Pool fun

The boys are really blossoming into swimmers this summer! They are gaining confidence and I’m loving how independent they are trying to be! Sienna loves to practice kicking, floating, holding her breath underwater and jumping in. She doesn’t like floaties and just wants to be held and continue practicing with me!

This afternoon I got some pictures and a slow-motion video with my iPhone in a life proof (waterproof) case. 

   
            
   

   

      

1st Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

Let the summer fun begin! In order to kick off school being out and the hot weather, we decided to host our very first Ice Cream social with several neighbors of ours.  I think it was a big success! We had such a great time visiting with everyone, and the best part was that the kids all played very well together! We had water guns, kiddie pools, slide, water balloons, and of course, ice cream! Everyone chipped in and brought something which was such a big help.  The kids looked like they had a wonderful time!

 

Maybe we’ll make this a yearly tradition!  We are having a blast in our neighborhood with some pretty incredible neighbors!  Not only do we hang out during fun little get togethers like this, but I work out with some of them, go pooling with some of them, watch ‘The Bachelor/Bachelorette’ on Monday nights with them, go to the library story time together, and our kids are all great friends too! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better neighborhood for God to place us in!  We prayed for this when we were living in our townhouse, and we feel so blessed for the answered prayers!

Memorial Day- Amicalola falls

We enjoyed a fun Memorial day weekend, and having more time home as a family.  We thought it would be fun to go up to Amicalola falls, which is about an hour drive from us.  It is always such a beautiful walk to the falls, and we enjoyed visiting the Inn at the top of the mountain for lunch.  The kids had a great time enjoying nature and it was nice to get out of the house and get outdoors!

Destin Family Vaca 2015

Lots of fun memories made in Destin this year! We stayed at probably one of our favorite places. We stayed at Crystal Dunes on the ground level with a walk out straight to the beach! We try to stay on the water each year, and even though it’s more expensive, it’s just a life saver when you have small kids who whine about having to hold a towel on the way to the beach.  This place wasn’t super luxury, but it was close to everything  and had a decent outdoor pool and hot tub.  We love the larger high rise condos, and mega pools with zero entry but they’re always set pretty far back from the water. This one was nice because even though it didn’t have fancy amenities, it was so nice to be close to the water and just open the sliding door and hear the waves morning, noon and night!


We skipped the last week of school, missing field day and a few other fun events in order to beat the rush, and save money in the process.  The prices skyrocket the following week.  This is the last year we’ll be able to miss school since Parker will be in Kindergarten next year, so we took advantage of it!  The only downside is that with the smaller crowds, sometimes they don’t offer as many boat tours as they do with the larger groups.  So this time instead of doing a snorkel cruise and shelling tour, like we’ve done in years past, we opted to do a pirate cruise since it was offered at a time that worked better for our schedule.  That was really our only scheduled thing that happened during our trip.  That and the date night… and we’ll get to that later.  So, other than the pirate cruise, we just did went to the beach, pool, visited Destin Commons, etc. We asked the kids if they wanted to do the Aquarium, and they didn’t want to. So… we didn’t force it. We just took our time and relaxed at the condo between our beaching, eating, pooling, going to dinner, waking up and repeating…  It was amazing!


As for pictures during our trip… I started to use my DSLR, but then I didn’t want to lug it around, so I mainly used my iPhone 6.  I just didn’t want to risk getting a bunch of sand in it, or not being able to enjoy my time in the water, for fear that it was going to get stolen. So, I left it behind and brought my phone that was more portable and easier to conceal.  I’m also three weeks late in posting this, so I have not edited my photos, but that’s okay!  It’s either I post my unedited photos in all their imperfections, or my posts don’t get done.

One of my very favorite  days of our trip was Mother’s Day.  For obvious reasons, because I felt a little more celebrated and appreciated, but one of the things I really loved was visiting Baytowne Warf.  We found a fun restaurant overlooking the bay, and they had live music. They played some of my favorite beach tunes and the kids were laughing and dancing. It was the best!

The kids really loved the Buccaneer pirate cruise.  We would’ve loved to have done the snorkle cruise where we go shelling, go down to the jetties and ride the kayak, but their timing just wasn’t good during our trip. The pirate cruise was definitely the highlight of the trip in the eyes of the kids. They loved it!  It wasn’t too bad for the parents either since we got to enjoy some adult beverages and just let the kids have fun with several planned activities they had on the boat with the pirates!

