The closing of another chapter...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Libraries are filled with books written about people's lives — their childhood, school age, college days, adulthood, marriage, parenthood, and so on. If our family had a book, this last chapter would have been called "It's Hard to Say Goodbye"! 

Last year during Avy and Lenny's school year, we met a family who had kids in the same classes as ours. Our kids were instant friends, but us moms didn't really get introduced until a few months later. It wasn't until after Christmas that our (the moms) friendship really took off! We realized we had more in common that we could have ever imagined. And my girls loved their mom, and her kids loved me. We started taking zoo trips together, and even had a few playdates mixed in before school ended. Of course, a few weeks before school ended she dropped a bomb on me. Her husband had been promoted and was being transferred to a new location. Crushed. Knowing our our kids loved each other, we knew this was going to be hard on all of us. 

So we made a vow to do as much together as humanly possible this summer to get the most out of their last days here in Bham. And we did just that. From the zoo to the children's museum, to playdates and lunch dates, from swimming lessons and swimming playtime, and yes, even soccer dates — we had the best summer together. And then first of August came and we had to say goodbye. 

I don't think it hit our kids when they left, but it's been a little over a week and they keep asking where Becca and Stephen are. Hurts this mama's heart, but I'm so thankful for social media and phone calls so we can keep in touch. Such a fun and memorable summer with the Reyes family. So thankful He made our paths cross, even if it was only for a short amount of time. We are praying for their new journey in Florida, and planning a visit with them soon! 

Laguna Key 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

When summer begins we see all our friends heading to the beach, but our beach vacation is always towards the end of the summer before school starts back. Sometimes I see their pictures and get a little jealous, and then I remember we will be at the beach soon enough. The summer always seems to pass by quickly!

We normally stay in Peridio Key, but this year Terry's parents opted for a bigger place — a beach house in Laguna Key. It was huge — six bedrooms, four and a half baths, and the kitchen was any cooks dream! The girls had plenty of room to run, and that's important for toddlers.

We couldn't check in until later in the afternoon, but we left out early, like seven a.m. early. The interstate starts backing up around eight a.m. where we live and it stays that way until mid afternoon. Well, we have two toddlers and one is potty trained and you do NOT want to be in the car all day long. Terry and I agree that sitting still on the interstate is the devil! So when we arrived at the beach at lunch we planned a fun afternoon to tire them out before we could check into the beach house. We ate lunch, played in the sand, watched boats going in and out of the harbor, and went to a splash pad before getting back in the vehicle so they could get in a nap before meeting up with the rest of the family.

Once we got settled in and halfway unpacked, we ate dinner at the beach house — Janino's Pizza. It was also Terry's birthday so we celebrated with a little cake, too. The girls went out with the cousins and their dads for a late night swim and then we got settled in for the night so we could start off our first full day ready to go!

We love being at the beach, but we aren't the kind of people who sit on the beach all day and cool off in the ocean. No, we would be those people who love to spend the morning at the pool, and then enjoy a relaxing afternoon before getting ready to go out to eat for dinner. I could sit and watch the waves all day everyday, but I like to do that from a window or balcony. We do love to walk on the beach after dinner, but not every night.

Sunday morning, we got up and headed out for the pool. It was a beautiful morning, but we didn't stay out long. Terry and I scheduled a beach session with a photographer we know from our hometown for late that afternoon and we wanted our girls to get a nap so they would be in a good mood. (We haven't gotten our pictures back, yet, but I'll share them once we get them in!) We left out for our beach session and met up with the rest of the family at Shipps Harbor Grill, which happens to be all of our family's favorites restaurant at the beach. Those gouda mashed potatoes are to die for! It was also my mother-in-law's birthday, so we celebrated back at the beach house with an ice cream cake.

Monday looked like a rainy morning, so just the girls ventured out to see what we could get into. We had plans to visit the outlet mall, but decided since it was so close to lunch to dine in at Lulu's instead. Avery and Hannah built a sand castle while we waited for our food, which is always good. There weren't many boats out to watch pass by, but we saw a few and a tons of birds! After lunch we ended back up at the splash pad. My girls thought this was the best thing ever!

For dinner we went to another favorite, Cotton's. They have a delicious filet, and the girls love their virgin banana "icee's" while the adults like the non virgin ones!

