A Weekend in Cefalu

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I know - I’m late. Again! I feel like I’m always apologizing for these things. But we were in Cefalu for the weekend and I try realllllly hard to stay off my phone while we’re on vacation. Still took pictures but otherwise I was just kind of offline :)

Cefalu is a coastal town in Sicily that sits in the shadow of this rocky outcrop. It’s only a few hours from our house and really cute! Lots of little shops, cobbled streets, an old cathedral, a long stretch of beach, a stone pier, and a water park. It’s one of those places where you can walk around and find cool things to see without even trying. This was the entrance to the Air B&B where we stayed!

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We loved the location of our place but it was pretty hot. There was only one tiny air conditioning unit located in the kitchen so we put Luna’s bed in there. I don’t think she minded too much ;)

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Despite the heat, the sunset view was UNBELIEVABLE. I wish there was a way to capture it on camera but it’s just not the same. In person, the sun looked like this huge, neon orange hole set against a watercolor sky. And there were thousands of birds watching too. They were diving and swooping overhead while the sun melted into the ocean. Actually melted! I’m not sure if it always looks that way but I’ve never seen a sunset like it.

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Out in the city, there were a lot of old, pretty places to explore. Like Catedral de Cefalu! Can you see Luna at the top of the steps?? She looks tiny up there!

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There were also steps leading down to an old stone bath house tucked away in the city …

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… and on the other side of the wall was this wide expanse of stone and ocean. I love the way the sunlight sparkled on the water. It was just really serene on a day that felt a little out of control!

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I wish we could have explored a little more but right now, we try to keep things as kid-friendly as possible. Especially because the girls get kind of crabby when we travel (keep scrolling - there are pictures at the end where Kris is comforting a reallllly grumpy Luna).

Still, sometimes the everyday kinda things can be the most fun. See that stone pier behind Lu? I jumped off it! The water was cold and salty and SO clear! You could see right down to the smooth rocks at the bottom. If you follow along on Instagram, you might have seen the video - it’s saved under my Travel highlights if you missed it! It was probably only a six foot drop but my heart was pounding. I felt like a kid again when I finally jumped!

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On the way out of town, we stopped at a spot overlooking the city. I wanted to snap a family photo there but the kids were sleeping. So we let them be, hopped out, and took a few photos with just the two of us :) And I’m kind of glad … through all these crazy adventures, there isn’t anyone I’d rather have by my side than KGT <3

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With love,

Lace & co.

P.S. Here are a few more photos from our trip - including our time at Acqua Verde water park! I know - we could see a water park anywhere. But I’m so glad we went! The girls had a lot of fun and at one point, Luna was standing off to the side while the other kids danced to Italian songs … then Baby Shark came on and all of a sudden she was dancing and splashing and laughing along with everyone else and it didn’t matter that no one else spoke English because EVERYONE SPEAKS BABY SHARK DO-DO-DO-DO! It made my chest hurt (in a good way). I was just really happy to see her so happy!

Moon & Stars Birthday Party

You guys!

We have a three-year-old and an *almost* one-year-old! Don’t even get me started - I’m a complete mess over here! I just love our little family so much! And I know these are some of the best years we’ll ever have together … even with all the tears and tantrums, ha!

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Even though the girls were born in different months (May + June), I wanted to host a joint birthday party. I just thought it would be more fun! Plus it’s cheaper and easier. I’m not sure if we’ll do their parties together in the future but this year it felt right.

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The thing I loved about this party was how simple it was. I purchased most of the supplies off Amazon: moon + stars balloons, white plates with gold polka dots, pink napkins and fun party hats. I’ll post the links below if you’re interested! The straws were leftover from last year’s Rain or Shine birthday party and we grabbed cups + spoons at the grocery store; hung balloons from the ceiling + tossed the extras on the floor for the kids to play with; and lined the table with black poster paper (a cheaper alternative if you’re into the super trendy black kraft paper look!). It was all really easy!

I planned to print 4x4 pictures and tape them to the wall on the right but I never actually got around to it - and I’m still a little disappointed over it. It would have added a really personal touch + Lu would have loved it. Maybe next year!

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For the menu, my first thought was pancakes or pizza. Doesn’t a pancake party sound like fun?! Until you think about the syrup part and then … not so much haha. Ultimately we settled on turkey subs + fruit. Honestly, I do the same thing every year. I’ve said it before but I just really like when parents offer healthy options at birthday parties :)

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Exxxxcept for the cake :)

Bare cakes are kind of a birthday tradition at our house at this point. They’re just timeless! And tying in the rainbow sprinkles with the sparkly gold stars felt extra fun + sweet … especially since Lu added the sprinkles herself!

