Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Favorites: Beach Photos Edition!

HAPPY FRIDAY TO ALL! WHEW! We made it y'all. We've had ourselves a super busy week (by choice, yes), and we are extra excited for Daddy to be off for the weekend!

As usual, I'm linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals for Friday Favorites! You MUST stop by her blog, if anything to SWOON over her craft closet. I want to go NOW and by the door organizer! Just go look now!

Anyway, on Monday, I recapped our fabulous Beach Vacation...(you can catch up here!) We made some super fun memories in the pool, the condo, the CRAZY RIVER, the souvenir shops, the sand, and yes, even the Dollar General. But I was SUPER happy to capture some "official photos" of our whole fam all gussied up and together.

I'm pretty sure that we have ONE picture of the 8 of us and that was done with a self timer by the Christmas tree that didn't end so well.  So when we started planning a beach trip I immediately knew I wanted to do a family photo shoot.  I messaged my MIL and SIL, and low and behold, they were thinking the same thing.  My SIL is friends with a fabulous photographer, Michelle Taulbee, so without talking to our hubbies, we went ahead and booked it, and started planning our outfits. ; ) (Forgiveness is easier than permission sometimes, yes?)

I don't know about your hubby....but mine is usually a FANTASTIC sport about ALL THE THINGS...except taking pictures. Our last photo shoot was around 'Lil G's first birthday; he had just gotten his legs under him, so he was moving fast as lightning AND it was 120 degrees in October. We were so "smitten" with each other (and not in the cute way) by the time the shoot rolled around that I pretty much told Jeremie and Greyson that we were gonna smile and be happy and have a good time doing it, whether they liked it or not. (Sound about right?)

But from what I gather, no man loves taking pictures.  So we saved our little nugget of information. and told our men few days before the trip.  And pretty much threatened their lives if we heard any complaining. And they obeyed the rules.

In fact, I would beg to say that they actually enjoyed it. We were all relaxed from hanging out on the beach for a few days and the backdrop of Perdido Pass was absolutely gorgeous. The boys loved running around in the sand, and Michelle Taulbee Photography made us feel so relaxed and like ourselves! We did a few actual "poses", to make sure everyone was looking, but other than that, we really just walked along the beach while the camera was snapping away! These are my favorite family pictures of us to date! Here's a little sample!

My dear, dear Brother-in-law just couldn't resist a good photo bomb. If you look closely, you'll see his fake "Bubba teeth".  Fortunately, he quickly took them out so this will not be adorning my inlaws hallway on a photo canvas. 

This is my FAVORITE photo of Jeremie and I since our wedding. LOVE IT!

Aren't these two presh?! 

Look at those tough boys!

My SIL needs this on a canvas. Look at those two looking at each other....

Favorite picture of me and my boy!

And this is probably my favorite ever of my TWO boys! 
Aren't these all just darling?! I was SO EXCITED to have some fresh new pictures of our family! Michelle and her hubby, Trey, shoot everything from engagements, to weddings to family portraits, and even do Films, which are amazing! (Go check them out on the website!) They've been named one of Mobile's top 20 Wedding Photographers and featured in magazines and websites like The Knot! If you are headed to any part of the Emerald Coast, you should totally check them out! (Or I'm sure you could convince them come to the Big D!

In other randomness, IT'S HOT PEOPLE. It's officially turned that corner in Texas where a "breeze" just feels like a hot hairdryer blowing in your face.  It's not pleasant, it's not "sexy summer heat", it's just plain melt-your-makeup-fog-up-your-sunglasses miserable. Here's you some TRUTH.

I sorta needed a break from the whole swim diaper situation and holding down my toddler like a WFF wrestler to apply sunscreen, so we essentially have been hitting up every mall in the DFW area this week.  We've had a great time, so I'll update you all about our indoor fun on next weeks Summer 'O Fun post! 

