Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Family Summer Travels 2013

July and August were a bit busy for us this year. Be prepared for lots of pictures!

Ellie and I traveled back to Nashville, family came to Knoxville, and we travelled to Charleston, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach!

In between time spent in the car, I have been getting things together for Quinn Collins' arrival - getting Ellie's Big Sister gifts together, picking out the girl's first sister-outfits with the awesome help of RosieCheeksCreations. And nesting. Aka, turning the house inside out and upside down... and driving my husband bonkers. We also decided (as in, I insisted, and jared obliged) to swap master bedroom and nursery, complete with a closet overhaul... the week before we left for our beach trip.

The bedroom swap was nearly disastrous. Thankfully, I hired a handy man for the closet organization installs, and the bed and crib disassemble and install. Jared and Ellie came down with a vomiting and diarrhea bug about 2 hours into the swap out. So I was left doing it myself. I might still be bitter. I love the way it turned out. Once I finish the gallery wall in the girls room, I will post pictures.

Here is a lot of photo-documentation of our visits and trips this summer.

Ellie Faith and I headed back to middle TN for several days just to visit my family and grandparents. We had a great time! Most of our visits are over a weekend, and crazy busy. This time, we went during the week, and just had some laid back visiting time. My parents got my sister and I tickets to the Grand Ol' Opry to see the Band Perry! It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to! They are incredible live!! Gracie and I also got in some shopping at the new Opry Mills' H&M. Well, I did some shopping... not sure maternity shopping was exactly what the 17 year old had in mind for a good time. :) Saturday, we went to the Franklin Farmer's Market with my sister, mom, and sister-in-law, Jenny. If you ever find yourself in the greater Nashville area, you really need to check this farmers market out - amazing. And be sure to get Ellie's Doughnuts - out of this world good!

We were also blessed enough to have some of my family come through Knoxville to visit. Its always so nice to see family without having to pack up the house and travel!:)
visits with Aunt Gracie, Uncle Vinny, and Uncle Christopher

At the end of July, we rented a suburban,  kidnapped Jared's sister Brenna for babysitting purposes, and  left bright and early on a Thursday morning to head up to Charleston, SC. One of our former college girls was getting married, and Jared and Ellie were both in the wedding party. We have gotten really close to this couple over the past 4 years, and seen them grow so much together an individuals and as a couple. We have been looking forward to this trip and wedding for a long time!

We made great time traveling! Ellie is an exceptional traveler. She loved having her Aunt B in the back seat with her.

As soon as we checked into the hotel, we changed clothes and headed to the coast to see a light house. Unfortunately, the sky opened up as soon as we got there, and we got soaked. Ellie loved the ocean cove and kicked and splashed like a crazy person. She was devastated when we made the decision to leave based on lightening, as you can see in the picture below.:) Nothing some snuggles with daddy couldn't fix though.

dinner the first night (apparently sunglasses were required)  and visiting the Battery

Brenna's best friend and college roommate, Jessica, lives a few hours away from Charleston, so she joined us for the weekend as well. It was great getting to see her again, and Ellie loved having so many people at her beck and call. We could not have enjoyed this trip as much as we did without the incredible help of these ladies! 

Ellie loved getting to hang with the "big girls!"

Friday, Jared got to play golf with the groom and his friends, so we ladies got to explore down town Charleston. Somehow, while on King's Street, we got confused, headed the wrong the direction, and got hopelessly lost. In the high-noon heat. In Charleston. With a toddler and no stroller (one of Ellie's parents forgot to pack it, and lets just say it wasn't me.) Over 5 miles on foot later, we remembered we all had GPS's on our phones, and finally found our way back to the Straw Market, for some way over due lunch and fluids. Ellie was such a trooper and did a great job walking, and being carried between the three of us.

And yes, the middle picture below is how my daughter decided to take on King Street. She has her own sense of style to say the least. She has a bead and shoe fetish these days. She is all about "pee pee" (pretty) shoes. Needless to say she thought she had died and gone to heaven when we went into a Steven Madden shop. 

ooooohhhh, Mommy - pee-pee shu-shus!!!

After such a big, long day in the sun, the little girlfriend was exhausted! Slept on me most of the way back to our car, on the ride back to the hotel, and for about another two hours at the hotel.

We left Ellie with the girls for the evening while we went to the rehearsal dinner, which was held at the Old Village Post Inn. Part of the Notebook was filmed in that area/location. 

Me and the Bride to Be
It was such a quaint, gorgeous location, and the food was fabulous! The bride and groom did a fabulous job thanking everyone there, and Jared and I might have both teared up more then a little. It was a wonderful night celebrating and fabulous young couple.

We had several hours to kill before the evening wedding on Saturday, so we headed out to the Ravenel Bridge and nearby park. 

The goal was to get Ellie good and exhausted so she would take a great nap to be well rested for the evening festivities. Mission accomplished!

We also went to see the USS Yorktown. Its been a life long dream of mine (for some odd reason) to land on and take off of an aircraft carrier. We were rapidly approaching nap time, so we didn't get to go on the tour, but we did get to take lots of cool pictures near it.:)

yes, my child chooses her own accessories, and thinks sunglasses are coolest when worn in doors.

Again, thanks to our awesome babysitters, we were able to get ready for the ceremony and get to the venue early, while the flower girl got in an extra long nap. Brenna and Jessica brought her to the venue about 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony to get dressed and practice walking down the aisle. We had been practicing at church for weeks, and she had done great! We decided to bribe her with some chocolate chips in case she got nervous walking in front of people.

