Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Trip

That is just how I will refer to it.  The Trip.  The time away for me.  The beach.  The sand.  The food.  It was amazing.  

Let’s start it off The Trip with the resort.  Jake’s at Treasure Beach is a beautiful, artsy, rustic beach resort.  The villas are unique and blench in with the ocean and the surroundings.  I feel in love with the tile artwork and the use of color.

Here is the entrance.  A simple gate with the conch shells stuffed with cement and painted coral.  The tile work was everywhere, from the steps, to the rooms, to the chef’s cooking area. 

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The amazing cooking station in the middle of the dining area!! 

The Food.  Jake’s has been written up in a number of travel and food magazines for being a pioneer for farm to table or in this case ocean to table dining.  The menus changed morning, noon and night and were displayed on big chalkboards.

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I was in love with the food.  The fruit was in season, the fish was delicious.  I ordered the Ackee and Saltfish for breakfast one morning which is a local fruit and fish that is sautéed together and served with plantains, carnival (there local bread that is fried) and avocados sliced up the size of cantaloupe!!  There was lobster for dinner and even lobster quesadillas for lunch.  You just walked out of your cottage and sat down in their beautiful dining area overlooking the sea and ordered away.

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My view from my table….salt water pool and ocean.  breath.

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The dining area at night, festive yet romantic too!

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Indoor eating if needed, we never sat indoors the weather was perfect the entire trip!!

The rooms.  The rooms varied from little cottages that I stayed to cool and funky beach houses that were equipped with amazing outdoor showers and tubs.  The top floor, just a sunning area to chill out with big seating all around.  One of the girls in our group stayed here, so I got the full tour and it was amazing!

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Here is Cali’s cottage from the front.  I only had my up close lens with me, so it was difficult to really capture pictures of the insides of our rooms.  My cottage was attached to the back of hers and was hidden by a bunch of trees, the pics aren’t that great.  Our rooms were artsy and rustic and you slept with a mosquito net around your bed.  It looks really romantic.  Some of the other views I loved…

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The exercise.  The part of the trip that was so great was the exercise.  I know that sounds ridiculous to some of you, but it really was.  I have come to really enjoy exercise in a way that I never have before.  It is essential to my daily routine and my sanity.  It gives me focus.  It helps me breath.  It has done more for me than I ever thought possible.  So, sweating in the sun and feeling a little like vomiting was actually quite fun!

We worked out here the first morning….

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Yep, on top of the spa of all places, overlooking the ocean.  One hour of TRX and cardio that had a lot of us begging for mercy.  We were dying from the extreme heat and exhaustion of travel.  Again, I loved every second of it.  Here is a view of the spa/workout space from the ocean in a boat.  You can see the TRX ropes hanging from the top.  The spa was beautiful.  I got a massage there that was heavenly.  Laying out on the table while listening to the ocean. 

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I think the staff at the resort thought we were part crazy.  They would come and watch us as we were grunting, moaning, and probably wonder why someone would subject themselves to the torture.  After our workout they supplied us with watermelon and watermelon flavored water.  Way better than Gatorade if you ask me.

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The second day we went for a run to another bay and went swimming.  I didn’t have my camera since we just brought our running clothes and stripped down to our sports bras when we hit the beach.  Then we ran back for a day of adventure.

The last day we did an athletic training class down in a grassy field and next to the wedding stage…

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Just picture plyo jumps on the edge of the stage and running across the field with cones at either end.  it was quite a sight.

The days were completed with some much needed yoga up on roof overlooking the ocean.  The sun would set towards the end for a magnificent site.  I took a break one day to snap some pictures of us bending and posing.

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I mean, someone pinch me!! It was just too beautiful!!

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Cali’s going to kill me about this one…love it!!!

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Namaste.  Breath.

More on our adventures later.  We did laugh and have fun too!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful

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I have loved reading what everyone is thankful for on facebook.  People were thankful for family, friends, food, activities.  I am right there with them.  There is a lot to be thankful for this year.  Three little baby birds that make our house noisy, crazy, and oh so fun. 

This weekend was much needed.  A little family time on turkey day.  Chris got a day of golfing with friends.  Chris, Bradley and I all traveled to Virginia Tech to watch them beat UVA on Saturday (in the very, very freezing temps) and Sunday we decked the halls.

Now I am on the verge of December with a million little thoughts in my head. 

How do I slow down and enjoy the moments?  How do we try to have fun, capture the magic, and remember people that have so much less than us?  How do I instill this in my children?

What ornaments should we make?  What cookies to bake??  I love this time of year, but it can also be a little overwhelming.

I am going to do my socks filled with activities again this year.  I will try to update you on our activities that we do each day.  I am only going to fill 7 socks at a time to keep it a little more flexible.  That is one my tasks tonight.  Along with getting started on some Christmas sewing projects that I haven’t finished.  I want to make the kids hooded bath towels.  I found the tutorial for Angry Birds bath towels here, and I will show you how they turn out!  Other than that I have a few more people to purchase gifts for, but the kiddos are done.

