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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Our 10th Anniversary Trip to Mexico: Part 1

When Zach and I got married we went on our honeymoon to Maldives. We LOVED it and always said we'd go back there for our 10th Anniversary. As we started getting closer to our 10th we discussed going back and neither of us loved the idea of that flight. It's SO long y'all. And who wants to spend 4 days of their vacation traveling to and from the destination?!?! No thanks.

We have been saving a long time for this trip and have a ton of points on our credit card saved as well. We both really loved Italy and debated going back there but I wanted to try somewhere new and thought Greece would be PERFECT. Relaxing but also tourist things to do and see. And a place we've never been!

Then all the travel concerns started happening and we both agreed we didn't feel comfortable going to Europe right now. That didn't leave a whole lot of options. Neither of us like to cruise. So we figured an all inclusive was the way to go. We've done several all inclusives and they are all basically the same. The location of them doesn't matter all that much! So why not keep it quick and cheap on the travel side and just do Mexico? We did a TON of researching and several blog readers were super helpful in recommending places to us. We decided on Excellence Resort at Playa Mujeres.

We had booked this trip prior to any of Zach's health concerns and really it couldn't have worked out better to be going somewhere SO relaxing. We had a rough end to 2016 and a rough start to 2017. This was our first trip away since his diagnosis and we both needed the time away and a chance to truly relax and unwind. It couldn't have been more perfect!

We drove to Atlanta on Thursday May 25th and I had Zach go ahead and open my big gift to him prior to us leaving to drive up there. A 10th wedding anniversary present kinda has some pressure attached to it right?!?! I stressed a good bit about it but tried to think about Zach and the gifts he GIVES to me. Usually they are sweet and sentimental. Like our recent V-Day date! I went with that theme and worked with Your Life My Design to put together a super special gift for him!

I wrapped it in tin foil since the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary is tin ;)

It's a collage on canvas including 155 photos taken throughout our first 10 years of marriage. It also has 40 words on it that have meaning for our life together during the last decade! It turned out AMAZING and Your Life My Design was incredible to work with. I sent her all the photos and she sent me back several options to choose from. The canvas also arrived damaged, which wasn't even her fault and she still replaced the canvas AND had it shipped super fast to get to me in time. I'm BEYOND impressed with the finished product. I love it so much and so did Zach! 

You can get a 10% off discount on any order placed with Your Life My Design now through the end of December using the code JOURNEYPARENTHOOD




Once we dropped of the kids we drove up to Atlanta for the night. We've found that staying at the Country Inn and Suites (Atlanta South location) has worked well for us as they have a great shuttle system for the airport and we get to leave our car for free!

On the way we stopped at O'Charley's for dinner!


Atl Shawty


Travel clothes:




At the airport supppppper early because it turns out flights from Cancun aren't considered international! Good to know for the future ;) 


Whoop whoop! Upgraded to Comfort + seats which we one row behind first class #movinonup


Helllllo Mexico!


Y'all know Zach and I are pretty cheap cheap but I will say there are some areas where I won't go cheap. Transport to and from the airport is one of them. We've had some rough experiences with airport transport and it's something I always am hardcore about booking in advance now. It takes away SO much stress and anxiety knowing you have a safe, reliable, comfortable vehicle picking you up! We had a FANTASTIC experience on our way to the resort. It was a private transfer and our driver took us off the beaten path and gave us some views of the area and told us so much about the culture and community. 

We put a lot into planning this trip and wanted it to be perfect. It was the most we've EVER spent on a stay somewhere so we expected the best of the best! We were told we'd get early check in. Late check out. And be in a certain building on the property with views of ocean and quiet location. 

We arrived and were told we might get to check in early if a room came free. This was frustrating to me b/c I left my babies a day prior to fly out early b/c we were told we'd get to check in early! IF you ever stay at Excellence...don't count on the early check in. I made sure to tell others throughout the trip who I saw carrying bags and the little buzzers to just go ahead and change into their suits because they wouldn't be getting a room until 3:00. 

We got some lunch and the food was fantastic right off the bat! Even though Zach and I don't drink alcohol we still enjoy all-inclusive! My plan for the week was to live off (virgin) pina coladas! 

The buffet had TONS of options and a pasta station that I loved! 




