Smithfield Station

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So for the first time since having Addisan, Tommy and I went away for the night.  I purchased a Groupon awhile back for a quaint night away at a hotel in Smithfield, Virginia.  It was not too far away, but far enough to not have Richmond on our minds.

There was nothing much to do in this small town which was perfect for an overworked mama!  It was so nice to relax in our room and watch something other than Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I told Tommy this needs to become a regular thing….getting away now and then without kids for a night.  As much as I love my girls, it felt nice to return to them recharged and well rested.  This was the view from our room that we had to leave…

For dinner, we walked downstairs for dinner.  It was so nice not to have to cut up anyone’s food or have to wipe anyone’s sticky hands other than my own!!

The next morning, we took the ferry to Williamsburg to do a little outlet shopping.  I went to White House Black Market and got some awesome deals….like jeans for only $20!  So of course, I had to buy a few shirts to go with them.  

Being able to sleep past 5:30 makes me smile!

Some Jamin’ Java with Mr. Steve

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Our friends back home invited us to see Mr. Steve with them at a local coffee shop in Vienna.  My girls (and surprisingly, myself included) love Mr. Steve.  I did my best to steer my girls away from Barney and The Wiggles and it did it with great success.  Mr. Steve on the other hand has more of a rock sound to his music and covers such topics from the planets to Martin Luther King.  We have seen him at the Children’s Museum of Richmond and Theater in the Woods at Wolf Trap.  As I am writing this, it scares me that we might be considered groupies!

Now what road trip would be complete without food?!  We met our friends at Anita’s for brunch!  It was the perfect place because it was not too crowded for 7 kids AND 7 adults to be seated.  There was even room for the kids to wiggle out of their seats and walk around some.  


The coffee shop was packed!  I tend to forget how many more people live in Northern Virginia than Richmond until I am packed in tightly with others in a small room like I am in a sardine can.   It was nice though for the kids because there was room in front for them to dance around and just be kids!

Here are some shots of some of the kiddos during the performance.  Campbell cracked me up because she has moves that she must have inherited from the mailman….because Tommy and I have do no posses a lick of rhythm.

We waited FOREVER to meet Mr. Steve. He was as nice as could be.  The girls were ecstatic to get their book autographed.

Hearing songs with your kids that does not make you want to pull out your hair makes me smile.

Pigeons Have Landed in the Kennedy Center

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Two of my favorite things…..The Kennedy Center and Mo Willems!  The Kennedy Center has a great family theater that has several performances throughout the year.  It is reasonably priced and it is cheaper than the Barksdale Theater in Richmond.  This was Campbell’s first time here and she loved it.  We watched Knuffle Bunny and it was fabulous!  I would highly recommend it.  The theater is cozy, the performances are only an hour, and there is no intermission….perfect for a three year old!

Leading up to our trip to Washington, D.C., we read and reread many of the Mo Willem books.  We of course had to get out our fancy dresses for this occasion.  These were my Ross dresses that I spent about $10 each on.  You gotta love a good deal!


We went with our friends, Jack, Gavin, and JT.  I think the girls secretly loved all their bachelors.  

I spotted Addisan posing like this before going back into the show.  She is as girly as they come!

The kids loved looking at all the things in the city going on.  We saw kayakers, planes, trucks, etc.  I love the feeling of being in a big city and watching all the things going on.  


I was THRILLED beyond words to hear that Mo Willems was going to be there to autograph books after the performance.  So, of course, we had to join the never ending line…..but it was all worth it!  He was as nice as could be.  Addisan and Campbell have been listening to the musical CD every night since returning from our trip.

Of course, no trip would be complete without food!  We stopped at Joe’s in Vienna before returning home to Richmond.  I love trying to hit the places to eat back in Northern Virginia that we do not have back home.  

Meeting Mo Willems with my girls makes me smile!

