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Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 in Baby Atlas, Family Fun, Trips | 5 comments

All Aboard…This is the Polar Express!

On Monday afternoon we got the kids dressed in their pajamas, drove 2.5 hours to Bryson City, NC and then waited in the rain to climb aboard the Polar Express (a.k.a operation ‘make Atlas’ dreams come true’).

polar_express

It was such a magical experience for our boy and I was in Heaven watching him overflow with excitement and joy.

polar_express_snowman

Andi Rose seemed to really love it too, which I was incredibly thankful for because if homegirl isn’t feeling something she has a special way of making sure nobody else enjoys it either. Luckily, she was entertained by the waiters who sang and danced and when she tired of them, we had lots of snacks to keep her smiling through our 90 minute train ride. I was fa-reaking before we got on the train though because I fully anticipated her to nap on the car ride there and she, of course, refused to nap in the car until 4 minutes before we arrived at our destination. I was bracing myself for the no-nap meltdowns but God had mercy on my soul and Andi Rose was in good spirits for our North Pole excursion.

polar_express_train

Atlas got a special golden ticket (just like in the Polar Express movie) and then Santa got on the train and gave him a silver bell (again, just like the movie). I’m pretty sure Atlas hasn’t let go of either item since Monday night.

bryson_city_polar_express

golden_ticket

I woke up this morning to the sound of his bell ringing. He’s still on cloud 9 from his choo-choo adventure and I’m so thankful we were able to make that little dream come to life for him.

When Santa asked Atlas what he wanted for Christmas Atlas said he wanted cars and he also wanted cars to give to a little boy who didn’t have any cars. I’m telling you guys, that boy is precious! I mean, he still lives to annoy Andi Rose, but other than that…totally precious! 😉

As soon as the train arrived back to Bryson City, we loaded the kids back into the car and made the 2.5 hour drive back home. Atlas fell asleep shortly before we arrived home (close to 11pm!), but he never let go of that train ticket.

mission_accomplished

We didn’t get our babies in bed until midnight and we had to be up at 7am for Bible Study on Tuesday morning, but it was so worth it to make those sweet memories together. The only thing that would have made the experience better is if Tom Hanks would have been there. Can we all agree that Tom Hanks can do no wrong? I love all of his movies, but since having Atlas, the Polar Express movie will always have an extra special place in my heart because of how much my boy loves it. 🚂

The next Christmas item on our bucket list is to check out the Christmas lights at Lake Lanier. We tried to drive around and look at Christmas lights in some neighborhoods around our house the other night but Andi Rose was not having it so I’m hoping she will be more into the lights at Lake Lanier. Do you have a holiday bucket list? If so, what’s on it? 🎄

P.S. My apologies for the crappy i-phone photos. We brought our camera, but it was just too dark/fast-paced/rainy/crazy to snap any decent photos. So the i-phone pics will have to do for this post, but that’s real life sometimes, isn’t it?

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Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Family Fun, Fashion, Trips | 0 comments

Family Trip to North Carolina, Part 2

Hello and happy Thursday to you! I’m coming at ya today with one more recap of our quick weekend getaway to Bear Lake Reserve in North Carolina.

How flippin’ gorgeous are these woods? GAH! I still can’t get over it. Autumn makes my heart sing.

this_is_fall

micro_fashion

On Sunday morning we woke up, got dressed in our coziest fall clothes and headed out to explore the area around our cabin. We let Atlas & Andi Rose lead the way (and who am I kidding…they always lead the way and I have no real say so in the matter because Hello! I’m OUTNUMBERED). Dave & I followed them through the stunning leaf-covered trails, stopping several times to let them play in the leaves.

let_them_be_little

Both kids thought is was so hilarious when I showed them how to throw the leaves up in the air. They were cracking up and of course, when kids laugh you can’t help but just laugh with them. My children love stomping on anything from puddles to leaves, so they were in Heaven with so many leaves to stomp on.

Watching my kids run and play together that morning was refreshing for my soul. They had no toys and they were fully entertained by each other and nature. It was just one of those simple moments in life that I wanted to savor.

magic

burberry_baby

family

But then it started to get hot and I was all, “Okay! I’m hot and now I’m over this so let’s go change into summer clothes before I freak the heck out because I’m starting to sweat.” #Reallife

*Rabbit trail: Does anybody else out there get super cranky when they get over-heated? When I’m out with the kids and I start to sweat the party is over (OV-AH). Obviously this isn’t the case if I’m outside in gym clothes prepared to play with them, but if we are out running errands or something & I start to feel unexpected sweat beads on my neck I go into crazy-mom-mode.

