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!

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!

 

Asian Noodles {Farmer’s Market Finds} – Kids Cook Monday

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On Brady’s last day of school, Nolan and I enjoyed our last little bit of one on one time together by heading downtown. We spent the morning exploring the Science Museum and hitting up the Farmer’s Market again.

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Sometimes I have an ingredient in mind that I’m searching for when I go to a market, and other times I just go see what looks good and come up with a meal based around what I’ve found. This week I spotted some snow peas that looked tasty and decided to make some yummy Asian noodles- kind of a spin on Lo Mein.

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Lots of goodies at the Hilltop Farm booth that day. The snow peas just spoke to me!

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Brady helped me get our Snow Peas prepped for our Asian Noodles. He washed them up and then snapped the ends off each one (tasting a few along the way.) Even Nolan wanted to test them out! Slowly but surely I am getting that kid to try healthy foods…

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Here’s how we made our “Asian Noodles.”

Ingredients:

1/2 box Spaghetti Noodles (we used whole wheat)
2 cups Snow Peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 Scallions
1 Tb. Sesame Oil
3 Tb. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes(optional) to taste

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Steps:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally and cook noodles until they’re just tender.
2. In a large pan, begin to sautee mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
3. Add carrots and snow peas to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes if you would like it a little spicy.
4. Drain noodles and add to veggie pan (once veggies are tender).
5. Add Sesame oil and Soy sauce to the large pan.
6. Toss all together with thinly sliced scallions.

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You can always add a little more soy sauce if it seems to need it, so I recommend putting it in slowly and taste testing as you go. (You can’t take it out once it’s in!) Another option is to use Chili Oil in place of Sesame Oil if you (and your kiddos) can handle a little more heat.

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We love this meal because you can use just about any vegetable you have on hand. The snow peas worked great because they were just a little sweet to help balance the salt of the soy sauce. And the scallions (also a market find!) brighten the whole the dish up.

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Another perk of this meal, is that you can totally eat it cold too. It makes for a tasty side dish or can be substantial enough to be a meal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market Inspiration!

I’m loving this Spring weather! We have had some gorgeous days with perfect temperatures and today was one of the best. Nolan and I took the opportunity to go downtown and check out the Raleigh Farmer’s Market. It just started back up recently and I couldn’t wait to get back down there to see what was new this year, eat some tasty food and let Nolan jam out to the music. (I should note that he also really enjoys the free samples.)

They close off a portion of Fayetteville St. and set up right between the buildings.

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We got some gorgeous scallions from the Wild Onion Farms booth. (locally grown & organic!)

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Nolan was pretty into testing out the different waffle and granola flavors.

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And I couldn’t quite leave without stopping at La Farm Bakery for a baguette.

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Mmm it’s carb heaven.

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Our Farmer’s Market finds!

We decided to use some of our market goodies to make a snack. We also used some of our herbs we’ve been growing to make these yummy “Scallion and Herb Cream Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches.”

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Brady helped cut up our scallions from the market while I chopped up some basil, thyme, and parsley. We mixed them all in a bowl of softened cream cheese and a little lemon zest and salt.

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Here’s our bowl of creamy goodness!

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We spread the Scallion Cream Cheese mixture onto some slices of our market baguette and topped each one with a thin slice of cucumber.

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These were so light and refreshing. They’d make a delicious appetizer or finger food for a party.

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The fact that some of our ingredients came straight from local farmers and bakers, made this snack that much tastier!

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Crunchy, creamy, and satisfying!

 

 

Mommy/Smith Boys weekend

This past weekend my hubby went back home to Texas to visit some old friends and family. It was a much needed trip, but unfortunately it came on the heels of him being away for work, so me and my little guys had a real nice stretch of quality time without daddy. And by that I mean, I had to get pretty creative to come up with fun stuff to entertain them so they wouldn’t spend all weekend looking at me saying, “When’s Daddy coming home?”

As a teacher, I loved lesson planning, so I was up for the challenge of planning some engaging activities that went beyond watching Paw Patrol and playing in our front yard. I’m not saying we didn’t do that too, but it was a long week/weekend so I needed more in my arsenal. Here’s how we spent our time…

Friday was a rainy day, so we spent it trying out a new game, playing with shaving cream, and going to the mall.

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Sweet Brady was obsessed with this fish game!

When all else fails, play in the kids area and eat Chick-fil-a at the mall.

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Straight from my bag of old teaching tricks…kids LOVE shaving cream!

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On Saturday, we had gorgeous weather. It was the perfect day to check out the Museum of Life Science in Durham. Or as I now like to call it, the Disney World of Durham. Good gosh, this place was amazing for kids. We were there all day and could have stayed longer! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to whoever created this place.

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Train selfies!

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On Sunday, we got up and made banana muffins together.

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Then we went to the airport to watch the planes take off and land, and of course, pick up Chris!

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We went straight downtown from the airport for a food truck rodeo.

And blissfully, Chris will be working from home ALL week this week. Woohoo!

I loved my one on one time with my boys, but it always feels better when our foursome is back together!

1 Year North Carolina-versary

This weekend marks one year since us Smiths moved from Lititz, Pennsylvania to North Carolina. In some ways we still miss our friends and small town that we left behind (heck, we still miss Florida too!) but in most ways, we feel like we’re finally home. This last year has seen our boys reaching new milestones- Nolan learned to walk and talk and Brady has completely blossomed into an independent pre-schooler. Our kids have gotten to experience so many new things since moving to North Carolina. They’ve explored lakes and trails, visited the mountains and beaches, and have been to tons of downtown museums and festivals. Here’s some of my favorite pictures from the last year of getting to know North Carolina.

