The SHADE of living in 2 different cities…

Many of my close family and friends know the inside scoop on our process of moving from Winston to the Raleigh area.  Today I’m sharing the SHADE  we had to go through to make it work!

SUPPORT – Living in 2 separate cities so that we can fully transition to the Raleigh area was tough!  We agreed that it’s best to let Elle finish out the 3rd grade in her current school which meant we really needed to sacrifice and we needed an amazing support team.  The boys and I stayed with my in laws M-F then we went home to Winston on the weekends to be with JoColby and Elle.  I’m so blessed that my in laws have enough space that we were extremly comfortable during this process.  They boys have their own room and I stayed in Elle’s room.  We basically had the entire upstairs to ourselves.

HUNT– While we were making this sacrifice for our children we were always on the hunt.  Looking at different neighborhoods, trying to find the perfect schools.  We actually found our 3 favorite locations but it wasn’t until my husband brought in our amazing realator Chantel of Be Home Realty, I knew the hunt would be over soon.  We gave Chantel our budget and she was all over it.  When she sent us the listing to our current  home I instantly gave her the side eye because the pictures on Zillow made the home look so dark and gloomy.  Once I stepped into the house I knew THIS was our home! The process was seamless thanks to the work of Chantel and our amazing broker Phillip Harris of Blackhawk Mortgage!  We highly recommend them when you’re ready to make that move.

ACCOUNTABILITY– Living in seperate cities from your spouse and child/ children we had to hold each other accountable. We made sure we utilized FaceTime, weekends were for us to reconnect.  I will admit it was so hard to hand off the baton and leave Elle with her father.  Often times I wondered if it was worth it, will she be effected not having her mother M-F? Whenever I was in doubt I prayed.  I knew that these 7 months ( November- June) would fly by and boy did they.

DEVOTED – because this was such a major change in our family dynamics, we devoted one on one time with each other.  I made sure that I incorporated Mommy/ Daughter dates so that I could stay in tune with Elle and her thoughts throughout this process. We also worked on a journal together as well.  In addition to this I also made sure that  JoColby and I had a monthly date night. We wanted to make sure our foundation was strong especially since he just got back from deployment and BOOM our family is divided.

EXCITEMENT– through all of the sacrifices we remained excited about our future.  The thoughts of a new home, with more room so that we can invite our friends and family over, a place where our children will grow, the thoughts of our family being back in the same city again. We remained humble and excited during the entire process.  Most importantly we are THANKFUL.

Have you ever lived in a separate city from your spouse or child? What did you learn during the process? Until next time….

XO,

Meka

Momtourage Monday- Super Mom of 6!

1. How would you define Momtourage? 

I would define Momtourage as your mommy support group. It doesn’t necessarily even mean that they have children. It’s your go-to squad of people that have helped you survive motherhood.

2. How do you balance Motherhood? 

 I balance motherhood by making sure I devote time to spending with my little ones, but I also have no problem saying I need a break. Usually, once a day, I find somewhere to go and just sit in silence. It’s necessary for my sanity. Once I get home I’m mentally able to handle everyone because they’re like Velcro. 

3. What is your Mommy must have item? 

My phone 

4. What is your Momtourage story? 

Whew…... So I am a separated mom of 6 boys ages 13,11,7,7,7&4 trying to get accustomed to my pending single status and have an amicable split from their dad. I want nothing more than for us to be the best co-parents we can be. 

 I was a school teacher and realized that I wasn’t passionate about it so now I am a Site Coordinator with Communities in Schools all while trying to rebuild my business—which is a drop-in child care center. 

 When people ask me how I do it…forget the career they’re usually just talking about having 6 boys—all I can say is take it one day at a time. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Make time for yourself, make time for your children.

Everything doesn’t cost money. A dance contest in the living room, a picnic in the park, a weekend slumber party in the living room or basement are things that create lasting memories and a ton of money isn’t  being spent. Quality time is key. I’m not perfect and I don’t want to be, but my children think I’m awesome!

Thank you April for sharing your story of Motherhood, as always I hope that these transparent stories will help someone and I hope you enjoyed it! Until next week.

