the great outdoors


good monday morning!  i hope everyone had a glorious mother’s day, whether you’re a mom yourself or the child of an admirable one who enriches your life.  i love my mama, and i had a great day yesterday spending time with my family and being very aware of how lucky i am, and arden is, to have family nearby who loves us.  jason started my day off right by cooking us breakfast, and the day kept getting more relaxing from there.  being a mom is everything i’ve dreamed about since i was a young babysitter.  with arden as my daughter and jason as my main squeeze, i know each mother’s day will be better than that last!

i took this video saturday at a crawfish boil that arden and i attended together.  it seems a love for jammin’ has been successfully instilled in my daughter already….we were sitting and enjoying our hot dogs between live band performances when some reggae music started playing on the loudspeaker.  arden quickly starting bopping her head around and tapping her foot.  then, she mustered up the strength to stand up on the very steep hill to practice her dance moves.  i cracked up, not only because of how completely adorable she is, but because it was like looking in a mirror.  just last weekend, i was jammin’ to the bands at the beale street music fest, where i enjoyed a record 5 pronto pups in 3 days.  i have NO shame, although i will clarify that i only made 3 trips to the corn dog stand….but 2 of those times i got a footlong!

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photographer-mom guilt finally caught up with me!  i have been happily booked for several photography sessions this spring, but each time i’d wrap a shoot, i’d think, “i really should take more well-planned portraits of arden like these.”  so during the month of april, i aimed to get some frame-worthy portraits of arden in her easter best.

round one took place on cherry road.  anyone living in memphis knows this spot in the middle of audobon park, where the cherry trees bloom beautifully for just one short week each year.  (i have many childhood memories of my sisters and i having our photo taken here around easter time.)  as much as i was determined to get ‘the’ shot, the elements were against us.  it was quite windy, the sun was setting, we were late for a family dinner and arden was in no mood to sit still and say ‘cheese.’  so i got a couple of cute action shots and called it a wrap.

round two took place during a typical walk in our neighborhood one sunny afternoon.  although this is currently one of arden’s favorite activites, she knew something was up since i put her in a frilly outfit, so she put forth her best effort NOT to smile for the camera!  but after watching other kids playing, seeing planes overhead (see picture of arden sitting on brick steps and shouting ‘plane!’) and finding fun sticks and rocks with which to explore, she couldn’t help but warm up and do some smiling.  

that’s my pretty little springtime bunny, the best walking buddy i’ve ever had.  XOXO

no explanation needed here…. i think the title says it all!

FINALLY!  the outer banks beach post you’ve all been waiting for, i know!  i realize this post took me a ridiculously long time to prepare, and you may be wondering why i didn’t just forget it and move on to covering the rest of the summer fun we’ve had.  the answer is simple: scrapbooking.  this blog is serving as my temporary scrapbook for arden because, right now, i can’t begin to fathom where i would find the spare time to sit down and cut out photos and decorative papers and hand-write all the memories into a beautiful book.  so i plan to use this blog as a ‘reminder’ of all the fun times one day, when arden goes off to college or gets married, and i can make that spare time a priority.  wishful thinking?  maybe, but it’s the best plan i’ve got at the moment!

this vacation was special for so many reasons.  our family hadn’t been to the beach together in….i don’t even know how many years, but since before i started dating jason!  elise had just graduated college the weekend before.  it offered arden her first sandy toes and view of the ocean, and she swam in a pool for the first time.  amelia was pregnant with katie wilkes (coming soon!), and although lee had been to the beach before, we hadn’t yet experienced it with him.  and we had extended family members – my uncle andy and his family – join us at our marvelous 3-story beach house in nag’s head, nc.  oh, and did i mention it was a vacation?  V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.  ’nuff said.

here is arden, sleeping but soaking in the serenity, on her first ‘walk’ along the atlantic:

and here is our little beach bum, jumping the waves with daddy for the first time.  the water was icy cold, but she was a trooper.  i think she was too stunned to cry, so she just yelled at the waves a bit and then moved on to tasting the sand.

i was excited that, for the first time in what seemed like forever, i was able to get down on the floor and truly play with the kids.  every time i had seen lee over the last year or so, i had been either hugely pregnant or still recovering from labor, so i had to ‘play’ with him from a couch or chair, and it drove me crazy.  i like to get down on their level, so i made sure to get in some good snuggle-time and tickle-time with my sweet nephew! 

this window looking out to the deck on the top level was a popular spot for playing when we needed a break from the wind and sun. 

while arden was napping, i got in some quality beach time hanging with the hardmans and watching lee throw his ball into the ocean over and over:

with any beach trip, there comes a time when you need a break from the beach.  okay, that’s a nonsensical lie in my book!  but jason tends to like the pool more than the beach, so i knew he was dying to get arden swimming as soon as possible.  the 2 best things about our pool were that it was a) private and b) HEATED.  the heat factor was especially valuable with the cool temperatures of nag’s head in may.  and it was perfect for arden’s first swim:  jason just walked her right in, and she started splashing around like she was in some enormous bathtub!

we did manage to get out of the beach house from time to time for a little activity.  and no: drooling, snoring, driving half a mile for ice cream and drinking beer do not count as vacation ‘activities.’  jason and my dad went to play golf one day, so arden and i jumped in the car with my mom, elise and our good family friend, dede, for a lovely drive up and down the sounds to see a few of the infamous outer banks lighthouses.  (more on those later….)  here we are getting ice cream (hey, we drove more than half a mile for it!) right before realizing we locked the keys in car and had to wait for AAA.  but what better place to be stranded, right?  it was gorgeous.  and arden crossed another first off of her list: ice cream from kiki.  most people would start with chocolate or vanilla, but i wanted to start her off right with my favorite flavor: coffee!

i’ll end with some of my favorite family portraits from our last night together on vacation, before the loooooooong drive home.  i am getting all misty and sentimental about it, just going through these photos….

the trip was way too short, so we’ll just have to do it again!

