• family,  fun,  summer fun

    Summer 2018 Bucket List

    There are officially six more days of school for my kiddos which can only mean one thing — it’s almost summer! Summer is one of my favorite seasons (ok… I can really find something I love about every season) and I can’t wait to have so much fun. Here are just a few things I want to do this summer. (I should add that while I stole this idea from my sister, it’s funny to see how we both included so many of the same things.)

    Read a book on the beach

    Take the kids to the zoo

    Make jam with my mom

    Make homemade ice cream and boiled peanuts

    Go to a baseball game

    Stay outside all day

    Read ten books

    Run 250 miles

    Have one date a month to somewhere new

    Learn to play six more songs on the piano

    Have a picnic

    Take a day trip to the beach

    What are some of the things on your bucket list for the summer?

     

     

  • family,  motherhood,  weekend

    Mother’s Day Weekend 2018

    Being a mom is the best and most rewarding job in the world. It’s also the toughest job. I had an awesome time celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend. I didn’t take a ton of photos like normal – in fact, I didn’t even get a photo of myself with all our kids together – but it was fun!

    Kevin, Caleb, and I spent a few days in Clemson around my sister’s graduation. We drove up Thursday afternoon and had dinner with everyone at The Cheesecake Factory. It’s safe to say Caleb enjoyed his first visit. I also enjoyed my White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake at midnight.

    Stephanie graduated at 9:30 Friday morning, so we were up early to make it from our hotel in Greenville to the graduation at Little John Coliseum. Graduation was great. Senator Tim Scott gave the address and included three points that are good for all of us to remember:

    1. It’s only failure if you choose to quit.
    2. Stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves.
    3. Hold tight to your dreams.

    After graduation, we went to Joe’s Pizzeria for lunch. It was so good. The dessert pizza was to die for! It basically tasted like cookie dough on a sweet crust. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    We decided to stay an extra night and go to the Clemson vs. Austin Peay baseball game. Even though we didn’t win the game, we had a blast. Caleb made friends with the family behind us and even crawled up in one man’s lap. I guess it’s time we start teaching him “stranger danger!”

    Since we had no plans Saturday, we took our time driving home. We made a few stops in Columbia to look for some Mother’s Day gifts to no avail. I’m looking for some new decor for our mantel and also would like some new bathing suits, but couldn’t find either. We made it home mid-afternoon and just chilled the rest of the day.

    Mother’s Day started off awesome with breakfast in bed. My sweet husband cooked scrambled eggs and toast and sliced a kiwi for me. It was divine! Why is food so much better when someone else cooks it for you? Also, our sweet baby slept until almost 8am, so I was able to sleep later than normal, eat breakfast, and get ready for church before he was up.

    We had a nice service at church and grabbed something from Grouchos for lunch. I made the mistake of letting Caleb have a little of my sweet tea with his lunch. Let’s just say about .5 seconds after he drank it, he went absolutely crazy. He was so funny! Thankfully the restaurant was empty and he was able to run around wild.

    For Mother’s Day, I decided I wanted a new bike, so we picked out one of those. I also got a seat for the back so Caleb can ride with me. Our big boys love to bike and I usually go along with them running, but I thought it’d be fun to bike some, too. Growing up, my dad biked and I would ride along with him. Some of my best memories come from those days. When the big boys got home yesterday afternoon, we tested out the bike and went for a short ride. It was fun!

    Last night, my father-in-law grilled ribs and chicken and had all of us along with my parents and sister over to eat dinner. It was delicious! We sat outside most of the night. K.C. found some old water guns which turned into the boys all getting soaked. They had a blast!

    _ _ _ _ _

    I’m so thankful for my sweet mom! She has always loved me, guided me, and encouraged me. When I think back on my childhood, I have so many awesome memories because of my mom. I’m so grateful God made me hers. I am who I am today because of her love.

    I’m also thankful for my sweet MIL. I know I’m blessed to have not only been born into an awesome family, but to have married into one as well.

    _ _ _ _ _

    These three boys are my heart. What a great privilege it is to be called mama by them. They constantly amaze me and fill my life with so much love and laughter. They teach me, mold me, and stretch me every single day. I hope and pray that they always feel my love. What a great blessing it is to have sons!

  • family,  parenting

    5 Tips to Establish a Routine for Your Baby

    Before Caleb was born, I read gobs of books about preparing for labor and childbirth, but I didn’t devote much time to reading about what to do once the baby actually arrived. In my mind, I’ve kept two other tiny humans alive since they were two and three; how different could a baby be?

    As time went on and I got closer and closer to having Caleb, I thought more and more about what I wanted our lives to look like with three kids. Three is a big number — it means we’re officially outnumbered — and according to the experts, having three kids is harder than four!

