{beach 2014 recap}

We recently got back from a week long vacation in Duck, North Carolina on the Outer Banks. I’ve been going to Duck every other year for a while now with my family. We were trying to remember when we first started going-sometime back in the early ’90s. Every time we go to Duck, we stay on the same street and usually have extended family members who stay in other houses right up the street from us. When we went in 2010, my mom’s family had four houses on the same street! How fun!

This year, my parents, my oldest brother and his wife and two children, my younger brother, and my youngest brother and his wife all shared a house with us.

Just a quick look back at Harper’s first time at the beach in 2012 and this summer. My how much she has changed! She likes the ocean a lot better this time, ha!
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And here is Will-he’s been three times, but this most recent trip was his favorite. He didn’t really remember much about the beach before this summer. Will beach collageWe stayed in a wonderful house this year-a three story house with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a nice pool outside. Last time we went, we were in a four bedroom, two bathroom house, which was difficult with 13 people (including four kiddos).

Our house was quite kid-friendly as well. The top level, which included a big kitchen, open dining area, large living room and a bathroom, had a built in baby gate. The house also included two high chairs and a crib! We still took along our pack n play for Harper to use, as well as her booster seat since I didn’t know the house came with high chairs.

The bottom level of our house had two king size bedrooms with attached bathrooms. It also had a nice lounge area with a tv and mini kitchen.

We stayed on the second level, which included four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Will shared a room with his almost 6 year old cousin, O. Harper stayed in our room and actually did okay sleeping (she usually doesn’t sleep as well when she’s in the same room as us). Our bedroom had direct access to the deck and views of the ocean:)

Our week consisted of swimming in the ocean in the mornings, lunch and naps, then pool time in the afternoons. Lots of staying up late (for the kiddos) and tons of fun!

{Note-this post is full of pics!}

Will and Harper enjoying some pool time.
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Attempting to get a group picture of the cousins. Harper wasn’t very happy about it. We had a 2, 3, 4, and 5 year old at our beach house.
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Each morning we walked down to the beach. The only downfall to our house was its location. It was about a 10 minute (with kids) walk to the beach.
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Getting our chairs and tent set up.  See my brother in the background? They call me Mamarazzi? Well, I’m going to call him Paparazzi, ha!

IMG_6935Harper loved playing in the sand but wasn’t too thrilled about the waves. I took her in the ocean several times and she screamed and clung on to me when the waves came up.

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Eating snacks with Grammy. Boy, this girl loves to eat!
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Will loved the sand but also enjoyed getting in the water.
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He even went out on the boogie board and rode in some waves!
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More pool time. I’m glad I invested in these Speedo life jackets for both Harper and Will. Any time we were out at the pool they wore them. I also bought a reusable swimming diaper cover made by Speedo for Harper. It worked great, and I loved not having to deal with the disposable swimmy diapers.
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Hanging out in the beach tent. This was a great buy!
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More snacking by the pool. It might seem like all my kids do is eat, since most of these pictures show them with food! That’s when they are sitting still and when I can manage to get some pics, ha!
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One day we ate lunch outside after pool time.
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I bought some bubbles and other toys for the kids to play with at the beach.
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Getting her nails painted by Aunt M.
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Getting ready for pictures. We had my cousin take some pictures of all 13 of us on the beach.
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Walking down to the beach for pictures. IMG_7412

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In the town of Duck, there is a neat boardwalk that goes along the sound. We strolled on it several times.
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Eating meals together as a family. Each night, one of the siblings was in charge of dinner. For my night, I made honey chicken lime enchiladas (I made them at home and froze them, which made dinner so much easier) and guac and chips and salsa.
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Harper visiting with her Uncle E (my youngest brother). All of my brothers are great with Harper and Will:)
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Tired girl.
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While at the beach, we celebrated my nephew O’s upcoming 6th birthday. Since Will’s aunt and uncle from NC couldn’t come to Will’s birthday party back in May, we also had a mini birthday celebration for him as well. My sister-in-law also had goodies for the girls-stickers and mermaid tattoos, as well as some cool Kinder Surprise Eggs from her recent trip to Europe.
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Here’s a picture of Harper with her great grandmother. My grandparents (mom’s parents) stayed in a beach house right down the street from us (and yes, she’s sporting a mermaid tattoo on her arm!).
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The kiddos being creative with their play.
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My oldest brother created a huge sand pit one day at the beach. It was so big that from out in the ocean, you couldn’t see Harper (though it doesn’t take much since she’s so small, ha!).

