Summer Road Trip

We did our very first summer road trip across several states as a family this summer. We started planning this because we wanted to visit my family in NC, but also Dan’s family in PA and this was a way that we could do both, and break up the trip so that it was do-able with the kids.Summer Road Trip Long car rides are hard on everyone, but with little kids, it can involve big emotions, and feelings of exhaustion. It’s hard to have much sympathy though considering when Dan and I were kids, all we had was a window to stare out of, a sibling to annoy, and if we were lucky, some books to look at. Kids these days have toys, iPads, in-vehicle entertainment with screens that play DVDs. They have so much more to keep themselves occupied. They were a few times that they all fell asleep together, and those times were gifts from God.

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We started our trip picking the boys up from their week long Stonecreek Kidzu Adventure camp at church, and went straight to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They live on a farm by Lake Hartwell and raise black angus cattle. They are truly amazing Godly people and I absolutely love every bit of time we get to spend with them. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, and Grandpa took them around the farm on his big tractor, and we got to watch Grandpa feed the cattle. The kids loved it! I wish we could spend more time there, but we were heading up to Wilmington the next day and we needed to get a head start on the trip, so we stayed overnight in Anderson, SC after our visit at the farm.

Number 1 on the Map:

 

On our second stop, we visited Dad, Rennie, and brother Christopher in Wilmington, NC. We met downtown at Slice of Life, my favorite pizza place, and then we headed over to the Serpentarium to see the crazy amount of poisonous snakes and reptiles. It was pretty  neat, but I didn’t get a lot of pictures from the Serpentarium, but the kids had a great time. We got there just in time for the feeding. It was fun, but let’s just say the staff wasn’t exactly kid-friendly. At one point, they were feeding an enormous boa constrictor large rabbits, and calling them the Easter bunny. Not Cool. Nevertheless, the kids still loved it. Parker in particular really enjoyed it.


The next day, we geared up for the beach. Dad really wanted to take the boys fishing. So, we went back to our old neighborhood, caught some pin fish to bait a crab trap, and then headed to Surf City’s Soundside Park on Topsail Island where we had lunch and went fishing.

Number 3 on the Map:

Parker, Dan, Christopher and Dad stayed at Soundside Park and fished some more, and Rennie, Sienna, Mason and myself went to the beach to catch some waves. Dan and Parker met us there a little later. It was so nice to hang at the beach that I grew up going to. So fun!

Rennie and Dad were very hospitable during our stay, and Dad made us special dinner of Beef  Stroganoff our first night, and took us out to a delicious Italian dinner our second night. We were so well taken care of during our stay, and we’re looking forward to our next visit to see them in the years to come!

From Wilmington, we made our way to Ocean City, Maryland. Dan had vacationed here with his family when he was younger, and could vouch for how fun it was. It didn’t disappoint.  Dan had saved up his hilton points from all of his business travels, and we used points to stay at the Hilton Suites in Ocean City. It was perfect. They had a fabulous outdoor swim-up bar, kids slides and kiddie pool. It was so fun. The hotel is within walking distance of the beginning of the boardwalk, so we loved how close it was. We took advantage of the tram, but didn’t get a chance to use the bikes. Apparently, you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get down to get your bike! Lesson learned. Hopefully next year we can do a family bike ride on the boardwalk. The kids loved the carnival rides, prizes, the street performers, etc. Lots of fun for two days!

Number 4 on the Map:

 

Our next stop was to visit Dan’s family and longtime friend that live in Pennsylvania. We were staying in Doylestown to be exact, a cute quaint superb suburb of Philly. Ha! My auto-correct changed suburb to superb, so there you go! It was indeed superb!

Dan’s best friend Jim was his best man in our wedding, and they’ve been friends for almost thirty years. Jim is married to Jess, and together they have  two daughters aged 7 and 5. They welcomed us into their home to stay with them, and they were wonderful hostesses to our family. I know it’s not easy hosting a family of five, where some of us are sleep deprived and possibly not our best behaved, but they were welcoming none the less! We used their washer and dryer, and Jess folded all our clothes when we left to visit Dan’s family. Now that’s a fantastic hostess! Jim was also very welcoming to our kids, and was such a great sport when the kids wanted to play hairdresser and give him a cut an style! So fun.

