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Destin Vacation continued…

by Juliemara



I definitely won’t be wining any blog awards any time soon. Moments to write these little stories recounting the happenings of our lives are hard to come by. I’m so tired by the time the girls go to bed I don’t even have the energy to get ready for bed myself let alone write coherent dialogue that may some how be interesting or informative.

But I am determined to share the rest of the vacation we took over the holidays with you. We had such a fun time hanging out together and being around our friends. Watching how much the girls enjoyed the company of our friends children was great entertainment. But when you have toddlers and cold weather activities are a necessity. In addition to packing a suitcase of clothes I also packed a bin of activities for the kids to do.

We rode bikes indoors, painted, made beaded necklaces, decorated $1 wood picture frames from Michaels, made crowns for everyone, did some yoga, colored and stickered, had target practice and played with play-doh.







We also baked all kinds of yummy treats, cookies, brownies and muffins. My kids love pouring, mixing and helping break the eggs. Watched a little tv and everyday we took a dip in the heated pool in the back yard. We have two little fishes on our hands.





We also spent some time exposing the attractions near our house. There was a great outlet mall with a fun little playground, a multi purpose entertainment village with another fun playground and several restaurants we visited.








We will be sticking close to home for the next few months. Big changes coming, I can’t wait to see how Talia and Jordan react to a having a baby in their lives. I’m however they take it, it will make us laugh a little, they are the two funniest people I know.







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Family Trip to Destin, FL

by Juliemara



Christmas is a favorite time of ours to take a trip. We don’t actually celebrate the holiday but we still get the day off. My husbands business is very busy up until the Christmas holiday so as soon as Christmas eve arrives things slow down and we can take off as a family to anything we like for as long as my job will let me be away. This year we decided to go back to Destin, Florida, we went last year as well. And while last year wasn’t exactly our ideal vacation we did things a little differently this time. Last year we stayed in a hotel at a resort for two nights then drove to visit with friends in Alabama. This year we stayed for over a week in a rented house.

Destin Vacation Rental Ocean Views

The house was a perfect rental for the four families with seven kids between them that shared it. Six bedrooms, five and a half baths, golf cart, heated pool, great neighborhood, walking distance to the beach and close to great shopping. I loved this house so much I felt like I needed to send the owners a gift for letting us stay there!




It wasn’t warm on the gulfs edge but it was warmer than in Atlanta. We were able to spend some time on the beach playing in the sand. The girls were so cute digging and jumping and running through the beautiful white sands of the beach. It was so fine and white it looks a little like snow, but I’ll take sand over snow any day. One of the spots we visited was the Crab Trap restaurant which had a great playground structure right on the sand.


The girls had a great time playing with the other kids we vacationed with. They got to stay up late, sleep in and sit at the eat at bar for most of their meals. There was plenty of down time indoors so I brought an arsenal of indoor activities to keep kids entertained. And the pool heated to bath tub temps was a great way to spend chilly mornings. Look out for more photos to come.




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Latley on Instagram

by Juliemara


I have a little Instagram problem, I love it. Maybe even obsessed. I love posting pictures of my days and reading the comments followers make. I love all the amazing things the people I follow post. Some of my favorite IGers are oh joy, bleubird, babiekins magazine, dwell studio, Kirsten Rickert and Anna Spiro. I usually post images on the days I spend with the family. Not as much when I’m working, the way I see it pictures in pjs jumping on the couch get old. Most of the posts above are from our recent trip to the gulf. More details on Destin and the amazing home we rented to come. The thing about this stage in the girls is that the pictures don’t do our days justice, it’s what the girls say and how they say it that makes us melt a little more each day. Check out the YouTube channel for recent videos.

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Road Trip Entertainment for Young Toddlers

by Juliemara

20130907-110406.jpgI think I might be an expert on toddler car travel entertainment. This is after we vowed to NEVER fly with the twins again, at least until they are 12, ha. The slinky is just one of about 40 possible activities I packed for the car, all in two reusable grocery bags. I hit up the dollar store and basement stash of toys for what to bring. We recently took a 7 hour car trip to North Carolina to visit my parents and the girls were rockstar travelers the whole way, there and back.


