Nanagra’s Rainbow

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This is our third annual OBX trip with my parents (aka Baby and Pop Pop) and our good friends, the Harrisons, from back home.  We rent my sister-in-law’s mom’s beach house.  It is located in Corolla and two houses away from the beach.  We return to the same house each year and it is a wonderful feeling to have our kids feel at home away from home.  

Below are just a few of our many memories from our trip.  The week was perfect down there.  Not one rainy day!  I think someone up above was making up for last year when we got evacuated due to the hurricane.
Nanagra’s Rainbow
Morris’s Farm Market on the way down there.  Great samples to eat and the cleanest bathrooms.
Great friends.

Our annual picture with Baby and Pop Pop.  This year the boys wanted to be in it too!

Our morning ritual, coloring on the screened in porch until breakfast was ready.
We discovered Duck Donuts this year thanks to my friend Julie!  The best donuts….even better than the apple donuts at Carter’s Mountain!
My friend Julie and her girls were down in Nagshead the same week we were there.  They came to see us and hang out one day.  Mason was one of my first graders when I first moved down to Richmond and now she is going into sixth grade.  Her sister, “Big” Campbell, was our inspiration for naming our little girl Campbell.
This was the weather every day!  Can you get better than that?
We would go nightly to the beach after dinner to fly kites, walk around, let Kaylee swim, and just be together.

Some other random shots.
I LOVE this picture of all four kids!  Notice Jack and Campbell holding hands.  They did it all on their own.
These kids napped well!  I went down to check on Campbell one afternoon and this is what I found.
Addisan FINALLY learned how to petal and steer her bike (with training wheels) at the same time while at the beach.  I am thankful for even the smallest miracles.  I thought this was never going to happen.

Addisan walked up with Tommy all the way to the top of the lighthouse for the first time!  He said she was very quiet while walking and concentrating really hard.
This was taken after going to race cars on the track.  Addisan did not want to go at first, but decided at the last minute to.  I told her I would go as slow as she wanted me to.  Nicole described this experience as me driving Ms. Daisy.  On the other hand, Campbell LOVED it and wanted to go as fast as possible.
You gotta love some ribs!
I love the simple things about the Outterbanks.  Family, friends, and everything the sandy beach has to hold.
Knowing that more special memories will be made there next year makes me smile!

Sea World…Here We Come!

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Here we are waiting for our shuttle bus to take us to Sea World. We were the first ones down in the hotel lobby raring to go.  I felt a little silly once we got to Sea World and realized the main entrance was literally across the street from our hotel.  We got a great deal on passes.  If you have a certain tier of Busch Gardens Season Passes (the one that includes free parking), you get 50% off your admission to Sea World and Campbell was free since she is only 2 years old.

When we first entered the park, we got a double stroller again.  The best investment at amusement parks.  They steer better than any of the double strollers I ever had.  Once we got rollin’, the sting rays were first.  The girls saw others feeding them and wanted to try.  So I bought some fish to feed them.  Once they saw the food close up, they were not interested.   I fed the sting rays two of the fish and gave the other two away to some other kids who were willing to touch them.

Sting Ray food
The first show that we saw was the Dolphin Show.  It was fabulous.  It had classical musical playing and told a fairy tale kind of story…one with love verses evil.  They had gymnast on ropes and high wires, live birds flying around during parts, and of course these beautiful creatures below.

Next stop, the manatees.  We were able to go underwater observatories not only for the dolphins, but the manatees as well.

This was and will always be one of my favorite spots in Sea World.  I could watch the penguins play all day!

We then went to see the Shamu Show.  The girls enjoyed it, but did not love it like the dolphin show.  I think the element of dance and classical music in the dolphin show was more to Addisan’s liking.

This was MY favorite show, Clyde and Seamore.  It was a cute little skit about pirates who get marooned on a desert island and how the sea otters and sea lions help them out.  We had a rain delay in the middle of the show, but they resumed after about 15 minutes.  

After this show, we walked back in the rain to the hotel where we took a short nap and had dinner in the hotel.  Kids ate free at the hotel restaurant!  Later on that night, we went back to see Shamu Rocks which was the whale show with fancy lights and classic rock songs. It was great!  Campbell loved just standing up and dancing to the music. 

