Soaking in Spring

Spring has officially sprung here in DC. Not only is the weather a perfect mid-60 degrees most days, with little humidity, the sun shines from early morning til after bedtime but the trees are all reaching their peak bloom and the result could not be more breathtaking. Where a few weeks ago only bare trees and branches existed, there are now signs of new life and beauty.

We’ve taken every advantage of the weather and sunshine, exploring the zoo, visiting one of the most kid friendly hiking spots near us (that still offers a view) & playing at every playground we can find.

Thursday we ventured out to the zoo, completely forgetting about the Spring break crowds. We started off at the kids farm where we said hi to the pigs, cows and alpacas then headed up the American Trail, passing the spectacled bears and finding ourselves mere inches from the sea lions.

IMG_20160324_091840

We eventually continued on to see the panda bears & elephants before heading back down the hill for a ride on the carousel.

IMG_20160324_114510

After 3.5 hours, the boys collapsed in the backseat, a sure sign of a successful morning.

IMG_20160324_115531

Bry worked Thursday night and came home at 2am Friday to catch up on sleep. The weather forecast that had long been calling for rain, cleared, so at 7am I packed up the kids and our backpack then giddily woke up bry convincing him we should go for a family hike. I enticed him with promises of coffee and breakfast and 5 minutes later, we were on our way.

The drive to the mountain was foreboding, with dark clouds looming overhead in the distance. By the time we made it to the parking lot at the base of the trail there was a full on downpour. Whomp whomp. We ended up feeding the older boys and I nursed kyle while we waited for a break in the clouds. It only took 10 minutes and suddenly the rain stopped and the sun started to peek through. Off we went!

Sugarloaf Mountain is a great place for younger kids to hike. The trail to the top, while steep and full of endless stairs, is short. At the top there’s a large, flat area for the kids to safely run around, collect rocks and take breaks for snacks while taking in the view.

IMG_20160325_092527

IMG_20160325_092800IMG_20160325_100747

After an hour or so, we headed back down the mountain and headed home. After naps we headed out for a walk to the park before dinner and bedtime.

Saturday morning was sunny but cold. We overestimated Spring’s full arrival and were surprised to find it was only 36 degrees. Still, we pressed on and packed up the strollers to head to another park. I took off with kyle for a run while bry walked the kids to the park. We ended up covering 5 beautiful miles before meeting up with the other boys to stretch and play.

After an hour, we were all red nosed and cold so we embarked on the 1.5mi walk home. We quickly assembled a hod podge lunch. As we ate brys parents called to say they were already here! They’re visiting for the week and we were all excited when they arrived a few hours earlier than expected. We got to play for a bit and say hi before the boys went down for their naps, allowing the adults to catch up in peace.

Once the boys awoke we drove by a house we were looking at before finding ourselves at the park. Yes, you read that correctly. We’re house hunting! While we’re just starting to dip our toes into the water of our home search, we’re really excited for our next chapter and hope to find a place within the year.

Eventually we headed home so I could start dinner. We feasted on chicken carnitas, kale and broccoli slaw and corn and avocado salad while enjoying the far too rare company of family.

Sunday was Easter! We drove to our favorite bagel place for bagel sandwiches (a weekly tradition) before heading to the nearby trail via a detour around the tidal basin in DC. We completely underestimated how many people would be out at 7am on Easter to see the cherry Blossoms and ended up getting caught in gridlock traffic. Brys parents still got to see the gorgeous trees in full bloom so the trip wasn’t wasted, but we quickly switched gears and headed to the trail.

IMG_20160330_053846

By the time we parked, all 3 boys were fast asleep.We set up at a nearby picnic table to eat our giant sandwiches and once the boys awoke, we kicked the ball around in the field and walked down to the water to find rocks. It was another brisk morning so we didn’t stay too long.

We headed home to hide Easter eggs that the boys had dyed with MiMi the night before.

12718141_10206297142095862_7413363156728608424_n

They loved the thrill of finding each new hidden egg, though Andrew attempted to crack his so he could eat it! The easter bunny came with goodies of books, new clothes and a rattle toy for Kyle. But the highlight of their easter baskets was the endless paper grass that were still finding around the living room.

After naps we drove over to MiMi and Pappy’s hotel (Jackson calls it “the big house”) to swim in their indoor pool. We had a blast splashing, learning to swim and jumping non-stop. Thank goodness for puddle jumpers. And for an amazing MiMi who generously cuddled the baby so mommy could swim with her biggest boys too.

