Florida Bucket List

As many of you know, our family moved from Toronto to Tampa 4 1/2 years ago because of my husband’s job. Florida has become our home and it’s where my oldest son spent most of his life and where my second child was born. As much as we have loved the endless sunshine and being surrounded by beautiful palm tress and white sandy beaches, our plan is always to return to Toronto to be closer to our families.

Keeping that in mind and really unsure of when that date will be, my goal lately is to take as much advantage of this lifestyle as we can before we move on from this chapter of our lives.

Here are a few things that I have listed on my Florida Bucket list to do with my boys (in no particular order):

1. Go to the Beach more often

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There are so many beautiful beaches around the Tampa Bay Area and it is ashamed that we don’t go nearly as often as we should. Prior to this year, we probably went 3 to 4 times a year or when guests came to visit. This summer, my goal has been to go at least once a week or every two weeks.  Once we move back to Toronto, the ocean will be a lot more than a skip, hop and jump away.

2. Watch the sunset on the beach with my boys

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We are only half an hour away from the beach so I would love to take the boys one evening, grab dinner on the way and have dinner on the beach while the sun is setting in the horizon. One day they will probably want go be sharing this experience with someone special in their lives as I did with their dad in some of the most beautiful places in the world. For now, I would love them to be the special people that I get to share this experience with before I pass that baton to someone else.

3. Try stand up paddle boarding

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We were able to check this one off the list when we got back from our Portugal trip but I would definitely like to continue exploring it as a sport. I found it extremely calming and relaxing when we were out in the water.

4. Continue to explore all the amusement parks

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If there is one thing that Florida has, it is definitely an abundant amount of amusement/themed parks from Disney World to Busch Gardens to Legoland to Crayola Experience and so many more. The first year we moved down to Florida, we immediately went to Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Let me tell you, it was everything BUT magical, nor was it the happiest place on earth. However, we learned from our lesson and got much smarter and attempted it again 2 years later. A little pre-planning made the world of difference in our experience. We had a blast every time we went. So far we have been to Magic Kingdown; Epcot; Busch Gardens and we always have an amazing time. We visited Legoland this past long weekend and my boys still rave about it EVERY SINGLE DAY!

5. More weekend trips

My kids love staying at hotels.  I’m not sure why to be honest, because for the longest time, I struggled at the idea of sleeping in a room that has been used by gosh knows how many people. But I guess they think of it as a place away from home and it means we’ll be spending most of our time doing fun activities, which is true. Florida has some great spots for quick getaways that I’d love to take advantage of prior to our move. So far, we have been to Sanibel Island, Miami, Jacksonville, Naples, Orlando (Disney) and St. Augustine (the oldest city in the US. A quick side note: it wasn’t that old. LOL). Here are a few places that are definitely on my list for future weekend getaways: Anna Maria Island; Key West/Florida Keys and Seaside. We always have such a great time on these short weekend trips and the memories we make on them are priceless.

6. Rent a boat and spend the afternoon out in the ocean

I feel like you really should be in or around water as much as you can when you are this close to the ocean. So a day out in the ocean on a boat with family and friends sounds like a lot of fun to me. I would prepare lunch to eat on the boat, try fishing (which is really not my cup of tea, but hey, why not) and perhaps convince the kids to go tubing.

7. Weeki Wachi

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I discovered this place on the Labor Day long weekend as we went with a bunch of friends and I can’t tell you how amazing this place is. It was on my list of things to do but now that we have gone, I want to take every guests that visits us here and take the boys as many times as I can. This is such a neat little place with plenty of fun activities for everyone. There is a live mermaid show, a wildlife show, canoeing, a spring where you can swim in, multiple water slides that drop you into the spring, a kids area and you can even rent a float and float along the spring soaking up the sunshine. During our visit, there was a manatee in the swimming area so we were able to dive under water to see it in person. That was pretty cool!

8. Watch a Rocket launch at NASA

We recently watched Elon Musk launched a Tesla up into space on the news and the boys have been fascinated with rockets and space ever since. We have visited NASA in Houston but not in Florida. I am actively monitoring the launch schedule on their website. Once there is a rocket launch that is aligned with our schedule, we will definitely be packing our bags and heading to the space coast. I can’t wait!

9. Attend a Gasperilla Pirate Festival

Can you believe we have lived here for over 4 years and never attended any Gasperilla events? For those that may not be familiar with Gasperilla, once a year, pirates invade Tampa Bay aboard the majestic pirate ship “Jose Gasparilla,” kicking off a full schedule of pirate-themed events.  There are a lot of street events that typically involve a lot of alcoholic beverages which I am not particularly interested in. However, I would at least like to attend the children’s Gasperilla parade with the kids, with them all dressed up as pirates collecting treasure/beads. We planned to attend last year but my little donut got sick the night before so we didn’t end up going. However, it is definitely on our list for this coming year.

That is it for now guys! I am sure I will be adding more to the list overtime. If you have any additional recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.

XO,

Kim

 

On your 5th Birthday

January 12, 2018

Dear Lucas,

On this day five years ago you changed my entire life! I still remember when the midwife placed your slippery 9 lb body on to mine and I started screaming “Oh my gosh, HELP! He’s slipping off of me!” like it was just yesterday. You were this wrinkly old looking little baby with swollen eyes, so tiny yet so perfect. I loved you before you ever entered this world. When I finally managed not to have you slip off my arms, I loved you even more, more than I ever thought was humanly possible.