Starting Off The New Year

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I have a brilliant friend who has a “Russian New Year” for her friends.  Just like the Jimmy Buffet song, it is 5:00 somewhere….it is already midnight somewhere too….Russia!  We have a countdown to noon for the kids.  We have food and laughs…it is a good time had by all!

My friend gets fancy glasses and sparkling apple cider for all the kids.  They think they are so grown up with these glasses.

The three girls just being themselves…silly!

Addisan learned how to flip over the bar New Year’s.  For the average kid, this is no big deal.  For my little girl with two left feet, this is a huge accomplishment.

That evening, we went out to dinner to one of my favorite places, Cafe Canturra with one of our favorite friends, Parker. Parker was kind enough to bring over a cardboard princess castle for the girls to make and color.  They loved it!

Starting the New Year with friends makes me smile!

A Special Christmas

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This blog entry is long overdue!  You would think after all the Christmas madness was over, life would be a little less hectic.  That never seems to be the case, huh?!

Christmas Eve and all was quiet after the kids went to bed.  

The stockings were hung on the banister with care…..
with the hope that the Easter Bunny would soon be there???? That is right, those are our Easter baskets.  The Millers from Charlottesville needed stockings and we did not have enough….so it is a good thing Santa and the Easter Bunny are in cohoots with each other.

Elenor was caught eating cookies on her way back to the North Pole with Santa.  

Santa had arrived!  In the past, we would open a few gifts and let the girls play a little bit and then open some more.  Now that Campbell is like a bulldozer opening gifts, Addisan has picked up on it too.  Opening gifts that morning was no longer a marathon, but rather a nice steady race.

After uploading these long over due pictures, I realized how badly this room needed to be painted.  My winter project is to finally finish this room.  We still refer to the room as “Carmella’s Room” because the only thing that was in there for the longest time was our guinea pig!  I am not a formal person, so what better way to use a formal living room than for your pets.

I love seeing the girls’ faces fill with excitement and joy.  
Again, it would not be a Christmas morning in the Taylor household without breathing treatments.  I had to remind myself that it could be worse, we could be at Chippenham again!  

Uncle Chuck and Auntie Kris hangin’ with Campbell while Addisan was finishing her meds.

Santa left a princess tunnel for the girls.  It is amazing how something so simple gives them so much joy!

Some moments caught throughout the morning.  Campbell insisted on wearing her fairy dress over her pjs all morning long.  She is a trip!

The girls received bikes from us this year.  We got Addisan a “big girl” bike and Campbell a balance bike.  I have heard such great things about these balance bikes making the transition to a big bike a lot easier.  We will find out this spring if that is true.  
Santa brought the girls Doodle Pads.  Basically these are travel kits with a chalk board on one side and paper on the other.  This was one of their favorite gifts of the morning. It just goes to show, bigger is not always better.
After the Miller Christmas morning was over, we went to the Taylors for round two.  It was nice to see everyone….good food and good memories made!
The day after Christmas, my good friend, Molly, had a mom free date with Addisan.  Addisan LOVES the Nutcracker and went to see the Richmond production of it with her.  

Christmas memories make me smile.

Christmas Eve 2011

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So Christmas season begins December 1st in the Taylor household with the arrival of Elenor, our elf.  Before Elf on the Shelf became so commercialized, our neighbors introduced Elenor to us.  She is related to the Putney’s elves.  Tommy had read somewhere that you should have one elf for each child….that way when they grow up and have children of their own, their elf can go with them.  I think traditions are part of childhood…those are the memories that tend to be closest to our hearts.

Another Christmas tradition is to open up one gift the night before Christmas.  Each year, the girls receive a new pair of matching pjs and a new book to read that night.  This year, it was extra special because my niece and nephew spent the night with us and they read the books to the girls.  I love having family over night….and so do the girls!

I bought an Apple computer this past summer for my graduate class.  With iPhoto, there are so many options you can do to modify and enhance your pictures.  The one above is just one that I changed to black and white as well as the warmth of it.  

Campbell sporting her new pjs after her bath.

