Thursday, April 17, 2014

throwback thursday // tiny dancer

I am immersed in all things dance related these days. We have two competitions, one photo session and one birthday party under our belt for the year, but have another photo session, out of state competition, recitals and summer camp still to go. I feel like it's turned into my job and let's face it, I pretty much hand over my salary to the studio each month.

Since this is Ella's fifth year to dance, we're buying an anniversary ad in the recital program book this year. They will showcase photographs from each of her years dancing, along with a larger photo of her this year. I've known for months that I needed to look for the images, but I'm clearly a procrastinator. Before dinner last night, I started digging and managed to find two of the four years. Then right before bed I remembered one place I hadn't looked and came across one of the missing years. I went to bed irritated, but woke up with an epiphany this morning and dug out lasts years photographs. How ridiculous is it that NONE of the envelopes, dating as far back as 2010, had ever been opened. I also ran across Santa pics, school pictures and a hospital photographs that had never been distributed. Mom fail. Again. I guess we'll be handing those out at Easter lunch this year!

I absolutely LOVED looking back on these images. She looks exactly the same, but completely different to me in every single one. It is hard to remember her hair ever being that curly -- man I wish it was still like that now. The first photo was taken about three days after Sophie was born. I remember being completely overwhelmed and so thankful for my mom that spring. The crocodile photo is probably my favorite photograph of her. Ever. That massive bun in the third photograph is 100% her hair. She was so paranoid about its size, but the other dancers were jealous of her crazy amount of hair. In last year's photo you can barely tell, but her front two teeth are hanging on by a thread. I notice it immediately -- her smile already looks so different to me. We don't have this year's images back yet, but you can sneak a peek of her individuals here and the group pictures here, here and here.

HOW is my baby so big?!



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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

a weekend recap.

I'm not sure if I told you about our weekend that you would believe we squeezed it all in. I knew by mid-week that it was going to be crazy, but I'm not sure I realized just how little time between events we would have.

Because of the rain, Josh & Cory's baseball team had cram in a ton of area games last week to qualify for the state playoffs. We had been looking forward to a date night for weeks, but they ended up playing a double-header on Friday night instead. I rushed home from work after running some last minute birthday errands and got the girls dressed and packed for their first birthday slumber party. We have such a great group of friends and it worked out great that they would both be invited to the same party. They were super excited and I was kind of thrilled for a few hours of quiet while Josh finished up at the ball field. I dropped them off, stopped by Dollar General for one last birthday party item and rushed home for almost 3 solid hours of party prep in solitude. I got my car cleaned out and packed, cookies made and managed to hop in the shower and fix my hair before Josh came in the door at 9 o'clock. I practically shoved him in the bathroom and we made it to dinner by 9:30. We were starving and it was pretty late for us to be getting started (by our usual standards), but we had a great time eating with K & Cory and were still home and in bed by 11 o'clock. I did manage to get a photo update from the slumber party of Ella crashed out in her sleeping bag with all the other little girls playing all around her. That kid can sleep through anything and when she's ready for bed, there isn't much that can keep her up!

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I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and was at Walmart by 7 o'clock. I never had enough time during the week to finish up all my errands, so I kept running in one or two stores every day until I got it all done! We needed roses for the birthday party and I had one little surprise to pick up for another birthday girl before the day got too crazy. I picked the girls up at 8 and got them dressed and ready and we were at the dance studio to decorate by nine. We had a few extra helpers during set up and I was trying not to be stressed out, but I wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed things a little bit more. By all indications, the party went great and I can't wait to see the photos to see what actually happened?! Fortunately, Sophie had a wonderful morning and I doubt she even realized I was so frazzled. K sent me this one party sneak-peek on Sunday afternoon and I can't wait to see the rest! It might be a few weeks before we get a full recap, but I promise the party details were adorable.

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Did I mention that right in the middle of Sophie's party, Ella had dance pictures taken?! Thank goodness our party was at the studio because she just dressed the part and helped teach Sophie's friends a few new dance moves. Once the party was over, but before I had a minute to breath, I was changing her into her jazz costume and swapping these braids out for crazy hair. We managed to get all three photos taken and were running out the door by 1:15 for our next stop. Let's pause to talk about how beautiful she is...