XO,

Meka

Holiday Guide for HER

Welp here we are the first week of December has gone and if you’re anything like me you might be a last minute shopper.  So I’ve put together a shopping guide for that will make life easier! So here you go:

1. A watch from Jord

I have the Frankie in purple and it’s so cute! I love that it’s super original and whenever I have it on, it’s an instant conversation starter! Currently I’m giving all of my friends a 25% off coupon so snag one here choose from an amazing selection of men’s or women’s unique watches.

2. A Gucci Cross Body

While everyone else is swooning over the Gucci belts, I’m here for a crossbody! This classic black with gold hardware it a timeless piece that will last for generations. I’m not the biggest spender on designer bags, but I do believe in quality or price to some extent. And this bag is a YES for me. Snag yours before they sell out!

3. The Master Planner

How many times have you purchased a planner only to receive a pretty cover with BLAH pages?! Well this is NOT that planner, with the Master Planner you get more BANG for your buck and it’s made by a small business located in Charlotte! Monthly goals, A reusable menu/ grocery list and monthly affirmations are just a few of the amazing features of this journal I’m sure you’ll love!

4. Fenty Beauty Trophy Wife

When pop sensation Rihanna launched her beauty line, makeup junkies across the globe went WILD! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews from her products ranging in amazing foundation colors to this BOMB a$$ highlighter Trophy Wife! I went to Sephora and had a personal consultation, my coverage was awesome and this highlighter is a dream. Rihanna has totally changed the makeup industry for women of every shade.

5. Anne’s Apothecary Black Honey Facial Cleanser

If you follow my Instastory then you know how I feel about the recent use of this amazing product! Not only is it all natural and made local in Cary, NC it’s a small business and this cleanser is like Heaven in a bottle. I washed my face with this and it felt like new skin! I had a beautiful natural glow and my face was hydrated. This cleaners is a must have item for your daily regimen.

6. KeepSake Capsule

This compact capsule allows you to cherish memories in a stylish way! Recently I have been battling what I want to do with Mommy’s ashes. Most of you know I lost my mom at age 21 and here I am 36 and holding on to a black box. I’m so thankful that Keepsake reached out to me, that’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to do with Mommy’s ashes. With the help of my husband I’m going to turn my keepsake capsule into a memory necklace with mommy’s picture and ashes. This is the perfect way for me to let go and always have her with me. There are so many options for the keepsake this gift is perfect for parents, newlyweds and so much more!

7. The Weekender by Birdling Bags

You guys know my love for this awesome bag! I have literally packed my clothes as well as the kids for an overnight staycation. As well as a our Fourth of July road trip to Baltimore and I’m using it next weekend as we head off to the mountains. This bag is EVERYTHING and more! It has pockets galore and the compartments inside allow for easy packing for families. Be sure to grab one before they sell out and they just launched a new color as well! Go here to find out more.

Well there you have it! I’m sure there is something on this list that you mom, sister, Wife, daughter, girl friend, Auntie, grandma, or bestie will LOVE! Now everyone be sure to tell JoColby I’m need number 2 when you see him!

Stay tuned for Kids Guide tomorrow! Until next time…….

XO,

Meka

Farmer’s Market Adventures

So recently I have been battling the urge to go VEGAN! Yup vegan and YES I too watched What the Health!  Although I have done 30 day Vegan challenges, nothing is harder than fully committing.  As of today I am not vegan, I have however, given up meat.  The main items I’m having a hard time getting out of my system are seafood and CHEESE.  Also milk, not as if I’m drinking the milk but milk is in so many normal items I use on a regular basis like, Pringles! Why exactly is milk in a plain can of Pringles?!  I have really been reading labels and to be quite honest the best thing for me to do is head over to the farmers market and just buy fresh veggies.

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Last weekends trip to the Durham farmers market really made me want to explore more of what my local market has to offer.  I have pretty much found my favorite “fast food” meal and if you follow me on Instastory you know that it’s zucchini and sautéed spinach.  Growing up in Baltimore it was normal for us to go to the market to purchase everything from fresh doughnuts to deli meat.  And going to the Supermarket  (grocery store) is where we purchase everything in between.

