Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sun & Sand

What's a vacation without the beach, right? I used to be one of those girls that could wake up and head to the beach at 7 o'clock and stay until sunset. Being a mom changes your schedule. Not only do we have to break for lunch and nap time, but I am considerably more hot natured post-pregnancy and need some air conditioning in my life! Since we have to drive to the beach, there is no "running up to the room" to fix a quick snack... we take it all with us.

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The Gulf State Beach Pavilion is our favorite beach in the state. It is beautiful and the facilities are so nice. I can remember for several years after Hurricane Ivan that we toughed it out with no real shade or restrooms and it is so nice to have a beautiful pavilion back. There are showers and restrooms, plenty of picnic tables and a snack shop for when you're craving frozen Snickers bars.

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Our first day at the beach, Ella was pretty much off the map. She and Molly stayed in the water and played with sand toys until we drug them to the car. Ella was too excited to complain. Sophie, on the other hand, didn't know quite what to make of the sandy beach. As soon as her feet hit the ground she drew them up and started fussing. We commented that we had never seen her sit as still as she did on her blanket, because she refused to get near the edge!

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Her fear of the sand didn't last long at all. Before we knew it she was rolling around to coat herself and then crawling up in your nice clean chair. Or taking a dip in the surf, walking through sand and insisting on sitting in your lap. We had a hard time wrapping our minds around how different she was the second day.

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Of course there was the mandatory sand burial. I could NOT believe Ella allowed this to happen.

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Sophie quickly learned how to navigate the beaches and ran all over the place. Especially towards her daddy.

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She loved the water so much that you couldn't take your eyes off of her. She would prance right out into the waves without a second thought and didn't care at all when she got knocked down. She loved walking along the shore, but we laughed that she would only seem to go East. When the time came to turn around, she got really disoriented and would turn around and go back the other way. Eventually we learned that she would walk one way and have to be carried back. It was like along with the waves, the pull of the tide was too strong for her to resist.

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There were MANY picnics on the beach. If it wasn't our breakfast and snacks, it was lunch. Sophie learned to eat on the fly and didn't even complain when her Lunchable came up sandy.

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She loved playing in the sand and with the toys; especially when that blue bucket was full of ocean water. She scooped sand into it and washed her hands, filled the water full of toys and then poured it out. She loved shoveling sand from one bucket to the next and was rarely without a shovel or rake in her hands.

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Lest you think Ella was MIA on this vacation, I did manage a few shots of her at the beach. The one on the left might be my favorite picture of her from the week. She was so hard to pin down, this one. She rarely stayed close by, opting instead to spend lots of time in the water and walking the shore with the "big girls".

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She did spend one late afternoon playing with me and learning to write messages in the sand.

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Our very last day spent on the beach was going to be a long one. We packed a picnic lunch, a pacifier and a change of clothes thinking we would stay until the girls had a meltdown. Well, that started about 15 minutes in. Ella was MISERABLE because Molly left earlier in the morning and nothing we did made her happy. She begged to go home and we managed to ignore her for about five hours. She finally convinced us that she needed a nap and couldn't do that on the beach. Any bets on how long she begged to skip that nap once we returned to our campsite? That's manipulation at its' finest, my friends, but she lost that battle to her mom.

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Sophie, however, proved that naps on the beach are the best. As soon as I rinsed her off in the shower and put a dry diaper on her, it was mere moments before she was sleeping in my lap. I'm with her... there is absolutely nothing better than laying in the sand with your eyes closed.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Camper

I know I mentioned last summer that we camp on vacation and that it might not be for everyone. Having said that, I honestly cannot imagine spending my vacation any other way. I might also have told you we had a travel trailer when we first got married and that it was the perfect size until we expanded our family. We sold it a few years ago in hopes of upgrading, but haven't felt good about making another investment of that size. For this year, we decided to try our hand at renting a trailer close to the beach and it was a dream come true. We found a great deal on a brand new camper and decided not only did it save us money this year, but it allows us to try out a few different floor plans before becoming an RV owner again. We could not have been happier with our decision.

