Summer Recap: Visits, Birthdays, and Vacations!

Hi there! I’ve been a little MIA because there’s been so much going on and everything came up so fast, that my blog got pushed to the side.

But I’m back and wanted to just share some pictures of the last month!

 

Many of you know that I was an AuPair in Germany for a year back in 2011. I’ve been back for five years and have been missing my little German family. Apparently they were missing me too because they finally came to see me! When I was over there, I only watched their daughter Lina, who was 2 when I left. Now she’s 7 and they’ve had another little one (Mats) who is 6 months older than William! Can we say “built-in BFFs”?! After they spent some time hitting Florida’s hot spots, they came to Jacksonville for the last few days of their visit (which included my 29th birthday)…

 

I’m mad at myself for the lack of pictures I took during their trip, but it’s okay, because I was too busy enjoying the time I had with them instead of witnessing everything through my phone’s camera. We only had two full days to spend with the Brinkhoffs, so I wanted to make sure I savored every moment.

 

After a family dinner the evening they arrived in Jax, the next morning we met up at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine! Then we had lunch and wandered around Old Town.

New best friends about to feed the gators!

 

The next day was my birthday! We went to my parents’ house in Callahan for good ol’ American burgers and so the kiddos to swim. It’s exactly how I wanted to spend my golden birthday. We took some family pics and I had a surprise for my favorite fire truck-loving 7-year-old (with a little help from my brother-in-law, Larry)…

5 years in between visits is way too long!

I had to get a pic with my besties too!

I absolutely hated saying goodbye, but they loved Florida so much that they are considering coming back next year for their summer vacation! And I’ll definitely try to plan a trip in 4 years over there to celebrate my 10 year anniversary of being their AuPair!

 

Then July 30th, as the Brinkhoffs were on a plane head back to Germany, William, my BFF Chelsea and I took a road trip to Atlanta. It was the first road trip William has taken as a toddler (we took him on a 14-hour trip when he was 5 months, and a 9-hour trip when he was 8 months), so this mama was NERVOUS. I packed an overload of snacks, brought several coloring books, created a magnetic chalkboard out of a baking sheet and chalkboard paint for him to play with letter and number magnets, and brought along the ever-handy iPad. Well, William was so good in the car, the only time I needed to entertain him was the last hour-long stretch of highway on our way home. And for that, I whipped out the iPad.

The only real problem I had was for him to go to bed. I had to lie down with him because he wouldn’t fall asleep without me. And since it took so long for him to fall asleep, I inevitably fell asleep with him, thereby forgoing my adult time with the bestie. But that’s okay because we had a ton of fun each day we were there!

Our first full day in Atlanta, we decided to try out the Children’s Museum. That was the best decision we made. William was obsessed with that place. He watches a show on YouTube where this fun character goes to different places to learn new things and one of the places he goes to is a children’s museum. So William knew exactly what to do when he walked in! His favorite area to play was the ball area, where you put the plastic play balls in different tubes and contraptions where you can watch them move all around the room, then they spit out somewhere new. He spent most of his time there. But they also had a kinetic sand pit (I ended up buying some because I thought that stuff was awesome), and an area sponsored by Publix (if I didn’t already love them enough) where we can see how food goes from farm, to grocery store, to table.

(I purchased some kinetic sand at the museum, but you can find some here.)


After a fun time at the museum, we decided to head to the famous restaurant The Varsity for some good ole American fries, hot dogs (grilled cheese for the vegetarian!), and shakes. William wasn’t a fan of the hats.

The next day was a more relaxing day. We spent some time at the pool with Chelsea’s childhood (but lifelong) friend, Lauren and her baby. William made a new friend!

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to rest then get ready for an Atlanta Braves game! It’s been a tradition for the last 10 years that overtime Chelsea and I got to Atlanta in the summer, we go to a Braves game. This year is the inaugural year of their new stadium, Sun Trust Park, so we were excited to see it. First of all, did you know a Sweet Pete’s factory and store is going in Battery Park (a little village you walk through to get to the stadium gates)?? Represent Jax! William was a real trooper staying up late for the game. He enjoyed it more than I thought he would!

Of course I had to get him his first tomahawk! You can find my ATL tank here.

After (sort of) sleeping in the next day, we only had a few hours left before we needed to start the journey back home. So what do you do in Atlanta that will be fun and memorable, but doesn’t need to take too long to enjoy? The Georgia Aquarium! That same YouTube channel I mentioned above goes to another aquarium, so William was unbelievably excited when he was able to see all the fishies. Chelsea and I geeked out a bit too. If you’ve never been to this aquarium I HIGHLY suggest you take a trip. They are the latest aquarium in the world, and their largest tanks hold FOUR whale sharks! There’s a huge room where you can just sit and watch all the fish, sharks and rays swim around, and we were lucky to get a spot right up on the glass. We could’ve stayed there for hours.

And no trip with a toddler is complete without a tantrum. Cue one in the middle of the penguin exhibit…

After that was all sorted out and we bought some souvenirs, we headed home. Thank you Chelsea for letting us come along with you and for being our photographer during the trip!

Another August Adventure was with family the following Saturday after we returned from our ATL trip. First Saturday in Riverside (Jacksonville) is packed with fun and things to do. The Cummer Museum is free to all on the first Saturday of the month, where you can view all the amazing art, walk the gardens (my personal favorite), and let the kiddos loose in the kid area. The only problem with the Cummer’s children’s area was that they laid out permanent markers for the kids to color with. Guess who ended up ruining a new shirt?? Yep… my kid. Anyway, after your journey through there, if you walk next door to the museum, under the overpass, you can enjoy the weekly Riverside Arts Market. We enjoyed the day with my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and niece Lena.

This summer has been busy and fun and trying. I’m looking forward to getting back to my blog on a weekly basis including posts on my favorite things, my homeschool preschool routine I have started on with William, recipes, and of course, my posts on motherhood. So thanks for sticking with me during my unintentional hiatus and look out for more posts each week!