After an hour and a half we were all exhausted. And hungry! We swung by Whole Foods for some dinner ingredients and the creamery for some very necessary ice cream before driving home to quickly cook. We had teriyaki salmon, roasted asparagus and quinoa before diving head first into the good stuff. Ice cream!!!

It was a wonderful weekend that like most, flew by far too quickly. Thankfully MiMi & Pappy are here all week which makes it feel like a vacation at home and allows the fun to continue all week long ūüôā

Playing Catch Up

Woah, where has the time gone?! When your days are filled with chasing 3 little ones and your nights consist of marathon feeding sessions, the weeks fly by at lightening speed! So let’s play a little catch up.

Somehow I blinked again and this perfect little boy turned TWO months old. IMG_20160307_160717

He’s weighing in at a whopping 13lbs 1oz and is 24″ long. He’s still sporting these memorizing baby blues and loves to show off his gummy smile. He’s starting to “talk” and loves when you talk back. He’s a big fan of his tongue and is thoroughly amused when you stick your tongue back out at him.

IMG_20160311_161853

When he’s fussy, which is rare unless we’ve missed his golden hour at bedtime to put him down before he’s overtired, patting his back is his preferred method of soothing. He’s obsessed with the Ergo and gladly spends his nap times in there whenever were on the go. He’s basically perfect and we’re still in disbelief that were lucky enough to be his parents.

IMG_20160310_081957
The older boys are doing great! Andrew will be 2 next month which completely blows my mind. He’s still so small: he gets tired on long walks and asks “carry mommy” while throwing his arms up at me to pick him up, he carries his blankey everywhere with him and still sports those beautiful baby cheeks.

IMG_20160308_152044

He’s got these huge eyes that are full of innocence and these tiny lips that beg to be kissed. He loves his brothers and is such a sweetheart to everyone he meets. When we pick jax up from school, he greets big brother with a bear hug and squeal of excitement yelling “Jack!!!” & is always has to be pulled away from his endless kisses and dances for baby kyle or he’d never stop slobbering all over baby brothers bald head.

IMG_20160201_132503

But at the same time he’s getting so big, stringing together sentences, mastering the rock climbing wall at the park without assistance and asserting himself in true toddler form with emphatic “no!”s.

IMG_20160229_111404

Jax is still in school 3 mornings a week and loves it. ¬†He’s learned so much this year and grown by leaps and bounds. His language has taken off and most days are filled with nonstop chatter, namely in the form of questions or endless observations.

20160307_171939

He’s still obsessed with trucks, dirt and lately, Paw Patrol. The long winter days coupled with a newborn and incredibly early wakeups for the entire house, led to far more TV time than I’d care to admit. But the weather is finally turning and Spring is definitely in the air.

IMG_20160229_185214

IMG_20160221_084315

Oh this weather! After snowfall last Friday we’ve been spending every waking hour outside this week, soaking up the 60 and 70 degree sunshine. We’ve gone to visit the animals at the zoo, frequented countless parks, gone for morning hikes, eaten dinners on the back deck…

IMG_20160308_104252

IMG_20160301_113941

IMG_20160310_081417

IMG_20160310_075922

And I’ve finally found my way back into my running shoes! After each boy I’ve trained for a half marathon so it only seems right to do the same now. I have my sights on one in September and hope to register as soon as registration opens in April. Right now I’m running 3 days a week with the double stroller (when weather allows) & trying to get 10k steps in every day. I’m currently¬†up to about¬†4 miles¬†for my long runs.¬†I have an extremely generous friend who just gifted me a gym membership which I can’t wait to start using this week, perfectly timed with the rain we’re expecting. I’m hoping to throw in some bootcamp classes for cross training and maybe some spin, yoga or bootcamp if schedules allow. Just moving again from my permanent butt print on the couch¬†during the endless days of nursing, feels amazing.

So here’s to a new season! & hopefully updating this space more often with training and with life.