If you are used to staying in a cushy condo with the white sand beaches at your doorstep, then you might be in for a bit of a surprise. Let me give you the grand tour!

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In the picture above you can see the door to the trailer. When you first walked in there was a queen bed on the right where the big kids slept (that would be me & SD). We had tiny bedside tables and plenty of overhead storage that we filled with our books. You can also see the things we can't live without... laptop, Netflix, iPhone and a good book!

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When you turned left there was a small galley kitchen. We typically only use the fridge, microwave and sink and that proved to be true this trip as well. There was plenty of sippy cup storage and places to put our food. The blue bucket on the counter is where we drop change, keys, phones, wallets and other small junk. The first year Josh & I camped together his trail of pocket items bugged me to no end. This blue bucket is my sanity when it comes to keeping the camper clean.

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Across from the kitchen was a couch that folded out into a full size bed, although we didn't need that. I absolutely loved having a couch instead of dinette and think it is a great way to go. Above the couch were our "kitchen cabinets" and a TV/DVD player for the girls. You can also see the fridge in this shot and see that we have plenty of room to buy and store groceries.

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At the end of the hall were two twin bunks and a tiny little bathroom. The bunks were perfect for the girls and we only had one casualty. Sophie fell off of the bottom bunk playing one night, but everyone slept very well. The only downside was that Ella didn't have a ladder and couldn't get down on her own. I take that back... the other downside was that Sophie didn't need a ladder and could get down on her own! Believe it or not, she slept so well there the entire week... in fact, she's asleep in there in this picture, but she's just a little farther back that the photo shows. We don't usually use our bathroom for much else that midnight emergencies for a certain 4 year old and teeth brushing in the mornings. What you can't see in this photo is that there is a shower on the right-hand side which we use like a closet. We hang clothes, put our dirty laundry in its basket and house our trashcan out of the way here.

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Outside, we had a huge picnic table and ate many a picnic lunch. Sophie quickly discovered the merits of good ole' bologna and mayonnaise. I don't know that I've ever seen someone agree with camping and the beach, in general, as much as this one did!

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There was also a small charcoal grill outside and we use an electric skillet to cook some of our other meals out on the "porch". This is the only photo I snagged of the outside of the trailer, but you can see we have a nice big awning that makes a pretty deep area to relax in the shade. We were lucky enough to have a pretty shady spot, despite the effects of Hurricane Ivan to our beloved Gulf State Park years ago.

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And in case you are wondering how you corral a fourteen month old when she's not at the table... the pack n' play works wonders. I should also mention that this might be my favorite picture of Sophie from the week. This is quintessential Sophie - big blue eyes, pretty pink lips and hair everywhere!

One thing I forgot to take a picture of was the trunk of my car. I think Josh used to think I was crazy when packing for the beach, but this year I even made a convert out of him. Packing in suitcases and duffel bags does not work well when you have limited space to store your things. My mom taught me at a young age that packing in a laundry basket was the way to go. Imagine my surprise when I discovered not everyone packs for vacation that way! I think my first college roommate probably thought I was insane after our first beach trip together. Laundry baskets mean that you can SEE everything you brought. I pack one per family member and stack them in the back of the Jeep. If you need to move one, you can easily sit it on the ground without getting your bag dirty or disorganizing the entire car. It holds all of your clothes, bathing suits, towels and accessories. We pack a separate market basket for our toiletries which makes walking to the bathhouse a breeze at bath time. Did I fail to mention that part? There are public bath houses for all your bath time and potty needs!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Healthy Choices, Losing It: Week 3

Well, I didn't get to post the last two Sundays since we were on vacation and this post is actually being back-dated to Sunday because we had NO POWER for most of Sunday afternoon and evening. I'm not sure how much I weighed the Sunday we left for vacation, but I do know that when we got home I had gained in the neighborhood of 3 pounds. I weighed 140.2 last week and even though it was expected, I wasn't happy about it. We ate out almost every day. I had strawberry pop-tarts with frosting & sprinkles for breakfast. I had at least 4 Dr. Peppers each day. It was vacation!

