Summertime

About a month ago Henry turned one! We had a big family party. It was fun, but a little sad to realize that this would be our last first birthday party.

Henry

Henry

He loved his cake! I ordered it, poor kid, but it was delicious. This was the lamest first party yet. You can tell he’s the fourth child.

A week or so later we headed to Florida for our first family vacation. We’ve made a few quick trips down there, but we only had the two littles with us. This time we took a whole week to spend together before dropping the bigs off with their dad.

We spent some time with my aunt on the first day, recuperating from the very long drive. Henry does not travel well, even when driving overnight hoping he would sleep. He did not! He cried or yelled every few minutes after a three hour “nap” until we got to ihop for breakfast, 7 hours later (10 hours total).

Hotel room

Our hotel room was awesome. There was enough room for all of us to sleep and room for the kids to play and roam around. We stayed at the hotel in Lakeside Village. We loved it!

Our next stop was Legoland. Even in the dead of Summer it was amazing.

HenryIt was crazy hot. We just got used to being dirty and sticky at all times.

Legoland We play mostly with Duplos, so this blew our minds.

Legoland Getting our feet wet with the first ride.

Legoland

Legoland Noah was in heaven!

Legoland We let Henry walk around in a play area and he went straight for the sticks.

Legoland After viewing miniland we stopped for a picture. My aunt came with us to Legoland. :o)

Nora's racecar We stopped inside and let the kids build racecars. You are given a set of wheels at the door and then you build as you please until you’re ready to test your car.

Everything is awesome Everything is [totally] awesome. (Lorelei disagrees, so she stayed next to my aunt while we stood in line for this picture.)

The next morning we headed to Anna Maria Island where we would stay for 3 nights. We got there kindof late, so we just settled in after getting some groceries for our rental house. We did go put our feet in the water after dinner (a mere 60 steps away), but we didn’t “go to the beach” until the following morning.

Anna Maria Island I wondered if Lorelei would be scared of the beach, but she loved it.

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island Noah loves sifting through sand for shells and sand fleas. Yuck!

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island

That first day at the beach we went out in the morning for a couple of hours and then back out after lunch. My friend Nicole came with her kids late that afternoon and my kids really enjoyed their visit. (I, of course, loved catching up with my friend.) The second day at the beach (our last night) we went out in the morning with my aunt and uncle who were visiting, but Henry was pretty tuckered out and I was sick of the beach by lunch.

Anna Maria Island

I had a hard time at the rental house and I’m not sure I would do it again. It was rough for me because it isn’t home which made me very homesick. The rental that we had chosen was not a good one for Henry and we spent much of the time keeping him out of places or kissing his boo-boos. He wasn’t sleeping well at night either. I was up 4-5 times with him Friday night, so I got up (frustrated) Saturday morning, grabbed my camera and went out in the early morning light while Henry hung out with Daddy. I got some great shots and a nice break from being mommy.

Dolphin Dolphin?

Boats This is walking away from the beach and towards the docks.

Breakfast I walked back the other way to the beach and saw so many birds getting breakfast.

feather

Anna Maria Island By the time it was light out I was ready to say goodbye to the beach.

We had a great vacation. We enjoyed spending some laid back, quality time together and I look forward to the next one.


Florida Trip

We were last in Florida about a year ago. It was very soon after we had moved to NC, too soon maybe, and although we enjoyed seeing our friends and family, Lakeland still had some sad memories and annoyances for us.

This trip was different. A year is a long time and a lot can change. A lot has changed in Lakeland; new roads, buildings, restaurants and a lot has changed for us; Jason got a promotion at work and we have settled into living life in NC as well as having a new little one on the way. All of this added up to a lovely trip to Florida. Enough time had passed to heal old wounds and for us to truly feel that we were visiting instead of returning to an old life.

We got in around dinnertime and took our friends Barb, David, Nathan and Jackie out to dinner. We went to TGI Fridays and had a blast catching up and introducing them to Pot Stickers.

Our first full day (there would be only two) was spent seeing old clients and friends of Jason’s in Winter Haven and Auburndale. We first went to Black & Brew (a favorite lunch place of mine) and walked around Downtown and through Barnett Park. We reminisced about getting married at the Terrace and our weekly walks around Munn Park when we were dating. Good memories!

It was very cold, but nothing compared to what we have in NC right now. The positive thing was we were practically the only ones at the park and wandering around Lake Mirror.

We then headed out to Auburndale for Jason to check out his Wireless system at International Market World and again, to say hi to old friends. We ended up walking around the market and finding a few treasures. We also grabbed some Hot-boiled peanuts. YUM!

We met up later that evening with my good friend, Nicole and her family at Stevi B’s, a pizza buffet with a game room for the kids. It was crazy fun with 6 kids between us from 18 months to 7 years and it was good to see them before their trip to Disney that weekend.