(that’s our fantabulous beach house behind lee in the background!)

another reason this trip was special was because we got to stop in atlanta on the way to north carolina, and again on the way home, to see the weeks family.  a bonus was that nathan was home from serving in the air force for a short break before heading off to korea.  we really enjoyed this relaxing time together since, as we all get older, it’s not often that all 4 brothers (and their ladies) are in the same room.  nathan has now gone to korea, and then to alaska for a short stint, and then back to korea.  we are so happy that he is getting to see the world in such a courageous way.  he makes us proud!

i woke up singing this song this morning, looking forward to a beautiful day in memphis, hopefully spent mostly outdoors.  but i couldn’t remember all the lyrics, so i looked ’em up to share with you.  and then i found the adorable video of my 4 favorite brits, and have to share that too.  get out there and enjoy this day!

Good Day Sunshine (by The Beatles, in case ya didn’t know)

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day

Good day sunshine….

We take a walk, the sun is shining down
Burns my feet as they touch the ground

Good day sunshine….

Then we lie beneath a shady tree
I love her and she’s loving me
She feels good, she know she’s looking fine
I’m so proud to know that she is mine

Good day sunshine….

cue the angels….

hallelujah!  hallelujah!

easter was so memorable this year (and action-packed, as proven by the many photos in this post)!  jason and i had planned to spend a quiet easter at home as usual, but when i heard that my little sister was traveling from north carolina and my parents were driving from memphis to atlanta to visit my older sister and her family, i started thinking about all the fun arden would have spending her first easter surrounded by lots of family.  so after much agonizing thought and discussion, jason and i decided to split for easter: jason stayed in memphis to do that ‘work’ thang, and arden and i hopped in the car with my parents for a fun 5-day mini-vacation!

but let’s back up a bit.  before easter, arden received a couple of surprise packages in the mail.  i snapped these cute photos of her ‘opening’ the one from grammy, which included a sweet card and a glittery board book, my easter basket, which tells the story of the resurrection.  i also photographed her opening a package from nonna (jason’s mom) but stupidly deleted the pictures from my camera, thinking i had already uploaded them to my computer.  ARGH!  it was a(nother!) package from koo koo bear boutique in atlanta and included a stuffed lamb, a new bib, a monogrammed handkerchief-type bib and an adorably vintage-looking dress.

ummm, this kid’s not spoiled at all, is she?!

now, onto the trip!  when we arrived in atlanta, cousin lee wasted no time greeting arden with LOTS of kisses and hugs.  i took many photos of this experience, but this is my favorite.  i love how lee is gently strangling arden, yet her facial expression is so calm and accepting of his love attack.  hey, if you’re gonna dish it, ya gotta take it too!

my family has a hard time sitting still and doing nothing but laying around the house in our pajamas.  WAIT.  that’s a total and complete lie.  we are the masters of these things!  but we are also great at forcing ourselves to get up and outta the house for activities.  (maybe it’s the almost-2-year-old toddler zooming around the house that reminded us we all needed some exercise?!)  on good friday, the ladies and kiddos walked over to a nearby cafe for lunch, and on the way back, we ventured through what has become lovingly known over the years as ‘scary tunnel.’  it offerred a nice break from the sunshine, and arden enjoyed admiring the authentic graffiti!

on saturday, the whole family hiked around the chattahoochee river national park – something i’ve been wanting to do for years!  (honestly, i’m not sure exactly where we were, or i would tell you more about it, and how to get there.)  it was a lovely way to spend the morning: a true escape from the city.  and i am sure we’ll be back many times as the kids get bigger and better-able to walk long distances.  arden enjoyed her ride in the ergo carrier, and lee learned rock-skipping skills from bryan and my dad.  (for some reason, we took this photo of only the girls…. i wish we had the guys in it too.)

finally, easter morning arrived, and arden received not one, but two easter baskets!  apparently, the memphis easter bunny and the atlanta easter bunny didn’t coordinate their efforts, so she got double the bunny-visits.  no complaints from arden though!  some of her favorite toys are (still) the bathtub maracas and remote control.

lee had his first real egg hunt, since he wasn’t quite walking last easter.  we all had fun helping him find the eggs, even though some weren’t hidden too well (see photo with my mom’s foot below).  after each round of egg-hunting, he would look at my sister, amelia, and say, “again?!”  so the eggs would be hidden again while someone distracted lee, and the hunt would ensue again.  this went on for a while…. until lee realized there was candy inside the eggs and sat down to stuff his face!

then we attempted a photo shoot with lee and arden.  you can see the better pics in my april post, ‘hoppy easter!’  but this ‘fail’ photo makes me giggle every time i look at it, so i had to share it.  lee looks so miserable posing with all the props and his knee boo-boo, but arden seems elated to be chewing on her bunny ears!

a couple of milestones were happening with arden during the trip.  she was on the verge of crawling, but didn’t make her first move until a couple of days after we returned home.  (she was waiting for daddy to see her, i think.)  but she did lots of leaning forward on her hands and slapping the floor, squealing with delight all the while….

…. and she began pulling up on things.  lee’s music table (still a favorite) and jungle gym really encouraged her.  she especially loved this monkey, and would pull up and chatter to him face-to-face!

in the end, it was definitely worth missing daddy and making the trip.  nonna was even able to visit for a while one day, so the grandparents were all happy to be with the kids and make special memories for arden’s first easter!

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