Ava // eleven months old.

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My baby is 11 months old. I don’t know if you know this, but that is one short month shy of ONE YEAR OLD. Shaking. My. Head. At 11 months old, Ava hates napping, tolerates her car seat, and loves eating, pulling up on furniture, and stroller walks around the neighborhood.

In the past month she sprouted four new teeth – two on the top and two on the bottom. In hindsight, it’s no wonder she was cranky on our road trip to Magdalena for my cousin’s wedding. Poor girl’s gums were probably on fire. She’s putting those chompers to good use – eating like a champ. Tends to prefer carbs and meat over veggies, but who can blame her for that, right? She continues to nurse four to six times each day and has been very respectful of her mom – no biting recently (knock on every piece of wood in the world).

Craig and Sue went out of town for a week so Ava went to stay with Honnie (the best kind of family friend) for three half days. She did great and they had a lot of fun. We have gone to story time at the local library a few times and Ava enjoys that – especially these little plastic eggs filled with rice that are brought out during the play time. They are great to shake and put in the mouth (we’re building immunity, we’re building immunity, we’re building immunity – my chant). We also went to a Gymboree class which was fun but also at a time when we should have been napping, so there were a lot of emotions. Rounding out our social and academic calendar is music class which had resumed. Ava loves her music instruments and Miss Louise who teaches the class.

Physically she’s getting so strong and working so hard. She pulls up on anything and everything, creeps along the edge of the couch, etc., and has taken to letting go on occasion and balances very briefly. I don’t think she’ll be walking by her birthday but she may explore the idea of taking a few steps by then. Or she may stick to crawling, which she has full on mastered and looks adorable doing. She’s like a little bear cub lumbering about on her hands and knees. Sometimes she has found an item (ducky, toy, CD or DVD case) that she can’t bear to let go so she crawls on two knees, one hand, and one forearm, clutching her treasure with the other hand. Dedication. She likes to climb up the stairs, with one of us right by her obviously. We finally started putting her in the front of the grocery cart when we’re at the store rather than wearing her in the Ergo. My mom made us a cart cover which has worked well.

We’ve been on the nap time struggle bus for the past week or so. Maybe she’s dropping the morning (two hours after she wakes up) nap? Maybe it’s the developmental leap that she’s in right now? Maybe she’s just got too much to do – no time to nap, mom? It’s tough to see that she’s tired and she just refuses to sleep. We can’t complain at all because she continues to sleep through the night really well – going to sleep around 7 and waking up around 6:30 the following morning. She did wake up scream crying a few times in the past month when she was – we now know – in the throes of teething. Maybe have been night terrors or something too. Poor thing.

Speaking of poor thing, we took her to get the first in the series of two flu shots and it was just so sad when she was getting the shot.  She didn’t seem sore and seemed to feel fine that afternoon and the next day, but her cries when she got the shot were heartbreaking. I don’t know how I’m going to survive the 12 month shots. I may need a tranquilizer.

She sticks her tongue out in concentration and it’s adorable. She’s starting doing this cheesy grin where she squints her eyes closed and shows off all eight teeth with her little nose scrunched up. We melt every time. She’s very good at waving hi and bye. She loves books. She gets really excited each night when we give her the daily dose of D-Vi-Sol. She also loves to brush her teeth and brush her hair. She looks really proud when she raises the brush to her hair and we say, “Yay, Ava! Good brushing!” Even if the bristles are turned away from her scalp. :) Splashing in the bath is a favorite activity. We have been in an excellent morning routine that includes a walk around the neighborhood and all three of us look forward to it each day.

We just think she is so fun and sweet and it is the best to see her little personality develop. Being her parents is such a blessing.

Sweekend.

The weekend started out with a trip to the State Fair for Kevin and me. We had tickets to see Tracy Lawrence in concert so we left Ava sound asleep in her crib with Craig, Sue, Teddy, Rue, and Kiki holding down the fort. The fair wasn’t very busy – I think it was the first evening it was open, maybe the second – and we started our time there with a trip to Kevin’s favorite fair food stop – the Nutty Buddy stand.

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Ice cream treats in hand, we wandered over to the red barn to check out the baby animals. Then we meandered through the sheep and goat barn, the steer barn, the pig barn, and the 4-H exhibit hall. After checking it all out, we made our way to Tingley for the end of the kid rodeo and the concert. Tracy Lawrence put on a great show – lots of 90’s country (the best), minimal chatting, and we made our way to the floor during the encore to take a two-steppin’ spin around the dirt dance floor. It was a fun night.

