Monday, August 31, 2015

Fall Buttondowns

Happy Monday! This begins my first week with 2 kids in school full time all week. I'm sure it will be quiet around here. 

After nursing three kids I've found that my absolute favorite top to wear while nursing is a button-down shirt. Most tops work well for nursing, but I love a good button down for the easy of access and the tummy coverage while nursing (the last thing I want to possibly expose after having a baby is my stomach). KC doesn't nurse most days anymore (just all.night.long), but I still love a buttondown. They are truly the most versatile shirt, rolled sleeves in the heat, long sleeves with a cardigan in the cold, and throw a scarf on while nursing and who needs a cover? Not you! Here a few of my current favorites, for nursing and non-nursing moms alike:

Fall Buttondowns

What's your go to favorite shirt? I'm always looking to expand my wardrobe!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Five On Friday // This Week

Hello Friday!! It was our first full week back to school for N and T's first days of kindergarten! Big changes around here. Sharing a five things that happened this week:

1. The boys started school this week. N went all week and T went Tuesday and will go again today. Kindergarten is a rolling start here with a fourth of the class going each of the first four days and everyone in attendance on the fifth. We have his open house before school this morning!

Chris was home for breakfast and drop offs Monday and Tuesday as well as for dinner EVERY night this week. It has been amazing. I'm used to doing breakfast through bedtime on my own but I like to think of this as part of our new year/new attitude. He was even able to take both boys to their baseball practices this week so KC could have her normal bedtime routine!

2. KC is all about accessories now. She found mardi gras beads in the boys room and has claimed them. She puts them on every morning. She's also a fan of my Lilly bangles and is obsessed with shoes. One day she screamed at me because I couldn't put her navy sandals on top of her white ones. She seems to want a bow in her hair, but within five minutes she rips it out.

3.We ventured back up to Asheville Saturday night. Our nephew was in a soccer tournament. We saw one game Sunday morning before having lunch with family and heading back home to get ready for back to school! It was a super short trip. My dad stayed at our house to care for our elderly dog and made us a huge dinner for when we returned. My parents always spoil us. 
Our room at 10:30pm  

4. I tried out this skinny oatmeal cookie smoothie this week and it was a huge hit! Smoothies are usually a hit around here, but this one lacks berries and adds oatmeal so I wasn't sure how it would be received. N had one for breakfast and asked for it in his lunch too. (Ignore the paint splattered table please - it's getting a makeover next month)

5.It's consignment season!!! I'm so excited. Today is one of my favorites. I'm consigning and shopping. I haven't purchased anything in months so hear's hoping there are some great finds! 

I hope your weekend is wonderful! Linking up with the Five on Friday ladies.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Here's to the New Year

I know the New Year is technically January 1st, but I've always felt the beginning of the school year is more appropriate for the New Year label. As a student I couldn't wait to embark on another year always bursting with possibilities. I'd study harder than ever, make amazing memories with friends, and maybe even be popular. Even if everything didn't eventually work out, there would be another school year, when everything was new again. New teachers, new class, new clothes (just kidding), a constant reinvention. 
My kindergarten school picture

I eventually became a teacher (after a slight stint working through summer - I still don't understand how people do that - in long sleeves and pants no less). The promises of a new year were even more exciting as a teacher. The new faces I'd meet and grow to love, the creative lessons I was going to develop, the joy I'd experience as they grew to love learning. Of course by Christmas I'd forgotten all of this and was ready for a break, but the promise of the new year and the feelings that come with it still stick with me.
My first day as a teacher!

Both boys are heading to school this year. I am so excited for them. I have my worries, my doubts, and of course my breaking heart as they are growing up, but I can feel it in the air. The promise of something new, a year full of possibilities, and friends, and adventure.
N's Meet the Teacher night

I always itch to return to teaching this time of year. My very first class graduated in June (graduated!). I've kept in touch with a few of my students and one invited me to her graduation party. She's heading off to college to become a teacher and I cannot be more excited for her. As these years pass I hope she feels that excitement of the new year just like I did.
Remember that cute little girl in the photo above - same girl just 10 years later!

Things will be changing in our family too. The boys will spend most of their day away, leaving me and KC to entertain each other. I will no longer have the preschool drop off that forces me into social situations (I'm such an introvert sometimes). And Chris is embarking on a slight career change. I've mentioned before what a terrible summer this has been, I'm looking forward to this new year starting. I need the promise of wonderful possibilities as well as the resolution to try harder, a fresh start even in the middle of the actual year. So cheers to 2015/2016!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Leaving the Comfort Zone Behind

A couple months ago we planned a trip to the mountains. A bit of a retreat for our family before both our boys head off to school. I was a little ashamed of myself when last spring N mentioned he had never been to the mountains. I grew up camping and hiking with my family and friends. It was second nature to me fifteen years ago. 

Heading back to Asheville seemed like a natural choice. We kind of knew the area, knew a great B&B, and there is plenty to do in and around the city. 
I did a lot of planning before we left. Timing drives, working out times, checking out different waterfall hikes, looking for the vegetarian options at different restaurants and had a plan, a back up plan, and a scratch everything and do something else plan written down. Traveling with an 8 year old, 5 year old, and a 1 year old had its challenges of making sure one wasn't too exhausted while to others were entertained.

We left early Sunday morning and drove up to the city. Once there we walked to our favorite vegan restaurant and then back to our B&B. It took about 3 hours but it was fun to see the kids soak in the city (even if we may have passed out from the hills). We have passes to the Nature Center that expire this month so we headed there after lunch. I wasn't sure how excited they boys would be because we have a few nature centers we visit, but they LOVED it. 
 There were sheep to pet and one in the shed that T said, "He looks like Ramses."

