vacation

Updates

The summer days are quickly winding down.  The strange thing is, the dog days haven’t even hardly begun yet…at least here anyway.

Tomorrow is our anniversary (9 years–woohoo!) and it always seems to be a marker for the beginning of the end of our summer.  N has already had a few days he’s put in and we kind of flounder around without him in a weird, unstructured, depressed kind of way.   I kind of forget all of my SAHM experience and have to re-learn how to single-parent again.  MG is especially aware of his absence on the days he is gone and I’m not really sure how to prepare her to do this full time again.

This year will also be the start of official pre-school for her.  I know I should be excited, and I am sure she will love it, but this too also feels like a definitive marker.  Soon she will no longer be fully mine.

I’m dreading all of these small changes that will be here in less than a month.  It seems that the first few weeks of August are one of the busiest times of work for N and we lose our little, tight-knit family for a while.  It’s painful at first and I get anxious thinking about what it will look like.

Grandma Mary cleaned out her sewing box (she said she’s retiring :)) and gave me the contents.  I found quite a few treasures (the bag of buttons was especially exciting) and set to work almost immediately on the first inspiration that struck me.

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The poms & fawn patch both came from her box, the straps from a friend’s yard sale, and the fabric was from my stash.  This is one of my favorite projects I’ve made because it’s so meaningful.

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This past weekend we took a short little weekend trip to Chattanooga.  We trailblazed down I-65 at a snail’s pace, stopping more often than I’d like to remember for construction and road blocks.  But we made it to Chattanooga by dinner time on Friday night and that Southern Chick-fil-a with all of the double-first-named soft-drawling children running around (and another MG!!!) was plenty to revive our travel-worn spirits.

 

Saturday was spent swimming, eating out, lots of family time, and a movie in the park to top it off.  MG is definitely our movie girl.  She is riveted by anything on a screen and pays close attention to the plot line.

 

I set a lofty goal for myself to make (sew) the majority of MG’s fall wardrobe (Bea already has a large wardrobe of hand-me-downs, but I’ll make a few coordinating things for her too).   I’ve been day dreaming some ideas that include corduroy, velvet, stretchy denim, and structured shirts.  Wish me luck!

I found a deeply discounted Scan N Cut at my favorite TN store Essex…AKA Bargain Hunt.  My brother-in-law spotted it first and in my memory, he carries it across the store to me, holding it high above his head in a victory march.  I have been wanting one of these things forever but could never swallow the price tag.  As soon as I got home, I began playing around with it and my imagination is exploding with ideas.  I’m trying not to ignore my family too much 😉 so I can tackel it.

I’m (slowly) reading Go Set a Watchman.  I’m still early into it, so I haven’t encountered the controversial Atticus yet, but I am especially struck by her talent as an author.  Ms. Lee can tell a story.  That is my number one aspiration with this blog, to be a teller of my girls’ stories until they are old enough to take over.

-smk

 

CA

It seems a lifetime ago we packed up what felt like too much of our little family and caught an early flight to California. 

The girls are becoming old pros at this flight stuff and we breezed through Dallas and made it to Sacramento before 11am (PST).

After experiencing an extremely rainy summer thus far, we ran to the pool with open arms.  The dry CA heat and sunshine never felt better.

The next morning, N and I kissed our girls goodbye and left them in the very capable hands of Granny and then went to the airport BY OURSELVES.  We drank coffee and ate a snack without having to share it with anyone constantly monitoring our contents.  And we strolled leisurely around when our flight was delayed an hour because IT DID NOT MATTER.  

When we did board our flight, we sat in the exit row and I read a book from gate to gate while N  prepped some doctoral work to work ahead a bit.  It was glorious.  

Our flight took us to LAX and our final destination was Marina del Rey; only about a 15 minute drive if you don’t hit traffic (a rarity in LA). We had booked our place months ago through AirBnB and we were a little excited/nervous finally see it in person.

(I need to interrupt for a minute to give a shout-out to my sister/brother in law who found our place AND sent us a ton of restaurant and entertainment ideas that really panned out for us.  THANK YOU!!)

