{back from the beach}

As you know, I love to look back at pictures and compare how much my kiddos have changed. We just got back from a week at the Outer Banks, so I will be working on a beach post later this week. However, I created a quick comparison of how much our family has changed since we started going to the beach with kiddos back in 2010 when Will was just two months old! In 2012, Harper was four months and Will was two. This year, we had a four year old and a two year old-so, so much easier! This was also the first time (in four years) that I wasn’t nursing while at the beach, which was nice! 

A beach recap will be coming later this week:)
beach collage

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Sheep Shearing and Sickness

On Saturday, I took Harper and Will to Nana’s (our babysitter) to watch Nana’s brother shear sheep.  They have over 400 sheep and spent most of the day shearing them.  Will and Harper were so excited to watch the sheep “get a hair cut!” I love that my kids get to spend time on a farm.  Nana’s parents, Maw and Grandaddy, live right next to Nana and own a farm.  They live in a cool old farmhouse and have several horses, plenty of barn cats, sheep, chickens, and cattle.  Nana’s brother, who basically runs the farm, lives on the other side of Maw and Grandaddy.

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On the farm…

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Checking things out…

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Will loves Grandaddy’s horses.

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Picking buttercups with our neighbor’s son…

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After watching the sheep shearing for a little and wandering around the farm, checking out the seven newborn kittens in the barn and petting the horses, we popped in to Maw’s house to say hi.  Will and Harper walk to Maw’s house a few times a week to visit.  Her house is full of fun, old toys from when my neighbor and her brother were little (my neighbor’s mom is Nana).  On their visits to Maw’s, they usually go to the horse barn to visit the animals.  Love, love, love that they get this opportunity to be on a farm and to become close to Nana and her husband (who we consider Will and Harper’s third set of grandparents) as well as Maw and Grandaddy.  So much can be learned from this wonderful generation of people!

On Sunday, Will woke up with a fever:( We had planned on going to church and to a lunch, but those plans were cancelled.  We stayed at home all day and chilled.  I took Harper to the doctor earlier in the week and found out she had a respiratory virus.  Will ended up getting it this morning.  No fun…but at least it was the weekend and I didn’t have to go to work.  I spent extra cuddle times with Will and Harper today:)

I hope y’all had a great weekend!

Will’s Fourth Birthday Party!

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We celebrated Will’s fourth birthday on Saturday! He doesn’t turn four until May 1st but this weekend worked out better for his party.  It was a small family and friends party, very similar to Harper’s second birthday party.  Mimi and grandaddy (my husband’s parents) came over Saturday morning and took Will and Harper out for a little. They had to leave soon after the party started, so they wanted to spend more time with the kiddos.  Mimi and grandaddy took them to Target and out to Chick-Fil-A for lunch.  It enabled me to do some last minute party prep without kiddos in the house…it’s amazing how productive I can be when the kiddos aren’t around, ha!

 

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Will’s first birthday party was a red wagon theme (he got a red wagon for his birthday that year) with colors of red and aqua.  For his second birthday, we had a train party with greens and blues.  His third birthday was all about Elmo and was blue, red, and orange. I decided to go with a Lego theme for his fourth birthday and incorporated the primary colors.  The decorations were a combination of DIY and purchased from Etsy.

I hung a birthday banner in the living room that had the number 4 and spelled out his name.

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I created this Lego decoration from an idea on Pinterest…it took about two minutes to create.

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A primary color circle banner above the buffet where the gifts were placed.  I joked that it was a Pufferbellies birthday since most of the gifts were from Pufferbellies, one of our favorite toy stores.

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Cupcake prep.  I’m getting better at frosting cupcakes thanks to this tutorial by Carolina Charm.

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Getting the food ready. I used a variety of Fiestaware plates (on top of white ramekins) to create some cake stands.  I love that I have so many Fiestware colors and can mix and match the plates and bowls for our parties.  For Harper’s party, I used blue, pink, and green plates. For his, I pulled out the primary colors to create a fun display.  I also made a Lego utensil holder (it took me about two minutes to make) for decoration.  I had some leftover blue plates and napkins as well as red forks from Will’s previous birthday parties that I used.

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I stopped by our local grocery store in the morning to pick up a half dozen balloons to create some centerpieces…another Pinterest idea! I had leftover circles from the banner and held onto them, just in case I could use them with something.  I sprinkled them around the Lego centerpiece for more color.