    Here’s what I knew I wanted to happen:

    • I wanted the baby to sleep good and not wake up his brothers.
    • I wanted to continue to have structure in our home. (If you can’t tell, I’m pretty big on routine.)
    • I wanted the baby to be a good eater.
    • I wanted to be able to have some time to relax and do things to take care of myself. (I know that may come across as selfish to some, but if I’m not taking good care of myself, how can I take good care of my kids?)
    • I wanted the baby to be able to adjust well no matter where he was and be able to cope in different situations.
    • I also wanted him to sleep well and through the night. (That was a BIG one!)

    Basically, the answer to what I wanted our lives to look like all boiled down to a good routine. It’s proven that routines help babies adapt and in my own life, I know how “off” I feel when I’m out of my normal routine.

    Kevin and I are both pretty structured when it comes to things with our older boys and we can definitely tell if they’re off their routine. While they’re older now and we aren’t as strict with bedtime every night as we were when they were younger, we are still fairly structured with their nighttime routine. Even going to bed thirty minutes later than normal for them makes a huge difference in the mornings at home. If routine affects my older kids, I knew it would for sure affect our baby.

    Here are a few things I did to help Caleb adapt to a routine. But first, please note that a routine shouldn’t start on day one.  In fact, I’d encourage you to wait six to eight weeks before beginning to develop a routine especially related to eating and sleeping. When babies are first born, they need to eat and sleep so often. You shouldn’t ever deprive your baby of milk and sleep for the sake of a routine. That said, Caleb was a pretty easy baby and became very predictable as he grew and we started setting a routine. I could tell time off of when he ate and napped.

    1. Take note of your baby’s cues.

    From day one, I kept track of when and how much Caleb ate, slept, and had dirty diapers. I did this to make sure he was eating, sleeping, and having enough dirty diapers, but also because I wanted to see what seemed normal to him. When he was a few weeks old, I was able to use this to tweak his normal sleep and eating pattern into a good routine for all of us.

    As a mom, you really will know what your baby’s cries mean. You’ll know if it’s a cry because your baby is hungry or because he just wants to be held. I found that knowing what was normal for Caleb was especially helpful when he wanted to eat more for a few days or seemed to not sleep as well during a growth spurt.

    2. Implement changes slowly.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect to get your baby on a schedule overnight. It definitely takes time and it definitely changes as your baby grows. Caleb’s schedule at two months was drastically different than his schedule at four months. Just a few weeks make a huge difference in the life of a baby.

    3. Focus on consistency.

    I chose to be very consistent with Caleb from the beginning. For instance, when I started bathing him, I did the same thing every day at almost the same time. I also kept his nighttime routine consistent.

    At first, I gave Caleb baths in the morning after his first nap. He’d wake up, eat, play, and sleep, then eat again and take a bath. I also started off bathing him in his bathtub. During bath time, literally from almost day one, I would sing songs to him and point out his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, arms, legs, tummy, and feet. After his bath, I’d get him dressed for the day and we’d play in his room before reading some books and putting him down for his next nap.

    A month or so before I started back to work, I transitioned his baths to nighttime because I knew that would be easier for all of us when I went back to work. Even though the time was different, I kept the same routine.

    4. Be adaptable.

    The best advice I can give you on getting into a routine is to be adaptable. You can read hundreds of articles, books, and blog posts (like this one) about getting your child into a routine, but you have to remember that every baby is different. While there are general time frames to follow, your child may require more or less sleep/food than a typical baby his age.

    I’d also encourage you to look at your regular life and how that schedule impacts it. Personally, I wanted to have good amount of time to play with Caleb at night after work, so I didn’t ever put him down for the night at 7 pm as many programs encourage. I feel very blessed that the school he attends is really intent on following the parents’ schedule for infants before transitioning them to a more standard schedule all the kids are on around one which helped me tremendously. Caleb was able to take a late afternoon nap so when we got home, even at four or five months old, he was able to stay up until about 8 which gave me a few good hours of playtime with him.

    5. Have a plan.

    Finally, I think it’s so important to know in advance what you want to do when it comes to sleep and feeding. I’ll talk specifically about sleep here, but next week, I will share what we did when it came to feeding Caleb.

                           Do you want to let your baby cry it out?

                           Are you co-sleeping?

                           Will your baby nap in the crib?

    Those are all things you need to think about. And remember, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to these things. As long as the baby is sleeping safely (no blankets, bumpers, etc.), it really comes down to your personal preference.

    We kept Caleb in the Bassinest in our room until he was five months old for nighttime, but he started napping in his crib at about eight weeks. I knew he’d nap in a crib at school, so I didn’t want that to be foreign to him. Fortunately, we didn’t have an issue with this transition.

    When it came time to transition him to his crib overnight, we were met with a few bumps though. After some trial and error, we determined that he needed socks on to sleep. If his feet get cold, he wakes up. He also needs his paci, and thanks to a friend’s advice, I put several pacifiers in his crib so if he wakes up without one in his mouth, he’s able to grab another and go back to sleep.

