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.

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!


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!

On our way back to Orlando, we visited with a new addition to the family, Summer Grace Hopkins. My cousin Alisun and a sweet baby girl that we were able to hold and visit with.  We also got a chance to enjoy a nice lunch with Norris and Liane. It was so nice to get to see everyone! What a blessing sweet Summer is!

 

I also snap chatted through our trip. Here are a few snaps that I saved. If you’d like to follow some of my silly-nonsignificant snaps, look me up at schristiansen1

  

Overall, it was a great vacation. There was lots of time to connect with family, and just take it easy and forget the hustle of life. I hope the kids look back on the trip and remember good memories of a fun time together as a family.

Easter 2016

Easter seemed so early this year! It really snuck up on us right after Mason’s birthday. I took the kids down the road by our house a few days before Easter to get pictures of them in their Easter clothes since rain was forecasted. It is amazing how much easier they are to photograph now as opposed to just a year ago. They listen so much better! I think they’re probably a bit used to the drill since I take so many photos of them! I’m really happy with how they turned out.

The boys were wearing outfits grabbed last minute from Target. They didn’t have a lot to choose from, and I like their Easter outfits to be casual enough to wear to church on other days as well. Sienna got her dress at the Spring consignment sale that I go to every year. I love getting her dresses there since they’re always very cheap, and she typically only wears the dress once.  This is the one time a year that I try to do a photo shoot of my kids and practice my photography skills. I’m happy with the results!

The kids also enjoyed fun egg hunts and parties at school as well. They had a great Easter party. I was especially impressed with Mason who had memorized the entire Easter story with the resurrection eggs!

The kids had a lot of fun this year at Easter. We didn’t let the light rain ruin our egg hunt and spending time with the family.  We had a great time at Aunt Vicki’s house in Decatur. We visited with Angie, Robby, Hannah, Jake and his wife Sarah, Patrick, Drew, Anna, and their two kids Jackson and Davis, and Mark and Jessica with their three kids Carson, Cooper and Presley.  Of course, the gathering was hosted by Vicki and her husband Phil.

Parker, Mason and Sienna really enjoyed the egg hunt, and visiting with all the cousins! This year Davis and Copper got the golden eggs! Parker got a yellow egg, and he was convinced that it was THE golden egg, so he stopped looking for the two hidden eggs.

 


Holiday Photo Booth

We decided it would be fun to try doing a photo booth this year over the holidays. This was our first adventure with it, so we weren’t sure what to expect. My friend Ashley of Ashley Bruschi Photography was a big help with loaning me her flash, and educating me on what camera settings would be good with the flash… because I have NO clue when it comes to using an external flash. It’s whole new world for me!  I found the backdrop on Amazon (we decided to do black because it’s more forgiving with shadows), and we got a few of the fun glasses on Amazon as well, and then the rest of the props came from the local Party City.

We had two Christmas parties at our house this year. One was a ornament exchange with a few close friends and neighbors, and the other was our family Christmas Eve gathering. For the family gathering, unfortunately, we didn’t get as much participation because it was just to chaotic with all the kids, but it really is a fun way to capture an event. It’s challenging to photograph adults at a party. I think kids are a bit easier because they can turn on the charm and goofy-ness.  A photo booth is just the thing that turns grown adults in to goof balls themselves. Well, and alcohol helps too, I suppose. I can’t tell you how many good belly laughs we got from these silly props and poses. It was a big party hit.


2015 Holiday Festivities

We had a great time celebrating the holidays. It’s no surprise that I am a big fan of Christmas. Anyone that knows me knows that I love the whole shebang. The music, the decorating, the lights, shopping, Christmas outings with the fam, cooking, visiting Santa, hosting parties, and all the holiday festivities that go along with it!

IMG_9155Lake Lanier Under the lights 5K
The first thing we did to get into the holiday spirit, was run/walk the Lake Lanier Under the lights 5k.  We did this last year, and it really is a fun event to do. Not only that, but I love the time I spend with Dan, running and being goofy out there together. You get to see lots of light displays during your run, and the jolly man himself. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s something that we enjoy and would like to continue doing every year!

 

Tree Lighting of Avalon

We enjoyed a tree lighting ceremony in Avalon. This was our first year attending the tree lighting ceremony there, and it was nice. It was super cold, and a bit crowded, but we ran into some friends, and it turned out to be a really fun evening.  This may end up being a tradition each year leading up to Christmas!