Hope y'all have a great weekend and HAPPY FRIDAY FOLKS! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Summer 'O Fun Weeks 5, 6, and 7-ISH

Well hi there and Happy Hump Day! I feel super behind on our Summer 'O Fun posts because vacation prep, actual vacation, and the return, about whipped us. It takes me a little bit to recover and redeem our home and regular schedule.  

So let me BAAAAACK up and catch up. 

I had big dreams for Week 5, but essentially all we did was shop and pack for vacation.  As I mentioned in my last post, once I started trying to pack, I realized we ALL needed ALL the things. Shorts, swimsuits, shoes, underwear, everything.  My little buddy was a TROOPER and literally ran errands with me the entire week.  This is seriously the only picture I have of that week.  
Bless it. He was such a good sport and really only begged for this Iguana, which he said was going to be his "beach buddy".  He also remembered this toy jigsaw ALL WEEK LONG (he had spotted it in Target that Monday), and I finally took him back to buy it with his "chore money". And yes, the noisy jigsaw came on the plane with us too.  Sorry, fellow passengers.) 
Week 6 was spent in the glory of the sunshine and sand in Orange Beach with Jeremie's family, and then Destin with my friends for a couple of days. You can read all about our fabulous Beach Vacation here

So imagine my disappointment when one day, my toes are in the white sands of the Emerald Coast, and the next, they're in a toddler sandbox in the Texas heat. #backtolife #backtoreality

I will say as much fun as we had, we are always happy to be home and back to our regularly scheduled programming.  We've still got a lot of checkmarks to put on the Summer 'O Fun bucket list, so we threw our laundry in the wash and got right to it!  

Our first stop in Week 7 was the Dallas Famous Northpark Mall. I know, if you're local, you are thinking it's BLASPHEMY that I've never been to Northpark, but I haven't. It is a pretty decent little drive and we have great shopping in Plano...but WOW. This mall is lovely and fun and has some really great stores.  I will say most of them are a little out of my league (every picture I snapped of G had stores like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's, or Cartier in the background), but regardless, it is just a beautiful mall to even walk around in.  (I had several people tell me about the little playhouses on display, and there were several, but FYI-they don't let you play in them anymore; they are just for looking) : ( 

A great feature is that Northpark has a library INSIDE the mall, and they do all types of activities, like story time, in the atrium.  (Check out all their activities here!)

Me and my neighbor Lindsey took the kids and they had a great time! 

This exhibit was G's favorite. The men actually move their axes up and down, and Greyson's STILL doing it! 
The kids LOVED the famous turtle and duck pond! This is a small feature, but super cute and you know kids get the biggest kick out of stuff like this! 

Greyson was also OBSESSED with sliiiiiiding down this curved wall, which I could tell was QUITE the popular pastime for all the kids! 

We had lunch in the foodcourt and on the way out, I swung into Nordstrom to see what all the fuss is about this "Blardigan" (blanket + cardigan) that one of my favorite bloggers, Sheaffer, raves about. 

Let's just say it was worth ALL THE RAVING and I immediately pulled out the birthday cash and purchased it. And even though it's 175 degrees outside, my house always feels like a meat locker, so I'm already wearing it.  

Greyson had a BIG TIME in the BIG dressing room with the adjustable mirrors.  In more shocking news, I've also never been in Nordstrom but I was SUPER impressed with their dressing rooms and friendly Sales Staff.  They swooned over me and Greyson and even gave him a balloon. I REALLY appreciate a friendly Sales Staff at any store.  Some places make you feel like a big inconvenience/annoyance when you're shopping with your toddler. But hey, sometimes Mama's gotta shop. Looks like some more Nordstrom trips will be in our future.  

On Friday, we were scheduled for a playdate with our Square One friends.  We all couldn't decide on a place (we vetoed any outdoor activity), so at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, I committed to everyone coming over the next morning for a Banana Split Party. Why I can't be normal and MUST slap a theme on EVERYTHING, I do not know. It's the burden I must carry. Luckily, my floor had been sweep in the last 48 hours and I actually had a lot of random goodies that made a pretty decent Banana Split bar. 