Kyle’s Birth Story

Kyle Henderson was born at 9:47pm on January 10, 2016 weighing in at 7lb 5.6oz and 20.5″ long ‚̧
It’s hard to know where to begin with Kyle’s birth story, so I’ll start at the very beginning. At 33w I mentioned how I was in zero rush to bring him into the world as I was soaking up what might very well be our last pregnancy, enjoying my giant belly and utilizing every last moment I had with my 2 big boys before their world was rocked upside down.
 IMG_20151211_104929
At 35w I had my first weekly OB appt which included my first cervical check. To our surprise I was already 100% effaced, Kyle was at a -1 station and I was 1 fingertip (1/2cm) dilated. I left the appointment feeling completely confused. I knew the progress could mean he could come at any time but also that I could go 5 weeks or longer and he might still be baking away. I felt ready but scared that he’d come early. I desperately wanted to avoid having another baby go to NICU, wanted the best chance for him to be completely healthy and for him to come when he was ready. But as the days ticked by I was more and more uncomfortable. He was so low that by the end of the day I could barely walk without wincing in pain from the pressure of him. It hurt to put on socks, shoes, pants. As each day went by I was able to do less and less with the boys as well. I physically couldn’t chase them, I was nervous about venturing out too far from home in case I went into labor, etc. My biggest fear was that I’d go into labor and by the time Bry would be able to leave the job site and meet me at the hospital, Kyle would have arrived. Each day Bry and I were on pins and needles wondering if this was THE day.
On Wednesday the 6th Bry got home from work early. Around 3:30pm I started having contractions. I’d had Braxton hicks here and there for a few weeks but this was different. They kept coming, were getting stronger and closer together and wouldn’t stop with movement. We went out to get Reubens for dinner and when Jax asked to sit down to eat¬†at the restaurant,¬†we decided to go for it. All through dinner the waves continued and by the time we got home I thought for sure this was it. We did bedtime routine and then I decided to try to get some sleep. If it was true labor I’d need the energy and if it wasn’t, we’d need the sleep for work the next day. I was restless most of the night but finally fell asleep. I woke up Thursday morning feeling totally normal and totally defeated.¬†(Dr. Google said I had prodromal labor).
Thursday a few more contractions came and went. By Friday I was feeling pretty convinced that Kyle was playing a cruel joke on us and would actually go past his due date. Friday night I felt crampy but it was Bry’s work party and I told him to go. I knew he could leave at any time if true contractions developed and my heart told me it wasn’t time. And it wasn’t. I went to bed still feeling the cramps and waves and woke up feeling completely normal again.
Saturday morning we got bagel sandwiches at our favorite place in¬†DC and hung out at home. I bounced on my stability ball forever and after naps when the rain cleared a bit we took a family walk. I did circles on the basketball court at the playground while the boys dug for worms with dad. By that night I was feeling sore and a ton of pressure, per usual but no contractions. We went ahead and went on our anniversary date night we’d planned. After dinner at Founding Farmers, we went to pick up cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and walked around the mall for awhile. We came home and watched the newest episode of Blacklist on DVR, then went to bed. A couple hours later I started feeling contractions. By midnight they were strong enough to wake me up. I wasn’t sure if they were real but woke up Bry who thought we should go to L&D just to be safe. Everyone kept warning us the 3rd babe comes fast, though I had my doubts as Jackson took 19.5 hours and Andrew took 22!
Around 1am we checked into labor and delivery. I was hooked up to monitors for an hour and checked. I was 1.5-2cm dilated but my contractions were showing as an irritable uterus not real contractions, so we were sent home. The¬†nurse casually said she wouldn’t be surprised if we were back later that day, but I knew enough to brush her off and not get my hopes up.¬†We crawled into bed at 3am, exhausted and not looking forward to an early morning wake up from our boys.
They slept til 6 and after pancakes for breakfast we decided to bundle up and go for a long walk on our favorite trail and let the boys go puddle jumping. We went 2 miles on the same route we covered¬†on the day we went into labor with both other boys.¬†The boys had a blast jumping in the puddles, getting soaked with mud and doing what boys were made to do. It was such a wonderful morning and I walk/waddle/jogged along. When we stopped I’d do some squats to open things up. By the end we were all thoroughly exhausted and Bry and I looked at each other, grateful that we had this morning with our boys. That we hadn’t actually gone into labor the night before.
20160110_080716
We bathed the boys, got back into pjs and watched a movie before naptime. We also skyped with Bry’s parents and had 4c of red raspberry leaf tea, which is thought to help the uterus prepare for labor and make contractions more effective once labor begins. I laid down when the boys did, still recuperating from the night before. But at 12:38, just 30 minutes after lying down, something woke me up. I rolled over and felt kind of wet down there but didn’t think anything of it. I watched netflix in bed and after feeling a couple of contractions decided to go to the living room. I ate some trail mix and at 12:55 sat on the couch with a pen and paper to time my contractions. One at 12:55. One at 1:02. One at 1:04!!? By the 5th contraction that came every 2 minutes I started to freak out and told Bryan what was happening. He looked at me and got the biggest smile. He “knew” it was time as my face showed the¬†contractions were stronger than I’d¬†ever¬†experienced.
20160114_143404
I went to shower to see if they’d go away with movement, and to have one last shower in case this was the real thing. By 1:30 they were still coming fast and strong so I called my mom to see if she could come watch the boys just in case. She got to the house 15 minutes later and the contractions were still coming strong and steady every 2 minutes. The hospital had¬†told us to come in if I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes for an hour and¬†I was almost there. I was in total disbelief that labor was progressing so fast!¬†We threw a few last minute things into our bag again and headed for the door.
