A Little Summer Update

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Hey there! Long time, no write, huh? If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I’m a summer junkie, and well, this year is no different. I try to soak up every wonderful minute of summer, and apparently that means there’s less time for this little hobby of mine. There have been a few other things that have been taking up my time as well, but I do love this little blog of mine, and want to make some time for it when I can. The other problem is, my storage is almost full on this site, and it just doesn’t make sense for me to purchase a bigger plan. I write this blog as something for the kiddos and I to look back on some day and relive some of our fun memories, so paying a yearly fee for the rest of my life probably isn’t the wisest choice. πŸ˜‰ Boo! I’ll figure something out though. Until then, I figured I’d write a little summer update with more to come later.

We’ve been BUSY!!! Summer just always seems to fly by, but this summer seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. School starts for my little man next week, and I’m having such a hard time wrapping my mind around us all getting up and out the door EVERY weekday morning. Not to mention how much I’ll miss him while he’s gone. Please, someone, say it isn’t so!! 😦 Thankfully, he’ll only be going for half days, so at least we’ll still have our afternoons together. ❀

So, what have we been up to? Well for one, we’ve been spending as much time at the cottage as possible. We’ll run up on a Tuesday and Wednesday and hang out on the beach and soak in the sun for as long as we can. We go for a walk down the beach every morning and search for beach glass. We’ve got quite a little collection started, and I love that it’s our thing. It’s been wonderful.Β img_2883-1img_3334img_3359img_2300

One of the things that is taking up a huge majority of my free time is my yoga teacher’s training. I finally committed to doing it this June, and I am SO excited about it! I’m learning so much not just about yoga, but about life, and I am loving it! There is so much work, reading, and commitment that comes with this training, but it is also so interesting and something I’m pretty passionate about, so it makes it all worth it. I should be finished and certified at the beginning of October, and I’m so excited to start teaching after that! Β img_2028

But back to the fun stuff… πŸ˜‰ We’ve taken countless bike rides around the neighborhood. These kiddos are bike riding fools, and it makes me so happy to see.Β img_3786

We went camping a few weeks ago and had a blast. The sunsets were gorgeous and the company was fun, and I’m excited to book another trip again soon!Β img_3465

We’ve drank way too many slurpies, swam a ton, gone to the zoo, the fair, museums, berry picking, horseback riding, had park playdates with friends, gone boating, and watched the power boat races. We’ve spent tons of time in the backyard playing in the sprinkler, with water balloons and bubbles. And we’ve even had a fair share of relaxing inside and playing board games. It’s really been an amazing summer, and I’m so so thankful to be able to spend my days with these two. ❀img_2194img_2940

Summer is just such a perfect time to slow down and enjoy all the really good stuff life has to offer. ❀img_3740

I hope you’ve been enjoying yours too!

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Our Spring Break 2017

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We made our (6th) annual voyage to the ocean at the beginning of the month, and I’m still dreaming of the salty air and sand on my toes. Every year gets harder and harder to leave and makes me think that it is where I belong. Waking up every day to a beautiful ocean view, spending our days in the sand and water and enjoying the earth that God gave us. It just feels right. It feels like it is what I’m meant to be doing with my babies. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I’m sure you catch my drift. πŸ™‚ But since a move isn’t in our near future, you can bet that I soak up these 7 days in the sun with all I have. We all do.

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This year we left on Friday evening and started driving towards Gulf Shores, Alabama. We actually went there last year too, and since we had such a great time, we figured why not do it again?! There is so much thought and preparation that comes into play for this roadtrip (you can read about “vacation me” here). So once we finally get in the car and start driving, I feel like I can finally relax a bit. Well, as much as you can relax when you’re hopping in the car for the next 20 hours with two kiddos. πŸ˜‰

People think we are crazy for driving every year, but I honestly look forward to it. Sure, there are hard times… like when we had to stop at midnight so I could give J a breathing treatment in a gas station in the middle of nowhere… or when Zilla got car sick about 45 minutes before we reached our condo and threw up everywhere… (both our kids were such troopers – we are so lucky) but I like the flexibility that comes with having our own car. I like that we can bring as much stuff as we want. I like that we are in control of when we stop, when we go, etc. But most of all, I like the adventure. Getting off on back roads in the middle of the country in Tennessee to avoid traffic, seeing new places, trying new restaurants. I like it all. Road-tripping is for us.