Practice went great! We even got to spend a little bit of time with the bride beforehand. And can we all just agree that she is one of the most gorgeous, timeless brides of all time!?!?

Unfortunately, Ellie only made it about a 1/3 of the way down the aisle before the aws and giggles from the crowd started to get to her. Before a possible melt down occurred, i scooped her up and we walked the rest of the way together. The rest of the ceremony went perfectly, and the reception could not have been more fun!

The music moves Ellie to say the least. She has really started to dance and boogie and try to sing along to certain songs. She has several songs she would listen to on repeat ALL DAY LONG. She has her own playlist on iTunes comprised of Disney Tunes, christian songs, and pop songs from Kid Bopz, for editing purposes. (Note: do not download the Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow and add to your child's playlist without listening to it first... it provides a whole new level of vocabulary!)

I really thought the loud music and flashing lights, combined with lots of people she didn't know would intimidate her. However, as soon as the music and dancing started she grabbed my hand and went straight for the dance floor. She even tried to follow along with choreography of the cupid shuffle. Of course, as soon as we would try to record her, she wouldn't perform as well, but below are two videos to give you a little taste of her dance moves.:)

Needless to say, she was quite a hit. Even the bartender commented on it, saying he had never seen a kid her age just run out there in the middle of everyone and join in on the dancing.

Jared with the Bride and Groom

Poor Ellie woke up with a fever the next day, and was pretty pitiful for the next five days back home. Thankfully though, she slept great on the trip back, and with the help of a little Doc McStuffins on daddy's iPad, the drive home was pretty effortless.

Two weeks later we hit the road again. This time for Hilton Head for yet another wedding for someone we met during our earliest days at the CSF.

We left Thursday evening, around 5 pm and originally just planned on finding a hotel somewhere along the way to stop and get some sleep. Instead, we ended up driving straight through, and arrived at our destination by 1:30 am.

Again, Ellie travelled great. She colored, watched a few Doc episodes, and fell asleep around 9:30 and didn't wake up until we arrived at the hotel. Unfortunately, she then thought it was time to party! We didn't end up getting her back to sleep until after 3 am, and she woke up screaming at 8 am. ugh

Fortunately, the hotel resort where we stayed was right on the beach, and had several pools and tons of places to play and explore. We were able to get her worn out enough for a good nap before the wedding that evening.

Sadly, the weather did not cooperate with a beach side wedding, so the event had to be moved indoors last minute, but was still a wonderful affair.

if you could have too many ruffles, this might be it:)
Wedding receptions with sit down dinners, are just not a toddler's idea of fun apparently. Especially when your sleeping schedule has been all over the place. We didn't last until the dancing started, sadly. But overall it was still a great time.

The next day we set out for Myrtle Beach for our yearly vacation with Jared's family. Traffic was horrific about an hour outside of Myrtle Beach! I seriously hate hate hate all the roads leading to MB.

Our condo was great this year! In a much smaller complex then where we have stayed in years past, so the beach was much more open. Even better - we didn't have to share a room with Ellie! We all sleep soooo much better this way!

Overall, Ellie loved the beach. We had some serious toddler attitude rear its ugly head while there. (posts on that coming up). However, if I am totally honest, I think my attitude was having some issues as well, still adjusting to the new meaning of vacation, as a mom (hello oxymoron if there ever was one). And ridiculously pregnant. I think she and I maybe both fed off each other's off attitudes a bit. But I learned, and am still processing, some great/important parenting lessons while there. I wrote about some of it here

Doing her favorite beach activity - "diggy". my kid could win a "squatting" competition - she would do this for hours.

I really wish my kid didn't have trouble expressing her feeling and emotions

We attempted a family photo session on the beach one evening. Unfortunately, half way to Hilton Head I realized I left my DSLR, remote, and tripod at home, so we had to make do with my basic point and click, and the iPhone. Sadly, the photo shoot did not turn at out well... there were tears from multiple parties... feel free to think one of those in the party was Jared. I won't mind. Again, a post is coming up on this experience.

Round trip, we were gone 10 days. 10 days is a long time, y'all! As sad as we were to leave the beach, and having to say good-bye to having Daddy around every day, it was really good to get back home.

The trip back was a breeze! We stopped once! I am not sure if it was a bigger feat for the toddler or the bladder of the pregnant passenger!:) My child might have watched an entire season of Doc Mcstuffins on the drive back, but I've heard car tv time doesn't count.:)

I guess since I couldn't nest while on vacation, it was alllll stored up, because once we got home I went into hurricane mode, and dragged Jared right along with me. 3 hours later - we were completely unpacked, laundry done, grocery shopping done, beach stuff stored away, etc...

Its been a crazy summer of traveling, but its provided lots of fun memory making moments, and tons of family time. Yes, it has had it challenges, but I think, for the most part, we are all better for it. Even though it wasn't as relaxing as the summers of the past, I must say relationally (amongst the adults) its been great. With all that time together, most people start to get on each other's nerves. But not this summer. We have had a great time with both our families, and looking back, I feel so incredibly blessed.

Lets just take a moment to soak in the beauty and peace in these pictures...

We are catapulting into fall schedules. Getting ready to add a new member to our family. Then the holidays will be upon us before we know it. Followed by Ellie's second birthday!  Life is getting ready to get cray-cray-crazy. I have a feeling its going to February before I know what hit me.

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