Once we got back from dinner, the girls wanted to go for a night time swim. I decided I wanted to walk out on the pier to capture that evenings sunset. Well, the sign on the pier says "Alligators on site, please be careful" and of course, who would have guessed that I'd actually see one on my way out! I called Terry, Hannah, and no one answered. So I called my sister-in-law, Cathy, and she answered and said they were coming out. I mainly wanted someone to stay and watch it while I went further out. I didn't want to come back and not know where it was. Well, while I was out taking the sunset pictures my brother-in-law watched the alligator eat a duck! We didn't see him (or her) the rest of the trip, but once was all I needed to know that we needed to be careful!

It was back to the pool the next morning for more sun and fun. And after lunch, we all headed out on the pier (yes where the alligator was) to do some fishing. Jellyfish were everywhere and they actually caught some fish, though none were kept.

That evening for dinner we went to Nolan's! This was my first time to dine there, and it was delicious.  Everyone ordered something different and everyone was happy with their meals. It's a little fancy for the beach, but perfect for a night out for celebrating!

This was my brother-in-laws last night to be with us on vacation so we went back out on the pier to take some family pictures of he and his family, and of the grand girls with their grandparents. While I am a photographer and love to take pictures, it is a pain in the rear end to set up and take pictures of yourself with your family. Which is why Terry and I paid to have our family pictures taken by someone else. But Hannah did manage to get one good one of our family that evening. I told the others I would take their photos if that's what they wanted. We're at the beach, so it's either sand and wind, or on the pier with wind. So they chose on the pier. Either way you're going to have wind. So all pictures have that wind blown look, cause that's the way all beach pictures are.

Wednesday was another pool morning before the rain set in for the day. When we went out to Gibley's for dinner and came home to a gorgeous rainbow!

Thursday was our last morning at the pool. We made the most of it and stayed out there until we were too hungry to swim and sun. We came back in to get ready for dinner. We tried three different places but all their wait times were crazy long, so we ended up at a new to us place closer to the beach house. Oddly enough it was called The Beach House. It was a fun place and we really liked the food. Terry said it was so good he could eat there again the next night. Ha!

That night we took the girls out on the beach for a walk and to see the sun set. It was a gorgeous night, and they loved the little waves crashing at their feet. This was the first time Little Bit actually liked the sand! She liked it so much she didn't want to leave it!

Friday! If you ask the girls what their favorite part of the beach way... they say they loved Friday more than any other day at the beach. Why? Because we went to The Track. They got to ride swings, the carousel, the train, and some spinner thing! If it wasn't so dang hot, we probably would have stayed there all day long! But we ended up running over to the outlet mall and then back to the beach house to get ready for dinner. But don't worry, after dinner we went back to The Track to finish using all our points. I promise you Little Bit rode the carousel ten times back to back. The guy running it didn't even make her get off! Ha! Dinner was at Mikee's and it was delicious! We tried a lot of things on the starter menu in addition to our main course meals. We've eaten there before and it was ever bit as good as we remembered.

No one likes to leave vacation, but our girls really didn't want to leave. Well, they really just wanted us to take them back to The Track again. While it was good to get away, it's always great to get back home. But we made a few stops on our way home. We shopped at Bass Pro and we stopped to get some ice cream at Durbin Farms. Traffic was a nightmare the closer we got home, so we took the backroads and made it home before dark!

Another beach trip is in the books. And we have a whole year to rest up and get prepared for our next beach adventure! I'm so thankful we had a week with Terry even though there were work phone calls here and there. But I'm thankful we made memories together for our little family that our girls will never forget!

July Happenings

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

If you blinked, you missed July. Or at least that's how it seemed to be for us. It was so crazy, I didn't even have a chance to blog about our adventures. So today I'm going to give you a glimpse at our crazy, fun month of July. We just got back from our beach vacation, and I'll give y'all a look at our beach days in a separate post soon!

4th of July at the lake

We love our annual lake time with our family at Logan Martin Lake. This year, we celebrated the 4th a few days early on July 1st. Terry's family made the drive over that morning and went with us to celebrate! It was a great day to spend time with family, and catch up! The weather was so nice until 6 o'clock and then the storms started rolling in. We had to get back home to get the girls a bath and put them to bed so we missed the wonderful firework show that Shannon puts on every year. Completely bummed about it, but we go to see it on facebook the next morning thanks to his wife, Susan!