Parkway’s Children’s Program

Mason and Sienna took to the stage with their classes to sing Christmas songs for the holidays.  This was Sienna’s first time singing and she did great! She loves singing, and is always animated with her movements when putting on a performance, and Mason isn’t shy about singing either. It was super precious and we enjoyed every bit of it!

 

Cookies with the Clauses

It was kind of sad this year going to Cookies with the Clauses because I remember taking Parker as a toddler, when Mason was just a baby. My how the times have changed. Now Mason and Sienna are attending without big brother because he’s in Kindergarten. In a blink of an eye! Next year Mason will be in Kindergarten as well!

Sienna and Mason had a great time. We met a few friends there, but we were waiting in line for a while for Santa and Ms. Clause that we didn’t get to visit as long as we would’ve hoped to.

 

Getting the Perfect Christmas Tree

No Christmas would be the same without our annual visit to Kinsey Farms. We decided to go on a weekday this year because it’s always been super busy on the weekends. Although, this is a Christmas Tree farm, they’re not typical Christmas trees that they grow there. They’re leyland Cyprus, and other green trees, but Fraser firs are what people typically get, and they aren’t grown in this area. They’re mostly grown in the Appalachian regions of NC. They are trucked into Kinsey farms, but we still love the atmosphere of the farm, and it has certainly become a tradition of our family.
Even though Mason and Sienna managed to dump hot chocolate all over them, and they burned their marshmallows several times, we still managed to laugh about it all. I love our crazy family!


When we got home, we got busy decorating the new tree! We decided to do colored lights this year, which is the first time we’ve done this. I noticed that they don’t photograph as well as the white lights, but it was fun to use the for a change!

 

Meeting Santa in Avalon

We had planned to visit Santa at North point mall, but they are just too fancy. I mean, for realz, fancy!! In order not to have to wait in a line for a long time, I planned to do a reservation. Except this year in order to make a reservation at North Point Mall Dreamworks Santa, you had to pay ahead of time for the pictures too. Say whaaaat? Who does that? I mean… this year happens to be the first year that we don’t have a kid afraid of Santa, but if we did then we’d be up a creek with crappy photos. I’m just not a fan of paying for photos you’ve never seen. I think I’m pretty normal in that degree. It is a fancy set-up though. They allow you to design your sleigh, and you go on an interactive ride in your sleigh prior to meeting santa. We may try it next year, but Dreamworks needs to get a reality check before next year and not require the pre-pay for photos in order to reserve.
So, we went to Avalon instead, which turned out to be a great experience anyways. The only thing that was a bit of a let-down was the weather. It was literally 70 degrees! Not very Christmasy but we made the best of it. After a sweet visit with Santa, and a wonderful staff that allowed me to take MY OWN photos for free, Parker begged me to take him ice skating. It was so expensive that we could only take one child, and we told the others that they weren’t old enough and they’d have to wait until next year. Dan took them to the soft play area and Parker and I took to the ice. It was so slushy from the weather that Parker fell several times into the wet mess. However, in true Parker fashion, he laughed and laughed and didn’t mind one bit. Just like when he was learning to ride a bike. He never got upset or frustrated, he just laughed, got back up, and tried again! I need to remember this when I’m frustrated by the fact that he’s a goof ball and won’t be serious…I’m thankful that he also has the type of personality that doesn’t take himself too seriously and knows when to laugh it off, even if it’s the hundredth time falling in slushy ice and soaking your pants from the waist down!

Christmas Eve

We were overjoyed to be able to host Christmas Eve in our home this year. We typically go to Angie’s house, but we asked if we could host, and we were so thankful that she not only agreed, but was happy that we offered. I know we live a little further out, and we were excited that everyone was able to come up and spend such a special time in our home.  We had a table full of appetizers and desserts, and we enjoyed catching up with family, and we watched a short clip from the movie Nativity that talked about the birth of Christ, and the true reason why we celebrate the holiday. In years past, we have done everything from reading scripture, to singing Christmas Carols, to sharing prayers, and we decided to change it up, and put our stamp on the night. All the young kids are excited to open “stocking stuffers” from family members, of course too. Truthfully, I may be equally excited to see the joy and smiles on their faces!  Overall, it was a big success! We were exhausted, but everyone had a great time and the kids were tired by the end, but still excited for Santa to come and for Christmas morning.