Nothing like the holidays to bring out some craftiness.  Bradley and I had a date a few weekends ago and I took him to the pottery painting place.  We made lots of ornaments.  I love that he will now sit with me and paint for hours.  So fun!!

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Can you tell that he is sick of smiling for the camera?  off to sew it up…

 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

R & R (six years in the making)

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What a special trip.  Treasure Beach, Jamaica was all that it was cracked up to be.  Five days of sun, sand, exercise, drinks, and lots of yummy food.  I really couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my first long break away from my children. 

I had my own room.  My own schedule that didn’t revolve around cranky children or nap times.  My own agenda that involved lots of time to work out and read books.  People cooked for me, brought me drinks, and asked ME if I needed anything.  Let’s be get real, I even felt like I was on vacation by the time I reached the airport without my children and only had my one purse to look out for.

Chris stepped up his Daddy role in the major way.  Not only taking care of everyone, but Bradley got sick while I was gone and had to stay home from school.  Thank you Chris!!

My Mom was a savior because the babysitter canceled on Chris because she was sick too, and he had to call in the reinforcements.  Thank you Mom!!

He dealt with it all.  One sick 5 year old.  Two little girls that were recovering from sinus and ear infections, and even took them all to the grocery store.  I was impressed! 

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I got to spend lots of time with this fabulous lady that is a truly wonderful friend in so many ways. 

I even took a nap!  I know, amazing!

I have lots more pictures to edit and stories to tell…

the rest is coming soon.  For now, I am home, happy, and surrounded by some sweet babies that I missed so much!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jamaica in less than 24 hours!!

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I think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Not just because I love him to death, but because he is such a supportive husband and father.  I don’t know a whole lot of Dad’s that would take 5 days off of work to watch three children under the age of five while his wife is off in Jamaica?!!!!

When Grace was born I promised myself that when she turned one and stopped nursing I would go somewhere.  I honestly really didn’t care at the time where I went, just as long as it was somewhere far, far away.  A place where I didn’t have to take care of little babies that wanted to cry and nurse all day.

One year later and I am about to go on a child free trip of a lifetime.  Anyone with young, young children will tell you that going to a coffee shop for 10 minutes child free can feel like a vacation.  Well, imagine plucking up out of trenches of motherhood and heading to a hot, sunny resort, with my own room, my own books, my own ipod, my own nook, and no one to take care of?!!  I don’t know what I am going to do with myself.

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Cali asked me if I wanted to go with a group of girls from her gym last spring, and I jumped at the chance.  We are headed here, to Jake’s Treasure Beach in Jamaica.  The owner of Cali’s gym is leading the group.  We will work out and do different fitness classes in the morning, yoga in the afternoon, and lots of book reading and drinking wine in between.  I think is sounds heavenly.  A chance to re-boot, relax, and come home feeling healthy and not 5 pounds heavier.

I am soooo looking forward to uninterrupted girl time and adult conversation.

Opportunities to work out and stretch myself physically. 

Drinking cocktails and wine will be high on the list too. 

Don’t forget….sleeping in, taking naps, taking a nap on the beach, reading books for as long as I want, eating meals without feeding other people, eating meals without having Ellie eat half of it too, sleeping, spa treatments, did I mention sleeping???

There is a lot to look forward too.

Off to finish my packing.  My taxi will be waiting at 5 am.  Better get to bed soon!

Love, Clare

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gracie Girl

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What can I say Gracie girl?  It seems like such a cliché to say that you make our family complete, but you just do.  You have filled the missing piece of my heart that was broken so many years ago.   From your non-dramatic birth and your sweet newborn demeanor, we knew that you were one special baby.  Your surprise pregnancy made me realize that prayers really do get answered and life can have happy endings after all.  God answers prayers when he gives you something so precious and special you feel chosen by both Him and the little angel baby inside you.  How could we be so lucky?  Another healthy little girl with ice blue eyes and soft curls growing behind your head.  Yes, I definitely feel special because you are here.

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At night when I give you your bath you stand by the edge and play games with me.  We play ‘throw the toys’ over and over again.  I pick them up from the bathroom floor and hand you back your toy.  You lean against the tub with those chubby baby legs and bounce up and down until you throw the toy again.  Once you get tired of this game we play “hide and seek” with the shower curtain.  You cover up your face and I say “Wherrrrrre’s Gracie??” and out from the curtain you pop your head.  Each night we play this as if it is the most exciting game.  You laugh and squeal and giggle when you see me from behind the curtain.

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You are definitely a mama’s girl right now.  No one can replace mama.  You scream bloody murder every night when Daddy carries you up to bed to start your bath.  You reach out your hand from his shoulder like he is taking you away forever.  You usually cry right up until you see me back at the tub for our nightly bath games.  It is both the sweetest thing ever and the most exhausting thing ever.  I know I will look back and feel sad when this phase ends.  I just keep trying to remind myself that when I hear the screams escaping from the upstairs bathroom.

