Exploring the Virginia Countryside

We enjoyed our long weekend by packing up the car on Friday and heading out to the Virginia countryside. My Aunt and Uncle moved out to Virginia farmland when they retired and have a gorgeous property about 3 hours from us. This was our third time visiting them.

We left Friday after Bry finished up a couple of tests for work and hit the road before traffic could get too congested. It ended up working out perfectly. We escaped any major delays and managed to get into Charlottesville (about an hour from my Aunt and Uncle) around 3pm. We really enjoy Charlottesville and have been about 4 times, usually passing through. We spent an hour walking the downtown pedestrian mall trying to keep Jackson from pushing rolling signs away, riding the carousel and leaving fun notes on their giant community chalkboard. Eventually we all started to get hungry so we packed back into the car and headed to the Blue Ridge Brewery. We shared a large pizza and a couple of side salads which enjoying breathtaking views–but to be honest I really wish we’d had eaten at Eppie’s on the mall instead. The food was less than stellar. Except the strawberry shortcake–which was enjoyed 4 ways and the boys couldn’t stop shoveling into their mouths.

After we ate we drove the rest of the way to my Aunt and Uncle’s and made it by 7. We unpacked the car and put the kids to bed then enjoyed sitting at the table catching up with two of my very favorite people while eating rhubarb cake–Bry’s favorite cake in the world.

We were awoken by the world’s cutest alarm clocks at 4:30am but with views like this it wasn’t as painful to roll out of bed.

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My Aunt and Uncle truly live in paradise. Their property and views are absolutely gorgeous and there’s something so magically serene about the countryside.

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We spent the morning playing in garden and then had some cereal before Bry headed out to help my Uncle with some things on the farm and my Aunt joined me and the boys on a drive out to the Chessie Trail, a local pedestrian, bike-to-rail trail. Her foot has been giving her grief for the past year so she stayed in the car and read while I headed out for a short and easy 3 mile run with the boys. It was gorgeous and so refreshing to explore a new area.

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When we got back the guys were just finishing up fixing a fence post down by their creek so we all met back at the house for lunch. We had delicious sandwiches, fresh cut veggies and chips with dip. The boys went down for a nap and we decided to join them. 1.5 hours later I awoke from the most glorious and deep sleep I’ve had in awhile. Everyone was still snoozing so I snuck upstairs to the porch where my favorite swing is and cracked open a book. Nothing to see but rolling farmland and mountains. Nothing to hear by the cows mooing. Blissfully peaceful.

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Bry woke up a few minutes later and we sat together on the swing talking about life. It was so relaxing and I really enjoyed being able to just be together.

Eventually the kids awoke and we played some more outside before taking an evening stroll before dinner.

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For dinner we had some amazing blackened tilapia, roasted potatoes and coleslaw. Plus more cake for dessert. After the boys went to bed we sat at the table way past our usual bedtime listening to stories of the trips my Aunt and Uncle have been on. They’ve literally travelled the world- all 7 continents (including Antarctica!) They’ve even scaled the 5th highest peak in the world that sits opposite Mount Everest. They’re AMAZING.

We woke up Sunday morning and had egg and ham cups, grit casserole and fresh tomato slices for breakfast. After playing for awhile Andrew crashed for his morning nap so I went on a walk down the gravel road with Jackson. I debated bringing the stroller in case he got tired but ultimately decided against it. Which inevitably meant that 1/3 mile in he called Uncle and I ended up carrying him the mile back on my shoulders.

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Once Andrew woke up we took a family walk to the creek. It was so relaxing and beautiful. We couldn’t get enough.

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We made it back to the house at lunchtime and had some sandwiches, veggies and chips picnic-style on the deck before packing the car back up to head home. It was sad to say goodbye but necessary to avoid traffic and have a day to get errands done before returning to real life Monday Tuesday morning. It was another beautiful weekend spent soaking up family time, that seemed to fly by and we feel so blessed to have had the opportunity.

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Hiking at South Mountain

Yesterday afternoon as we tackled our weekly grocery shopping trip with two rambunctious kids in tow, we talked about what we wanted to do this weekend. The forecast called for rain but it seemed to be holding off until Saturday afternoon. Since Sunday seemed pretty unpredictable weather-wise, we knew we wanted to get outside Saturday morning to beat the rain and expend some pent up energy (endless energy, where do those kids get it from??).