    I found it extremely helpful to follow an actual plan when it came to transitioning down on the number of naps Caleb took. I downloaded the Moms on Call app and used it for this. Having a guideline of how to transition and when was very useful and took the stress out of this. As we transitioned his naps slowly, he began to sleep longer stretches at night and by 8 weeks old, he was sleeping through the night. (He was formula fed and it’s proven that formula fed babies are able to go longer stretches without milk, so he had everything he needed. He also went through times when he was teething and in a growth spurt where he woke up multiple times for a bottle, but as a whole, he started sleeping through the night at eight weeks.)

    All in all, having a routine works best for our family. I thrive on routine and structure and it seems that my kids do, too. That said, it’s important to not stress yourself out about staying on an exact schedule. If you have a good routine, I’ve found that deviating from it slightly will not cause a problem. I always plan ahead when I know we’ll be far off of our routine and that has worked for us. Remember, there is trial and error involved in setting and sticking to a routine, but it’s definitely worth the effort it takes.

     

    Do you have a routine for your kids?

    What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

    Have you stuck with a routine as your kids have grown or slowly let go?

  • faith,  family,  running,  weekend

    Weekend Wrap Up | May 7, 2018

    We had such a nice weekend!

    I spent Friday traveling for work and listening to a ton of podcasts. I’ve only recently — as in the last two weeks — gotten into podcasts. Where have I been? Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast is my new favorite!

    My mom is a high school English and music teacher and Friday night, she had a play. We took Caleb to Neverland to see Peter Pan. Y’all, we were shocked that he sat still for an hour. He was totally mesmerized. He also enjoyed running around the stage after the show.

    We stayed home most of Saturday which was really nice. After breakfast, Kevin did some yard work and I ran a 10K with Caleb around the neighborhood. I ran the 10K in 48:30 (7:48 pace) which certainly is slow compared to my normal speed, but I was pleased with that while pushing a 26 pound baby in a jogging stroller! He fell asleep on the last mile. I took advantage of his short nap and sat outside and finished reading my lesson for Sunday school.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible about washing my car and the place I usually take it just closed. Since it was so nice out, I decided to wash my car and Kevin asked his truck. I wish I had pictures of Caleb helping. He had a blast with the water and hose!

    Later Saturday afternoon we ran out to do some Mother’s Day shopping and pick up our groceries for the week.

    That night, I cooked a Hello Fresh meal for dinner. It was so good!

    Our boys came home from being on vacation in the Bahamas with their mom Saturday and it was so great to have them back! That week was so long without them. They had an awesome time! We’ve been enjoying hearing all about it and Caleb is sure glad “Ka” and “Cee” are back!

    We had a low key day yesterday. We picked up McAllister’s after church and then I bribed my boys to take a photo.

    While Caleb napped, I did a 5-miler in the heat. I’m trying to get conditioned to run in our heat again. Yesterday was definitely a step in the right direction. I did 5 in 36:03 (7:12/mile ), so I was happy.

    When I got back from the run, I was going to update my sign with a verse for the week, but K.C. took over. This is sweeter than any Mother’s Day card could be!

    Last night, my in-laws and niece came over to grill steaks for dinner. My sister and her boyfriend stopped by to visit, too. It’s nice ending the weekend with family!

    To wrap up our fun weekend, yesterday was two years since I found out I was pregnant with Caleb. After years of not knowing if I’d be able to get pregnant and then maintain a pregnancy, God blessed us with the incredible news that we were going to have a baby! This precious little boy fills my heart with so much love and laughter. He giggles, smiles, and just exudes happiness. He is the answer to prayers I’ve prayed since I was a young teenager.

    I say all this to give you hope. If you’re going through a tough time related to infertility or something entirely different, God will provide. He may not do it in the way you thought (there were years of trials and stress leading up to a positive pregnancy test that ended in miscarriage a few months later and a few months before I surprisingly got pregnant with Caleb), but He will provide. While I still don’t understand why it happened the way it did, why I lost a baby, or why it was so hard to just get pregnant (and I probably never will), I can say with true conviction that God is good. He was with me every single step of the way and He’s also right there with you.

  • family,  running,  weekend

    A Colorful Weekend: 5K, Art, and Outdoor Fun

    We had a fun weekend! It was full of lots of time outside and family fun.

    We started the weekend with a concert. Our niece is in the show choir at her school and had her spring show, so Kevin and I went to support her. She did great!

    Our boys stayed home with my mom and it’s safe to say they had fun with Bebe, too!

    Saturday was my first race of the year. Since having Caleb, I’ve only raced three times. The race I ran Saturday was the race I won about a week before I found out I was pregnant with Caleb and also my first race after having him.

    I was so nervous for this race. I know it sounds completely ridiculous to say especially since I used to race around twenty times each year, but something about going back out to race had my stomach in knots! I didn’t get a chance to run but once last week before the race and I wasn’t feeling super great, so that added to my nerves.