The past 4 out of 5 Christmases, we have spent with Addisan on the nebulizer and ending up either at Chippenham or her pediatrician the 24th, 25th, or 26th of December.  This year was no exception.  I think her body just goes and goes on adrenalin until we have a break….and then everything catches up with her.  Our biggest problem with Addisan is that she does not complain when she is sick…I think partially because she has always had issues with her health and does not have a solid healthy baseline to compare it to.

This was one of our favorite gifts that we received from my parents.  Addisan has been asking a lot of questions about God lately….like how does he stand on the clouds without falling through?!  She is starting to learn more about this at school this year.  The JK program at her school did the pageant at the Christmas Eve service and she got the role of Mary.  It was just darling!

Boo and Campbell playing with her birthday gift from the Charlottesville Millers.

Another tradition are oysters on Christmas Eve…..YUM!  I love the fact that Tommy does not eat them and I can consume his share!

Homemade lasagna courtesy of Pop-Pop.  

The Charlottesville Millers.  How in the world did Boo get so tall?

One of the most special moments was seeing Addisan open the door to Santa.  Her excitement just poured through every ounce of her body.  She is a very reserved child by nature and to see her let her guard down and believe in something so magical was priceless.  This is one of the moments I will always carry with me as a mother close to my heart….her belief in something bigger than herself.  

You gotta love girl time!

Cookies for Santa.

Boo and his four legged friends before bed time.  We are fortunate to have such easy going dogs!  Max, their golden retriever, was a HAPPE dog that they adopted from our rescue group.  

Going to bed with out of town family in your home makes me smile!

Polar Express…IMAX Style

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We went to the Virginia Science Museum to see Polar Express on the IMAX theater.  This was my first IMAX experience and it was awesome.  Addisan asked me on more than one occasion if we were flying.  The span of the screen kept Campbell engaged the whole time.  There was so much to see!  They currently have a mummy documentary on the IMAX that I think Tommy and I might try to go to.  Ever since teaching about Egypt when I taught third grade, it has since fascinated me!

I am hoping to take the girls back to the museum to explore one day soon. There are so many cool things that caught their attention on the downstairs to the theater!  

On the way home, we stopped and ate at a new place on Patterson called Super Stars Pizza.  It was highly recommended by lots of friends and we were not let down!  I also found out that you can take home pizzas to bake at home AND I pass it three days a week to pick up Addisan from Extended Day.  I see many pizza nights ahead for the Taylor household!

New experiences with pizza makes me smile!

ICE! Round II

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This is our second trip to the Gaylord Hotel at the National Harbor to see the ICE! show.  The girls just love it!  As a mother, one of my favorite things to do is start traditions like this and hopefully create life long memories for them to carry on to adulthood.

We got a hotel room with a balcony for the girls to see the Atrium.  Last year, it “snowed” a few times and the girls just loved watching it.  This year, we did not see any.  I am not sure if they did away with it or if we just timed it wrong.  We did get to see one or two of the shows from our room without having to fight the crowds down below.
After we unpacked, we quickly got ready for the ICE! show.
The lobby of the hotel was decorated so nicely.  On the way out, I snapped a quick picture of Addisan.  Campbell wanted no part of the picture.  
This is how Campbell sometimes feels when the camera has been out for too long!  She is such a ham.  I am so worried about missing a moment with my kids because they grow up so quickly.  For that reason, I always have my camera with me.
We had better success with these parkas this year.  Addisan HATES being bulky and had a huge melt down last year.  This year, we all knew what to expect and we prepped her better for it.  
This year’s theme was the Penguins of Madagascar.  The girls were not too familiar with it, so we made sure that we watched the movie beforehand.  All of the TONS of ice are sculpted in China and brought over here to the States.  Each of the Gaylord Hotels has a different theme each year.  They also have ICE SLIDES for the kids to go down.  

