Parker Turns Seven

img_5057I feel like Parker has grown tremendously in the last year. He’s started a new sport-soccer, developed a love of running, he completed his first chapter book, and he became an active tiger cub in Boys Scouts.  He’s also a great big brother and helper at home, with generally a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook on life. Parker also loves the outdoors and spends a lot of his outside time in the woods behind our home making “forts” and pretend campsites with his brother, Mason.

He makes Dan and I so proud. When I think about all the things that I had hoped for in a kid when he was just a little baby, he’s been everything we’d hoped he’d be and more!

With all that to say, it’s really crazy to see how fast the time has flownimg_5042by. When I look back at his milestone photos, it’s so fun to see how much he’s change over the years. He’s growing into such a fine handsome boy. In a blink, he’s now seven.

I asked these questions to Parker when he turned four, and thought it would be fun to see how the answers have changed now that he’s seven.

1. Who’s your favorite super hero? Spiderman

2. What is your favorite color? Red

3. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a Dad, and work on a computer like Daddy at Splunk

4. Where do you want to live when you get older? Pennsylvania

5. What’s your favorite TV show? Spiderman

6. What’s your favorite book? Magic Treehouse

7. What’s your favorite toy? Action Figures (Spiderman, Army men, etc.)

8. Who’s your best friend? Mason, Logan C., Logan H.,  and Coal

9. What’s your favorite song? Star Wars Theme song and One Call Away by Charlie Puth

10. What’s your favorite food? PB&J, carrots, and apples

img_4839The morning of his party day, we had a low-key morning. He enjoyed opening his gifts (all spiderman themed) in our room and we chatted on the front porch together while I drank my morning coffee. I love our little moments we get to have together.

I tell myself every year that I’m not going to go crazy with party planning, but each year I end up doing something fun anyway. I just love parties, really. I can’t help myself. Parker went to a party at Stars and Strikes last year for a friend, and loved it. He asked for a Spiderman party, so I obliged and added capes and face masks to the party guests to bring home as a party favor. It ended up being a lot of fun to have them on during laser tag, bowling and bumper cars. All the kids had a blast!

Parker told me as we were walking over to the bumper cars that this was the best party ever, and thanked me. I just love how thoughtful he is.

img_4849We finished the night with a slumber party in Parker’s room. Mason slept in Parker’s bed with him, and Sienna got to sleep in her sleeping bag on the floor. They loved it.

The morning of his actual birthday, I made him pancakes before school, and we sang to him at breakfast. I surprised him by coming to visit him at school for lunch and he enjoyed cupcakes with his classmates. I’m pretty sure he felt special for his birthday!

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First Day of School 2016-17

All three kids have been enjoying getting into the school routine. I am very fortunate that all three really enjoy school!

Parker, our extrovert has really loved getting to see his buddies again. He loves his teacher, and he has been able to reconnect with his friends from last year on the playground, and he has a few kids he knows from his Kindergarten class. We are also lucky to have quite a few great kids in our neighborhood that he enjoys playing with.

Parker was a great big brother to Mason at school, showing him the ropes and walking Mason to class.  Parker enjoys math, science, and has started reading the Magic Tree House series to us at home. He’s also very active and has enjoyed soccer, running, and playing in the woods when he gets home from school. Homework has been MUCH better this year. He enjoys most of it, and quite a bit of it he does on his iPad. Times have changed!

Mason loves school, but had a bit of a hard time transitioning into Kindergarten. I get it, it’s a big leap from preschool! He’s also more sensitive to change and unfamiliar environments. He’s a bit of an extrovert as well, but definitely has to warm up to you first or it has to be on his terms. He loved that he already knew his teacher- which was the same teacher that Parker had last year. He sits with Parker on the bus, which has helped ease his fears quite a bit. Mason does very well in school. He’s a great listener and he follows directions very well. He’s really been enjoying all things creative lately. At home, he’s been doing quite a bit of painting, crafting with paper and popsicle sticks,  you name it! Of course he still loves legos, but it’s been fun to see him use his creativity in other ways, too.

Sienna’s preschool started a few weeks after Parker and Mason’s school. She is just going 2 days, but man… she sure wishes it was more. Almost daily she asks if its a school day. So, all that to say, she pretty much loves school. Every bit of it! She’s our super social extrovert that really gets her energy by interacting with other people. She is still learning her letters and numbers. She knows her colors and shapes. Quite honestly, she could care less about all of the “school” things she should learn. She’s there to see how many people she can interact with and play with. That has been her main focus right now.  I’m okay with that. The learning of her letters and numbers will come later, I’m sure of it. I’m just thankful for her positive and encouraging attitude towards life and I’ve loved having time with her the days she’s not in school.

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!

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!!