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We were so excited when we finally cracked the door open and took in our condo for the week.  It was a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen, eating space, and a balcony (perfect for breakfast and lunches)

We had decided in advance that we weren’t going to rent a car because of our location and the prospect of beach cruisers that came with our rental.  Biking post-kids is a luxury and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the city by bike. LA is a pretty bike friendly town and we explored all over Venice, took a bike path to Santa Monica, explored Abbott Kinney Blvd (my favorite!) and even ferried  groceries back home several times.  For the places we went to that were too far by bike, we bused (for when we had time, it rarely cost us both more than $3 for an hour+ride) and ubered (when time was important to us).  

Some of the sights outside of Marina del Rey/Santa Monica we saw were the Getty art museum and Hollywood.  

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We chose to do a bike tour of Beverly Hills (another suggestion by my personal travel agent :)) and it was my favorite thing we did.  We had our own personal tour guide who took us through celebrity neighborhoods (we saw some A-list celebrity homes, heard many celebrity stories, and saw some vintage celebrity homes as well.  No celebrity sitings, and most homes had such high privacy fences that you couldn’t see much of the home; but it was still fun to be casually riding our bikes through these mulit-million dollar streets!).  On this tour we also stopped and explored this old mansion (Greystone Manor)  that has been the site of many A-list movies.  It has beautiful grounds and a ghost story to boot.  Exploring that (and peeking in the windows) was probably my favorite part.

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(just casually riding our bikes down Rodeo Drive!)

The bike tour met in West Hollywood and afterward we made our way over to North hollywood for Graumin’s Theater and Madame Toussad’s wax museum. It was the closest we came to seeing any real celebrities.

We ate really well on this trip and got quite spoiled by all of the gluten free bakeries and ice cream shops nearby.  Our condo had a pool and we spent a few afternoons there reading and relaxing….by definition my favorite way to spend vacation.

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When our six days were up, we were ready to get back to our girls!  They hardly seemed to notice our absence; Grampy and Granny kept them entertained (swimming 2-3x a day, walks, movies, snacks, and all of the new-to-them toys {including my old barbie dolls]).  

We spent the remainder of our vacation soaking up the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk CA rays and doing more of the same; walks, swimming, shopping, and movies.  

I don’t know yet when we will be back to good ol’ California but it certainly has been good to us

-smk

Summer Break under the stress

Summer break officially began for us sometime last week.  But it seems these past 8 days or so have found N and I trading kid duties while we both work on our “second jobs”.  (his being doctorate, mine being Sweet Mama Makes).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a welcome relief from the pace of normal life, but I don’t think either of us are feeling very well-rested.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so frenzied is that I just launched a new line of Shorties and Bloomers  (I’d add pictures, but apparently my Internet connection will only allow me one at the moment).

Since this was my first time making them, I had to create the pattern, perfect it, make one in each size in the range, make an example in each fabric to give customers an idea of what they would like, press them, photograph them, write Etsy listings for them, and then advertise and sell them.  And finally to create them!

This has been an interested venture to say the least and not all of my handmade things have been very successful sellers, but I’m thankful for what I am learning from being my own businesswoman.  And while I don’t think SMM will be a permanent fixture in my life, I am counting all of the life lessons I’m learning.

So far in the 9 months Sweet Mama Makes has been opened,  I’ve noticed a predictable cycle…first I drive myself into a frenzy, then I get overwhelmed and swear I’m going to quit after the next round, then I take a few weeks off and enjoy it so much I say I’m never going back, then I get that itching urge to create again and then make something I want to share.  And on it continues.  I do love having an outlet that lets me express myself when the urge strikes but I also realize I’ve got to find a better way to balance my time or else I’m going to burn out quickly.

I’m just nearing the end of a frenzied period and taking some time off this week to create for myself (the girls really).  I saw this Eric Carle fabric and had to have it.  Today it turned into a pinafore for Bea.

 

We’ve also been pre-gaming for an upcoming vacation (where we can’t wait to rest HARD).  This means we’ve given up refined sugar for 2 weeks (honey and maple syrup are okay). I’ve been eating a lot of desserts like “ice cream” made out of frozen bananas and “brownies” with an avocado base.  I don’t hate it…but that first vacation shave ice sure will taste good.  So will that first vacation night of sleep.