Hannah came to visit

Our oldest niece, Hannah, came to stay with us for a couple of weeks in July. We were excited to have her with us, and our girls especially loved her visit. They LOVE Hann, and enjoyed every minute of our adventures while she was with us. She's a great babysitter, and we took full advantage of her being here and had some quality time just the hubs and I, twice! We went swimming, a lot! We shopped, a lot! All fun things that we girls enjoy. When we had to take her home both girls were crying because she wasn't in the car with us. We look forward to her visit next summer, and maybe we can talk her sister in to coming with her, too.

Avery's bountiful garden

Papa and Avery planted her garden late this year, and it's proven to be her best garden yet! She has three different kinds of tomatoes, two different kinds of peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, and squash! We've been handing out tomatoes to all our neighbors because they are so plentiful! I think it's slowly starting to dry up, so we will have to clean out the beds and get them ready for next summer.

Avery plays soccer shots

Last spring at Avery's school they offered soccer shots and she was crushed that we didn't allow her play. When a friend told me they were having it this summer, I jumped online to sign her up. Of course, I didn't think about it being 100 degrees outside with mosquitoes, gnats, and it taking place around dinnertime. Even though her face is solid red, she's having a ball. We have a few more classes left this summer and then it's over. I'm so glad she's having a wonderful time, and learning soccer and life lessons, too! Coach Addison and Coach Ali have been great with her, and I know she's going to miss them!

Unka B & MarMar visit

My brother and sister-in-law live in D.C. and we really only get to see them twice a year, three times if we are lucky! We try to facetime with them once a week, but it's just not the same as them being here with us. We've promised we will try to go visit them next year, we just haven't decided exactly when that will be. They came for a quick visit in July, and the girls had a ball. And, Unka B and MarMar might have spoiled them in the 24 hrs they were here. December can't get here soon enough so we can spend time with them again!

Pool days

Our pool opened up the first weekend of May and even though we are in the south, it was still freezing until the end of June. We finally were able to get in without shaking to death, and the girls LOVE to be in the water. So we've been at the pool at least two or three days a week this July. Our babies have the cutest little tan lines and are swimming so good. Practice makes perfect, right? We can't wait to spend the rest of August at the pool!

And that was our July in a nutshell. The last week and a half of July was spent at the beach. I'll have that post coming up next. 

How was your July? Our summer is flying by, but it sure is fun!


Red, White & Blue Oreos

Friday, June 30, 2017

We have our annual Fourth of July at the lake this weekend and I always try to bring something that's homemade to the event. This week while I was scrolling through Pinterest, I found vanilla covered oreos with multi-colored sprinkles. So, the thought crossed my mind about making them red, white and blue. And y'all, it was so easy and they are perfect for all the little fingers that will be grabbing them off the dessert table.

These are so easy to make, and my little Chefs enjoyed helping make these, too! And they have two thumbs up from them, too! Get your littles in the kitchen and have some fun making these. I found the red, white and blue sprinkles at Michaels, but I'm sure you can get them at any grocery store or craft store. 

We used three packages of the Oreos, a full bottle of all the sprinkles, and two candiquik melts. Just follow the directions on the package of the candiquik, dip half of the oreo in, and then dip in a plate of sprinkles. We let them dry on some parchment paper before putting them in a container to take with us to the lake. Seriously, y'all, it's so easy.

Y'all have a safe and Happy Fourth of July!!

Skip Hop Satchel

Monday, June 5, 2017

When I became a mom three years ago, I knew things would change. Some of those things would change for only a few months/years, and others might be a lifetime change. And, I'm perfectly fine with that. One of those changes was my accessories. I don't wear the jewelry I used to, but I still wear my favorites so I don't really feel like I'm missing much in that department. But, when it came to a handbag/purse, that has been something I've really missed. Diaper bags are big and bulky enough without having to add additional bag to carry. And when you add a baby carrier with that, yep, you know quickly that leaving your handbag/purse behind is the best decision you'll ever make.