Anyways, since the chilly weather didn’t last too long we changed into t-shirts, loaded up the car and headed into Highlands for lunch. We ate outside since we had Ob & Marley with us and it ended up being super breezy so then we all got cold again. Fickle fall weather. After lunch we walked around Highlands for a quick minute, but Andi Rose was not having it and I started to get hot again (I think my body temperature was having a hard time regulating since I was fighting a cold) so we ended up piling back into the car and heading to Dry Falls for one last mini-adventure before driving home.

dry_falls

Dry Falls is such a cool attraction located just 10 minutes away from downtown Highlands. You can actually walk under the waterfall, which our kids thought was beyond cool. We let the kids play under the waterfall for a bit, but then Atlas had a meltdown because we wouldn’t let him ‘slide down the waterfall into the pool.’ I know – we are jerks (insert the eye-rolling emoji here). I tried to explain to him that you don’t ‘slide down waterfalls’ and that it didn’t land in a pool, but in a rapid-like-river. He wasn’t buying it. So, we took that as our queue to leave and made the drive back home (& Atlas fell asleep within 10 minutes of being in the car).

The drive home was even prettier than the drive up (we came home a different way) and if I wouldn’t have been on the verge of death by car-sickness I would have documented it.

And that sums up our weekend in North Carolina! If you want to plan a trip to the mountains on the East Coast, I can’t recommend Highlands/Cashiers/Bear Lake Reserve enough! Our little family loves the area so so much and we are already planning our next trip back. We have plans to hit up the mountains again in December, but this time I think our trip will take us to a different spot to do something extra special for Christmas! 🙂 I love traveling with these cuties…

my_world

And if you want outfit details, they are linked below. I’m drawn to neutrals so this sweater caught my eye and it has a criss cross detailing on the front that sealed the deal for me. It comes in a few colors and I want it in another color now. My only complaint is that I wish it was a smidge longer in the front (Spellcheck is telling me ‘smidge’ is not a word – pppsshhh… I am totally overriding that and making it a word right now).

autumn_vibes

My Sweater (currently on sale for less than $50, but the sale ends tonight)// White Jeans // Similar Scarf  (mine is old and I can’t remember for the life of me where I got it) // Similar Booties (mine are old)

On Andi Rose: Pink Dress is Burberry via E-bay // Coat // Plaid Dress is by Gap, but I can’t find it online so I’m linking a similar one here

On Atlas: Long Sleeve Polo by the Bailey Boys // Scarf  (Um, on Nordi’s website they have this listed as a girl’s snood. I totally picked this out for my son. And I assumed Andi Rose could wear it too…and I also have worn it because it fits me. Dave would die if he knew I put our son in a girl’s snood though. I’m giggling as I type this.)// Similar Plaid Shirt

And now to pack up for our trip to Savannah! 2 more days until race day! We’ve officially entered my favorite part of half marathon training: carb loading. Eating a cupcake as I type this…

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Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Family Fun, Trips | 0 comments

Family Trip to North Carolina, Part 1

Hello, hello! Both my children slept past 9am this morning. Apparently Halloween really exhausted them. I’m not sure why Atlas was tired. He only went to 5 houses before deciding he had enough candy (#weak). Did anybody else’s kids crash hard after trick or treating?

Today I’m sharing some photos from our weekend getaway to North Carolina!

bear_lake_reserve3

I’m going to break this recap up into 2 posts, so tune back in tomorrow if you want to see the pictures from day 2 of our trip! 🙂

Last Friday, we loaded up the car (this process took no less than 2 hours) and made the short drive over to the mountains of North Carolina to stay at an adorable cottage located inside the Bear Lake Reserve. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Before having kids, Dave & I could pack up all we needed for a weekend trip in 2 duffle bags, maybe 3 if I wanted to bring some extra shoes. But now? It doesn’t matter if we are only away from home for 48 hours – we pack like we are the Israelites making a mass exodus out of Egypt carrying ALL our belongings. I don’t even understand how we bring SO much stuff, but oh my gosh – you should have seen our car. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Anyways, our drive over was gorgeous and once we got into the mountains I couldn’t stop freaking out over the fall foliage and how bright and vibrant all the leaves were. It was seriously like something from a story book and I SO wish I would have taken some photos to document the drive, but I was so freaking car sick. Those mountain roads kill me. By the time we arrived to our cottage, I’m pretty sure I was a light shade of green. But, if you ever get the chance to visit North Carolina in the fall, DO IT! Do it just for the leaves. But if you get carsick, then pack you some dramamine.

bear_lake_reserve_collage

Dave & I have been to North Carolina a handful of times together and every time we go, we fall in love with the area a little bit more. We love the town of Highlands and typically stay in Highlands or Cashiers, which is another adorable mountain town located about 25 minutes away from downtown Highlands. This time our trip took us a little farther away from where we are used to staying though and we were in a super remote area called Bear Lake Reserve.

bear_lake_reserve5

The property has a resort feel, with 2 beautiful swimming pools, a giant lake, a 9 hole golf course and several hiking trails. We absolutely loved our time at Bear Lake Reserve and while we enjoyed the fact that it felt so isolated (it made it easier to relax), we also kind of wished we were closer to Highlands (it was about a 45 minute drive to downtown Highlands, which is where we like to eat/shop).

