5 for Friday

This post is all things summer.  Totally fitting as this the last week of official summer.  To me, August always seems lightning fast and full of preparing for the school year to kick in. Here are five “summery” things on my mind!

{ONE}

Family & Trips – We have had SO many fun times with family this summer!  We’ve had lots of long weekends and a few vacations days for the Mr. that have allowed us to really soak up lots of family love.  Our weekends typically are full of either travel or enjoying our guests here at home.  This weekend we actually have no official plans with no official guests, AND we will be at home.  This seriously hasn’t happened!  We were supposed to be heading out of town for a little couple’s getaway, but we’ll be hanging out as a party of four instead.  In the spirit of our typical weekend, here are a few pictures that are from our time in Staunton this past weekend…

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{TWO}

New Pictures Are Up! – It feels so good to have checked off one big summer “to-do.”  I have sorted and put all our prints in albums.  SO HAPPY TO BE DONE!  I’ve also changed out our hall pictures and put out new picture frames with up-to-date pictures.  Yay!  I love how welcoming our front hall table looks with the pictures!  Holden even told me at dinner that the table by the door looks “cute.”  🙂

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{THREE}

Countdown to the Half – I’m loving my summer goal of training for the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon!  I’ve really been trying to challenge myself to beat my time, and I hope to do so by working on my cadence (definition of fancy running word:  Cadence in sports involving running is the total number of ‘revolutions per minute’ (RPM), or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. Courtesy of Wikipedia).  I’ve also been getting FREE magazines from the local library…Running Times and Runner’s World.  Very inspiring!  Makes me want to do another race soon!  Maybe the Wicked 10K?  I’ve also read about the Monument Avenue 10K in the spring and the Dirty Girl Mud Run.

P.S.  Don’t you just love this quote from Kate Grace?!?  “I am a discomfort master. I thrive in all conditions. Everything I need to succeed is already within me. It is here to stay.”

If you don’t know, Kate Grace is an elite runner and running in the Olympics which are coming up very soon.  Read her blog post here.    It’s about being calm on race day.

{FOUR}

Cookie, Cookie! – I’m getting ready to do some serious baking in preparation for Helen’s baptism and some other party things coming up.  I’m thinking of keeping with the traditional chocolate chip cookie and oatmeal raisin cookie.  Of course, I’m going to do some lemon cookies that are famous in my family.  I’m not bragging…people do actually remember and request these cookies!  I’m unsure about my other two selections.  Should I do the oatmeal and the chocolate chip?  Something more exotic?

These chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies are semi-homemade and look delish!

I tried these Cream Cheese Strawberry Cookies, but they didn’t fair well in the heat aka not refrigerated.  They melted into a blob!  😦

M&M Cookies – They look so cute and cheerful!

S’mores Cookie Bars – Too rich?  Or too perfect?

Please share your opinion in the comments below!  I’m being so indecisive.

{FIVE}

Beachin’ It – I love going to the beach, and I actually don’t mind taking kid(s) to the beach.  Not sure Helen counts as she isn’t mobile yet!  A friend emailed me asking for tips for taking kids to the beach.  Here are my top five!

  1. Go early!  I like to leave by 8:30.  Our beach is about 10-15 minutes away.  It will be cooler and less crowded.  Bonus:  You will be home in time for baths, lunch, and naps.
  2. No big meals there!  I only take water and snacks.  If I do pack a snack or sandwich, I wrap the food in aluminum foil.  It can double as a plate.
  3. This goes without saying (I think), but put sunscreen on kids and yourself before leaving the house.  I take spray sunscreen for Holden to use at the beach for reapplication.  He doesn’t like having the sand rubbed into his skin when you reapply regular tube sunscreen.
  4. Chairs for little people – reduces sand all over…kind of.
  5. Use a backpack to help carry stuff and keep your hands free.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to go to the beach lots this summer and had extra people aka extra sets of hands.  However, I would take things in a backpack when Holden was younger, and I’m sure I’ll do that again when Helen is more mobile next summer.  Right now, she rides to the beach (from the parking lot) in our Baby Bjorn carrier.  This lets me have my arms free.

BONUS – Get a fan if you have a little one!  We got this one from Babies R Us.  I use it all the time and especially at the beach.

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Hope you have a great Fri-YAY!  Here’s a few more pictures from our week (yes, we are at the library again!).

