sometimes spontaneity deserves your time.  as we neared the end of summer break, we gave spontaneity some time in the form of a weekend away in a mountainside cabin in blowing rock.  ahhhhh.

my parents had wanted to take ava to tweetsie railroad this summer and decided to take advantage of this weekend to visit what some call the disney world of the north carolina mountains.  they offer a ticket that allows you to enter for an evening until 6 pm, continued into the next full day.  so little eli got to tag along for the evening and ava continued to the fun into the next day.  the gunshots were a little loud and scary for my emotionally sensitive children, but the rest of the park was full of less traumatic fun!

wild, wild west

first time on a ferris wheel! (and second, and third, and fourth…..)

while ava and her grandparents were enjoying the adventures of tweetsie; anton, lauren, and i enjoyed a 4-mile hike at moses cone park.

that night, we ate at one of blowing rock’s most delicious restaurants, bistro roca, and walked around downtown to grab some kilwin’s ice cream.

we rounded out our weekend with a 5.5 mile hike back at moses cone, and climbed a fire tower at the top of the flat top trail.  at one point, both kids were in two ergos and anton and i actually felt like the horses we passed along the trail.  wow.  what a leg workout!

what a summer.  what a glorious, blessed, fun, busy, relaxing, delicious, hot, active, and absolutely wonderful summer.  farewell, my beloved.  only 176 more days…..


summer bucket list

cliches annoy me.  they just do.  and so i prematurely apologize for this post, which may be borderline cliche (hence the title).  when i used to remark about how fast summers fly by or how quickly school years tend to move, folks usually reply with some form of “just wait until you have kids”, implying this impending time warp should happen upon birthing children.  it does appear; however, that they were kinda right.  ugh.

so in my undeniable type-a-ness, i made a summer bucket list to keep us on the brink of time, taking advantage of each day.  check out my super cool, flash-back-to-the-90s poster board style list making skills:

two projects remain:  transferring old songs, videos, pictures, and files from our 8-year-old sony vaio computer onto a mass storage device of some kind.  yeah….that didn’t happen.  and staining the swing to match the deck.  under the family column, three remain:  family bike ride (ava hates her bike – crazy, right?), footprint stones for the backyard, and symphony in the park.  and i am at 117 of my targeted 100 miles of running in the summer.

our last outing was to visit the charlotte douglas airport overlook, which i’ve heard wonderful reviews about taking littles there for a picnic, a low-key date night, or time to reflect.  it’s really nothing beautiful – a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, a few picnic tables and benches surrounding a gravel parking lot.  super simple.  but there was something pretty breathtaking, yet relaxing about watching endless planes take off, disappearing quickly into clouds, watching for arriving planes, with the outline of charlotte’s uptown buildings in the distance.

some of the jets got a little loud….

and eli felt a personal connection to each and every one, as he waved and said “bye, plane” as they took off down the runway:

it was a perfect dreary, cloudy morning activity.

but then again, so is a little snuggle time with a good book.🙂



one bad mamma jamma

when we moved in two years ago (wow), we started dreaming of replacing the carpet in the front living room and dining room.

then we had a baby.  and 19 months later, we have risen out of the fog and have managed to save enough pennies thanks to a couple of side jobs with the charlotte hornets and unc research center to save enough money to make it happen.  and the best part?  my amazingly talented husband volunteered to install the flooring himself.  he poured over you tube videos and online articles about the intricate details of installing hardwood floors, plus having made a trip to the beach to help marc install laminate flooring in the condo definitely helped his confidence level.

the #1 dilemma:  matching the preexisting hardwood in the family room.

sure, it’s separated by ceramic tile in the kitchen, but my mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies turn into a moderate-severe level when faced with anything that may be aesthetically “off”.  it’s a sickness.  and so we began to scour big box lumber stores, invited a flooring salesman to enter our home in an attempt to match flooring, visited mom and pop shops to find a match; and finally, found a match with morningstar carbonized strand bamboo at lumber liquidators. the “carbonized” part of this wood allows heated sugars to create a warm tone with rich yellow, red, and browns woven throughout; and the “strand” part means that the wood is significantly harder and stronger than traditional bamboo due to a special weaving.   we got cold feet when we did a quick internet search on the formadehyde scare associated with LL.  however, after recent reviews of our product and assurance that our wood was not involved in the alleged scandal, we moved forward.  over the 4th of july, they offered an additional 5% off an already-reduced flooring price, which was basically an offer we couldn’t’ refuse.