On Friday night we stayed on property and ate dinner at the restaurant located in the clubhouse and the food was good – not great – but good. The views from the clubhouse were beautiful (pictured above).

dinner_dates

We (*ahem* Dave) had to assemble a portable crib for Andi Rose (the child will not sleep in a pack n play) so that was our Friday night activity. We were all pretty tired so we headed to bed shortly after Andi Rose and woke up on Saturday morning ready for a fun-filled day!

peek_a_boo

After making a quick breakfast, we leashed up the dogs and grabbed the kids and headed out for a family hike on one of the trails in the community.

baby_in_a_backpack

We got a hiking back-pack for Andi Rose to ride in and that was a great decision since we couldn’t have managed the hike with the stroller.

family_hike

I anticipate using that back-pack an awful lot this fall. She started to fuss about halfway through the hike (when Dave & I switched and he wore her for a little while), but we came prepared with a lollipop so that quieted her right down.

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Our hike wasn’t a long one, but since Atlas was walking we knew we couldn’t push his little legs too far. I think we covered right under 2 miles? I was seriously impressed that Atlas hiked that far, especially since a good portion of the hike was uphill. He was exhausted when we finished, but he rallied after lunch and headed back out to golf with Dave while I stayed behind to let Andi Rose nap.

mountain_golf

When I asked Atlas what his favorite part of the trip was on our ride home Sunday he said, “Mountain golf.” Dave said he had a blast out there.

By the time the boys made it back, we were all pretty hungry so we headed into Cashiers for an amazing dinner at a cute little restaurant called the Orchard. Our food was so good and if you’re ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out. Andi Rose was way too tired though, so she was the party pooper that caused us to rush through our meal and hurry back home to put her in bed. Dave didn’t mind rushing though since he wanted to get home anyways and watch the FSU game.

With Andi Rose in bed, Atlas, Dave & I lit a little fire in our cottage and curled up to watch the game together. It was a great ending to our 2nd and last night in the mountains! 🙂

Tune in tomorrow for pictures from our final day in the mountains! Also, we took a lot of videos during this trip in hopes of putting together a vlog of our getaway. I make no promises on this, but I’m hoping I can pull it off, despite my technical deficiencies. I’m hoping to try and put that together in the next week or 2. We shall see…

 

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Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Trips | 2 comments

My Travel Bucket List

Since we established last week that I’m a dreamer, I thought it would be fun to share my travel bucket-list with you today.

I’ve always loved traveling, but since having kids I haven’t had a desire to really stray too far from home because traveling with kids is WORK, ya’ll! However, Andi Rose is 1 now (I really think that 1st year with a baby is the hardest) and Atlas is done with diapers so traveling long distances doesn’t feel quite as intimidating as it did when we had new babies. I’ve been getting that itch to go see someplace new and while I certainly don’t anticipate seeing any of these places this year, I’m dreamin’ about planning a big family trip maybe sometime next year and the cities on this list are all calling to me. Also, I use the term ‘trip’ because I want to travel with my kids, which means I cannot call what we are doing a ‘vacation.’ Can I get an “Amen,” Mamas?

Taking Atlas and Andi on big adventures is very important to me & I’ve dreamed about it since I found out I was pregnant with Atlas. (Atlas actually got his name because we wanted him to be a big traveler and see the world. Get it? Atlas…like the collection of maps. I know – you’re shocked to learn he wasn’t actually named after the Greek God.) I want my kids to grow up with a big world view and a sense of adventure (but not too much adventure – I don’t want them bungee jumping off things). I want them too see how huge this earth is and understand (& more importantly, respect) cultural differences and appreciate the beauty of diversity and I think one way those lessons can be ingrained in them is via traveling.

So, let’s dream together, shall we?