Right before we left Jax woke up from his nap and I was able to give him hugs and kisses. We explained we were heading to the hospital to have Kyle, but that we might be back home if¬†I wasn’t in real labor. He was completely sweet and loving and seemed to understand, as much as an almost 3.5 year old can, what was going on. I went into the nursery and watched Andrew sleep soundly. I gave him a kiss and told him I loved him, mentally willing him to wake up so I could selfishly hug him. He kept sleeping and Bry and I left for the hospital.¬†For the first time in weeks,¬†Jax didn’t cry when I left the house. He just told us he loved us and “good luck”.
At 2pm we checked into labor and delivery. I was fairly certain we’d be sent home again but was hopeful. We were sent to triage where I was again hooked to monitors. They asked a ton of questions including if my water had broken. I mentioned the wet feeling I’d felt earlier though I didn’t really think it was anything. 30 minutes later the resident came in to check me. I was 4cm dilated, contracting every 2 minutes and the test to see if my water had broken showed a tiny bit of ferning. We were staying!! We immediately called my mom so she knew she was on big baby duty and then walked over to labor and delivery. On the walk over people kept wishing us good luck and smiling at us. It felt totally surreal.
 12466242_10206083952837548_262189913849613797_o
At 3:50 we were in our room and ready for however long it’d take. We had two nurses but our main one was Bridgett. She kept asking if I wanted an epidural yet and I said no. I could feel the contractions but they barely felt like anything. She started setting up everything for Kyle’s arrival and by the 6th time she asked if I wanted the epi, Bry asked her if there was a point when I wouldn’t be able to get one. She said yes if I got to 10cm and he was right there. He then asked how long she thought it’d take and she showed us my contractions. They were coming every minute and were the highest level the machine monitored. Bridgett told us everyone outside kept asking if I’d had the baby yet based on my contractions alone.
20160110_161415
At 7pm I decided to go for the epi. I still wasn’t in any pain. I was laughing and joking and generally just excited. I didn’t have fear of childbirth medication free, it’s the aftermath that I didn’t want to feel (if you tear they stitch you, and I didn’t want to feel that!) After the epi was administered I was checked again. It took Bridgett, a new nurse, almost 10 minutes to complete the check and it was not a delicate experience. I’d never had anyone do it like that and I was really glad I was numb for it as I still felt a lot of it. She said I was still at 4.
Dr. Mian came in and finished rupturing my bag of waters and then they started pitocin. I was @ 1 miliunit and at 8pm they bumped me up to 3. We wondered if Kyle was going to be born that night or the next morning and as the time ticked by, we got more and more excited. I had 2 shot bloks around 7:30 as I hadn’t eaten in 7 hours but with all the meds I was on I started to feel extremely sick. (I was GBS positive this pregnancy so in addition to the epi and pitocin i was on antibiotics for that). At 8 I asked for something for the nausea and got zofran. I felt really hot, like I did with Andrew, and generally felt like hell. I had ice packs behind my neck but I still felt very nauseous, dizzy and out of it. I tried to close my eyes and get some sleep before I started puking.
At 8:45pm the new nurse, Malina, came in and flipped me to my side. I immediately felt a ton of pressure on my right side and she said it was because all the epidural was moving to the left side, that I was lying on. The pressure was actually Kyle, who’d dropped but she didn’t check me until 9:15pm when I told her the pressure was still there. Her eyes got wide as she realized I was complete. 10cm, completely effaced and Kyle was at a +1. The other nurse seemed doubtful so she checked me as well and agreed. It was go time. They called for my OB and I began to labor down.
20160110_211711
Both nurses ended up leaving the room. Bry and I were alone and started joking that we’d have to birth Kyle on our own. He started telling him to stay in because he didn’t know what to do and I laughed hard which made Bry freak out that I’d have Kyle from laughing too hard. Finally the doctor arrived and was less than thrilled to find us alone. He paged the nurses and then got onto them when they came back about never leaving a patient alone who’s complete. Finally at 9:45, my legs were put in the stirrups and we were set to go. Dr. Mian told me to take a deep breath and push. And push I did. With that single breath, I felt our littlest man enter the world and my heart literally shattered into a million pieces as tears rolled down my face at the sound of his first cries. “What color’s his hair?” I asked Bry. “Dark brown!” I watched Bry for the next few moments while they cut the cord and wiped Kyle off a bit. I couldn’t see him but I could see the love and amazement on my husbands face, and my heart felt full. They put him on my chest and I melted all over again. I could hardly catch my breath I was in such disbelief. Everything happened so fast, it still felt surreal. After just 9 hours of labor, our sweet baby boy was here. He waited until he was perfectly cooked at 37 weeks, waited for daddy to enjoy his work party and mommy and daddy to get one last early anniversary date night, let us have an incredible morning puddle jumping as a family of 4 and then perfectly and wonderfully came into our lives and our hearts, filling them both to the brim.
12496094_10206087123436811_1186928912712631051_o
As I sit here typing up everything that happened with our 4 day old breathing softly on my chest, I wonder how we ever got so lucky. This life we’ve created, this family we are so blessed to call our own, is nothing short of miraculous. Were excited to embark on our new life as a family of 5, with all the chaos, love and insanity that will surely go along with it.
12525405_10206094043089798_2135827604885347373_o

