South Seas Getaway Day 2: Jet Skis, Beach and Fun

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, Florida, Fun as a Toddler Mom, FUN TIMES, LIFE, Life as a Toddler, PHOTO, Photo Stories, TODDLER, TRAVEL

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Day 2 of 3 Days at South Seas Resort.
See gorgeous Day 1 here

The next day after our arrival,packed with more experiences, was no less full and exciting. After a nice relaxed breakfast buffet at the marina with gorgeous views of gleaming white cottages and blooming bougainvillea, we set off for the beach. What gorgeous beaches Captiva has!

South Seas Resort Getaway: Day 1

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, Florida, Fun as a Toddler Mom, Life as a Toddler, PHOTO, Photo Stories, TODDLER, TRAVEL

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I want to tell you a story about an amazing time with my amazing family at an amazing resort in an amazing location.

Last month we were invited to visit and stay at the South Seas Resort for a few days. I am pretty used to travelling and writing about resorts, experiencing amenities and the destination. But this was truly something special.

Special enough that my husband couldn’t stop talking about it and still often says to me ” You know what I really miss? Being at that resort” (he can never remember names lol). And every time he says that I know exactly which resort he means.

There was something so perfect about South Seas that could have never been depicted on their website, or through photos found online. It just took our breath away. I hope that the photos I took during our stay will work at least a little bit better at relaying just  how magical that time was for us.

Back from Las Vegas

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, BABY, Fun as a Toddler Mom, FUN TIMES, New Mom Experience, TODDLER, TRAVEL

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{This beautiful view is JW Marriott Las Vegas. I absolutely LOVED staying close to the mountains rather than the strip.}

So we are back from the Expo in Vegas and attempting to put our lives back in order. Luckily, my mom is now here and here’s huge help. It’s amazing what a difference having extended family around makes. Everything is just so much more relaxed and laid back, because there are plenty of people to look after Lexi while the rest get stuff done.

Places I love

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, Daily, EVERYTHING ELSE, FUN TIMES, PHOTO, TRAVEL


I saw this awesome link up on Gina’s blog, called Places I Love. I couldn’t NOT participate.
One of my favorite things to do is go through older photos and reminisce and this is a perfect opportunity. Feel free to join in.

I can’t say I’ve traveled A LOT, but I am very happy with where I’ve been and the turns my life took to get me there. My modeling allowed me to travel a bit, our love for tropical places and islands made sure we explored almost every Caribbean Island out there, my friends from all over the world gave me an opportunity to visit places I would have never gone to on my own.

The places I included on this list are the destinations that I would go back to in a heartbeat or places that I regularly visit or enjoy daily.

So in no particular order:

{Note: All photos were taken by me, except for Courchevel. Some photos OF me might have been taken by my husband}

BARBADOS:

One of my favorite Caribbean Islands. If you’ve never been to the Caribbean , it’s amazing how every single island is SO different and, while it’s hard to pick a favorite, I’ve always had a soft spot for Barbados. I love their British accent and attitude, the most amazing diversity in nature on all 4 sides of the island, its gorgeous Botanical Garden and cageless zoo, it’s southside beaches with their white sand and perfectly teal water, castle like cliffs and  the BEST and most dramatic landscape I’ve ever seen. I’ve been there twice, and planning on going over and over again.

OUR BACKYARD:

I’ve always been a backyard girl. I love fresh air so I always make sure that our backyard area is as pretty and comfy as I can make it (one day I’ll share a picture of our previous home in Jacksonville with the pool and patio area I designed myself). While at Key West, I saw these colorful hammock chairs and just HAD to have them. These hammocks completed our little tiny patio. I do have plans on extending the patio and planting a ton of gardenias and flowers, but for now I’m pretty happy with it. Being outside especially in the winter and spring always makes me feel better.
Note: At this point the patio looks nothing like this, because I am not gardening and  hubby doesn’t even let me go water them ( dirt and pesticides issues), so while the plants are surviving with him watering them sporadically, they’re definitely not blooming or looking like this :) I can’t wait till I can make it pretty again.