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I'm pretty sure we squealed into the zoo parking lot on two wheels to celebrate our next sweet friend. The girls reminded me half-way there that they hadn't eaten lunch yet. Mom fail. We survived on cupcakes and bottled water, but had a fabulous time at Braylen's birthday. She and Taz are just one day apart and it was fun (albeit overwhelming) to squeeze both of their parties into one day! This is the only picture I managed to nab of the birthday girls together and it's a miracle I managed to get them looking in the same direction. They are both pretty much on the go all the time!

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After the party, we explored the zoo for another hour before making our way home. We weren't even onto the expressway yet when I saw these two in my rear-view mirror. They crashed pretty much the moment their heads hit the car seats. I grabbed us take-out on the way home and managed to wake Ella up to eat before she went back to bed. Tazzie, on the other hand, could not be roused and was down for the night by 4:30!! The kid slept for FIFTEEN HOURS and that has never happened in her four years, ever.

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Sunday was full, too. We left straight from church to eat lunch with Josh's parents. I barely sat down on the couch after lunch before I was fast asleep. I slept the entire three hours we were there. I admit I felt a little bit bad when Josh woke me up, but we were all exhausted. We drove straight back to church for a meeting and bible study and were finally at home in our pjs, for the first time in three days, by six o'clock. We did a quick recap of our birthday gifts for daddy, since they had been in the car for 36 hours, and then headed to bed.

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I will admit that I stayed up for a few hours and waxed nostalgic about the fact that my baby was going to wake up four years old. It seems like it happened so fast! Josh and I laid in bed looking at baby pictures and watching old videos of her and it seriously brought tears to my eyes. Ahhh, I miss that squishy face!!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Taz turns FOUR.

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FOUR years ago this little whirlwind blew into our lives. I think back on what our life was like before she was here. It was calmer, more quiet and far less work. I guess I always thought Sophie would be a carbon copy of Ella. I thought they would look alike and have the same personalities. I never expected them to be so different and four years later, it's hard to think about what life would be like without this little Taz. 

Sophie is always happy. Always. Every time someone asks me what she'd like for her birthday, I just smile. It doesn't matter what you get her, she is over the moon excited and loves everything about it. She is quite possibly the easiest child to please. She is overly enthusiastic. Her facial expressions are the best and the inflection in her voice when she asks questions is almost more than I can take. She talks constantly and has the BEST voice ever. She'll tell you that the only words she cannot say are "girl" and "squirrel", which come out more like "gull" and "sqwull". 

Her favorite thing to eat is a variety plate. She likes sliced turkey, bananas, yogurt and pringles. Every time. She loves mexican restaurants, but only eats chips & cheese and fried rice. She loves macaroni & cheese, but only the "tiny" kind -- which translates to Kraft easy mac. She will NOT accept homemade macaroni with fat noodles. She only drinks milk or water, but will occasionally drink a sip of tea or DP if she can get away with it. Her favorite snack is chex mix and she almost always requests blueberry waffles for breakfast.

She loves to dance and will break it down in the car when we have family dance parties. She isn't picky about music, but loves Fool to Love You by John Mayer and Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Her favorite television shows are Mickey Mouse, Sheriff Callie, Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins. Can you say Disney junkie?! Her favorite movies are The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and Frozen. 

Sophie, you are such a treasure. I look forward to you waking me up at the crack of dawn every morning because you always have something funny to say. You are so snugly and I love that you still like to cuddle. I look forward to the nights that you wait for Ella to fall asleep before coming into our room to chat. You always bring pink and stand at the door and say, "I needa tell you sumfin." You usually don't have anything to say, you just want a few minutes of our undivided attention. 

I can't wait to watch you grow this next year. Four is so big! You're going to school in the fall. How did that even happen?! Thank you for being my best girl. I love you crazy big.

I'll have the birthday recap up after the fabulous K edits all of my images, but until then, you can flashback to her first three birthday parties in the posts below. Enjoy!