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Birthday party clothes for Will and Harper. The shirt was made by a local Etsy seller.

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Up close shot of the balloon Lego centerpieces (reusing the mason jars from Harper’s birthday!).

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Lego juice boxes that I created from an idea on…you guessed it, Pinterest!

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I bought yellow and green cups for the adults and put pieces of Lego washi tape on them for people to write their names.

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We kept it simple and just had chocolate cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting (so delicious) and ice cream. I had some extra candy cups and decided to put goldfish in for the kiddos.

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Lego cupcake toppers from Etsy. I really could have made these but ran out of time.

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Waiting for the guests to arrive.

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It was a beautiful day! We played outside before and after the party!

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Being silly!
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Opening gifts. The wrapping paper from Pufferbellies was so well made it was difficult to get the gifts open! Will asked for my help on several occasions.  Poor Miss Harper, she thought it was her birthday and wanted to open the gifts:(

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Oh mommy, I can’t get this open!

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The food display.

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Drink station. I made sweetened and unsweetened ice tea and bought lemonade at Trader Joe’s. We had Lego juice boxes for the kiddos.

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I love these candy cups and use them for every birthday party.  I pre-scoop ice cream in them and pop them back in the freezer until party time. It makes it so much easier, plus, they are super cute!

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The big four!

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Happy Birthday!

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Playing with his toys!

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Showing me how many four is.

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More playing.  Although it was a Lego themed birthday, Will got lots of Brio train pieces. He’s really into trains now and I would have created a train themed birthday party if I hadn’t already used that theme for his 2nd birthday (he really likes Legos though!).

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After the party, my parents and one of our friends stayed for dinner. I made some yummy oven baked chicken fajitas (so easy to make) and guacamole.

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We had a wonderful afternoon with our family and friends! Will was thrilled to be the center of attention for the day! We had two very exhausted (skipped naps) kiddos but everyone had a blast! I can’t believe that he is almost four…where has the time gone?! I’m trying hard to cherish and remember every single minute with Will and Harper.  They grow up too fast!

Birthday sources:

Lego cupcake toppers from 2 Cheeky Chicks on Etsy

Block name banner from a Touchof B on Etsy

Lego washi tape from la Zoie on Etsy

Rainbow striped candy cups from Pink Lemonade Party on Etsy

Rainbow cupcake liners from Sweet Estelle on Etsy

Building blocks birthday invitation from The Party Town on Etsy

Four birthday shirt custom made from Crafted in Grace on Etsy

Cups, napkins, plates, and utensils from Target

DIY Lego birthday party decorations

DIY Lego juice boxes

DIY primary color banner

 

 

 

Chocolate Festival Fun!

On Saturday, we headed to our hometown for their annual chocolate festival.  It’s held each April and this year marked our third time attending.  It’s a fun chocolate tasting extravaganza where the streets are blocked off and downtown stores and other local businesses offer a variety of chocolate tastings.  The chocolate tasting tickets are sold in advance, and my husband’s parents typically pick them up for us each year.

We headed downtown to the festival shortly after arriving in West Virginia.  Miss Harper enjoying the wonderful weather!

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Trekking up to an out-of-the-way restaurant that had a chocolate mousse cake with fresh whipped cream and raspberry coulis.  Along the way, we stopped by another restaurant and sampled their chocolate molten lava cake with creme fraiche.  Yum!

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Waiting for a bite of chocolate!

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Enjoying the chocolate mousse cake.

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Will kept insisting on having his own, ha! The festival had 35 different tasting locations with goodies such as chocolate brownie s’mores with salty caramel drizzle, chocolate chip cupcakes with a hot fudge center and chocolate ganache, and a handmade vanilla bean marshmallow s’more pop.  Yum!

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Trying to get a picture of me with the kiddos. It’s impossible to get them to look at the camera!

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A view from above the town.

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I think Will and Harper’s favorite part from the festival was playing with the puppies that were up for adoption.  I’m not a dog person at all, but they were pretty cute!

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After our chocolate overload, we headed to Mimi and Granddaddy’s house to have lunch.  Mimi hid a few Easter Eggs outside for the kiddos to find.  Will enjoyed running through the yard, finding eggs! We had to keep telling him to save some eggs for Harper!