Making sure we left room in our plans for all the resort activities (spoiler alert: we didn't do any of them haha)


Omg. AMAZING ice cream!!!


They had a drink of the day every day and I thought it'd be fun to try the non-alcohol version each day! This one was just okay ;)


The resort is adults only which is SO wonderful. I love kids. But when you're traveling without your kids, it's nice to not have anyone elses kids either. They told us it was filled to capacity but it didn't feel like it at ALL. We never saw crowds of people. We never felt crowded. It was seriously so relaxing and so peaceful. 



Right at 3:00 Zach said "ok it's time for our room to be ready" haha! He was pretty annoyed with the front desk girl because she told us right when we got there that a) early check in was unlikely and b) that our room request would NOT be granted. We asked if the room we were getting was just as nice and just as good of a location and her response was "it's okay" Ummmm okayyyy. Not the best start to a trip that you dropped a few thousand on!!!

As I said, we went all out with our booking. We had saved for Europe so we made Mexico as top-notch as we could ;) We booked a two story suite. We had our own pool on our own terrace! It was a BEAUTIFUL room and was extremely well thought out and planned and perfect for romance. We were very, very impressed and felt it was of very good value for the cost (we booked WAY in advance and also got a super good deal!).




Our first rain shower head experience!



Our view!


This bed was on our porch off the first story of our room


This one was up on our terrace (here's a video of the entire space)


Ocean view???


Bed and Plunge Pool!



Outdoor shower!




Z is all about a hotel robe!


Fancy toilet paper ;)


Mexico is SO Americanized but I love the little touches to remind you that you ARE in a different country!


We decided to spend some time on the terrace before getting ready for dinner. The breeze was AMAZING up there but it def wasn't in the most secluded location. We could hear the people next door VERY clearly. Which was HILARIOUS. I mean the girl HAD to be faking some stuff with the sounds she was making haha. We heard them multiple times the first few days of our stay and then we assume they must have checked out! 



1st book of the trip! The 9th Life of Louis Drax 

It's our 3rd book club book so we haven't discussed it yet, but I will say it was just OK for me. Not a huge win!


I had a LOT of fun packing for this trip! I tried to keep things really geared towards Zach's likes which meant a lot of short lengths that I'd never wear in public at home ;) 


We decided to exchange gifts on night one. I'd already given him the picture but had one other gift for him too. I figured a man would want something sexy for an anniversary present ;) So no photos of what was in the box! 


Zach had been SO NERVOUS about my gift. He talked about how nervous he was which made ME super nervous too. I'm terrible at my face giving away my thoughts. So I can't fake it when I don't like something. 


Luckily, I LOVE IT. He went above and beyond and put so much care and thought into it. He said he knew my wedding ring was special and that our girls would want it someday so he wanted to get me a second special ring for the other daughter. So, so sweet. He went with an heirloom style which I LOVE!!!



The band around the finger is super thin...I LOVE the antique look of it!


So in love!!!! I'm glad we exchanged gifts right away so he could be rid of that gift anxiety ha!


Our decorated door :)


The resort had TONS of restaurant options and each had different themes. We decided to kick things off at the Mexican restaurant for night one! 


Creepy.....



We did have a bit of a wait that night. It was really our only lengthy wait the whole stay and it was because a wedding party was there. 


Attractive. 



The sombrero legit didn't fit!


It was hilarious because the menu had a picture of a pepper next to anything that was spicy. There was a pepper next to EVERY SINGLE ITEM. Z and I don't do spicy so we told the waiter and he said "oh no its not spicy." Okayyyy.


Zach also had to explain what a lime daiquiri was and the waiter thought we were nuts for not wanting alcohol. He wasn't a big fan of ours!


Really cool themed restaurant with an open ceiling in the center and cool cactus on the roof!



They did a turndown service each night with the activities for the next day and little chocolates!


The resort had free wifi which was important to me. I've found that when we travel I do SO MUCH BETTER at enjoying myself when we FaceTime with the kids each evening. Seeing them does my heart so good and allows me to truly have fun! We quickly found out that the wifi was okay in certain spots, but not everywhere in our room and that it wasn't strong enough to watch any Netflix or anything on the computer. 