Sophie's Birthday

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Fitness Friday // 7 weeks til Swimsuit Season

Taz drew tis picture of me while I was lifting weights today. I'm pretty sure it's accurate. My face was definitely red. #killmenow #1800minutechallenge Talk about instant gratification ;). Putting on real clothes after working out makes me happy!! Day 2 of #1800minutechallenge is in the books. 60/1800 #jumpsquatsarethedevil #gymselfie because, why not?! It was a full body workout today and now I'm gonna eat two lunches. 105/1800 #hangry #cleaneating #1800minutechallenge
Mini paleo meatloaf for dinner!! SO GOOD! #cleaneating #wfd #whatsfordinner #ignorethosepotatoesoverthere I might not have made it to the gym today, but I did clock 3 hours of strenuous yard work. Trees cut down, hedges trimmed, and ivy removed. I. Am. Done. 285/1800 #1800minutechallenge Untitled
Untitled This girl is gonna have fresh strawberries very soon!! breakfast remnants. #whyisitonlywednesday

So, this is real life and sometimes in real life things don't work out exactly how you want for them to. For instance, I talked yesterday about how crazy this month has been and this week has just been even more amplified. There was significantly more take-out consumed than I'd like to admit (along with those waffles from Huddle House -- the shame), but I was still making major strides. The workouts are getting more manageable and I don't feel like an idiot in the weight room. Fortunately, I go at a time not many people are there, but I still worry about the security guard who is monitoring the video feed. Insane much?

I'm not putting much faith in the measurements yet, since they'll probably vary quite a bit and it isn't exactly easy to measure you're own bicep in the exact same spot each time. I was thrilled on Monday to see I was down a little over 2 pounds and I'll admit, I snuck on the scale this morning and saw 134. Making progress...

weight 135.6 // waist 29.5 // right bicep 10.5 // left bicep 10.5
chest 35 // hips 37.75 // butt 39.5 // left leg 21.5 // right leg 19.5  


Josh & I are grabbing a late dinner tonight sans children (YES!!) and we have three birthday parties tomorrow, so I'm not worrying too much about food until I run to the grocery store again on Sunday. After the stress of our party is over, I'll have more time to focus on meal prep and I know that is the kicker for me. We have a dance competition in Panama City Beach two weeks from today, so I am on a serious detox starting Sunday and I'm going to be focusing on trimming the last few indulgences out of my diet. NO soda, NO eating out and water, water, water. I know if I'm really careful I can shed a lot of extra fluff in two weeks. 

As for those pictures up there...
  • Sophie drew that picture of me on the whiteboard the very first night I lifted weights with Josh. She commented that my face was really red.
  • We all like a good before & after, right? Well, I needed some instant gratification and the transformation from sneakers to pencil skirts is certainly a quick one.
  • Josh made fun of my face in this one. If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed his comments about my averted eyes. He likes to quote song lyrics on a regular basis and we've had their new album on repeat for quite sometime now.
  • We modified this stuffed pepper recipe and made mini meatloaves last weekend. All I have to say is yum. I just chopped up a red bell pepper and added it to the mix instead and one recipe made 8 loaves at just over 200 calories each. I plan to try them again this week, but I'm going to throw a cup of brown rice in the mix to beef it up for my lunches.
  • On Saturday, Josh & I logged some hours in the yard. We had 8 crepe myrtles that needed a major trim and I gave all of the loropetalums at the edge of our yard a trim. We cleaned off our gazebo, moved the trampoline and discussed where to relocate our play structure. I still have some work to do, but it's looking a bit more like spring!
  • Steaks for dinner! We wanted roasted veggies, but the local market didn't have any broccoli and we were too hungry to drive any farther. Instead, we used a little cornmeal and fried squash & zucchini. Not exactly clean, but not too shabby either.
  • Then we ate Huddle House for lunch after church. It's in a gas station. Can you get much more rural than that? Did I mention it was divine? I had waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and toast. Gah.
  • I noticed my strawberry plants were blooming this week. They were transplanted from my grandparents' massive patch and are always so good. They look nothing like store-bought berries, but taste so much better. The problem is, if we're not careful Beemer will eat them all straight off the vine before we have a chance to pick them.
  • I've been getting up a few minutes early a few mornings a week to scramble eggs and throw some bacon in the oven for breakfast. I can't drink a shake every day, so this has been a nice treat for breakfast.
I'm also participating in the #1800minutechallenge with the Freckled Fox & friends. The goal is to be active for 1800 minutes from April 1st through May 31st. That's only 30 minutes a day! I can't work out every day, but most days that I head to the gym, I'm putting in 45 minutes, so it helps me catch up. You can count any time you spend being active, so yard work and zoo walks definitely help. I know I have to be active 450 minutes for every 15 days of the challenge, so I'm right on target. I've logged 375 of my 450 and I have until Tuesday to make up the difference.

