A morning in Charlotte with kids

Want a fun place to play with your tots? We explored ImaginOn yesterday morning and had a blast.

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Getting there was not a blast, however. Dumb 77 traffic gets us every time. I’m incredibly frustrated by this highway and feel like it takes away all the joy of living close to a big(ish) city. Getting to Charlotte is now such an ordeal! It is crazy to think that we are now making life plans that revolve around the traffic on this road and to know that it won’t be any better for a very long time (if ever) is highly disappointing.

Rant over. When we finally got through the traffic that held us up over an hour it was smooth sailing to ImaginOn. This unique library/museum is a haven for toddlers and moms. It is free (!) and incredibly fun. This summer’s open exhibit is The Adventure’s of Mr. Potato Head and my girls absolutely loved it.

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We arrived around 9:30 and walked right into the Mr. Potato Head exhibit. Our friends Amanda and Piper came along too (thank goodness for friends who will brave traffic) and we all got to work creating our own versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I think Eleanor could have stayed here all morning playing! I finally peeled her away so we could check out the rest of the exhibit. There were so many fun and interactive stations that a 3-year old could easily be entertained for hours. However, we only had about an hour to play before story time and that was the perfect amount for my 1 1/2 year old.

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Story time in the library wasn’t much different than story time at our local library but the girls had a blast anyway. One of our favorite weekly activities is going to the library so it was awesome we got to do story time twice this week. After about 30 minutes of songs and books and activities we all walked over to 7th Street Public Market for snacks. Amanda and I each enjoyed a cappuccino from Not Just Coffee and we loaded up on muffins, croissants and pretzels (carb loading) from Local Loaf. The market quickly filled up with lunch goers. The public market is so different than anything we have in Mooresville that it was incredibly fun to just sit and people watch.

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Nap time was creeping up so we headed out. I still had a few errands to run on the way home and of course we had traffic to contend with. Still it was an incredibly fun morning out of Mooresville. My stir-crazy ways needed to hit the highway this week even if we were only crawling along it.

 

 

 

Celebrations Part 2

We had exactly three days at home after Ohio before we jumped back in the car for our trip to Missouri. (I know Ru, I feel your pain)

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(babies first selfie)

My brother also graduated college this semester and it was a BIG DEAL. My grandma flew in from Florida, my mom and aunt drove in from South Carolina and my dad and sisters were all there too. And of course the grandchildren/nieces and nephews. It was the first time my entire immediate family has been together in a very long time and we made use of every minute of quality time.

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But backing up a minute…

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We drove into Missouri mid-afternoon on Thursday and following tradition we swung by my sister Diana’s work to say hi. Next we stopped at Andy’s Frozen Custard for a pick-me-up. Finally we made our way up to my mom’s house for dinner with my sister Stephanie, her boys, my mom and my aunt.

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We made a last minute decision to let my oldest nephew spend the night with us so we could catch up. This meant I got to take him to school on Friday, which also meant that we would be driving right by my favorite place, Hoeckele’s Bakery.

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Taylor had field day on Friday so once the girls went down for naps in the afternoon I snuck out to join him. I got to spend two hours with Taylor playing jump rope, tug of war and eating concession stand candy. We had gorgeous weather all weekend in Missouri and it was glorious! After all that sugar at field day I decided to treat Tay to Sonic before taking him back to my dad’s with me.

Saturday was graduation day. We packed the car and headed to Columbia for the big event. William’s graduation wasn’t until 7pm at night so we started the afternoon at his apartment. I made a sweet video/slideshow for him and he opened his gifts.

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We headed out into the bright beautiful day to take family photos. (Are you ready for an overload of photos?)

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Probably the best part of the day were the children all dressed up in their super hero outfits.

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For Christmas this year my brother sent them each their own super hero shirt. We dressed them up with hair bows and hats and made William’s very own Justice League come to life. We ended up theming the whole day with superheroes and Will loved every bit of it.

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After taking photos we made our way to Booche’s. It’s sort of a Billiards bar but they are known for their burgers. It’s the most unassuming burger you will ever meet, and yet it sets the bar pretty high. My dad went to high school with the owner and he managed to reserve a couple tables for us. We had beers and margaritas, burgers and hot dogs, and I brought a special super hero cake from Hoeckele’s for the occasion.

