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Family

Spicing Up a Winter Weeknight

Recently we’ve been stuck inside due to plummeting temperatures and early sunsets and I can’t help but get desperate for summer. Our favorite evening ritual is finishing an early dinner and walking our neighborhood or sitting in our backyard while we grill out and the kids play.

But winter has us binge watching kids Netflix shows, checking off home “to do lists” and heading to bed early. And while sometimes it can feel a little mundane, I try to remember that this is the season for us to catch up on our rest and get energized for the warmer months.

However, winter work evenings don’t have to be a desperate dud. Darling be Daring mentions that spicing up the work week can mean focusing on an elaborate recipe you’ve been wanting to make including trekking out to buy all the fresh ingredients or adding a workout routine that’s interactive and adds variety.

Sheknows.com has some creative ideas doable for weeknights such as playing dress-up as a family with old and silly outfits and hosting a “show and tell” family evening.

Refe Tuma turns the entire month of November into Dinovember where he says, “Every year, my wife and I devote the month of November to convincing our children their plastic dinosaur figures come to life while they sleep.” It’s an elf on the shelf meets Jurassic Park!

Simply Kierste Design Co. suggests taking one of your kids on a date night to the grocery store or a progressive dinner to different restaurants, one for each course. Folding paper airplanes and testing them is another idea she shares that I could definitely get onboard with.

And finally, after my son begged me to help me with my laundry and seeing how great he’s become at folding, I’m not so sure this dreaded chore can’t be spiced up a little with his company. This article makes me feel even better about this new laundry routine.

So far our most fun, cold-weather, weeknight, evenings include my daughter serving us pretend food and coffee from her mini-kitchen, rowdy rounds of duck-duck-goose, trips to our favorite neighborhood pizza joint, and the occasional celebration prep for “family parties” we’ve arranged just for the four of us. I’ve promised my son we will be having a family Valentine’s party soon.

How do you spend your winter weekdays?

~Ashley

 

Family

How Old Are You?

My two year old is into asking everyone “How old are you?”

I don’t have the heart to tell her, some people think it’s rude to ask about age, because lately she’s been using this question as her conversation icebreaker. I figure, if people don’t want to answer her question they’ll tell her.

I want her to know that people come in all ages and I want her to feel comfortable talking with people older than her. So here’s how some people have responded to her question.

Our adoption social worker told her, “Well that’s easy for you to remember, I’m 5 5, fifty five.” I loved how confident she was at owning her age.

A parent at Graham’s school, originally from China answered, “Noooo I can’t tell you that!” as she laughed nervously and hurried off.

Today she asked my husband [I think she asks him this question twice a day] and he answered his usual, “I’m forty, how old are you?” And then my son chimed in excitedly, “I am going to pretend I’m forty today”. And my daughter responded, “me too, I’m forty!” How endearing that they want to be exactly as old as their dad. It must mean he makes forty look fun!

I hope my kids learn to appreciate the benefits of every age and that they’re not put off by wrinkles and walkers and age spots. I want them to respect their elders and I can only hope that if a kid asks me my age that I’ll reply certainly and confidently with my answer.

Family, Health

Do You Nap?

The last couple weeks have been intense. We’ve been going through a phase where my youngest wakes up screaming in the middle of the night which has left us all a little bit run down during the day. This, coupled with the winter sniffles, has us adults pitching our case for the nap train.

It starts around Saturday at 11, and we both list our reasons why each of us should have the right to nap with the youngest- she’s the only one that still takes an afternoon snooze. And whoever wins their case is awarded the two hour luxury nap complete with private accommodations, a soft blanket and a sound machine.

Honestly, as a working mom this two-hour weekend nap has become a little bit of an addiction. It’s one of the only times I stop mid-day to recharge and it leaves me feeling energized for our Saturday afternoon plans. It’s indulgent and revitalizing and just what my body needs to complete the week.

Do you make midday nap plans? What’s your weekly relaxation ritual?