anton first ripped up the nasty carpet, peeled away the padding, and pried up dozens of feet of tacks:

ew.  what appeared to be an old, settled, dog-pee stain firmly solidified our decision to rip up this carpet and start with a much cleaner flooring.  ew.

after moving out every piece of furniture into the garage, we opened up all 19 boxes of wood to start the 14-day airing-out process.  now don’t get me wrong.  the initial smell was horrible which resulted in opening up windows in 90-degree heat.  awful.  but after about 36 hours, the smell dissipated and we haven’t noticed it since.  supposedly this is normal……

because our home is built upon a concrete slab, we chose a floating hardwood locking floor. we also chose planks that were 1/2 inch thick, which would allow for refinishing in the future if we so desired.

anton’s brother, kevin, boasted his superhero powers when he swept in over a weekend to help anton measure twice, cut once, and work tirelessly for 2 days helping anton lay the floor.  they made a great team.  and don’t worry, i treated them well with good food.😉

once the flooring was locked in, the tedious part began.

next, anton applied a perimeter of quarter-round on top of the flooring, caulked the edges, spackled the nail holes, sanded them, and applied a coat of ultra-white semi-gloss trim paint to seal the deal.

10 stars, 10 golden glittery stars go to my husband for tackling this baaaaaad mamma jamma project.

oh, and we can’t forget about the threshold.  he installed two of these puppies on either side of the rooms, connecting onto the tile.  i love how it flows.

ahhhhh. exhale.  it’s done.  just in time for a new school year. 🙂


making memories

5 familes

10 adults

8 children

3 condos

1 beach

7 days

early in the week, one adult said to her child who was asking permission to take part in an activity, “go for it – you’re making memories.”  and as i look back upon last week’s family vacation, that mantra stands firm.  things may not have been the most relaxing, there may have been a child napping or crying or hungry or tired at any given moment, there may have been 78 sandy baths given, 87 trips up and down the beach with wet towels, sandy buckets, and rarely-used beach chairs…..


there were even more smiles, giggles, friendships, snuggles, and laughter; and moments where all the kids were jumping in the waves, moments when we would stay up until midnight talking and pretending like we didn’t have a 6:30 AM wakeup call, moments when mimi diane or pop marc would enter the doorway and the little boys would all trample toward them saying their names, moments when we were silent long enough to appreciate the beauty of togetherness; and for those moments and a bazillion more, it was all worth it.

one of the more interesting moments occurred last monday when we met with a photographer from morehead city, susan yates, who took family portraits as a belated christmas gift to marc and diane.  she was the epitome of patience as she worked with our different family units to attempts shots of toddlers not crying. ;)  we were able to snag a few in between….

the location of fort macon was perfect for inquisitive little boys who were enamored by the boats drifting by:

some of the best photos may come from a candid-happy bunch of kiddos who were given the green light to run around after they thought we were done!

did i mention our youngest companion?  mr. newborn baby benjamin traveled from wv for his first beach trip!

cousins cuddling watching wizard of oz:

snoozing after a stroller ride:

stingray touching:

sand playing:

daddies and their girls:

and these two sweet girls were inseparable, as always.  holding hands, sunday-school-attending, beach playing, pool jumping, scavenger hunting, doll playing, ipad gaming, annie-singing, storytime going, girls who are so tightly intertwined that they start asking for each other after having been apart for a few hours.

and with the guidance of their older counterpart, grace, the three girls had a great time making up dances, doing each other’s hair, and playing together all week:

i could go on.  and on.  i could share even more pictures of cute babies playing together:

we were able to squeeze in a date night at aqua in beaufort, take out sushi on two nights, lunch at ruddy duck tavern in morehead city, and of course a great finale dinner at amos mosquitoes the night before we left.  i had the hottest date.

and he had the prettiest one:

making memories, we did.

can’t wait for next year!!


summer highlights

the past couple of weeks have been gloriously busy – we just got back from a week-long getaway to the beach (more on that later) and have been savoring every moment of our summer days together.