Bry really wanted to go hiking again. I really wanted to get in a run sometime before the weekend was done but knew I could do that in the rain if I needed to. I was kind of over the hiking trails we’ve already done and felt fairly unenthused about heading back out to trails we’d just hiked the weekend before. So to Mr.Google I went. I searched for great hiking near us and found so many places. We really are lucky to live in such an amazing area. Most we’ve already explored but I found a few we hadn’t.

Enter: South Mountain. Bry has a lifelong dream of one day hiking the Appalachian Trail. Part of it snakes through Western Maryland, including South Mountain. We’re heading out of town next weekend and I wanted to make sure we weren’t forcing the kids in the car too long right before next week’s 6 hour car ride. Luckily, South Mountain was less than an hour away.

Jackson has been waking up at the absurd hour of 4:30am this week. It’s been torturous. But it also meant we were able to get everything packed and ready to go by the time baby brother awoke at 6. We headed out and stopped along the way for breakfast at Cracker Barrel then parked at the trail head.

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The trail we set out for was 2.5 miles and went to Annapolis Rocks, a really beautiful overlook. Jackson walked the first mile, all uphill with a lot of scrambles, by himself!

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We eventually put him in the Deuter to complete the ascend so we weren’t spending all weekend out there.

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We reached the summit and were greeted with absolutely breathtaking views.

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They were seriously surreal.

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There’s another overlook at South Mountain called Black Rocks Cliff. It’s only a mile further up the AT from Annapolis Rocks so we decided to continue on to see what that had to offer.

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Amazing.

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We stayed for awhile and rehydrated while the boys snacked. By this point we’d been hiking for about 2 hours and both boys were DONE. It was nearing naptime and with Jackson’s early wake up time he was fading fast so we bee-lined it back to the car. Both boys ended up crashing on the way back and we ended the trip in 3 hours having covered 7.5 total miles.

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We debated heading straight home but having seen a sign for South Mountain Creamery on the way to the trail we made the wise decision to drive a few miles out of the way to stop for the freshesh ice cream. Jackson loved seeing the farm’s tractors and we enjoyed our ice cream outside under the sun. The ice cream itself was incredible! The best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had.

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It was a beautiful day that made us even more excited for hiking season and hopefully a trail camping trip in the near future!

A Sickly Mother’s Day Weekend

We had a long weekend ahead of us following Bry working a 19.5 hour day on Thursday. We had fun plans in the works: exploring the zoo, metroing to the Eastern Market, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the weekend as a family. Unfortunately, plans kind of blew up when I was up most of Thursday night/early Friday morning nauseous and then began to vomit. I moved to the living room couch for the night so everyone could sleep without my disruptions.

Once the boys awoke I scrimmaged through our medicine cabinet and found an old bottle of Zofran from when I was pregnant with Andrew. Expiration date at the end of March? Close enough! I popped one and laid on the couch. I ate a piece of toast to try to get something back in my stomach and after an hour felt much better. I really didn’t want to ruin the weekend so I packed up our bags and the car and we headed out to the zoo.

Bad decision.

We made it 30 minutes and as we walked the never ending hill that is the American Trail I felt sicker and sicker. My nausea grew with each step until I finally told Bry I needed to sit down. Before I knew it I was on the side of the trail trying to gracefully and secretly projectile vomit into the brush. Obviously I had no business toughing it out so we packed back up and headed home. I felt horrible: physically and emotionally. Bry loves the zoo and so do the boys. They’re both at really fun ages to enjoy it and I was really looking forward to Bry getting to see them in that element. Maybe next time!

I spent the rest of Friday in bed with a puke bucket while Bry corralled the crazies in the living room. After naptime, for everyone, we headed out to get some food. The only thing that sounded remotely good was lemonade, chicken sandwich and fries from McDonalds. So to the golden arches we went! I managed to devour it all and keep it all down. It was just what a needed. We spent the evening playing in the front yard with neighbors before crashing early.

Saturday morning I still felt queasy but wasn’t vomiting. Thanks to Zofran I was doing pretty well so I decided to chance it and stick to the plan of metroing to the Eastern Market in DC which is what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day. Jackson loved the train, as usual.