Last week I did great getting back in the swing of things. I ate pretty good (with the exception of a piece of wedding cake AND a groom's cupcake on Friday evening) and only had one soft drink that I can remember. I had high hopes of getting back to the gym, but that didn't exactly go as planned. I worked out really hard on Monday, doing cardio and a new regimen of free weights and stretches, but I was so sore on Tuesday and Wednesday that I couldn't go back. By Thursday I was preparing my boss for a trip out of town and the gym was out of the question for the latter part of the week. Despite the ups and downs, I did manage to get pretty close to my starting weight and got two wonderful compliments that confirmed I was doing well, even if I didn't feel like it.

Losing It: Week 3
Starting Weight: 138
Today's Weight: 138.6
Weight Lost/Gained: +0.6
Total Weight Lost: +0.6
Goal Weight: 125
Deadline: August 27

Josh & I have also been having some serious conversations about the way we eat at home and the example we are setting for our children. The girls are only allowed to have milk, juice or water (Ella does get a small glass of tea at restaurants only) and we are pretty careful about what we stock our pantry with. Even so, we've been lax this summer and powdered donuts have replaced a healthy breakfast and carrying around a bag of SunChips has eliminated the healthy snack. We had a sit down conversation this week, Ella included, and set some ground rules for how we would approach the change in our diet. Believe it or not, Ella was completely on board. It's a small change, but you have to start somewhere. Here is what we decided on as "phase one" to making healthier choices:
  1. No pop-tarts, donuts or junk food for breakfast. Whole grain cereal & milk, whole wheat waffles, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, eggs and granola bars are some of the choices we offered.
  2. No drinks except milk, juice and water except in a restaurant. I do make some exceptions for Ella to have a glass of mildly sweet tea with lunch only when she stays at my parents'.We're starting small for her!
  3. All in-between-meal snacks must be "healthy choices" -- fruit, veggies, yogurt, raisins, applesauce, low-fat cheese & crackers and nuts are some choices that everyone agrees on.
  4. All sandwiches need to have one veggie on them -- lettuce is easy, but we're trying pico de gallo, roma tomatoes and sliced bell peppers, too. 
Part of the reason for the pep talk with Ella is that she'll be starting school this year with no microwave. I'm trying to prepare her for some healthier choices she'll be seeing in her lunchbox. I know my overuse of the term "healthy choice" is abundant in this post, but that's what Ella says. She actually called me at work today to confirm that she was making a good decision about what to drink with her lunch and to tell me that she had strawberries for her morning snack. I hope eating healthy will come more naturally to Sophie and I'm so proud of Ella for thinking about food on her own.

I'm off to a great start this week with a hard workout today and ready to see a bigger difference on the scales next week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tide You Over Thursday

I know you're all waiting for beach pictures, but this week has been exhausting. Instead, I thought I'd offer this little video from dinner...


She is so funny these days, but was NOT interested in participating tonight. I love hearing her talk and do her funny little things. Things that are so Sophie. I always ask my mom when I pick her up if she's been good that day and her response is always, "She's been Sophie!". This girl is into everything. EVERY. THING. And she does it with a smile.

Words she's saying:

Ella (sometimes La-La, sometimes Ewwa)
Mama
Dada
Beemer (Nnn-da, but we know that's what she means)
Garan (Gagan)
Hi
Hello
Bye
Bite
Tinda (this means cup, but I'm not sure why)
Toothbrush
Quack Quack
Moo
Jojo (Joel)
Jared
Nana (Banana)
Wagon
Outside
Mmmm
Up/Out (these are interchangeable)
Thank you
No no
Rock rock

Words she has said before, but won't often repeat:

Heidi
Heath
Heather
Haley
K

She talks like a German. Oftentimes words don't sound like their intended object, but you can usually figure them out via context. Everything is very guttural and grunt-like. She is so different than Ella in that respect.