Halloween 2015

This weekend felt jam packed and flew by, like most weekends do these days. As I think most parents feel, daylight savings is my arch nemesis and with it falling the day after Halloween, here I sit Tuesday morning wondering what sleep is (and again, feeling awfully nervous for January when nights like these are a luxury).

Saturday morning started off with bagel sandwiches at a new to us place in DC. The reviews on yelp gave it outstanding ratings for apple fritters, which I’ve been craving like crazy the past few days, but lousy service. We experienced both. The service was extremely rude. Despite being 7 months pregnant and having a 3 year old, they wouldn’t allow us to use the bathroom and had us walk a few blocks to a Starbucks instead. It wasn’t a terrible walk, despite being 34 degrees and in the middle of NW DC, but the principle of it was ridiculous. Luckily the lattes we got at Starbucks were delicious and well worth the extra trip. We ate by the water at Rock Creek Park before heading home to grab some warmer clothes and head to the nearby trail by our house.

park 10-31-15

We let the boys out to run off some energy and ended up at one of the parks that runs along the trail. This particular park has three different playgrounds and the boys had a blast. We only stayed about 45 minutes because it was so cold and most of the equipment was wet with dew. 15 minutes of that time was spent sitting and watching a tractor dig up dirt. Boys.

We then headed back home where the boys played in our sunny yard for awhile, raking, jumping in and collecting all the leaves that have fallen off the large tree in our front yard. At 11 we finally coerced them inside, tried to feed them some snacks and put them down for a ridiculously early nap since we had a birthday party to attend during their normal naptime.

They spent the next hour laughing and playing from their separate beds, generally avoiding sleep. After diaper changes (their smart way of really avoiding sleep), they finally crashed around 1. And thirty minutes later, Jackson was wide awake again.

The party started at two at a nearby Nature Center, so we dressed the kids in their costumes and headed over. The party was beautifully decorated and I wish I’d taken pictures. The birthday boy’s mama is a fantastic party planner and had thought of everything. The boys enjoyed hearing from a naturalist and “meeting” some various animals. Jackson’s favorite part was when she opened a pillow case inside of a 5 gallon bucket and proceeded to pull out a SNAKE! They also went on a short nature walk to the pond to feed fish, danced and played with a musician and ate some delicious food (though they chose to eat only the fruit on their plates). Before we knew it, two hours had flown by and it was time for cupcakes. Both boys devoured theirs and then Jackson, in his over tired and over sugared state, started shoveling cookies into his mouth from the dessert table before I could finally pull him away and direct him to the door. We said our goodbyes and headed home just in time to head over to a neighbor’s house for pizza before trick or treating.

IMG_8927 IMG_8930

Again, Jackson and Andrew were in rare form between too little sleep and too much sugar. Within the first 10 minutes Jackson managed to grab a crayon and write on our neighbor’s wall! They were like caged animals, totally insane and out of control. After quickly shoveling in a slice of pizza each, we managed to get them outside where they could be crazy with little risk of property damage. When the sun started to set, the rest of the kids joined us outside for some trick or treating.