With one day admission to Sea World, you are able to go back for another day within that week. So we woke up early the next day and went to see the Elmo Show.  It was at the same theater where we saw the Pets Galore Show the day before.  This was another great show where they take rescue animals…dogs, cats, birds, potbelly pigs, and even a skunk to perform the skit!

Due to the rain, we only went to this show.  It was the only one we did not get to the day prior.  I was hoping to go back and visit our favorite things again, but the weather was not on our side.

These girls were rock stars all day long!  Being with such great little travelers makes me smile.

A Vacation in a Vacation

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Nothin’ like a vacation in a vacation!  I took the girls to Sea World for two nights and they had a blast.  I still have not gone through all of the Sea World pictures yet…but, here is the start of our mini getaway.

We had the best hotel experience at the Renaissance Marriott across the street from Sea World.  Our room was very inexpensive and had a lot to offer.

When we arrived, they gave us sparkling cider.  When I asked the girls to raise their glasses for us to do “cheers,” the lady who checked us in came right around the counter and took a picture for us.

They had great amenities in the hotel.  The girls loved the waterfall on the way to Starbucks, which was located inside the hotel, that we ate at each morning.  I am currently addicted to ice chi tea lattes and birthday cake pops.    
The pools here were amazing.  The size of the main pool was equivalent to the few resorts I have stayed at.  There was a bar and great music playing.

We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see not just one, but TWO water parks for toddlers and younger kids.  It was awesome!  Honestly, the kids could have spent all day here.  Campbell could even do some of the water slides.  I liked this place even better than the Busch Gardens Sesame Street water area because there was more room to run around without sharp corners for the kids to slip and hit their heads on.

In the evening, we just vegged and watched movies.

In the morning, we would eat something light before tackling the awful August Florida heat.

I hope to sort through the Sea World pictures this week and post them soon.  Getting caught up with our summer travels on our family blog will make me smile.

Our Last Full Day in Delray

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This picture says it all about our Florida vacation….

For our last full day in Delray before leaving for Orlando, we woke up in the morning and made Shrinky Dink art.  This was one of my other craft projects that I got mailed down there.  I forgot how much fun, at any age, those Shrinky Dinks can be!

After breakfast and craft time, we traveled downtown to a true local diner.  Everyone seemed to know everyone and the staff was so easy going and laid back. 

You gotta love a place that serves breakfast all day long!
I am a huge chicken salad fan.  It was as good as it looked.

No meal would be complete without dessert.  This was Florida’s version of Sweet Frogs.

We can’t wait to come back again.  Surviving traveling alone with my kids makes me smile:)  

The Price of Freedom

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While down in Florida, I received word that a sorority sister lost her husband in a tragic helicopter crash in Afghanistan along with his fellow Navy Seals.  I was speechless.  Tears just streamed down my face.  I felt this deep sorrow in my heart and tried to imagine how much pain the family members of these brave soldiers, and especially their children, were feeling.  Unless I was in their shoes, I don’t think I could even begin to feel their anguish.  I get a pit in stomach knowing these children’s fathers will no longer see them grow up, wipe their tears, and walk them down the aisle.  All these moments I tend to take for granted as mother.  

I sometimes forget that these life moments we are not entitled to, but are privileged to.  I take for granted that we have all these freedoms in America and we have to preserve and protect them.  I am ashamed to admit this, but I sometimes feel so distant from the war after ten years.  I hear numbers on the news of fatalities and injuries and have trouble putting a face or a story with each passing or injured.    

This horrific incident has reminded me that each number heard on the nightly news has loved ones who are mourning their loss of life.  Each number has family who is forced to get out of bed each morning and put one foot in front of the other until it becomes the new norm of feeling.  Each number has left behind family who treasures their memories even tighter and keeps their love ones even closer now.  Each number has a family who has to learn to move on while their hearts are five steps behind them. I have been boldly reminded that each day we are given in this world is a gift.  

I want to thank all of the Armed Services for all that you do and their families who make those sacrifices.  

Each day, I hold these two girls even tighter.  Freedom in life is a gift and is worth fighting for.  Being an American makes me smile.

I Think We Could Live Here!

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We had a great morning in the pool yesterday. I think Addisan could honestly live in that pool.  It is the first thing she asks to do every morning.

We then went to downtown Delray and went back to the same cupcake shop.  The girls tried the ice cream there this time.  I got my usual Cocoa Chanel cupcake.