We made some great memories during our trip!  The kids did have a few moments of grumpiness that I would credit to the lack of sleep and excitement of the vaca and the expectations that came along with it.  We found a sitter one night to go out to dinner (thanks to a referral from a neighbor who used to live in the area), and Dan and I enjoyed a fun evening alone without the kids in Destin.  We went to McGuire’s Irish pub and ate dinner, had drinks, and then enjoyed a nice walk in Harbor Walk where we had a funny character drawn of us.  When we got home, we found out that the kids were less than well behaved with the sitter.  We were so embarrassed that they didn’t behave.  We of course disciplined them by removing privileges, but we were just really bummed and disappointed that they represented our family in such a bad way.  It’s just a reminder that even when you do the best you can to teach and raise your kids the right way, they’re still just kids, and they are full of sin and mistakes sometimes. So we didn’t dwell on it, we dealt with it and moved on, but it may be the last time we do a sitter on vacation. Especially one that our kids don’t know.

This is probably our last trip to Destin for a while.  We will have a kindergartener next year who will have to abide by ‘normal school’ scheduling.  It’s just so expensive during the summer peak times, so we’re not sure if we’ll be able to swing it for a while. We plan to go to NC and PA next year to visit family and get our beach fix that way, although we know it won’t be the same. We really enjoyed the beach time we had on the Emerald coast. Until we meet again!

Schools Out!

We had a great time celebrating Parker graduating Pre-k and Mason finishing up his 3 year old class. This year has been a bit more demanding with all the activities, class requirements, request for volunteering, etc. We are so excited about diving into the summer and all it’s glory! Here’s some sweet pictures from the end-of year program that Parker and Mason were apart of at Parkway. It’s hard to believe that Parker is a preschool graduate and won’t be joining his brother next year for preschool and that Sienna will be going to school two days in two year old preschool! The days are long, but the years are short for sure! I’m doing all I can to savor these precious years before they’re off to school all day long and get embarrassed by me calling out their name and giving them big kisses!

 

Daniel Parker Christiansen- Preschool Graduate 2015

Girls Trip to NC

Jess and I didn’t go on a girls trip last year, so we wanted to try to get together this year to hang out and get some time away. We decided it would be fun to go to Wilmington (Jess lives in Charleston) since we haven’t been there since our high school reunion back in 2010. We thought it would be fun to hit up some of our old stomping grounds that we used to frequent as well as relax at Jess’ beach house in the nearby Oak Island. Jess couldn’t get off work as early as she had originally planned to so I ended up meeting up with Rennie, Dad and Christopher for a visit. It worked out perfectly since it had been some time since we saw each other last. Dad made his amazing Louisiana style cajun jumbalaya and it was delicious!

I planned to meet up with Jess later that morning, so I decided it would be fun to catch up with an old friend I have known since elementary school that I went to church with!  My friend Sara go way back and it has been at least 13 years since we’ve seen each other last.  We’ve reconnected on Facebook of course, but due to my tight schedule while I was in town, I was never able to pay her a visit.  Until now!  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and it was so nice laughing and catching up just like old times again!  Our lives have changed dramatically, however in some ways, we are the still same girls we were from the same ‘ol beach town. IMG_4952Jess and I met up later that morning and we enjoyed catching up downtown walking through stores an grabbing a bite to eat for lunch. One fun fact… We wanted to go to our favorite pizza joint “Slice of Life” and we were so bummed when we arrived to it’s usual spot and saw that it was no longer there and had turned into something different.  How could that be? We asked each other.  It was a favorite throughout the town and certainly our favorite place.  We begrudgingly ate there anyway.  I got a salmon sandwich and Jess got a salad. Not the same as the yummy pizza we had set our minds to, but it would have to do. We left the restaurant with full bellies only to realize that directly across the street from where we were standing was in fact… you guessed it. “Slice of Life”. Ugh. Really? Of course they didn’t close! They just expanded to a bigger building! So… we must partake in the delicious pizza another time but at least we know now that our beloved pizza place hadn’t gone under. We met up with Jess’ Mom and her boyfriend for a delicious dinner that evening.  They suggested Oceanic and I wasn’t going to complain since it was arguably one of the best restaurant in Wrightsville Beach.  We had a tasty dinner with beautiful views and great conversation.  It has been many years since I had seen Jess’ Mom and I really enjoyed talking with her. After Dinner we picked up my brother Chris for a night out.  We had so much fun taking shots, playing pool, bar hopping, dancing, doing some Karaoke.  So much fun! Chris recently turned 21 in February (so crazy how time flies) and it was our first time out on the town together!  He was so fun to have along with us and I’m not sure we’d have as fun of a time without him!