Family

Hello! {1.14.18}

Hi- It’s been a little while since I’ve been in touch. We’ve been making our way through January and it’s taken a quick minute to get a jump start on this new year.

I do have something exciting to share! Whimsical September blog (founded by Erica) featured me this weekend and I’m just so excited about it. GO right on over to her site and check it out. And while you’re there, go ahead and look around. Her site is fun, I enjoy her Instagram stories and she also features other bloggers like me in her Saturday Sit-Down series. Thanks again to Erica for her support!

If you’re new here and found me from Whimsical September, WELCOME!

Here’s what’s new with us.

We are in the very tail end of our home study for adoption. We have our home visit the end of this month and so we are on a cleaning frenzy over here! We’re working on our profile book now.

We are full swing back into school and work, but we just loved our Christmas stay-cation which we’ve decided to do again next year for Christmas (stay home, lay around, relax, repeat).

I celebrated my birthday last week and then I started the Whole30 program the day after- eek! I’m on “Kill All the Things” part 2.

We had a two days of snow Friday and Saturday- and for Memphis that might be it for the year! We took full advantage, making a mini snowman, busting out some snow angels, and making all the snowballs.

We took our kids bowling for the first time this weekend to kill the cabin fever- it was so much fun! Stay tuned for more on that soon.

A new restaurant popped up on our radar that I’ll be blogging about soon, so stay tuned. We made a visit right before my Whole30 plunge.

We’re already planning our spring break, can you believe it’s mid-January? March will be here before you know it. Right now we’re thinking somewhere within driving distance, but we’re torn. Nashville? New Orleans?

In the meantime, check out Erica’s sit-down and follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ve also been sharing Insta-stories to keep you posted on fun stuff we’re into.

Have a great week!

~Ashley

 

 

Family

Reviewing Our Year!

Christmas. I get it. It’s magical and artful. It’s traditional and gather-some. It’s full of events and people and wonderment. But January is my month. After all the wrapping paper has cleared and the trees are discarded and stored it’s the month that beckons me. It’s the time when you can be faithful to goals and aspirations- crowds of people are supporting you because they’re all in the resolution zone. It’s a time when savings and fitness and the best you is actually celebrated.

So January I’m waiting for you. I’ve been waiting for you since October because keeping up with the Christmas Johnses is tiresome. I look forward to boring, cold weekends and empty calendars and lightweight lunches and gloomy Monday’s because for me it means getting stuff done. It means making way for clean closets and fitness classes and family time. January beckons creativity and adventure and futuristic thinking. It’s the best month of all the months for us planners and future thinkers, strategic sisters and hard core jet-setters. It’s my birth month and my spirit month. If it’s not your month take this opportunity to get to know January in a whole new light.

I put together a snapshot of our year in review, so here’s a little look at what 2017 meant to us if you’d like to see…

January

In January we braved the cold with just a few days outside and lots of time in the local art studio, one of our favorite places. I celebrated my birthday (top right) and We had a fun barn party with the dinner club girls (top left). We made our first trip to the Memphis Ikea and we had a massive snow dump (at least for Memphis) where we played around outside and snuggled inside (bottom pics).

              

February

In February we celebrated little man’s birthday early with a joint party with his bestie (they’re only a month apart) and we indulged in some donuts at our favorite place Gibson’s in Memphis. And our little gal started her Toy Story obsession with a little help from her big brother.

March

In March we made a visit to Birmingham to pick up my father-in-law and drop off my son so he could make a short little drive to the beach with my family for his independent spring break. We finally got some warmer weather for patio dining at our favorite pizza place and my son celebrated his birthday the Montessori way at his school- looping the “sun” four times.

April

In April I made a quick trip to Nashville with my friends from elementary and middle school days and then my sweet friend from Miami came for a visit to Memphis. The kids also started their obsession with Spring umbrellas and pinwheels (they wanted to hold all the umbrellas and spin all the pinwheels!) This is also the month I started this blog!