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Natalie

Over the hills…

Hi there!  Today totally feels like Monday to me, because we just got home from a weekend trip to Holden’s Granny’s house out in the western part of Virginia.  We left early (6:15!) Saturday morning to ensure a sleeping Helen.  She slept almost the whole way!  The early wake-up and rushing was completely worth that!  Once we arrived (after Holden asking 53,246 times if we were there yet), we unloaded our numerous bags and visited with Granny and Holden’s aunt and uncle.  We had lunch at Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse.  Sadly, I can’t rave about the food as my veggie wrap was missing goat cheese.  😦  However, I take the heat for not asking for it to be added.  I just requested ranch dressing for dipping.  It was hard to focus on the food when we were enjoying the company so much!

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The afternoon meant naps for the kids and even a little work-out for me.  I love my mother-in-law’s spacious basement!  Perfect for working out during nap times!  The Mr.’s aunt and uncle joined us for lots of good summertime food that evening.  Miss Helen tried to stage a revolution with her cries for freedom from the constrains of naps and a schedule.  We prevailed (eventually), and she slept very well that night and the next day.

On Sunday, I was able to do about a 25 minute hilly run.  I’m so not used to this and just ran for time not distance.  It was beautiful views the whole time!  The decreased humidity was heavenly.  After my run, we loaded up for the Frontier Culture Museum.  I LOVE any type of educational/historical thing!  I’m the person who wants to read every sign/caption and take my time checking it all out.  I think this may have passed down to Holden.  🙂  We were peas-in-a-pod meandering through each “village” showing how life was in earlier centuries in different parts of the world.  The heat was a bit oppressive, and we had to wrap up our trip before noon.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the left-overs and family.

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Sadly, all good things come to an end.  We left early again (6:15 again!) on Monday to head back home.  What a great visit!  We are so thankful to have such a wonderful family only a car ride away!

I’ve got lots of other cute pics to share later this week.  I hope you all have a great week!

Natalie

Summer Shore Trip

Happy July!  Can you believe how fast summer is going?!?!  We got to enjoy lots of family time over the last week on the Shore.  It was also Helen’s first overnight (really several nights) trip!  The last week was filled with yummy food, staying up past bedtime, lots of baby holding, games, beach trips, fireworks, a parade, a fishing trip and just plain old fun!

We headed out of town right after Holden finished up his last swimming lesson.  Here’s little sister and me waiting for the master swimmer…Excuse the spit!

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We got to my parents’ house that afternoon after a very sketchy picnic.  I’m a big-time picnic lover, but I confess that the location was super creepy.  This was especially true when we had to stay a bit longer for me to nurse Helen.  I honestly can’t remember if people (aka siblings + Uncle Michael) came over that night or the next.  All I remember is that I ate good food and relaxed.

The next day we (my mom, Holden, Helen, and I) met up with my cousin and her two adorable girls for a little beach time.  It was so nice to catch up with her!  We went to the same church growing up, were in Girl Scouts together, and just hung around each other quite frequently.  Wish we could get together more often!

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After our morning beach trip, we got to enjoy a “ladies’ lunch” of seafood salad with Aunt Sarah Beth.  Holden was unimpressed with the main course, but he was totally down with the sparking apple juice.  My mom always has the fun food/drinks!  We visited my grandmother’s best friend and caught up with her that afternoon.  We also went down to a local landmark and checked out the views…

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Holden was running all over this place!  I love his enthusiasm for things/life!  I also confess that it is a tiny hope of mine that he stays a lifelong runner.

On Friday, a delegation of family went to the beach at Assateague.  This is the typical “beach” that I remember from my childhood.  Specifically, I remember going with my grandmother.  She always had Coca Cola, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, Egg Salad, this hideous Raggedy Ann blanket, and the intention of getting us new friends and/or a boyfriend.

P.S.  Doesn’t Holden look like 25 in these picture?!?!?!

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If you look hard, you can see Miss Helen chilling in the beach tent with a fan DIRECTLY on her face.  Ha!  Got to do what you got to do!

Uncle Michael on kid duty in the picture below!

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Hands-on grandma right here ladies and gentlemen!  My mom was all over that beach!  She was chasing down Holden aka preventing a drowning, sticking Miss Helen’s feet in the sand and water, AND generally gossiping with my sister and me.  When we left, she said that she didn’t think she had been this sandy since me and my siblings were small!  I was/am so thankful for her!