I knew Jackson would really enjoy trick or treating this year. He’s gotten down the “trick or treat” and “thank you” parts and really enjoys the act of knocking on people’s doors. I wasn’t sure what Andrew would do but he was obsessed with it! He took a full 5 minutes to crawl/walk up each person’s house and would innocently stare up at them (or attempt to walk into their house if their was a dog present), with his little Halloween bucket outreached. I’d ask “what do you say?” and he’d reply “thank ew” with a toothy little grin. Sometimes he wouldn’t say anything when they’d give him candy so I’d prompt him and he’d reply “thank ew!” which is the sweetest thing ever. Until we got to one house where the neighbor asked if he was a dinosaur. I asked “Andrew, what do you say” as the man put chocolate into his bucket. “RAWRRR!” replied Andrew. Hahaha. At the very last house I asked him what to say and when the lady handed him his candy, he got these huge eyes and said “WOAH!” Everyone started laughing.

Jackson was extremely efficient and was houses ahead of the rest of the group. He was a boy on a mission. We eventually had to call it quits halfway around, as we’d collected at least 10lbs of candy and it was getting late. Jackson asked if tomorrow would be Halloween again. I think it was a success! We kept the boys up a bit longer to try to help adjust to the time change, but despite little naps and late bedtimes, Jax was up at the new 4 o’clock hour.

Sunday rained all day. We went grocery shopping, ate leftover pizza, brownies and cookies our neighbors generously brought over, and watched a movie. When the clouds parted after naptime we headed out for a short family hike.

family hike 11-1-15 pt 2 family hike 11-1-15 pt 4 family hike 11-1-15

And just like that, another weekend was over.

Exploring Charlotte

Wednesday afternoon we hit the road for Charlotte, NC. I’ve lived in NC before but on the coast. I’d never visited Charlotte in my almost 2 years living there but absolutely love the state. NC is this wonderful mix of southern mentality (people hold the doors open for you and say “Thank You”) and 4 seasons. This trip was mostly to explore the area to see if it might be where we want to live in the not so distant future. Bry ended up getting off work early which timed perfectly with preschool pickup. We all arrived home at the same time, threw the last pieces of luggage in the truck and were on the road! It was timed great with the boys naptime and we had high hopes that they’d snooze the first few hours of the “7 hour” trip, but no such luck. They maybe got 30 minutes and were wide awake the rest of the time.

We cruised along and avoided traffic, taking several pit stops for a toddler and pregnant mama to potty and grabbed dinner at a Cracker Barrel along the way. Around bedtime, about 2 hours from our hotel, the boys finally crashed. We made it to check-in around 9:30, set up the pack n plays and all promptly passed out. Jax must have been excited to start exploring because he was up in the 4 o’clock hour despite missing his nap and having a shortened night of sleep. We made our way downstairs for the complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel when they opened at 6 and then set out to explore.

Day 1 we decided to check out the U.S. National Whitewater Center. We heard great things about it and wanted to see what it was all about. We planned to explore some of the trails on the property. We were lucky to be able to enter the area and park despite the center itself not opening for several hours. We walked around the giant rafting pond which was really cool to see turned off, completely silent and the area totally desolate except for us. There weren’t a ton of signs for the trails so we just sort of kept walking around trying to find something that looked like what we wanted. We ended up stumbling upon the “Challenge Course” which was a series of obstacles tucked¬† into the woods. The boys had a blast challenging themselves for awhile.

IMG_20151015_075735 IMG_20151015_080255After awhile we kept going and ran into one of the trails.

IMG_20151015_091532It was really serene and featured some beautiful views.

20151015_082551 IMG_20151015_092801 IMG_20151015_092847We stumbled upon a footbridge that crossed the water and decided to see what was on the other side. The answer: absolute beauty.

IMG_20151015_092929 IMG_20151015_093113That’s the Catawba River and it was massive! I’ve always been drawn to the water and the sense of peace that comes along with being near it.

20151015_082732 20151015_090424We finished our hike back towards the rafting pond and let the boys out of the hiking packs to run off some energy.

20151015_081441 20151015_085113 IMG_20151015_093202Eventually we made it back to the car and set out to find some coffee and treats. A quick google search led us to CupCrazed Cakery in Fort Mill, SC which was one of the areas we wanted to explore. Apparently the cakery won Cupcake Wars so we definitely had to try it out. I went with a red velvet cupcake that was hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever had. Jax was a fan of licking all the buttercream off his cupcake…and scooping it off with a straw.

20151015_104914We found a nearby park and the boys ran around for awhile before we picked up some sandwiches from McAlister’s Deli and headed back to the hotel for naptime.

