer on the website, so I’m linking this one since it’s the same style just a different design. Furthermore, I just ordered a few coverups from….wait for it…Amazon! I found them on Pinterest (looooove Pinterest) and was dying when I realized they were only $16-$17 on Amazon. Naturally, I ordered multiple colors, and I really like them! You can find them here.

I’m not done shopping, yet. But I’m proud of myself for already ordering all my dinner attire, swimwear, and shoes. Now I just need a new beach bag and earrings. We’re going to shop this weekend, so hopefully, I find everything I still need. Because next week, we’re out!

Summer Bucket List: Per My Kids


Summer is here.

Oh, who am I kidding…we are Floridians. It’s always summer. But it’s really summer now that the humidity is back in full force and the kids are out of school for another 10 weeks (yes, I’m counting).

I don’t love summer. I don’t love saying that, but it’s true. I’m not a fan of sweating, humidity, frizzy hair, choking while trying to breathe outside…and mosquitoes. I’m also not a big fan of the beach, believe it or not. I’m a 35-year Floridian, and it pains me to go to the beach. I don’t like the feel of sand or the feel of salt water.

Don’t get me wrong…I love to look at the beach. I’m a big fan of sitting on the balcony at the Loft at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach and looking at it. I once spent 10 glorious days overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific from our suite balcony at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu – and never once touched the beach.

I could sit at the indoor/outdoor bar at the Ritz-Carlton Ft. Lauderdale with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc watching the ocean all day long. But don’t ask me to touch it. The problem is having kids who love the beach. And they love it from up close and personal. Oh the sacrifices we make for our kids.

Summer isn’t my favorite season for so many reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason is all my mom guilt. I have a serious case of mom guilt in the summer. My husband and I both work from home. He works set hours for his company, and I work for myself. While I do get to choose my hours and when I work because I am the owner of my company, I still have to get the work done – and I’m not a fan of working late nights or afternoons. I like to work early in the morning and get all my deadlines met by noon each day so I have free afternoons.

However, this means boring mornings for the kids, and I don’t love that. Don’t get me wrong; they don’t mind it. They like to read, they like to play outside, and they love to create art and play games. But I always feel like I’m not giving them enough. I like for them to be bored…it gives them creativity and teaches them to use their imagination. My job is not to provide them with endless entertainment every moment of every day. That’s not good for any of us. But…I can’t shake that guilt from time to time.

That’s why we create a bucket list every summer. I let the kids choose what they want to do, and it never fails to warm my heart. My kids want the simplest things in life, and I love that. They get to do so much and experience so many of the ‘big’ things in life, and I secretly love that they really love the little things. I do feel guilty about that, too, however. Are we doing too much with them and sacrificing the littlest things? I don’t know…but I wanted to share their bucket list with you for our summer.

  • Have our cousins over for sleepovers so much
  • Have sleepovers at grandma and grandpa’s house
  • Swim
  • Go to the beach
  • Have ice create dates
  • Make cookies
  • Do more art
  • Read more books outside
  • Play hide and seek
  • Go somewhere we’ve never been
  • Visit great-grandma’s farm in Texas
  • Go to our favorite hotels for the weekends
  • Have more movie nights
  • Make s’mores (after the twins’ go to bed because they are dangerous little people)
  • Get a sprinkler to play in
  • Go bowling
  • Play cards
  • Ride our bikes
  • Stay home more often

How can you not love something so simple? I love it.

You’ll note our bucket list is not filled with things like “Go to Disney,” or a lot of other outdoor activities that don’t involve water. We’re annual passholders, and the last thing we will ever do during the summer months is go to Disney. You’ll see us there all the time between September and April, but May through August is like pure torture for all of us.

We are already making a lot of fun summer memories a week into it. We’ve had card games every night after the twins are in bed, and we spent four days out of town last weekend swimming every single day. We also had the entire weekend to have a sleepover with the cousins as they came with us – the grandmas, too. We’ve made a ton of art, and we are going bowling with our friends this morning. We fly to Texas next month to see my grandmother, and the kids are excited to visit the farm. They love it, but probably because our niece and nephew are going with my parents and they just get more time with them there.

We’re off to a good start. What are some of the things you do with your kids during the summer? Do you feel the same mom guilt as I do? I try to remind myself that it’s fine for my kids to feel bored, and that we don’t need to go do something exciting and amazing every single day. Fortunately, we do a lot and our kids beg for time home. They like to be relaxed, and that helps when I’m feeling the guilt!