We also instituted Sunday park days in April, celebrated Easter at church and with friends in our backyard with an egg hunt and did all the kite flying, tire swinging and bike riding we possibly could.

May

In May I celebrated Mother’s Day at my daughter’s school with muffins, my mom (Gigi) came for a visit and she accompanied me to a Dinner Club breakfast. Gigi made her traditional cupcakes with my son and we made a visit to the “touch a truck event” in Germantown, plus we kept obsessing over our most favorite park where we found a fun frog friend that the kids couldn’t stop chasing.

 June

In June I made a trip down to the beach to visit with family as we officially kicked off our summer. We swam in the pool, the ocean, ate ice cream and hit up a Wahoos baseball game.

July

In July we enjoyed more baseball with our local Memphis Redbirds, we made our way to the Levitt Shell concerts in the park, we enjoyed family walks in our neighborhood and my son went to his first VBS camp at our church. My mom and I threw a baby shower for my sister at the beach so my son and I made our second trip down to Pensacola. When we weren’t baby showering we were swimming and visiting with all the family.

August

Our August was full of birthday parties and sunflower farms and water time in our backyard.  We attempted the largest leaf cleanup yet! We had a staycation at a local hotel in Memphis where my daughter found her love of biscuits and jelly! We ran our annual Elvis 5K and continued pool days to beat the heat. Our sweet friends joined us for fun at the art studio and we were invited to a end of summer party complete with one of the largest bounce house slides we’ve ever seen and our sweet little girl was bound and determined to master it before age 2- and she did!

 September

September was all about back-to-school and celebrating our sweet girl turning 2! Our coffee club (the girls who service coffee at church) got our picture made for the church volunteer newsletter. We went to a dinner with Woody and Buzz and these two besties got in their get-ups.

We started fall soccer season and we made it to the annual Germantown Festival and we had a work eclipse party. We tried a fun new restaurant, Farm and Fries and my husband and I made it to the Shelby Farms Go Ape ropes course for a fun date day.

October

In the fall I made a trip to meet my niece and enjoy some alone time with family at the beach (my first solo trip without kids since I’ve been a mom!). We made it to our first Disney on Ice show with the kids and visited a fun barn party for Halloween. We also made a trip to Huntsville to visit family where my sister-in-law got in her best buck mascot uniform and we ran all over the local pumpkin patch (one of my most favorite things we have done all year). It was our first time to see our nephew play football.

November

In November we made our third trip to the beach to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family complete with a Christmas parade and a trolley ride and visits to our favorite local store Innerlight and my husband’s favorite beach restaurant. My husband and I had a fun brunch date at the Kitchen and then we picked up the kids and headed back to our favorite park for pine cone collecting. My little assistant also helped me volunteer at my son’s school.

December

December was a whirlwind. We visited family in Huntsville for the holidays and stayed in one of our favorite Airbnb’s, my husband and I enjoyed a date night at our own home for the first time ever overnight without kids in our own house! My son helped my husband deliver food for work to some of his customers and we put up our Christmas tree complete with our fun train. We had a lots of hot cocoa, made a ton of cookies and started our first annual cocoa and jammies tradition where we hit up Starbucks in our pajamas and grabbed cocoa and coffee to take with us to our trip to the Shelby Farms Starry Night Lights..

I hope you enjoyed our year in review. It was such a fun year, but these are truly the highlights, we have had some bumps in the road too. Running back through our pictures makes me realize when we were busiest, what my truly favorite annual traditions are and those things that we may need to retire. Honestly some of my favorite days looking back are those days that allow us to be spontaneous- going to the park, eating ice cream, hanging out at the pool, drinking hot chocolate at our house, and trying a new restaurants.

Here’s to you and yours this New Years and hoping it’s your best year yet!

