Virginia vacation

We traveled to Virginia over the weekend to celebrate the wedding of my next-door neighbor when I was growing up. It was a little surreal to be at his wedding given I can still picture him at age 5, sitting on our doorstep and waiting for us to get off the bus. It was a beautiful backyard wedding, casual yet gorgeous (and how I'd redo our wedding if I could!). Deric and I had such a good time with my parents, Sarah and her friend from college. We laughed so hard over the smallest jokes and once we got going, everything was funny. Such a good night. Unfortunately my family all had to leave bright and early on Sunday morning--Sarah back home, my parents to Michigan-- so Deric and I had made plans to stay a few extra days and enjoy a mini vacation just the three of us.

^i just love this picture. definitely worth framing.

^teaching baby Joel how to play with trains

^relaxing with Grandad at the rehearsal dinner 

^a rare family photo: all three of us with genuine smiles

^at the wedding

We went to a small beach nearby both Sunday and Monday, staying through lunch and just long enough to get hot and sandy and ready to take a nap in the AC. The beach we visited was perfect for Jake: a small, shallow inlet with tons of boats passing just past the inlet. We saw sailboats, speedboats and jet skis, barges and a pirate-esque ship I'm assuming was some kind of tour. Jake was enraptured with all the boats, a nice change from the trains and airplanes he sees back home. The water was still pretty cold though so we weren't in it much, but he did eventually splash around in it.

^Jake worked hard to carry that bucket of water back to the umbrella 
(look at those little biceps..and his face!)

That first day, we forgot to grab Jake's hat and rash guard (did have sunscreen though, so not entirely negligent parents) so Deric dug a huge hole right under the umbrella to entice Jake to stay in the shade.  He played there forever, driving his trucks over tracks Deric made and building "tassels" (castles). We remembered all his gear the second day so Jake got to spend more time in the water and down at the shoreline. Jake and I also spent a good chunk of time devouring chips and "mock-a-moooolee" (guacamole). Chips, guacamole and a Coke at the beach is my kind of vacation!

^watching a boat sail by

^killin' some chips and guac!

^still snacking :)

 We ate dinner both nights with my former neighbors who have a little girl Jake's age. The kids played with bubbles and splashed around in the kiddie pool while we thoroughly enjoyed salmon the first night and shrimp the next. Man do I miss seafood! And then all too quickly we were back in the car playing DVD after DVD to keep Jake happy on the long eight hour drive, but it was worth it. Now that we live in a landlocked state, I realize I definitely didn't fully appreciate living on the coast all those years! Thankfully we'll always have reasons to head back to the coast whether its Michigan, Virginia, or South Carolina. We're not picky!


stretching our summer legs

For a while there at the beginning of May, I thought we'd completely skipped spring and jumped right into 90 degree days. Thankfully the temperatures have scaled back a bit and we've had some great spring weather, but even during those hot hot days I was just so thankful to be outside for the majority of the day. Its fun to do all those same activities we did last year but experience them completely differently, since Jake wasn't walking for most of last summer.

We planted our garden: tomatoes, squash, zucchini, green beans, and then lettuce, spinach and sugar snap peas all for the first time. Jake enjoyed digging through the dirt while I planted, and he helped dump the seeds into the holes when I had everything ready. I'm looking forward to Jake's first experience harvesting the veggies; if he's anything like his dad, he may eat the tomatoes right off the plant. Meanwhile, I'll be snacking on the green beans.

Playing with chalk has been a consistent favorite lately and I love seeing that little rear end covered in chalk dust. The other day he went on a graffiti streak and we found pink chalk lines on the van, the doors, the house...so now there's a firm rule that chalk is only used on the ground lest he continue this streak with anything ink-based down the road.

The clubs from his grandparents are still a big hit, but Jake is gonna need to put in some serious practice hours with a swing like that.

Even laundry is more exciting in the summer. Can you see that diapered rear?

Snack time selfies. Its near impossible to get this kid to smile for the camera!

Mother's Day this year was not the most exciting. Jake had a fever Saturday night into Sunday so we had to miss church and I was pretty bummed about it. We played outside for a little while but he started to wilt around 10 and I eventually put him down for a nap right at noon, no lunch or anything. Poor kid slept soundly for four hours and woke up happy enough for us to have a picnic at the park. A quiet day for sure, but I definitely didn't hate taking a nice long nap myself!

I love Jake's attempt to blow bubbles!


Jake Ryan: TWO

(smoothie popsicles & a driveway playdate with friends)

In the few months leading up to his second birthday, we began to notice some minor changes to Jake's  easy going temperament as he began to develop some strong opinions about well, almost everything. He's very determined that we go "ish way!" in the car (which is always the opposite direction we're heading) and he'd prefer we never stop at red lights. Jake is pretty serious the majority of the day but usually just before bedtime he becomes a total goofball, doing gymnastics across the couch and running around the house on his "tic toes". His trains are still the first thing he heads for every morning, but his car track is becoming a close second. He plays hard from the minute he wakes up and lately has been crashing just as hard--we're going on almost two weeks of consistent 3+ hour naps to balance out the earlier and earlier "MOMMY ARE YOU!" wake up calls in the morning.