    I really had no clue what time to expect. I used to run 5ks in the 19s and have hit that mark again since having Caleb, but for this race, I was shooting for 20 something, which was still respectable.

    I ended up winning the race in 21:03 (6:46/mile) and was third overall. Even though I was a little slower than I wanted to be, I felt really good about the race. I actually felt like myself racing which was awesome. If I had some others up near the front with me, I think I would’ve been faster, too. This was my fourth time running and winning this race.

    Kevin did a slow-mo video of my run in and I noticed my stride wasn’t quite as long as it used to be, so yesterday, I focused on that. My goal for my next race (not yet determined) is to be back in the high 19s-low 20s. And I digress.

    At the end of this race, there’s a big color explosion. Kaden loves this part. He always wants to get cups of color. See his excitement? Even after washing his hair, his scalp still had a smurf look yesterday!

    http://thethingsimlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/img_1469.mov

    After the awards, we went to have brunch at Baker’s Sweets. I had the breakfast skillet which was to die for. I don’t know about you, but I could eat breakfast food for every meal!

    We walked around ArtFields for a bit after brunch. My mom and I always like checking out the art. I also did a little shopping and picked up a beach cover up for myself, a necklace for Mother’s Day (my gift guide is coming Thursday!), and another pair of sandals for Caleb.

    The boys all wanted a funnel cake, so before we left, they devoured one.

    We spent the rest of Saturday at my parents. Kevin, Kaden, and our friend Brian went searching for arrowheads. Kevin particularly likes to find treasures (I always joke that’s how he found me!). My dad has some property that he’s found arrowheads on before, so they spent a few hours doing that. K.C., Caleb, and I hung out with my parents and grandma. K.C. took me on a ride on the mule (ATV, not a real one), helped my dad feed his horses, and had a blast driving the four-wheeler around. I think I took it for granted that I grew up in the country. I love that I had the freedom to run (and drive) around everywhere, all day. I’m so thankful our boys get to experience that same lifestyle at their grandparents’.

    We grabbed some burgers and fries from a local place for dinner and enjoyed sitting outside the rest of the night.

    Yesterday, we made it to church almost on time. [Side note: I can’t ever figure out how I can get up at the same time on Sundays as I do on weekdays, iron clothes for all my people, cook breakfast, get ready, and have a little longer to leave than we do on weekdays and still be late.] Our pastor’s message was awesome yesterday.

    After Sunday School, we took Kaden to Target. He got a few gift cards for his birthday and wanted to spend them. He picked a humungo Nerf gun, a smaller Nerf gun, and a new soccer goal. We grabbed lunch from Firehouse before going home.

    My sister spent the afternoon with us which was nice! While Caleb napped, I got a few things done around the house and ran 4 miles while the big boys played outside with their friends.

    After Caleb’s nap, we all stayed outside until it was time for dinner. Days spent outside and weekends full of fun are just my favorite! This past weekend was a good way for us to recharge for a busy week ahead.

  • a day in my life,  family

    A Day In Our Life | April 17, 2018

    I love to see what ordinary days look like for people. In fact, these are some of my favorite types of posts to read. I used to do these pretty regularly, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve last documented our daily life. Yesterday, I decided to.

    6:00 AM – My alarm goes off, but I hit snooze. Somedays, I pop right up, but others, I don’t. Today was one of those days.

    6:15 AM – I’m up and jump in the shower.

    6:25 AM – I’m out of the shower and start to get ready. I do my makeup and fix my hair. I throw on some shorts and a t-shirt along with my UGG Slippers. I wait until it’s almost time to leave for work before putting on what I’ll wear for the day.

    6:45 AM – The big boys are still sleeping, so I go upstairs to wake them up. While they’re getting dressed, I make breakfast. They’ve both asked for a bagel and cheese grits this morning, so I pull that together. While they’re eating breakfast, I put their lunchboxes in their book bags and fill up their water bottles. The both need money for frozen custard and shaved ice at school today.

    Last night, I boiled some jumbo shells to use for dinner tonight, but didn’t put the dish together. While the baby is still asleep, I stuff the shells with ricotta and put the meat sauce I made Sunday night on top. This will make dinner easy tonight.

    7:15 AM – Caleb is up. He likes his sleep! He comes toddling in the kitchen. I change him and give him a bottle. He still has milk in a bottle first thing in the morning and before bed at night. The big boys are brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes at this point.

    7:20 AM – Morning drop offs start. Thankfully, several of our neighbors have kids at the same schools as ours. We have two carpools that are run in the morning and afternoon. Our oldest leaves first. Kevin takes the second car pool and then comes back home.

    Once the big kids leave, I sit down and have breakfast with Caleb before Kevin joins us. I try to be pretty varied in breakfasts. Caleb isn’t picky at all, so it makes it really easy. Some days we have scrambled eggs with fruit, other days it’s oatmeal. Today, he had yogurt with some granola. I had a grapefruit with some leftover biscuits and jelly. Kevin didn’t eat with us this morning. Some days we (Kevin and me) end up just taking something fast. I like the Belvita Breakfast Bars and Chobani Yogurt. I can throw it in my bag and eat it at my desk.