I'm off to celebrate Tazzie's birthday (along with a few of her favorite little friends) and finish a few more projects before the big bash tomorrow morning. Have a relaxing weekend and be prepared for birthday party overload next week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ummmm.

I knew April would be rough. We have Easter to celebrate, Ella had two dance competitions on the calendar, Josh's baseball team was finishing up games before the play offs and we had to fit a pretty sweet birthday celebration in there somewhere. We're trying to get the yard ready for spring, plan summer camps and vacations and somehow manage to actually speak to each other this month. Not only am I funding said birthday party, field trips, an out of town dance competition, dance pictures and Easter baskets, but our tag renewal is this month, too. I'm exhausted just thinking about all of that.

Feeling a little overwhelmed about my "birthday list," but checking a few more things off today. HOW is Tazzie four?! #happybirthdaytaz I know, I know. I say it EVERY time. Cutest party ever. #tutusfordays #happybirthdaytaz Untitled

I don't know why I start to panic the week before a birthday party. I know that I work better under pressure. I kept saying this party wasn't going to require much work, but then of course I fell in love with this party on Tuesday and started incorporating a few extra projects into my week. I'm sure Gran was thrilled. I made tags for the tutus and repainted a chalkboard and made a gigantic list that I've been carrying around all week. I kid you not, I have been to a different set of stores every afternoon running birthday errands. Just one more day of that to go. 

What do you do when your shoe breaks on the way to work?! You wait for a Target to open and buy a new pair. #targetsavestheday #areyousureitisntmonday Untitled Y'all. This doll right here has been the death of me. I have stalked every Target / Wal-Mart / Toys R Us in the city to no avail. They are SICK of me calling them every day. Can we all say a collective prayer that this over priced version arrives on time? Untitled 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've likely already seen this, but it bears repeating. This morning on my way to the office, my shoe broke. And I don't mean like a little buckle came loose or the backstrap wouldn't stay up. I mean, the strap that goes across the toes fell OFF the shoe and I could no longer wear them. I was still a half hour from the office and nothing is open at 7:30 in the morning. I waited until Target opened at 8 and then walked in barefooted and procured a new pair of shoes. Y'all, I was mortified. Imagine seeing a woman in a blouse and pencil skirt with no shoes on cruising the aisles at your local Target. Luckily, I found these cute wedges that looked better with my outfit anyway and I managed to remove the tags using my car keys and walked back out the door with my head held high. You can imagine what my boss' face looked like. I'm sure "my shoe broke on the way into the office" sounded much like "the dog ate my homework". 

To top off an even busier week, I've had a little birthday present crisis. Sophie told me months ago that she wanted the Anna & Elsa dolls for her birthday and I didn't bother ordering them because I didn't feel like spending the money unnecessarily in January and they seemed to be everywhere. Well, now they are sold out. Everywhere. I have been to three Targets and two Wal-Marts and called every Toys R Us in town. They are tired of talking to me. I found Anna on sale, no problem, but Elsa has been quite elusive. She is all over eBay for double your money, but I just can't spend $100 on this doll!? I finally found her on Amazon this morning and she was only marked up about $15, so I bit the bullet. Please pray that she arrives on Saturday like she's supposed to. I do not want to have to explain where the other half of her gift is! I will never, ever procrastinate buying gifts again.

Speaking of gift buying, she has been such a ham about her party this year. When asked by my aunt on Tuesday what she wanted for her birthday, Sophie was emphatic about it being a surprise. She didn't want to shop for herself or give any suggestions because then she might know what she was getting! Instead, I had to do a little sleuth shopping myself and text pictures of potential gifts to our relatives. So dramatic.