After naps we went down to the hotel pool and let the boys go crazy. They both love to swim and despite the water being fairly cold (even for an indoor pool), they splashed, jumped and kicked around for a solid hour before we had to drag them out to shower and find dinner.

IMG_20151015_170544We got burgers to go from Bad Daddy Burger Bar and ate back in our room. Restaurants + 2 toddlers = recipe for disaster. The burgers were good but the French fries were incredible! We spent the rest of the night running around the hotel room and eventually headed to bed.

Day 2, after another hotel buffet breakfast, we headed out to Lake Norman State Park. We found the Lake Shore Trail that offered an easy/moderate 3mi hike that ran along the lake.

IMG_20151015_093415 IMG_20151016_094627We stopped quite a bit to take in the gorgeous surroundings.

20151016_084548

20151016_084044 IMG_20151016_094724 IMG_20151016_094841We found this sandy cove and the boys had a blast throwing rocks into the water and building “the biggest sand castle you’ve ever seen!”

IMG_20151016_095530 20151016_085539 20151016_090011

I was texting with Brittany from A Healthy Slice of Life and she recommended checking out downtown Davidson so we packed the boys back up and headed back to the car. We thought we’d explored the entire 3mi loop but ended up barely making it 3/4mi with all the stops we’d made. Oops! We definitely hope to go back soon to actually see the lake (this is just ONE of the coves!)

Per Brittany’s recommendation we grabbed coffee and treats from Summit Coffee in downtown Davidson. The nutella turnover was out of this world. So good in fact that we ended up going every day of our trip after discovering them.

IMG_20151017_084541With coffee and treats in hand, we walked around the Davidson College Campus for a bit then headed to a tot lot for the boys to play. Despite the playground being about 2ft x 2ft, it had a slide and a fire pole, basically all our 2 boys needed. They spent an hour sliding down the fire pole and slide, running around and letting loose. Brittany suggested grabbing lunch from The Pickled Peach which was right next to the tot lot, so when lunchtime came around we walked over there to grab some sandwiches to eat on the way back to the hotel for naptime. Bry ended up ordering this really unique and delicious slow braised beef sandwich with pickled radishes and I had to go with the sandwich featuring the pickled  peach, since it was the name of the restaurant.

20151016_121316

It had ham, pickled peach and brie and was grilled between challah bread. It was really different and incredibly yummy! We all crashed during naptime. Once refreshed we headed to the Dilworth area of downtown Charlotte to explore Freedom Park. We walked near the duck pond for a bit before heading over to the large playground to let the boys play. They have this old locomotive for the kids to play on as well and Andrew spent a solid 15 minutes just sitting on the seat of the train.

IMG_20151016_175114We played and explored until dinnertime, then ordered Cowfish and picked it up to eat back at the hotel. I can’t give a good review of the food since they didn’t have many non-raw items that I could eat. But the boys devoured their PB&J sushi which definitely says something of my two picky toddlers. Bry thought his food was delicious as well. Once the boys went down to bed we had some chocolate truffles from The Pickled Peach we’d picked up earlier and then fell asleep ourselves.

Day 3 started off much colder. Jax woke up with a cough so we decided to head to the Discovery Place Kids museum in Huntersville. Because it was only 8 miles from Davidson, we had to stop back at Summit Coffee for more refreshments. The museum was perfect for our kids ages. It’s on the smaller side but still offered plenty to keep them entertained for 2+ hours.

20151017_102301 20151017_103037 IMG_20151017_094222 IMG_20151017_095054 IMG_20151017_103204 IMG_20151017_121359Once Andrew started to get fussy, we went¬† out in search¬†of lunch. We picked up sandwiches at a nearby deli and tried to get back to the hotel before naptime. Unfortunately, both boys crashed 4 minutes from pulling into the hotel¬† parking lot and Jax declared naptime over. Andrew, however, slept for a solid 3 hours! After Andrew woke up we went back to Freedom Park and walked around the duck pond then crossed over the bridge to Little Sugar Creek Greenway which reminded us a lot of one of our favorite trails by our house. We really liked the Dilworth area, however the cost of living is totally unattainable for us (there are a ton of recently built mansions that have completely driven up the prices of the neighborhoods–some of the houses go for well over $1M).

We picked up dinner from an Italian restaurant called Luciano’s and ate back at the hotel. I’m fairly positive the boys’ favorite part of our hotel was the elevator.

