Category Archives: The Great Outdoors

Up to the Mountains

In June we had an exciting thing happen for the very first time; a family vacation!

We have had lots of mini-trips over the years of visiting family and friends in different areas (Mississippi, Alabama, all over Florida and even through Louisiana and into Houston). However, we had never actually taken a trip, just us and the kids to a place all on our own.

It was amazing! Seriously, so refreshing and relaxing. Stephen took the reigns and picked out a week to rent us a cabin in the Mountains of North Georgia. My heart was bursting when he told us. The girls were so excited, so we made a countdown on our family calendar for the trip.

We went to the library the Friday before we left so stock up on books for the road. We’d been to St. Augustine and Houston with them when they were younger so this wasn’t the longest drive they’d had, but we were also adding a 6 month old to the mix this go around.

I packed us lots of snacks and drawing supplies, and the added surprise of bringing movies in the van that they’d get to watch on the DVD player that we had YET TO USE in the almost 2 years we’ve had the van. They were so surprised when Tangled started playing about 4 hours into the drive.

We left on a Sunday morning and got back Thursday evening. We stayed in a 2 bedroom cabin on a nice sized property, lots of room where the girls explored and played. We took family walks, which is pretty much my biggest love language, and watched Star Wars together one night and Stephem and I got lots of card game time in at night. My cup was overflowing. We ate out for dinner a few evenings, which we never do, and the girls did wonderful. Piper was the sweetest little chilled out baby, which was such a great bonus since we were usually out and about during her naps and them again past hers and the girls bedtime.

Now, on to what really matters here, the photo evidence of our First Family Vaca 

 

June

I feel like I should title June as The summer of smoothies & Popsicles. The heat has come strong and it isn’t letting up a bit.

Elanor wrote her name the first time. Given, it was backwards, but that’s what happens when you start on the far right side of the page. Sarah was so excited for her.

Sarah has discovered texting on my phone  She messages her uncle Matt and cousin Graycie, and on occasion RiRi. She knows how to record voice messages with the mic, take and send videos and loves to do silly face photos, which my brother always does back to her. She pretty much thinks every time my phone beeps its for her. 
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We got Sarah registered for Kindergarten. She was so excited just walking in the doors.

Elanor still takes random and spontaneous naps. There’s no system to it, but they usually occur when we are in the car and then I carry her inside and she finishes there.

For Father’s Day Sarah picked out a homemade confetti cake for us to make. It was a detailed and time consuming dessert, but she was so excited and proud. They made him a card and Sarah built him a Lego creation.

Lots of Frog hunts and pool playing to survive this summer heat.

Visiting a garden center with Nana and Aunt Kelley.

My hydrangeas bloomed this month! They didn’t do anything last year and I thought they were dying/dead, so I was thrilled to see blooms. They are one of my favorite flowers.

Bedtime stories with Uncle Jason.

Beach fun!

Reading with dad ❤️

And LOTS of swimming at Nana and Papaws house :)

Life Update: iPhone version

The summer season has come on fast. It felt like we just had Sarahs 5th Birthday and now we are 1/2 way through May.

The girls and I have been enjoying a few of our favorite warm weather activities. Miriah and Addison are often with us with the help of our extra seats of the van. It’s also hard to believe we’ve had that for over 9 months already.

So in March Sarah turned 5. We had a little get together with family at our house and the kids all had a blast.

We got her a bike and she is really loving it.

The week after that I turned 32! We had a joined bday fajita dinner at my parents for Jeff and I since our birthdays are close. A friend from church, Melissa, made me a from-scratch strawberry cake. It was amazing!

After that was Miriah and my camping trip, which I wrote about a few weeks back.

Since then we have gone on a few beach trips, blueberry picking, and visits with friends and park trips.

                   Fort Pickens visit

 

Easter 2016

I love the real-life of this group kid photo.

Stephen on puppy-patrol at the park.


Just a couple girls cruising the neighborhood.


Burying Nana :)


Stephen and I slept in one Saturday morning and found the girls like this around 7:30…

My sweet friend Rebekah, who is about to cross the globe with her two kiddos to join her husband in New Zealand,where they are moving to. So excited to see their adventure unfold (Instagram to the rescue!)


Family meal at Jason & Kelley’s. Dad was there too, he snapped the photo to send to mom, who was out of town.
Grandma with her girls.


And that about sums up a life update from my iPhone photos.

Sister Adventure

A little over a week ago Miriah and I took our first camping trip. Just us girls, no kiddos or hubbies with us. We both love the outdoors and have talked about it for a long time and decided to go for it. We looked up campsites that were within a few hours driving distance and then reserved a spot at Torreya State Park which is in Bristol, Florida – about 2 1/2 hours away.
We were originally planning on going on a Friday but discovered the week we could go was the same as Spring Break, so we grabbed the 1 night that was available and headed out on a Wednesday afternoon.

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Driving without kids in the car is always such a different experience. In the 2 1/2 hour drive we had time to talk, listen to our own music and an NPR podcast. Wow, I am in my 30′s – adulthood is awesome!

We got to the park and snagged our parking pass at a small lodge where the ranger was. We grabbed an extra map to plan our hikes and found our campsite.

 

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After unloading some of our stuff we put the tent together. Miriah and Jeff just got one so it was the first time to use it. Putting it together was pretty easy, so we grabbed some firewood while it was still really light out and then headed out for our first hike.

 

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One of the biggest reasons we went with Torreya Park was because of all the reviews about how great the hiking is. We wanted to spend the majority of our trip in the woods, and this was the perfect place to do so.

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Our first hike was heading along the  Apalachicola River to a historic home called the Gregory House. It was a fun little 2-3 mile trek.