After a late night out, we decided to take it easy the next day, and then drive up to Jess’ beach house in Oak Island.  We were pretty beat so we did a lot of lounging around. I rented a movie from red box, the Nicole Kidman flick “Before I Go To Sleep”.  It was really good. It is very suspenseful and keeps your interest.  After that, we enjoyed a walk on the beach with her sweet dog Ruby and then met up with Jess’ Mom again for dinner in South Port which is pretty close to Oak Island. The next day we decided to go paddle boarding in Davis Creek, a nearby inlet that funnels to the waterway. There were rumors of alligators there, so I was a bit nervous but everything ended up just fine and it was a nice relaxing time in nature.  Just what the doctor ordered! We ended with some shopping in South port in some of their cute shops that had clothing stores, antiques, a lunch by the water and ice cream! Even though sometimes people change and they end up not being who you think they are, it was still a fun trip and can’t wait until I can make it back up to Wilmington again.

Over a decade of Love!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since we’ve said “I do”!  We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary on March 19th! Our journey has been anything but easy, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that my life got infinitly better the moment we decided to take our vows in marriage!

Danandsharonwedding

In ten years, we’ve gone through some challenges.  Between the deaths of several family members that are close to us, miscarriages, surgeries, health issues, job changes and other marriage strains… we’ve had our fair share of heart ache.  We’ve also enjoyed some amazing blessings; welcoming three healthy babies, getting to be a  stay-at-home Mom to them, finding a great church home, moving into our dream home,  meeting some incredible people, taking memorable vacations and watching precious milestones… we’ve been by each other’s side through these immeasurable blessings!

There is one thing I am absolutely sure of.  Cliche or not, we couldn’t have done any of this without us leaning on God through the ups and down. Relying on him again and again to help us with life.  I seriously wonder how unbelievers get through the struggles of marriage without having God in their life! Whether it was bringing the right people in our life at the right time to love on us, encouraging us through our church, small group, or our pastor’s message or prayer.  Sometimes it was allowing us to make mistakes so that we can further rely on God for his purpose and plan.  We certainly couldn’t do it without his guidance! We are still working on submitting ourselves to one another and to God {We are FAR from perfect} so that we can be a better spouse, child of God, and a living example to our children. We are constantly a work in progress.

One of the passions that Dan and I both share is our love of travel! We wanted to get away for our ten year, but we didn’t want to be too far away from our three munchkins so we decided to head up to the Georgia Mountains. Helen to be exact.  I had been there as a young child, but I don’t really remember it much, and we go to Dahlonega so frequently that we decided to try something different.  My Mom offered to watch  the kiddos so we could get away, and we are so thankful for her. The kids love spending time with her, and they were so happy to have her stay for a night.

Dan gets major brownie points for finding this amazing Bed and Breakfast outside of Helen with some of the most beautiful views of the mountains I’ve ever seen! The name of the place is called Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn and Spa and it is absolutely everything they claim that it is. A beautiful retreat with amazing views, a delicious selection of desserts in the evening and a delicious breakfast in the morning.  We got a fairly standard room and it was really all we needed.  We also took advantage of their spa and enjoyed a nice couple’s massage on the last day.

We drove up on Saturday and we decided to take a short trail walk up to Ana Ruby Falls.  It was beautiful and the weather was in the 60s and warming up, so it was perfect for the hike.  The falls were beautiful and it was so nice and peaceful being in nature together!  After the hike, we went to explore Helen.  It is cute town with the German inspired charm but a little more touristy than we would’ve liked.  Touristy in the sense that almost every store had cheap souvenirs instead of real mom and pop stores that housed mountain art or authentic house ware goods and/or designer boutiques.  Not that I need a boutique-style shopping everywhere I go, but I could do without the cheap shot glasses, lighters, tshirts, etc in every shop. I did buy myself a selfie cam in one of those ridiculous shops.  I couldn’t help myself!

One of the best things we did while we were there was go to Habersham Winery.  The wine was great and it was just nice getting to try some wines and learn more about them.  The winery was right beside a huge antique mall, and we took our time roaming through the various vendors to see.  After wine, antique shopping, mini golf, and relaxing some more at the Inn, we headed to dinner at Mully’s Nacoochee Grill.  The food was delicious, the owner and staff were wonderful, and they had live music that made for the perfect setting.

One perfect day!