    Depending on breakfast, we usually have a few minutes to play and read in the morning.

    7:50 AM – It’s time for me to finish getting ready. I throw on a Tracy Negoshian dress, some Sam Edlemen heels, and my Kendra Scott necklace and earrings. I always put Caleb’s pants on for the day when I change his diaper, so all I have to do after breakfast is put on his shirt and shoes. It’s chilly (again), so he’s wearing long sleeves. I hope the weather will decide to officially become Spring soon.

    After this, I gather up my lunch and fix a Yeti of water to go. Kevin takes over baby duties and takes the baby to the car.

    8:00 AM – It’s my goal to leave at 8 each morning because that gives me enough time to drop off Caleb, talk for a minute, and get to work on time. Today, we didn’t leave until about 8:06.

    On the way to work, we talk. Caleb practices some words like “ball” and tells me what the cow says. He always points out when we’re beside cars at stoplights. I had Josh Groban playing. We also say a little prayer. He’s young, but I want to start this habit with him already. I also like starting my day this way.

    8:26 AM – I drop Caleb off at school. He loves his class and teachers and is happy to go to the table for his morning snack.

    8:32 AM – Thankfully, Caleb is very near to me all day, so it takes me about 2 minutes to get to work from his school. I go in and get started on the day. I read a quick devotional I keep on my desk, respond to emails, and check the headlines.

    Morning – I had a few meetings this morning and needed to do some follow up to prepare for an event next week. I spent the morning doing those things, responding to emails, and taking some calls.

    12:20 PM – I’m hungry, so I decide to heat up my lunch and eat at my desk while working. The midday is usually slow, so this gives me a chance to cross off a few things on my to do list without interruptions.

    12:45 PM – It’s important to take a break each day, and since I ate at my desk while working, I needed a break. A lot of times, I like to sit in my car at lunch and read. I don’t have a lot of quiet in my day (and I love it!), so my car has kind of become my refuge during lunch. I started studying my lesson for SS and read some of The Secret to Southern Charm. I also caught up with Kevin for a few minutes.

    2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – My afternoon was pretty busy. I had a meeting that took up about half of the afternoon. I worked on some projects the rest of the time.

    The kids are home from school, playing and doing their homework. They know that they should have everything they can do alone done by the time I get home. Super thankful my husband is able to work from home!

    5:05 PM – I leave work and pick up Caleb. He’s had a good day! I love how he runs when he sees me walk in. It just melts my heart.

    5:40 PM – We’re home! Getting dinner ready earlier in the day was definitely helpful. It’s almost finished baking.

    5:50 PM – We all sit down to dinner. The big boys tell us about their days and we all catch up. While Caleb and I finish (I’m always the last to sit down, and well, the baby likes his food!), Kevin clears off the table and puts up the leftovers.

    6:15 PM – We go outside to play. The boys play with their friends and Caleb runs around and pushes his cart. This grocery cart was one of my niece’s and it’s been passed down to all of our boys. They all love it.

    Our oldest has a quiz tomorrow, so he has to study some. Caleb and I stay outside a little longer than the big boys. He’s having fun playing and I’m chatting with our neighbor.

    7:45 PM – It’s bath time for all the kids. The big boys get showered and I bathe the baby who seems a bit off.

    8:00 PM – My sister and her friend stop by to visit for a few minutes. Kaden has an apple and K.C. decides he wants to go ahead upstairs to read. He loves reading and is in the middle of a good book. He has to read 30 minutes each night for school, so this is a good thing. Caleb decides he’s feeling better when Aunt Stephanie (“Step”) comes over and runs around. As soon as she leaves, he starts to act like he’s feeling bad again. I think his tummy is bothering him. (We deal with tummy trouble constantly. Poor baby.)

    8:30 PM – The older boys get their teeth brushed and go up to bed. I let them know I’ll be up to tuck them in as soon as the baby goes to sleep and that they can leave their lights on until 9.

    8:45 PM – Caleb has finally settled down (and he’s usually a good sleeper). I rock him and give him a bottle in the den while watching the last episode of Fixer Upper I missed a few weeks ago. He falls asleep, but seems really restless. I feel so powerless when my kids aren’t feeling well.

    9:10 PM – I put Caleb in his crib and then go in to check on the big boys. Kaden is already about asleep, but K.C. is still going strong. We read a Bible story, say prayers, and talk a few minutes.

    9:30 PM – I’m downstairs and doing the nightly signing of the notebooks and agendas. I make sure I didn’t miss anything in their book bags, tidy up the kitchen, and get a snack. I also make sure clothes are ready for tomorrow morning. Kevin had something tonight, so he’s not home quite yet. While I planned to run after the boys were all in bed, I decide against it because I just feel drained. The baby is normally very easy going (though quite spirited), but tonight, he’s been totally out of character and my mama self is tired.

