Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beach Photos

We haven't taken a family photo in a long time, so I was really looking forward to taking some pictures at the beach. On the day we decided to try, the weather was beautiful but very windy.  We had lots and lots of outtakes with hair in our faces! Thankfully, we got several great photos to cherish.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Myrtle Beach-Day 3

On our third and final full day, we spent the morning at the water park and the beach.  After we had been at the beach for a while, Emma said she was getting hungry and so we packed up and got ready to leave. As we were walking back from the water I noticed a little girl on the beach that looked familiar. It turns out that it was one of Emma's friends from her dance class who was vacationing with her family.

Emma was so excited to run into her friend that she forgot that she had said she was hungry.  The girls played for a while longer and had a great time together.

That night, we decided to go to Broadway at the Beach, which is a shopping center of sorts that also has restaurants, rides, and other attractions. The girls loved shopping and walking around, seeing all of the people and lights. We had diner at a pirate themed restaurant, which thrilled the girls!

Andy wanted to take the girls to MagiQuest, which I had never heard of.  I was a little skeptical about the girl's being able to participate, but it turned out to be lots of fun. The girls loved using their magic wands to go on quests solve puzzles.

When we got back we took the girls onto the beach to see the moon over the water and to try to catch the fireworks. We didn't see the fireworks but we did get to see someone send off a paper lantern, which made the girls think of Rapunzel.

It was a great way to end a wonderful trip with our family!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Myrtle Beach-Day 2

Well, we are back from vacation and now we're up to our eyeballs in laundry and adjusting to life in the real world. It's so nice to go back through these pictures and remember the stories behind them. I wish the quality was better, but it was so much easier to take my phone along instead of my real camera.  They'll suffice though.

We got a much earlier start on our second day. We all got to bed much earlier than our first night and were ready to go after a quick breakfast. We started out playing in the hotel's playground while we waited for the day to warm up.  Emma wanted to swim in the pool, so that was the plan for the morning.

The girls played with two boys that were visiting from Virginia and they made fast friends. We heard about Omar and Zane for the reminder of the trip! 

Once it warmed up, we headed to the pool so Emma could swim. She was so excited to use her new goggles and didn't want to stop swimming.

Sophia, on the other hand, tired out quickly so we stopped and had lunch.

 It was a beautiful day, so we headed back out to the beach to enjoy it. We had a great time looking for shells, playing in the sand, and jumping in the waves.

After we napped, we headed out to dinner.  Emma requested pizza so we tried out Ultimate California Pizza, which was highly recommended.  We each got a personal pizza and I was thrilled that I didn't have to settle for plain cheese or pepperoni (the #1 choice for Andy and the girls).  I was able to splurge and I chose the Black and Blue pizza with steak and blue cheese. Oh my, yum!

When we got back to the hotel, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and decided to take some photos on the beach (I'll save those for another post).  I promised the girls that if they cooperated that we could play mini-golf at the hotel's little course. Yeah, I bribe my kids.  It works. ;)

They had a lot of fun playing even if they had no idea what they were doing. Sophia saved herself the aggravation of hitting with the club and just picked the ball up and put it straight into the hole. She got a hole-in-one everytime! :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Myrtle Beach-Day 1

So far, we are having a wonderful time on our first family trip to Myrtle Beach. I was so excited to take the girls on vacation, but I was also nervous that the girls wouldn't do well with the 8 hour car ride or sleeping in a room that wasn't their own.

It turns out that my worries weren't necessary. The girls did amazingly well on the trip. The only tears we had were when the rain woke up Sophia and she was still tired. After a few wails, she quieted down and there wasn't another complaint from either girl for the rest of the trip. The rain was the worst part of the trip. I'm pretty sure we won't be that lucky on the way home, but who wants to leave the beach? :)

The rain was too loud, she said. :)
We didn't want Emma to miss two days of school, so we got a late start leaving Knoxville. We got to our hotel around 10 pm.  The girls weren't tired at all, and got their second wind. After unpacking and getting settled, they ended up getting to bed around 11, which is definitely the latest they've ever been up. Everyone slept in the next day and was ready to hit the beach.

I was the most excited about seeing the girls' reaction to the waves and I wasn't disappointed.  The way they approached the ocean is just the way they approach life itself.

Sophia is a true beach baby.  She scared the heck out of me because she had no fear of the water and wanted to dive right in. The beach isn't as relaxing as it used to be! ;) She spent her day digging in the sand, covering herself in sand, rolling in the sand...oh, the sand. I think we'll be finding sand for months after this. In between her sand play, she would run down to the shore and squeal with delight when the waves hit her.  She loved having me carry her in, but was so frustrated that I wouldn't let her down on her own.

Emma was a little timid of the waves at first, just barely letting it touch her toes. She was more content finding seashells and crab shells that had been shed. She worked very hard at walking down to the water to fill up her bucket and wash her shells. At the end of the day, she got a little more brave and went in the water with Andy.

After a delicious dinner at Carolina Roadhouse, we enjoyed the hotel's indoor water park and lazy river. Emma was feeling brave and decided to go down the water slide with Andy. Unfortunately, she forgot to close her mouth and ended up with a mouthful of water, which scared her. She was done with the slide after that, but I was so proud of her for trying!

The sweetest part of the day was watching my girls fall asleep. Emma is sleeping on the pull-out sofa and Sophia is sleeping in the pack-n-play right next to her. Andy and I were laying in our bed and we heard some whispering. We saw that Emma had moved all the way to one side of her bed so that she was laying next to Sophia and they were whispering to one another and touching hands through the pack-n-play. It was precious.  They're going to have a very hard time going back to sleeping in their own rooms.

