Nolan’s Birthday Celebrations

I realize I’ve been slacking on my blog posts lately…life, has been busy! I did not want to miss the opportunity to document all of the awesome celebrations we had for Nolan turning 3. So, better late than never!

Our sweet Nolie is ridiculously obsessed with trains these days. His favorite place on Earth is Tweetsie Railroad. He spends countless hours watching YouTube videos of steam engines. And, his wooden track and trains that my Grandma Dot bought the boys are his most prized possessions. So, it made perfect sense to have an all out train themed birthday. Instead of one big party, Nolan got to have 2 different train rides with friends and family, as well as a little party with his school friends (complete with Thomas the Train cupcakes and engineer hats of course.)

We started celebrating with a trip to the railway museum in Savannah. We got to ride a diesel engine and look at all the cool trains. Grandma drove up for the celebration and we had lunch at the Pirate House restaurant with her and Grandpa and Nana.

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On the day of Nolan’s actual birthday we surprised him with a new Mickey train and donuts for breakfast. The simplest things make him so happy! He then celebrated at school with his favorite Miss Beverley and all his little friends.

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For Nolan’s last celebration, we got together with some of our friends from our neighborhood and went on another train ride. It was an open air steam engine (and it was COLD outside!) The things you do for the ones you love! Then, we celebrated at our house with pizza, cookie cake, and playtime with his buddies.

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All in all, this little boy is very loved (and just a little bit spoiled!)

 

Winter Get-Aways

This winter has been surprisingly manageable. We’ve only had one weekend that gave us some cabin fever, but thankfully most of that crazy blizzard missed us (with the exception of a little snow and quite a bit of ice.) While we haven’t had to deal with extreme snowfall, it still gets a little dreary and boring in the winter. We find ourselves missing being able to play outside every day and let’s face it, wearing socks all the time isn’t this Florida girl’s cup of tea.

Thankfully we were able to break up some of the winter blah by taking two quick trips out of town. One was a tag-long work trip for Chris to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte and the other was a weekend get away to see the mountains in Boone.

Great Wolf Lodge was a much needed chance to get our bathing suits on and play without fear of freeeezing! The kids loved the arcade, bowling alley, and water park. They also had a blast in their own little wolf den, complete with bunk beds and their own T.V. (I’m telling you, these kids have got it so rough.) On this trip we learned that Brady is ridiculously fearless when it comes to really high water slides and Nolan is just cool with the really shallow kiddie pool area.

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My water baby in his glory.

 

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Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Boone. We wanted the boys to be able to play in the snow and check out the mountains in the winter. (And secretly we just wanted to go eat at some of our favorite restaurants.) The Boone/Blowing Rock area is quickly becoming one of our family’s favorite vacation spots and it’s awesome that the boys are becoming familiar with the area and making so many memories there.

Our first (and most important) stop when we got to town…Come Back Shack. Holy milkshakes!

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Traveling…I’m in it for the food.

Next stop, Grandfather Mountain.

 

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Cute lil’ mountain climbers!

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Family selfie before crossing the mile high swinging bridge.

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Brady was once again fearless on the mountain. He always wants to climb higher!

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Whatever you do, don’t look down. (MILE high!)

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first of all, he’s ridiculously handsome. second, he threw a snowball at my camera.

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Snowball fight!

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Sit on the side of this mountain. Don’t move. Don’t fall. Now, smile!

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The otters on the mountain really liked the boys!

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Ahhh those views. North Carolina rocks.

We also spent some time in Downtown Blowing Rock. One of the cutest little towns ever!

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More snowball fights!

 

 

 

 

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And, more eating. Like I said, we mostly travel for the food.

And Brady’s favorite part of the trip…the Jacuzzi tub in the hotel suite. Livin’ the life.

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I love our adventures, big and small. Anytime I can combine travel, food, and my sweet boys, I’m a happy girl. No winter blues here!

Fall in NC!