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Ava was not in the least bit sympathetic that her parents were late to get to bed the night before, crowing at her usual 6:20. Someday I will wake her early after she’s been out late and it will be sweet parental revenge. :) She also was not feeling like a morning nap so we told Kiki to draw herself a bubble bath and enjoy having the house to herself which the three of us humans took Rue to the vet for her annual check up. Rue got a clean bill of health and Ava seemed very interested in the vet’s office.

Once we got home, we were all ready for a nap. So we were the napping house for a bit – minus the flea, thank goodness.

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Kevin woke up first and got ready and left to go coach a football game. Ava woke up, ate, played, and then we packed up and headed to the game ourselves. We staked out a nice plot of lawn under a tree near the scoreboard and she was so good. Sitting and crawling on the blanket, playing with her toys, watching the people around us, and only occasionally trying to eat grass. We managed to see and wave to Kevin as he was headed back up to the box as half time drew to a close and Ava gave him a big smile. That and the victory made his game day pretty sweet I think.

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Ava and I left at the end of the third quarter. We headed home, she took a 5-10 minute nap in the car, and ate when she got home. I changed her outfit and my own and we drove to a nearby park.

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I mentioned in a previous post that something tragic involving a child recently happened in my city. A local photographer took action and arranged for herself and a few of her photographer friends to take over 100 mother/daughter photos over two hours. She asked only for donations to local child abuse organizations and she said she would match the donation. I contacted her about sending a donation to include – not really needing the photos and knowing that there was a waiting list because the spots filled up so quickly. She happened to have just had a cancellation and asked if I could be there at 5:00. Ava and I were there at that time, sat for a few photos, and made a donation to the child abuse prevention partnership. I thought it was a lovely thing for the photographer to organize and it was really sweet to see all the families there.

We were done by 5:11 and called Kevin, asking him to meet us at Flying Star for dinner. A nice meal out then home for the evening. After Ava was asleep, we watched football (that Arkansas/TCU game!! Wow.) and then called it a night.

Sunday morning was lovely and we went for our morning constitutional around 7:00. Ava took a really nice morning nap and I went to do the grocery shopping for the week. We unpacked the groceries, she woke up, and we all got ready for lunch at some friends’ house. They just got a puppy and have an almost 18 month old, so it was really fun to hang out with them in a relaxed setting like their home rather than dealing with a restaurant.

Shortly after we got home, the storm clouds rolled in and it began raining right as my mom got to our house. She came to town for a meeting and arrived a few hours early to hang out with us. It was great to see her. We missed the neighborhood picnic because we didn’t want to take Ava out in the rain, but it was cozy to just be home. It cleared up briefly and we all went for a short walk. Then mom had to head to her meeting and Kevin and I loaded Ava up to go to Craig and Sue’s house for dinner. That was enjoyable and delicious, as always.

We got home right around 7:00 and little miss went to bed for the night (she woke up around 7:40, crying as hard as we’ve ever heard her cry. Not sure what happened – maybe a nightmare, poor baby. Fortunately she slept through the remainder of the night once she had calmed down and I nursed her for a bit.)

That was the weekend. It was sweet indeed. I love my people and I love this life.

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How was your weekend? Tell me the highlights! 

Snapshot {August}.

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Making: This post finally happen. A day late and a dollar short but it’s up.

Cooking: Nothing now. Just had dinner.

Drinking: Water.

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Reading: I promise I am ALMOST done with The Bully Pulpit – only 100 pages to go. Also reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend to which thus far, I’d give three stars.

Wanting: A little dessert, perhaps.  We have York peppermint patties, mint cookie crunch ice cream, and cookie dough. Which should I have?

Looking: Forward to seeing family at my cousin’s wedding this weekend.

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Eating: Nothing now but we just finished up a delicious dinner that Kevin prepared – spinach linguini with beef and sausage cherry tomato sauce. It was so tasty!

Wishing: For world peace. (And harsher punishments for parole violators.)

Enjoying: The French Cafe station on Pandora and the local classical station in my car.  I find them both to be soothing.

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Loving: That Kevin is loving his football season coaching gig. It has been a big chaotic (he was head C team coach but then there weren’t enough guys so that team was dissolved and he became the head middle school coach but then that team didn’t have enough guys so now there is a C team and he’s helping with Varsity too. Whew.).  Fortunately he has been having fun in the midst of all that uncertainty.

Hoping: That all children are safe tonight and tomorrow and always. There was a horribly tragic event in my city recently involving a child and it has been weighing heavily on me. I can only cuddle my baby close and do the best I can by her while praying that all other parents do the same with their babies.

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Needing: More hours in the day.

Smelling: The sweet scent of spaghetti sauce that lingers on the post-dinner air.