Vacation Recovery: Looking and Feeling Good After Too Much Indulgence

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We have too much fun, and sometimes I make poor decisions when we’re having fun. Relax, friends; my decisions aren’t that poor. I’m talking about purchasing shots for a group of 12 knowing how I feel after a shot, or ordering a quesadilla for lunch alongside a couple of bloody Mary’s and a bucket of beer. Those types of poor decisions. I know y’all won’t just because you’ve made the same poor decision a time or two.

I’m typically a healthy eater. I like good food, because it makes me feel good. Don’t get me wrong; you hand me cookie dough, and you will never see it again. My sweet tooth isn’t insane, but I do crave something sweet every so often. I never worry about indulging when I do, because I don’t do it often enough to matter in the overall scheme of things.

But sometimes life hands us situations in which I fail to stop myself from indulging a bit too much. While a weekend away usually does nothing to me in terms of bloat or weight gain that a day of good health can’t cure, three weekends away in a row has a different effect. It’s every meal at a restaurant, and I don’t do fast food. While that might sound healthy, it’s probably not. I will eat a hotel room service burger all day long if I can, or bacon, and I always order dessert. And the drinks. Bottles of wine. Mimosas. Bloody Mary’s. Mich Ultra by the pool on a hot day just hits the spot.

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Three weekends now we’ve been traveling, and having the best time; but I’m not feeling or looking so good this week. I over-indulged too much, and it’s hitting me hard this week more so than the few before. It happens. Am I guilty of not being very good the past few weekends? Yes. Am I feeling guilty? No. Why? Because all I need is two or three days of good health to get me back on track looking and feeling good again.

I know many people who swear by juice cleanses, or detox drinks, or whatever. I don’t know what they’re like, because I’m just not doing them. I’m a big fan of just being healthy overall and not caving into those fad diets, so I’ve never tried them. I have no desire, but I don’t care if you do. If you’re like me, you might want to figure out a way to get good and healthy again in a few days – even if you still look good. Sometimes it’s just a matter of no longer feeling very good – and I know that feeling.

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Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

True story. When we leave for a weekend away, I take my Yeti cup filled with ice water in the car with me. I mean, I take it like that everywhere I go all the time, but I leave it in the car with valet and never look at it again when we travel. I ‘get my water on’ on the way to a hotel or airport, and then I forget to drink water again the rest of the trip (unless I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I might die if I don’t get some water, stat).

It’s bad, bad bad. I know this. I do. But when I get home, the first thing I do is wash the Yeti, fill it up, and drink like I just left the desert after four waterless days. And I drink so much water. When I’m not longer thirsty, I keep drinking. By day two, I feel hydrated again. You can see an improvement in my skin, my body, and I feel much better.

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Bye Bye Booze

I love a glass of white wine while cooking or a glass of red after the kids go to bed, but not when we get home from a trip. I usually drank my fill of alcohol on a trip – beginning with mimosas at breakfast – and I no longer want any wine. It might take me a week or two to pour a glass of wine when we come home. I know I overdid it, and my body is done with it. If you still want booze when you get home, I’d recommend you not drink it. I know it’s hard when you want a glass of wine at the end of the day because of the crazies you call your kids, and all that life has to offer, but just skip it. Your body needs to heal, and alcohol isn’t helping. I feel so refreshed after a full day of not drinking anything but water and coffee, and it’s amazing how fast the alcohol bloat disappears.

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Double Up on the Sides

Confession: We rarely do a starch side in our house. I don’t know why, especially since I grew up with a very meat and potatoes kind of family. We always had a meat, a starch, a vegetable, and a dinner roll. In our house, we always have meat and two vegetables. That’s it. And we like to keep our meat light. We love steak, but we limit ourselves to picking something like Filet Friday or Monday or whatever so we don’t eat too much red meat. It’s chicken and fish up in the Raiford household – and none of that prepacked, frozen stuff.

When we get home, I cannot function without vegetables. I want more than ever, because I probably didn’t get much over the weekend. I’ve found that veggie-heavy meals for the first few days make me feel better, look better, and want to eat better once again. My body knows what it needs, and I listen to it.

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You don’t have to do what I do, and it might not even work for you. I just know that I don’t need to come home from a trip and go crazy on a cleanse. I just need two or three days of healthy eating to get back to normal. In fact, I usually feel much better than any other day when I’m two days into heavy water and veggie consumption. I’m more rested, I’m less cranky, and I like what I see in the mirror.

What do you do when you over-indulge? I’m not a fan of deprivation, but I also know it’s easy to overdo it when you’re not home. What’s your secret to getting back to normal following a trip?