We enjoyed a fun visit to Central Park (the kids call it Castle Park, because of the huge wooden “castle”playground), and we drove up to Hershey, Pennsylvania our last day of our visit to enjoy the many rides at the amusement park Hershey Park. The kids had a blast. The super duper looper and the water park was a big hit with our family!

Number 5 on the map:

Our second day in Pennsylvania, we ventured closer into the city to visit with some of Dan’s family. I had been friends with Dan’s Aunt Denise on facebook, and seen a lot of her, but I had never met her in person before. I met Dan’s Uncle Bill, Aunt Peanut, and Uncle Brian as well. They were all so sweet, and welcoming. The kids loved meeting them as well as spending time with them and their sweet dog Erica. They brought over the best philly cheesesteaks in the area, and we had a great time visiting with them!

After  our time in Pennsylvania, we started our decent south and stayed overnight in a small town in Maryland. In the morning, we headed to Asheville, NC for one night. We drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was such an incredible drive. I had never been on an interstate with so many winding turns, hills, and beautiful mountainous views in every direction. It was by far the prettiest drive of the trip. All three fell asleep and took a good nap on the way there, which was great and we got in Asheville just in time to get settled and head in town for dinner.

Our hotel was about 20mins outside of Asheville, so when we asked the front desk if he could give us some recommendations for a good family restaurant, he said he didn’t venture into the city often. Hmm.. So we were left to our own devices, and how hard could it be to find a good restaurant? Well, apparently pretty difficult, as we found out. We  parked near the college, and walked several blocks, and things were either too pricey/fancy, or not appropriate for kids (vaping/loud music, etc) and then all of a sudden, we turned a corner, and found Lexington Avenue BreweryIt was perfect. Despite the fact that it was a brewery, it had many families in there, and a fun atmosphere and best of all, great food.

The next day, we went to one of our favorite things to do as a family in Asheville; visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center. They have a great selection of animals that are native to the area, and the kids had such a great time! In addition to seeing the neat animals, and learning about them, they also had little stations that allowed you to build your own fort with sticks, put on your own puppet show, climb your own spider web, etc. This was a fun way to conclude our summer road trip.

 

It was overall a great trip. It was long, and trying at times, but it was the best way to mix a summer vacation with visiting family and friends. I think the kids enjoyed spending time with family, learning about new places, and making memories that they will cherish for many years to come.

Summertime Adventures {July}

Lots of adventures to cover in July and I didn’t want to miss documenting them! It was a short, but a fun summer to remember.

{Science fun at the Tellus Science Museum}

{July 4th Fireworks at home}

{Trip into the City to visit the Children’s Museum of Atlanta}

{Elephant+Piggie Storytime at the Library}

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{Pirate Treasure Hunt at Lower Pool Park}

{Secret Life of Pets Movie Showing}

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{Sushi Date Night}

{Greenway with Sienna and Coal}

{Parker starts Soccer Camp}

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{Dress-up fun with Coal}

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{Park Playdate at Webb Bridge Park}

{Mall Carousel Ride}

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{Sienna had her first Princess Ballet Camp}

{Tie Dye Shirt project for Camp Kudzu’s Tie dye Tuesday}

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We finished up the month with the boys going to a week long Stonecreek Camp Kidzu through our church. They loved it. They did rock climbing, inflatables with water, and Parker got to do his very first zipline.  We finished the week there with a visit from the Kona Ice truck.Then we ventured out on our first long multi-state family road trip. More details on that in the next post, so stay tuned!

Then we ventured out on our first long multi-state family road trip. More details on that in the next post, so stay tuned!

Summertime Adventures {June}

We’ve had such a busy summer. Every year I say it…It’s my favorite season of all. I love the bright sunshine warming my body, the worry-free days, and getting just a little more free time to slow down and enjoy time with the family and friends. Whether it’s out in nature, or a playful afternoon at home, Summer has got us by it’s playful grip, and we are enjoying the ride.
This includes lots of playdates, family days, girls nights, and unscheduled spontaneous adventures. They are my favorite sunny summer days of all.  I’m so thankful for my sweet (mostly) kiddos, and my amazing family and friends that I get to do life with! Here’s recap of our happenings in June.