Mamas, THIS IS WHY I have an entire cabinet full of seasonal paper products. After seeing what a cute theme this was, I realized, with more time, you could do A LOT with this! The toppings are endless!  This is really the perfect Summer 'O Fun party theme!

Since we were scrimpin' though, I ended up with Neapolitan Ice Cream, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, MM's, Butterfingers, pecans, fudge syrup, and of course, cherries on top! 

I'm pretty sure Greyson is the only one who ate a full out Banana Split with all the toppings, but HEY, SOMEBODY WAS. Plus, I got the leftovers. ; ). 

It was great having all the little ones over to ransack the house play. I love having a full home with lots of chatter and laughter! This group started out when all the babes were newborns; we'd all bring them in their carseat carriers and just set them on the floor! Now, they're like a pack of wild bobcats, and most of the mamas have had #2! 

So that's our past 3 weeks!  The clock is ticking away at the Summer 'O Fun; only 4 weeks until "school" starts back! These last few weeks will probably seem the LONGEST and the HOTTEST, but we're still enjoying checking things off our list! 

Hope you're Summertime livin' is easy and you're having a great one! 'Till next weeks, folks!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Somewhere On a Beach...2017 Vacation Recap!

Okay! The laundry is caught up, fridge is restocked, and I’m finally able to sit down and sift through the 1,700 pictures I took during our beach trip! Most of them probably look the same, but I just thought my little cherub looked cuter every day in all of his darlin' tiny swim trunks! (That's your warning: be prepared for an absurd amount to photos!)

This was our first "BIG" family vacation, so it took us an entire week to shop and pack for all the things we needed.  I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a super nervous packer. I don’t know why I get so uptight, but I do it EVERY.TIME. It’s become a family joke. (Except nobody laughs.) I plan in outfits, I make lists, and I get super nervous that I’m gonna leave something important, as if we are traveling to a 3rd world country.  To combat this, I start listing OUT LOUD the things that I’ve packed.  Something about saying it out loud reminds me of things I’ve forgotten. I demand Jeremie to listen, but I’m pretty sure he’s totally tuned me out by that point. By the time we leave, I’m a ball of anxious energy and I spend an obnoxious amount of time checking locks, windows, AC, and making sure my straightener is unplugged. Obnoxious.

And with Jeremie’s product launch happening the same week, we really had all lost our minds.  We literally high-fived each other when we finally boarded the plane and wheels were up!

We flew into Mobile and we were ALL super happy to see Nona and Papa. Seems like The Lord usually ordains a visit 'bout the time we're going off the deep end. (Nona always tells me to "Tie a knot and hang on tight."

We started what would be the “SHORT” drive to Orange Beach, but funny thing, THE ENTIRE US of A was also headed to the beach.  So we rustled through the traffic and were so happy to make it to our lovely condo! The views were amazing! We were ready to get our toes in the sand, we took G down to introduce him to the beach! 

He was super into the sand, not so much the waves. (That all changed by the end of the week!)

We clearly do not have family selfies down yet.
We spotted Nona and Papa on the 17th floor!
It's like wrangling a bobcat.

Mr. Wells and I wasted NO TIME having a free babysitter, so we powdered our nose, got all gussied up, and headed to our favorite restaurant, The Louisiana Langiappe. We literally had an entire room to ourselves overlooking the docks; it was like our own private little date. We took some big sighs of relief and toasted to the fact that "The Launch" had actually happened! (I swear, one day, I’ll blog about this roller coaster!)


And then….we continued our romantic evening….at The Wal-Mart.  I packed for A WEEK and found myself at the Wal-Mart within 4 hours of arrival. I have no idea what we bought, but apparently going to the Orange Beach Wal-Mart is like a Rite of Passage because the entire US of A was there too.

Honestly, we had the best time in the Wal-Mart..just being together was really a treat!
My sister and brother-in-law showed up the next day with my most precious, nephew, Judah, whom Greyson IDOLIZES! We gave Nona a mini-birthday party, and then commenced an entire week in the sun….