We started having some issues with the radiator in the truck that evening and determined that it would have to be changed out before returning home. I am very thankful that Jason is so handy. He went up to Discount, bought a new one and changed it out in the parking lot. His mechanical services were solicited during the change-over, but thankfully he has learned to say no. ;o)

We finally made it to my aunt’s house around lunchtime. She took us to Burger21 at Lakeside Village (a quick stop at Baskin Robbins for ice cream after) and then on to Common Ground park with the kiddos. There were SO MANY kids there! I should not have been surprised, it is a very popular park. It got warmer and warmer while we were there, but the kids had a blast. After a quick wardrobe change at my aunt’s for her and I, we went to Lake Morton to feed the ducks. That lake is so special. I fed the ducks there as a child and enjoyed sharing the experience with the girls. You have to work hard to find some actual ducks to feed, but we did and had a great time.

This was Lorelei’s first time feeding the ducks and the ducks had a blast getting whole pieces of bread from her!

We went home after that and planned to meet up later for a game night at Barb’s. I was happy that Jason’s friend (and mine now too) Carrie and her husband could come over to play. The game we decided on was Dominoes, Mexican Train specifically, and with eight of us playing it was interesting to say the least. I can definitely say that Dominoes is not my game, but we had fun regardless.

Sunday morning we decided to visit our old church, Church in the Meadows. We haven’t found a church here and missed it and our old friends there. We loved seeing everyone and enjoyed singing favorite hymns and hearing the message Tim the pastor had prepared. After we stopped at Lake Miriam Publix for lunch (wow, biggest changes of all) we headed home.

We had such a good time in Florida and plan to visit again next Christmas and possibly make this a yearly event.


Ashevillelujah

Baby it’s cold outside and I am one size (maybe two) bigger than I was last winter. Since this year will most likely kill me -death by freezing- I will need to get warmer clothes and since I would rather not walk around in Faded Glory, a trip to Asheville was needed. Pronto!

I ran over for a couple of hours today with Nora and the baby. This was my first trip driving all by my lonesome, but I had my handy dandy navigator on my phone to guide me. Seriously do not know what I would do without it. Stay home? :o/ Probably not, but it does make it easier to get around in unfamiliar territory.

The trees are gorgeous! There is a major hill needed to climb over to get to Asheville and it felt like the mountains were right on top of me in beautiful golden colors. It was a great start along with our first stop, Starbucks. I was able to get a yummy tall, vanilla, soy cappuccino (I haven’t chanced a make-believe at the Ingles Starbucks in Clayton) and sit quietly in a busy Starbucks that had almost as bad of a parking lot as Beacon Rd in Lakeland. I was loving it! City! I love you! People, who are cute and trendy and rude instead of smiley and country. A nice change for the day. I’m hoping to convince Jason to move to the city when the kids are grown or almost before we settle down into pinkledinkin’ retirement. I may have to drag him there or perhaps he will visit me on weekends. ;o) Anyway, after that we went to…yep…you guessed it, Target! Where we spent the rest of our time browsing the entire store getting Target-only essential items and and some warmer clothes including BOOTS!

I bought my very first pair of skinny jeans, which were on sale btw, and make me feel a little bit retarded, they are a must with most boots. I wasn’t planning on getting any boots just yet, but they were on mega sale and super cute! One pair was an “online item” returned to the store and exactly my size. Retail $45 on clearance for $11. The other pair was brown “booties”, very short boots, for only $12. I expected to spend at least $30 on one pair, so I was extremely happy to find these deals.

Last on my list was to run into Whole Foods for toothpaste that I can only get there or online. My navigator took me to Merrimon St, an area of Asheville I haven’t been to which is much more upscale. The store was a Greenville Grocery on the outside and a Whole Foods (completely with wall-to-wall Hipsters) inside and sadly they did not carry my toothpaste. Don’t worry the trip was complete when Lorelei decided to pee on me. We did a quick change and headed home, but not before we stopped at Dunkin Donuts (it’s the little things) for yummy snack and breakfast tomorrow morning. :o)

It has been a crazy week and the weekend promises to be the same. It is that time of year again, busy busy holidays and family time. We will be visiting the Pumpkinfest in Franklin and the Pumpkin Chunkin in Hayesville tomorrow. Woohoo!


Highlights of My Weekend in Portland


Playing on (and eating) the grass for the first time

Shopping for lovely yarn in an adorable knit shop

Feeling inspired in a beautiful fabric store right next to the knit shop

NOT enjoying bubble tea, but definitely enjoying the company

Making apple pie with strange ingredients

Being enlightened by a passionate Pastor

Enjoying watching the kids get to know each other (and in Briana’s case learn that babies don’t have cooties)

Jack-in-the-box!! OMW, they have THE BEST TACOS!! What?! A mini funnel cake?! No. way.

