Mountain Trip 2017

Whew!  We had a quite a fun-filled trip to the mountains of Virginia.  We have several family members who are in the Staunton area, so a long summer trip has been on my agenda for some time.  The kids and I were able to go a few days before the Mr.  We enjoyed staying with “Granny” and spending lots of time with Auntie Brookie plus other family favorites.  ❤

Our first excursion took us to the Explore More Discovery Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  I thought this was fun and very appealing especially to younger kids.  Both kids had a ball, but I think some of the stuff was a tad babyish for Holden.

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Our group had a delicious lunch at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza.  Everything was delicious, and the service was great!  Holden and Helen also took their first pony ride that afternoon.  Both kids loved it!

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Our second day of exploring led us to Chiles Orchard.  Peach picking was very easy there.  Although I wish there had been a little more explanation about how to pick the best ones.  My head picker selected a few duds.  This was very fun though.  The peaches were great in a fruit crisp.

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I was so glad that Auntie Brookie decided to take off a few days from work and hang with us.  We had play time and a picnic at Mint Spring after our picking was complete.  This place was just in a beautiful setting.  I do love an ocean view, but these mountains were so lovely too.

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This is when Daddy joined us.  We were very happy to see him at our meet-up location, Monticello!

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I have to confess that we were a mess on this tour.  Little Miss is in the process of *trying* to drop her AM nap meaning we will be down to just a PM nap.  HOWEVER, she was particularly tired and very vocal about it during the house tour.  Perhaps this is why this wasn’t my most favorite historical stop.

We had lunch at Michie Tavern afterwards.  I have mixed feelings about it as it isn’t necessarily my favorite type of food, but I can’t say it wasn’t good food either.  I don’t think Holden was too taken away by the historic setting or the period clothing of the servers.  He would have been just as happy somewhere else!  But…there was an Armory & Artifacts Shop very nearby that he loved.  We’re talking old money, cannonballs, weapons, etc.  This was definitely a favorite of his!

I have no pictures of the boys’ trip to the county fair for a night event, but you can imagine I guess.  Demolition derby.  Need I say more???  Holden loved this!

Although I believe everyone was feeling the car woes (particularly Helen!  Girl hates the car 100%), we continued on with our last big excursion to Sherando Lake.  I’m so glad we did!  We did the short hike around the lake (lower one) and loved the views and easy terrain for little feet.

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There was little island in the lake that the Mr. and I swam to.  Gosh, I forget how even though you can be physically fit in one way you can be completely out-of-shape in another!  We were huffing and puffing on that little five minute or so swim!

We all summoned up our last bit of energy to see the sights at the county fair.  We saw tractors, all sorts of animals, and rides there!  Holden rode the Ferris wheel for the first time.

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He’s getting too big!

Our final day was spent in and around Staunton, Virginia.  We went to the local farmers’ market, played at the park, visited with family, and enjoyed yummy “zoodles” for the first time!  It was a very full and very fun week!  So thankful to have this time to spend with our loved ones!  We made lots of special memories and look forward to our next trip.

Natalie

 

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hello…Monday!

Whew!  Talk about an interesting weekend!  My post from Friday was definitely a low point of the weekend.  I’m just not a person to pretend with ANYTHING.  I’m many things but a fake I am not.  I try to be authentic especially when it comes to my feelings (maybe this is much to take sometimes???).

Authenticity really allows for honest conversations, and if you can’t be honest with your self and your spouse then what really matters in life….  A small, teeny disclaimer:  Others may not be thrilled at this level of authenticity.  In fact, I annoy myself with my inability to just shut up and smile about it {insert whatever IT may be}.

So…in efforts for a lighter post, here’s some weekend pictures!

Jumping away in the foam pit at our local trampoline park {Technically, this was earlier in the week fun.}

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Bowling ~ Mommy got two strikes and a spare all while holding a 15 month old baby girl I know ~ Older kid complained about not getting enough turns even after being reminded that the computer system kept track of our turns ~ Then, Mommy gave an appreciation lecture that was super well-received…

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On Saturday, we took a big trip to an Aldi grocery store.  This was our first visit, and we were perplexed with how to get the shopping cart unleashed from its spot in the cart rack (you pay a quarter fyi ~ when you return the cart, you get your 25 cents back).  Aldi gets mixed reviews from me.  I was disappointed that there wasn’t more organic options. However, the prices were pretty amazing!  Most notable were the $2 organic strawberries, 49 cents dozen eggs, 1.50 organic popcorn and veggie straws, and the pork chops we got were pretty well-priced as well.  I took no pics since it was a little like chaos in there.  We were confused with two small kids on a busy Saturday.  Another important thing to know is that you bag your own groceries in your own bags AFTER you are finished checking out at a nearby counter.