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We arrived at our condo the next morning, and much to our surprise, we were able to get in early. We were all so excited to check it out. We were blown away by how awesome our condo was. The views were unbelievable and the amount of space we had for our family (and my parents and my sister and her family) was just perfect.

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As soon as we could see the ocean,Β Zilla just kept saying over and over again, “I go beach!” and J couldn’t wait for his cousins to get there, who weren’t much further behind. As soon as everyone arrived and got unpacked, we headed straight down to the beach to play.

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My poor babes (and myself) all ended up pretty sick on the first few days of vacation, which was a real drag. But I was not about to let that ruin our trip. After some urgent care visits and antibiotics, and lots and lots of rest, we were all feeling much better and ready to enjoy every remaining minute!

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I figured maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because typically I wouldn’t nap on vacation. I normally wouldn’t want to miss a minute on the beach, but I knew our bodies needed rest. I actually took two naps while we were there, and it honestly felt SO good. I guess that is what vacation is all about, right?
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The rest of the trip was filled with family walks up and down the beach searching for the best shells, coffee on the balcony while the kiddos ran wild, ice cream at our favorite shop from the year before, fun restaurants, sand castles, sunsets and lots and lots of family time. I even got to go for a couple of runs down the shore with my niece, which is something I think I’ll always remember. I love watching my kiddos make such fun memories with their cousins. J always says they are his best friends, so he is always ecstatic that he gets to live with them for week and spend every minute with them.

 

We found the best treasures on our walks.

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And just like that, the sun set on another one of our amazing vacations. We suited up one last time to go say goodbye to the ocean. Not one bone in my body wanted to leave. Not even a little. But the promise of next year’s trip helped get me through. πŸ™‚
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I mean, doesn’t this look like a family that belongs on the beach? πŸ˜‰ Β One day, I’m telling ya. ❀

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I don’t typically don’t offer advice here, but I will say if you are considering a family vacation. Beach or not, road trip or not… just DO it. You won’t regret it. Remember, you have to make the memories you want to have. ❀

Peanut Butter “Cookie” Balls

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I don’t usually share recipes on here, but I’ve been making these bad boys for a few years now, and my whole family absolutely loves them. So, I figured I’d share the love.

I’m always looking for kid friendly recipes, and if they are easy, well that is even better! I don’t know about you, but I seriously struggle with feeding my kiddos. I never know if they are getting enough, and the major concern is always whether or not they are getting enough of the right stuff. Β Without getting into all kinds of nutritional discussion, I’ll just say that I personally feel really good about giving these to them for snacks or dessert and actually feel like they’re eating something with all kinds of good stuff mixed in. We keep them in the freezer and every time they’re in there, you’re sure to see any one of us reaching in there multiple times a day for a little treat. πŸ™‚

What you’ll need: (I’ve played around with these ingredients – if you don’t have the hemp hearts or flax seeds, they’ll still turn out delicious! I just like to add them for extra goodness)

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup to 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups creamy peanut butter (I’ve also used 1 cup PB, 1 cup almond butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milled flax seeds
1/2 cup hemp hearts

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Mix all the ingredients together until completely combined. It will be very thick! Spoon out with teaspoon (J uses our melon baller, which works perfectly) onto wax paper. I layer them in a 9×13 Pyrex and usually get 3 layers. And that’s it! Super simple and a perfect project for your kiddos to help you with.