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You are officially on the go.  You pull up on everything.  Especially things that can’t hold you.  That is why you constantly have bruises on your head and face.

You walk behind your little stroller and try to follow Ellie while she pushes her dollies in her stroller.

You can climb the stairs. 

You fell out of the tub the other night from leaning over so far to grab a toy while I was washing you.  Luckily daddy and I caught you right before you almost face planted with the bathroom tile. 

You love your pacis.  Lots of them.

You love your milk.  Lots of it.

You will eat just about anything and are starting to  only eat foods that you can pick up yourself.  No more spoon feeding.

You rip off your bib the second I put it on.

You still have a slight obsession with shoes.  We always find you in the cubbies knocking down all of the organized shoes in the house.

You are starting to use sign language.  “All Done” is your first sign that you use correctly and with gusto!

You love your brother and sister.  You go and pull up on Ellie’s booster seat while she is eating and babble in her face.  I think you are trying to tell her to hurry up and come and play with you.

You dance to music and wave your hands all around.  Very, very cute.

You love to get to the remote, change the channel, try to work the ipad or iphone, or any other piece of technology that you find around the house.

You are one amazing little baby and I can’t wait to see you grow this next year. 

I love you Gracie Girl.

Love, mama

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Monday, November 5, 2012

The Best Last First Birthday Bash

Yep, you read that right (if it made any sense?)  There sadly won’t be another “First Birthday” celebrated in our house.  We have had our share, and Gracie’s was the cherry on top.  There is something about the first birthday party that is so special.  It is almost a celebration for both the parents and the baby too.  

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And I must say, after this world wind year with three children under the age of five, I had a lot to celebrate.  I made it through the mommy marathon.  I survived two pregnancies, two c-sections, and two births in 2010 and 2011.  I survived an entire 12 months worth of getting up multiple times a night, just one time a night, or not sleeping at all.  I nursed babies for most of the past three years.  I have been pregnant or nursing a baby since June of 2009.  Wow, that is a long time people!  Let’s just say that I am MORE than happy to have my sleep and my body back, and even more happy to no longer have someone under the age of 12 months living in our house.  We can only go up from here!!  Now don’t get me wrong, I am going to look back and miss the baby stages.  I even admit I saw a friend with her 9 week old and thought, maybe I could do it one more time.  Then I shook my head and figured I just lost my mind for a moment.  It has been fun having a baby in the house, but I am ready to move on from this stage.  Bradley is turning six soon, and he is just so so much fun!  I can’t wait until we are all more mobile again, not so tied down to naps, tantrums, and dirty diapers.  When picking up and leaving the house is not such a hard thing to do.  I am excited for the future, what is around the bend for our family of five.

Well enough with my mommy celebration, and on to the important stuff, like the sweet Pink Polka Dot Birthday Bash!

 

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I made these felt circle garlands on my new sewing machine.  The sewed up so quick and looked so cute hanging up around the house!  We also got amazing sugar cookies from One Preppy Cookie for party favors.  They were so so adorable.  Amy and I both went to Virginia Tech together and she is very talented.  You can check out her work here.

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The entire day was all about Gracie.  First we got all dressed up and headed to church to have Gracie baptized.  I am also emotional during baptisms, it is such a beautiful and special moment.  The dress that Grace was wearing has been in my Dad’s side of the family since the late 1800s.  It was 116 years old this year!  Each person that has been baptized in it, has their name written on a piece of paper that is kept with the dress.  It is one of my favorite family traditions, and I loved getting to write in my three little ones names on that awesome list!

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It is hard to get pictures inside the church with so many people there.  But these are few from our family standing at the altar and the congregation singing to Grace as pastor Doug walked her up and down the aisle. 

Then we headed back home and attempted a family picture on the front porch.  First with our family and then with all of the kids…

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Literally out of 17 pictures this is the best one.  Sigh….  I had to include just to prove that we all had on dresses, tights, cute hair styles, and matching shoes.  Too bad I couldn’t make the kids have cooperative attitudes for the day too.

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And just another one to show that life isn’t always as it seems.  Ellie decided to hold a revolt in front of everyone while Bradley attempted to hold Gracie over the tile walkway.  Oh boy.  We wrapped it up after this shot.

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sometimes I feel like that too Ellie!!! don’t we all?!!!

Gracie was a peach for her whole celebration and baptism though.  She loved hearing her birthday song, we had been practicing at home so she wouldn’t be scared, and all of the big kids helped her open her gifts.  Here are some of my favs…

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not much eating, but a lot of smashing!!

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Out for a birthday stroll in her new pink buggy!

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More sweet Gracie stories coming soon!  I am sure you are on pink polka dot overload right now!