Forgive the light posting this week, there just haven't been enough hours in the days. I'll have a quick fitness update for you tomorrow and then next week will be full of fun things! Birthday party recaps, zoo trips, another dance competition and I'll have a great review for you mid-week!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fitness Friday // 8 weeks til Swimsuit Season

I'm five days into an 8 week fitness challenge. I'm not a part of a group, just challenging myself to stay active and eat well between now and Memorial Day. Let's be honest, there isn't really an "end date". Sure my goal is to see how much I can change my habits and my body in 8 weeks, but I'm hoping to be so motivated and so proud of my results, that I continue to work hard. I'm notorious for doing really well from spring to fall and absolutely falling apart in the winter. What with all the football games and holidays and frumpy sweaters.

#mealplanning on the road home. #fitlife starts again tomorrow. #cleaneating #byebyedrpepper #nomoreicecreamcones #8weeksuntilswimsuitseason (1)Weights & measurements done for week one. Yikes, 10 lbs up from last summer. (2) Something yummy on tap for dinner tonight. (3) Meal planning & shopping done for the week. (4) I'm cooking a week's worth of lunches tonight to prevent last-minute bad dec WHY did nobody tell me about this?! Publix was out if lines last night and I hate the juice from concentrate. I decided to try this instead. One packet = one wedge. It is a GAMECHANGER!! I've used it in pico & my water glass today. No preservatives and 0   A little late night lunch prep for the week. When I don't plan, I fail! #latergram #cleaneating

On Sunday, we drove home from the beach and I ate all the things. I had Nutter Butter peanut butter wafers and a Dr. Pepper for breakfast (who does that?). For lunch, we grabbed the Shrimp Basket again (fried mozzarella, the best chicken fingers in the world and new potatoes) and I took an extra glass of sweet tea to go. We made a pit stop at a gas station while en route and while I told the girls "one snack only" I got bacon & cheddar potato skin chips AND a Twix. And of course another Dr. Pepper. We got home right at dinner time and had nothing left in the pantry. We decided to divide and conquer, so Josh ran to get us Zaxby's for dinner while the girls and I stocked up on much healthier fare at Publix. I finished the night off with a massive glass of full-of-sugar pink lemonade. Y'all. I'm not saying this is a normal day in the life or anything, but I knew Monday was going to look completely different, so I did my very best to eat as much as possible on Sunday. How gross.

To say I was surprised with my current weight and measurements is an understatement. Last summer I weighed 126 and was between a size two and four. I was not happy to see a much higher number on Monday, but I know a good chunk of that is water weight and all the greasy, fatty foods I'd been eating for the past five days. It doesn't  help to drown ones self in soft drinks either. I fully expect to see a much smaller number next week. 

weight 137.8 // waist 30 // right bicep 11 // left bicep 10.75
chest 35 // hips 38 // butt ?? // left leg 21 // right leg 20  

While I was cooking dinner on Monday night, I decided to go ahead and make my lunches for the rest of the week. I figure that prepping everything ahead of time will keep me from making excuses about walking to the deli when I forget my lunch or wake up too late. I grilled four pork chops and made a huge pan of roasted veggies to divide. I used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red onions, squash and zucchini. I mixed up a few tablespoons of olive oil, juice from two lemons, fresh garlic and some red pepper flakes and coated the veggies before baking for 45 minutes. I had enough to pack with my pork chops for the week and to leave Josh some in the fridge for lunch, too! It has really helped me say no to convenience food and really focus on eating the kinds of foods that I know I should be.

As far as workouts go, I'm doing something a little bit different. My plan is to workout 5-6 days a week and focus more on weights than cardio. I am doing some cardio circuits that involve weights, but it's more of a "full body workout" that jogging on the treadmill would be. I've never lifted weights before and I'm starting out very small. I'm trying to spend 30-45 minutes exercising and I am EXHAUSTED when I finish. I didn't quite finish the circuits on Monday and Tuesday, just because I'm slow. I can tell that each day it gets better, but I am still really sore. I figure it can only have positive effects on my mind and body, though, right?!