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So much goodness in one little bite! πŸ™‚

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I hope you love them as much as we all do! ❀

Our Easter Weekend

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We had such a great weekend. I didn’t want it to end! It was filled with sunshine, family, and traditions. Just a few of my favorite things. πŸ™‚

Hub got home a little early from work on Friday, and the weather was perfect, so we decided to spend the whole evening outside. I made PB & J sandwiches and Hub started a little fire and we just hung out in the backyard playing with the kiddos. It was perfect.Β img_0177

Saturday morning we did our usual gym and yoga routine (one of the highlights of my week) and then we headed over to my sister’s house to color Easter eggs. We have dyed Easter eggs with them every since her kiddos were babies, so it is something we always look forward to. Both my kiddos got really into it this year, which was fun to see. Zilla dyed her own hands and possibly broke a couple eggs in the process, but we let her off the hook because she’s so dang cute. πŸ˜‰

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The kiddos played with their cousins for awhile outside (my niece even caught a turtle!!) before we headed home for naps. We wanted them to get some rest because my parents were having us all over later that afternoon for an Easter egg hunt and for family dinner. My parents have a gorgeous yard, and I just love hanging out over there. The kids love it too (and their kitty, Zeus). They had so much fun searching for eggs, playing with their cousins, climbing trees and running around like crazy.

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The next morning was Easter Sunday, so we woke up and looked for special treats from the bunny. J couldn’t believe his basket was in the bathtub!! πŸ™‚ Zilla didn’t care about anything else after she found one egg with candy in it. All she wanted to do was eat it. πŸ˜‰

After that, we got ready for church in our Easter best. I only mention our clothing because Zilla had this cute little dress that reminded me of an Easter egg and she insisted on wearing her tennis shoes with it! Hah! I felt a little silly at church when someone commented on how cute her dress was and then they slowly looked down and noticed her shoes. I knew it really didn’t matter, but I also had a cute little pair of sandals for her to wear with it. πŸ˜‰ Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately) I don’t have any photographic-evidence of her tennis shoe ensemble. BUT what I do have is a picture of both of them in their Easter clothes with their mud boots on at the cow farm. ❀img_0264

Hub’s grandparents own a dairy farm, and it is one of our favorite places to visit. We went there last year on Easter too, so I was so happy to continue the tradition. The kiddos had such a blast again. We went on a gator ride, flew kites, had an egg hunt in the garden, checked out all of the tractors, watched a milking, let the baby cows suck our fingers, and J even got to milk his very first cow! You can tell how excited he was!

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Later that afternoon, we were walking through the tractor barn, and I looked over at Hub and just had to take a picture. He had his slacks tucked into his mud boots and was wearing his Grandpa’s hat, and I think my heart may have skipped a beat. ❀

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The whole weekend was absolutely perfect… Just one of those you could do over and over again and never get tired of. I’m so thankful for our wonderful families who put together all of the egg hunts for the kids and for all the memories we get to make spending time with the people we love most.

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Happy Easter!

Vacation Me

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There’s this teeny tiny control freak buried deep inside me, and she only comes out when we’re planning for our annual spring break road trip to the ocean. She makes a grocery shopping list for when we arrive there a month in advance. She makes page-long lists of “don’t forgets” and “to-do’s” before we leave. She insists on packing for everyone weeks in advance, only to unpack and repack it all over again. She buys new beach clothes and bathing suits for the entire family when none of us really need anything new. She forces the entire family to do “fashion shows” to try out all the new stuff and sends Hub hundreds of mirror selfies to see what his favorite outfits and swimsuits are (even though she’ll obviously pack allll of them either way). She walks through the house 17 times before we officially pull out of the drive way and head on our way. She’s seriously insane, you guys. Like crazy, obsessive, looney toon. But she (me) simply can’t help herself.