Alaska

 

Travel Bucket List

Alaska is pretty high on my bucket list, and I don’t need a passport to get there so that’s a bonus. There are so many things I would love to see and do in that state, including riding the Alaskan railroad, going dog sledding and taking a glacier cruise. I also think it would so amazing to see a moose, a bear or a whale! I read that you can stay in these super remote lodges that are only accessible by a small plane or boat, and while they are pricey, they are all-inclusive and you are truly immersed in the wild…but still in a 5-star resort (because I’m not a ‘roughin’ it’ kind of girl). I think seeing the Northern lights would be an extradorinaiy experience, but based on the (little) research I’ve done, I think I would rather hit this state up in the summer.

Also, does anybody else think of the movie “The Proposal” when they talk about Alaska? That is one of my favorite movies of all time! All the heart eyes for Sandra Bullock!

Canada

 

Banff

There are quite a few places I would like to explore in Canada. We hoped to make the drive to Canada from NYC, but we just never got around to it while we were there and to be honest, I don’t know how much I would have enjoyed it when Atlas was a baby. But, this is probably the place Dave & I talk about going most often and if I had to guess, I bet this is where we take our next big trip. We both want to see Banff, explore Banff national Park and I’m dying to visit Lake Louise.  Jasper National Park looks stunning and the only thing that makes me sad about this trip is that we can’t bring Ob & Marley. I feel like this trip will be very outdoorsy, filled with lots of hikes and I wish there was a way we could include our dogs in the family fun!

Ireland

 

Ireland - Travel Bucket list

This is a trip I don’t envision happening for a few more years and part of me sort of wants to do this one with just Dave…but I hate leaving our babies out of anything. I imagine renting a car and road tripping across Ireland – driving along the coast and just soaking up all the beautiful scenery. My dream trip to Ireland includes staying in a castle (because that is a thing over there – you can stay in castles). I have a feeling we could stay in Ireland for 2 weeks and not see enough, but Skellig Michael, the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry would be must-sees for me! And oh.my.gosh –  I just had a vision of my kids running along the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and my stomach did a flip. Yeah, I can’t take my kids there – just the thought of it makes me a nervous wreck! This mama is paranoid, ya’ll! This will either be a trip for just Dave & me or a trip we take with the kids when they are in high school…or college.

Santorini

 

Santorini_Greece

Santorinin, Greece. Does this even need an explanation? I don’t think my kids could handle that flight anytime soon, but this is a trip I imagine would be great for the entire family. Every picture I see of Santorini looks like the houses are carved into the cliffs and it looks so magical and romantic. I want to rent a place with a pool, drink wine while watching the sunset and find remote black sand beaches during the day to explore! Doesn’t that sound like Heaven? HEAVEN!

Lake Como, Italy

 

Lake Como_Travel

There are so many places in Italy I would love to see, but Lake Como is my number 1 destination. I know it isn’t the most popular tourist spot, but based on my research this place is like a hidden gem. I want to rent a boat and explore the area from the water and call the CastaDiva Resort my home away from home while I’m there.

I could go on and on with this list and there are so many places I want to visit within the United States too (Half Moon Bay, California and Wyoming and Maine to name a few)! I hope this post made you stop for a minute and dream – even if you’re a realist, like Dave – and I hope your Monday is a little more fun because of it. 🙂

Your turn! What places are high on your travel bucket list?

 

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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Marriage, Trips | 2 comments

Chateau Elan Resort

On Sunday night, Dave & I left our babies with my sweet mama and drove a little over an hour to stay at Chateau Elan, a beautiful resort and winery located outside of Atlanta.

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

Dave got invited to a fundraising event there for his work and I decided to tag along because I’ve been following the resort on Instagram for a while now and I really wanted to check it out in person. The fundraising event was for a YMCA camp program that Dave has been telling me about for months (literally), so I was also super excited to go learn more about something that Dave is so passionate about.

On Sunday night we got to hear several people speak about how this particular YMCA summer camp program changed either their life or the life of their child that attended. By the time the event was over I was ready to enroll Atlas and Andi Rose. Just have to get them out of diapers first…

After the event was over, we headed out for dinner at a delicious Irish restaurant on property before returning to our hotel room to call it a night.

Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty cold on Saturday so that fouled up our get-away plans a bit. Instead of hiking and hanging by the pool on Monday, I lounged around inside with a magazine and lots of cold meds.

Sick Vacation

I did venture over to the spa for a quick facial and then I returned to my comfy hotel bed to rest while Dave golfed. Once Dave was done golfing, we did a bit of exploring but not too much since I was feeling all feverish and gross.

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

The resort was so beautiful – I’m already dying to go back when we can stay longer and really enjoy it. I think it would be a gorgeous place to visit in the fall.

