Ice Cream, Sand Tunnels, & the 4th of July!

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Last year we did something so fun on the 4th of July, that we decided to make it a tradition! We drive around with the windows down, and the sunroof open, blasting our favorite patriotic songs. Meanwhile, the boys hang out of the van, furiously waving their little American flags. Last summer, we just drove around the neighborhood waving to our friends and neighbors along the way. This year, we were still down on the Outer Banks, enjoying our family beach week! So as July 4th came around, after a full day on the beach and some yummy homemade ice cream, it was time to roll those windows down!

We turned into our little beach house neighborhood and as the boys poked their body’s out into the wind, we turned up the volume as loud as it could go! We were having a blast waving our flags and singing along! What we failed to notice, was the police officer following us down the street! (Oops!) He eventually pulled us over. Once he realized we were just a family having some fun, and not some wild, drunk, hooligans, he laughed and let us off with a warning!

Maybe we should just stick to our own little quiet neighborhood next year!? It was definitely a funny experience and a memory we’ll never forget!

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Our day spent on the beach was full of swimming, boogie boarding, digging a giant sand tunnel, and casting our net for little fish and crabs!

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And then, of course, we had to cool off visiting a cute little homemade ice cream shop! The ice cream melted faster than the kids could eat, but who doesn’t love messy little ice cream covered mouths? Lucy even got to eat the end of Curtis’ cone and was so excited she couldn’t stop dancing!

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Wonderful memories were made and I can’t wait for our beach week to roll around again next summer! For now, we’ll just keep watching the PART 2 video of our awesome Beach Vacation, and you should too!

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Beach Week Part 1 Photos

Part 1 Beach Vacation VIDEO!

The Dress Every Nursing Mama Needs!

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I brought my flowy wrap dress to the beach a couple weeks ago to wear to church. One evening, the sunset was just too beautiful to pass up a fun photo shoot with my mom and sister, and of course I had to wear this dress!

A flowing dress + the ocean winds + sunset = the perfect combination!

I love wrap front dresses lately! They are great for easy access for nursing. I snatched this dress up from Piper & Scoot while I was still pregnant because I knew I’d need something forgiving in the tummy area, and with a no-fuss option for breastfeeding! It has worked out great so far! Another thing that I love about wrap dresses is how they make your curves look good and your waist look small!

We had so much fun snapping away at some pictures that night at the beach, with Curtis and my sisters husband making us giggle! Here are a few of my favorite shots from that night!

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My dress is no longer available, but below I rounded up some really cute wrap dress options for you! Just click the photo, then the link below each photo will take you straight to it! Hopefully you fellow nursing mama’s out there will find something you like! I find it SO important to find post-baby outfits that are not only functional, but that make you feel GOOD! Don’t you!?

Dear Lucy…

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Watching you turn one was not the easiest for me, and to be honest, the past year wasn’t very easy for me either (which I’ll explain in a post coming soon…). But as I looked over all of our photos from the day you were born until now, all I remember are the good moments! I see you as the little blonde sunshine in our home!

When you wake up in the morning (and after every nap), everyone races to be first into your room to coo and kiss you. And you welcome the love with big smiles and lots of babbling talk. Oh how I wish I knew what you were saying! You sure do have a lot to tell us! There are a couple words that we do understand like Mama, Dada, Dog, Bubble, Diaper, Bird, and Vacuum!

Your pointer finger is constantly extended so you can show me everything you see! You started walking about a month ago and you love to make your way around the house, curious about what’s behind all the cabinet doors and finding the best lego wheel to chew on! You love swimming, and I get such a good workout chasing you around the shallow end of our pool! As soon as your feet step into the water, you take off running with delight! It was so fun to see you enjoy splashing in the ocean too!

You are quite the picky eater and I struggle to keep you well fed! But you love anything that comes out of a pouch and I often just blend up our dinner, thinking how gross it is, and you gobble it right up. I’ll keep trying and hopefully one day you’ll stop watching your food fall to the floor as you lean over the side of your high chair! One thing that you DO love is dogs and any fluffy stuffed animal! Every night you sleep with your doggy and your blanky.

On your birthday, we played at the book store and you picked out a book with cute little flowers and bunnies and flaps that you love to open and close. You gobbled down ice cream after lunch and couldn’t stand the wait between bites! After dinner we turned on your new bubble blower and I’ve never seen you so excited! We gave you a cupcake and as we sang, I could tell you felt how truly special you are to us. As you tested out the cupcake, you kept looking up at us for approval. “Are you sure you want me to eat this sticky thing?” You liked the taste but weren’t so excited about the messy feeling!

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Lucy Grace, with your cute little teeth and your crazy hair, we love you! Thank you for bringing so much happiness and laughter into our home! Happy First Birthday Goosey Girl!

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Lucy’s Bow

Lucy’s Birth

Our Family Beach Vacation, Part 1 || Oak Island, NC

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Let’s start the day with the wind in our hair and the sand between our toes.

Let’s listen to the waves crashing and smell the salty air in our nose.

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Do you hear the children laughing and the shovels digging holes?

Did you catch a fish with your nets and your fishing poles?