We're looking forward to another fun-filled day!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Today we will honor the most awesome daddy two little girls could ask for.  He's not afraid to get on the floor and play, save the girls from imaginary bears, or don a crown and sit down for tea.

When Andy and I got married, I didn't think it was possible to love him any more than I did not that day. Then we had Emma and that love grew into an amazing respect, and love didn't quite describe it anymore. After Sophia came along, there were no words for how I felt about this man. Each day, that love grows and grows and I am blown away by how blessed I am for my children to have such an incredible father.

Andy, I love you and I hope that you know that the girls and I love you more than one day could ever show. Happy Father's Day! xoxo

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father's Day Gifts

If you are my husband, dad, or father in law, stop reading this and come back on Sunday. :)

Father's Day is a tricky holiday. In fact, it's might be the toughest holiday for me, gift wise. The men in my family seem to be notorious for not wanting gifts.  Every holiday is a battle, but Father's Day is three times the trouble. 

I try to keep it simple for Father's Day so that these special dads get a gift, but not something that is as close to nothing as possible.  Last year, the dads received a big container of cashews, stating that we were "nuts" about them. The great thing about this gift was that it was consumable!

This year, we kept with the same theme for the grandpas. Their gift from the girls are jars of Kisses, different varieties, with a cute tag. Who doesn't love chocolate???

You can download the printable by clicking the image above.

I saw the most hilarious idea for Andy on Pinterest and I knew it was perfect for his gift from the girls. It was a Car Massage Shirt that had a town map drawn on the back of a t-shirt, which was used for driving toy cars on and thus giving the wearer a massage. Andy loves having the girls walk on his back and drive cars around on his back already, so I knew he'd love it.

I made mine by taping four pieces of paper together and drawing a template. I put the template into the shirt and traced the design using fabric markers. The blog where I got the idea from has a template available, but I made my own, and included our house and the girls. I think it came out pretty cute (pardon my rudimentary drawing skills. ;)).

My girls have the best Daddy and grandfathers in the world and I hope they feel loved every day.  Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there!

Mommy and Me

With two busy girls, it's hard to find one-on-one time with my kiddos.  We are together all the time, but there's something about being the "only" kid that makes kids feel special.  My mother in law asked if she could take one girl at a time for the day and it was a great way for me to have some Mommy and Me time with the girls.

Sophia was first up and her day started with a necessary haircut. She was as good as gold during her cut and got a sucker, which made her whole day. We had to run to the store really quick after her haircut and she got to show off her new haircut.
I asked her what she wanted to do and she asked to play with the water table and have a picnic, so that's just what we did. She loved having the water table all to herself, without having to share the toys that are in high demand. We had a picnic lunch outside and she was as happy as a clam.

Emma's day was not as relaxing. There was no staying home for that girl! She asked if we could see a movie, but nothing appropriate was playing for her age. Instead, we went to a local bounce house for their free play time. She normally doesn't do too well with the big ones, but she tried every single one of them. I was so proud of how brave she was. So brave, in fact, that she banned me from playing with her, claiming that she was a big girl and could do it on her own. She failed to realize that Mama was having fun too. ;)

After playing, we had lunch at her restaurant of choice, which was, of course, Chick-fil-A.  She told everyone that she was having a special day. She was thrilled to get lemonade and ice cream with her meal. What a treat!

After lunch, we headed to the library to get her first library card. I hope this is the start of a lifetime love for reading.

The library was having a special zoo program and there were a few animals for the kids to see and touch. They got to see a turtle, rabbit, and tarantula. Emma was excited to touch the rabbit and was fascinated with the tarantula (yikes!). The tarantula was not for touching though, thank goodness.

I have loved being able to spend some alone time with my girls and have loved each special day with them. 
Mimi, thank you for the chance to make memories with these sweet girls!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mmm, Mmm Monday: Crock-Pot Mongolian Beef

You all know that I have a love affair with my crock-pot. If it wasn't for that beloved appliance, we would be eating sandwiches everyday during the school year.  This was a great meal to throw together on a weekend morning. We get so busy and sometimes forget about dinner on the weekends and end up eating leftovers. We could be out and about all day and come home to a good meal.

I really wanted to try this recipe but I was hesitant because the girls don't eat beef. I figured I'd give it a shot though and it was really good!

Crock-Pot Mongolian Beef
recipe adapted from Not So Perfect Mom

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into stir fry sized strips
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded carrots
3 medium green onions, chopped

Here's the lineup. Unfortunately, the people in my life won't eat green onions, so I used yellow onion instead. Boo.

Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray. Coat each piece of beef in the cornstarch and place the meat in the pot. Discard any unused cornstarch.

Add the carrots to the pot and mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  I actually left the olive oil out of the mixture and it came out fine. Pour the sauce over the meat and carrots and give it a quick stir. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice and garnish with additional chopped green onions.

Reviews From the Peanut Gallery
Me: 5 out of 5 stars. This was really yummy. The sauce got nice and thick and had a ton of flavor. I would have loved to add broccoli and other veggies to it.

Andy: 4.5 out of 5 stars. He liked the thickness of the sauce and the tenderness of the meat. He would have liked it with a little more of a kick.

Emma: Eh. She ate a couple of bites, but not without complaint. This was not surprising.

Sophia: Tore it UP. She scarfed down her portion before I even got started and asked for more. This girl is definitely not a vegetarian. :)