I spent the rest of Saturday doing a return to H&M plus a gym work-out.

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Jake got me this new Yeti water bottle, so I feel all trendy especially when my outfit was totally aqua plus black shorts.  Very unintentionally!

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On Sunday, we did a whole lot of not much except for church.  I went to church with a fearsome bad attitude.  In fact, I was probably the most mutinous looking soul there including the teenagers.  Thankfully, I got over myself by the time we served Lemonade on the Lawn (aka Countrytime Lemonade plus cookies after the service).  Holden did an awesome job of filling up little Dixie cups for the folks who stopped by.  It was so hot!

I did make some shrimp salad plus kale chips for dinner.  The kale chips were improved with some sesame oil instead of olive.

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I hope you had a nice weekend!  I’m looking forward to hopefully a more positive week.  Holden is going to his first summer camp, so I’m excited/nervous for his first day.

I’m linking up with Heather and Johannah!

Natalie

We Meet Santa!

Hi there!  Wow, it was a full weekend followed by a very busy Monday.  My mom came into town on Friday evening, and we were all very excited to have her stay.  The Mr. left to go hunting VERY early on Saturday morning.  I also was up and at ’em early on Saturday to help serve breakfast at our church’s winter shelter for those who are homeless in our area.  It was an experience I hope we can share as a family once the kids are older.  I think we tend to label and put ourselves (and others) in categories.  As humans, it soothes us to organize our existence and make sense of our environment and those in it.  I think we (meaning me too) forget that we all have more in common than we think.  The people I served early on Saturday morning were just people whose circumstances are different from mine.  There were some morning-people, some cranky people, some polite people (actually no rude people), just people.  I’m very thankful for the experience.

So…after my early morning activities I picked up my mom and kids to head to the Breakfast with Santa event at my school.  It was so low-key!  It was the perfect recipe for a casual conversation with this guy…

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They both did great!  Holden asked Santa for a Captain America costume…Helen just chilled on his lap!  No spit-up and no tears!

I got to see a few students and introduce them to my kids.  We also visited the book fair, and Holden purchased a book for himself and one to give his sister for Christmas.

After a quick pit stop at home to pick up my sister, we were off for lunch at Dish.  This was a fun restaurant in Virginia Beach…”Scandinavian specialties along with our great American favorites.”  -from the website

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My delicious smoked salmon sandwich with avocado pictured below!

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We ended our celebration (it was my early birthday celebration!) with a visit to The Royal Chocolate in Town Center for fondue.  IMG_4370.jpg

I think it’s clear that Holden was excited.  🙂

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We were so full we hardly ate dinner later that evening!

Sunday was super quiet.  We (the kids and me) staying home all day except for a walk to the park.  I really hate missing church especially during Advent, but Helen is quite a wiggle worm during worship service.  I think we need to take the plunge and drop her off in the church nursery for worship service.  Clingy mom and baby problems!

Here’s Holden doing some crafting on Sunday…

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We were so glad to see the Mr. on Sunday evening…he came home with two deer!  Lots of venison in our future!

Monday was back to work/school, but we enjoyed seeing Holden perform at his Christmas program.  The Mr. was on “dad cam” duty with the pictures, but I did snap this one of the three spectators (Moochie and Poppy were present but not pictured…we were so glad they joined us!)…what do you think of the Mr.’s face?!?

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Whew!  I can’t believe it’s only Monday evening!  I’ve got THREE meetings this week plus just regular school stuff.  I can almost taste winter break AND am so excited!

My Christmas fun list still has cookie baking and some Rudolph watching on it.  🙂  What are you looking forward to in the Christmas celebration season?

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

Dropping Off the Planet + Life Lately

Hi there!  Wow, fall is super busy for me!  I know some people just love this season, but it is always just too much of EVERYTHING for me after the relaxed pace of summer.  Hence…no posts since late September!  It’s like I just fall off the planet until about holiday time.  I bet other teachers would agree with me.  Things don’t seem to smooth out until Halloween.  Well, what is all this busy-ness we’ve been up to you may ask???

Helen’s been chilling at daycare…

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Holden’s been playing soccer…1 practice and 1 game a week except for our rainy spells.  I get to hang out with Miss Lovely on the sidelines.  Thankfully, we’ve had mostly warm weather which is good considering the 5 o’clock practice time.

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He built a fire truck and saw lots of firemen with their fire truck at the Home Depot Kids’ Workshop on one rainy Saturday.  We were glad to have C-Pa and Meme join us for this Saturday fun which also included PIZZA!IMG_4197.jpg

We all went to the Neptune Festival at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  Although no purchases were made (lots of art and artisans there), Holden score lots of free loot.