Planning this trip is what keeps me going through the dead of winter, and I want nothing more than for it to be absolutely perfect. And honestly, it will be. Because it is every year. I don’t know why I insist on figuring out every last detail and packing every single thing we could possibly need. I don’t have to plan or pack a thing. We could show up at the ocean with nothing but ourselves and the clothes on our backs and we would still have an amazing time. Nothing beats 7 days on a warm, sandy beach, breathing in the salty air with the people you love most.Β img_2198

This year, the week before we left seemed like it was plagued with bad luck. I just felt like all the excitement for the vacation was draining out slowly, and I just wasn’t feeling as pumped as I usually am for the trip. Then to top it all off, I woke up the morning we were supposed to leave with strep throat. 😦 Then, my sister texted me this picture (from last year’s trip) and I was reminded that very shortly, I’d be watching the sunset on a warm balcony overlooking the ocean with my baby on my hip and my family surrounding me, and it all seemed ok. I knew the pace of life would slow way down for the next 7 days, and that the sunshine would make everything better – it always does. The only worry would be where to lay our beach blanket that day and when the tide would rise and wash all our sandcastles away. Those are the kind of worries I can deal with. πŸ™‚

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My post from this year’s trip is coming soon. It was amazing… just as expected. πŸ™‚

What I’m Loving

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This week brought the first day of Spring, which always brings some excitement and hope into the air (even if it’s only 30 degrees outside). I do a post like this every so often so I can remember all of the little things that make me smile day to day. So here are the things, during the first week of Spring, while J is 4 and a half and my little Zilla is 2 that I am loving.

The way he helps her fix her glasses when they fall down. ❀

How she always asks where J and Daddy are if they are not around. Then she says, “I see em?”

She loves to rub my neck and chest, especially when she’s tired, and I just love how she brushes my hair off my neck if it is in her way.

Playing outside. We’ve had a few warmer days mixed into the normal winter chills, so I’ve been trying to get us outside to play in them as much as possible. It does us all some good to get the fresh air in our lungs.Β img_8544img_8575

How much she loves coloring. “I color markers?” Then she will sit and draw for as long as you’ll let her. If she is working on a character coloring book, she always colors the eyes and feet and then moves on to the next page. πŸ˜‰

When she has to make a decision (like what color marker she wants) she says, “hmmmmm”.

How sweet he is with her. He always wants to protect her and help her out. He’ll say things like, “I can help you because I’m your big brother.” The other day I was vacuuming and realized I hadn’t seen these two for a few minutes. When I peeked in the bathroom, this is what I saw. She had taken her pants and diaper off (her typical move whenever she has a minute of limited supervision) so he took it upon himself to help her go on the big potty. He must have lifted her completely on there himself because she is too small to do it on her own. I swear my heart almost burst when I saw this. ❀

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Her obsession with Mickey Mouse, horses, and accessories. She is constantly putting on hats, necklaces, crowns, costumes, you name it. Of course it always has to be on her own terms and she certainly has to “do it myself”.

Yoga. I’ve been loving yoga for awhile now, but it just keeps getting better. I can get in my own head and tell myself I don’t have time or the energy, especially when I haven’t been able to practice in a couple of weeks. But when I do finally get the motivation to get on my mat, I am always so glad I did. The kiddos have been joining in with me too, which is always cute to see and definitely entertaining. πŸ™‚

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Quiet mornings with just my two. This is always a favorite of mine. I love waking up and having nothing to do (which rarely happens anymore). But on those days, we have breakfast on the couch (shhhh don’t tell Hub) and switch back and forth between the news and cartoons. We all snuggle up together and have nothing else to worry about. It is the best.