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Running yet again!  Great form in my humble opinion ; )

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Holden had a great time splashing around!  I was so thankful for the extra hands.  My poor sister even got her lovely bathing suit spit on by the Spitter aka Helen.  Around 11, we left in a mad rush when Miss Helen had had quite enough fresh air!  Plus, there were crazy storms that popped up midday through the afternoon.  I was very thankful we seized the day and got another beach trip in!

The Mr. joined us after finishing out the work week, and I was very happy to see my partner in parenting/life!  He is one grade A beach-goer (especially with kids and all the lovely accessories they require!).

Saturday turned out to be a girly day with my mom, Helen, and I taking in the sights (and some lunch!) after I finished up my 7 mile run.  I went back over to Assateague to do my run.  Such pretty scenery!

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The guys (my dad, the Mr., Uncle Cullen, and Holden) went fishing, and Holden officially caught his first fish!  It was a pretty good size or so I am told.  However, it was out of season.  Don’t those “jorts” on my brother make you want to grab a pair of jeans and some scissors?!?!  ; )

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Later on Saturday we had to meet with the preacher who will be doing Helen’s baptism.  She also married the Mr. and me and baptized Holden.  That evening the Mr. and I went on a date!  We went to Bloxom Winery for pizza, salad, and wine except beer for me.  I’m just not cool enough for wine.  IMG_3691.jpg

Sunday was church and lots of rain!  The rain pretty much continued through the 4th.  😦  We spent some time with Holden and Helen’s Meme and C-Pa on Sunday through Tuesday.  We had some swimming plans, but they just didn’t happen.  Thankfully, the rain took a break the morning of the fourth, so we could participate in the motor-less parade!  Holden did this last year on his bike.  This year he was so speedy!  I’m thinking next year will be without the training wheels!  Maybe little sister can even ride in a wagon.  🙂

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Holden’s fan club came to see him…  🙂  Notice my mother’s phone (made the picture!)…this woman likes her smartphone!!!

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Check out Miss Helen!  She was sporting some stars for the special day!

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We ended our holiday with some fireworks!  Helen’s first time!  No crying (except from Roscoe the dog) and way big eyes taking it all in!IMG_3710.JPG

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I confess to having a holiday hangover that has lasted through today.  It was a little hard to get back into the swing of things like grocery shopping, laundry, and kiddy tasks like reading two million books before 9AM.  I’m so very thankful for our family vacation and all the memories we made!  We are so blessed to have so many people who loves us so much.

The good news is…it’s Hump Day AND weekend visitors are coming!  My sister-in-law and her fiancee are supposed to arriving on Friday.  We are excited, and Holden is asking if they are coming tonight!

Hope you have a great week!

Natalie

The Art of Vacation Hopping – Part I

Hi there!  Can you believe we are already a week into July?!?!?  Craziness!  We just got back recently from our vacation that consisted of hopping from family house to family house.  It was so fun, busy, and action-packed!  Here’s a little photo journal.

We started off a kind of blustery Saturday with a visit to NASA Wallops Island.  It was their 70th birthday!

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We had good company with Moochie and Aunt D.  After checking out the rockets, we headed to a nearby park for some play and a picnic.

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Final stop was Island Creamery.  I admit to not being a super big fan of ice cream in general, but I know people LOVE this place!  If you are vacationing on Chincoteague Island, be sure to try it for yourself.  The ice cream is homemade, and it was rated the #1 ice cream parlor in the U.S.!

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I got “Pony Tracks” and would definitely recommend it.

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Don’t let the face fool you…he LOVED IT SO MUCH!

The next day I elected to skip the 8 o’clock church service which I was bummed about after the fact.  😦  8 o’clock is just so hard sometimes!  Once my mom got back from church, we hit the country roads and saw all the local sights.

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Seriously, he was in heaven.  🙂

We ended up at a little beach on the bay near my sister’s house.  We hunted for sea glass and found a good bit.

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Next, we had a “double day” of pool and boating.

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Ok…I must be getting old now.  I mean, do we really need to have one.more.sex.tip magazine right at a child’s eye level.  It’s kind of gross, and I honestly never thought about it until it was potentially my child’s eyes.  Let me tell you…H the kiddo knows what that first letter is in SEX and the sound it makes.  Believe me, that boy will ask a million questions a day.  I really don’t feel like explaining that one is at…say 4 years old!  #annoyed

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Anywho…stepping off the soapbox…here we are on our dinner cruise aka boat trip with Moochie and Poppy to a barrier island.