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One day, Harper was so exhausted at the beach that she fell asleep in my arms.
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Looking for fish at the pier.
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Beautiful sunset.
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More eating in the tent.
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Playing in the sand.
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Walking down the street to the boardwalk.
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Arrgh matey! Harper wasn’t so sure about this pirate.
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Walking on the boardwalk.
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Sunset on our last evening at the beach.
IMG_8152Our 2014 beach trip was wonderful! Great fun with family, swimming in the ocean and the pool, walks in the evenings, beautiful sunsets, great weather, yummy food. I can’t wait until next time:)

{cousin fun!}

Last week, I headed home to WV with Will and Harper to visit my in-laws and my brother-in-law and his family, who were in from Kentucky for a few days. My husband had to work, so I made the close to 2 hour drive by myself (the first time I have driven home with both kiddos by myself-usually my hubby comes with me). It wasn’t a bad drive at all-we didn’t have to stop either way!

My mother-in-law (Mimi) wanted to get some professional pictures of her four grandchildren, so this was the perfect time! She wanted to do a red, white, and blue color theme since it was close to July 4th. I wasn’t sure what my nieces would be wearing so I brought an assortment of mostly white and blue clothes for Harper and Will (they don’t have many articles of clothing that are red!).

My nieces, V, who is six, and E, who is four, were dressed in the cutest skirts! They matched really well with Will and Harper’s outfits!

Luckily, the photo shoot took only ten minutes! Harper was not in the mood for pics after being in the car for almost two hours. The pics turned out cute-though they are studio pictures, which are not my cup of tea at all. I prefer more natural pictures outdoors and not so posed. Anyway, I will order a print of all four kiddos for my photo gallery wall at home.

This was after the photo shoot-I tried to snap a few pics of the cousins together.  The kids were all pictured-out but I got some fun shots of them playing.

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I’m able to get more photos of Harper since Will is constantly on the move-that child never stops!
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Eating lunch outside. IMG_6535

Taking a walk in the neighborhood.IMG_6539

Playing choo choo train and school bus while waiting on dinner to be ready. Poor Will is the only boy!IMG_6563

 Enjoying popsicles after a yummy dinner of grilled chicken and salad.  Mimi made blueberry cobbler, so the adults enjoyed cobbler a la mode while the kiddos had popsicles.

IMG_6594After dinner, I gave the kids a chance to play outside for a while. Then I gave them baths and we loaded up to head back home. Luckily, they slept most of the way and went right to bed at 9 when we arrived home.

We had a blast playing and visiting with our cousins:)

Canoeing and Crayfish and Cousins, Oh My!

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Over Memorial Day weekend, we headed home to visit our family.  On Saturday, we met my parents (Grammy and Grandaddy) at a local park in the National Forest.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch and headed to the swimming area.

Walking across the fun swinging bridge!

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Playing with the rocks.

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Chillin’.

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Since the water was so cold, we spent most of the time at the edge of the water splashing around as well as canoeing.  This was Will and Harper’s first canoe ride, and they loved it!

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This girl loves the water!
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Miss  Harper canoeing!

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Looking at the crayfish that Grandaddy caught

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Sunbathing!

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After our fun time at the park, we headed to Mimi and Grandaddy’s to have dinner and hang out with the cousins.  My husband’s brother has two little girls, ages 6 and almost 4.  The kiddos had a blast playing in the new bounce house that Mimi and Grandaddy purchased.  How much fun! I think the adults had more fun bouncing in the house than the kiddos!

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Getting ready for dinner.  We had a very nice dinner out on the patio.  Here are the kiddos waiting patiently for their food.  We ordered Chinese take-out, which was excellent.

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More playing in the bounce house.

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We also celebrated my husband’s birthday (and my birthday a little early).  My mother in law bought some beautiful cupcakes from a local bakery.

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We had a fun-filled Memorial Day weekend of canoeing, catching crayfish, eating Chinese food and cupcakes, and playing with the cousins, ha!

Thanksgiving Recap-Instagram Edition

I hope y’all had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving! Here’s a brief recap of our Thanksgiving, Instagram edition. I’m not sure when our computer will be working again, so it’s going to be lots of iPhone pics and short posts typed on my phone or iPad:( We had a wonderful time with family but are glad to be back home!