 

Family

November is for Kicking Off Christmas

Last month was a bit of a whirlwind. We made the eight hour drive to the beach to see family and celebrate Thanksgiving otherwise known as the springboard to Christmas.

We captured a few pictures if you’d like to see.

My daughter was ready to celebrate! My husband found these fun necklaces at Walgreen’s so of course we stocked up.

We made a trip to one of our favorite local stores, Innerlight. After we checked out all the boards we grabbed ourselves some t-shirts. These kids just never stop moving.

We went a bit non-traditional for Thanksgiving this year. Since it was a small group of us, my husband grilled steaks and my mom made her famous mac and cheese. The recipe comes from this little old book, which she claims is the best cookbook ever.

I got this pie from my sweet friend Carrie- her dad made it. And honestly it is the best pecan pie I have ever had. I may or may not have had a few bites for breakfast the next morning.

We made a stop to my husband’s favorite beach restaurant, Flounders.

And enjoyed the beautiful weather outdoors.

Full disclosure. This is right after this little tot had a full on tantrum for about two good long blocks. (while I covered my eyes and ran back to my mom’s as fast as you can pull a four-wheel-wagon over bumpy gravel). She’s a mess!

We got in some snuggle time with our favorite dog. (read: she actually chased him around the house until he finally gave up and gave in).

And my son got to work taking care of his sweet little cousin.

There were snuggles with their fun Aunt E.

And visits to tacky tourist shops.

We even made it to a parade and an evening Christmas trolley tour!

And when there was down time (which was hardly ever) we walked the beach pier… (photo credit below: J. Saxton)

Played in the sand…

Played with trains…

And crashed from exhaustion.

And here we are in December and it’s almost Christmas. We sure did enjoy our trip to the beach this past November kicking off this Christmas season.

Family, Food & Wine

If Fall Weekends Could Only Last Longer

We are getting pretty good at soaking up sunshine over the weekend. I think we might be trying to squeeze the last little bit out before we hit the dreary mid-South winter months. Here’s a look at some fun things we’ve been doing around town in Memphis.

We scheduled a date during the day which is rare for us. We headed to brunch at the Shelby Farms Kitchen restaurant and then parked ourselves in these bright orange chairs with mimosas in hand and gazed out at the water for a bit before we took a little walk around the lake. I just love dates with this guy. We even got in a little Christmas shopping.

 

The whole morning was relaxing and delightful and the food was perfect. It was just what we needed.

Later we scooped up the kids and decided to head back outside to the same park, but near the other end of the property. The fall foliage was on point and we got to catch the sunset at the end of our visit so it turned out to be just the perfect day.

Three cheers for lazy Sundays! We attended evening church Saturday so we could do this on Sunday morning.  Sometimes we just need a late start to our Sunday.

We read one of our favorite books… we just love it. It’s about a little girl that embraces her differences by “standing tall”.

And guess what, we hit up another park Sunday! We played hard and just appreciated the crunchy leaves and the people watching and being active in the fall weather. We just love all of our local parks so much. And my son loves tree stumps! They are nature’s best playground.

I don’t know why he didn’t want to sit in this hammock longer. I could’ve sat there all day!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we continued playing at a different spot, Railgarten. They have food and cocktails for adults and a playground and fun games out back for kids. Our littlest one just couldn’t time her eyes open in sync with the flash in this picture.

How do you get outside with kids? Even us adults played hard this past weekend. We must have needed the fresh air and sunshine. Have a fun week!

 

Family, Uncategorized

Life Lately {11.13.17}

Well hello. We have been keeping busy lately. October was a good month for us and we were sad to see it go. Here are a few ways we made sure to enjoy the month and the weather.

We started out October with Disney on Ice. I really wasn’t sure if these kids would sit still long enough, but we took a chance and I’m so glad we did because they LOVED it!

We did a little car shopping and well it isn’t always roses with these two. We were chatting with the salesman and we turned around to find these two wrestling on the floor. Sigh.