I got small cookie sheets from the $1 store, they make great lap art tables because the rim keeps crayons from falling away and it is magnetic so it can serve dual purpose.


books and a drawing pads are a great go to, the tiny drawing pad is from the $1 store.


I keep sunglasses handy for each kid in the car in case the sun doesn’t want to stay on the other side of the sun shade. I also keep sun screen at hand so that if the sun is hitting them during a particular leg of the trip I put a bit on the arm or leg or face, the last thing we need is a car sunburn.


tiny tupper wear containers can be endless fun, I put a block that rattles inside this one.


I thought silly putty would be great, and when Jordan discovered it in her busy bag (a cosmetic case of mine with a bunch of random small toys and objects) she said “pay-doh” but because of the nature of putty I had to help her put it back together every few minutes before it got embedded in the fabric of her clothes and car seat. I think we will put away the silly putty for a few more months.


These B brand keys were a gift from my aunt Joan, the girls loved them because they look real and make several sounds, it was a great new toy for the way back

My List

Road trip entertainment – 22 month twins
Four battery operated noise/motion toys
Small cookie sheet with coloring sheets, crayons, tape, stickers and magnets
Plastic nut and bolt
Touch and feel books
Books with movable parts
Tiny books
Cosmetic bag filled with random small toys.
Stuffed animals
Small Magnetic drawing pad
Silly putty
New fun sunglasses and bracelets
New books

And of course a few of their favorite music CDs and plenty of videos.


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Catching up

by Juliemara

These photos were takes a few months ago, I love them so much. I shared one or two along the way but I really wanted to share all of them because they are some of my favorites I have ever taken. The dresses are hand-me-downs from my older sisters kids, hopefully there will be more little girls that get to wear them later on. Dresses like this will last forever if taken care of because little ones never get to wear them enough to wear them out. These photos make me think we have two little yentas in the making.

I love putting them in dresses now because they can wear them safety without much risk of hurting themselves because of the dress. They had a hard time wearing dresses while they were crawling because they skirt of the dress made it hard to move when it would get caught under their knees. Then when they started walking they were falling so often they would get their foot stuck in the skirt while trying to get up and end up just falling again. Now they are great walkers, and while they still fall occasionally and the skirt can sometimes make it harder to get back up, they are doing pretty good and the extra effort is worth it because they look so cute in fancy little dresses!

The black Mary Janes are now too small on them. The pearls were a baby gift from my Aunt Joan and her late husband my Uncle Harry. I miss him. Elmo goes everywhere. The purple “ball” was a new car toy for the long road trip we had just taken. Both girls were afraid of it at first. Talia got over it, Jordan is still mostly afraid of it and Talia knows it and taunts her with it. The green frog purse was a souvenir gift from the zoo their nanny got them, there is a tiger that goes with it. I’m thinking about starting to use a de-tangler in their hair after bath, any recommendations on an all natural one?

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I’m Back!

by Juliemara

I took an unannounced blog vacation, then when I came back to start writing again I had no blog at all because of technical difficulties. But no worries, all that is behind us.


This past weekend we traveled to North Carolina, where my parents live, to celebrate the start of the Passover holiday with my family.


I had every intention of keeping up with my blog posts but after the eightieth trip up and down the steps in my parents house (our house is one story living) and days filled with activities I was too tired to do anything at night but go to sleep.


As exhausting as any trip with the girls is, I love visiting my home town. I always run into people I know when we are out and about. My parents get to be reminded how great empty nest life is and my husband and I get to let the girls in on our favorite North Carolina treats.

Hello Donut World!


We made a quick stop after our last supper before the start of the holiday and the taste has been lingering in my mind ever since. If you are ever in Greensboro, NC or even just passing though a quick detour for these donuts will not disappoint.

Back to crazy twins…Talia and Jordan have become little performers. In the last week or so they put of the crazy toddler show when ever they have an audience.

Jordan front, Talia back


They run around crazy, climbing and jumping of anything they can reach. They dress up in hair accessories, hats, tutus or anything else that’s handy to get a laugh. They crack each other up, dance and clap for themselves at a performance well played. Eventually they tire and have started asking to be put to bed.

The fun never ends.

Jordan left, Talia right


Here’s a short Video of the girls Jumping dance.