{Last Day Of School Ice Cream Social and Pool Party}

{Summer Reading with Coal}{Summer Reading with Coal}

 

{Memorial Weekend hike and Lake fun}

 

{Kick-off to Summer Reading Library Event}

{First Summer Playdate Series at Settles Bridge Park}

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{Pool playdate with the Jewett kiddos}

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{Hawaiian Themed Neighborhood Girls Bunco Night}

{Hammock swings with my Sienna}

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{Ellie Goulding Concert with Sarah, Jen and Gracile}

{Splash Pad Summer Playdate Series}

{Mason vs. Sienna Dress-up and Light saber battles}

{Summertime Mani-Pedis}

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{Family Kayaking on Lake Lanier}

{Fun at Gary Pirkle Park}

{Yoga Storytime at the Library}

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{Tennis Court after dinner runs}

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{Glazed and Fired painting Playdate}

{Impromptu picnic in Mommy and Daddy’s room}

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{Summertime haircut for Sienna}

{Finding Dory Movie with Mason’s PreK Teacher+friends}

 

{Gold Mine Tour for Father’s Day weekend}

{Amicalola Falls- Parker climbed steps with me}

{Daddy and the kids cracking open Geodes}

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{Super Hero Fathers Day at Stonecreek Church}

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{Father’s Day fun at Hembree Park}

{Cumming Aquatic Center Playdate}

{Buford Dam-Lower Pool Park Playdate}

{Boat Ride on Lake Lanier with Nana, Poppy & Grace}

{Visiting Nana & Poppy’s Campsite, Lunch at Pelican Pete’s}

{Jumping with their cousin Grace at Get Air}

{Dinner with Nana, Poppy and Grace+Baking Nana’s Special Cake}

{Sienna pretends to be a mermaid in our neighborhood pool}

{Hammock swings in the back yard}

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{Parker and Mason discover their love for Piggie and Gerald Books}

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{First Lemonade Stand to raise money for VBS cause}

{First Redeemer VBS-Submerge!}


Amanda Graduates High School

It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that I was graduating High School, and now I’m congratulating my little sister who has earned the same title of Graduate. She has overcome many odds, and I am so incredibly proud of her determination and her perseverance she’s continued to show throughout her years at Providence Christian Academy. I’m sure she’ll do the same as she continues her education at Augusta University, where she’ll study medicine.

She is not only extremely smart and beautiful, but she is her own person who doesn’t follow the norms of her peers. She listens to the beat of her own drum, and I love that about her. She has grown into such an amazing person, and I can’t wait to see what God will continue to do in her life. Congrats, Sis!

 

Sienna’s First Ballet Recital

This past Spring, Sienna had her very first ballet recital. She was such a doll and had a wonderful time. Creative Movement doesn’t make a huge production out of the recital, which I love because Sienna is just three, and I think that would be too much for her. It was a small, more intimate performance which made it really sweet. She got flowers from me and her Daddy, and new ear rings from her Nanie. We had a great time watching all the she’s been learning in ballet each week!

Parker’s Field Day and Last Days of school

{OVERDUE POST}

Parker had a fantastic last week of school. He had an absolute blast at field day, and he had a super cute performance with his classmates that included singing songs about each month of the school year, and a bit of what they learned that month. It was simply adorable! Parker’s part was the in the month of May, and he and his friend was dressed as “surfer dudes”. So incredibly cute! It was a wonderful way to end a successful first school year Daves Creek!


Mother’s Day-Our First Family Camping Trip

We did our first family camping trip over Mother’s day weekend. We were very last minute with the planning, but it turned out just fine even without being 100% prepared. I got the idea because I originally just wanted to do a trail hike for Mother’s Day weekend. The weather was looking great, so I thought maybe it would be more fun to try to tent camp while we were at it.