 

 

Our little get-away was just the thing we needed to reconnect as a couple and celebrate our ten year anniversary!  I’m so thankful that God brought Dan into my life, and I look forward to many more adventures to come in our marriage and family!

Easter Sunday 2015

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful Easter Sunday to celebrate our risen Savior! We had a great time with the family, enjoying a fun time at Stonecreek Church, a delicious brunch at The original Pancake house, and a visit to Aunt Vicki’s house for a yummy dinner complete with an Easter Egg hunt and Lego building with cousins! We were happy to have Drew and Anna and their boys with us this year. They rotate between families and we’re always delighted when it’s “our” year!

 

 

Overall, a wonderful Easter and great memories were made with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins!

Spring Photos!

I’m still learning about photography, and one of my favorite subjects to practice on is my three sweet kiddos! Here are some recent photos that I took with my Cannon 70D 28mm lens. I had the F stop at about 2.2. The F stop goes to 1.8 but I seem to get a lot of motion blur if I’m not focused enough and when I’m dealing with wiggly kiddos! My ISO is set low at about 100. I’m still learning about shutter speed, so I’m not exactly sure what that was set on. I’ve recently been “practicing” with Manual although I’m more comforable in AV mode simply because I feel I don’t know enough about shutter speed to know what I want to set it at in relation to lighting.

Nevertheless, I had a great time capturing my sweet three in their Easter attire a few days before Easter!

Parker, 5
Mason, 4
Sienna, 2

Mason’s Lego Birthday

Blogging has taken a back seat lately but I can’t forget to blog about an important milestone- Mason’s Fourth Birthday on March 11th!

Here are a few things about four year old Mason!

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1. What is your favorite thing to eat and drink?  Pineapple and Pepperoni Pizza, orange juice and water

2. What is your favorite toy and super hero? Legos, Superman and Batman

3. What is your favorite show? Matchbox Big Rig Buddies show and Leapfrog DVDs from the Library (Mason is NOT a big fan of TV or movies…it’s the weirdest thing)

4. What is your favorite thing to play with outside? The kiddie pool and the water table

5. Who is your best buddy? Gatlin (from his preschool class) and Parker and Sienna

6.  What is your favorite thing to do in school?  Play with lincoln logs

7. What is your favorite color? Red

8. What is your favorite sport? Basketball and Karate (He’s yet to play any team sports)

9. What do you want to be when you grow up? A swamp driver.  I want to take my teacher to a swamp with NO crocodiles… (ooooh kaaaay)

10. How many kids do you want to have one day?  Three kids

11. What’s your favorite thing you like to do with Mommy and Daddy? Build a HUGE HUGE lego city!

12.Where is your favorite place to go have fun? Catch Air and Cogburn Park

13. What is your favorite Music?  I love Jack Johnson and Laurie Berkner band

To say that Mason is obsessed with Legos is an understatement. The kid lives and breathes legos! He also still likes big trucks, and leapfrog (his stuffed animal he sleeps with and the educational video) but Legos take the cake for the most played with!

We really wanted to do a party at Lego Land, but it was just rediculously expensive and it had a minimum of 10 kids that had to attend that had to be paid for in full in order to fulfill the reservation.  So instead, we decided to take him to make a family trip out of Legoland and the do a small lego themed party at home.

Everyone had a great time at Legoland and there were lots of activities for everyone!  The kids loved the rides, the legos building opportunities, the 3D movie, the huge play area, the huge lego city that included a miniature version of major landmarks in and throughout Atlanta. It was so fun!

Even though Mason is very outgoing, and one of the most talkative of our kids, he also is pretty sensitive, and can get overwhelmed with a big crowd. So, we tried to keep the friends to a minimum so that he could enjoy just having a good time instead of feeling overwhelmed.

I had two lego building areas where the kids could let their imaginations run wild.  The kids had a great time with building and showing their new masterpieces to their buddies.  Then we went upstairs for a few organized activities.  Mason also loves music, so we decided to incorporate his favorite songs “Shaky Egg” (with lego filled Eggs) to sing and dance to.  Then we played the song “We Are the Dinosaurs” as we grouped them into two teams and they stomped around holding small spoons of legos to carefully dump into the bins.  The kids seemed to really have a nice time!

We looked high and low for a reasonable Lego cake, and opted to do a “Curious George” cake, minus the Curious George toy since the colors were very lego, and we added our own legos on top!  Mason loved it!

We had a really nice time celebrating with family and friends! Another year older, and another reason to celebrate!