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 🙂

 

 

 

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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

Must Have, Adorable, One Piece Swimsuits!

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I know that spring barely started, but I can’t help myself from dreaming about summer already! I have been loving all of the cute one piece swimsuits this year! When I was a kid, and my mom wanted me to wear modest swimsuits, there was NOTHING cute to choose from! I always wore speedos (and pretended I was on the swim team) because it was either that, or look like a mom!

Luckily, there are SO many adorable one piece options these days! I love that they have come into style. And now that I am actually a mom, I don’t necessarily have to look like one! Although, there’s really no hiding that I have had four kids…

Below are some of my favorite swimsuits from around the inter-webs. Can you tell I love florals?

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Moving from Left to Right and Top to Bottom:

The Weekender ::  Floral Lace Halter ::  Zinnia Plunge ::  Ruffled Halter ::  The Bridgitte

 

The Floral Lace Halter is a suit that I found at Target! It is almost identical to a swimsuit at Anthropologie for a much lower cost! Isn’t that awesome?!

Which one would you choose? Can you guess which one I’ll be sporting this summer?

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“Can we speak in flowers? It will be easier for me to understand…”

-Nayyirah Waheed

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Spring, flowers, and warm weather are my love language. I know I’m not alone in how much weather affects my mood. On warm sunny days, I feel so chipper and happy and ready to conquer anything. On cold, wintry days, I am moody and sad and snappy!

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We were spoiled with an extremely warm February. We had so many beautiful 70 degree days. I was in heaven. We ventured to the park every afternoon, and I didn’t feel so bogged down by my lack of sleep. On one of these unseasonably warm days, we went to the “dragon park” (the boys have their own names for every park. ie: mulch park, castle park, blue park, etc). I wore one of my favorite dresses, snapped away with my camera, and we enjoyed a little picnic dinner!

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As I’m writing this, it is March, 30 degrees, and the wind will knock you down! I’ve been in a bad mood, refusing to take off my pajamas, with a knot in my pony tail the size of Texas, all day. I know that spring will come back eventually. But for now, I will just have to stare at these pictures and dream of happier times!

:: I got my dress at a cute little market in San Antonio, TX during our Thanksgiving road trip, but here are some similarly embroidered dress options you could try: here, here, and here! ::

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life lately

This has been such a beautiful, warm, winter so far! There have been some chilly days in the mix, but it has mostly been gorgeous weather! We have spent almost every afternoon down in our neighborhood park swinging, riding bikes, and playing with friends. The boys are all enjoying school, and Lucy recently turned 6 months old! She is loving sitting up and trying all kinds of new foods!

As for me, I have spent a lot of time getting back to the gym, listening to podcasts in the car, and trying to balance housework and getting creative again. It’s hard, and a work in progress, but fun.

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Here are some of the things I’ve been loving lately…

Must Listen Podcast: I am loving the Extraordinary Moms podcast! There’s an episode in there for everyone, and I guarantee you will come away feeling inspired!

Must Watch Show: If you love period piece films as much as I do, then you NEED to watch the latest from Masterpiece Theater, Victoria. As you can imagine, it’s about the life of Queen Victoria, and it is SO well done.

Must Wear Shoes: I am in desperate need of new tennis, and I’ve been eyeing these shoes. I mostly like them because they are cute, not sure how functional, though.

Must Eat Treat: I am a chocolate lover (chocolate obsessed, actually). I am really loving Bark Thins right now. The downside is that they are kinda pricey (imo), and I could eat the entire bag in one sitting if I’m not careful!

Most Used Item: I need organization in my life, or I don’t get anything done. I have been loving my Life Planner! It has so much room for notes, and meal planning, and anything else you can think of!