Bring it on,

smk

Woffrakeleys do Disney

(started this draft a few weeks ago, finished it today :))

Just returned from another dreamy spring break in sunny CA.

The girls and I left a few days early and looks like we narrowly escaped the return of winter back home.  Snow, wind, and below freezing temps always like to make one final appearance in March (sometimes even April :-o) and I’m hopeful that this is IT.

Meanwhile, the weather out there was 70’s and sunny every-single-day.  It lifted my spirits and gave me the energy that the first day of spring always brings.  Mmm…the smell of sunscreen alone is enough to give me a Spring contact high.

We spent our days (pre-Daddy) hanging out with Granny and Grampy.  Thanks to our extended stay last winter, we have a little routine worked out that we seem to ease right into.  We hit up some of our favorite spots and added some new ones with the girls in the morning.  The afternoons were for rest and decompression, the evenings spent chatting around the table and walking the dog.  Baths, reading, and bed to follow.

 

The girls made me so proud on the plane ride(s) out there.  Being by myself, I always feel a little vulnerable; but thankfully this wasn’t the first time doing it so I knew what to expect.  Last time we flew in the late afternoon and got in way past bedtime.  This time we flew early, early in the morning and landed at 10:30am, CA time.  The morning travels seemed to go a little more smoothly, in my opinion, and even though the girls didn’t nap (Bea started nodding off at the descent of each flight), they seemed to enjoy the trip as they knew what to expect.  (Jamba juice and silly putty being at the top of the list).  Also, I brought our cracked iPad on a whim and let Bea do her damage on it (the only app she will play is Peek-a-boo pets but she will spend about 20 minutes rearranging apps and pictures before becoming tired of it).  That seemed to help a bit too.

Daddy joined us on Saturday, as did Mary and Joel the day before.

 

We had four short days to cram in our favorite restaurants, games, and even a little pool time, before jetting off to Orange County.

 

We were up at 3:40am to fly (cheap flights & only an hour versus a 6+ hour drive) and we were in the park doing activities by 9:15am.

I was expecting a huge crowd with long waits due to spring break, but I couldn’t believe how much we were able to do and see in our 48 hours there.  MG wore her new Aurora gown both days and we saw nearly all the princesses and rode all of the kiddie rides.  Day two we did Toon Town (Mickey and Minnie’s houses were extra fun) and California Adventure (Frozen Fun,meeting Elsa & Anna).

We stayed out late each night and the lack of sleep/naps barely slowed us down.  We were running on adrenaline and Dole whips.  The girls really hung in there.  Both cat napped in the stroller and on Granny’s lap the first day.  We went back to the room to nap on the second day but it wasn’t enough time for MG to nap and she fell asleep on the 9:15 bus ride home, waking up only to change out of her dress-up and secure the well-being of her new Rapunzel doll.

Of course no memory making trip is complete without a video, courtesy of yours truly.  Enjoy

Vacation 2014, part II

As promised, here is the video from our recent trip to Rosemary beach.

Rosemary Beach 2014 from Kate on Vimeo.

A few notes: MG is STILL obsessed with Sleeping Beauty.  Granny brought a Disney princess crown for her and she wore it nearly the entire time, as evidenced by the video.  When we went outlet shopping, we also took her to the Disney store and let her pick something out.  She chose a Sleeping Beauty nightgown.  Then we saw the Princess Sophia “dress-ups” were on major clearance and since she’s been very much into dress up lately, we had to have it.  (she’s never seen princess sophia but she knows who she is.  She has worn her dress-up every waking moment inside the house since our return.  I have a rule that she can’t leave the house in it…although she has tried).  Then, they got us again with $10 Sleeping Beauty dolls.  So she walked out with three things.  And it was pretty magical.

-smk

Vacation 2014

It is hard to believe but our summer break is now (more than) halfway over.  Too many fun things coupled with deceptively cool weather has lulled us into the lazy, carefree summer rhythm.