I contacted a friend who has gone camping in the area before and asked for her recommendation. We wanted to camp by Lake Lanier because it’s close, but there are several campgrounds on Lake Lanier, and I wasn’t sure which one was more suitable with kids.  She said Shady Grove Campground is their favorite, so I decided to check out the website.

The website is very promising, boasting lake views, bathroom and shower facilities, two playground areas, wooded hiking trails, and a lake “beach” area close to the campsites. This all sounded wonderful to us, so we decided to go for it!

We absolutely loved the campground. The walking paths in the woods were great, the playground for the kids and the beach was wonderful. The bathroom facilities were close to the campsite and clean and exactly what we needed with three little ones and our first camping experience. We got a six person tent, and we arrived around noon after lunch and began unpacking the car and getting acquainted with our campsite. There were campsites closer to Lake Lanier with views, but this one was perfect because of how close it was to the beach, bathrooms, and playground.  It was also very shady and flat, which was great. The car was filled to the brim with camping supplies. I forgot how many things you actually need when you camp. Pretty much everything!

We cheated a little bit and did simple meals on paper plates, disposable plasticware and juice boxes. Next time we will be more eco-friendly and just use reusable cups. The typical camping staple- hot dog over an open flame of course, and we made simple mac and cheese, smores, sandwiches, etc. We brought the Cusinart Griddler with us and made pancakes for the morning (yum) but forgot syrup, so Dan ran out that morning and grabbed some. One great thing about camping at this location is that t’s not too far from civilization!

Parker got his first pocket swiss army knife and he had a great time using it to practice sharpening sticks and cutting the bark off of them. Mason and Sienna loved helping with the fire and gathering sticks. They were all great helpers on the campsite. They were just excited about the whole experience! One of their favorite things was going on the wooded walking trail to the playground. The playground there was amazing. They spared no expense. It had rock walls, several slides, cool wobbly platforms they could toddle between. They had so much fun, and will be able to play on it for many years, as it’s spans several age groups.

Before bedtime, Dan and I took turns taking the boys out on night time nature walks with their head lamps. Those headlamps are worth every penny. We had so much fun with them! The boys just loved being out past dark, and enjoyed just being in nature, wondering what creatures they would find and listening to the night birds, frogs, and creatures make noise.

The evening was a bit more challenging as the night went on. Sienna went to bed around eight without an issue. She’s a great sleeper and can sleep pretty much anywhere. However, once it was time for the rest of us to go to sleep, we realized that our fellow camping neighbors were playing a serious game of corn hole. Finally after about 15 minutes into the quite time (Campsite guidelines say after 10pm is quite time) we had to go and give a gentle reminder about the park rules, and that we were having a hard time getting the kids to sleep. They were apologetic and immediately stopped their game and cheering, but I felt like such a kill-joy having to do that.  It’s just very frustrating when you’re left with little kids who can’t sleep, and are over tired. Other than that, no issues with neighbor noise, but Mason was a little weary of sleeping with all the evening nature noises, but eventually crashed. The next day he said he loved camping, so I don’t think he was scarred too much from all the unfamiliar sounds.

We also found out quickly that the tent (slated to hold six people) wasn’t really a great fit for us. It indeed could probably fit six, but with two queen air mattresses, it’s pretty much one adult one kid on one, and one adult two kids on another (I’ll let you guess who had the privilege of the ladder, Ha!) but we really needed an extra twin bed for one of the kids. It’s just too cramped on the queen bed with the sleeping bags for more than that. So, we returned it. Lesson learned. It wasn’t terrible but could’ve been better.

There was also a fun beach area that we explored the first day. The water felt like it had ice cubes in it. Super cold, but the kids still liked it for a short time. We’ll have to hit up the beach for longer once again when it’s warmer.

It was such a fun experience, a wonderful Mother’s Day, and we can’t wait to do it again!


Mason Can Ride a Bike!

It happened so fast! Dan and I had tried to get Mason pumped up about taking off his training wheels ever since his fifth birthday in March. We finally took the plunge, but then he resisted practicing and just wanted the training wheels put back on.