Feeling: Overwhelmed. I’m basically doing three jobs at work these days as the office manager is out for a few weeks, we’re between HR associates, and then there’s my regular QA work which I’m neglecting because the other two roles are taking all my time. I think I would feel fine about doing all three positions if I was in the office for more than 16 hours a week. Ava’s other caregivers have been helping out with extra shifts where they can – allowing me a few precious extra hours at the office – but I still feel like I’m drowning. It’ll all be fine, but I’m feeling quite strained now.

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Wearing: My summertime uniform – nursing necklace, jean shorts, and a white v-neck men’s undershirt. I ordered a six pack of them a few months ago and basically wear one everyday.

Watching: The final Broncos pre-season game. Go Broncos!

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now?

Ava // ten months old.

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Then I blinked and she is ten months old.  At ten months old, Ava hates having her faced wiped after eating, she tolerates her car seat, and she loves pulling herself up and standing.

Shortly after she turned 9 months old, her fourth tooth broke through.  Her smile is so sweet with those four little teeth poking out.  I wonder what we’ll blame fussiness on when she has all her teeth.  That’s such an easy thing to attribute a cranky-pants attitude to, you know?  She still jabbers and loves to sing and talk.  She does seem to associate me with “mama” and Kevin with “dada”.  She also says “-tt” whenever she sees the cats.  She says it in a low, reverent tone, like she’s in the presence of greatness (and she is – the cats are so wonderful with her).  She’ll make the same sound when she sees books – we were walking through the library and she was making that sound.  Girlfriend loves cats and books – she’s our child.  She’s very good at repeating words and sounds – especially coughing and blowing raspberries and tongue clicking.  She and Kevin also make this fun trumpet-like noise back and forth to one another.  I’ve gotten lazy about using sign language, but maybe we’ll focus on that more this next month.  She waves hi and bye (sometimes with both hands rather than just one – what an overachiever).  She’s started doing this little spontaneous chuckling thing, which is adorable.  It’s like she just thought of a joke.  Her laugh still melts our hearts and we dance and sing and jabber like fools to get those giggles.

She has been eating well.  I have a post in the works about our experience with nursing and baby led weaning.  Notable things that she ate for the first time this month include lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, and pear.  There may be other new foods but I didn’t jot them down – maybe pancakes?  She very much dislikes having her face wiped down after eating.  SAVING THOSE CRUMBS FOR LATER.  She has been learning more about gravity and the phenomenon that is her caregiver picking up dropped food and placing it back in front of her after she flings it over the side of the high chair.  That and the chewing on books phase are two that I hope pass quickly – but it is what it is.  I tell myself that she won’t be chewing on her college textbooks someday, so, you know, everything has a season.  We haven’t been near a scale but think she probably weights between 15.5 and 16 lbs, and she has maybe grown a half inch or so which would bring her to a little over 27 inches.  Still wearing size 2 diapers and 6-9 month clothes.

Our routine recently has included a morning walk around the neighborhood.  She seems to really enjoy being in her stroller.  However, she simply tolerates the car seat these days.  Sometimes she does fine in it and other times she wants absolutely no part of being strapped in.  Music class starts back up next month, which we are excited about.  I also took her to the Story Time at the local library last week and that was fun.  She tried to eat a bunch of plastic eggs that have rice in them (so they rattle, you know) and I tried not to outwardly cringe at the thought of all the germs.  We’re also hoping that Kevin can take her to “swimming” classes after the football season ends, and we’ve got our first Gymboree play date this weekend.

She is opinionated!  She lets us know that she is not happy about being re-directed when we prevent her crawling under the desk to check out the outlets and computer cords.  She tends to get emotional when she’s tired – yesterday evening she had a total spontaneous meltdown when I was making dinner. She’s cheerful and talkative the majority of the time. Her strength grows every day.  She is a very fast crawler, continuing to mostly pull her whole body around with her stomach on the ground.  I crawl around and try to show her that there is an easier way, but to no avail.  Ava does Ava.  Every so often she crawls in the more traditional sense, but she definitely prefers the army crawl at this stage.  She spins, crawls backwards, and to the side.  She discovered that she has the ability to pull herself up to standing by grabbing furniture, the window sill, etc. this month and she looks so proud every time she does it.  That has been one of my favorite things about watching her learn – the proud look she gets on her face when she does the latest and greatest thing.

When Ava misses her 7:00 bedtime, she is not a happy camper and goes into meltdown mode.  She wakes sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 each morning.  She naps pretty consistently well – 2 or 3 hours split throughout the day.  At some point in the past month we started giving her a little monkey teething toy when she goes down for a nap or bedtime.  She gets a big smile on her face when we put the monkey in the crib with her and often when we go into get her after she wakes, she’s cuddling Monkey.  She coos at him and talks to him.  And flings him against the side of the crib when she’s fired up.  It’s very sweet and I like knowing that she maybe doesn’t feel completely alone in there.