She doesn't sit still. She doesn't like television. She loves to sit in her rocking chair or any other chair made for a little person. She likes to climb and can get up and down off of most things in our house. She is pulling on the buckle on her carseat as soon as you turn off the car. She loves to play outside and be pulled in the wagon. She is clumsy. She is fascinated by electronic objects, especially the iPhone and our laser printer.

She loves to eat. Bananas and yogurt are her favorites. She hates rice, grapes, watermelon and chocolate chip cookies. She loves milk, tolerates water, but refuses to drink anything with a smell or flavor. She likes wipees, tissues or anything else she can wipe her mouth on. She will brush her teeth for thirty minutes or more if you let her. That's about the only way you can keep her still.

She slept in a big girl bed at the beach and did so good. She stayed there until morning every night and you could hear her pitter patter when she woke up the next day. I think we'll probably make that transition at the end of the summer and double the girls up before the days shorten. In the mornings, she puts her paci in the bed and waves bye-bye. She pretty much tells everything she's done with "bye-bye" as she walks away.

When you ask her if she wants a bath, she starts pulling her clothes off. She hates having her diaper changes and tries to escape naked almost every time. She "fixes her hands" at the sewing machine with my mom. She once got her finger sewn and my mom has since taught her to hold them close to her chest. It's my favorite.

She drinks her milk sideways out of the cup so that she can see you. She loves to play peep-eye. She leans her head onto her shoulder and smile when she knows she's in trouble. If you ask her if she needs a spank-spank, she'll pat her on fanny and keep on moving. She isn't easily discouraged. She loves the water and isn't afraid of much.

At fourteen months, she is the light of my life. I hope she tides you over.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beach Babies

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I have just spent the last eight days with these beauties at the beach. We are  positively exhausted. Luckily, they were excellent travelers and adjusted well to life at the beach. Everything we did, we did in abundance... rolled in the sand, got soaked, ate yummy food, snuggled in the sunshine and took an insane number of  photographs. Not only will it take me a few days to wrap my head around  normal life, but I need to upload the images, read over 600 entries in Google Reader, check my email, catch up on design orders and get my house back in order. I also have two girls in terrible need of a schedule readjustment and some downtime with mommy and daddy. Our trip was wonderful and I'll have lots to share in the next few days. We missed you guys!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beach Bums

I was hoping to be as organized this year as I was last June, but a fourteen month old makes that a little difficult. Unfortunately that means no prescheduled posts and since wireless internet is spotty at best, there won't be any real time blogging either! We are soaking up the sun along the Gulf of Mexico and we'll see you bloggy friends in a few days!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pool Day

I don't know if you've noticed, but we've already fallen into our summer routine. It's a little different from last year, but we take FULL advantage of the weekends. We call Saturdays a "pool day". I almost laughed when SD asked me Friday night what our plan for the weekend was. Did he have to ask?

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We got up bright and early to get a few things done around the house and started packing our bags. Spending 8 hours at the pool with two little girls requires a lot of gear. We packed a picnic lunch, extra towels and plenty of reading material for when Sophie was napping.

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This girl LOVES the water. She pretty much throws herself into the water and cries when you make her get out. She quickly figured out how to balance in her swim ring and she is swimming all over the pool... deep end included.

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Sophie did crash for a few hours in the middle of the day and Ella decided to hang out inside with Poppy and watch a few cartoons, so I did have a little time with my magazines and a float. I don't get that very often, so it was really nice to have an hour and half of silence!

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Not only is spending the day at the pool awesome by itself, its even more fun when your best buddy comes to swim. K was having mini-sessions and we were lucky enough that Grey's mommy brought he his brother out for a family photo shoot. We managed to coerce them into bringing swimsuits and got to spend the afternoon with them. These two were swimming so hard that we only managed to capture a few pictures of them.

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These two, however, were much easier to catch. They did spend a lot of time in the water, but they played on the steps and climbed in and out of the pool all afternoon. They are so sweet together and we managed to see a few hugs and kisses between them.

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I'm hoping you enjoyed seeing these "pool day" pictures, because there will be a lot more where these came from!