Oh hey, blog. Nice to see you again. No seriously, it’s been forever since I’ve written a post. Time to get back at it!

I thought I’d do a quick re-cap of some of our Fall shenanigans. There’s been lots of football watching, leaf gawking, travel, and enjoying cooler temps.

We try to get in the Fall spirit with a little bit of decorating. Some pumpkins, leaves, and of course a Gator shrine help us enjoy the season a little more.

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Grandma Dot’s Pumpkin Bread recipe is my favorite Fall decoration!

We’ve also been busy with school and soccer the last couple of months. Brady has loved school from day one, where Nolan took some getting used to. He liked the idea of school, but did NOT like mommy leaving. He has finally come around to the idea and now looks forward to it as much as Brady.

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A happy, post school, selfie!

Brady had his first school field trip this Fall- a trip to a pumpkin patch complete with a hayride, goats, and a bounce house.

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Brady’s Soccer Team…

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Go Lions! Brady is so darn cute out there and tries SO hard!

We recently took a trip to Blowing Rock, NC with my Aunt Claudia. She got the best condo for all of us right in Downtown. We were walking distance from restaurants, bars, shops, and a park. The leaves were spectacular along the parkway, the boys enjoyed going back to Tweetsie Railroad, and we had fun exploring Downtown Boone. We even got to check out some cool views of Appalachian State and are highly considering brainwashing our boys to make that their back up school (if they don’t get into UF of course!)

Downtown Blowing Rock…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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Exploring Downtown Boone and App State…

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One of the Boone Firefighters invited Brady into the station as we were walking past and let him get into all the trucks- so exciting for him!

Tweetsie Railroad…

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Halloween was super fun this year. Both boys really got into it and were pretty much the cutest dinosaurs ever. They got to trick or treat twice. Once at the park near our house and then again in our neighborhood. They enjoyed the candy, but really liked just hanging out in our driveway with a fire pit and our neighbors. (And the T.V. Chris set up so we could watch college football, of course.)

Pumpkin Decorating…Can you guess which is Nolan’s and which is Brady’s?

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All about the costumes…

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Trick-or-treat the Trail at White Deer Park…

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Halloween night at our house…

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Nolan demonstrating how Triceratops walked on 4 legs.

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He had the best time running up and “scaring” people with is ROAR!

 

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Brady teaching our neighbor Sophie how to pose like a T-Rex.

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So that’s our Fall so far. We’re looking forward to our first Thanksgiving in our new home and enjoying the last little bit of color on the trees. The days of playing outside without sweating or needing puffy jackets are numbered so we are trying to make the most of them! Happy Fall, y’all!

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August Adventures

Summer is coming to an end. We’ve wrapped up the last of our family travels and the boys’ backpacks are all set out on the table to start school next week. While I am looking forward to the structure and routine that school provides our day to day life, I’ll miss our carefree days of summer. We were lucky enough to get to tag along with Chris on several work trips, visit family, and have visits from lots of our friends. Most of all, I’ll miss spending the whole day with my little guys. I know I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to spend every day with them, and I’ve especially loved getting to see new places and go on “adventures” with them over the last few months.

Some of my favorite times with my boys were the small, silly moments when they were just all boy-sweet, innocent, and loving life! They wore super hero jammies to the mall, rode their toy dinosaurs around the house, and made me laugh all the time!

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The boys were super excited to have a visit from their Auntie Jill (my best friend!) We showed her around downtown Raleigh, all our favorite parks and took a day trip to Chapel Hill…where we had the best BLT’s of our lives! Brady gave it a big ol’ thumbs up- or is that a Donald Trump impression? Either way…

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One of Brady’s favorite trips was when we went to Hickory, NC for Chris’ work. Not only did the museum there have an aquarium (Nolan’s favorite!) but they had a remote controlled dinosaur exhibit (Brady’s favorite!)