Jordan left, Talia right




Talia front, Jordan back



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Staying in a Hotel with a Toddler (or two)

by Juliemara


There are quite a few things to consider when traveling with toddlers. We thought we had sorted through all the necessary details of traveling with toddler twins before we set off on this trip to the gulf coast. We quickly learned that a road trip and a hotel stay are no easy feat when toddlers are involved. And the biggest lesson we learned… If you don’t have to travel and stay in a hotel with your toddler, don’t. It’s just not worth the effort and exhaustion.

The drive was long. We timed it around their naps as much as possible but they only sleep for 1 1/2 – 2 hours max. So for a six hour car ride plus time for stops to eat and change diapers and let the little ones run around it feels like the never ending trip. We had a bag full o toys and books handy to keep them entertained. I am able to sit in the back with them which also helps but a ling drive is a long drive no matter what you do and Talia and Jordan still sit facing back so we cant even distract them with TV yet. we did give them each an ipad or phone during the final 30 minutes of the trip to keep them calm until we got home. We will be limiting our road trips to under three hours for the next year or so.

It would have been much more practical to have stayed in a condo. Even a one bedroom with a sleeper couch for us would have worked. Sharing a room with the girls basically meant that at 8/8:15 when it was their bed time it was ours too.

A major issue with the hotel was the room they gave us, first floor on the middle if the hall with tiled flooring. The tile was not only really cold making it hard to play on the floor but it was so hard.


The smallest tumble by one of the girls meant a big booboo. I was constantly on edge trying to keep them from getting hurt. The second day we were able to move to a different room with carpeting. This little difference made our time in our room so much more fun and comfortable.




The few pictures of the hotel room online all showed carpeting in the rooms, so I didn’t even think to ask for a carpeted room. Keep this in mind when renting. Condo as well. Most beach condos have tiling in common spaces.

On our second day in Destin after switching rooms we stopped by the grocery store to get more milk and picked up some masking tape as well. The drawers and cabinets in the hotel room were offering too many opportunities for tiny finders to be smashed and heads to be bumped by corners. So we taped everything up. 20130107-154736.jpg

If you must stay in a hotel with your infant or toddler bring a pack and play. The hotel cribs are small, cold metal cages. They don’t have bumpers so if you have to use the hotel crib bring your own bumpers. We use breathable bumpers at home and they would have packed easily and fit well. I suppose you could use hotel towels to weave in and out of the bars of the crib to keep hands and feet from sticking through the spaces, touching cold metal and pacifiers, loveys and blankets from falling out. But it’s not the safest option.

Our original hotel room had an alcove at the hall way end of the room with a built in bunk bed. There was just enough space to awkwardly put two cribs there as well. But between the noises of people walking and talking and doors closing in the hall way, the light from under the door and the unfamiliarity of the cold metal cribs, the girls ended up sleeping in our bed with us. No one sleep very well or for very long. I didn’t take a great pictures of the arrangement but you can see the crib in here behind the girls and my husband playing hotel bowling (video).


Our second room didn’t have the kids sleeping alcove, which may have been useful considering this room was the last room on the hall. Very quiet. So we did a little hotel room rearranging and “hid” the pack and plays behind the couch on the window side of the room. We still have to have the lights out and be super quite until the girls fell asleep but they slept much better in this room than the previous night.


And speaking of re-arranging a room. I never messed up a hotel room this bad in my entire life, and I spent many a night in a hotel room hanging out with friends after a concert.

If you have a baby that is use to co-sleeping then go for it, travel to the ends of the earth and tell me all about it. But with two light sleepers who are use to their own space it just didn’t work out.

Luckily we brought our own pack and plays and promptly got them from the car before the girls morning nap the next day. Things went much better after the switch.

We bought travel high chairs when the girls were around six months old. They have proven to be the most useful piece of baby gear we own. We brought them to the room so we could feed the girls an early breakfast when they woke up then ended up using them to eat dinner in the room as well both nights.


We purchased them both second hand from Craig’s list for $15 each. It’s also available on amazon.

We also brought with us a bunch of food. We didn’t want to have to go to the store the night we arrived knowing it would be late already. So we brought enough milk, food and snacks to get us through until the next day. The hotel room had a good sized refrigerator which was a great help. Some hotels don’t have refrigerators any more so you can always call ahead to find out and request one be put in your room.