Last Wednesday, we drove to West Virginia to visit my husband’s parents as well as his brother, sister-in-law, and our two nieces. We planned it so Will and Harper would take their naps in the car. While driving, we went through some bad weather. The snow made it seem more like Christmas than Thanksgiving! My parents got several inches of snow at their house (they live about thirty minutes from my in-laws), and as we headed up the mountain to their house Wednesday evening, the roads were extremely icy. Luckily, we made it there safely (but got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes due to a car accident).

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On Thursday, we had a Thanksgiving meal with my in-laws and my brother-in-law and his family. My brother-in-law and his fam recently moved to Kentucky and we haven’t see them since last year. They have two kiddos, V, who is five, and E, who is three. Will and Harper love playing with their cousins! The four kiddos ran around the house and played all day long.

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On Friday, we hung out at the in-laws. That night, we headed back up to my parents for dinner. After dinner, we made and decorated sand tarts, a family tradition. My dad has been making these thin, buttery cookies since he was little. He grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and as a kid he worked for a lady who made cookies. Will had a blast sprinkling decorations onto the cookies! I love that baking Christmas cookies is a tradition that we have continued!

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Worn out kiddos!

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Yummy cookies!

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Miss H enjoyed her first sand tart!

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On Saturday, we had Thanksgiving #2 with my parents. Usually my brother and sister-in-law come in from North Carolina, but this year my sister-in-law’s parents went to NC to visit.

We had a great time visiting with family, playing outside in the snow and cold, and eating delicious food! We are so blessed:)

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Summer Fun List-What We Accomplished!

Now that it’s time to create a fall fun list, here’s a recap of our summer fun! I created a summer fun list back in June of activities I wanted to do this summer with Will and Harper. Below is a photographic recap of some of the tons of fun we had this summer:)

P.S. In going over my summer fun list, we accomplished everything (plus more!) except for bowling. Our local bowling alley participates in the kids bowl free program and I had wanted to take Will. Maybe next summer.

Strawberry picking

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Water table fun!

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Bike riding

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Story time/play time at the library

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Playing at the park

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More fun at the park! We went to the park at least once a week (rotated through three local parks).

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Craft projects: pudding fingerpaint

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Eating fro yo

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Walking to visit Shadow and Isaac, our neighbor’s horse and donkey.

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Buying fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market

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Popsicles!

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Pool/water fun!

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Visiting Auntie M. and Uncle E. in North Carolina

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Fireworks and swimming with the Aunt and Uncle

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More storytime/library time (we went to story time 1-2 a week)

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Trip to the safari park with our neigbors

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Berry picking

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Free evening at a local museum:

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Bubbles!

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Feeding the ducks at the park

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Playing outside TONS!

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Splash park!

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Homemade frosty nights with the neighbors

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Homemade jello play-dough (orange of course)-it smelled so yummy!

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Walks down the road

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Catching lightning bugs with Aunt M.

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Playing with the cousins

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State Fair of WV

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Railroads, lightening bugs, and cousins

Last weekend, we spent some time with my brother and his family.  They were in from Colorado, so we headed  to my parents’ home in WV to visit.  On Friday, we met up with them at Cass Scenic Railroad.  I had been there several times as a child, but my husband and kids had never been before.  It had been such a long time since I had been there that I didn’t remember much about it.  Will and Harper loved the train ride! We took the ride part way up on a steam driven locomotive to Whittaker Station, where we stopped for lunch before heading back down the mountain.  They offer a ride the whole way up to Bald Knob, but we opted for the 1 1/2 hour ride instead of the 4 1/2 hour trip since we had four kiddos five and under:)  IMG_8926IMG_8969

A group pic of all of us (minus my brother-he took the pic), including my aunt, parents, sister in law, and niece and nephew.  IMG_9051

We headed back home later that afternoon but met back up with my family the next evening.  My brother and sister-in-law from North Carolina came in, so we got to hang out with them.  The kids spent the day playing in the pool, the sandbox, riding grandaddy’s tractor, and catching lighting bugs with Auntie M.  She’s such a cool aunt! Speaking of cool aunts, both of my sisters-in law are the best knitters.  I got this picture below of them both knitting.  I’m a little jealous…I wish I could knit like them.  Maybe I will try to learn how to knit this fall…

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When trying to get a group picture of kids, have food involved!  My mom gave the kids a piece of pumpkin bread, which enabled me to snap this picture of the cousins:) So cute!  All with matching crocs!

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On Monday, we took a short trip to Beartown State Park.  Beartown is a cool (and free) little state park with a nice boardwalk.  The kids enjoyed running ahead and looking for bears, ha!

IMG_9635We all had a wonderful time together:)