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I’ll never forget the warm water run over my face.

I’ll always remember the way you could’ve swam for days and days.

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Little one, learning to walk and discovering all of the sea shells…

Little one, feeling brave swimming, even in the giant swells.

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All of us are sun kissed and tired in the best way,

so let’s make sure we do this again, another beach day.

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:: black ruffle swimsuit :: floral swimsuit :: kid’s sea green swimmers :: Lucy’s blue suit

SEE FOR YOURSELVES…HERE’S PART ONE…ENJOY 🙂

 

 

 

A Hilarious Read-Aloud Book & Our Summer Reading Challenge!

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So often, when the boys are out of school, we get so busy that any sort of learning goes out the window! I love planning fun activities for the kids, but I also want to make sure they don’t fall behind in their school work! This summer, I decided that we were going to slowwww down, enjoy just being together rather than making a bunch of plans, and spend a lot of time reading!

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To make this happen, I set up a chore/reward chart for the kids (which I’ll write all about soon!). As part of their morning chores, they have reading time while Lucy takes her morning nap. They spend that time reading on their own. The boys like reading, and are great readers, but they will usually choose to play instead. I’ve found that setting that time aside specifically for reading has not only made them read more, but it has allowed them to really enjoy and get invested in some new book series!

Lucky for us, a brand new library opened up right around the corner from our home! So, we decided that we would make a trip to the library once a week during our summer break!

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Our county library’s have also implemented a fun summer reading program. Every week, in addition to picking out new books, we’ve gone to some really fun activities! So far we have built a roller coaster, saw and learned about real life owls and other “raptors,” and attended a fun magic show! It has been the perfect way to keep the boys learning, but also having some low-key summer fun!

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Here are some of the kid’s favorite reads so far this summer:

Ande: Galaxy Zack (although he’s plowing through them, and may need a more difficult series next time), Super Fly, and How The World Works

Owen: Any Easy Reader book he can get his hands on!

Milo: Froggy books, and of course Curious George!

Lucy: Any Duck & Goose books, Baby Lit books, and B is for Bear

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Placing a lot of focus on reading this summer has already been so wonderful. I can almost see their little minds expanding! Along with reading on their own, we have always loved when the kids pile on my lap and I real aloud to them.

Our absolute favorite read aloud book is called Runny Babbit! It is a collection of hilarious poems by Shel Silverstein where all of the words are switched and flopped around. We can’t get through one line of a poem without bursting into laughter! We’ve read it cover to cover several times and laugh just as much every time!

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Some of my favorite childhood memories are the nights when my mom would sit next to me on my bed and read to me. I’m so glad that I decided to make reading a priority with my kids this summer! We are enjoying the slow, quiet mornings!

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What are your kid’s favorite books!? I’m always looking for suggestions! Do you have any summer chores or goals to keep the boredom at bay?

Let’s Talk: Body Image

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A few weeks ago I was at the gym doing squats and for the first time in a really longggg time, I saw myself in the mirror and thought, “You know what? It’s not terrible. I can work with this.”

I’ve since joked about my “revelation” with friends and family members, but it really got me thinking about body image, especially among women. The topic comes up often when I’m chatting with my friends. We are all mothers of young kids, but even as we’ve been in different stages (pregnancy, post-baby, a few years post baby, etc), we all still struggle with accepting our bodies. It’s so easy to pick apart the things that we don’t like. Social media definitely has something to do with it, and in my case striving to stay thin as a dancer for many years, has a lot to do with it. But I still am left wondering why it’s so hard?

I 100% love the fact that my body created 4 beautiful human beings. I loved labor because it made me feel strong and empowered. But I’ve struggled, 4 times over, to respect and embrace the body that’s left after all of those “empowering” moments have passed.

I’ve pondered on this topic a lot over the past few years, and I recently came to the conclusion that to get respect, you have to give it. If I’m tired of feeling “blah” about myself, then I need to find ways to start giving myself respect.

With this new mindset, I’ve started making changes…small changes. I’ve tweaked my diet. I don’t necessarily cut anything out, but instead I’ve added things like a lot of vegetables and more water. I’ve tapered down my caffeine intake and I’ve made rest and an earlier bed time (for me) a priority. I feel really great after a workout and so I sneak one in as often as possible! I even do squats while I brush my teeth, lunges while the popcorn pops, or ab work while Lucy and the boys play. None of these changes are groundbreaking, and I’m not necessarily trying to lose a ton of weight. I just want to feel better, not only physically, but mentally as well.

Part of making changes has also meant trying to change my mindset. It is really hard to look at myself in the mirror and not focus on the things that I don’t like, but I am really trying to add a more positive dialogue in my head. Focusing on the things I like about my body and trying not to get hung up on the “problem areas” has really been the hardest thing for me to change. But even small strides have made a difference, which brings us back to my “revelation” from earlier.

I still have down days. I still get frustrated when a pre-Lucy skirt still doesn’t fit. But when I can look at myself and say, “That’s not so bad,” I consider it a small victory, and a step in the right direction!