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Finding eggs with Mimi!

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After visiting with Mimi and Grandaddy, we headed up the mountain (about a 30 minute drive) to my parents’ house to spend the night.  At Grammy and Grandaddy’s, the kiddos enjoyed playing outside, riding bikes, taking walks, eating popsicles, “driving” on the tractor, and building train tracks.

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My dad owns a nursery and sells Christmas trees.  Here’s Will “spraying” the new Christmas trees that Grandaddy recently planted.

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On Saturday evening, we helped Grammy make peanut butter and coconut chocolate covered eggs.  It’s a family tradition to make these eggs, and it was so fun to have Will and Harper help! It had been over ten years since I helped make them, too, so that was neat!

We had Grammy’s yummy waffles with blueberry syrup on Sunday morning and headed back home after lunch.  We had a great time visiting family! But as usual, we were ready to get back home!

Harper’s Second Birthday Party

We celebrated our sweet Harper’s second birthday party on Saturday! It was so much fun celebrating with our family and close friends! What a beautiful day as well-the temps were in the high 60s-so gorgeous!

I based Harper’s birthday theme loosely around mason jars and incorporated green, navy blue, and pink. I purchased this cute mason jar invite on Etsy to kick off the theme.  Sorry for the blacked out portions…when I started this blog and decided to use my kiddos’ middle names when referring to them, I never knew how difficult it would be and how careful I would need to be to make sure their first names or initials were not in any of the pictures I posted, ha!

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Our yearly family birthday pic! We started this when Will turned one-we make sure we snap a picture at each birthday party.

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The cupcake and ice cream spread! I decorated wooden spoons with washi tape and bought some cute flower cupcake toppers on Etsy.  For cake stands, I used several white ramekins and put colorful Fiestaware plates on top.  To save time, I always pre-scoop out the ice cream in individual candy cups and pop them back in the freezer. In this picture, the ice cream is in the white and blue chevron cups. It’s so easy for the guests to pick up a cupcake and a cup of ice cream.  Since I wanted to use my Lisa Leonard “Happy Birthday” topper, I made Miss Harper a mini cake.

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I created a display of Instagram prints that spanned from March 2013-March 2014 and organized them in chronological order with mini washi tape clothespins. In our dining room, I hung one of the displays and attached a few tissue paper tassels I made. Below the banner, our guests placed the gifts for Harper.

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Here’s the second Instagram display (this one was in the living room).

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On the buffet in the dining room, I spread out our mason jars with daisy lids.  I created the washi flags initially for guests to write their names on them but at the last minute, I decided it would be easier to stick a piece of washi tape on the cup where guests could more easily write their names.  Medium size cups for the adults and mini size mason jars for the kiddos. I’m loving the paper straws-so pretty! One downfall, however, is that they tend to get soggy.

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I used a mason jar decorated with washi tape to hold the wooden washi tape spoons and forks.

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Miss Harper snuggling with her Uncle E. We attempted to put her down for an early nap (her party was at 3), but our family started arriving around 1 and Harper was not about the miss the excitement! She’s playing peek-a-boo with me!

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Will playing hide-and-seek with Uncle E.  He loved it!

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Taking a little walk before the party started…it was so nice out, so we decided to visit Shadow and Isaac, our neighbor’s horse and donkey. Uncle E. and Aunt M. are the best! The kiddos love playing with them:)

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Snapping some pics before the party.

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Sibling love!

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Since both kiddos are young, their birthday parties are very casual and small.  We invited both of our parents, my brother and sister-in-law (who live in NC-we were so excited they drove up for the party!), Nana, Pops, Maw, Aunt Kathy (the kiddos’ extended “grandparents”-their babysitters), and our neighbor and her kiddos. Will and my mother-in-law helped Harper open up her gifts.  She had a blast, and so did Will! He wanted to open all of her gifts, ha!

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Modeling her new purse!

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Playing with her new tea set. Harper received so many nice gifts! An alphabet puzzle, two dresses, a summer outfit, several books, a tea set, purse, arts and craft supplies, and several other wonderful presents.

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Will sipping lemonade from a mason jar.