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The boys also got their back to school haircuts. Have I mentioned how much Nolan HATES haircuts? It’s torture for all of us. But, we got it over with. These are the best pictures I got of their new do’s. Nolan is covered in a chocolate ice cream sample and Brady wanted me to get a picture “like this” so he could see what he looked like with his eyes closed. Sigh.

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We had a fun day at Wrightsville Beach as a family this month. It’s about 2 hours from the house (our closest beach). I just love how much our boys have become little water babies this summer!

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We also had a visit from our friends the Richards. It was awesome catching up with them and the boys loved hanging with their cute kiddos, Lynlee and Bennett!

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We made another trip down to Savannah this month as well. This time we toured Fort Pulaski with Grandpa and Nana. The boys loved hearing the big cannon firing demos. Nolan wasn’t quite sure if it was fireworks or what.

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It’s always fun when you’re taking a selfie on the second story of a big fort and you happen to see on the phone screen, in the background, one of your kiddos climbing over the super high wall of said fort. We were all, “cheeeese- AHHH!”

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From Savannah we headed to Charleston for a few days. We ate yummy food, walked around downtown, hit up some cool parks, and checked out the South Carolina Aquarium.

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Me and my love in Charleston!

I had to capture the boys on the way home from our last trip. We came home later in the evening and Brady slept the entire way. Nolan slept about half and then spent the rest of the time watching Pharrell sing “Happy” on repeat. So typical.

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The boys and I spent one of our last days of summer at one of our favorite places, Pullen Park. It’s right by downtown and we had fun riding the train, playing on the playground, and we can never leave without getting a Loco Pop.

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This has been a great summer. It was full of celebrations, travel, friends and family. We had big adventures and small moments that I’ll always treasure. The boys will never be 2 and 4 again, so I tried to soak up as much of their sweetness as possible. Boo for summer being over, but yay for Fall adventures to come!

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Sweet, lazy days of summer!

July Adventures

Is July seriously over? That went fast! It’s hard to believe we’re onto our last month of summer before the boys head back to pre-school. We had a fun month- it was a mix of relaxed summer days, travel, and visits from friends and family. Oh, and it was also the month of the big red cast.

Not that it slowed us down at all!

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It was also the month that Nolan showed us that yes, he is indeed in his Terrible 2’s. That delightful mix of sweet and crazy.

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We had a very All-American 4th of July weekend. We had sparklers, cookouts, fire pits, S’mores, time with neighbors, adult beverages, and of course, fireworks over the golf course.

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Chris had meetings in Virginia Beach, so we decided to keep him company and tag along. I’m always surprised at how much I love that area. The boys were obsessed with all the fighter jets going over the beach, and we enjoyed some awesome seafood and great views.

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And yea, that cast was very full of sand by the time it came off.

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We had a fun visit from our friends, the Hootens. It’s so cute to see our kiddos growing up and getting to know each other.

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Me and my sweet Goddaughter, Taylor!

After 3 weeks, Brady got his cast off. The bone did not heal completely, so he had another 2 weeks of wearing a boot, but he sure was excited to get that cast off. Although, I have to say, he really did not complain about it at all. He’s our lil’ trooper.

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One of our favorite parts of the summer, has got to be our trip to the Outer Banks. Again, Chris has customers out there that he had to visit, so we tagged along. (The perks/trade off for having a husband who travels a lot)

Our first night, Nags Head greeted us with an amaaaazing dinner with the best view I could imagine. Right away, we knew we’d be coming back to Outer Banks as much as possible!

 

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Cornhole and drinks on the water? Yes please!

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While Chris was at work, the boys and I explored the beach at Kitty Hawk. Holy waves. It was truly the prettiest beach we’ve been to. (Sorry Daytona & Clearwater! We still love you!)

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Nicholas Sparks, I so get why you love North Carolina.

After Chris was done working, we were able to explore more of the area/ plan our next vacation!