(checking out his birthday gifts)

(better than toys = tissue paper used to wrap the gifts from Grandma & Grandad! he buried it all behind the pillow.)

Jake's still very cautious when he tries out new things and definitely needs time to warm up to people, but he's made himself at home with our neighbors, often leaving our backyard to go talk to them in the driveway or climb up their porch steps. Most of the time though, he needs me or Deric to "tome" with him to explore. Thankfully his "No!" stage passed quickly and we love to hear him say "otay" after we make a request of him. There have been quite a few times lately where I've noticed Jake kind of take care of me: I've carried him on my hip and he drooled or something on my shoulder and made sure to brush it off, and today at the park he spilled sand on my foot and was very diligent in wiping all the sand off "Mommy's soot". Small instances like those make me so proud of him for taking care of others without any prompting. But he may also just really prefer that everyone be "fesh and teen" (fresh and clean) like he prefers to be. He hates to get sand or dirt in his shoes and gets frustrated quickly if he gets a lot of food on his hands. 

(testing out his bubble blower from our neighbors) 

Jake loves when Deric makes "tow-nels" (tunnels) out of pillows for him or his trains to go through. He loves to throw a blanket over his head and ask "Where Jake? He hiii-din'". He refers to his Bible as the "shish book" (fish book) because for a few weeks, the only story he wanted us to read was the story of Jonah. Just in the past few days he's discovered money (pennies only, everything else is hoarded for Sonic runs) and carries them around, tightly held in his little fist.

 (chucking chalk across the patio)

("wook, Mommy! I time the tree!")

Probably my favorite part of this age is listening to him talk. I can't get over his cute pronunciations of words, plus I love to hear what he's thinking about. These past two years with him have been the best, we can't wait for so many more! Jake Ryan, we love you so much!


Jake's second birthday shindig

We celebrated Jake's birthday on Saturday with a backyard cookout (just like last year) and despite a much-too-early-for-the-season high of 90 degrees, we all had a good time. We set out some yard games, grilled plenty of food and watched the kids play while we caught up with friends.

 Once the older kids started asking about cake, we sang happy birthday to Jake (who was mildly terrified) and let his friends blow out the candle for him since he's still working on his blowing skills. I made a brownie + ice cream cake topped with a toy train and it was simple, delicious, and made the birthday boy happy.

Jake's becoming more and more introverted lately so it was kinda hard to tell if he was enjoying his party, but I think a few highlights were popping bubbles, eating dinner with his friends at his tiny picnic table, and eating his cake. Definitely the cake. He had brownie and ice cream all over his face, his shirt, his hands...just as it should be on your birthday. We don't give him sugar often but he's definitely caught on that birthday = ice cream. (I actually mentioned his birthday in the car today to Deric and right away Jake started asking for 'ice keem'.)

We had a great night celebrating Jake's birthday with friends and I'm already looking forward to next year when he'll really catch on to the birthday thing and can have some input on all things party-related. It'll be fun to see what he comes up with.

His actual birthday is this Wednesday so I guess we'll just have to have a second round of ice cream to celebrate!


a wedding weekend away

This past weekend one of my best friends from high school got married, and I got to fly home to be a part of the wedding. And bonus, my inlaws came into town to watch Jake so I could fly toddler-free (Deric was in Atlanta at a conference). So I lucked out and had a marvelous weekend to myself with plenty of time to catch up with friends I haven't seen in so long, plus a little time on either end of the trip to hang with my parents.

The wedding was unbelievably gorgeous, as was the bride. Cary Anne outdid herself and made everything about the wedding so personal, handwriting the menus and signs on top of the (donut!) cake, DIYing most of the decor, and choosing a beautiful venue that made quite the backdrop. It was great to spend most of Friday and all day Saturday with the bridesmaids as we went from rehearsal dinner to hotel to wedding. Cary Anne was so happy (and impressively calm) all weekend, and I'm sure she's thoroughly enjoying these first few days of married life. 

[photos from Cary Anne's Facebook, c/o her photographer (who I'll link to once I find her info!)]

Back home in Tennessee, Jake was definitely enjoying his grandparents' full attention. Because they can't make it to his birthday party this coming weekend, they threw Jake a party just for the three of them. They sent me pictures and video but I so wish I could have been there to see his reaction to the Thomas the Train balloon, hat, cake and even wrapping paper on his gift. As for his birthday gift, they got him legitimate golf clubs--no plastic rookie clubs here!-- complete with a bag and club head protector-thingies. (I'm perfectly fine with their funding of this rather expensive hobby assuming it leads to a nice scholarship one day.) I'm sure Jake will join his dad, uncle, grandpa and great-uncle on the golf course in just a few years.

As for Deric's weekend, his was much less relaxing than mine or Jake's but he still had a great time with the students in Atlanta. They visited the World of Coca-Cola factory, went out for milkshakes, and swam at the hotel in between enjoying what's always a fun and thought-provoking conference. We all had such good weekends that it was hard to get back into the routine, but we're celebrating Jake's birthday on Saturday so we've got another great weekend coming up!