Shopping trips with my girl. We usually get our errands done on Monday mornings after we drop J off at school. She is such a fun little shopping buddy. She waves and yells “hi” to strangers and asks to buy all kinds of things. I think I’m going to start rocking a princess dress on Monday mornings too. πŸ˜‰

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Even though this little miss can be quite salty, her sweet side is starting to show through more and more, and I’m just loving every minute of it. She’s been stopping to give me random kisses throughout the day. Just today, as I was about to lay her down for her nap, she grabbed my cheeks with both of her hands, sort of shook her head, and said, “I just love you”. ❀ ❀ ❀

This smile. This sweet boy. He is looking so much more grown up lately. I think I could stare at his sweet face for hours. ❀

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Making chocolate chip pancakes with J. He has basically taken over the whole process, but I love it so, so much. He has even started making snowman shapes and flipping them on his own. Why do the little things make so proud? I guess I just love that he enjoys something I really enjoy too. I hope to be cooking with him for a long, long time to come. Zilla devours them (we all do, actually) and it makes for such a fun morning.
(On a side note -We got this pancake mix, so I actually feel pretty good about feeding it to my kiddos. Add a dash of vanilla, some mini chocolate chips, cook in a little coconut oil, and YUM!!)

Finding balance. My whole life revolves around these two kiddos, and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. However, as they each get a little older, I am finding that I’m able to take some more time for myself, which I’m really starting to enjoy. I stuck with the training for my 5K, which was definitely just for me. I go to the yoga studio on Saturday mornings and soak in the calm and quiet. I am also able to sneak out of the house for longer periods of time now and instead of hearing screaming and crying when I leave, I get a “bye mama, love you”. It’s such a nice feeling to take some time for myself and not have to feel guilty about it. Being greeted with smiles and hugs when I get home isn’t so bad either. πŸ™‚

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I’m just so incredibly thankful to be living this sweet life with these people. It doesn’t get any better. ❀

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Happy Spring, friends! Here’s to warmth and growth and lots and lots of sunshine. ❀

That Time I Ran a 5K

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Now there’s a title I never thought I would write.

I still kind of can’t believe it, but I actually ran a 5K! And here’s the even bigger surprise… I enjoyed it! Who would have thought?

My brother in law started running a few years ago and has entered several races. He even ran a marathon! We were talking over Thanksgiving, and somehow or another (there may have been wine involved) πŸ˜‰ I said I wanted to do a race with him. He suggested a St. Patty’s Day race that he actually ran for his first race. He said it was more like a party… nobody takes it too seriously, and he promised there would be beer at the finish line. That seemed like my type of race. πŸ™‚

I started training for it the first week of January. I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app, so I had some sort of clue of where to begin. I’ve always played sports my whole life, but I’ve never, ever been a runner. There were several texts to my sister and brother in law during my training that involved things like, “I’m dying” “there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this” and “I think I’m possibly the worst runner in the world”. Four weeks in, and I was dreading every run day and really planning on dropping out.
Fortunately, Hub and my brother in law helped me figure out that I was trying to run way too fast. I slowed my pace down and was finally able to make it through the training without keeling over at the end. Hub also pointed out that both the kiddos, especially J, knew about the race now and had been cheering me on, so there was no way I could drop out now. That was just the amount of motivation I needed. So, I kept up with my training, and told myself there was no giving up! I also listened to Poppy (from Trolls) sing, “I’m not giving up today” about 100 times while on the treadmill. πŸ˜‰ Hey, whatever it takes! Right?

The kiddos were both so sweet during all of my training. My sweet little Zilla would cheer me on, “Run, mama, run!” and “Go mama!” which was just so adorable. J was super encouraging too. When I would get on the treadmill, he would get on the trampoline and say he was exercising with me. About halfway through he would ask if I was getting tired, and most of the time I could barely even get the word, “yes” out because I was so tired! πŸ˜‰ He would say he was getting tired too, so I would tell him to take a break. That sweet boy never would. He’d say, “No, I want to keep up with you. I don’t want to rest when you can’t.” ❀ ❀ Β He also told me he couldn’t wait to watch me cross the finish line first and win the trophy. πŸ˜‰ He was such a motivation for me because I knew he was counting on me, and I really wanted to make him proud.