Campbell insists on doing her hair each day.  This is her new hair-do.  I think she looks more like hippie….and she has the free spirit personality to go with it.

We later discovered a great old fashion pharmacy.  I love it….it had a little bit of everything.  They had a great selection of Melissa and Doug toys.  That brand is one of my favorite!  The girls each selected a small toy eraser and you would have thought they won the lottery with their excitement.  

Miami Zoo

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Bernadette and I took the girls to the Miami Zoo yesterday.  We had an adventure getting there.  Our one and a half hour trip doubled.  Looking at the bright side with our unexpected adventure, the girls got a power nap in and B and I got extra time to have girl talk.

When we arrived at the zoo, it was hot. When I say hot, I really mean over 100 degrees hot!  

The best $10 dollars I spent in the longest time was on this…

The girls loved this!  Campbell has been out of a stroller since she was a year and a half.  I was a little nervous to see if they would actually ride in it….but they did VERY willingly!

We saw a lot of cool animals!

When we thought we saw it all, until we saw this…

Bernadette made a comment about those boys walking all over her (in more ways than one, huh?).  The zookeeper behind us heard her and said that it happens all the time!  You learn something new everyday, I guess.

I think one of the coolest things we did was ride a camel.  Addisan did not want to do this at first until Campbell tried it out.  Little sisters make great guinea pigs.  

The girls had a great time despite the awful heat.

Knowing that you can get lost with a girlfriend for hours and endure awful heat all day and still laugh during all of it, makes me smile.

First Day of Vacation in Delray

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We had a great first full day in Delray Beach yesterday.  We slept in, including the kids.  We had breakfast and did a craft.  Before we came down, I went on Amazon and ordered some crafts for them to do and got them sent directly down here.  

We then went outside to enjoy the pool in the backyard.  Addisan has made great improvements in her swimming even in the past two days.  Things are really clicking for her.  

After our rough morning at the pool, we went to a local park.  It was awesome for toddlers with all the ground level entry points.  The girls could have stayed all day.

After working up an appetite running around, we tried a FABULOUS cupcake place.  

Now doesn’t this look good!?  You gotta love a bottled Coke too!

They also had the perfect size mini ones for the kids.  The cupcakes were moist and the frosting was creamy, just the way I like it!

We then finished the day off at the beach.  

Being with my girls makes me smile!

Rock Star Travelers

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I am embarrassed to admit this, but I have never flown alone before in my life!  As a child, we always drove EVERYWHERE for vacation unless the Atlantic Ocean was separating us from our destination.  So when our friends from Arlington moved to Florida, we thought it would be fun to go visit them.  So for my first time on the plane by myself….I really wasn’t.  I had two awesome little buddies with me!  This was their first plane ride.  They were both so excited about traveling to see our friends!

So before we left, a friend suggested wrapping up things for them to do on the plane.  That way it creates excitement about the gift itself and they do not play with everything at once for only a short period of time and get bored.

This worked out wonderfully!  They thought it was like Christmas and we still have a few wrapped gifts for the way back.

I also got Campbell her own TAG reader along with kid sized headphones for each of them.  Before we left, we practiced using the headphones and showing Campbell how to do her TAG reader “gently.”

So on Monday night, we left to go to Falls Church to spend the night at a friend’s house right after Addisan’s ballet class.  We hit NO traffic and made it up there in about two hours with a Starbucks run!  The girls love having sleepovers away from home.  Norma was very kind and gave up her king size bed for the three of us to sleep in.  Campbell and I fell asleep around 11:30 and when I woke up to turn over, I realized Addisan was still awake at 12:30!  Below is a picture of the girls hanging out before leaving for the airport.

We got to National Airport with plenty of time to board our flight.  To my surprise, we even had more time than expected because there was a delay.  We hung out at the terminal and watched the planes take off.  They also got to open one of their gifts early.

The plane ride went pretty smoothly.  The kids did great on take off.  We flew Jet Blue and they rocked…extra room between the seats, TVs behind all the seats, they had FREE COKE (not Pepsi) and snacks, and great prices on tickets!   

When we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale, it was past their nap time.  The girls slept for the short ride to Del Ray Beach where we are staying and that was it.  They were in a good mood all day even with little sleep.  
That made this mama smile!