 KC laughed and laughed at this puppet show from N! Full on belly giggles.

 Rocks are her favorite thing next to balls. There was a nature music play center. These rocks get dropped down holes and make sweet pings as they fall down. KC was a happy camper here.

T kept telling us he didn't want to see the Nyobi. What's a Nyobi you ask? It's his version of a coyote. Don't worry, we didn't see one.

After our visit, we picked up dinner to take back and enjoy during our hotel's happy hour before putting a very tired KC to bed. Once she was snoozin', the boys and I snuck out for ice cream before their bedtime.

KC took a sleepless night to the extreme when she woke up at 1am and refused to be quiet or fall back asleep. Chris ended up taking her on a walking tour of Asheville for the 2-3am hour, then a drive of the city from the 3am-4am hour. She fell asleep so he parked and slept in the car. We had the most comfortable king size bed ever, so I felt pretty guilty (when I woke up).

We woke up ready to tackle the day. My one goal for this trip was for us to hike in the mountains. I found a park relatively close with four waterfalls. I even confirmed with a local it'd be a great spot. We headed to the Dupont Forest with snacks, a change of clothes, and the hope of a great adventure.
 T surprised us all by running most of the way. This is the same kid who thinks walking to the bus stop is too far.

Walking to the first waterfall was an easy "hike." It's all downhill and wide gravel path. My favorite part was passing our first little lot of rocks in the river which made the water speed through and T asked, "Oh is this the water fountain." I thought, oh T your mind is about to be blown. And it's called a waterfall.
 We made it and I was 'that person' who asked a fellow visitor to document our first adventure.

Everyone loved the water. I wished I had thought to bring swimsuits. Luckily I did pack extra clothes. Once we were done playing, there were quick changes behind trees and we were off to see the other falls. 

 This trek was steep but the river was beautiful. I knew one of the forests I'd searched was the spot where The Hunger Games was filmed and once I saw these rocks I knew it had to be this forest (and later confirmed it). I won't deny my obsession with the books (not a huge fan of the first movie, but seeing where parts of it were filmed was still impressive).

I did wear my arrow necklace on the journey too 
(but honestly I pretty much wear it daily because I'm too lazy to take it off).

T and N would have probably run the entire trail. Chris had KC in the ergo and was losing steam. We stopped at a rock for water and snacks. N ran ahead about ten yards and said there was a beautiful view. Once our snacking was over, we headed up refreshed. He was right. Ten yards further was a gorgeous view (and a perfect bench to stop for snacks). KC was over just about everything at this point so we took a picture and headed back down.

T took this, after begging to take one and promising it would be a good one.

We headed back to the hotel for showers and relaxing. KC fell asleep in the car on the way back so I sat in the car with her while she slept (we even had the boys creep out the front seat so the side doors wouldn't slide open - cranky tired babies are no fun). While in the car I did a quick search for the scenes from The Hunger Games filmed at the forest and realized there are a lot of people more obsessed than me. Images of reenactments appeared and some things you can't unsee. I did also find this great four day tour of filming sites and actor favorites (our favorite vegan spot was a spot of the actors too)! I also found this site on some Asheville area spots (I was in the car for a good 2 hours with a sleeping babe).

Tulepo Honey was a huge restaurant attraction a couple years ago and has since opened a restaurant near us. We'd never been and decided to try the original. It's a farm to table restaurant, but honestly pretty much every spot in Asheville is. I wasn't sure it would live up to the hype, but oh my goodness it was amazing. Amazing.

We followed this goodness up with ice cream. 
Ice cream every day on vacay is our motto.

Sleeping was slightly better. I was up quite a bit but KC was at least quiet. We headed down to hang out with the sunrise a little before six.

I let the boys choose our last day activities. They overwhelmingly wanted to see Biltmore (the 6000 room house according to T). We headed off to visit the grounds and the house before our journey home.
T named these the "Death Star Tulips" our first day and I think I will always call them that from now on. Such a funny kid!

We started at the farm and playground. There were three day old chicks. The farm provides food for the restaurants at the Estate.

I had a great plan to walk along the river to the lagoon where there is a great reflection of the back of the house. Only a good fifteen minutes in we were soaked with sweat and it was apparent we weren't going to make it far. We took in the river view and headed to house. 

They don't allow photography in the house but we snagged a few photos outside and in the gardens.  N loved the house. In fact, T and Chris went for ice cream after a garden walk while N and I headed in to see more (and KC too).

It was so uncomfortably hot but we persevered. We ate ice cream, drank water, and ended our day with a picture on the front lawn and a walk to the car.  

Heading home wasn't easy.  It was the best respite from the world for these few days. A day when nothing existed except our family and all our time was devoted to each other. There were frustrations and tears, but there was always a sense of teamwork and love.  

Chris and I have a funny list running of things we have yet to do that most people our age have done. Some items have been buy a car (which we did two years ago), buy a computer (bought one three years ago), buy a tv (still haven't, we've been lucky with handmedowns), and vacation on our own (check check). We've either gone with family or with Chris' work and now I feel like we've proven that not only can we vacation as a family, we can step out of our comfort zone and try new things and, well, conquer the mountain.

If you made it this far, you're amazing. Thanks for reading along. I'm sure it's obvious how much this trip meant to me and I loved putting the memories into words.