The night before the race, my legs were still feeling really sore from that week’s training, so we headed over my parent’s house to jump in the hot tub for a bit. The kiddos had a blast as you can see, and it really helped my legs feel way better by the morning.

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I had lost sleep for a few nights worrying about the race (ridiculous I know) but luckily I was able to get a good night’s sleep the night before the big day. Of course race day came and the weather was BITTER cold. I think the windchill was 13 degrees at race time. I couldn’t feel my legs or toes when we first started, so then I was extra nervous. I don’t know if it was the cold or the nerves or just the excitement of being in a race (or maybe it was the beer I knew would be waiting for me at the finish), but I felt so good during the run. I had planned on stopping to walk a few times, but only walked through the water stops and was able to run the rest of the time. My goal was to finish in under 35 minutes, so I was shocked when they finally posted the times and mine was at 28:58! I felt so proud of myself, and finally understood why people are so obsessed with running races. It was FUN! and motivating!

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It felt so good crossing that finish line and knowing that I accomplished something that I truly never thought I would do. I’ve never enjoyed running, so I just never pictured a 5k as something I would do. I’m so glad I did though, and I’m even more glad my family wouldn’t let me give up like I had originally wanted to. I mean, just look at J’s face at the finish line. I think it is safe to say that he was proud of his mama. And that… well, that makes me happier than I could possibly explain. ❀

My Baby Girl’s 2nd Birthday

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You guys!!! My baby turned 2 this week. TWO!! How? It seems like just yesterday when we were getting so excited for her arrival (you can read about that here ❀ ) and now here we are with a two year old on our hands. Of course I’m completely biased, but she’s the cutest two year old I’ve ever seen, and I simply can’t get enough of her. πŸ™‚

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She’s been saying for over a month, “My birthday coming up soon!” “I ride horsey my birthday” (more on that later) and if you ask her how old she’s turning, she always responds with a very emphatic “3” (free) while holding up one finger. πŸ˜‰

I always try to make birthdays as special as possible, so we had sprinkle Mickey Mouse pancakes with a birthday candle for breakfast. We put on her “birthday makeup” (her idea) and she wore a princess crown all day. Then we went to her favorite restaurant “O’donalds” for a birthday party lunch and cupcakes with 4 of her best little buddies and her #1 big brother, of course. She had a blast!

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That night after Hub got home from work, we met up with the rest of my family at Texas Roadhouse to have a dinner celebration. She ate the cinnamon butter, (who needs rolls when the butter is that good) the cheese off of my salad, and a few french fries. And she sure did enjoy the cup of ice cream they brought her! πŸ™‚ She was a little caught off guard when they gave her a “big Texas yeeeehaw” but I think she liked it! I think it’s safe to say she had a great day and she absolutely loved being the birthday girl.

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And for the memory bank… here a few of the things I’m absolutely loving about my little Zilla Bear at 2 years old…

She has the best laugh I’ve ever heard.

She loves sharing my salads. Almost every night at dinner, as I’m sitting down at the table, she says, “I try mama’s. I try mama’s salad.” Oh and she loves sharing Hub’s pizza with him too. We had a rare Friday night of eating pizza in the living room while watching a movie, and I will never forget her teeny tiny little self climbing up right next to him and asking for bite after bite. πŸ™‚

She has a “stink eye” that’ll quickly put anyone in their place.

She will sit and read stories in your lap for as long as you’ll let her.

She is a horse lover through and through! (just like her mama)

She always wants to “help you” with laundry and dishes, and it is just so sweet – no matter how unhelpful that it is. πŸ˜‰

She says she has pink eyes (because of her glasses).

She asks for “help please” and as soon as I try to help, she yells, “no! I do it myself!”