WebImage16I was  so inspired to add more fresh flowers to the house as well, even though I have a bit of   “black thumb”.  Nothing sets the tone more than fresh flowers at the dinner table, so I’m going to give it a try more often.

WebImage19 One thing I really love about visiting farmers market’s are the small business vendors, like this delicious lemonade stand.  It wasn’t too sweet, very refreshing and delicious.  Anytime  I can spend with the kids and create fun memories are always a plus in my book.  After walking and exploring we decided to grab some pizza ( not vegan, SUE ME HA!)  then we headed to our next destination….. Charlotte.

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I will eventually fully convert into the Vegan lifestyle but I’m taking it one day at a time.  This is my journey and I will share with you all along the way.  Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Fall Family Fashion

Even though I was born in the summer, FALL is one of my favorite season’s!  Thanks to our friends at Tea Collection the kids are ready for cooler days.  I really love dressing the kids in coordinating styles.

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As we all know Elle is the fashionista of our crew, she has been dressing herself since age 3!  She has always loved clothes and especially shoes, my husband and I have are constantly encouraging Elle to express her style and be confident with herself.  How CUTEEEE is this cape Elle is wearing! I wish I could get one in my size.

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Maveric is so care free and energetic, I love nice slim fitted pants for him and layers are key to success when dressing boys!

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Since Jagger is in his independent TERRIFIC 2’s stage I love comfy athletic gear for him, because he’s either in mud, throwing rocks, tinkering or constantly running.

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At this stage Axel’s role is to just be the hunky chunk of cuteness that he does so well, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my kid! Comfy sweats, a cute little sweatshirt paired with our favorite moccs are our go to this fall.  I just love being a mom to these 4, they are a ball of fun!

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As for me, nothing beats a nice white tee, ripped denim, a cute duster and comfy block heel boots!  I absolutely love the florals in this cute duster from Pink Blush it’s the perfect mommy look that’s also functional when you have to chase after a VERY active two year old.

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These are just a few of our staple looks for fall, besides boots what are your go to pieces?

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Until next time….

XO,

Meka

A new way to play and learn!

*The following post is sponsored by Osmo, all opinions are my own*

IMG_2975 If you’ve been following me for awhile then you know that I do not allow the kids to have screen time during the week.  Well that has recently changed, thanks to our friends over at Osmo  We were given the opportunity to try out our very own Osmo kit and couldn’t wait to dive into the new adventures.  We have been using it for about 3 weeks now and I love the activities.  It’s not your normal screen time and that makes me happy.  With Osmo the kids are able to utilize their imagination, spell, code, become better at math and so much more!

 

After opening the package, Elle and Maveric eagerly created their profiles. The kids have been so excited to play with their new Osmo set that they have literally facetimed family members just to show them how amazingly fun and innovative the activities really are!

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The kids instantly fell in love with Mo, and his way to truly gage and encourage them to be creative and enjoy the journey.   The Monster kit so far is Elle’s favorite because she an artist at heart, however, it helps Maveric to step outside of his comfort zone and try new things.  They really get a kick out of Mo and his antics.

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Each item that the kids draw, Mo will magically pull them into his world of adventures.  The kids love seeing their drawing come to life and the interactions are priceless.

 

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I am so excited to purchase some of the other activities like the coding!  I have been trying to get Elle involved in more STEAM activities, so this is going to get perfect.  Also I am extremely excited that the just announced the new Iphone kit!  Now I don’t have to worry about the kids fighting over who’s next and it’s perfect for traveling.   FullSizeRender (35).jpg

We are totally digging Osmo and it will be on our holiday wish list this year. Finally a toy that truly inspires, and engages.  In the meantime, continue checking our Instastory for live in the moment reactions to our Osmo, trust me Mom, Dads, Grandparents you will LOVE IT!!!!!!!!  Until next time….