We quickly realized we were NOT placed in a quiet area of the resort. It was actually THE noisiest area. They had some show going on that was SO LOUD. We could hear every word of the songs being sung in our beds even with the tv on. We ended up going to the front desk in our pjs to complain. I about lost it. Zach's sleep is VERY important and I just wanted this trip to be very relaxing for him. He can't sleep with noises like that. He has always hated any live music. And to spend that much money to have your room DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE STAGE especially when you had specifically requested the quietest room available was just inexcusable. 

If you ever book at Excellence and want a quiet room do NOT stay in building 7. We spent about 45 min discussing it all with the staff. Basically they shouldn't allow their reservations people to make all these promises that they can't keep. We told them point blank we would have stayed somewhere else if we'd known that was going to be our situation. They offered to move our room which would require us to be completely out of our room by 11 the next morning and we'd be unable to get into the new room until 4. Such a joke. Who wants to repack up everything and sit around the resort again until we could move?!?! It'd be a waste of a day! 

We overall just weren't happy with being deceived and promised things that they didn't even try to fulfill. Don't say you can check in at noon when you can't check in until 3 (we would have booked a later flight!). Don't say you can get us the quietest room when you can't. I understand they are a resort and want to say "yes" to everything, but it's  better to say NO than to be lying when you say YES. 

We did NOT let this hiccup ruin our trip. We just readjusted our plans to not go to bed until after the music was done each night (which it didn't end until 11!!!). It was an upsetting start and was just very disappointing. We were also surprised that they didn't really do anything to try to make up for it? I mean I was BAWLING crying and Zach was losing his crap and they still only offered to move the room for us. That was it! I would still stay there again and we still had a fabulous time but I would advice anyone considering staying at their resorts just to know that you will not get in your room until 3. And you will have to be out of your room by noon at check out day. And you will not get to select where your room will be located. :) Realistic expectations allow for less disappointment!

I busted out some floral pants I've had FOREVER because they were perfect for Mexico! 


We did a sit down breakfast at Lobster House and LOVED it. Def our fav spot to eat at the resort!





And awesome food too!


The restaurant it close to the beach and is located in the pool so it was a great location and awesome vibe. 


I loved, loved, LOVED the resort pools. They had these great ledges with chairs and I'd get the towel soaking wet and then lay there ALL DAY. It was heavenly! The breeze was just perfect as were the temps. It was 85 degrees every day with 10-20 mph winds. I was nervous about Zach being hot on the trip but truly it was just perfect! Even at the community pool it wasn't crowded AT ALL. And the other guests that were there, we just like us. Relaxing and staying to themselves. It was funny to see some girls on a girls trip because it'd just be a weird girls trip place to me to go? If you're single it's not the best place to meet guys when everyone there is pretty much on their honeymoon! Everyone kept thinking we were honeymooners and couldn't get over that I have three kids. Def my favorite kind of compliment ;) 




I know on my IG Stories y'all loved this suit! I think I had like 20 DMs asking for links! 

I struggle to find beach hats (big head probs) and happened to get this one from Target last summer.

The sunglasses were a Cali find ;)

The bathing suit is AliExpress. Yes. China! It was $12 and I got a medium and it fits perfectly. I will say it shows a bit more booty than I'd be comfortable wearing to a water park or somewhere public but overall it's a wonderful fit and even has padding in the chest area! I LOVE it! Here's a direct link for it! (It's actually down under $10 right now! And it covers much more of the booty than the photo shows haha I promise it's not a thong!)



Drink of the day and OMG I was OBSESSED with this drink!!!



Zach stole my hat which was also from AliExpress and is $4! (I bought another for myself when we got home and it's already arrived! Here's the direct link!


Kye was staying at Aunt Karen's on Saturday and they went golfing. He spent his time in the golf cart texting us ;) 


Lunch! One of Zach's favorite meals from the trip!


I just got soup because I wanted to be nice and hungry for dinner!


We ate at Lobster House again so I got a picture to show how the tables are in the pool! They had a swim up bar in that area of the pool. It was the more crowds and rowdy area and was where I guess they had a lot of activities. We avoided that area the whole trip ;) 


Back to our spot!


These hammocks were super cool too!