Coloring with markers is her favorite. Don’t try to give her any of those junkie crayons! She wants nothing to do with them. πŸ˜‰

She gives the best bear hugs. Complete with little growls and grunts because she is squeezing oh so hard. ❀

She has no problem telling us no, but she adds a cute little “thank you” at the end, which makes it more tolerable.

She’s becoming more and more of a Daddy’s girl, and she still thinks her big brother hung the moon (probably because he does whatever she asks of him). She spent the first 18 months of her life glued to my side. My little Velcro Baby. ❀ and as much as I love how much she loves me, it’s nice to see her spread her wings a bit.

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When we first found out we were pregnant with her, I prayed for another baby just like J. He was happy and easy going and completely content with whatever we were doing. Now I understand why we thank God for unanswered prayers. How boring would it have been if she were exactly like her older brother? She’s unique and opinionated and very particular about almost everything. She’s goofy and smart and can make me laugh at any given moment. I’ve truly never met anyone like her, and I’m just so excited to see who she continues to become as she grows older. She is everything I could have ever wanted in a daughter and more. Happy, happy birthday, my sweet girl. My sunshine mixed with a little hurricane. Thank you for being you. Thank you for bringing so much laughter into our days. I hope you always keep your little wild. I’ll love you forever. ❀

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The Winter Blues

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To be honest, this week started out kind of lousy. It’s been super cold and cloudy for weeks, some silly things have been going wrong that are bringing me down… and I guess that’s just February for ya. (Well, for me anyway). I can usually deal with winter for a few months, but by the time February rolls around, I’m just ready to be outside again on a daily basis, and I’m ready for SUN!! Not to mention, all of the snow melted around Christmas time, and I feel like if we’re going to be subject to the extreme cold, we should at least be rewarded with some pretty snow on the ground. Ya know?

But, alas, that’s not how it works in Michigan, and I told myself to suck it up and instead of thinking about what could be better, I need to enjoy everything that is right here in front of me. Sometimes a simple mind reset is all I need to “turn my frown upside down” so to say. Β And you know what happened this week that brightened my day? (Both figuratively and literally) The sun came out. AND then we got a couple of inches of snow, and I just thought, “hey, universe, thanks!”

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We’ve been able to spend quite a bit of time outside (finally), and it’s been really great for all of us. We celebrated the sunshine by eating some fresh sliced watermelon. Just the smell of it had me dreaming of warm summer days on the back porch snacking on it while we run around the back yard. We obviously have a few months until we’ll be able to do that again, but I think it was just enough to get me through until then. πŸ™‚
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In other news around here, I’ve officially taken on that “soccer mom” status and got myself a brand new minivan. πŸ˜‰ This wasn’t something I was really looking forward to, but I knew it was coming. With babysitting and preschool, it has really become a necessity for our family. I’m not going to lie, this baby is pretty sweet and makes the loading and unloading process so much smoother for us. Not to mention, J is just living the dream. He’s wanted me to get a minivan for as long as he could talk, so he now asks to go for rides around the block multiple times a day. When we were turning in my Jeep and I was all upset about it, he was right there to comfort me. “Mama, you’re not getting another Jeep. You’re getting a van, and its going to be awesome!” I mean, look at that smile. πŸ™‚

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And in much, much cuter news… our little Zilla-bear has got herself a brand new pair of glasses. It turns out she’s farsighted and has been struggling to see. I noticed a couple weeks ago that her one eye started turning in when she was trying to focus on something, and being the crazy mom that I am, I had her in with the pediatric ophthalmologist the next day. We picked up her new glasses at the beginning of the week, and I was so worried she wouldn’t like them or keep them on. Let’s be honest, she isn’t the most easy-going kiddo around. But she’s being doing SO well with them. Sure she takes them off here and there, but I give her some time and try again. Β I think for a little girl who loves to dress herself, they may just be the perfect accessory. πŸ™‚Β img_8100

Happy Friday, friends. Here’s to beating those winter blues and hoping that spring really does come early!!  ❀

Hiking in Red Rock Canyon

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My mom and sisters and I all planned a girls weekend getaway to Vegas at the beginning of the month. Between the three of us sisters, we have 8 kids under 11, so getting away for some time with is just us is so fun! As you might remember, I was just in Vegas in September. (You can read about that trip here) Even though there are thousands of things to do in Vegas, I really wanted to do something different. I suggested going for a hike to take in some of the mountain scenery, and fortunately, everyone was on board!