With the hills and water that were around it really didn’t feel like we were in Florida. It was great. We even came up on (and scared off) a family of deer. And with it being late afternoon and in the trees it was nice and cool.

 


Miriah is all about some mossy trees, so we grabbed a photo in front of them.

 

After our hike we made a fire and got dinner cooking. We had a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil and placed it on the grate to get warm and toasted.

We played a round of Skip-Bo while our food cooked and enjoyed the quiet evening as the sun set for the evening.

We sat until the fire died down and then made our way to bed. I think we were tucked in before 9pm #MomLife

 

 

We both slept pretty off and on. I woke up to an armadillo walking around outside our tent and then the occasional howling in the distance.

We got up and going around 7-8. Taking our time to fully get up so we didn’t have to rush.

 

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After we got up we started the day with a fire and some breakfast. We had some crescent rolls that we wrapped around sausages. It was good, but far too much work for a morning meal. Which was one of the main points of this trip, figuring out the ins and outs of camping, especially a quick and easy food plan. I don’t know why we fancied up hotdogs, haha, but it was pretty tasty since we weren’t cooking for more than just the 2 of us.

After breakfast we broke down our campsite and got ready to head to another hike. We didn’t know how long it would take and wanted to make sure our campsite was cleared in case we went past check-out time. It was a good decision because the trail we were headed to is called The Torreya Challenge and what was supposed to be a 5 mile hike was actually over 8 and took us a good 3 hours.

 

This is about 3/4 a mile in where the trail starts. The whole experience was really good. The trail was marked really well and we got a major leg workout with the hilly terrain.


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It was a great trip. We caught the perfect weather with it being between 50-75 degrees and no rain until our drive back.

It was really good to see how many families were camping together at our site. From grandparents to young families, and singles and couples. Campers talked to each other and it was fun watching one of our neighbors share roasting marshmallows when each set of their kids started up conversation.

The amenities were really nice too. The bathrooms were super clean, and they had a little “clubhouse” with games, couches, and a shelf of books people donate to fellow campers to use.

We learned a lot about the ease of setting up the campsite, and then what to and not to bring for food. I’ve never craved chips so much in my life! What is it about salty food and camping?! Or is that just me… probably.

I can’t wait until our next excursion, possibly with the kiddos and husbands next time!

Tree Park

We went to a little park near the house and the girls had a blast.
Why play on the slides and equipment when you can climb the trees around the park?! Haha

The girls played for probably 2-3 hours without any complaints. That’s the magic of park’ing with snacks, and also meeting another little girl that they got along with.


  
  

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Sarah heard Uncle Jeff mowing the lawn next door and wanted to say Hi. She used her noggin and made her own ‘step stool’. It worked and she got to give him some waves and hello’s. Addison was there to watch and listen to her cousin give some shout outs to her uncle.

 

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Summertime at it’s finest; blowing bubbles. I’ve also noticed with Sarah being the oldest she is always finding spots with shade when we are outside. There is a weird point in childhood where kids, or at least Sarah, start to care that they are crazy hot and the weather is fierce. Sarah reached that age and has become an “It’s too hot” kind of kid. Of course this can be altered depending on who is playing outside.

 

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The girls started and finished swim refreshers last week. They LOVE the water, especially with Mrs. Carrie, their swim teacher. Sarah and Elanor both light up when they jump in to her. It only took them 6 lessons to be good to go for this next swim season. Sarah picked up her float the first day, and Elanor followed a few days later. It is so wonderful to know that if anything crazy, unexpected or horrible were to ever happen around water they can rescue themselves and call out until they are found. Flip off the back of a boat? They know how to recover and float and call out, even in waves. Fall off a dock or a pool ledge? Flip over and either 1) Call out til someone comes, or 2) Find the side of a pool or shore and swim-float-swim until you are safe. Guys, seriously, ISR is just amazing. Teaching someone as young as 6months old to self-rescue is absolutely amazing. Drowning is the #1 cause of death among children ages 4 and below. Something I, as a parent and aunt, can’t even let my brain think about. Please check it out if you know anyone with little ones: https://www.infantswim.com/

SUP

Last week I had an amazing and much-needed day with my friend Nicole. Between work, family and kids I don’t remember the last time just the two of us hung out and it was absolutely perfect. It happened so sporadically and I can’t thank the Lord enough for making our open schedules and phone call happen the day before.

On Friday I dropped the girls at their Grandmas and headed to Nicole’s house. We loaded up Brandon’s truck and headed out to the beach. I am usually not a big beach person these days, having kids has made me super aware about a) Cancer and b) Sharks. Not sure why b is such a big thing but boy are they prevalent in my brain when there.

Nicole definitely pushed my comfort zone with the water and it was so worth it! We had so much fun and the day was exactly what my brain and soul needed.


          

 

I am definitely ready for round2. I saw stingy rays and a few families of dolphins came by the sandbar and put on a little show with jumps and splashing all around. It was a totally different view being farther out in the ocean on the SUP (Stand Up Paddle) YOLO board above the waterline. I could even see 2 baby dolphins just barely getting their tail above water to flap. I brought my goggles and swam in the water looking for shells while Nicole was out, and we would swap. We even went out on the board together which was fun and definitely tested our balancing skills. A beach trip has never passed so quickly. I think the only time we were out of the water was for a snack or grabbing a phone for photos. I actually got a water proof case for my phone but it’s gonna take a bit more practice learning to focus under the water.

I would love to take the girls out soon to watch from the beach. They are great sand castle builders and shell searchers :)

Day 77 | 365 Project

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Project365 (79 of 3)

On Wednesday we went to visit my sister. The weather was perfect so we brought out the sprinkler and let the girls have a water day. It was adorable and awesomely messy. Elanor fit into one of Sarah’s swimsuits she outgrew since last year. Bubble swimsuits are my favorite!