    9:45 PM – Kevin is home. We catch up and watch some TV. I read a little more of my book.

    10:40 PM – I’m out.

    There you have it – a typical day in our house.

  • family,  family fun,  travel

    A Charleston Spring Break | Days 3-4

    If you missed my recap of our first two days in Charleston, check it out here.

    On Wednesday, we decided to go to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island for a more low-key day. We spent about three hours there and loved it. It was nice being outside and the boys had so much fun exploring.

    It was so cool to see how the soldiers lived as well as all the mechanisms in place for protection. Our boys were really interested in the cannons and how those worked. It’s crazy to think that when battles were fought during Fort Moultrie days, men had to do all of this manually.

    Before we left, we took a walk down the beach. Somebody took a nap on my back, too. I didn’t think I’d be a baby-wearing mama at all, but I love my Tula! Before Caleb could walk, I used it a good bit just outside at home so I could play with the big boys. I also used it for Nerf wars. Even though he can walk, it comes in really handy at the beach and places like Fort Moultrie where it’s not easy to use a stroller. He always seems to nap really well in it, too.

    Originally, we planned to grab burgers at Poe’s Tavern (Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie and references Sullivan’s in his writing), but the line was crazy long. Instead, we opted for our tried and true Chickfila.

    After lunch, we shopped a bit before taking the boys to Sky Zone. They had fun jumping, climbing, and playing dodgeball while we took a break and Caleb napped.

    On Wednesday night, we met my bff and her fiance for dinner at Five Loaves Cafe. Five Loaves is so good! I had the Bistro Steak which was delicious.  It was so nice getting to visit with Jaye and John, too!

    Our last day in Charleston was Thursday. After breakfast and checking out of the Inn, we headed back downtown to the South Carolina Aquarium. This was Caleb’s first trip to see the “ish” and he loved it. He pointed excitedly at everything. Our big boys had fun, too.

    After spending a few hours there, it was time to go home. We grabbed a quick bite for lunch at Zaxby’s when we stopped for gas and then played Would You Rather all the way home.

    It was so nice spending a few days away with my sweet boys!

  • family,  travel

    A Charleston Spring Break | Days 1 -2

    Last week, our boys were on Spring Break so we decided we’d take advantage of the time out of school and do something fun. When we started talking about it a few months ago, I was all about going to Washington, D.C. Kevin and I spent some time there a few years ago and loved it, so I’ve been looking forward to taking our boys. My husband is definitely more practical than me when it comes to thinking through things and felt that taking our two elementary-aged sons and a baby to DC would be more work than fun. Frankly, as much as I hated to admit it, I knew he was right. We can take them there in a few years when they’ll appreciate everything more and we don’t have a baby who doesn’t like to ride in his stroller.

    With DC off the table, I suggested Charleston. It’s close to us, but we don’t go nearly often enough. Not only would it be fun for our boys, I knew we’d have a great time too.

    When I started planning, I looked at several VRBO’s as well as hotels in downtown Charleston before deciding to book the Inn at I’on in Mount Pleasant. The Inn is right across the Cooper River Bridge and was a great location for us when looking at everything we wanted to do.

    Since Easter was on Sunday, we decided to wait until early Monday to leave. I got everything packed over the weekend, so we got up, had breakfast, loaded up the car, and hit the road. We made it to North Charleston around noon, so we decided to stop for lunch at Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ.  Lunch was great. If you’re ever at Jim ‘N Nick’s, I highly recommend you choose the mac n cheese as a side. It’s so good! I should also warn you that the biscuits/cornbread is addicting! We had three baskets!

    Since we couldn’t check into the Inn until 3, we shopped for a bit at the Tanger Outlets. I picked up a cute outfit for Caleb in Janie and Jack, the big boys each picked out some new shoes in New Balance, and I grabbed a few things in J.Crew. I don’t think I can ever walk in J.Crew without walking out with at least one thing.

    When we finished shopping, we headed over to check-in. The Inn was perfect for our family. Since my parents and sister went with us, we split up the big kids and kept Caleb in his pack and play in our room. The boys enjoyed having some independent time (and staying up later than we would have let them!).

    Once we were settled in, we headed to Patriot’s Point to visit the USS Yorktown. In all my years of going to Charleston, I had not ever gone to the Yorktown. Our boys absolutely loved it. We spent about 2.5 hours there, but we could have easily spent more time. I stayed on the main deck and walked up to the top, but the kids went down below and saw the living quarters. I made it to about the third room before I had to get out of the tight quarters. I absolutely hate feeling like I’m stuck, so the green walls and cramped quarters were not for me!

     

    For dinner on our first night, we went to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre. We were able to get a table outside pretty quickly. Dinner was great!