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(Swimsuit by Love Winnie James)

What do you think? Are you a women/mom struggling with body image like me? What are ways you give yourself respect? I’d love to know! Comment down below your thoughts, experiences, or advice!

Beach Weekend! A Girl’s Trip To Charleston!

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(my beach cover up :: my denim dress :: my bandana scarf :: my floral bathing suit :: my sister’s denim dress :: my fun blue shoes)

 

I can’t figure out what I want to say about our quick weekend trip to Charleston. It wouldn’t do it justice to just list out the different things that we did. You can’t enjoy the palm lined streets without seeing them, you can’t smell the ocean breeze without being there.

I guess what I’ll say is that, this trip was the perfect cure for a long, tiring year. I was rejuvenated by sleeping in as long as I wanted. I laughed when my mom got the giggles in the car. I felt youthful riding a beach cruiser around town. And I felt refreshed by the cool ocean waves.

I can’t express enough gratitude for my mom and sister who helped me feel special, and to Curtis for giving the kids the time of their lives back home. And let’s not forget my dad, who went shopping (on his own!) and decked me out in some fun beachwear for the weekend! What more could a girl ask for, for her 32nd birthday!?

I had just enough footage from our trip to make a short video to remember it by! I hope you enjoy!

 

5 Essentials For a Weekend at the Beach!

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I keep forgetting that my birthday is tomorrow! For some reason I’m just not feeling that excited about it this year! But what I haven’t forgotten and what I am excited about is the weekend trip that my mom planned for us and my sister! We are travelling down to Charleston, SC, a place I haven’t been since I was 16! I am excited for the time to relax and enjoy the sunshine, but also to just be with two of my favorite people!

I have spent he week figuring out what I wanted to pack, and so I thought I would share some of the things I think would be essential for a fun little weekend beach getaway!

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From top to bottom, and right to left:

:: The Wategos Roundie Towel, The Beach People :: :: Artisan Lobo Beach Bag, Nena and Co :: :: SeaBreeze Seagrass Hat, Gigipip :: :: Classic Wedge Sandals, Land’s End :: :: Denim Wrap Dress, Gap ::

I am loving denim dresses right now, kind of a throw back to the 90’s, but they are so perfect for summer! I tried on this wrap dress from gap, and it was so cute! Topping the outfit off with a wedge sandal and a straw hat makes it great for walking around some small shops on a warm summer day. I love the criss-cross ankle strap on these wedges! Along with a lot of shopping, my mom, sister, and I plan do a lot of laying out on the beach! What could be more perfect than bringing along all of your sunscreen, cameras, snacks, and a book in this beach bag, and reading that book out on this big comfy towel!

Wouldn’t those be the cutest items to pack along for a weekend at the beach? I’m so excited for our trip to Charleston this weekend! I’m praying for good weather and for my babies to behave for Curtis while I’m gone!

 

A few more things that I wouldn’t leave home without:: my camera :: this book :: these pajamas

 

What would you pack?

Dear Ande,

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A month ago, you turned 8! And this past weekend you were baptized.

In our church, children are baptized at 8 so that they can truly understand the covenants and promises that they are making.  I am SO proud of you for choosing to be baptized, but I never doubted that you’d make that decision! One of the things I love about you is that you have always tried to make good choices. You like to follow rules and you love to do what is right! It is so clear to me why you were sent to our family first, to be the oldest brother, to be an example and help to your younger siblings. I’m so glad that you’ll be the one that they’ll be looking up to, the one to guide them to do right.

Right now, your favorite things to do are build transformers with Legos, read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, play with your neighborhood friends, love on your baby sister, play chase with Aunt Laurie’s puppy Leo, and make obstacle courses with our zip line! You also started cub scouts and look so adorable in your uniform!

On Mother’s Day, you placed a letter for me in the mailbox. When I opened it, I read, ” Happy Mother’s Day!!! You are the best! There is a surprise right about….now!” And then you gave me a giant hug and said, “Surprise!” I love your creativity and your enormous heart.

Thank you for being you, Ande. I love you!

Choose Adventure!

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Most days the afternoon slump really gets me. The older boys get home from school, throw their backpacks on the floor and are starving for a snack and are ready to tell me every detail of their day! Around this time, Lucy is also waking up from her nap, ready to play and have her snack as well! And at this same time of day, when my attention is needed most, and my little ones are ready for action, I start to feel so, so tired.

I know I should be using nap time to rest, but I find myself getting antsy, thinking about all the things I could be doing instead.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way!

Luckily, I’ve found a cure for those long afternoons. I choose to have an ADVENTURE!

Laundry can wait. A fancy home cooked meal, can wait. Homework can wait.

When I get out of the house and find an adventure with the kids, we all feel energized and happier. It’s amazing what a little sunshine and swings can do to your mood! Even when I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, we pile into the van and drive to one of our favorite parks. We end up eating bananas and sandwiches for dinner instead of vegetables and fancy pasta, but I come away smiling. I forget how tired I am when we’re riding the little train, or swinging on the tire swing, or climbing to the top of the equipment. And I’ll take those moments over feeling the gloomy afternoon slump any day!

So when you find yourself counting down the hours until bedtime…instead,

Choose Adventure