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!

 

Boone/Blowing Rock Adventure

The Smith Family went on a heck of an adventure recently. My Aunt Claudia was coming to visit us and asked if we’d like to join her for a trip to Boone, NC to a cabin in the mountains. Of course we jumped at the chance! Aunt Claudia found the most amazing cabin in the mountains of the Blowing Rock/Boone area which is about 3 hours from Raleigh. We spent 5 days exploring the area, climbing mountains, taking in scenery, eating delicious food, and making some awesome memories. This was an especially great experience for me because I visited this same area when I was little with my Aunt Claudia and her family. It was fun to see it all again through my boys’ eyes. It was also the perfect place to see the Fall leaves in all their splendor. Here’s some highlights from our trip…

 

We took a drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Grandfather Mountain. We crossed the Mile High Swinging Bridge and it was (stomach flipping) awesome. Brady and Chris climbed the side of the mountain and went as high as they could while I proudly watched and tried not to have a panic attack!

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Not gonna lie…crossing this bridge scared the you know what outa me!

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Chris and Brady climbed so high on Grandfather Mountain. You can see them sitting at the top of the peak. (Mommy had a panic attack!)

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Check out the Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Amazing how it just drops off into nowhere. I can’t imagine how they built this…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway- breathtaking!

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Our cabin was perfect. We had a hot tub, pool table, and wrap around porches with amazing views. The boys loved it!

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Loved these views all around our cabin.

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We spent one day exploring Downtown Blowing Rock. It was so quaint with lots of shops and restaurants and a great park that the boys loved.

 

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The kiddos loved this little park in Blowing Rock.

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LOVE this picture. He was so proud of his leaf!

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Super chilly day in Blowing Rock!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Tweetsie Railroad. There were rides, a petting zoo, and of course, a train that went through the mountains. Again, the scenery was perfect.

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Nolan’s first time going on a ride. So precious!

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Tweetsie Railroad Train…the boys LOVED riding this!

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An awesome backdrop for a great park with gorgeous weather!

Brady is a train loving fool and Nolan loved waving “Bye-bye” to people from the train.

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I went to this park with Aunt Claudia when I was little. So sweet to experience it with her and my boys again.

Another Smith Family adventure for the books, and another reason for us to love North Carolina!

Summatime…Smith Style

As I sit here typing, it’s currently about 68 degrees out, raining, and I’m wearing sweat pants and drinking hot tea. It’s hard to believe that it’s August! Thank you, Raleigh, for this unexpected break from Summer weather. With that being said, I thought it was a perfect time to sit and recap all of our Summer adventures. Between family trips, girls weekends, and tagging along for some of Chris’s work trips, we’ve been on the go all Summer. We also celebrated mine, Brady’s, my mom’s, and Chris’s birthdays…along with our anniversary and Father’s Day- we’ve been busy.

I kicked off Summer with a Gator girl weekend in Savannah. That was followed by a work trip (for Chris) that we tagged along for to Virginia Beach. Then B-Man and I headed to Atlanta for my Goddaughter’s 1st birthday. After that we took a trip to Washington D.C., then a long weekend in Oak Island, NC, another girl’s trip to Tampa/Naples, then a family vacation to Myrtle Beach which turned into a staycation in Raleigh/Durham area, and then a week long trip to Savannah.

Whew!! This. Summer. Was. Awesome.

Here’s a virtual scrap book of our travels…

Gator Girl Reunion in Savannah, Memorial Day Weekend.

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Virginia Beach, VA

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Atlanta trip with Brady… playing at the lake with Taylor and Jackson, exploring the Georgia Aquarium, and celebrating Miss Taylor’s 1st Birthday.

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Washington D.C. Mine and my friend Lindsay’s hubbies both had to be in D.C. for work, so we tagged along for some sightseeing fun!

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Oak Island, NC. 4th of July weekend, visiting with our Lancaster buddies!

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Summer also consisted of lots of golf, birthdays, and date nights!

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Gator girl weekend in Naples, FL

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Myrtle Beach, SC

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“Staycation”- Jordan Lake, NC Zoo, and Durham

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Savannah, GA- visiting Grandpa and Nana

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Traveling with young kids is not always easy, but I’m truly grateful for this time in our lives where the kids are not in school full time, I’m not working, and we have the freedom to get out and expose our kids to new adventures. We’ve made some amazing memories this Summer! Even though I’m sad to see this summer come to an end, I’m secretly excited for the structure and routine that comes with Brady starting Pre-School, being home for the kids’ naptimes, and cooking/eating dinner at home. And of course, the fact that College Football is just around the corner!!!

Carolina Smitten

The Smith Family has been in North Carolina for a little over a month now. It’s been a fast month, yet we’ve done a lot of exploring! When moving to a new area of the country, you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into or how you’ll like the spot you’ve chosen to live. We got so lucky when we moved to Pennsylvania when we happened to find the small town of Lititz. It had charm out the wazoo and was so safe and friendly. We always said we hit the jackpot finding that little city, and so far the feeling is mutual with Garner, NC.

Chris had no idea how close we would be to Downtown Raleigh when he found our rental house in Garner. One day we were driving around looking for restaurants or Target or something of the like, and we suddenly saw all the big downtown buildings in front of us (less than 15 minutes from our house.) Raleigh is a very inconspicuous city. It’s surrounded by suburbs and nestled in between huge oak trees. We’re loving taking advantage of all it has to offer; food truck rally’s, fun restaurants, beautiful parks, a weekly Farmer’s Market, and an AMAZING kids museum. It also helps that we moved here during the most perfect time of year so we are able to get out and about and enjoy all that the area has to offer.