I found this trail in the Red Rock Canyon, and thought it sounded perfect for us. It was the number one rated trail in the area and said that it was kid friendly, so I figured us four grown women would be able to handle it. I had NO idea what I was getting us in to…

It was about a 30 minute drive the the Vegas strip to get to Red Rock Canyon. We stopped for some Starbucks on the way (like any good mountain hiker would do:)). It cost $7 to get into the conservatory, and I can honestly say that was the best $7 I spent the whole trip. You can drive through a 13 mile loop with lots of stop-offs for scenic views. There are also several trails you can hike on throughout the conservatory. We stopped at the first one and walked a ways down to check out the red rocks. It was beautiful.

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Then we headed for the Calico Tanks trail because we knew that was the one we wanted to hike. I laugh looking back at some of the pictures from the beginning because we seriously had no idea what we were about to embark on. I truly thought we were going to walk along a nice little trail through the mountains, and I figured the “moderate” trail rating it had must be because the trail was going to be going uphill quite a bit… I could not have been more wrong! We saw some people stretching at the beginning of the trail, so we joked around and did it too… πŸ˜‰  (I wish I could go back and tell myself at this point, “Take this seriously, bring some snacks and water… just wait till you make the turn up ahead and realize this is not an easy little walk!”)

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We quickly realized this hike was not at all what we were anticipating and that we should probably have been a little more prepared. There was no path, there was no trail. We were legit climbing up a mountain… through streams and up crumbling rock. There was nothing easy about it. Heck, there was nothing moderate about it!

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It had rained the whole day before, which left the sandstone extremely slippery and extra hard to climb. But we just kept on going. We knew there was a “tank” at the end of the trail that everyone talked about, and we wanted to get there. We had already been hiking for close to an hour, so we figured there couldn’t be much more to go. Once again, we were wrong. The 2nd half of the trail was crazy hard for us. We were all sweating and huffing and puffing. (and laughing… oh my goodness we were laughing so hard!!) But we kept going. We finally made it to the tank, which really wasn’t much more than a large puddle… maybe a tiny pond if I’m being generous. πŸ˜‰ But it was pretty nonetheless.

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A couple other hikers told us to keep going if we really wanted to see the end. So, up we went. Thank God we did… for THIS. This epic view made the whole thing worth it. There were beautiful mountain views as far as we could see. We could even see the entire Las Vegas Strip off in the distance. It was Ah.ma.zing. I couldn’t even believe it. The website didn’t even say anything about this view. We did the hike to get to the tank, and when that was a bit of a let down, I can’t even explain how excited I was that the real end was this.

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I’m clearly not a mountain hiker. That could not have been more evident as I was questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to make it up this one. But the feeling I had when we actually made it to the top was completely indescribable. If I could come close to describing it, I would say that I felt like a total badass. πŸ˜‰ And the fact that I got to do it with my sisters and my mom… well that makes it even better.  β€

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Sure, we had a blast hanging out in Vegas, but I can’t even compare it with this. I guarantee none of us will ever forget this experience. We laughed (at ourselves) so hard and did something that I’m pretty sure none of us ever thought we would. We HIKED a mountain!! How cool is that?
I put together this video of the whole thing if you’d like to take a look. There’s a lot of awesome mountain views, and even a clip of me almost falling off the top of the mountain! πŸ˜‰

If you’re going to be in Vegas for a few days, I would definitely recommend taking a trip out to Red Rock Canyon. I promise you will not be disappointed!