Yes. Another drink of the day haha


The mini fridge was always stocked and it was all included in our all-inclusive package. I guess the big bottles of alcohol in our room were also included. Which was a money maker for them b/c we didn't drink them and just left them there the whole time! 


Dress is from Old Navy. I don't even remember buying it but I had the idea of doing professional photos at the resort and found it in my closet and thought it'd be perfect because it kinda favors my wedding dress with the lace details. It was too big on me and I regret not having it taken in some because I don't think the photos turned out super flattering! But oh well! 



The resort did a FREE photo shoot and part of our anniversary package (which was free...just had to bring a copy of our marriage certificate) got us a discount on purchasing photos. Zach wasn't super pumped about the idea to get pics taken while we were there but it literally took less than an hour and was actually pretty fun! The photographer was super sweet and was one of those people that you just wanted to please. We did three poses at each location. We'd look at the camera and smile, look at each other and smile and then she'd say "give it a kiss" and we'd kiss. SO cheesy but also so fun! 

We were able to review the photos that night and she put together a slideshow of about 90 images and we loved it! Then she dropped the bomb with the pricing. The smallest package was $450. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ain't gonna happen. Instead we were able to talk her into letting us buy 10 individual photos! 






She wanted me to run and jump on his back. Um a) I don't run in the sand EVER b/c of my foot b) I don't jump EVER b/c of my food c) I don't get on Zach's back EVER b/c of his back issues.

This was a moment that made us feel our age and was hilarious b/c d) I'm also WAY shorter than Zach so hopping up on him is no easy feat! We had to get one of the pics b/c they were so funny!




My favorite! We look all in love but really I'm whispering "Am I hurting you? Omg we shouldn't be doing this!" But it's hard to say no to a sweet hispanic lady who just wants you to "give it a kiss" every 3 minutes!


I brought this photo with us because my main goal was to have a "10 years later" photo! I plan to do another one at our next family photo shoot to show our lives 10 years after marriage :) 


We needed a treat after all that kissing and cheesy grinning! I had seen a girl carrying a coffee and asked where she found it and there was this little shop area in the third story of the lobby. It was never crowded and had AWESOME treats! Our kind of place!



Macroons...totally live up to the hype!


Our routine was for me to shower in the afternoons then watch some of How I Met Your Mother (Season 8 y'all we're FINALLY almost through it..and NO we still don't love it...) and then get ready for dinner. I loved just being CHILL!


Another short dress for dinner ;) 

This one is from a local boutique prior to discovering that all boutiques buy their stuff from China and just buying it all myself from there direct haha!


The only restaurant that you had to have a reservation was the Hibachi. It was hilarious b/c the tables were super high and the seating was really low. And they just so happened to have one super high chair that was made just for short people like me!!! My special seat ;)




Being hibachi we had 3 other couples with us for dinner. Of course they were all drinking and it being 7:30 PM they'd been drinking all day. It was all okay though! The girl next to me works for the IRS which was really interesting and she's a big Disney fan. We ended up spending most of the night talking Disney and the guy who was the most drunk was a funny drunk. He loudly whispered to his wife that he thought Zach was a celebrity. He kept trying to guess the celebrity and she kept saying "NO" haha I only heard him say "Bradley Cooper" which isn't one Zach gets often (most often he gets Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans). He also kept telling Zach that he needs to buy me a brick at Disney. So funny. 

I felt super grown up during that dinner. Like I know. I'm 32. I'm a grown up. But we were sitting with all these people who I feel like are way older than me. But they aren't. And like I got all awkward at first b/c I was sitting with grownups and supposed to be talking to them like peers and then I realized they are my peers. The drunkest guy was probably a few years older than us, also celebrating their 10th anniversary. And the couple beside us was right at our age (a couple years younger) and they were on their honeymoon. 

It was a tad awkward when everyone did their drink order and Zach and I were last to order ours and I said "Shirley Temple" when everyone else had ordered shots and such haha!


Fried ice cream was AMAZING!


This. Is. Classic.


When I went through to make the collage of photos I realized how often on trips we don't get pics TOGETHER. So I made a conscious effort to ask people to take pics of us! 


We had a really great start to our trip...and spoiler alert but the second half is pretty much just more of the first half. Lots of quality time together and relaxing!!! And it couldn't have been more perfect! 

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