We had hoped that we would have pleasant enough weather to spend some time playing in the sand. But the day were were there was exceptionally cold and windy. We did go to the indoor pool in the morning but the water and the air were just a bit too cold for the girls to be comfortable so swimming only lasted a short time.

We spent the afternoon at the shopping village at the resort. There was a playground but our girls were still small for it, especially with a couple dozen big kids running around. There were no baby swings for them to use. And aside from he green area where they ran around a bit and ducks in the pond to see there really isn’t much for young toddlers to do at Sandestin or is Destin at all during the winter.

We actually cut out beach trip a day short and headed to meet our friends in Alabama.

Off the subject of babies for a minute, an important tip when traveling, with or without babies, get gas! This is not so much an issue in the north eastern part if the US, but in the south it’s not uncommon for there to be large distances between gas stations. To be on the safe side, fill your tank as soon as possible when you get down to half. Don’t assume there will another gas station down the road, there may not be. We made this mistake and ended up an hour off course to get gas. Lucky for us they had 87 left.




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A New Years Getaway – Traveling with Toddlers

by Juliemara

With the busy Christmas season behind us my husband and I wanted to get away as a family with our girls. We decided to spend the time off and go down to the gulf coast where we were hopping for warmer weather and could visit with my long time girl friend and her family. It was far from the relaxing family vacation we had envisioned, but more on that next week. In the end we had a fun adventure staying in a hotel with the babies for the first time and an even bigger adventure visiting with my friend Jaclyn and her family at their hunting camp in Alabama.

It was a long drive down to Destin, Florida we stopped in the quaint little town Eufala, Alabama, the road leading to downtown is lined with beautiful historic homes. We had lunch in the one restaurant that was open and peeked around the old building it was housed in which use to be a hotel with retail on it’s street level. Then we visited the biggest thrift/antique shop I’ve ever seen. I was in a little bit of heaven in this place and I think the girls enjoyed their window shopping experience as well.









It was quite late when we arrived to our Hotel, the Hilton at Sandestin, we settled in to our room for the night and the girls got in a game of toddler bowling with the plastic toy balls we brought that bounced and made loud noises on the tile floor.toddler-bowlingtoddler-bowlingtoddler-bowling

Up early as usual we spent the morning at the indoor pool and after the girls naps went over to Sandestins’ Baytown Warf shopping village. We had lunch at a restaurant that came recommended to us, Acme Oyster House. Apparently they weren’t mistaken, the food was great and Emeril Lagasse was seated at the table right behind us! Sorry, no picture to prove it, my husband wouldn’t let me be that tourist.




There was a playground that the girls played in for a bit, but even more fun was watching the ducks and running around the grassy lawn with a new little friend. It was too cold to go to the beach that day but out of the wind and in the sun it was nice to be outside in the village.






The next day we packed up and headed north to meet our friends in Spanish Fort Alabama to follow them into the camp. We had lunch at a bass pro shop, an experience all in it’s self then let the kids get some energy out at Kangaroos, a kids indoor play place with a bunch of inflatables.

We arrived at the hunting camp just in time for the guys to get out to the deer stands to look for deer. hunting-camp hunting-camp

While they were off watching the trees sway Jaclyn and I entertained the kids, fed them and tried to make sense of this new environment. It was Jaclyn and her kids first time there as well. Clearly this was the ultimate man cave and was in dire need of a female touch. After a quick sweep of the floor and a little furniture rearranging it was family friendly. hunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camp

The camp is a private club of members who pay an annual fee to use the land for hunting and the facilities. There are about 40 members to this particular camp and about 1700 acres of land. There are rules to follow and respect of the property is expected from everyone who visits. Some of the members who have belong to the camp for several years have caravans parked on the property that they sleep in when they are staying the night. One member even built his own small cabin! hunting-camp

This place has so much character. Decades of people coming and going has left such a mark on this place, every inch of this place has been touched and retouched. hunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camp I felt like I was on a treasure hunt the whole time I was there. I wonder if anyone knows this full size jenny Lind style bed is worth about $150?hunting-camp

We stayed in the main cabin and were the only overnight guests for new years.