PSA: Jeremie and I found the most delicious strawberry and blueberry cake at Publix. (Yes, somehow we managed to find ourselves at Publix too, bless it.) What started off as a quest for ground meat turned into birthday cake, floats  sunhats, and powdered donuts. But really, no vacation is complete without powdered donuts. And Cheese Puffs. 
Anyway, I won’t try to put it in chronological order, because essentially, we went back and forth from slide, to CRAZY LAZY River, to pool, to sand and beach; so all the days kinda fun together. It was fantastic!

This picture was taken in the early AM hours because, believe me...the LAZY RIVER became the CRAZY RIVER 'bout lunch time when all the college kids woke up. 

Greyson LOVED playing in the sand!
A very gentle and supervised version of "Pre-K Chicken Fight".     
It's like someone PAYS HIM to not look.


Mr. Cool really enjoyed his beach loungin'...
The lovely Nona and her boys...
Beach walks became Greyson's favorite!

Yes-I do realize those are not legit swim goggles that Greyson has on. We brought him a tool belt/goggle toy set as a present during our trip and he was OBSESSED with the toy goggles. So he essentially wore them 24/7.

By the middle of the week, Greyson ADORED the waves! He loved running into them and away from them! He'd say: "Here comes a BIG ONE!" or "IT ALMOST GOT ME!" It was the most precious thing!

My sister-in-law, Lauren "La-La" is the best. G kinda likes to mess with her though ; ) 
I know this looks like the most heartwarming moment, but he was really just trying to talk me into something....
When we weren't in the sun, we could be found in the condo laughing over Everybody Loves Raymond, shooting Nerf guns, playing "Shop", hanging out on the balcony, or reading "Fred Visits the Emerald Coast" for the 53rd time.

Sadly, my 5 year old nephew has better aim with the Nerf gun than I do, so I had to take cover behind the chair many times. 


"Movie night" was also a big hit. Which was really our way of bribing the kids to be still with popcorn and Cars. It's amazing what a theme will do for you, people.

(Fred Visits the Emerald Coast is a book I heard about that's written by a local Texas girl! We happened to find it a a souvenir shop and it was certainly a crowd favorite. If you're planning on going to the beach, you should totally order it here!)   
 Crab hunting was the popular night activity....I only joined once, but had the pleasure of seeing the crabs every day since Judah insisted we keep them in a Tupperware bowl on the table outside.


The moon REALLY showed off the entire week we were there….it was absolutely gorgeous!

Greyson asked: "Hey there moon, what you doin' up in the sky?"....#allthehearts

Jeremie and I sat on the beach after putting Greyson down one night and the full moon started rising and what do ya know, fireworks literally started going off down the beach! I was like, Well isn't this just the most romantic date ever?!  If a private concert would have started I would've sworn they were filming an episode of The Bachelor.
We had some fun outings, too! Of course we HAD to have dinner at our family favorite, The Original Oyster House. The fish was good, but me and Greyson were pretty much there for the peanut butter pie.

I love hanging out around the little boardwalk area while you wait!


And the peanut butter pie is WORTH THE WAIT.                  
Another night, we took family photos on the beach, courtesy of the fabulous Michelle Taulbee Photography.  I'll share those incredible pics in another blogpost, but we had the best time at our shoot on Perdido Pass.

Afterwards, we went to THE MOST CHARMING outdoor restaurant venue, called The Gulf. It literally looked like something out of a movie.  It was darling. There was a ton of rustic style picnic tables, posh couches/lounge areas, and a huge sandy areas for the kids to play in. Pretty much a parent's dream dining experience! If you are in the Orange Beach/Perdido Area, you MUST check this place out! 

This is actually a hanging lantern behind G, but I snapped this pic and oh my stars, doesn't he look like Merlin?!  I thought it was hilarious.
On a rainy day, we had to hit up the Souvenir shops...and this is what Greyson insisted on wearing for a picture. 
When we realized this scuba mask was $170 we told him to BE STILL and took it away very gently. 
And of course one day we had to hit up the Outlet Mall in Foley. Greyson cashed in on the ice cream we promised during the photo shoot.