Fast forward to where we are now. Our girls are toddlers, but we still need a bag to carry diapers, wipes, extra clothes for both girls, snacks, thermoses, and then I have items to pack, too. At first, I let them carry their backpacks and then I'd have my purse, but that wasn't working because I ended up carrying both of their bags, too. So, I decided I'd get a backpack for us to carry all of our stuff. And the one I got off of Amazon, well, it apparently wasn't made to hold all the gear we needed. It ripped at the seam the first day we used it. I was so bummed about this, because this backpack was my style! I loved carrying it! Since this bag didn't work, it made me do some major digging on the internet for the perfect bag (for me). For over a week, I researched hundreds of bags and read even more reviews. I would drag my husband over to the computer at least a dozen times, and he would always say, "you are the one carrying it, you decide" and then I would second guess my opinion again. I'm sure a friend of mine would tell you that if I never mentioned diaper bag/backpacks ever again to her, she would be a okay with that! I really thought I wanted a backpack, but all of the reviews were leading me to a satchel.

I bit the bullet last week, and decided to go with the Skip Hop Chelsea Satchel. It came in and I started filling it up with all of my items from the backpack that I was still carrying around with a ripped seam. It has so many pockets for all of our needs. And dare I say, I still have room in the bag for more?

The bag is stylish and it looks great when I'm carrying it around. It has two pockets on the sides, one for each of the girls' thermoses. It has two pockets in the front with magnetic closure. I use one to store paci's for emergencies, and the other holds my lip gloss.

Then the bag has a zip up section that I keep all of my personal things in like my wallet, makeup, and eye glass case. It is deep and I have a lot of room left if I decide to add more items.  There is also another small zipper section where I keep my keys and my cell phone. I can get to it easily, and it's a shallow pocket so I don't feel like I'm searching forever to find those two things.

The back pocket has a changing pad included with the bag. Right now I'm keeping it in there because we still need it, but once we are out of diapers, I can put my laptop, ipad, planner, etc, in that section.

The center zipper compartment is huge! It has four pockets (two on each side) and it's deep. I keep the girls' extra change of clothes, wipes, diapers, and snacks in there and we still have room to add more. And with all of this in the bag, it still doesn't feel weighed down.

Overall, I'm really pleased with this bag! We tried out the stroller straps at the grocery store yesterday, and it freed up so much space by not having it in the buggy! The girls have even told me they like mama's new bag.

Do you have this bag? What are your thoughts on it? If you are a mama or mama-to-be, I highly recommend getting this satchel. They also have the Chelsea in a backpack, too!!

Donut + Chocolate + Sprinkles... YASSS!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

In case you missed the memo, today is National Donut Day!

We celebrated the day by heading over to our favorite donut shop this morning to enjoy their yummy goodness! The gourmet donut shops have all these delicious donuts topped with oreos, bacon and maple syrup, nutella, and bananas and peanut butter — but this ole gal loves her "plain jane" donuts. I like them glazed and chocolate glazed, and that's really it!

However, the girls prefer their donut topped with chocolate and sprinkles. Who can blame them? They are colorful, messy, and F U N! We each enjoyed a donut at the shop this morning, but of course we came home with more for tomorrow's breakfast and so daddy could enjoy some! Hope you got to celebrate this delicious the day! We sure did!!

Hello June! Hello Birthday Month!!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I'm just going to put this out here — E V E R Y O N E loves to celebrate their birthday. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Birthdays, no matter how old you are, should be special. Go ahead, make a big deal out of your day; actually, make a B I G deal A L L month!

Things that should always happen to celebrate your birthday:

C A K Ethere should always be cake! Chocolate on chocolate is my favorite.   

P R E S E N T Ssomething you want, something you need, and a surprise!

D I N N E Ra meal at your favorite restaurant with family and friends!

And speaking of presents... does anyone else clam up when someone asks you what you want? Knowing very good and well that you know exactly what you want, but you don't want to start spitting out all the things you want when someone asks? No? Yes? I'm not the only one? Well, that's okay. I have a solution. I'm making a running list of everything I want. Big, small, inexpensive, expensive — I'm listing it all out. And, I'm going to have the list readily available so when someone asks, I can look at that list and decide what I should tell them. Let's face it, I'm getting to that age where everything I want, and need, is expensive. So, I'm going to try to remember to think about small stuff to put on there, too.

So, you want to know what a middle aged 30 year old wants for her birthday? Wait, am I really about to be a middle aged 30 year old? How did I get to be in my mid 30s? I used to think 40 and 50 were old, but the closer I get to those numbers, the more I'm realizing that it's not old. Sorry mom and dad for calling y'all old at 40! Okay, enough sulking. I'll just pour myself a big ole glass of prune juice and deal with it. Back to the presents. While I know I won't be getting all of these presents for my birthday this year, (or I better not be, unless we won the lottery!) this is just visual board to show things that I'm interested in not only for my birthday, but Christmases, Anniversaries, etc. And maybe it can give you some ideas if you are struggling on what I ask for.