    We hung out a while when we made it back to the Inn. Our room and my parents’ room were side-by-side and both had porches with rocking chairs on them. It was nice being able to sit outside and visit some.

    Each morning, the Inn served breakfast and made to order eggs, so getting breakfast each day was easy. After breakfast on Tuesday, we headed to downtown Charleston. Our first stop was to the Battery (or Magnolia Gardens). Our boys – all three of them – had a blast. They ran around, climbed on old cannons, and just enjoyed being outside.

    When I booked the trip a few months ago, I didn’t think about everyone in the world going to Charleston for Spring Break as well, but my goodness, the parking was horrible. Parking in Charleston is hard to come by on a regular day, but when you add in thousands of tourists on an absolutely beautiful day, it becomes quite chaotic! My dad was with Kevin, the boys, and me, and let me just say, I think having him and Kevin in the car together was a beautiful thing for me while we were trying to find a garage with a spot. They kept telling each other how patient they were. I know neither of them is what I’d call patient in these types of situations, so I should’ve been the one giving the thanks!

    We finally found a garage about three blocks from the Market, so we parked there and headed to the Market to meet my mom, sister, and her boyfriend. For lunch, we had Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It was so good! I wish I could make biscuits like that! [Side note: As a Southern woman with a grandmother who makes made from scratch everything, I can’t make anything from scratch.]

    My parents had Caviar & Bananas and said it was great, too!

    We walked down to the Pineapple Fountain and swings after lunch and let the kids run around some more. I think everyone wanted a break from walking for a bit.

    Originally, we intended to do a carriage tour, but there was no way we could get one and make it to our dinner reservations in time. Again, I should’ve booked that earlier with the number of tourists in town that day. I highly recommend a carriage tour. I’ve done them in the past and all the companies are great. The earlier you get there, the better. There’s a lottery system which determines the route you take, and I’ve been told that you are more likely to get the best route (by the Battery) if you’re one of the earlier tours.

    After our break, we checked out a few other historical places while walking back to the garage. Charleston is just so beautiful, so simply walking down the streets is fun. We went in the French Huguenot Church, Dock Street Theatre, saw the tavern where Black Beard supposedly spent time, Rainbow Row, the Old Powder Magazine, and checked out a few other historical homes.

    On the way back to the Inn, we drove past the Mikell House which is owned by Patricia from Southern Charm. Does anybody else watch this show? It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine!

    We made it back to the Inn in time to change for dinner. My parents and sister have raved about Page’s Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant, so we made reservations there. The restaurant has won all kinds of accolades and I could certainly see why. We had the Fried Green Tomatoes and Redneck Rolls as appetizers. For my dinner, I ordered Chicken and Waffles, one of their specialties. K.C. and I split the Peanut Butter Pie for dessert.

    When we got back to the Inn, we decided to take a walk around I’On. It’s a beautiful area built to look like old Charleston. Later that night, my best friend and her fiance came over and brought dessert for my birthday. It was great getting to visit with them!

    Our first two days in Charleston were fun! I’ll share about our last two days Thursday.

  • birthday,  family,  Kaden,  parties

    Happy NINTH Birthday, Kaden!

    Dear Kaden,

    I can’t believe you are nine years old today! You are growing up so fast right before our eyes. You are such a good boy! Daddy and I are so proud of you!

    You are truly a dream, Kaden. You are so sweet, so kind, so energetic, so full of happiness, and so loving. When I first met you, you were a chunky barely two-year old running around with a huge grin on your face and twinkle in your eye. Today, you’re still running around everywhere with a giant smile on your face and that same sparkle in your eye. Watching your grow over these past seven years has been such a blessing.

    Right now, you’re all about sports and being outside. You love playing soccer, riding your bike, and skateboarding. You’re always up for an adventure and you’re definitely our dare-devil child. You’re also very meticulous about doing everything right.

    Your kind heart never ceases to amaze me. You are so caring. You’re the first to check on anyone who seems hurt and always give extra hugs and kisses. A few nights ago as you were saying your prayers, you asked God to help the people who aren’t happy to be happy and to help the ones who are in bad places to get out of them. The compassion you have in your heart for others shines brightly in your attitude and actions. What a gift you are!

    The zest you have for life is so refreshing. You always want to have fun and I just love that. You’re curious about everything and love to explore. I pray you’ll always have that curiosity about life.

    You are the best brother – both big brother and little brother. What a treat it is to be the boy in the middle! Your big brother adores you even if you two get aggravated with each other sometimes. Your baby brother thinks you’re his size, his playmate, and his jungle gym. Seeing the way you love K.C. and Caleb brings a smile to my face.

    You love Jesus and seeing you grow in Him is such a blessing. You want to follow Him and get to know Him and it thrills me to hear your sweet prayers. It’s always my prayer that you will be a leader and not a follower and allow God to shape your life. A life following Him will be filled with adventure, peace, and more joy than you can imagine.

    I’m so thankful to call you mine, bud. You fill my heart with love and laughter each and every day. What a joy you are!