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

Chateau Elan

It is definitely the perfect place for couples to go – between the spa, the pool, the winery and the hiking trails there isn’t a shortage of things to do – but I also think it would be a fun family vacation spot too. I would like to take Atlas and Andi Rose for a long weekend – let them swim in the pool, run around the property, go on some family hikes and order room service at night. I was also told it was super close to the Mall of Georgia, so if you like shopping then you wouldn’t be far from that.

I wish I could recap more, like how good the food was or how great the fitness classes were, but I couldn’t taste a single thing while we were there and I was way too congested to work out.

But time away with the hubs is still time away, so I’ll take it! 🙂 Dave was a real trooper – I’m pretty sure I blew my nose 6,194 times during our trip and he didn’t complain about it once.

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Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Family Fun, Trips | 8 comments

Sunsets, Sandals and Salty Air

Last week we traded in our snow boots for sandals and took a break from the freezing northern temperatures and our every day work routine to head to San Juan for a vacation filled with spectacular sunsets and salty air. It was glorious. It was good for my soul.

IMG_8661We stayed at the Ritz Carlton and as always, their customer service exceeded our expectations. Dave and I were greeted with drinks {a virgin cocktail was made for this pregnant mama) and Atlas was given balloons, a stuffed animal and a pair of sunglasses upon our arrival. The resort’s property was a bit small, but it still made for the perfect home away from home.

DSC_3491It was Atlas’ first time seeing the beach and let me just tell you; We found that kid’s Heaven. When he saw the ocean for the first time he took off running as fast as he could straight into the waves, giggling the whole way down the beach and screaming “waaaa waaaa”. ←his way of saying ‘water.’ It was such a sweet moment and one I hope to never forget.

IMG_8742He is definitely a little fish and so for 6  days we alternated between playing in the ocean and swimming in the pool. He was absolutely fearless when it came to the water, which made for such fun memories.

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DSC_3629Atlas actually slept surprisingly well in our hotel room (although it was a little tricky getting him to fall asleep at night in a new environment). We woke up each morning around 8am (except for one morning Atlas slept until almost 10am…and all God’s people said, “Amen!”), immediately threw on our bathing suits and headed out for the entire day. We enjoyed breakfast outside every morning before going directly to the pool/beach where we stayed until about 5pm each day.

Beach_Baby

IMG_8823Atlas napped outside every day, usually falling asleep on me or in his stroller. He would literally play until he couldn’t hold his eyes open anymore and fall asleep within seconds once he stopped moving.

IMG_8665It has been months since Atlas has fallen asleep on me. Trying to rock that boy to sleep is like trying to wrestle with a greased pig. It’s actually a little dangerous because he flails about so wildly. I seriously worry he will break my nose in his thrashing efforts. So, him sleeping on me in the afternoons was like my own little piece of Heaven because it was such a special treat to have him so calm and relaxed in my arms.

Beach_BoysDave’s work schedule has been pretty intense the last several weeks and it was terrific to see him disconnect (as much as he could) and just soak up time with Atlas and me. Dave & Atlas adore each other and I know one of the best parts of the vacation for them was just having so much quality time together.

DSC_3651Everything about the trip was wonderful. We had perfect weather. Atlas was happy all day long. He actually traveled great – he played on the iPad and with a water bottle for most of the flight. The food was delicious. I’m so thankful for the time we got as a family and the memories we made. The only things missing were Ob & Marley.

DSC_3516In the spirit of transparency, I will say our evenings were rough because Atlas gets very cranky and irritable when he’s tired. After being in the sun all day he was totally spent, which meant dinnertime was meltdown central. We had that kid at dinner – you know, the kid that is sitting at the table next to you screaming and throwing silverware and it makes you want to skip dessert (okay, fine – get it to go – let’s not be crazy) and leave immediately to call your doctor to have your tubes tied? Yeah. We had that kid at night. I’m confident we may have ruined a night or 2 of a honeymoon for some poor couple sitting across from us. We rolled with it though and decided after 2 failed dinners out that room service was the way to go. We would get Atlas dressed and take him down to the beach to play while we watched the sunset in the evenings and then we would eat dinner in our room on our bed and he was happy as a clam. I’m not complaining though – room service in your pj’s ain’t all bad. But vacationing with a toddler definitely has it’s drawbacks, I guess.

IMG_8757We are back home now and while I’m so grateful to be in my own bed with my dogs and have Atlas in his own crib, I am missing San Juan. Mainly the sunshine and salty air. It is 45 degrees here today and that is about 30 degrees too cold for April.

Now, the countdown is on though. Less than 12 weeks to go until we meet our baby girl! Unless, of course, she’s late. That’s a very real possibility since I struggle with time management and I think that’s genetic, no?

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