Playing the best game ever (Hand and Foot) with my favorite partner in crime while the baby plays quietly (or not so quietly) on the floor.

I so enjoyed the short time spent with Misty in Portland. I wish it were easier to trek the 3000 miles, so we could see each other more often!


Bird-a-tat-tat

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon this image:

I really liked it, so I just filed it away as a possible tattoo someday. Over the years I kept coming back to it and it began to have meaning for me. Life went on and it continued to stay filed away. At one point I printed it out and it hung above my desk. Lately, I have begun to really want to get another tattoo. Had I still been in Lakeland, I would have gone to Black Swan because they are awesome and that’s where I got my quill done. But, alas, I live in Franklin and am a little hesitant to try out a new place all on my own.

I contemplated getting it done in Portland because Misty and her husband recently had one done and knew of a great place, but I put it out of my mind and dismissed the idea. Once I got there, however, I loved Misty’s tattoo and after mentioning that I would really like to get one done she was all for it. :o) That is what I love about my friend, she is always up for an adventure and super supportive. We called an made an appointment at Icon Tattoo with Kirsten for Sunday evening.

I emailed her the image and told her what I had in mind, which is not a typical tattoo, but mostly shading only. As the appointment got nearer I began to get nervous, for two reasons; one, it hurts and two, it’s permanent. I knew that she would have to probably freehand the image and would most likely make some changes, I just hoped I would like it.

We arrived and was taken a little bit by surprise. She is quite the strong personality! Not necessarily in a bad way. When I’m nervous or there is tension I usually laugh or crack a joke to lighten the mood. She was confused by my laughter, but we eventually got on the same page. I loved what she did with the image, which was clean it up and give it some depth. She added some cute details as well.

I began to get excited once we had it placed in the perfect spot on my arm. Misty was crucial to this piece of the puzzle (oh my, I can put it on my other arm? lol). I had to lay down in such a way that I felt I was at the dentist and omw I HATE the dentist, but it was the best placement of my arm for her to do her best work, so I went with it. I was prepared for excruciating pain, but it was really not that bad. I also thought that the inside of my arm would hurt the most, but it was the outside that hurt worse! Interesting… Kirsten got to work and an hour later she was done. I can’t tell you the feeling of seeing it in the mirror. It was so pretty and I had imagined it for so long, I was a little bit speechless. We took pics and she wrapped it up (ow!). We then proceeded across the street to Mint for celebratory Pineapple Drops! Yum! If you ever go to Portland, you must go to Mint for cocktails!

I know you are wondering where Lorelei was this whole time. She was with Misty’s mom, Donna, while we were gone and had a good time with her. No crying! I was relieved and so glad to get some time with my friend alone (though I was worried). Thanks Donna!

It was a great ending to a lovely weekend with my best friend. The meaning of the tattoo is very simple. I was in Portland and I thought what better way to celebrate than to “put a bird on it”! Just kidding! The bird is colored blue to symbolize happiness, not just that I am happy, but to remind me that happiness is a choice. The orange flowers aren’t just pretty, they symbolize my husband and together the image reminds me to work hard every day on my marriage, that happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy with him. He makes it easy. ;o)

Icon Tattoo
The inside, so lovely!
The artist at work
The finished piece

Travelin’ Light

I left Thursday afternoon and headed to Asheville Airport just barely making my flight. I will say that I have never experienced such kindness from strangers as much as today.

I was proud of myself for simply making it to the airport. I was nervous about the flight, but I put on my Moby, grabbed my two carry-on bags and the ugly carseat. I did well until I came to a set of about six narrow stairs. While contemplating exactly how I was going to pull this off, two gentleman approached (one very old and one middle-aged with two children toddling behind him) and proceeded to grab my stuff. Yay! I checked in my carseat and went through security. Everything was pretty normal until they wiped down my hands with a small, white and square piece of paper. Gun powder residue? I do not know… I was told to have my seat changed once I got to my gate. The seat I had chosen did not have an extra oxygen mask for the baby, so the dude bumped two chicks to the single aisle (and I do mean single, as in one-seat aisle) and gave us the now empty seats.We certainly needed them!

The flight went pretty well. Lorelei had slept all the way to the airport, so for the 2.5 hour flight she played. Because she doesn’t sit and play she is usually either standing or on her tummy, this is where she was for half the flight:

image

She stood in front of me between my legs and chewed on this pink hippo. I took a pic of us before the airplane took off.

image

Once we landed in Houston I trucked it from one end of the massive airport to the other. I snapped a pic of my ridiculousness on the shuttle.

image

I managed to eat dinner at the only place with a highchair (to give my arms a rest! Lorelei screamed the whole time. Quiet on the plane screaming in the restaurant, lol. It was passed 9pm at this point and I was already so tired. I knocked my full glass of ice water all down my pants and all over the floor! That woke me up! We managed to eat, go potty and get to the plane before take-off. As I boarded the plane, all eyes were on me and my potentially loud baby. We lucked out again and had an empty seat next to us and a very nice lady in the third seat. Lorelei was restless until take-off, but she quieted down and went to sleep. She slept the whole flight while I watched movies. I tried to sleep, but I just couldn’t. I was uncomfortable and so over-tired. I just hoped that she would sleep once we got to Misty’s.