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One of our most memorable parts of the Outer Banks was exploring the Sand Dunes at Kill Devil Hills. They were…breathtaking. Such a cool experience. So obviously, it goes wihout saying that pictures do not do them justice. There’s no way to properly capture the magnitude of how big and expansive those sandy hills are! If you look closely in each picture you may be able to see tiny dots in the background (people in the distance) that give you an idea of how far they stretched out. Oh, and props to Chris for carrying B up those hills with his big booted foot kicking him in the face. Poor kid. Poor daddy.

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As soon as we got home from the Outer Banks, Grandpa and Nana came up for a long weekend and we celebrated Chris’s birthday. They kids had a blast planning his little family party. I let them loose in Party City and they picked out the best decorations!

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This month also marked Nolan’s first time going to a movie. He did surprisingly well. For Nolan. We’ve been going to $1 movies they show for kids in the mornings, but we even went to see the Minion movie with Grandpa and Nana one afternoon. He mostly loves the popcorn.

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We also had lots of ordinary, every day moments, that helped pass the lazy days of summer and remind us just how precious this time is with our sweet boys.

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July…memory making at it’s finest!

 

June Adventures

June might be my favorite month of the year. For our family it’s full of celebrations, travel, and enjoying summer to the fullest. This year, in addition to celebrating lots of birthdays, our anniversary, and Father’s Day, we also threw in a 12 day road trip to Florida. We were able to visit with lots of friends and family and hit up some of our favorite spots along the way (and only came back with 1 broken bone!) Here’s our recap of the month of June and our big road trip!

We started the month with a visit from my mom. She was able to come stay for a week and we got to hang out, eat lots of food, and she was a big help at Brady’s birthday party.

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We celebrated Brady’s birthday early in the month because we knew we’d be busy traveling on his actual birthday. He had lots of friends from school and our neighborhood come help him celebrate.

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In the middle of June we set off on a trip to visit with our family in Georgia and Florida. We stopped for a night in Savannah and stayed with my dad and step-mom (Albert stayed with them for over a week while we traveled.)

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The boys shared a bed for the first time during the trip and we were nervous about how it would go, but they did surprisingly well. (Much better than when we tried it in Charleston and Brady threw up all over Nolan in the middle of the night…)

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We then set off for Clearwater, but had to stop in Gainesville along the way to get lunch and show the boys where their mommy and daddy met!

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Brady helped us find the Smith Family brick on UF’s campus.

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Nolan was a BIG fan of “pizza by the slice.” (aka the pizza consumed by many a Gator student after a night of partying on University Ave.) Here’s his best “GO GATORS!” with a mouthful of pizza.

We then spent a few days in Clearwater. We spent our first evening visiting with Chris’s family. They loved hanging out with their Aunt Kim and playing in her pool. Then, we spent the weekend at the beach visiting with friends and celebrating my birthday.

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Yay for Auntie Jill time!

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Super happy that I finally got to meet baby Bennett!

From Clearwater we headed to Daytona to visit with my family. I was so excited I got to spend my birthday with so much of my family. We spent about 4 days there and got in lots of beach, pool, and boat time. Chris and I even managed to get a night to ourselves at the beach. We loved spending so much time with my mom and Aunt Claudia too.

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Probably one of my favorite pictures ever! See the dolphin I’m pointing out to the boys?! Ahhh, an amazing day!

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After we left Daytona, we headed back to Savannah. We took the scenic route and drove up A1A (beach front avenue!) and stopped in St. Augustine for a quick lunch/site seeing.

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We spent our last weekend in Savannah visiting with Grandpa and Nana. We had fun eating, shopping, and celebrating mine and Brady’s birthday.

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Check out the sweet yellow jackets Grandpa got the boys!

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Somehow Chris and I were still smiling at the end of a 12 day trip. It was ambitious of us, but so fun! Leave it to us to dare to take a trip that long with a 2 and 4 year old.

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After we got home from our trip, Brady had his 4 year check up. He had a slight limp from where he tripped over a mat at Monkey Joes when we were celebrating his birthday in Savannah. I didn’t think much of it, but the doctor had us get x-rays just to make sure it was ok. I should mention that Brady does not do a good job of communicating when he’s in pain or something is wrong. He was actually in a really good mood and the doctor was quite surprised to see that he had fractured the base of his big toe bone! So, June brought us our first cast.