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Riding the Kiddie Boats at Pullen Park in Raleigh.

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Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh

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Giant train table at Marbles Kids Museum

Our little town of Garner seems to be going through a growth spurt. There are several new shopping plazas-two Targets within 10 minutes of the house (moms you get how important this is!) We also have two lakes within 10 minutes of the house. The kids are loving going to the parks, story time at the library, and playing in our new backyard.

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This slide is HUGE! White Deer Park in Garner (also where a HUGE tree fell down right by us!)

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Bubba playing in our backyard- lovin’ tank top weather!

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Lake Wheeler Park

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Playground overlooking the lake!

Brady is enrolled in pre-school for the Fall and he can’t wait to make some little friends. He truly misses our playgroup in Pennsylvania (as do I!) but is loving all the kids in our new neighborhood.  Everyone has been super welcoming which has made the transition “back down south” that much sweeter. Our house is almost completely unpacked, but to be honest, we have put some housework on hold recently because we are just having too much fun on the weekends getting to know our new city- hanging pictures can wait, right?!

Chris is loving getting to know all the golf courses in the area and trying out the local breweries. He’s looking forward to getting his motorcycle out and also doing some fishing since the weather is so nice right now. I’m loving that we are less than 2 hours to the beach and 2 hours from mountains. I can’t wait until we get some family and friends up here to visit and can help us do some more exploring!

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Me and the hubby at Lake Benson (4 minutes from our house!)

February Happenings!

February is always a quick month, but it feels like it’s really flying by this time around. Although I never like to wish time away, I’m certainly ready for Spring to hurry up and get here! There have been a ton of snow days this winter and it’s really made me (and my fellow Northerner mom friends) get creative with how we entertain our little ones. I must say, I totally underestimated how brutal winter can be up North. As Floridians we have a tendency to think we get it because we have our occasional cold day here and there, even getting frost on our windows every once in a while…but it’s a totally different thing when you have 4-5 months in a row where you must wear a jacket everywhere you go, have to put hats on little ones, and drag wet slushy snow into your house every single day. Even though I lived in Ohio until I was 9, the “up North” lifestyle is a whole different ball game as an adult, especially an adult with two kids!DSC_0318

Because sometimes cabin fever sets in and you just don’t know what else to do with your kid…

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The world’s cutest little men!!!

Anywaaaaaays, we’ve embraced our chilly life this month and have had some really fun times! Despite the fact we’ve missed several days of pre-school because of the snow storms, we have managed to get out and have some fun play dates with our friends. A few days before Valentine’s Day we hosted a play group for our kiddos to exchange Valentine’s cards. Unfortunately cold and flu season kept some of the little ones from being able to come, but the other kids still had a good time eating snacks, playing with balloons, and chasing each other around the house.

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Brady’s Mickey themed Valentine’s for his friends.

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Some of our Valentine’s playdate treats- notice the little pretzel snatcher!

We got a bunch of snow the day before Valentine’s Day, so thankfully my smart hubby thought ahead and brought me a little Valentines snack (and flowers) earlier in the week…just in case we were snowed in and he couldn’t give me anything on the actual day. I know Valentine’s day is supposedly a made up Hallmark holiday, but I still love it! Flowers, candy, candles, cards…I’m a fan of all that stuff!

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Pink Champagne and Raspberry Truffle. OMG.

In an effort to get a change of scenery, we tagged along with Chris for a 4 day trip to Buffalo, NY. He had to work, so me and the boys did a little sight-seeing on our own and just had some fun trying new restaurants and playing in the hotel pool. We were determined to see Niagara Falls and it did not disappoint! It was every bit as magnificent as I would have imagined even covered in snow and ice, but dang, was it cold! Side note…we told Brady we were taking him to a big waterfall. He was all excited until we got there and realized it was not what he had expected. Apparently he remembered the small waterfall in the bass tank at Bass Pro Shop and was super annoyed that Niagara wasn’t as cool. You just never know what a toddler is thinking!

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Just love that Chris was rocking my super girly backpack in these pics!

We also made a point to go to BOTH of the famous wing spots in Buffalo- Duff’s and Anchor Bar. Anchor Bar claims to be the “Original” and definitely has a cooler atmosphere, but I gotta give Duff’s the award for best wings. They were SO DELICIOUS! And I’m sure Duff’s is so honored to have won the “Our Blessed Adventures Favorite Chicken Wing Contest.”

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The boys and I also managed to make our way to the Aquarium of Niagara. It was terrible weather to drive in. Like, my mom and my husband would have had a heart attack if they’d have seen how icy and snowy the bridge was that I drove over! But, totally worth it because we saw a Sea Lion show! Still questioning my judgement on that one…

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You know you’re desperate for a break from your normal day to day life when you’re willing to do a 6 hour road trip with two kids to Buffalo…in February! Buuuut, it was really fun and we came back feeling happy to be home and grateful for safe travels. I’ll leave you with a short video taken on our way back. The kids were surprisingly good (they slept a lot on the trip home) but when things got a little crazy I busted out the bubbles for entertainment (the Gymboree brand are the best!) I just love Nolan’s little giggles in this clip!