XO,

Meka

#KidGoals with Gymboree

Summer’s officially OVER, and I don’t know about you but I feel like it really flew by.  I mean we are already wrapping up Elle’s first week of school.  I can hardly believe that Elle is in the 3rd grade.  This year Maveric will be off to Pre-K and since Jagger is 2, we are letting him attend preschool twice a week.  Although it’s only half days, I am all in my feelings about Jagger venturing off to school.  Yesterday, Jagger’s teachers came by to do a home visit and we discussed our goals for the year.  It really resonated with me how important it is to have attainable goals, not only with my self but with the kids as well.  .

 

We have been given the opportunity to partner with Gymboree and share our #KidGoals for the school year and Gymboree really came through with some cool gear just in time for back to school! Here’s a snap shot of a few of the pieces, each of the kids have their own style and especially since I have 3 boys, it’s so important to get durable staple pieces that will last and be able to pass down to the next “little bro”

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My little fashionista Elle, is all about the emjoi’s, currently her goals for 3rd grade are to knock those EOG’s out of the park! It’s funny we just started school and she’s already thinking about end of grade testing! My personal goal for Elle is to come out of her shell and show her secret talents of singing and dancing in  PUBLIC!  She’s awesome and we just want to support her dreams in anyway possible.

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Maveric is off to Pre-K and we are so excited for him,  if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him, you know he’s a BALL of energy and one of his favorite places in to release energy is at the playground!  His goal for the school year is to play, eat lunch and go to music class!

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My personal goal for Maveric is to master his penmanship and continue to indulge in his love for music!  Music lessons are coming soon…. I love mixing classic looks with fun looks so pairing this cute monster button up with these awesome joggers just made sense!  He’s always running, jumping, and climbing so we need his clothes to be durable and functional.

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As I said earlier, Jagger is headed to preschool and we are thrilled!  Since he’s doing his  speech therapy he’s been having more phrases.  I am so proud of him so my personal goal for Jagger is to  meet new friends and use his words more.  We call him the professor because he’s so serious and extremely analytical.

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Boy moms know how much their boys loveeeeee trucks, so of course we went with the truck theme for Jagger.  My boys are absolutely obsessed with them, the joggers are so cute and I loved the yellow and blue details at the ankle.

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Last but obviously not least, was baby Axel.  He will still be home chilling with Mommy and Daddy so his goals are to stay cute and keep hitting milestones.  He’s rocking his awesome onsie because well he’s AWESOME! We are so excited about the school year and looking forward to all of the memories to be made.  And thanks to Gymboree our kids remain stylish!  What are your kid’s goals this year?  Cheers to a happy school year!!!

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Don’t forget to capture as many memories as possible! Stay tuned for a giveaway!!!

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Until next time….

XO,

Meka

Cooking with Kids

*The following post is sponsored by KidStir, all opinions are my own*

This weekend the kids and I hung out at home for some much need “mommy rest”, however, we were able to have some fun thanks to Kidstir.  In case you’re not familiar with Kidstir, it’s a cool subscription box that sends kid friendly cooking utensils, as well as monthly recipes straight to your doorstep.  IMG_2681

Elle and Maveric were super excited, they scanned through the cookbook and agreed on making Watermelon Cucumber smoothies.

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I love that the recipes are so kid friendly and they really make it exciting for the kids.  Elle and Maveric really took pride in creating these smoothies without any help.  I was basically there to capture the memories and assist with the use of the Ninja.  First step was cutting 2 cups of water melon, Maveric of course was the first to volunteer to complete this task.

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Elle completed the second step of peeling and deseeding the cucumber.  This cute veggie peeler was a gift from kidstir and it’s so safe for them to use.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was for Elle to peel.

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After gathering all of the ingredients the kids were able to blend and taste!  The recipe took no more than 15 minutes and that’s with me taking pictures.

All in all the kids gave it 3 thumbs up!  I have to say I truly enjoyed watching them work together creating these smoothies.  I personally look forward to making the next item on our list.  Stay tuned for S’mores Shakes! IMG_2684

Be sure to snag a subscription box for your family, trust me you won’t be disappointed.  It’s totally worth the $15.95!  You can easily choose from 3 options: 1-5 kits: $15.95/kit,   6-9 kits: $14.50/kit or 10-12 kits: $12.95/kit.  Click the link below to get started.