MY DESK

We have a full home office, where we both work and I have done a bit to make my space beautiful. Most of the time you’ll see papers all over our desks, credenzas, hutches and floor, but in this photo I managed to get it all cleaned up. I love working and by extension I love my work space. It is so uniquely mine: my Kleen Kanteen, my Canon lens, a Kodak Digital picture frame, my colored pens (lol) and a Disney figurine holding the business cards.

NEW YORK

Oh that place holds a VERY special place in my heart! I’m very grateful that I had an opportunity to live, work and play there ( though I wouldn’t want to live there permanently). I cannot describe the feelings that arise when I just look through my NYC pictures. I had so much fun there, but it was hard being away from my husband. I still remember what it feels like running around downtown always late for castings because my bookers scheduled them too close together, meeting new people EVERY SINGLE DAY, doing shows, going out with friends after shows and getting dinner, going from exclusive restaurants to exclusive clubs, not realizing that people have to stand in line for hours in hopes that they would get it, taking it all for granted, but loving it all the same. I remember freezing my ass off and hoping that I could go home that weekend, but then getting the news that I got booked or put on hold for the weekend and having to buy yet another warmer coat since I moved there with my Florida wardrobe. I remember first snow and how we would all text each other at the first sight of it, I remember sitting in the subway playing TapTap on my iphone, going to Brooklyn and being terrified to walk the streets at night after another fitting or test shoot. I had been to NYC before that, but living and modeling there was something else. It was an amazing time and I will never think of New York the same way.

ECUADOR

Ecuador is a very special place to me. I’ve gone there 3 times to visit a friend of mine: first two times with girlfriends, and the last time with hubby for our anniversary. Each time the experience was different, but unforgettable nonetheless. There’s still a lot to explore in Ecuador though. We hadn’t gotten around to going to Galapagos or to Quito and the famous market, or to the mouth of the Amazon river. We did get a chance to explore Guayaquil and everything it has to offer, we spent a few days in a little known amazing surf town of Montanita that hosts a world surf competition yearly and is known to be one of the world’s best surfing spot by surfers in the know. We spent a week in a beach house on a cliff in a resort town of Salinas, where my husband got food poisoning at 3 am from a beer bought on the side of the road, with the closest normal hospital being 2 hours away (all part of the experience, however I was terrified for him). I love going to Ecuador because of the opportunity it gives me to speak Spanish exclusively without resorting to English. It was also hilarious to witness all the attention we ( the girls)  received from the locals, since super tall, skinny blonde girls don’t really exist in the world of authentic Ecuatorianos. They were all very sweet and welcoming which made the experience even better. ” Buenas Americanaaaaaas!!!” was yelled out wherever we showed up. haha

MIAMI

Less exotic but still special for me. Miami is the place we’d always travel to, when we lived in Ohio. It was the epitome of Floridian tropics for us before we actually lived in Florida. At this point Miami is the place where a lot f my friends live, a few of my NYC friends come to for the season ( those who are still modeling), it’s a place to go clubbing ( the real way), a place to celebrate New Year’s, a place to get away without having to fly anywhere or drive for too long. I love Miami area hotels: Mondrian, the Standard, Delano, Loews, ShoreClub and their mid-day brunches and cook outs. The picture below is one of my favorites, Mondrian Hotel, I stay there whenever I have a chance because they give sweet model rates ( yeah I’m still getting some perks from modeling days lol)

GUEST ROOM

Ok, it might be a little weird but I love hanging out in our guest room. It’s not even close to being finished decorwise ( as isn’t the rest of our house), but the peach walls make me insanely, unreasonably happy :) So I go there once in a while to read or blog or just nap.