On this particular night, the kiddos were a little tuckered out.  And let's be real, so were the parents. G had just knocked off his plastic toilet ring into the public potty (which I of course had to fish out and clean) so I was over it. I felt no guilt for pulling the smartphone trick in the restaurant. #dontjudge #thanksnickjr
Our last night, everyone was packing, so Jeremie and I decided to squeeze in ONE more date night while we had the chance! (We were also gobbling up all the fresh fish while we could get our hands on!) So we headed to Wolf Bay Lodge and had the best dinner right near the marina.  We had QUITE the entertainment because a teenage kid helped himself to the very expensive fishing poles that were resting next to the very expensive fishing boats. We could tell he didn't really know what he was doing, but went fishing as he had probably seen on TV, and gosh darn if he didn't catch himself a fish.  He was THRILLED with himself...holding up the fish for his family that dining next to us and even taking a selfie with his "big catch".  (It was small catfish.) THEN I think I dawned on him..."I gotta get this thing off the hook"...and it was QUITE clear he had NO IDEA how to do that. He started digging around in all the seaman's ice chest and such. (I guess he did have the sense to look for some pliers.) In the end, he finally got the fishy off and that was the end of his fishing career. We were SO TICKLED watching the whole thing play out.  

Afterwards, we took a walk around the docks.  I absolutely LOVED all the time I got with my man on this trip! 
Another one of my favorite parts of the trip was the morning time on the balcony. Don't get me wrong, I slept LAAAATE a couple mornings, but vacation is usually the time when I totally fall off the wagon with my quiet time.  So before our trip, I literally prayed that God would give me the motivation to get me UP in the morning to enjoy some time with Him. He answered that prayer, and I'll admit, it was more than worth it. 

All the colors and the light and the way that I could see it pouring rain in one area, but beautiful in another just reminded me of God's sovereignty and glory. 

On the last day, what do I look up and see?....but a double rainbow. It was incredible and breathtaking. I actually woke Jeremie up so he could enjoy it too. And he was happy I did. After everything that's transpired in the last 21 months with work, and life in general, it was truly a blessing to see together. 
Okay! So that was PART ONE of my Beach Vacay! PART TWO commenced after I shipped my big guy back to Dallas and my little guy back to Mississippi with my in-laws. (They took him to to be with my parents for a couple days.) Meanwhile, had plans to meet some of my Tallahassee friends in Destin.

I stayed at the condo after everyone left to finish packing and shower.  After an entire week with 7 other people, the SILENCE that ensued was actually deafening, if that makes sense.  I had NO IDEA what to do with my hands! HAHAHAHA!

But I got ready and started my little drive down the Emerald Coast, which was GLORIOUS.

I have about one-tenth of the pictures from my Destin days because I couldn't stop talking and laughing enough to pic up my phone to take a picture.

These gals are some of the best friends I've ever had.  Yet, because we live 20 hours apart and have had 6 babies in 5 years, we just haven't made it around to a visit yet.  We had the best time catching up on ALL THE THINGS. We covered EVERYTHING from beauty products, to labor experiences,  motherhood woes, our faith walks, to our very favorite fast food restaurants. (I have no idea how or why this topic came up.) These girls are just good for my soul.

Destin was absolutely gorgeous.  

I've done some overnights without G before, but this was my first "girls only" vacation. And I think I've underestimated the power of a girls trip. It was so relaxing and we're already planning next year's! (But we did miss our babies, so we agreed, the boys could just join with the kids after couple days.) 

I drove back to Mississippi, collected my little cherub, and we flew back to Texas the next morning! 

We had SUCH a blast, but as always, it's good to be back home. I'm always SO ready for a break from the routine when we leave for vacation, yet always appreciate routine once we get back. 

This vacation was much needed and we had the best time making special summertime memories!