I made a last minute game-time decision to accompany my dad to the actual graduation ceremony. Originally I had planned to go with Alex and the girls and my sisters to the park and back to the hotel. I wasn’t sorry I went. Although it was long, it was great to spend time with my dad, see my brother cross the stage and head out for a drink with them after.

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My mom also went to the graduation with my aunt and grandma and after William walked they headed home early to relieve the other adults of childcare duties. Soon my sisters and Alex met up with us at a pub. We all enjoyed a late night meal and drinks. It was just my dad and my siblings and my husband (and a handful of my brother’s friends) and we had such an amazing time together. We bounced to another bar and ended up shutting the place down. (I know, we are rockstars!)

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It was such an amazing night just hanging with my tribe. Being with them makes me feel like I belong. Even though we are all so different and live very different lives, there are so many similarities, and regardless, I just feel accepted, no matter what.

Sunday morning was all bitter, no sweet. Saying good bye to William was no fun. We had breakfast and packed and jumped back in the car to drive back to my dad’s. We still had a great night grilling with most of the family but I was sad Will couldn’t join us. The girls and Alex went to bed early to get ready for our big drive home Monday. We made it back in the evening and crashed. And just like that another road trip in the books. My kids are troopers. And so is Alex. And me.

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I am so happy we could be there with my brother to celebrate together with all our family. I am so proud of this guy and excited to see what he chooses next.

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Celebrations Part 1

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As I mentioned in my last post we had some serious travel plans in May. Our niece, Emily, graduated college the first weekend in May so we began our journeys with a drive to Ohio. Now, if you recall, the last time we made this trek back in February our car died in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. This time we were happy to be traveling the road in a newer vehicle but I prayed the whole way that our car would survive the trip, and all subsequent trips. We really don’t need another setback. Fortunately we arrived safe and sound, car and all.

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The day we traveled to Ohio also happened to be Alex’s birthday. He just returned from a work trip and we had to hop right in the car to make it for Emily’s pinning ceremony. It was a long day of travel but I was sure to reward Alex with a delicious cake once we arrived. Also, my friend Angie pitched in by making sure her fridge was stocked with beer for Al. His birthday came and went quite uneventfully so I was happy we celebrated the weekend before in Greenville.

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Ok, I’m already getting much to wordy for a travel post, so I’m going to try to stick to details so we can get through this.

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(Eleanor Rose dress found on consignment for a steal!)

Friday was Emily’s pinning ceremony followed by lots of family photos and a celebratory dinner at a local BBQ restaurant. It was casual and fun and we got to catch up with family that we love so much. The weather was also gorgeous, as was the graduate.

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Eleanor for real could not get enough of Emily and stuck by her side the entire weekend!

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By the end of Friday we were all tuckered out and headed to bed as early as possible (although I wound up staying up incredibly late chatting with my friend Angie and catching up!)

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Saturday we were up early and dressed for the commencement ceremony. The girls didn’t tolerate sitting still for long so we wound up in a side room with the graduation on a big screen with lots of other children running around. It was basically ideal. Right before Emily walked across the stage we bolted inside for a quick view and then back into our play room.

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After the ceremony ended we headed back to the BBQ place because it was so good. And the little town in Ohio didn’t offer many options. We took it all to go and ate at the hotel. Ruthie and I napped while Eleanor and Alex helped Emily pack at her house. Later we all had ice cream for dinner and Alex took Eleanor swimming in the hotel pool while I hung out with Karina.  The hotel bed was comfortable and we slept great that night. Sometimes its just nice to stay at a hotel.

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Sunday we were once again up early (thank you toddlers) and after breakfast at the hotel we finished helping Emily pack and load her car and then we were headed home. It was Mother’s Day and also quite uneventful. Again, it was a good thing we celebrated the weekend before.

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The coolest thing that happened to me on Mother’s Day was finding out I won a Lily Jade bag from an Instagram giveaway! That was gift enough for my big day. We settled into the drive home, stopping for Panera and Starbucks along the way.

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It was a quick and full weekend. We loved celebrating Emily’s special day with her! She is such a beautiful young woman with such a bright future ahead. She is a shining example of Jesus to everyone she meets. I just hope one day my girls grow up to be half as amazing as Emily is!

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