DISNEYWORLD

I don’t think this one needs an explanation but for those who have never been ( and I am sorry “once when you were a kid” doesn’t count), it is TRULY a magical place! You do have to go there under the right circumstances to experience the magic the right way ( i.e. not rushing trying to squeeze Magic Kingdom into one day and fly out the next). It’s a place where you feel true happiness, where , as cliche as it sounds, you’re a kid again, where just walking around the parks, taking it in, is all that you need to be content. We live 3 hours away from Disney and we go there any chance we get. Every other year we buy season passes ( we do one year of  Disney, one of Universal) and literally drive up every other weekend. Both my husband and I CRAVE Disney and this pregnancy has been the longest we’ve ever stayed away from the parks.

To be honest, before I made my first visit to Disney I was very skeptical, but I instantly fell in love with it. I’ve had a few friends, who were concerned they weren’t gonna like it, because it’s “for kids” ( Michelle, sounds familiar?) and but as soon as we went there, it became one of the fondest memories they have of being in Florida.

DISNEY RESORTS

For us a part of Disney magic is staying “on campus”. As Florida residents we get discounted rates and sometimes drive up there just to stay at one of the Disney resorts and maybe walk around the parks for half a day. Staying on Disney property is like being in the parks themselves and it sort of brings that feeling of vacation that we no longer get from just going to the parks. At this point, we’ve been to and dined at all the Disney resorts and stayed at about half of them, with my favorite being Animal Kingdom Logde ( when my sis was visiting from Russia with her two kiddos, we booked two rooms there for 2 weeks- it was glorious). It looks like…well… a lodge, an African themed lodge, with balconies and windows overlooking a preserve with all kinds of animals roaming free. We had the giraffe rooms and actually witnessed two giraffes doing the nasty in the rain (lol)
But even the cheapy value resorts are really magical, especially for kids.

UNIVERSAL

Well, no post about places I love can be without Universal Studios Parks ( yeah we’re a little bit crazy about the park thing). It’s our “adult disney”, with coasters and awesome 3D rides and shows. And now that Harry Potter land is there– maaaaan, it just can’t get any better.

COURCHEVEL, FRANCE

Ok, this one is a bit out of left field, since I am a self-proclaimed summer beach girl, but I LOVE skiing. I was first introduced to skiing when I was booked for a job in Courchevel for some hotel. They flew us to Zurich and then we crossed the border to France and drove to Courchevel, a very famous ski resort there ( I later found out it’s very popular with filthy rich Russians-ha!). We shot for about a day and a half and the rest of the week were allowed to ski, sled, and have fun apres ski. I think I was the only one in our group ( there were 4 other girls there) that had never skied before ( cross country doesn’t count- different technique), so I even had a personal trainer ( a HOT Frenchie to boot). I spent the rest of the week skiing non-stop, even when other girls would go back to the hotel. I had bruises everywhere and muscle pain, but I was loving every minute of it. Since that trip I’ve been asking my husband to go there again, but after his first miserable skiing experience in Vail in February, I don’t think that’s ever happening. (I’ll keep working on him). Aside from the area being beautiful and …hello… FRENCH, I absolutely loved the ski runs, the chalet we stayed at was INCREDIBLE ( rents for $100,000/week with a personal chef), the partying could rival New York’s (almost) and come on, it was the Alpes! How much better can that be?

TORTOLA

Ok, back to the beach girl in me!

Tortola is another Caribbean island I’m in love with. I can’t decide whether I like more than Barbados since I’ve been there only once. But that one time left a huge impression on me. It’s the quietest big island you’ll ever find in the Caribbean. People are INSANELY nice, beaches are ABSOLUTELY UNTOUCHED and they didn’t even have traffic lights until 2001. Some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life have been on Tortola.