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I love the Eastern Market. From the variety of food tents to the talented artistry. I especially get lost in the photography that we could never afford.

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By the time we arrived we were ready for some food so we hit up the food tents. I ordered a carnitas taco and a chocolate coconut donut.

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I don’t know what compelled me to order Mexican while sick with a stomach bug but I immediately regretted it. I found a green juice stand that had a mix with ginger and ordered one in the hopes of settling the nausea. It didn’t work but Andrew guzzled 90% of it down, getting in his green for the day before passing out for our trek home.

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We walked to Union Station to catch the metro home instead of having to switch trains from Eastern Market. It’s about a 1.5mi walk and it was a gorgeous day for a long stroll. Both kids were wicked exhausted and slept while Bry and I got to spend the walk chatting.

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Once we made it home we put the boys down for a nap. Bry worked on a practice exam for a test he’s taking in a few weeks and I headed out to Trader Joe’s to knock out grocery shopping for the week. It’s a million times easier without 2 little ones in tow. I wore the dress I bought at the Eastern Market for $8 and I may very well live in all summer. It even has pockets!

20150509_141454 Once the boys woke up we went out to Chipotle for dinner. Again, not a great choice for recovering from a stomach bug but it’s what sounded good a the time. I spent Saturday night tossing and turning with horrible nausea again. Ugh.

Sunday morning was Mother’s Day! Jax woke up at 5am screaming from his crib to wake Andrew up. I jumped out of bed to get him before he could wake Drew and told Bry to sleep in. Role reversals for Mother’s Day? Maybe. But he’d worked so long on Thursday I knew he needed the sleep. He ended up coming up shortly after. We played in the garden until the littlest woke up and then went out to pick up breakfast from a local deli. I was craving French toast and bacon and got massive amounts of both. They were awesome!

I’ve been a mama for 4 Mother’s Days now (the first I was pregnant with Jax for) and for each one I’ve run. I really wanted to run this Mother’s Day too. Unfortunately, having felt so sick still Saturday night I thought it was best if I forwent running especially since I was super dehydrated too. Instead we headed to the local trail for a long hike.

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We ended up covering 4 miles in 2 hours and it was a ton of fun! I was glad when it was over though as I started to feel really sick again.

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We drove through McDonalds on the way home for more lemonade and chocolate milk for the toddler. We all crashed hard come nap time. For dinner we headed out to Whole Foods to pick up the hot bar for dinner. It’s our favorite! I still felt pretty uneasy especially around the curry smells and ended up with a hodpodge of glazed ham, Korean chicken thigh, garlicky collard greens green beans, dirty rice and mushrooms. I managed to eat about half before I knew I needed to call it quits.

We picked up a pint of mint chocolate chip gelato at Whole Foods as well and shared it spoon in carton style which watching Criminal Minds. It was a really nice weekend, despite being sick, filled with a mix of relaxation and exploration with the 3 boys who made me a mama. I am blessed.

Weekend Wrap-up

Better late than never no? This weekend was jam packed with fun.

Saturday morning we quickly ate breakfast and packed up to head out to our local trail. I took off for a solo 5 mile run that was absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I needed to refresh.

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I ended my run at the creek that runs along the trail where I found my boys playing in the water, collecting rocks.

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I stretched while Jackson brought me endless mounds of “chocolate” (dirt) to refuel. Eventually we made our way over to my old daycare that was having a fair. It was somewhat surreal and incredible to watch Jackson enjoy his first pony ride in the same place I did 24 years ago when I was exactly his age.

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He loved riding the “horsey” though after some fun in the bouncey house and sandbox a meltdown occurred. We had a couple of tickets left so we decided to quickly do the Cake Walk which was basically like musical chairs except everyone ended on a number and the DJ would randomly call a number. Whoever was on that number won a half dozen cupcakes from the infamous Georgetown Cupcakes. Even though Jack was in a bad mood, when they called number “4” and we looked down to see we were standing on number four, his mood did a 180 as he realized we just won “pup-cakes!”

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We packed up our cupcakes and walked home just in time to get both boys down a dual nap. During naptime Bry power-washed the deck while I did some spring cleaning  inside and read a bit. I’ve been reading like crazy again lately and just finished two good books. It Was Me All Along which is a really good memoir by Andie Mitchell and The Girl On The Train which is a lot like Gone Girl. I would definitely recommend both!