I'm going to wait and show my before/after photos at the end of the 8 weeks, I think. And I'm contemplating taking progress pics at the mid-point, just to see the progression a little more clearly. I'll be back next week with my current weight and measurements and a few new recipes for you to try! We had an awesome chicken & broccoli dish on Tuesday that is my new favorite thing. I found the recipe in last week's People magazine of all places. We're thinking about trying it with steak next time and maybe adding wild rice on the side. I'm also excited to share how we liked this recipe for primal fudge and a few new recipes from eMeals, too.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break // Part 2

Our last two days on the coast were decidedly different than the first two. We saw the sun shine and there was LOTS of shenanigans going on in the camper. Kids wanted pictures of themselves, they took silly pictures of us, made weird faces and generally traumatized their parents.

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When we got up on Saturday, the sun was shining and it felt great outside. I had on shorts and a tank and the kids were in short sleeves. We hung out around camp for a few hours, ate Arby's for lunch (we laugh that this has somehow been designated as "beach food" since we never eat it at home) and packed all of our gear.

Imagine our surprise when we pulled into "our beach", as the girls like to call it (the Gulf State Park Beach Pavilion), and it was closed to the public. We later asked a guard at the campgrounds when the state park beach would be open again and he said, "Oh, it's open every day." To which we replied, "Well, they wouldn't let us past the gate today. They said it was closed." And his remark? "Oh, well it's closed today for the festival." Oh. So it's not open every day?!

We ended up parking in a small parking area near the pavilion and walking across the street to the beach. It was fine. We didn't have access to the restrooms or snack shop, but we had white sand beaches as far as the eye could see. And clouds. And wind. But our pretty little pavilion a half mile away? Sunshine galore.

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Josh and I stayed bundled up almost the entire time we were there, while our kids ran around in swimsuits and shorts, frolicking in the water like it was 95* outside. We kept asking each other if we could leave, but the kids were having so much fun. I will admit that the first time someone complained, we took our opportunity while it lasted and packed everyone up and headed back to camp!

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We drove to Bon Secour and ate dinner at Tin Top that night. We've heard such great things about the restaurant, but had never been in all of our years in Gulf Shores. It was only a fifteen minute drive from the beach and the kids were happy to explore. Let me just say that it is in the middle of nowhere and the ambiance of the restaurant is adorable. We sat outside on the back porch and the weather was beautiful. The food was pretty good, but I didn't like it any better than the other restaurants we usually enjoy. It was fine and we might would go back, but it doesn't top our list.

On Sunday morning, we knew the plan was to spend some time at the beach before we left. It was supposed to be the warmest and prettiest day we were there all week. Somebody forgot to inform the temperature that we needed it to be above 48* by mid morning, though. We braved the sand in sweatshirts and long pants and decided to spend an hour searching for seashells and taking a walk before heading back home.

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As cold as it was, the wind wasn't blowing too much and the sky was gorgeous. I wish we had gotten to enjoy more days like this on the beach while we were there.

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Because of the previous days' storms, the beaches were covered in shells and starfish. I'm not sure I've ever seen so many things piled up on the shore. The girls were fascinated and we brought a big bucket of treasures home, including a fun piece of driftwood for me!

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I haven't counted yet, but I'm guessing we collected more than 50 sand dollars all told. Although most of them are on the small side, we did find several half-dollar sized ones! We have plans to bleach them and find a pretty dish to display them in.

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After spending the day at the beach, we packed up the trailer and delivered it to the storage facility with a few hiccups. Let's just say their roads are a little narrow to navigate a 30 foot trailer and truck, so we came away with a tiny scrub on the back corner of the camper. We decided to worry about the repairs after our trip this summer, since they were purely cosmetic and shouldn't cause any water damage. We were visibly thrown of course, but a quick trip to the Shrimp Basket (again) for lunch and a few dollars spent at Souvenir City put a smile on everyone's face before we buckled in. By early afternoon we were on the road, listening to great music and indulging in a few chocolate treats before Spring Break officially ended.

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We only had 75 days until we saw those pretty white beaches again, anyway. Let the countdown begin!