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Until next time,

XO,

Meka

Beach’n Babies

*The following post is sponsored, all opinions are my own*

August is here and I can’t believe summer is almost over, this week this kids are taking a much needed beach trip with their Nana and Papa, so we decided to test out our brand new beachmate  at the local sand park.  First off I love that it’s engraved with our family name, this gives it a classic spin.  Having a custom piece really stands out while on vacation.

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As a mom of 4, it’s so important to have my hands free, so this durable strap really came in handy after everyone was finally out of the car and in route to the park.  I love that it’s comfortable enough for Elle to carry, while I’m busy rounding up the younger boys.

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Once we hit the park it was over, the fun began and the kids went to work.  I love the that all of the containers can double as organization or just plain toys!  The shovels are extremely durable and they are actually industrial strength so I know they will last forever, especially being a mom of 3 boys.

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The beachmate also comes with a cooler, this was so perfect because I was able to pack up some snacks for the kids and an extra bottle for Axel.  Did I mention the tote bag has several pockets?  Oh my gosh, this is so necessary for my car keys, cell phone, sun block, shades, literally anything you can think of!  And on top of that it’s bottomless so there’s no issues of having sand in your car or home after the trip.

Whenever we are out in the sun we ALWAYs pack our Nuby water bottles, because staying hydrated is a must.  The cooler kept the water cool and I never have any issues with the kids drinking their water with these awesome bottles!

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Now that the test run is over, I have the kids swimsuits, beach chairs and of course the beachmate packed up and ready to hit the road.  Be sure to head over and snag your very own Beachmate here trust me your family will love it and it’s so durable it’s totally worth every penny! No more cracked buckets being replaced every year.  These containers are so sturdy and legit!

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How are you guys celebrating the last days of summer?  I’m enjoying all the fun memories with the kids before they head back and we have to be on a schedule.

Until next time….

XO ,

Meka

All eyes on me…

*The following post is sponsored, all opinions are my own!* 

Recently we were given the opportunity to test out the new Lollipop smart baby camera. Now as we all know I am a mom of 4, and to be quite honest I have NEVER purchased a baby monitoring system, for some reason I have always felt like it was not on my priority list.  When I was pregnant with Elle I had the basic monitor that you could only hear the baby crying.  With the boys I never wanted to spend money on a camera because I knew that I would want a camera that was in color, with amazing video quality and awesome sound.  Most monitors of this nature were close to $200 and I just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on it.  Thankfully the Lollipop cam meets all of my needs plus bonus features for less than I ever imagined,  snag one here and this is why you will absolutely love it:

  1. Everything is  available via the app! Seriously I can view live footage, speak to anyone in the room where the monitor is located, play classical music to soothe my baby, review stats from the day all and so much more with this amazing app!image1 (6)
  2. The camera’s live feed is so amazingly clear! I seriously look at the feed when I’m at work and I’m amazed by the quality and the delay is only 3 seconds.   FullSizeRender (19)
  3. Automatic event recording.  So quick story… one night I heard Jagger crying , normally he wakes up wanting something to drink at 4 am which is cool with me because I am usually nursing Axel.  Well I got up and didn’t see him, when I walked to the hallway I saw him sitting on the steps, mind you it’s completely dark in our house.  Well later that day I was looking at the crying stats on my app and it had a log of Axel crying at 4am.  When I clicked on the video it showed Jagger crying in the living room on the floor holding his cup! This totally freaked me out, I could not believe he was downstairs crying all this time I thought he was just in the hallway, which doesn’t make it any better b/c he could have fallen down the steps but this video was an eyeopener for me! Check out the video on my instagram page
  4. The camera is so sleek and the set up is so easy!  I currently have the camera in our living room because that’s the main place the kids are playing when I am not home so I like to check in from time to time while I’m at work.  It keeps me at ease and helps with the baby blues.  IMG_2396

I have seriously fallen in love with this camera, not only does it make for a great babycam, but it’s an awesome nanny cam as well!  The flexibility of the camera makes it easy to move throughout your home.  I am totally satisfied with the new innovative product and I’m sure you will love it as well.  Until next time….