    Happy NINTH (!) Birthday, Kaden! I love you more than words can say!

    Love,

    Anna

     

    Past Birthdays

    Happy 8th Birthday, Kaden!

    7th Birthday Party – Star Wars

    Happy 7th Birthday!

    Happy 6th Birthday, Kaden!

    Kaden’s 5th Birthday – Mario

    To Kaden on his 5th birthday

    Cowabunga! Kaden’s 4th Birthday

    Kaden’s Fourth Birthday Letter

    *****

    This weekend, we celebrated Kaden’s birthday with a Clemson-themed party. We spent most of the week in Charleston for Spring Break, so this year, we opted for a more low-key family party. A few weeks ago, Kaden was all about yo-yos thanks to a promotion at school, so you can imagine my relief that he announced he no longer wanted a yo-yo party, but instead would take a Clemson party as we were driving to Charleston.

    I always let the kids pick their theme, food, and cake. I figure it’s their party, so I want them to enjoy it. Kaden was really, really, really easy this year. He asked for pizza and a red velvet cake. The lack of ideas he gave us for gifts proved to be challenging this year though. I guess those two balanced out each other!

    Since we have a ton of Clemson stuff, it was easy to decorate. I used orange table clothes, some helmets for centerpieces, Clemson frames with photos from past games we’ve gone to on the mantle, and Kevin even turned on the DVD of the National Championship we won. Since the boys love balloons and streamers, I made sure to use those as well.

    I decided to be all fancy and make an orange velvet cake, but that didn’t go quite as planned. Two bottles of orange coloring and one bottle each of red and yellow didn’t quite give us Clemson orange, but the cake was still great.

    Our little guy had a great time opening his gifts and had his best buddy sleep over after the party. It was so much fun to celebrate our sweet Kaden!

  • family,  life lately

    Life Lately | March 21, 2018

    It’s always fun to look back and see what we had going on at different times, so I thought I’d share a Life Lately post with you today.

     

    Our boys just finished their soccer season for the Spring. They both did so great! We are so proud of them! K.C. scored three goals during the season and Kaden scored two!

    Speaking of kids, yesterday, K.C. went for a run with me. I take Caleb out in the jogging stroller a couple days a week and K.C. usually joins us on his bike for 3-4 miles. Well yesterday, he was ready to stop biking, but I’d only run 2.6 and wanted to run 4, so I dropped him off at home. He decided he was going to run with me for the last 1.4 and run he did! I let him set the pace and take the lead. We stopped for a quick water break at .5 in and 1.1, but otherwise he ran strong. He ran about an 8 minute pace. He wants to run a 5K race next month and I think he was pretty proud of himself for running almost half of a 5K yesterday. I know I was!

     

    Running has been going really well for me lately. If you’ve read my blog any, you know my sweet spots are the 5K and 8K, but I enjoy running longer distances, too. The past few months, I’ve been trying to run a 10K each weekend. While I don’t have a 10K race on the calendar soon, it’s felt good to push myself. A few weeks ago, I ran one within 30 seconds of my PR. And last week, I was back in the mid-19s for my 5K – a first since having Caleb. This past weekend, I ran a 10K and a 4 miler with Caleb in the stroller. While my pace is certainly slower pushing a jogging stroller with a 26.5 pound baby in it, I know it makes me stronger. I’m happy being in the high 7s for a 10K pushing the baby. Somebody enjoys his naps while running with mommy, too.

    The kids got caterpillars at church a few Sundays ago. They’re both in cocoons now. It’s been interesting to watch “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” right in front of my eyes.

     

    Last night, my two older nieces came over for a trial run of prom hair. Suffice it to say, it’s a good thing I have boys! I contributed the curls (not pictured), but the braids, oh my!

    I had a dinner date with these two handsome guys a few weekends ago. We went to one of our favorite Italian places in town. It’s safe to say Caleb enjoyed himself. I’m thankful he’s a good eater, and for the most part, a really good baby in restaurants.

    I went and read to Kaden’s class during Dr. Seuss week a few weeks ago. After reading, we enjoyed some Chickfila lunch together. I love being able to volunteer in my boys’ schools. It’s always so fun to see them in their environment. This little guy is our ham! Everybody loves him!

    If you’re from the South, chances are you’ve heard of Clay Rice. Caleb recently had his silhouette done by him to match his brothers.

    This sweet boy loves to “read” in his chair. This week, his favorite book seems to be Big Dog . . . Little Dog. I really need to record him reading. He jabbers, points at pictures, and flips the pages. It’s so cute!

    He also loves being outside. He points and says “side” in his sweet little voice. Here we are swinging on a swing my great uncle Bush made for me twenty-some years ago. My parents gave it to me after Kevin and I got married. Our big boys still enjoy it, and it’s fun for me to swing with our littlest now!

     

    That’s a little peek into our life lately. What’s been going on in yours?