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Funny story- every time the x-ray tech would take an image, Brady would turn to us, pose, and smile. I’m not sure what kind of pictures he thought we were trying to get, but the tech said she felt like it was a magazine shoot!

Brady was excited about getting a RED cast. He asked about 12,000 questions during the process. The PA who did his cast was quite, um, “entertained” (annoyed) by him! I thought he was a champ during the whole thing.

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On June 24th, Chris and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. I have to brag about the thoughtful gift he got me. I have always LOVED crème brulee and wished I could make it at home. For our anniversary, Chris surprised me with a cookbook from a restaurant I had visited on a girls weekend in Greenville, SC. I thought that was pretty thoughtful, and then I saw the rest of the gift. He pointed out a crème brulee recipe in the cookbook and gave me the ramekins, and a torch to make my own. He had also gone to the store to buy all the ingredients. He knows me so well! I think I will keep him.

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We ended the month with a special Brady/Mommy date day. We spent the afternoon at the Science Museum and saw a 3D Dinosaur movie together and had lunch downtown. He was the perfect date!

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Hopefully the rest of the summer will continue to be a perfect mix of travel & adventure and family time & lazy days.

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Thank goodness for waterproof casts!

 

 

 

May Adventures!

If I was a scrapbooker, May would have been a fun month to document. We celebrated Mother’s Day, Brady finished 3 year old preschool, and it was the unofficial start of summer. Seeing as how I don’t have the patience to scrapbook, a blog post full of pictures will have to do! Here’s how our month went…

We hosted a neighborhood Cinco de Mayo party at the beginning of the month. Because, we’ll take any excuse to eat tacos, drink beer and hit a piñata.

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I got to attend the sweetest Mother’s Day Tea at Brady’s school and we had a mommy/son park date afterwards.

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Mother’s Day weekend was full of yummy food, personalized gifts, and time spent with my boys.

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The sweetest gift from all my boys!

We also checked out the Greensboro Science Center over Mother’s Day weekend!

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A selfie with a penguin! Happy Mother’s Day to me 🙂

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The boys were staring into the aquarium desperately waiting to see a shark. I snapped this picture right as Brady gave up and said, “I can’t find a shark anywhere!” Umm, buddy, TURN AROUND!

We were pretty busy with house projects this month (as usual.) We have been working in the yard a lot and finally got around to painting our deck.

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The boys really got a kick out of hanging out on the deck that “they painted.” Brady cracks us up when he puts his legs up and says, “This is the life.”

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May was the perfect time to go strawberry picking (several times!) As usual, Nolan ended up with more on his face than in his basket.

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Brady had his last day of 3 year old pre-school. He had such an amazing year, and we can’t wait to see how he flourishes next year!

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Once school let out, it freed us up to begin traveling a little more. We have a few big trips coming up, but we also like the freedom of being able to take some day trips around the area with the boys.

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Our new favorite pace to visit- Jordan Lake. It’s as beachy as we can get in the middle of North Carolina!

When Chris has somewhere cool to go for work, we try and tag along every once in a while. This month we hung out in the middle of a state park in Virginia while he met with clients. Never a dull moment!

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Boy, this was a precious moment…trying to get a picture of the boys hugging, then realizing they were wrestling on the side of a cliff overlooking a lake.

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The weather has warmed up in a hurry and we’ve been thankful for our backyard kiddie pool and neighborhood pool.

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May was also full of dinosaurs for us Smiths! We visited them at the museum, sorted them, drew them, found books about them at the library, and watched them on T.V. And now there’s a dino-themed birthday party for Brady in the works for June.

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May was nice and busy, and now we’re looking forward to an even busier June. Hooray for Summer!

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Dinner at the neighborhood clubhouse…ah, the charmed life of the Smith boys!