Both your dad and I opted not to sleep that night. We didn’t really speak to each other because we were both exhausted. We just sat in silence and stared at you through the glass bassinet making sure we saw your chest go up and down the entire night. We didn’t know what to expect as first time parents.  The one thing we did know was that we desperately wanted you to be healthy and strong.

Before you were born, I had all these ideas of how I was going to be the perfect mom to you. I was pretty certain I was never going to raise my voice at you, say things I didn’t mean, make empty threats, be overprotective, bribe you with candy or just give into whatever it is you are doing so I could avoid the potential of a meltdown . Well, we all know how that went!

Just like that, you are 5 today! Now you have to use an entire hand to show people how old you are.  I know you’re pretty ecstatic about that. I know you’re going to continue to grow up a lot faster than I will ever be prepared for.

I want you to know that I am sorry for all the times I raised my voice at you when it was probably not justified or because I was having a bad day. I am sorry for the times where I was not able to give you the undivided attention you needed because I was preoccupied with something that was far less important than you are to me. I am sorry if I ever made you feel unimportant because there is nothing more important to me than you, your brother and your dad.

I hope that as you grow older, that you will not remember me for those moments but for all the tears I cried silently when you came home crying because someone at school was not nice to you; for all the guilt I felt for not being the perfect mom that I had hoped to be; for all the nights I chose not to sleep so I could watch over you and make sure you were ok while you were sick; for the countless hours I played playdoh with you despite how much I hate playdoh; for all the scooter and bike rides we took daily no matter how tired I was, for the endless hugs and kisses I gave you everyday; for the times I built courage to initiate our first conversation after a fight and for how I devoted my entire life to provide you the happiest experience I know how. By no means am I perfect, I have made many mistakes but I am only human. I am still figuring out this whole motherhood thing, so I hope that you be patient with me as I am patient with you. I promise you I will only get better with time.

Today we celebrate you, celebrate the happiness that you have brought into my life and the unconditional love you have taught me. Thank you so much for changing my entire life starting this day five years ago. There are going to be some bumpy roads along the way as you walk through life. I might not be strong enough to lift you up physically when you fall, trust that I will be there by your side. I am hurting as much you are hurting. I promise to provide you the support you need to get up and stand on your own two feet. Because I am your mom. Despite how tough some days are, I would not have it any other way.

XO,

 

Your mom

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Master Bathroom Remodel

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This is probably one of my favorite renovations to date as we tried to keep this as budget friendly as possible. We opted for simple and minimalistic finishes, however, with all the right touches, this bathroom exudes sophistication.

Renovating a bathroom can be a costly expense but you can make smart choices to help keep your cost low. For this renovation, most of our purchases came from big box stores and we searched for sales.

Here are some BEFORE photos of the bathroom prior to the renovation.

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The existing bathroom had two single vanities. To maximize the space, we opted to remove the smaller vanity. We then converted the larger one into a double vanity. White is as classic as it gets so we chose this white marble countertop vanity.

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For the shower, we extended the width and length by 1 foot so it is now 4×4. This whole bathroom design revolved around this beautiful pattern tile we picked up at Home Depot for the shower floor. Since it is a pattern tile, we kept the shower wall simple to balance it out as well as allow the shower floor to take all the glory.  This beveled subway tile was the right decision as it was clean and simple and the edges added the right amount of visual interest.

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To keep the bathroom looking open, we chose to have a frameless glass shower wall and protected it with this glass shield to prevent calcium build up.  Our local provider had the shield applied at the manufacturer. We chose to do this because that meant there was a 2 year warranty on the glass but you could also do it yourself for a fraction of the price.

We managed to purchase this simple yet beautiful tub when it was on sale for $649. (Note: I just checked and it is on sale for less than $600 now).

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If you are looking for low maintenance, then opt for oil rubbed bronze finishes for all your faucets. It will definitely look cleaner a lot longer than your more typical chrome and nickel finishes.

Wood looking tile has definitely gained popularity over the past few years, but I’m certain it is a trend that is here to stay. We chose this neutral wood plank porcelain tile for the entire bathroom floor.

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The geometric pendant light hanging over the bath tub is probably my favorite purchase for this space. It is gorgeous, adds so much interest while not occupying a lot of space visually because of its design. To top it all off, it’s handmade from an Etsy shop in Greece and you all know how much I love to support small businesses. This is how the box came in the mail. There must have been over 50 stamps on the box.

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The vanity light is also from Etsy and we went with the brass finish as it complements the space and the oil rubbed bronze finishes in the faucets.

The distressed ship lap wall behind the bathtub was a last minute decision. We originally did not consider having a feature wall because of the tight budget. However, for a few extra hundred dollars of material and an extra day of labor, it was absolutely worth every penny. It completely transformed the space and added so much warmth and detail to the master bath.

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To finish off the space, we added these vanity mirrors from Lowes.  In terms of paint color, after many sample purchases in search of the perfect gray, we finally settled on this light gray, Shoreline, from Benjamin Moore. If you are ever looking for a perfect barely there light gray (no undertone) then this is your color.

XO,

Kim