If the weather was nice, we were at a park. Lots of biking, running, playing, and boating took place this year, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the amount of cool parks to check out.

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We’ve tried to spend a lot of time enjoying all of the lakes near us as well with picnics, swimming, fishing and boat rides.

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We’ve celebrated all of our birthdays since moving to North Carolina…Brady turned 3 last summer and Nolan turned 2 this Spring. Side note: This summer Brady will celebrate his 4th birthday in his 4th house. Time to stay put for a while!

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We’ve really gotten to enjoy all 4 seasons. In fact, that might be my favorite thing about North Carolina. You get a taste of each season without ever feeling tired of any one type of weather. Just when the Summer heat got annoying, Fall gave us a welcomed break. When Winter got on my last nerve, Spring began to give us some relief. It’s just gorgeous here.

Summer

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Fall

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Winter

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Spring

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Some of our favorite memories were when we ventured out of Raleigh and checked out what else North Carolina had to offer.

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Visiting Boone, Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain.

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Checking out UNC Chapel Hill

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At Oak Island, NC

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Day trip to the NC Zoo

While we know the state of North Carolina has a lot to offer, we’re especially happy that we chose Raleigh as our city. We’ve had so much fun checking out the museums, shops, parks, restaurants, festivals and Farmer’s Markets downtown.

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It has been a fun year of exploring this area, and now that we have built our forever home, we are really looking forward to seeing what else there is to discover. I’ll always miss seeing Amish buggies in PA, and I’ll never be as close to the beach as I was in FL, but, despite the fact that NC has the worst Spring pollen I’ve ever encountered, it really feels like the perfect fit for our family. We’re looking forward to seeing what else this area has to offer and making lots more memories!

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Winter Weather Wackiness!

Ah, Winter time. That lovely time of year where noses never stop running, feet never seem warm enough, and cabin fever sets in. Admittedly, this North Carolina winter has paled in comparison to what went down last winter in Pennsylvania, but when you’re a mom of two small kids, cold is cold. No outside playtime and always having to bundle up to go anywhere is a drag. Then when you add snow or ice that keeps you housebound, well, that’s a lot of togetherness!

So, I’m sharing what we do to keep sane in Winter months.

First of all, without a doubt, there is more T.V. watching and iPad time. I just don’t know how to completely avoid that.

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At least it’s educational!

 

We have literally played with every.single.toy. in our house. We build and take apart various train tracks all day long. We paint pictures. We play with Play-doh. We read and re-read our favorite books. We do puzzles. We make buildings with Legos and blocks. We have races around the house. We jump on our trampoline. Aaand, that gets us to right around lunch time. Whew!

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Working on those fine motor skills!

 

Another life saver during winter months is a new toy added in the mix. Anything new that can be a distraction, is always a win! Except for this toy. It’s called a Wubble. It was described by Brady as, “The BEST toy ever!” And, it popped the day after we got it. We didn’t even have time for the novelty to wear off! Ugh…

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The real winter fun begins when we can get out and play in some cold weather. Last week we had this weird ice/snow storm that froze everything, made roads impossible to drive on, and canceled school all week. Thankfully we were stocked with lots of food and Chris was home with us as his travel plans were canceled for the week because of the weather. We couldn’t go anywhere, so we just used that time to bundle up and play on the ice.

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Nolan kept saying “Pretty Snow. Wow.” but he only kinda tolerated being outside in the cold. He refused to wear gloves and was much more interested in coming inside the warm house to eat breakfast.

While North Carolina does have it’s share of warmer winter days where temperatures reach into the 50’s, for the most part it’s much chillier this time of year and you are forced to find inside activities to fill the day. Some of our go-to places to venture to are the mall play area (if I’m up for dousing the kids with hand sanitizer afterwards), the train table in the children’s section of Barnes-n-Noble, a friend’s house for a playdate, the Chick-fil-a play area (so mommy can get an iced tea and a moment of sanity), story time at the library, Marbles Kids Museum (definitely getting our money’s worth out of those annual passes!) and the North Carolina Science Museum.

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At the “World’s Largest Dinosaurs” exhibit at the Science Museum.

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Dino dig at the Science Museum. Brady was in heaven.

When all else fails and we just can’t think of anything else to do, we make music, play music, and dance.

Another winter pastime of ours is finding a house project/re-decorating. It must be all that time spent sitting around the house that makes me start to critique every piece of furniture, paint color or throw pillow. Our house is new, so theoretically I shouldn’t have that much I’d want to change, but my dining room table has been on my mind for sometime now. I’ve always loved the table as it used to belong to my grandparents, but the chairs were not my style. During our week of being stuck inside, I finally bit the bullet and ordered some new chairs. Then, our first outing after the ice storm was to Home Depot for a new light fixture for the dining room. Thanks to winter storms, my hubby was in town all week and had some time in the evenings to put this all together for me!

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I’m a much bigger fan of the “After” look.

We try to make the most of our time together during all the cold weather, cabin fever loveliness, but some days seem to turn into a blur of baking cookies, watching movies, and taming toddler madness. I’m sure Spring is right around the corner, but for now we’ll keep searching for our lost gloves, watching the Planes movie on a continuous loop, and checking the news for school closures. cbn1 cbn2

Keep warm, friends! And for goodness sake, if you’ve got some better ideas for entertaining kiddos during the winter, please share them with me!