After naps we found ourselves at Home Depot picking up deck stain and lawn chair pillows. Then we ended the night with a delicious dinner of tilapia with kumquat relish, devouring cupcake and playing in the garden.

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Sunday we drove out to Cunningham Falls to go for a hike. We had breakfast at a nearby buffet then hit the trails. We planned to do a 5 mile loop but were thwarted when part of the trail was closed. We ended up covered 3 miles which was the perfect length to get home in time for naps.

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Bry spent the afternoon staining the deck while I read. Once the boys were up we played, had bath time (which is a nightly occurrence now that it’s sunscreen season) and read before bedtime. We finished the weekend off with some homemade blackberry cobbler I whipped up earlier in the day topped with Trader Joe’s vanilla ice cream which is utterly delicious, while watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. And now it’s almost a new weekend!

Catching Up

Since Spring has arrived in full force, we’ve been spending every waking moment outside or otherwise on the move. Both kids have started to wake up at far-too-early o’clock which has left me with zero time to write and even less time to do anything in peace. But I really can’t blame them– we’ve been packing in as much fun as we can!

We’ve been visiting the zoo weekly to say hi to all the animals. Jackson always says he wants to go see the lions and yet once we arrive he seems to be infatuated with every animal except the lions. We’ve been metoring there lately which takes a solid hour in commute time alone but is well worth it for the squeals of excitement from my train loving toddler.

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My main form of exercise lately has been walking. So much walking. We’re a one car family which is actually really easy for us in good weather as we live in a really commutable area. We’re a mile from 2 different metro stops and walking distance to lots of fun places. A few weekends ago while Bry was working I walked the boys to the nearby nature center. It was a beautiful 3 mile walk and nearby the nature center is a hugeeeeee park with a train! Obviously the boys were ecstatic to ride the choo choo. ALL ABOARDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!

Lunch lately is almost always on the go. PB & Js are our go-to, enjoyed picnic style.

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We went down to the creek last Monday after Bry got off work and I brought along my 10lb kettlebell (on my wish list: adding a 25lber!). While the boys played in the water and Bry found rocks for the garden I knocked out a quick 15 minute full body workout. You could easily do this 2-3 times through for a longer workout!

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We’ve been walking to a lot of different parks too. We found a new favorite one that is exactly 2 miles away. Jackson refers to it as the “fire truck park” and both boys love it. It’s a really beautiful walk that goes right by the elementary school I attended from K-2nd grade and the field I learned to play soccer on. It’s always a fun walk down memory lane and a REALLY hilly walk, both ways. Whew.

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I’ve run three times since the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, two 5k double stroller runs that made me question how I ever trained for the Baltimore Half with that thing and a solo 5 miler this past weekend. Those kids are H-E-A-V-Y. I tried to run a “comfortable” pace and didn’t look at my watch at all. Though comfortable isn’t really an adjective that I’d ever fix with a stroller run. I finished in 27:12 (8:46 pace).

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Last week I returned to Body Pump and remembered how much I love the burn. I hope to make it a weekly occurrence–if naps allow.

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Lately I’ve had some crazy food cravings which have been totally random and also amazing. I forgot how awesome it is to really crave something and then satisfy that craving. Almost daily I’ve had a serious hankering for chocolate croissants and have probably had at least 4 in the past week and a half. Other loves: cashews, cookies and cream (just the sound of the flavor sounds awesome), ice cream and an Oreo blast after we found a random Sonic out in VA the other week on our way home from a baseball game. Does anyone else share my pet peeve of ice cream mixes like this when they don’t add enough topping/churn it well enough so that the second/bottom half is just ice cream?

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Andrew is officially a walker. He’s been donning his itty bitty Keen sandals everywhere and is loving his new found freedom.

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He also has been obsessed with the slide.

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We’ve also returned to the trails and have been hiking as often as we can. We’re currently in the market for another hiking pack as Andrew has definitely outgrown the Ergo for longer trips and Jackson likes to have the ability to be carried when he gets tired. Obviously our current situation isn’t ideal for longer hikes 🙂

20150415_160003 (1) And I think that about catches us up! I’m definitely going to try to be better about stopping by if only to appease my need to photo dump (and my phone’s need from lack of storage). Hope y’all are enjoying the sunshine as well!