We finished soccer season with a bang. These two friends just love to hang out!

The weather cooled down and we found this fun hat at our Bass Pro Shop.

I did a little meal prepping with the cutest little assistant.

We attended school Halloween parties….

This Halloween party had a fun crafting station. What a fun idea!

We attended my son’s school Peace Day celebration complete with a dove release. The best part was watching this kid play on his school playground.

We celebrated this guy’s birthday!

We tried a new restaurant.

They had fun games including a Moana board game complete with character figures.

They have a yummy butternut squash soup!

And we enjoyed the cool fall weather riding bicycles and climbing trees and swinging on tire swings.

We visited the most fun farm near Huntsville and picked out pumpkins, rode on hayrides and swam in corn.

We visited family and my sister-in-law broke out their school mascot “The Buck” for the kids. My daughter was not much of a fan- eek! His eyebrows are kind of angry! Fun fact: My sister-in-law LOVES mascots. She filled in as the school mascot when she was in high school. She’s just the perfect size to play the part of a school mascot!

And finally our trip ended with a lot of outdoor time, gator rides, kite flying, a homemade playground (out of chopped tree stumps) and some swinging.

 

Also, our kids dressed in these costumes about 4.2 million times (or maybe just five times- it felt like they wore them all month).

We were sad to see October go and can’t wait to celebrate again next year. These kids are just so fun.

Family

Funny Things These Kids Say

These kids of ours say the darnedest things. And the days go by so quickly that I’m always trying to jot down funny moments in my phone notes so that I won’t forget. Our 4-year-old-son is a regular comedian. He’s been rotating between his favorite fireman and Toy Story Woody hat since he was two and he’s been practicing his comedy act here lately with terms like “I was just joshing you” and “I was kidding you”. He’s got a cackle, belly, witch laugh for jokes he thinks are especially funny. What I love the most is how excited he is about Halloween and how he thinks all of the scary decorations are hilarious- he loves being scared! He thinks it’s laughable. Here’s a few of his latest phrases.

Long Distance Calls

Me when I was on a trip calling Graham: Hey I can’t wait to see you! I miss you!

Graham: I’ll let you see me mommy!

 

On sibling stuff.

Graham to his little sister Haddie: Don’t even look at me. Don’t even think about it. Mooooommmm she’s looking at ME!!!

(PS: This is when I started having childhood flashbacks to life with two siblings).

 

Party Time

Graham: I want my Valentine’s party.

Me: It’s not until Friday, today is Wednesday.

Graham starts singing: Today is Friday today is Friday…

 

On flying a kite.

Graham: Daddy we need to fly my kite.

Daddy: Well it’s not windy.

Graham: Yes it is, look my balloon is flying.

Daddy: Well yes that has helium. It’s not windy buddy. Hey, I’ll be back (walking outside).

Graham: Okay see ya. Be careful it’s windy out there!

*He is OBSESSED with flying a kite. He asks about it at least once a day.

On eating cake.

Sitting by himself.

Graham: Oh I love this chocolate and icing on this cake so much.

He’s just so appreciative in the moment. It stops my heart every time. After meeting a newborn baby the other day he also tells me, Mommy I just love that little baby so much!

Shenanigans

Graham: Mommy did you get that thing I left on top of the car?

Me (while I’m driving): What thing?

Graham: I left my hat on top of the car.

Me: Well I hope you didn’t because it probably fell off.

Graham: Oh mommy, I was just joshing you! Wasn’t that a good joke?

What’s in a Name

He give the best “nicknames”. He’s been calling my brother Chad, his uncle, Uncle Jad for years. He also recently started calling our friend Mr. Jeremy, Journey!

 

On Video Games

Graham (as soon as we pick him up from school): Can I play my video game?

Me: No, we are going home, but we are not playing video games tonight.

Graham: Okay, we’ll talk about it later.

 

What fun things are the toddlers in your life talking about? I love this sweet stage we’re living right now.