The main cabin has a covered and tarped porch to shelter it from the wind, a main livingroom/kitchen, a large bunk room with eight beds, a smaller bunk room with two beds and a full bathroom. It’s simple, rustic and perfect. There is nothing to fuss over, it’s a place for relaxing and enjoying nature and the people around you. hunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camp

I loved being at the camp and the girls did too. In the morning they played to their hearts content in the pea gravel and dirt. They loved having almost free reign to go and do and to have other kids around to play with.hunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camphunting-camp

Although they guys didn’t bring home any deer we had plenty of food and created a perfect new years feast. hunting-camp

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Family and Friends

by Juliemara

Just want to share some of my recent favorites from Instagram. I am gearing up to make my first Instagram book using Blurb. I have almost 700 photos I’ve instagramed, I think probably 600 of them are of the girls. I’ll have to cut some, it’s not going to be an easy task.

I love this one of Jordan on the slide. Without socks on she can climb up to the slide platform but doesn’t quite understand that she can fall off so we help her once she reaches the top to safely get down the slide.

Talia isn’t as into climbing, she would rather us just put her on the platform and help her down the slide.

Talia learns a new trick from Mommy.

Jordan’s technique for going down the steps.

Teddy seams to be shrinking

My little snuggle bug, Jordan

Present from Abba

Lovely love

A southern wedding, my childhood friend got married this past weekend in my hometown. We had a great weekend playing with our girls, celebrating Dori and her new groom Brian and seeing lots of friends and family.




And lastly for today, Abba little snuggle bug, Talia. Yes, they all said it would happen, one twin prefers mommy and the other daddy. Thus is the case in our house.


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Somek Winery – Zichron Yachov, Israel

by Juliemara

The other day I was talking with a friend about how fast the past year of my life has gone by. In previous years I would think back on the year of all the trips I took, nights out on the town with friends, events I attended and tasks I accomplished, and every year I amaze my self with how much I could pack into a year. This year I think I could count on both hands the things I did other than raise two babies.


Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t change a moment of it. I am super proud of what I accomplished this year, it’s just very different from all the other years.

Despite loving spending every possible moment enjoying the babies, it’s important and necessary that my husband and I take some time for ourselves. To revive our minds and enjoy each others company every once in a while. As the girls have gotten a bit bigger we are somewhat more comfortable with leaving them with a baby sitter, but we do take advantage of family to do the job when ever possible. So while we were in Israel my in laws took the girls for the day so that my husband and I could go and spend a romantic day in the city of Zichron Yaakov. Complete with a boutique winery tour, a romantic lunch at a quaint little cafe and a stroll down the main street.



Zichron Yaakov is a quiant little hill top town with views to the sea and to the west bank. The town boasts a great variety of restaurants, galleries and shops. The arid climate is ideal for growing grapes so there are dozens of small family wineries.






We visited Somek, this family winery was founded in 2000 by Hila Ben Gera and Barak Dahan. It produces wines from vines near Zikhron Ya’akov that belong to the family and has been cultivated by it since 1882. The winery is also their family home. An out building serves as the the processing facility and barrel storage. Another temporary building is used as their labeling and packing center.

Barak and his wife have six children, including a set of twins! And a baby, almost the same age as the girls. They also have several pets!


20120826-214231.jpgIncluding one cute dog that had joined the family only the day before. When I asked his name Barak said it was still to be decided, currently each of his kids called the dog something different.



Our tour was very special, it was just us and Barak, with him telling us the story of his family, his love of wine and his desire to grow his business.



The one press he uses is an antique.

The barrels are brought from France and only used a handful of times before they are sold to be recycled.

The grapes are grown off site in the fields on the edge of town, but the family does grow a few vines in their front yard.

When we were there a small store front was being constructed into the from of the home so that their was can be sold right where it’s made.

If you get the chance to go to Israel and to Zichron Yaakov, I hope you’ll stop in to Somek for a bottle or just a taste. We enjoyed it and brought home a bottle of the Carignan and a bottle of the blend.

After the winery tour we walked down the main street visiting a few shops and galleries then stopped in to the restaurant Barak recomended called The Kiss.








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