BOK TOWER GARDENS

This is a new favorite place on my list. The gardens are located in central Florida and are  honestly the most beautiful setting I’ve ever seen here in Florida. They sprawl for miles and have gorgeous manicured orange tree gardens and fields with native vegetations, an old mansion, huge oak trees, ponds and lots and lots of color. I did our anniversary photoshoot there and the photos turned out gorgeous (It also helped that since the area is so large, not many people were staring at us with a tripod ad taking pictures of ourselves, like they always do)

OUR BEACHES

While I love going to tropical places and islands, we really do have it pretty good here. The sand, the water, the sunsets ( see below), the palm trees- it’s all a tropical paradise right here under our nose. Whenever I get a chance, I always run to the beach ( used to before pregnancy)

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The place where I live is the place I truly love most. It’s very rare that a person is truly happy with where they live and I can say we both are. There are things I would change, of course, but overall, I ain’t going anywhere. This is it! With its sunsets and laid back attitude, upscale shops, manicured streets, tropical vegetation and flowers all year round, hot sun, liquid sunshine, torrential rains, Tuscan architecture, expensive homes, millions of golf courses, amazing restaurants… I’m a very visual person and this place fully satisfies my need for beauty. After many moves and much research we picked this place and we couldn’t be happier.

Have you been to any of the places above? If yes, what was your impression?

 

“I Fought the Mountain and The Mountain Won!”

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Adventures, FUN TIMES, TRAVEL

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Have you guys noticed how vacations and little trips disrupt normal day-to day activities? It’s like we go away for a few days and when we come back, our “used to be clean’ house is a mess of suitcases, dirty laundry mixed with clean stuff, our phone is ringing off the hook, no work is done, blog is abandoned. And you spend a week or two just catching up. In those moments you wonder why on earth you ever leave the house.  But then you settle back in, clean the house, give some loving to the cats (kids), catch up on work, edit all the photos from the trip and sit down to write about it. And that’s when you sigh and think “Aaaaaaahhh!!! The trip was really nice!”
Do you have that? Do you?

So I am finally back in the groove ( ignoring all the work, I might say). I have been working hard on a blog post I am very excited about where I talk about MEAT and being vegan and vegetarian and healthy and all that good stuff. I am virtually done with it, just need to proofread it and add pictures. So in the meantime I am happy to share some photos from our Colorado trip.
Just a little background on it:  I have this weird luck with meeting people on the Internet. My husband and I fell in love over the web, I met some of my best and most cherished friends on the Internet, so needless to say, I spend hours online ( the first 8 hours of the day working, the rest “playing”). What does it have to do with my Colorado trip? Here’s what: we went there to visit one of my Internet girlfriends…for the first time! Yay! those are always fun! Never awkward- always super duper exciting. She’d just gotten married and moved to Denver to her hubby and we were trying to plan how to meet before i get knocked up and can’t travel and such. We happened to have free airline tickets, they happened to have a house in Vail available to them for a week. I say SCORE!
So we planned it out and with my “complaining scared of snow and cold and skiing” husband took off  to Colorado.  Now, we have lived in Florida for 6 years now and the prospect of going ANYWHERE where the word snow exists in local vocabulary has been out of question until 2 years ago when I spent a week in the French Alps skiing for the first time in my life. Hubby wasn’t present since this was a modelling job i was hired for, that took 1 day to shoot and 5 days to have fun: 3 or 4 out of which I spent skiing my butt off. I fell in love with skiing. It was so much fun! I had this cute pink ski outfit they bought all of the girls and i was NOT afraid to use it again. So for the past 2 years I have been nagging my hubby to go skiing. I wanted to share the awesomeness of going 30 miles an hour downhill and actually being in control. Such a rush! He kept making excuses, such as we don’t have money, it’d be an expensive trip, we can’t leave work, why can’t we just go on a cruise instead? I realized later he just really really really hates cold that much! And so do I! But skiing makes it up for me. I know, strange for a boy from Cleveland, Ohio and a girl from Russia.

So we put on a brave face and took our flight up to Denver with a connection in Minnesota. I was actually really excited to see my friend and her new hubby. In Minnesota, we were honestly shocked- ALL THAT SNOW! It looked MISERABLE! When we landed in Denver, it was a completely different scenery: blue skies, blinding sun and relatively warm. Not too bad.