She is just the best baby and we love her so much.

There’s a basket for that. And other “life hacks”.

One day, out of the blue, I noticed that I love baskets. There are approximately a million of them, scattered around my home. Each fulfills its basket destiny by bringing some semblance of organization and containment to what would otherwise – I’m certain – be a chaotic space. Here are a few of my favorite uses for my wicker friends.

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This one is the keeper of my flip flops and sandals. A nice sturdy square basket, it sits stoically in my closet, keeping the summer shoe selection out of trouble.

Also: life hack – I put a rubber band around each pair of sandals. Keeps me from digging through the basket to find that elusive (fun fact:  I recently learned the difference between allusive and illusive and elusive.  I’m so proud to show off my newfound knowledge.) other sandal.

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A vanity basket. Our master bath has a long vanity and one sink. Kevin keeps his manly toiletries on one side of the sink and I keep my Listerine, coconut oil, and other potions on the other side. When we first moved into this house, it was chaos. We each had our side but the stuff was just sitting out, getting shuffled about and knocked over and so forth and so on.  I stumbled upon these sweet baskets at Cost Plus World Market (aka:  the store that makes me want to buy everything in the store) and they have been perfect for keeping our stuff organized on our his – and – her sides of the vanity.

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A toy basket.  There are two toy baskets in the house – one in our den and one in Ava’s room.  I really don’t want to become a house that is overrun with toys, so these two small baskets are perfect for keeping toys contained but accessible.  I’m sure they’ll continue to have magic keeping-the-house-picked-up powers once Ava is more mobile and has fine tuned her toy transport skills.  Ha. Ha. Wink. Wink.

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A bread basket.  Our counter was laden with gluten (wheat bread, tortillas, and oatmeal English muffins are staples in this house) and the bags were driving me bonks.  So I hid it all in a basket.  Naturally.

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A mail basket.  We’re pretty good about going through the mail right away and recycling/shredding/filing as needed.  But there was inevitably a few items stacked up and what better place to keep them semi-hidden than a basket.  It’s also helpful for storing charger cords, etc.

That’s it for baskets today.  But there are two more storage idea “life hacks” I want to share.  First, one that I learned from Tiffany, my college roommate – kind of a rolodex system for addresses.  It’s just a recipe box, alphabet separator tab things, and index cards.  I list the name and address of my nearest and dearest on an index card and then when they move, it’s a simple thing to shred the old card and create a new one with the updated address.  Or a friend gets married and changes her name – create a new card with the new name.  Gone are the days of crossing out names and addresses in an address book.  I also like storing stamps in the address box.

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I also have an expandable file thing where I keep cards and letters and ticket stubs and Playbills and other memorabilia associated with my closest family and friends.  I’m not one to get too attached to things as I’m not especially sentimental and I don’t like clutter.  But I do love keeping some items and I’ve found this is a good way to store them.

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Do you have any organizational life hacks?  Do share! 

Garden update.

Our garden is doing well overall.

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Some of the flowers we planted are past their prime but others (I think they are begonias) are thriving.
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We have harvested three tomatoes and there are many many more on the vine. Hopefully they’ll ripen up soon.

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We have three eggplants in various stages of ripe and two bell peppers on one of the pepper plants.

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The two types of thyme, rosemary, and lavender are doing quite well. Really the biggest disappointment this year has been the basil. You know how I love my basil pesto and our basil plants have really struggled since about late June. I think it got too hot for them. Or maybe we should add some nutrients? I don’t know, but they are a sad light green color.

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The monsoon season has brought a few really good rainstorms and there is nothing quite like rain to help the crops (even when the crops are our little garden). It has been another fun summer in the garden.

Did you plant a summer garden? Is it thriving or wilting?

The staycation that was.

Kevin and I toyed with the idea of taking a long weekend away this summer.  Maybe somewhere in the mountains.  We looked at a few Air B&B cabins and ultimately decided that getting away was more trouble than it was worth.  So instead we chose a weekend to tack a Friday and Monday onto and indulged in a little staycation.  Our goal was for it to be a nice combination of productive and relaxing, and it delivered.