The four hour flight wasn’t that bad and once we landed the nice lady offered to get my bag down (the flight attendant put it up for me). I was amazed at how many people were so kind to me through this whole experience and maybe a little bit more practiced at letting people help me. :o) I was so happy to be in Portland and to see my friend! She and her husband picked me up and we were on our way.

It was neat to see their home. I enjoy seeing things in her house that are familiar and her kids are so big! I am amazed to find that life just keeps on going, but somethings remain the same. My friend is still the beautiful friend I remember. I look forward to spending time with her and seeing what has changed and relearning those idiosyncrasies that make her and her family who they are. It is sure to be a great weekend!


Gearing Up for Travel

Lorelei and I leave tomorrow on a weekend trip to Portland to visit my good friend, Misty. I am so looking forward to spending a few days in her company! Even traveling alone it is hard work to fly in an airplane 3000 miles. Even if it was a nonstop flight (which are rare) it would take 6 hours to get there. Better than the three days of driving of course! With an almost 7 month old, it should be fun! *insert maniacal laugh here*

My flight to Portland consists of a layover in Houston, TX. (I get to visit the Chicago airport on the way back) It is the typical length of a layover, 1.5 hours, but it is at 9pm Central Time. I will arrive in Portland at 1130p Pacific Time, which is 330a Eastern Time (our time). These are the flights people; unless I want to take a red eye, which I don’t. I have NO IDEA how Lorelei will do on the plane. I researched some traveling tips and the main one is to nurse her during take off and landing. I’m not sure if she will though because she gets easily distracted. I’m imagining trying to feed her while internally freaking out that the plane is going to explode, while she pops on and off spraying my seatmate with breast milk and flashing everyone on the plane with 2 hrs to go until landing and that’s just the first flight. The second flight is 4.5 hours.

Some Moms have said that their child practically slept the entire time. That would be good and bad. Good because I wouldn’t need to keep her happy for 6 hours and bad because of the time difference and the fact that we will need to go to sleep once we get there. It was also suggested to purchase a few new toys for her to play with. She needs new toys, so I will definitely be doing this. Others have said that their child was fascinated with a toothbrush or a bottle of water. As long as she isn’t screaming the whole time she can pretty much play with whatever she wants.

Because I don’t want to spend upwards of $50 and check my bag, I will be trying my best to cram everything into a carry-on. I am also allowed to take the diaper bag, in addition, but this will severely limit what I can bring! On our overnight trip to the cabin for Amber’s wedding I brought three bags! This will be 4 nights and much cooler weather. Challenge? I accept. :o) As long as I can use the washer and dryer during our stay… I will also be bringing a carseat (which is free to check), but not my favorite, the ugly blue one since it is easier to install in the car and lighter, plus I don’t care if it gets lost or broken. Can you imagine me, with Lorelei in the Moby, with a carry-on, a diaper bag, and a carseat with the base attached trucking through the airport? I’ll have to take a pic. Hopefully the small Regional airport in Asheville has curbside check-in (doubtful) or that will be me. lol

No matter how it goes this trip is definitely set to be an adventure!


Walk with Mom

Sunday morning, while in NC, I was hoping to take my mom for a walk either in or near the woods and asked Jason if he knew of any mild trails. He recommended the one near the Greenway park. This park is amazing and has a river and woods nearby, so I thought, perfect!

Well, it was more like Lake Hollingsworth… It had zero shade and although it is about ten degrees cooler in NC it was still blazing by midday. We enjoyed (somewhat) are walk and enjoyed even more the a/c when we got back in the car. On our way back to the car, I heard these moms talking about a swim diaper, but really a cloth diaper and I turned and saw a cutie in a cloth diaper! Have yet to see this in Lakeland, so I was thrilled! The park has a section like Barnett Park with the fountains coming up out of the ground. We will certainly be going there this Summer.

Here are a few pics from our walk:

The river!

Us in the blazing sun!

Baby pinecones!


Then and Now

While we were in North Carolina we took my mom to visit the waterfall near Highlands (sadly, I only know it as the”highlands waterfall” and not its real name).

You may remember this waterfall because it is the place that Jason proposed to me. :o) It was fun to go back and see it again and to share this place with my mom*.

Then:

Now:

*Who took this picture without really any warning… lol