This year we were smarter.  The wait for eating at the hotel and nearby restaurants was about 2 hours last year.  This year, we had a heavy lunch at Fosters Grill in Old Town and brought ingredients to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the hotel room.  You cannot keep Campbell waiting when she is hungry…like mother, like daughter.

In the morning, we were able to get on the road pretty early and eat breakfast in Old Town.

There are so many fun and eclectic places to see and eat at in Old Town.

Breakfast was a hit!  We tried a new place down on Duke Street and it was fabulous! Everything they served was organic. I had one of the best omelets I have ever had.

Starting traditions with the girls makes me smile!

It Can’t Be! Campbell is Three!

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So on December 17th, we celebrated Campbell’s third birthday with family.  It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl is no longer a baby anymore, but a little girl with a great sense of humor and independence.  She constantly reminds me about what life is truely  about, living in the moment.  I find myself stressing over things that I have no control over and planning every open minute that we have on the calendar.  I need to take a lesson from her…..

Campbell has taught me to enjoy each day as they come and not to get my panties in a knot.  One of the many things that have cracked us up lately was when she opened up the refrigerator, pointed to the almost empty gallon of milk, and said, “Hook me up with some of this!”  Another funny moment was when she was on a photo shoot. Campbell was selected to model for a toy catalogue and while playing in a pop up castle, Tommy tried to convince her to come out by telling her to let down her hair like Rapunzel, one of her favorite Disney princesses these days.  She peeks her head out and informs Tommy that she is Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) and she was going back to bed….and then proceeds to slam the door.  The whole crew just laughed.  She is definitely a ham!  I think she gets it from her daddy!

For her birthday, she requested chocolate donuts and milk for breakfast.  You can still see some chocolate on her face.

Campbell is polar opposite from Addisan when opening gifts.  She could care less what is in them….she just enjoys throwing the tissue paper around and destroying the wrapping paper.  We got her an outfit for her American Girl Doll this year.

This was a cake to remember.  While blowing out the candles, her hair caught on fire!!!!  Luckily, with one swoop of his hand, Ju-Ju quickly put it out.  It amazes me that she was not harmed other than a  few burnt pieces of hair.    

Our family is very generous, any time there is a birthday for one child, they always bring a small something for the other child.  Here Addisan is opening up Chutes and Ladders and a few other things from Baby and Pop-Pop.

I was fortunate to be off of work for Campbell’s birthday and was able to bring cupcakes to her class at school.  I love being a teacher, but I feel like sometimes my own kids get gypped because my work schedule is not very flexible during the school year.  I guess being a December baby has some perks….mama can bring in cupcakes!

Happy Birthday Sweet Campbell Layne!  Being your mom makes me smile!

Where Has The Time Gone This Semester?

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This fall has been pure craziness for us.  First of all, our girls are at two different schools this year which makes scheduling very hectic at times.  Addisan started at St. Catherine’s in the JK program while Campbell continues at Goddard.  The JK program’s philosophy is based on Reggio Emilia which fosters problem solving, communication, and individuality.  We have been soooo happy with our choice to send her there.

First Day of School
This was my first fall working full time with two kids, tutoring after school….all while taking a graduate class.  Needless to say, our family blog was neglected.  Here are some highlights from our fall….
Apple Pickin’ at Carter’s Mountain
Disney on Ice with our friend Dylan
Campbell modeled for Modelogic for their client, Magic Cabin, a toy company.
Spending time with good friends.
Tea with Baby in Culpeper
Turning 5!
Watching local parades
Crozet Art Festival with friends
Birthday Parties
Campouts at school
Pumpkin pickin’
Great Wolf Lodge with Maggie and Ryan
Frog and Toad at the Barksdale Theater
Trips to Maymont
Joint birthday party with friends at All Fired Up
Thanksgiving with family in Culpeper
Trips to the zoo
Picnics at Katie’s Park
Trips to see Santa
Lewis Ginter
The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center
I hope to be better at blogging this winter!!!!  I want the girls’ to have a memory “book” of what we do as a family.  They grow up so quickly and I just want to savor each moment.