20151016_154117

The kids were in a really funny mood and spent dinner running around the suite, eating pizza. Andrew double fisted his and spent 10 minutes laughing and watching himself dance and eat in the mirror. Jackson kept grabbing the pizza box, taking it by the door, then coming back and announcing “the pizza box man is here!”. They ended up devouring their entire 10″ pizza. Bry and I shared chicken parmesan, a scallop and artichoke appetizer, each got salads and had a slice of chocolate pudding pie and cheesecake for dessert once the boys went down. The desserts were really good but the best part of the dinner was my balsamic salad dressing. That sounds incredibly strange but I made Bry try it too and he agreed it was ridiculously good.

Day 4 was our last day. We had our last hotel breakfast and then packed up the car to head  home.

IMG_20151018_090154We stopped by Amelie’s in downtown Charlotte for coffee and treats as it’s rated one of the best places in the area. I’ll be honest, it has nothing on Summit Coffee.

20151018_081822

After feeling less than satisfied with Amelie’s subpar sweets, we drove back out to Davidson, which is our favorite place in the area so far and definitely somewhere we could see ourselves living. We grabbed yet more nutella turnovers from Summit coffee and then headed nearby to a neighborhood that we could potentially move to. We drove around, stopped at another¬† playground to let the boys play and then hit the road back home. The trip home was interminably long. It felt never-ending and we didn’t end up crawling through our front door til 7:30.

It was a wonderful weekend that flew by far too fast, and before we know it, it’s Monday morning again and back to the grind.

Life Lately

We’ve been soaking up the Fall beauty lately: the perfect temperatures, the gorgeous trees, and spending every waking moment outside.

Tuesdays have become our unofficial zoo days. Both boys, especially Andrew, love animals and mama loves that it’s a wide open space for the boys to get out all their energy.

20151006_11562320151006_122753We usually end up going with friends, and these 3 have been inseparable.20151013_115654

After our 5K Saturday morning, we headed to our favorite pumpkin patch. The boys found their perfect pumpkins in the first 2 minutes and spent the rest of the time tackling each other in love.

20151010_112840After naps we got to work carving our pumpkins.

20151010_174210

Despite what it looks like, Andrew spent the entire time eating his. His pumpkin is now sporting a giant bite mark in it’s top, which is perfectly fitting for my constantly eating little tub-a-love.

20151010_174359Every afternoon as soon as the boys wake up from naptime, we head out to the park and can be found there ’til dinner time. This weather is insane.

20151006_16142220151006_161147I’ve found myself loving every day more and more and wish that Fall would never end. It’s by far my favorite season.

Harpers Ferry

Saturday morning, after fueling with bagel sandwiches from Einstein Bagels, we headed out to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. We’d been once between, back in August 2014, and were itching to head back to explore more of it’s beauty. Every year since we met, we’ve bought a¬†National Parks Pass¬†which is an annual pass that allows you entrance to any national park for a calendar year. After realizing ours was due to expire at the end of the month, after not using it since we purchased it at Harpers Ferry last summer, we¬†knew we needed to mark our calendars and head out soon.

We arrived at the park around 9am. Both boys napped for the last part of the drive and were excited and refreshed when we arrived at the visitor’s center. After perusing the map of the area we decided to embark on the Murphy-Chambers Farm Trail, which was a 2.2mi loop without scrambles. A perfect distance for a pregnant mama and hiking toddler. The trail began through a wooded area and soon opened up to acres of beautiful open space.

IMG_20150919_103402

Jack excitedly hiked along, stabbing his hiking stick into he gravel as he walked.

20150919_094335

The trail eventually wound back into the woods and led us to a gorgeous overlook of the Shenandoah River.

IMG_20150919_110310

Pictures don’t do it justice.

IMG_20150919_110801

We continued along the loop and when the trail opened up again, we let both boys out to explore and play for awhile. They had a great time running through the fields, picking wheat and flowers.

IMG_20150919_110518 IMG_20150919_110856

Eventually we packed them in the hiking pack and Ergo to head back to the car. The whole hike took less than 2 hours and was a wonderful way to spend the morning as a family.

20150919_100400

We really love Harpers Ferry. It’s natural beauty is astounding. We’ve even white water rafted down the rapids a couple of years ago, which was an awesome experience! Our favorite part of the area though is this delicious hole in the wall tex-mex restaurant called Ortega’s. They’re very affordable and have the most delicious baja fried fish tacos and carnitas. If you’re ever in the area, definitely go!

IMG_20150919_123110

Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well. I’ll be back soon with another soup recipe, this time…MINESTRONE!