Friday:

We knew it was important to get the productive part out of the way first.  We arranged for Craig and Sue to split the day caring for Ava and Kevin and I tackled the garage – after fueling up on Oscar’s breakfast burritos (aka:  the best breakfast burritos).  The garage had become a catch all for all and while our vehicles fit inside, nothing was organized and it was driving us bonkers.  We hit it hard early in the morning and made a few piles:  dump, keep, and donate.  It gets messier before it gets better, but we started to see progress as we filled the trash bin and recycle bin.  Kevin built some shelves and I killed some spiders and it was a good time all around.  Except maybe for the spiders.  I didn’t think to take before pictures of the mess, but here are a few in progress photos.

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Perhaps the highlight for me was organizing the tools I’d gotten from my dad’s stuff when he passed away a few years ago and learning how to neatly store an extension cord.  I pulled up this YouTube video on the spot and had the extension cord neatly roped within five minutes.  Ahh, technology and education.  It’s a great time to be alive.

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We took a load of stuff to the dump and a load of stuff to recycle and a load of stuff to the hazardous household waste drop off place.  And the garage looked amazing by the end of the day!  Weeks later, we still smile every time we walk out there.

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Kevin was multi-tasking this entire time.  He had seasoned a brisket (that my mom gave him last year – thanks, mom!) and put it on the grill with a smoke box full of mesquite chips.

imageIt smoked low and slow for around 8 hours and we had a delicious dinner that night.  Seriously – so good.  It had this amazing crust on it where the seasoning had charred and the brisket itself was so tender. He was pretty critical of his first meat smoking experience (he’d overfilled the smoke box so the chips couldn’t smoke as much as they should, etc.), but I thought it was the best brisket I’d ever tasted!  Ava liked it too.  That day and the following when she had it in a brisket quesadilla.

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Whew.  That was Friday.  We were tired by the end of the day, but really happy about the progress we’d made on the garage!

Saturday:

When Ava went down for her morning nap, I decided to make an impromptu trip to my favorite pedicure place where I relaxed, read my book, and had my toes painted purple.  As I was driving home I noticed a sign for a lemonade stand in the neighborhood so I insisted that Kevin and Ava and I trek down to support the young entrepreneurs.  They were really cute and their start up business had all the markings for success.  Lemonade was “10 cents.  Or more.”  They complimented the baby.  And they were selling apples which they made a point of saying were “freshly picked and washed.”  It was really a sweet little group.  And the lemonade was delicious.

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We took it pretty easy for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon.  I do believe I napped with Rue.

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Late in the afternoon we went to my cousin’s “I Do BBQ” to celebrate she and her fiancé’s upcoming wedding.  It was fun to see some family members and Ava impressed them with her talent for eating a lot of strawberries.

That evening I went to a friend’s going away party.  It was the first time I’d missed putting Ava to bed for the night and I was a little sad about that.  And nervous for Kevin as he isn’t equipped to nurse her right before bedtime like I always do.  She was like, “nbd, guys,” and went to bed like a champ at her regular bedtime.  When Kevin texted me to let me know she was asleep I was simultaneously relieved and sad that my baby DOESN’T NEED ME.  (Dramatic much?)  The going away party was really fun and a terrific tribute to my sweet, beautiful, kind friend.  Five of us continued the party at a local western bar, which was LOUD.  The people watching was great though.  I was home by 11:30 I think.

Sunday:

We started out the day by picking up breakfast from a local place and eating it at home.  It was a relaxing day altogether!  More reading, napping, playing….

That afternoon we dropped Ava at Craig and Sue’s and took ourselves to a nice dinner out at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  We may have had a 4:45 reservation time, but we partied like rockstars once there.  Kevin had wine and I had a Diet Coke (heeeey, party people…).  He had a Caesar salad and I had lobster bisque.  We each had steak (mine came with shrimp on top) and got sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes to share as sides.  That steak.  It was amazing.  Melt in your mouth amazing.  It comes out to the table from the kitchen on 500 degree plates.  A dollop of butter sizzles on top of the steak.  My mouth waters just thinking about the taste.  Yum.  They had a chocolate lava dessert on the menu but I was toooooo full.  Next time I have a game plan – I’ll only eat one piece of bread, get the steak without shrimp, and just eat some of whatever side Kevin orders (probably the sweet potato casserole because he loves that stuff).  Then hopefully I’ll have room for dessert.

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imageIt was a really lovely dinner out with my man.  I love the addition of Ava to our little family, and it makes the couple time that Kevin and I share when it’s just the two of us even more special.

Monday:

It was a very busy week at work with a big event planned for Thursday, so I had to go into the office for a bit on Monday morning.  Kevin and Ava stayed home and played, and I was home to them by noon.  We enjoyed the rest of our staycation with more relaxing.  It really was a wonderful long weekend!

Did you vacation or staycation this summer?  What’s your preference when you take time off work – to get away or to stay in?