One day, Mason came home and said that they were having bike day at school and you can bring your bike in to ride around with your classmates. I said to Mason “Wouldn’t it be so neat if you could ride your bike without training wheels before bike day at school?” He shrugged, and then decided he wanted to give it a try. We tried in the driveway a few times, but nothing much came of it.
I knew if he could just practice balancing then he would be a little more confident. So, that evening I searched on youtube how to teach a kid to ride a bike. I came across a video that suggested removing the pedals. So, I thought I’d give it a try. Dan took them off one weekend and he practiced just taking big long steps on his bike downhill… just to practice balancing. Then Dan left for a business trip, and I asked if he was comfortable putting the pedals back on, and he said he was, and so we did. I wasn’t prepared at all for what happened next, and neither was he. We went down to the cul-de-sac and he almost immediately started pedaling! He surprised himself after three revolutions, and stopped and just turned to look at me shocked. I told him not to move a muscle and I ran back home and grabbed my phone to video it! He did it! I was so proud!!


Pre-K Graduation, and Fun in the Sun Field Day

What a fun busy school year it has been! This was the first time that we’ve had all three kids in school at the same time and it has had its challenges for sure.  Just keeping all of their schedules and events in order has taken some organzational trial and error, but fortunately I haven’t dropped the ball on anything major this year, which is good!

Mason…. my sweet Mason graduated Pre-K, and is ready for Kindergarten in the fall. Well, I don’t know that I’d say he was fully ready. On the way to school on the last day I said, “Mason, it’s your last day of PRESCHOOL, can you believe it?”  and then he responds and says “Mom, will you be able to come with me to school, because I’m a little nervous about Kindergarten”. For realz… cue tears!  I went on to tell him that I would join him for an orientation, but then he was lucky because he has a big brother that can show him around the school.  I think that made him feel a bit better, but we’ll see once August creeps around the corner.  He’s done such a great job in PreK, and the teacher has had nothing but wonderful things to say about him during his parent-teacher conference.  He also became the Star Student last month, and we were super proud of him!IMG_0619

mason graduation

He had a really sweet graduation ceremony and end of year program. Of course, I was super emotional. My last sweet boy is leaving preschool!  I’m going to certainly be a mess when Sienna leaves since we’ll be leaving the school for good. Aaaah!  Graduation night Mason and Sienna both had sweet little singing performances with their class, and of course, Mason walked for his graduation. We enjoyed watching them and enjoying ice cream as a celebration after!

 

Mason and Sienna had their last day of school this week, and they were a lot of fun! They had a great time playing, loving on animals, celebrating with their classmates, and saying their goodbyes.

We closed out the 2015/16 Preschool school year with a bang! We’ve loved all the teachers and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for Seinna’s first time in preschool! Mason has really enjoyed his teachers and has thrived this  year, and that makes me so proud. Another great Preschool year at Parkway!

Disney On Ice Presents- Frozen

Sienna and I had a fun girls night with some neighbor friends. We went to see Disney on ice at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.

What a fantastic show! Disney never disappoints and this show was no different. Our seats were decent being only a few from the first row, and pretty close to the center.  Sienna was in her element with all of the singing and ice skating. A few times she sang along and got out of her seat to dance. It really was a great performance. I was also impressed with all the ice skating tricks. There were also a few short characters in costumes that were on stage that I had to wonder how they were skating so low to the ground. The ice skaters were very talented!

I asked some of the girls in the neighborhood if they wanted to join us. I’m trying to get Sienna around other little girls in our neighborhood in hopes that she can make some little friends. She had a sweet little friend of hers move away recently, and she now doesn’t have many buddies to play with. It was also nice to enjoy time with the girls Moms. Us Mamas of girls need to stick together. We’ll need each other once those teen years hit!

We had the same sparkly aqua dress that Sienna got for Christmas along with the an Anna costume, but Sienna wanted the sparkly dress that looks similar to Elsa’s dress. She is obsessed with it!

She wanted to do her hair in an Elsa braid, and add glitter to it. So, that’s what she got! She looks super cute, I must say!

I feel blessed to be able to do these fun little outings with my sweet girl.  Sienna and I really connect well and I hope our relationship continues to flourish as the years go on!