XO,

Meka

Home for the 4th!

Recently I took my very first road trip with the kids and it was one heck of an adventure!  Technically I drove back home to Baltimore on July 2nd but it was to celebrate with family at my aunts annual 4th of July block party.  What normally would take 6 hours ended up being an 8 hour drive.  When traveling with 3 kids, a baby and a GRANDMA you have to factor in BREAKS.  We took our very first break at the VA state line rest stop.  The kids were able to stretch their legs and play on the playground for a few.  We even had a nice family take our pic in from of the Welcome to Virginia sign.  Stopping again to eat at Apple Bees, lots of rain and traffic we finally made it to Baltimore for the cookout!

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Thankfully we had our own chairs in the car because they have been in the car since soccer season!  Sunday I wanted to make it all about the kids.  They did so well durning the car ride up even with the extra 2 and 1/2 hours added onto our trip.  So we started our day with some Ms. Shirley’s for brunch.  IMG_1968

I absolutely had to have the chicken and waffles! It’s something about the cheese on the waffles that gets me every time.

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After brunch the kiddos and I headed to Port Discovery I knew they were in for a treat, and I couldn’t wait to share some memories with them.

IMG_2018 In true Mommarazzi form, I made them take pics before entering lol

IMG_2019 Once they were inside it was a different story.  They had a BALL!!!!

We literally stayed there for 4 hours, and we still didn’t get to see everything.  After Port Discovery we finished visiting family so that we could hit the road in the AM.  I really wish that I had cameras installed in the van during this adventure.  I think that will be my new goal when traveling with the family.  I want to truly document all of the adventure with them because they are growing so fast.   I am so thankful that our van has the DVD package it helps keep the  kids entertained especially during long trips.  We made it back home Monday just in time for me to go to work… yes I went to work after driving from Baltimore to NC.  I’m starting to agree with everyone else, maybe I am superhuman.  Until next time……

XO,

Meka

Staycation with the Harrells

Last Monday the kids (minus Jagger) and I enjoyed a wonderful staycation at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel here in downtown Winston.  Since opening, we have driven by the hotel on a daily basis during Elle’s commute to school.  Since one of my friends has an apartment in the building I was able to get a little inside look at this amazing establishment.  I’ve heard so many great things about the Kimpton properties like having a gold fish in your room, cool record players and so much more.  IMG_1666Upon arrival we were greeted with the craziest rain storm which lead to utilizing their amazing valet service.  Once we made it inside the kids enjoyed a refreshing cup of apple infused water.  IMG_1719

In true Harrell form the first thing the kids wanted to do when they got to the room was too “test” out the beds with the ultimate jump party.

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The beds passed the test and were baby Axel approved!  Since it was raining so much we opted to stay indoors and order pizza as well as enjoyed some awesome amenities the hotel had to offer like an adult size “playground” that was equipped with a 2 story tunnel slide.  IMG_1755

Finding the the slide was the highlight of our evening.  As you can see Maveric truly enjoyed this, it was a 4 year old’s dream.  IMG_1757In addition to the slide we were able to go bowling, some how Maveric ended up beating Elle.  IMG_1748 The adult playground was a total life saver with the storm we had going on outside, they were able to have the time of their lives on the inside.

 

Here are some of the amenities of the hotel :

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi for Kimpton Karma Rewards guests
  • Pet-friendly accommodations free of weight and size restrictions and no additional fees
  • Nightly hosted evening wine hour from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • In-room dining from The Katharine Sunday-Thursday until 10 PM + Friday-Saturday until 11 PM
  • A yoga mat in every guest room and yoga mat roll-out service available upon request
  • In-room spa services for private, full-service day spa services
  • 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center
  • Bowling alley, basketball, ping pong and more in the lower level recreation center
  • Complimentary morning coffee and tea
  • Essential travel items, available upon request

We will definitely be staying again, the only thing we did not have was the gold fish I requested.  Unfortunately they died before our arrival but we were told that they “should” have new ones by the time we stayed.  That request fell through but the staff and the hotel gets 4 stars in our books. Until next time….

XO,

Meka