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We put the cake in front of Harper and tried to get her to  blow out the candle.  Instead, she wanted to put her finger in the flame.  Ouch!  I made an easy chocolate cake (family recipe) and some delicious whipped cream/cream cheese frosting. I watched this tutorial from Carolina Charm on how to frost a cupcake. Mine didn’t look as nice as hers, but they looked a lot better than in previous years!

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All of Harper’s babysitters:) She loves them so much!

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Enjoying cake and ice cream outside.
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Face-timing with Harper and Will’s cousins in Colorado. After the party was over, we had dinner for our immediate family. I made an easy chicken parmesan bake and my mom brought a yummy salad. My mother-in-law made a squash casserole and brought garlic knots. We enjoyed a great dinner and spent some time visiting later that evening.

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Sound asleep on Grammy-exhausted from the super fun day!
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We are so blessed to have amazing family and friends!  Harper had a wonderful 2nd birthday!

Birthday party sources:

Mason Jar Invitations from Cherry Berry Designs on Etsy

Mason Lemonade Jars, Daisy Cut Metal Lids, Blue Chevron Candy Cups, Plain Wooden Spoons, Green Paper Straws from Pink Lemonade Party on Etsy

Flower Cupcake Toppers from Scrappuchino on Etsy

Washi Tape from Silent Poetry Arts on Etsy

Harper’s Green Skirt from Laken and Lila on Etsy (I love her skirts and dresses! It’s been a tradition for Harper to wear a dress or skirt from Laken and Lila each year for her birthday).

Birthday Banner Cake Topper from Lisa Leonard Designs (we use this each year)

Pink paper straws, blue napkins, pink plates, birthday candle, and mason jars from Target

Instagram Prints from Printstagram

DIY Tissue Paper Tassels and Photo Display

DIY Washi Tape Spoons

DIY Washi Tape Flag Labels

DIY Washi Tape Clothespins

P.S. As you can see, I’m a little obsessed with Etsy and Target! Ha! They both have tons of great party supplies! Now it’s off to start working on Will’s 4th birthday party (Lego themed), which is coming up soon (at the end of April, yikes!)!

Maple Festival Fun!

On Saturday, we headed over the mountain to a nearby county for their annual (56th this year) Maple Festival.  We have been several times before, but this was Miss Harper’s first time. We didn’t go last year due to the weather and sick kiddos, and in 2012 when we went, I was nine months pregnant with Harper.

In Highland County, there are several sugar camps scattered throughout the rural landscape.  We have visited several of them but prefer Eagles’ Sugar Camp the best.  We headed to Eagles’ and showed Will and Harper how maple syrup is made.  Growing up, a good friend of mine and her family made maple syrup each year.  I loved helping and spent the night at her house often during maple syrup season.  They tapped maple trees all over their 50+ acre farm and used their horses, Jack and Danny, to help haul the huge container of sugar water back to the sugar camp where it was  boiled down to make delicious syrup. Anyway, back to our day at the maple festival!

Walking to the sugar camp.

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Watching the sugar water drip into the bucket.

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Observing the sugar water boil and (eventually) turn into maple syrup.  It takes approximately 40 quarts of sugar water to make a quart of maple syrup.

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Maple syrup prices this year-it wasn’t the best year for maple syrup production.

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Watching a tractor deliver a huge container of sugar water.

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Peeking at the sugar water in the buckets.

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After visiting the sugar camp and purchasing some maple syrup, we headed to a nearby town for lunch.  Originally, we wanted to get pancakes, but the line was over an hour long (thousands of people attend this festival).  We headed across the road to a little general store where we ate maple bbq chicken and maple glazed donuts!  They were delicious!

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A peek inside the general store.

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We all had an excellent time and are looking forward to next year’s festival!

 

{It’s the Little Things Link-Up}

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Hello! I’m linking up with Words About Waverly and Sadie Sky Boutique for a new link-up!  It’s a link-up where you document memories and the little things in life.  I love the idea, and it goes very well with my goals in 2014.  I’m focusing on slowing down this year, not stressing as much, and spending more quality time with my family.

Here’s a wonderful moment…I snapped this picture one evening last week.  Will was watching an episode of “Madeline” on the iPod and Harper wanted to join in.  I got them settled together on the couch and they stayed like this for about fifteen minutes.  Love them so much:)  It’s so sweet to see how they interact with each other.

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