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I always love planning parties - even super simple ones like this one - but my FAVORITE part of the day had nothing to do with the decorations. It was just the day in general … we’re still new to Italy so I was worried no one would come to the party. But so many people showed up to celebrate! And I could just see how happy it made Lu. I loved watching the girls splash in the inflatable pool and open presents they weren’t expecting to get … and the way Luna’s face lit up when we all sang “happy birthday”. It was just a really fun day! And I think it’s going to be a really fun year, too :)

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Happy happy happy birthday to our little babes - we love you to the moon & stars!

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With love,

Lace

P.S. I wish I had more photos from the actual party but I didn’t take a single one! The two of Lu blowing out her candles were taken by a sweet friend so I’m just grateful for the ones we do have :)

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Traveling with a Toddler & a Baby

Ahhh, vacation.

Relaxing, right?! And so easy! Or it *used* to be. Not anymore - now we’re parents of a crazy toddler and an active baby. And while there are a million reasons I love being a mom (bear hugs, bedtime kisses, the wild way they laugh when I tickle them jusssst right), vacations are slowly becoming one of my least favorite things. (Bear with me here, it gets better LOL).

I think it’s because in my head it sounds like so much fun! Let’s take the kids somewhere new! Show them the world! Explore together! But in reality it’s a *little* different. I won’t even go into details because if you’re a parent, you know. Ha!

But also - I do think vacations are (or CAN BE) fun with littles. Looking back at our last few trips, there are a lot of things Kris and I could have done differently. Things that would have made them a LOT more fun for everyone. Which is why I’m sitting here making this list - because in the future I’d really love to enjoy our family vacations instead of dreading them!

Here’s a what I recommend when vacationing with a toddler and a baby:

  1. Plan ahead. Have a general idea of where you’re going (and when) so you’re not trying to figure it out last minute. And don’t cram your schedule - one morning and one afternoon activity is plenty!

  2. Schedule kid-friendly activities. There will be plenty of time for eating brunch + visiting wineries when the kids are older. Or even next weekend when you’re not on a family vacation! For now, focus on spaces where toddlers can run/explore without breaking anything :)

  3. Minimize morning chaos. Pack the diaper bag, set out clothes + make ready-to-go breakfasts the night before.

  4. Stick to regular meal/sleep times and carry snacks. It’s easy to lose track of time so set reminders on your phone … tired + hungry = cranky every. single. time. (True for kids AND adults lol).

  5. Pay for convenience. If you’re going to a beach, get the umbrella/chairs that are already set up. Or take the private tour instead of the group tour! One less thing to worry about or carry can go a long way.

  6. Slow down a little. Give them a chance to crawl around or climb a tree or check out things at their pace. Watch them explore - most of this stuff is new to them and you don’t want to miss out on the things that light up their world while you’re rushing off to the next big thing.

That’s it - six simple things that actually make a huge difference. Jump out of bed in the morning, get excited, and get THEM excited.

Hope you guys have the BEST vacation!

With love,

Lace

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Life in Sicily

It’s been a whole MONTH since we moved to Sicily, Italy! We’ve made it through the flights, unpacking, and all the logistics of moving abroad … and it’s starting to feel like home here.

Except … it’s nothing like home!

(Pssst … if you’re just here to see cool photos of our time in Italy, keep scrolling to the very bottom for a handful of my favorites!)

Here are a few ways Sicily is unlike any place we’ve lived before:

  1. We live in the shadow of a volcano. Actually, one of the world’s most active volcanoes - Mount Etna. (Luna always says, “See that? You see that volcano? Isn’t that cool?!”) It last erupted in December 2018 and they say the volcanic ash is the reason the food here is so good! Speaking of food …

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2. We almost never go to the grocery store anymore. Instead, we visit the butcher, the baker, the pasta shop and the local fish market where we find all our fresh fruits + veggies. And we purchase food by the kilo (“mezzo”) or ounces (“etti”) instead of by the pound!

Fish Market in Catania (open daily except on Sundays)
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3. Coffee shops are called bars, we pay in euros instead of dollars, and the oven is in Celsius degrees. I’m still getting used to the money!

4. We don’t have Walmart or Target. Or really any of the major stores we’re used to … instead, there’s a store called Auchan which is sort of the Italian version of Walmart. (Amazon delivers but it takes 1-2 weeks for packages to arrive. First world problems, I know!) And the stores/restaurants have weird hours - most close for several hours during the afternoons.

5. Drivers are next-level aggressive especially in the city. Stop signs are just suggestions, honking is socially acceptable, and mopeds weave through the tiniest gaps in traffic. They joke that the center line is the middle lane here … expect it’s not a joke! People actually drive on the center line between opposing lanes of traffic! And that’s just the beginning - sometimes you get stuck behind a flock of sheep or people will stop to talk to an old friend - literally in the middle of the road - while holding up traffic. We’re still waiting on our second car to arrive but that’s okay … I’m a little nervous to drive!