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He only tortured his sister slightly with it…

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I got a bang trim to prepare for my sis-in-law’s wedding which is THIS WEEKEND!  Can’t believe it’s almost here!

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I’ve still been doing running/working out when I can.   I signed up for a 5K the Saturday after Thanksgiving to keep me motivated.  I’m looking forward to a fast, short race.

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I got to do a trail run recently, and it was wonderful.  I just ran for enjoyment – not time or distance.  Saw lots of pretty scenery and just basically soothed my soul!

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until this happened…

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I tried to jump up on a fallen tree blocking the trail.  I was coming from downhill and didn’t have enough forward momentum.  Took a tumble!  Don’t worry…I eventually made it over after a couple of similar attempts.  It is still a quite lovely scabby mess.

We experienced some of Hurricane Matthew and lost power for a little over 24 hours.

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Lots of dog cuddling…

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I baked the above “chocolate cake” in the toaster oven on our one cord coming from the generator.

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Hunting season has started for the Mr., so we are doing our best to tough it out without him.  I think we did pretty OK.  I had my right-hand-boy with me while grocery shopping last Saturday.

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Aren’t those kid-sized carts adorable?!?!  He is such a big helper!

 

Weekending

Got to hang with my girl for some extra hours on Wednesday and also a bit on Thursday morning!  Holden went to school on Wednesday.  We are way too slow moving for him.  He did get to have extra time at home with Mommy and sister on Thursday thanks to a 2 hour delay for me.

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Gosh, why do I hate Sundays?  They overwhelm me from the moment my feet hit the floor.  I absolutely hate it!  I saw this funny e-card somewhere that said “Sunday…when we try to get our whole life together in twelve hours.”  So true and so unrealistically crazy!

I think the concept of Sunday as a day of rest is a wonderful idea.  However, Mommy and Daddy have to go to real jobs on Monday morning.  All the home jobs have to get done some time.  I can tell you that Monday afternoon at about 4:45 is probably not going to work for us (or 5:45ish in the case of the Mr.’s arrival at home).  So anwayyyy!  I obviously got a bit bogged down in the Sunday workday blues, but I/we had a wonderful weekend.  Nothing but great times!

Friday – Got off early, got my teeth cleaned (no cavities!), got my blood tested (so not fun but so worth it to be able to donate milk to the local children’s hospital milk bank), took a walk with some of my favorites and went to bed early

Saturday – ran ran ran in the morning after giving Hellie Bellie her first taste of bananas.  This went better than rice cereal.  Plus, her spit-up is now delightful!  A sweet, banana smell!  My mom aka Moochie visited us for the CHKD Make-a-Scarecrow event.  We’ve done this every year since Holden was born.  All proceeds go to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters!  We ate an early lunch at Commune…highly recommend!  Glad we got to go!  When I say it was a fast lunch, I mean it!  Holden changed into his soccer duds in the parking lot.  We picked the Mr. up on the way to the game.  Holden did great even though it was super hot at the game. P.S.  All this was done prior to 2PM.  Whew!  My mom and I left the kids with the Mr. for nap time and enjoyed fro-yo and coffee plus some grocery shopping/craft store shopping.  Love having her visit!

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Sunday – Baby food making!  So far, we’ve got bananas, avocado, pears, and sweet potato.  Helen has only had rice cereal and bananas.  Lots of freezer food!  We also took a nice walk at First Landing State Park.  It was such a great temperature and a perfect day to check out a new trail that we don’t usually take.  We came up on a nice little beach and let Holden and Roscoe (and maybe the Mr.) run wild.

Hope your weekend was a great one!  I can’t wait for another.

On a sidenote…I got stuck in the room I pump in at school this past week.  I found it hilarious, and I kind of wanted to not call anyone to help me out.  What does that say about how my work weeks have been going?  Hmmmm….The picture that I texted the Mr. below.  I was doing some slightly hysterical laughing.

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P.S.  Holden got a new bike.  He’s officially getting so tall and so big.  How is this happening!?!?  I want Helen to grow, and Holden to hold steady for a little bit.

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Weekends v. Weekdays

We are in the thick of the “weekdays” right now on this Wednesday morning.  It feels like it has been raining for 100 years, but it has really been only a full day of rain.  I woke up once for Helen and once for Holden last night.   Both times it sounded just like someone had turned a faucet on over our house!  Don’t you just hate the rain?!?!  It’s kind of cozy if you can stay home when it’s going on.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we were up to yesterday.  I have about a 30 minute drive to work in typical traffic.  Yesterday’s rain extended that quite a bit.  I just hate being late to work!  I have a hard time keeping the day going in a positive way when that happens.  Which brings me to what’s on my mind…weekends v. weekdays!

