Monday, July 29, 2013

Real World: Hilton Head (family style!)

We’re back! We had a fantastic time away during our first family vacation as a foursome.

All of our prep for the long car rides and swimming really paid off – the Pickle was indeed a fish in water and I couldn’t have asked for two better travelers in the car (no frazzling moments to speak of!).

As a kid, I never did beach vacations. In college, no spring breaks on the beach (nerd). My first experience was almost 10 years ago while nannying for some friends during a trip to Topsail Island in North Carolina for nearly 2 weeks. I’m bitchy when I’m hot, so I didn’t think I’d be crazy about the beach, but boy was I wrong! But, it took me a long time to get back. Last year, Phil and I took Dylan while I was super pregs to St. Pete Beach to celebrate our friends’ wedding. The weather was cool and D and I both got sick, so we didn’t spend much time in the ocean or the pool.

For this trip, we shacked up with five other families in a huge house on South Forest Beach. 
Our super sweet pool and the view of the ocean/beach path from our deck
Some stats for you:

25 houseguests (12 kids, 11 parents, 2 babysitters)
8 bedrooms
7 bathrooms
1 awesome pool

This trip was a great blend of time with family and friends. Sooo clutch that we had babysitters along for our vacation so that we could spend some time out at night (hello, Frosty’s!). 
D was a maniac in the pool and Sienna warmed up by the end of the week. D would wake up in the morning, jump on me and grab my face and tell me two inches away, “Mama, let’s go in the pool AND the ocean!!!” And, that we did! The poor kid tripped and skinned his knees at least five times on our path from the backyard to the beach, so he was not a fan of the beach by the end of the trip. S, however, became a little daredevil and would power crawl into the waves. (Unfortunately, she also was a sand snacker.)

My little sand letters were a big hit with the kids!
I really, really liked Hilton Head because there was a lot to do, and I hope to go back. The pool and ocean were great, obviously, but you also could bike everywhere, there were lots of restaurants and there were other little areas to visit like Harbour Town, which hosts the iconic lighthouse.

As I mentioned, I loved Topsail, but it was pretty isolated. If you tire of the beach, you’re pretty much screwed. I’ve heard that it’s similar with the Outer Banks.

Where have you been that you’ve loved? Looking for ideas for future summers!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Vacation Prep: Keeping 2 Kids Under 3 Occupied on a LONG Road Trip

With vacation looming, I've been Googling my brains out for ideas on how to keep the kiddies and us from going cuckoo during a long drive south. Besides Valium for my hubs and turkey and warm milk for the kids, here's the list of my must-pack items for the car:

I'll make sure to report back on what worked and what bombed. Honestly, though, I have no idea what to do with the baby besides let her manhandle an iPhone. DEAR GOD, PLEASE LET HER SLEEP...A LOT!

What's worked for you guys? Spill, please!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goldfish Swim School birthday party giveaway winner!

Congrats to Michelle V, who won a free swim birthday party from Goldfish Swim School in Warrensville Heights!

Because there was an issue with my Rafflecopter entry process, I combined all entries from Rafflecopter and native blog comments to pull a winner from Thank you to everyone who entered! 

Michelle, I'll be in touch to connect you with Goldfish Swim School!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vacation Prep & a Giveaway: Turning the Pickle into a fish

Our newish status as a family of four is being christened this summer during our first legit family vacation. We’re headed to the beach with five other families for what I’m calling Real World – Family Style.

Our home-away-from-home sports both an oceanfront view and a pool, so Phil and I have been talking for a while about getting the Pickle acclimated to the water with swim lessons. However, whenever it came time to actually investigate options, I started to flashback to my terror memories of my swim lessons when I was a toddler and how terrified I was of Mr. J and the pool at the Y (yes, I still remember his name and face!).

Then Goldfish Swim School invited me to try lessons, which are designed to help eliminate the anxiety that often accompanies swim lessons by providing small class sizes, year-round curriculum and warm-water, four-foot-deep pools. We tried a month of Junior 1 lessons for Dylan for free in May and signed up for continued classes since we all liked it so much! 

D loves to do his big splash!
Dylan was a little shy and tearful at the beginning of his first class so I loved that another instructor came to his lane to help him one-on-one until he became more comfortable, which didn’t take long. 

Since we’ve been going to Goldfish, D regularly asks when it’s time for swim class – he really looks forward to it! And, I’ll confess that a few times I’ve pulled out the “Do I have to call Mr. Sean and tell him about your behavior?!” in desperate times, which has always worked (Santa who?).

As a family, we haven’t formally investigated other swim class options, but everyone who has told me that their kid(s) go to Goldfish, has had great things to say. Here’s what we like about the classes and the facility:

·         The 4-to-1 student-to-instructor ratio and 30-minute length have always felt right
·         The instructors challenge the kids to improve their skills
·         We don’t have to be in the water during the class (woo hoo)
·         Close-up, glass-enclosed pool viewing area
·         Super warm water and air temperature inside the pool
·         Spacious and plentiful private changing rooms
·         Shower area right next to the pool

The alligator float is always a favorite
In addition to weekly classes, Goldfish also offers Jump Start Clinics, which are five days of consecutive swim lessons that help to get kids acclimated to the water before vacation. We thought about that option, but I didn’t think I could commit to that based on my work schedule.

Goldfish is located in Warrensville Heights on Richmond Road. One thing to note is that traffic on 271 S and Richmond is often hectic during our commute on weekday evenings. If you’re coming from the East Side, I highly recommend taking Green to Emery to Richmond – we’ve found that to be our quickest route.

Free Goldfish Swim Birthday Party Giveaway ($450 value)
The friendly folks at Goldfish are offering one free swim birthday party (a $450 value) to one lucky reader of Postcards from Christina! Invite up to 24 kids for a fantastically fun two-hour party, which includes use of the pool and party area at the Warrensville Heights location, decorations, cupcakes, drinks, invitation and more. Check out the full deets here.

Contest details: Ends 7/15/13 at 12:01 a.m.

Disclosure: I was gifted a month’s worth of lessons. All opinions are my own.

UPDATE: Due to an issue with Rafflecopter, below is an updated way to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment here (on this blog) telling me why you’d like to win
  2. Tweet the following “Win a birthday party at #GoldfishSwimCLE (then leave a separate comment on this blog letting me know you tweeted)
  3. Post a link of this blog post to your Facebook wall (then leave a separate comment on this blog letting me know you posted this to your Facebook wall)
You can enter (each of these ways) once a day until the giveaway ends. This giveaway is open to U.S residents only and all entries must have a valid email address (this is how I will contact the winner).  Once a winner has been chosen (via, the winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be randomly selected.