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That’s our stuff!  We were the only ones around.

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Cool shell and picture – bad finger photo bomb!

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If you look closely in the above picture, you’ll see H wailing!  He was way upset that Moochie and Poppy dared to go for a stroll down the beach without him.  😉

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We saw the duckies below on our way back to the dock.  Cute little duck family!

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We also went to the beach at Assateague Island {Virginia} with Granny.  It was a picture perfect beach day!

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Prepare yourself for crazy cuteness below!

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We picked some yummy veggies at Uncle and Auntie’s house.

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Although most of our trip was super fun, we did have a bit a crazy 24 hours.  My mom and I were going to visit my sister after putting the little man to bed.  I thought it would be a good idea to bring the doggie along with us.  Well, he saw “something” and took off into the woods.  I was freaking out completely!  He came back after a few minutes which seemed like eternity.  We hopped in the car and took off down the road.  When I looked back at Roscoe P., there was blood all over my mom’s car!  Long story short – He cut his ear, and it was a a total bloody mess!  Thankfully, Holden’s Memé is a veterinarian.  She fixed him right up!

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This terrible picture is due to prevention from a nasty mess in my car!

We cheered back up with a playdate with some sweet friends at a local park and some swimming at Granny’s.  IMG_2240

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Aren’t there flowers beautiful?!?!  Granny’s garden is full of great blooming flowers now.

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We picked up our Mr. Roscoe P, and he looked a bit different than he did before!  Poor guy is stuck in the cone for 2 weeks!  I’m so relieved that it wasn’t anything more serious!  We also attended a little get-together at my sister’s house on a WEDNESDAY night!  It was nice to be able to be there.  The food was delicious, and the company was superb!

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Whew!  As you can see, we were very busy!  I can not say enough how happy we were to be able to spend more time than we usually do.  I’ll be back soon to share the rest of our trip aka the 4th of July edition.  Have a great day!

Natalie

Greetings from Vacation Land!

Hi there!  Holden and I have been in “vacation mode” since last Friday.  We are visiting family and hip-hopping between houses.  The Mr. has been able to join us on the weekends.  We miss him a bunch, but I {and I’m pretty sure I can speak for the little man} have so been enjoying the unhurried pace of a whole week with family!  I have oodles of great pictures from the past several days.  I would love to post them, but I must be PC-illiterate when it comes to pictures!  Instead, I’ll just share what we’ve been up to!

visited the NASA Visitor Center on its 70th birthday

had a picnic and play time at a fun park 

enjoyed some famous ice cream 

drove some country roads 

looked for sea glass

enjoyed lots of meals with family

went to a pool and worked on our swimming skills

took a boat ride and ate some dinner on an island beach 

went to the beach with Granny on one of the best beach days in history!

picked some fresh veggies from aunt and uncle’s garden

took good care of our doggieafter he injured himself 😦

had a park play date and picnic with old/new friends

dined on all sorts of Mexican dishes at aunt and uncle’s home

Whew!  I admit to being TIRED this morning!  My little man has been up past his bedtime every.single.night.  We’ve been so on-the-go!  I brought all these books and magazines and have read maybe a few minutes before bed TWO nights.  That’s it!  Today, we are taking it easy with a late breakfast and some Curious George.  Is it weird that he kind of makes me want a pet monkey?

We’ve still got 4 days of our vacation left!  🙂  I know they’ll fly by!  Since it’s July 2nd, I decided to do up some goals for July.  Here are my June goals…

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We did many mom and kid play dates in June.  CHECK!

I finished American Wife and also read Spring Chicken.

I’ve still been slacking on the yoga.  😦

I’m doing to Proverbs Bible study, but I’ve missed the past three days (M-W) due to vacation craziness.  Going to try to get back on track during H’s nap today!

We do have a lose schedule for our summer days.  Obviously, that schedule has not been followed too much recently.  😉

JULY GOALS:

1)  Read MORE!

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Amazon Link Here

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Amazon Link Here

2)  Yoga, good grief!  Will I ever make this goal?!?!?!?  Goal is 3x each week in July!

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3)  Pictures!  I really want to organize all, print some, and save all the good ones to our external hard drive.  It is overwhelming to think about!

4)  More beach days!  🙂

5)  See a baseball game

6)  Make popsicles again

What are your goals/plans for July?

Any fun plans for the 4th?

Have a great day!

Natalie