Christmas Day

We enjoyed a relaxed morning at home Christmas Day.  The kids big gifts this year were a dollhouse for Sienna, remote BB8 for Parker and Mason got a Lego AT AT.  Aunt Angie hosted Christmas lunch at her house this year, which was really nice because typically the family Christmas Day lunch is held at the farm, which is too far for us to drive with the kids.  It was nice to visit more with family and get to see my grandparents that weren’t able to make it on Christmas Eve. We had a wonderful relaxing Christmas!

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

Goin’ to the Zoo zoo zoo

Have you guys heard that children’s song, We’re going to the Zoo, zoo, zoo… How ’bout you, you, you? The kids love that song. There are several versions online, but we love the old one the best.  I never thought that we’d be the kind of family that listens to kids songs, but we do, and we love it.  The day before our planned zoo trip, our kids were PUMPED with this song. Yes, we’re a corny family, I know!

This post is about visiting the Atlanta Zoo. Surprise, right? We made a great investment in an anual  zoo pass last February, and we decided to put it to good use for the fifth time this season and go with our neighbors this time. Dan has MLK day off, and so does our neighbor Jenn’s husband Chris, so we decided to take advantage and have a family day with some friends!

It was a chilly morning, but it warmed up in the afternoon and it turned out to be beautiful.  Chris and Jenn have two boys, one that is Parker’s age, and one that is in-between Mason and Sienna’s age.  The kids had a lot of fun playing together!

I got to try out some new settings on my camera, and shot primarily in Manual mode with a low ISO and an F stop of about 2 or 2.5. I love the blur of the lower F stop or 1.8, but I’m finding that I also get a lot more blur when the subject isn’t perfectly still. It was fun to practice!

 

Their favorite part of the zoo every visit has to be the petting zoo and the zoo’s playground area.  Visit those two spots, and they’re in HEAVEN!

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The kids certainly had some grumpy moments, but overall we made some fun memories!

 

Day in the life

My typical week looks something like this…

Workouts. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I take Les Mills Body Pump class and I run a mile beforehand on the treadmill in the morning. Sometimes if I’m running late, I don’t get time to do the treadmill, but most of the time, I can squeeze in a mile or if I’m lucky, over a mile.

On Tuesdays I have Storytime with Sienna and Mason at the local library and then we all play at home,  I start washing clothes, and tidying up the house until it’s time to pick up Parker at 12:45

On Wedneday after the gym I have laundry. Lots of laundry. Typically takes me all day long. This is when I take all the clothes that were washed the day prior and sort, fold, hang, etc. Fortunately, the boys have become very helpful in this area and they both now put away and hang up their own clothes! We also have small group on Wednesday nights and we’re doing a parenting study now and it’s going great, but that also means squeezing in reading two chapters a week and answering questions to prepare for our discussion.

Thursdays have just changed to another gym day, and I’ve so far done Body Combat and RPM (stationary bike) class. Another workout in the morning and then back home to play with Mason and Sienna since Mason is home from preschool on Tues and Thurs.

After the boys get home from preschool we all have lunch, and Mama gets a break. Mason and Sienna take their nap and Parker either takes a nap in his room or takes the time to look at his pen books or have some alone time playing quietly while the others nap.  After naps, we try to play outside if weather permits. It’s hard to do so on Wednesdays because I’m typically still in laundry madness trying to get everything sorted and hung. Otherwise, we’re either outside or playing in the playroom together.  The boys LOVE to have dance parities. Their favorite musician is the Laurie Berkner Band. They LOVE the “I’m going to catch you” song!

Once the kids go to bed, I get time with Dan at night. Right now, we’ve really enjoying snugging up on the sofa and watching the Walking Dead series.  Sometimes he likes to have his guy shows that he watches, or shoot his bow in the basement while I blog, edit photos, read,  or catch up on a girlie show (Bachelor, Parenthood, etc.). It’s healthy to have time alone as well as together.  Sometimes if we’re lucky, we get a date night, a girls night, or a guys night out.

Life is busy. Work outs. Carpool drop-offs and pickups. Kids running around without pants. Grocery shopping. Playing dress-up. Messy playrooms. Books before bed. Tantrums. Hugs. Building a “lego city”.  Riding bikes and playing outside. Washing dishes. Watching their favorite show. Making lunches. Cleaning. Meal planning. Cooking.  Goodnight kisses. Repeat.

The life of a stay-at-home Mom means running a household and making sure it not only runs smoothly, but with love and patience. Reminding ourselves that grace is needed for ourselves, our kids, and our marriage.  Being intentional about serving others, bringing God into our everyday conversations, leaning on him for strength, making sacrifices, and above all being grateful for where you are in this stage of life.