Legoland and Ft. Lauderdale Beach

This is the first time in as long as I can remember that we’ve gone out of town over spring break. We typically avoid traveling on this common week like the plague, but since Parker is elementary school this year, we have to abide by the dreaded school schedule.

It actually didn’t turn out to be bad at all in the way of crowds and traffic. We wanted to go somewhere nice and warm, but we didn’t want to drive an entire day to get there either. So, we decided to make an overnight stop in Orlando, stay two nights, and drive on to Ft. Lauderdale where it was nice and warm for the beach, and then stop again in Orlando on the return home.  We love Destin, but this time of year can be hit or miss on the weather, and if we’re doing all that driving and spending money, we want to make sure that we’ll at least have a few warm days.

Since we decided to make a pit stop in Orlando, we thought it would be nice to do Legoland for one day. Dan and the boys went to Legoland last fall break and loved it while Sienna and I went to Disney for the day. So, we thought it would be nice to go as a family and also meet Dan’s Parents down there during our visit.  It is only a short drive from their Florida home, and the kids loved getting to see and visit with them, as did they. The kids all had a great time and I loved that they had short lines and lots of rides for the little kids. There were lots of fun roller coasters that all three kids could ride!

 

I failed to mention at the start of this post that we invited my sister Amanda to join us on the trip. She. Is. Wonderful. She was not only a big help, but it was so nice to have her along and connect with her that week since we rarely get to see each other. She is a senior this year, and will be off to college in the fall and we will probably see even less of her. So, she braved the craziness that is our family, and agreed to join us for a week of family (mostly) fun.

We headed down to an amazing house near Ft. Lauderdale after our stay in Orlando. Dan found an amazing place on VRBO again called Waterfront Tropical Oasis. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds, and I gave it a glowing review after our trip. It was absolutely perfect! This was the first time we didn’t stay on or very close to the beach, but it was still just perfect. Only a few miles from the beach, and so much to do right at the house!  They had kayaks for the waterway right in the back yard, a pool for the kids, floats, grill, tons of seating. They even had bikes if we all wanted to ride, but we didn’t get around to doing that.

This was the first time we had been to Ft. Lauderdale as a family, so there was a bit of a learning curve as to where things are, what is great to do, etc.  We went the first day into town to do a duck tour. We thought it would be a great way to get acquainted with the area. Although their website says nothing of the fact, turns out they closed their Ft. Lauderdale office months ago. So, we wandered the beach instead even though it was super windy and overcast. Then we decided we’d just stay a bit afterall and enjoy the beach and sunshine.

One thing that we didn’t know about Ft. Lauderdale, is how close it is to the florida everglades.  Supposedly, it is a major attraction for the area to go on the air boats in search for alligators. Since we had never done this before, the adventure sounded intriguing. When in Rome, right? So, we found a tour that takes you down there, and organizes the trip on the boat. We had a great time! I can’t lie though, I was a bit scared once we were out there and realized there was only about a foot of metal edge between me and the water where the alligators are. It turned out to be fine, but I was a little on edge in the beginning. Then, before I knew it, the tour was over, and I almost left feeling like it wasn’t long enough. Maybe it was because I was too much in worry-mode to actually enjoy it. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and one we’ll always remember!

We were so thankful that Amanda graciously watched the kids so that we could have a date night, too.  The last time we did a date night on vacation, it was an absolute disaster. We’re so glad that the kids had someone they knew and loved watch them so that Dan and I could escape our loud super sweet kids and enjoy some time alone.  We went to a fun place called Coconuts, and it was a big hit. I definitely recommend this place if you’re going to the Ft. Lauderdale area. Make sure to order the Scoobies!! They’re known for them. So delish!img_1500

We also just enjoyed time at the house. One night we all at boxed ice cream from the freezer while we warmed our feet in the outside hot tub.  One morning, the kids woke up and immediately got their suits on and swam all morning, and we headed to the beach after that.  I tell you what, it’s been so much easier this trip knowing that we have two boys that can swim rather well. They’re also tall enough to reach the shallow end too, so if they get tired, they don’t need to swim the entire time.  We made lots of great memories just hanging out there, enjoying the pool!

Our last day in Ft. Lauderdale, we discovered Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. After we got there, we were kicking ourselves for not discovering it earlier in our trip. We had just set our directions to take us to Ft. Lauderdale, so it took us further south. This particular area was closer to where we were, and super quaint with stores, lots of seating, very dog friendly, live music, areas for kids to play games, a fishing pier to walk on and soak in the amazing views. It was just an overall fantastic place. We also discovered an amazing ice-cream place called Sloans. Super eclectic and it was fantastic. Exactly what we needed to put the ‘cherry on top’ of our vacation in Ft. Lauderdale!