We found each other at the airport and like always, it was completely normal and comfortable, like we’ve known each other forever. The second we opened our mouths, we started laughing and joking and just had an amazing time hanging out and cracking each other up the first day.

The city of Denver really reminded me of Cleveland: lots of concrete and bricks and bare trees. To those who say they’d miss seasons in Florida, I say “I’d miss not having seasons!“. Of course, as soon as I could get my hand on that awesome sticky snow, my hubby got a snowball in his chest!

Later that day, Chris and Anastasia took us to  Boulder for dinner. I have to say, Boulder is freaking beautiful! I’d totally live there…or go to school there when I was younger. What an awesome place for young single people!

 It was starting to get really cold as the evening approached, so while we were walking back to the car, I spotted a SKATING RINK! Ohhhh, I had to try skating! It was so cool and romantic looking.


Anastasia was apprehensive at first, citing not wanting to break a leg before she actually goes skiing for the first time, and it took 3 of us to convince her to try it out. We rented skates and went to town.

You should have seen this little girl. The one, who didn’t think she could skate, was doing pirouettes in the first 10 minutes of skating. She kept trying to skate backwards, in circles, with one leg up, as if normal skating wasn’t enough. We had a blast!


The next few days we spent up in Vail. A few other couples friends of Chris and Anastasia made their way to the cabin, and were all a great company. Of course everyone gave us crap about being vegetarian haha! But we’re used to it, honestly, and don’t really care :) I did sneak in a salami piece under pressure, which i feel really bad about, especially while writing the post about meat. But otherwise, we cooked healthy and ate healthy.

A special word about the cabin: it was absolutely the best cabin i could imagine staying in. I mean I had stayed in a big chalet in the French Alps, but it has been more like a rented hotel with a chef and maids. Here it felt like home, a very comfortable cosy home with many bedrooms, and walls thin enough to hear other couple having morning sex…(twice :), a hottub and a beautiful dining room table… oh and don’t forget the mandatory dead animals on the walls that kept freaking me out, especially a skunk on our bed. I have nothing against hunting, but anything dead creeps me out and makes me sad.

Now, the skiing turned out to be a bit more… hhmmm… unexpected.  I pictured taking about an hour to teach Andrew how to ski and then skiing with him down the green slopes. In reality it was more like this: him getting pissed at me cuz he wasn’t getting it and  wasn’t able to do it. Once he’d “get it”, and we’d start moving down the slopes, he’d “forget” the technique again and I’d get  more bitching and complaining about how this is no fun and it’s hard and why did i even drag him onto the mountain. By the end of the first run, he seemed to have gotten a hang of going down steeper hills, so I suggested we do another run. He agreed, though i will never know whether that was to not look like a wuss or because he truly felt more comfortable skiing. The second run down was no better. In the end, I spent the whole day going down the mountain at half speed to make sure i don’t lose him, which KILLED my knees. I got an earful of complaints and swearing, lots of pouting and resolving to never ever ski again. He HATED it! I was honestly shocked. I thought he’d pick it up faster and enjoy it just like I did the first time.
At the end of the trip, his hatred towards the mountain faded and he seemed to consider going again when we have kids and just spending the whole day at the kiddie slope to really “get a hang of  it”. I wonder if it’s like pregnancy amnesia. It took just a day for him to forget how miserable he was and consider doing it again. But honestly, I have NEVER seen my husband so defeated, frustrated and bitter. Good to finally know that side of him. Or more like “NOW I KNOOOOW and can hold it against you!!!” Just kidding of course!

We finished up the trip with an awesome group-cooked dinner and a super heavy but tasty breakfast.

I have to say it was a lot of fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I do want to have a ski re-do, because I didn’t really get to enjoy myself while skiing. But I guess, what won’t we do for our loved ones, right, girls?

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