doing a little storytime action:

poolside playdates with friends:

water balloon discovery:

birchbox surprises (birthday gift from the sister):

celebrating grandma dot’s birthday with cousins and aunts in west virginia’s capitol city, painting some pretty amazing fields of flowers:


picking lots of these cherry tomatoes from our first garden:

giving grandpa bob the “best sportsmanship” award during a very long session of squirt gun play:

celebrating ava’s inaugural stove-top cooking with a homemade ice cream recipe:

and ringing in 8 years of marriage by spending a few hours at a children’s science museum, watching 3D movies (#reallife)

and working on our BIGGEST, most time consuming, expensive, and nervewrecking project as of yet.  here’s a sneak peek with more details to come when we can reveal some pretty exciting before and afters as well as our year-long journey of making this project happen!

can you tell how much i love summertime?


bathroom doll hanger

i’m torn.  i knew raising a daughter would be tough, especially in a world that idolizes aesthetic beauty at a dangerous level of importance and where she’s already been told by 3-year-old boys, “girls can’t do _____”.

and so we swore we would go low-key on the disney princess paraphernalia, would hold off on buying barbies; and instead, would empower her creativity, problem-solving, empathy, kindness, and athleticism.  but you see, the thing is….the princesses slowly take over, with or without parental approval.  and i get that – i loved some barbies growing up.  we also swore we wouldn’t be the kind of parents who tell her disney princesses are wrong or silly or bad; because, how confusing is that?

i was delighted, then, when she discovered my childhood copies of american girl books, historical fiction stories that dictated stories of girls living through wars, braving the wild frontier, living in slavery, and struggling through the great depression.

because of her continued interest in these dolls and their stories, we had placed on our summertime bucket list to visit charlotte’s american girl store, which had opened last fall.  over the past few months, i had been reading less-than-flowery articles about how mattell had bought american girl 15 years ago and are slowly re-branding the history of these dolls basically into mini barbies who deal with problems such as not having enough allowance to buy a new bike versus rationing food while the troops are fighting world war 2.

eh.  what to do.

so, we went.  and ava was beyond overwhelmed with the dolls dressed and poised in summertime gear, the salon where your doll literally gets a new hair do, and a section of look-a-like clothing.  thank goodness she’s never been a kid who asks for things.  it was a beautiful store, and had plenty of eye candy for both parents and children who had no intention of buying a single thing.

and then.  the level of fluff came tumbling over me and i literally wanted to run out of the store when we entered the restroom and saw not one, but two stainless steel doll baby hangers, intricately engineered to fit in between the underarm and collarbone of your doll so that (gasp) she wouldn’t have to lie on the floor while you pottied.  one in the stall, and one by the sink, because ya know, the dolls can’t get wet.

i know i can be cynical and i tried not to let my cynicism ruin our trip; however, all i could think of was #firstworldproblems

we ended our day by sitting at the bistro’s bar and ordered decorate-your-own cupcakes and pretzel bites to squash our mid-afternoon appetite.  the best part of taking a four-year-old to the american girl store is the level of imagination that still exists, and a part of my heart stood still as she fed her baby doll a cupcake.

later that night, i pulled out the rebecca books, a historical doll about a jewish family in new york, and began reading it to her, in a feeble attempt to erase the level of self-indulgence in which he had just participated and to remind her of the stories that shaped the girls who have lived in america.

i wonder how long i can hold her off until our next visit…..or better yet….it’s daddy’s turn!


just the four of us

after a weekend apart, i was aching for some family time.  on monday morning, the sun was heating to it’s magma-level of intensity, so we decided to set out early to dan nicholas park in salisbury, about 40-minutes north of charlotte.  i’ve taken the kids the past three years, and this year, i coerced anton into attending our morning outing.

they have three side-by-side playgrounds upon entrance (free), which range in developmental appropriateness for different ages.  ava, our budding gymnast, loved scaling the spider web:

while this guy chose to hang out in the “choo choo” and play peek-a-boo:

next, we loaded up onto the real train, which took us on a short tour through the woods, as well as a carousel ride.  we visited a petting zoo and a snake and reptile center before heading to a picnic area to feast on lunch.  it was a wonderful morning, just the four of us. 🙂

he was scared.  notice the level of cling.

and with four mondays left before i go back to work…..we’re gonna make the most of them!