1 - Amazon Echo I'm a music lover! I would have music playing 24/7 if I could get away with it. But I really want a bluetooth speaker to play my music that's portable so I can take it outside on our screened in porch and have it inside, too. I've been looking at this Echo on Amazon, and I think this would not only give me the bluetooth speaker that I'm wanting, but it has so much more to offer as well! But, I also like this one because you can take it to the pool or outside and don't have to worry if it gets wet.

2 - Compact Camera I love my Canon 6D, but it's really a pain to carry it to the zoo, pool, etc. And we are gearing up for our Disney vacation later this year, and I know I will not want to haul in another backpack with all the other stuff we already have to carry in for the girls. So, I've been doing a lot of research, and I've decided to go with this one from Amazon. You can preorder it now, or wait til June 6th to order. It's been a really long time since I've had a small point and shoot camera, and the reviews from last year's model of this one are terrific! So I can't wait to get my hands on this one and start photographing with it!

3 - Third Wedding Band Okay, okay, I know this technically isn't something to ask for, but I've been wanting a third band for awhile. I L O V E my wedding set! However, I wouldn't mind adding a third band that's a little different to the mix. I like this one, but I'm open to others. This one is from Diamonds Direct.

4 - Birthstone Bands I have a Mother's ring that Terry and the girls gave me two years ago. I love it, and wear it daily. I love the idea of stacking a solid band of their birthstones on either side of it. Or, some days just wearing the bands, to give a different look. If they offer these with their three band sale, I'd get our anniversary month (March) to have in the center just like my Mother's ring. Everly Stackable Bands are redesigning these birthstone bands and they will be for sale in a few weeks. I can't wait to see the redesign, and I have my fingers crossed that these will be on my hand in the future!

5 - Gift Cards Yes I know it's generic, and very impersonal, but sometimes you can use these to help buy the gifts you are really wanting. So giving an Amazon gift card, or even gift cards to go out to eat can make someones day. That's the gift that keeps on giving because by the time you get to use your gift card, you remember why and how you got it.

6 - Doormat I can't tell you how many times I pass by the cute doormats at Target and love them, but never remember to purchase one. Well, we need one, badly. The one we've had is the one we've had since we got married. Except I do put a different one out for Fall and Christmas. So, I thought this would be a fun gift that is something we need, and want. Target has some really cute designs, but I think this one is my favorite!

What do you ask for when your birthday rolls around? I might need to add it to my running list of things. ;)

Zoo Fun & Spray Chalk Art

Sunday, May 28, 2017

We're right in the middle of our Memorial weekend, and we decided to spend the day outside as much as possible. Rain is in the forecast for all of next week, and we needed to get some energy out before we are forced indoors.

This morning we took a trip to the zoo. We have a membership and the girls and I have gone four times this spring, but this was the first time daddy has gotten to go with us since we usually go during the week. We rode the train to see the pirate exhibit, saw the monkeys playing, elephants eating, birds making lots of noise, and even saw a friend that I haven't seen in a few years since she moved to Mobile! We even had lunch at the zoo today, and everyone ate their meals. S C O R E!!! And no zoo trip is complete without one three rides on the carousel. The pictures below are of one "patiently" waiting for the train to move and who is not into pictures, and one who couldn't be happier to be on her favorite giraffe on the carousel.

Once we were home, one napped and one didn't. Let's just say the one who has been fussing all day isn't the one who napped. Even though she needed it. Late in the afternoon we went outside to enjoy some more time outdoors. I found some spray sidewalk chalk in the Target Dollar Bins a few weeks ago and went ahead and purchased for some summer fun. And for $4, it was well worth the money. We ALL had so much fun creating fun art in the driveway.

I sorta made or attempted to make an American Flag. The red sidewalk chalk ended up more like pink. The girls and Terry worked on decorating the inside of a heart. Once I finished my sad attempt on the flag, the girls came over to add to it. So after all was said and done (and after the picture below was taken, it was red, blue, pink and green.

We're having a great weekend, but are humbled for the men and women who gave their all for our great country!
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