One of the highlights of this summer will be the family vacation we just returned from.  My immediate family attempts to congregate in a new location every summer and this year we chose Rosemary Beach outside of Panama City, FL.  As far as vacations go, this had to have been one of my favorites.  Easy beach access, sugar white sand, huge pool, beautiful (and beautifully decorated) beach house, bike rentals, too many good food options, frozen yogurt/sno-cones nearly every evening, and outlet shopping (always a family vacation must).  Plus, Rosemary beach and neighboring Alys Beach have lots of visual appeal with their spendy homes and amenities.  Of the two, Rosemary is the well-established, classic choice while Alys is her tonier, new-money sister.  We enjoyed several nights just walking and biking through the sidewalks, gawking at what we could peep at from the lit interiors.

As hoped, by the end we were so relaxed we were nearly catatonic.  I guess not cooking, mowing, cleaning, laundrying, and erranding will do that to you after a week.   In their favor, the girls vacationed well.  The flights (and 5 hours layovers!!!!)  both went as smoothly as possible.  MG could have spent nearly every hour digging in the sand and we learned that after Bea got over her desire to eat and drink it, she enjoyed floating in the water.  While down there, we also ran (literally, ran) into some good friends and caught up with them with the roar of the ocean in the background.   Our evenings were spent walking or biking, followed by book discussions and family Jeopardy.  It’s the same old, comfortable family vacation routine we’ve fallen into, but we have no desire to change it.

I’m working on a vacation video (which always seem to capture the feelings better than words and pictures), but in the mean time, here are a few teaser pics:

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-smk

LA weekend

Yesterday we drove back (to our second) home after a fun but short lived weekend in LA. The girls and I pulled in to the land of Carl’s jr and Priuses on Friday around 4:30, local time, and N was able to meet up with us shortly after.

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MG was soooooo excited to see him and could hardly contain her excitement as we grew (or should I say, inched) closer in LA traffic. A lot of people have asked how the girls have done during this separation and it is hard to explain. Since normally N is only around for a few hours of the day and MG doesn’t understand the concept of time, it’s almost as if he’s been at work for a really long time. Plus having my parents around has been a great distraction. Right now it’s as if she has two mommies because there are two adults almost always at her beckoned call. However, right about the two week mark, she starts to show signs of sadness and frustration. This weekend fell perfectly at the end of that period.

LA threw us a beautiful spring party with cool weather in the evenings and humidless heat by day. During N’s conference on Saturday, I took the girls to the zoo which was only a few minutes from our hotel. It was huge and we only had time to see about a third of it before calling it a day.

I will say those LA people love to see babies. Bea received more comments than an average visit to the south, which is saying a lot. I never saw a family with more than two kids the entire time I was there. Three-four is the style back home but so many strangers pointed out that “I had my hands full”. I can only smile and laugh!

We said our final goodbye to daddy on Sunday but only until the last week in March when he joins us for good out here and then we will all fly back to our school house together.

He begins the moving process for us in less than a week! I am on pins and needles (and truthfully feeling slightly awesome that I don’t have to help with it

Last Week…

…we enjoyed a wonderful visit to sunny California!

Each year, my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and us try to go on a vacation together.  This year it was quickly decided that our location should be my parents’ house in California.  We’d never done that altogether in the summer before..which lent itself to lots of new fun.

Plus, with Bea only being 6 weeks old, it was nice to be in a “homey” environment and meant less stuff to bring with us.  In fact, we survived with only carry-ons.  If you knew me prior to 2009, you know that is no small success 🙂

Many thought we were crazy flying two under three cross country on a plane.   But we just smiled at their sympathy.  This was going to be the easiest trip yet!  And it was!  Bea was smiley or sleeping both flights there and literally slept the entire two flights back.  MG had her own seat and is old enough to stay engaged with snacks, a new toy, art activities, and videos for all four flights.  Plus, having an entire row to ourselves now that MG gets her own seat was downright luxurious :).

Instead of overwhelming you with pictures, here is a little video I compiled.  Although, WARNING, might be a  little boring if you’re not family 🙂

{note: the firework monologue at the end cracks me up.  I tried to explain fireworks to her before we left and eventually showed her a youtube video to help her visualize them.   This was the result.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/69860941%5D

And after all that….times she covered her ears during the twenty minute show?  Zero}

I used Instagram video for some of the video clips in the movie which is one of my new favorite things…but more on that later.  Also, some of my new favorite mommy products, the complete transition to MG’s big girl bed, and lots of other stuff coming your way soon 🙂