6. Everyone LOVES children but you rarely see them out. It’s almost strange how few children we see. I’ve heard a few theories about why and I’m not sure how many are true. All I know is that people stop to talk to Lu + Stella everywhere we go :)

7. There’s an obvious language barrier. It’s funny how simplest things become a lot more complex when you don’t know the language. Can you imagine walking into a store with only foreign labels?? Or trying to find a bathroom (“bagno”) and then realizing you don’t know how to say it? Or you need an ambulance but you have NO IDEA who or how to call. There are so many things you take for granted that you just don’t know when you move to a foreign country.

8. We’re living on a military base for the first time ever. And it’s honestly not bad. I’ve heard all the horror stories but I really love where we live. There are parks on every corner, the houses are spacious with high ceilings, and there’s a little daycare spot at the community center. There are also basketball/tennis courts and a SKATING RINK (ordering my roller blades right after this LOL). Plus we’ve already made friends in the community - we’re planning a trip with another family two weekends from now!

Fontana dell’Elefante in Catania

Which brings me to my favorite thing about Sicily …

9. There are a ton of travel opportunities! We’ve already been to Siracusa, Taormina, Motta, Catania, Brucoli, and Isola Bella. We’ve seen ruins, castles, and the bluest water I’ve ever seen. And there are still so many other places to see and things to do - not just in Sicily but also the rest of Italy/Europe. Here are a few photos from local places we’ve been exploring:

Day trip to Siracusa
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Day trip to Isola Bella
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Narrow streets in Siracusa
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Cupola Badia Di S. Agata in Catania
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City views in Siracusa

It’s honestly breathtaking here! And we’ve had so much fun traveling with the girls. Stella is always up for whatever and Luna was literally skipping for joy when we visited Fontana dell’Elefante (did you see the pictures above? They’re the ones where she’s wearing a striped shirt!).

Anyway, I’m sure there are a few more things I meant to talk about. But that’s all I can think of for now! And I guess what I’m trying to say is … life is different in Sicily. We miss our family + friends back home a TON but also … we kinda love it here :)

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With love,

Lace + co.

P.S. Are you PCSing to Sigonella?! Let’s connect using #sigonellmoms!

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50 Fun & Romantic Date Ideas

Over the weekend, Kris and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary!

(I spent a whole day telling people it was this coming Tuesday before I realized I had the date wrong …. whoops!!)

Anyway….

For our anniversary, my mom offered to watch the kids while we escaped for the weekend. So we left them behind, hopped in the car, and drove down to the beach just the two of us.

It’s been forever since we went on a real date so we had a *lot* to catch up on. We played laser tag, went to a hockey game, and caught a live comedy show. We took TWO naps and ate the best pizza I’ve ever had in. my. life. And that’s just a few of the things we did!

After 4 years of marriage, I’ll be honest - I kind of forgot how much fun dates are! But our weekend away got me thinking about all the other dates I still want to go on (plus a few I want to go on again!). Here’s what I came up with:

+ go to an escape room

+ ride in a hot air balloon

+ light a bonfire & roast marshmallows

+ lie under the stars in the middle of a field

+ take a ballroom dancing class (the choreography to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” video = *so* romantic!)

+ rent a jet-ski

+ play laser tag

+ watch a live comedy show

+ karaoke at a bar full of strangers

+ have a picnic wherever (by the lake, in a meadow, on the living room floor)

+ try a new restaurant

+ take a nap

+ road trip together

+ attend a murder mystery dinner

+ attend trivia night

+ spend a day at the lake

+ go to a hockey game

+ sign up for a couples massage

+ make it a group date and go bowling

+ visit a chocolate factory

+ go to a lantern festival

+ watch a live band

+ soak in a hot tub surrounded by candles

+ go ice skating

+ pick apples at the orchard

+ pick strawberries at the patch

+ see a magic show

+ go to a carnival

+ sign up for a food tour

+ take a limo to a 5-star restaurant

+ visit Broadway on Tour

+ hold hands on the boardwalk

+ sign up for a cooking class

+ make a handwritten bucket list together

+ daydream about your future house together while wandering through Pottery Barn

+ play Twister

+ get tickets to Cirque du Soleil

+ arrange a surprise romantic dinner (candles, ice water in a glass bottle, background music)

+ wander through a new city

+ roam through a bookstore

+ try couples yoga

+ dance in the dark to a Bryan Adams song

+ draw portraits of each other (Kris and I did this once and I could not. stop. laughing!)

+ bury a time capsule together

+ create a romantic scavenger hunt for your partner

+ attend a masquerade ball

That’s it for now! What are some of your bucket list dates? Or the most romantic date you’ve ever been on?! Tell me about it in the comments!

With love,

Lace

P.S. This list actually only has 45 ideas BUT 50 Fun Dates sounded better, ha! So I’ll be adding a few more soon :) Also, the photograph on this page was taken by Sharon Ashlie Photography in North Carolina - she’s one of my absolute favorite photographers!

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