This past weekend was Holden’s first soccer game.  He loved it, and we loved watching him!  It was pretty warm with temps in the mid 80s.  The team split into two small teams, so the kids could play the whole time with no subbing.

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P.S. Boys 6 and under soccer is when things start to get a little more serious and a little more competitive!

Besides soccer, we got to attend a baptism of our old friends’ baby boy.  The Mr. was the godfather.  Doesn’t he look handsome?!  Baby and Godfather!14355539_1462250590457984_1420083822664243896_n.jpg

It was a beautiful service with lots of delicious food afterwards.  We also had a visit from Holden and Helen’s Meme and C-Pa.  This delayed nap time, so Holden was quite pleased! It was such a nice (and busy!) weekend.  I confess that Monday was not my favorite, and Tuesday was really not my favorite.  I’ve been really not feeling the work scene lately, and it’s been very noticeable.  Not to mention I’ve been pretty vocal about it!  Don’t ask me how I feel unless you REALLY want to know.

I know when I have times like this the most important thing I can do is to pray more.  Well, (sadly) I feel like I tend to pray less.  This morning I finally got myself together and spent a little time reading.  I came across this verse in Hosea 7 (verse 14).

They lie there sleepless with anxiety, but won’t ask my help.  

Instead, they worship heathen gods asking them for crops and for prosperity.

So true in my case!  I have chosen to fret and worry and obsess and just WALLOW about in my despair over working outside the home (let’s be real…there’s work inside the home too!).  Right now it seems to be my portion.  Although people say you can always change your course, I don’t feel that’s anything I can do now.  I’ve got to figure out how to make this work AND somehow enjoy it aka not be super miserable everyday.  A key part that I’ve been missing is PRAYER.  I totally have been skipping this in my life right now for worry, crying, whining, anger, and just general despair.

 So…I’m going to try to do better.  Does this seem like it’s the theme of your days?  I feel like it happens to be mine.  I am thankful for new days and fresh starts.  Even if today I may float away on the way to work.  It’s STILL raining!

Have a great hump day.

Natalie

 

A Sweet Weekend

It seems like our weekends are just as busy as our weekdays!  Honestly, I think I kind of like it that way.  I do have a tendency to overuse the “b” work aka BUSY!

I was admittedly very tired and more than a little overwhelmed on Friday afternoon.  I received a text from Helen’s daycare that she was a little more fussy than normal.  😦  Also, I had a lot of work that sort of plopped in my lap towards the latter part of the day.  Unfortunately, it had to be done THAT DAY!  Hate when that happens!  Lots of flaking out for us on Friday evening.

The Mr. left early Saturday morning to work on his hunting property, so the Hs and I had a nice, quiet morning until we went out around 10:30.  Holden and I made pancakes.  Helen and I snuggled bunches.  IMG_4095.jpg

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Our errands included Dollar Tree, the library (duh!), a make-your-own-chocolate-bar event (at The Royal Chocolate), the car wash, and the drugstore.  Whew!  We were home by 12:30!

Holden picked gummies and marshmallows for the inside of his bar and sprinkles for the outside.  We got to mix it up and then pour it into a mold.  Next, we sprinkled on our super-cool sprinkles!

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The chocolate event was a last minute plan that I found on My Active Child.  This is a great website for local events if you’re in the Hampton Roads area.  It’s also got plenty of local stuff that just adults might be interested in!  Check it out!  We also walked over to the little pond across from Town Center that we used to frequent when we lived there.  We saw a little duck family!  Then, Holden asked to throw some change in the fountain.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon lunching and trying to nap.  It was wishful thinking, and both the kids were restless.  Once the Mr. got home, we loaded up (along with some pea salad – here’s my recipe!) and went to our church’s annual BBQ.  Holden had a blast in the bounce house.  We enjoyed not doing dishes!  Just keeping it real!  I’m a hot mess and more than a little tired, but I was so glad we went.  I love our church and am so thankful to have such a positive place and people in our lives.

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Sunday was a very busy day!  We got a phone call very early that my mom was not feeling well.  Thankfully, all is better now!  We wanted to rush over to our Moochie but decided to wait a bit and see if things improved.  I’m happy to report they did!  Our Sunday was lots of church (I had Sunday School training), grocery shopping, gym-going, baking (2 lactation snacks – aka all Mommy’s treats), and a little neighborhood walk.  Gosh!  I need a day to recover from my weekend!  😉

How was your weekend?

What’s the summer food you’ll miss the most?  Mine is watermelon and the easy to grill veggies like zucchini and squash!

What are you most excited about this fall?  I think I’m most excited about the decorations and just being cozy at home.

Have a great week!

Natalie