Father’s Day Adventures

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Yeah, it’s been a while. I know. I’ll explain that later, but today it’s Father’s Day. Dad’s, thank you. Thank you for setting a good example, being brave and strong, killing bugs, teaching how to dream, encouraging, supporting, loving, raising, disciplining, playing and being a little crazy with us. I hope you all got some extra love today.

We celebrated Dad’s day today with a little adventure, because that’s really the only way to do it for Luna’s Dad. First stop. The Treetop Adventure ropes course at Nashville Shores! While everyone else did ziplines, Tarzan swings, cargo nets and obstacles, Luna and I headed to the water park for some Mommy Toddler time. They climbed, sweated, swung and crawled while we splashed, sunbathes, snacked and swam. Not bad. (Although, I should add that spending the day with a baby by yourself at a waterpark can be a little challenging.)

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The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.
The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.

After wearing ourselves out in the the very hot sun, we had a late lunch with friends at Panera and THEN a movie date with more friends and dads to see Inside Out!

woohoo! movie time!
woohoo! movie time!

So good, so emotional, so sweet and funny and so Pixar. I’m always in my head anyways, now I feel like I know my head slightly better, or at least have characters to refer to now. Peter and I both cried…which maybe had a little to do with the fact that we have a little girl of our own. That, and we are both saps.

The night ended with sugary bowls of cereal in bed, topped with video games and trash TV. Honestly, it was such a good day, it may as well have been Mother’s Day. The only thing that would have been better was getting to spend it with my own Dad. Thankfully, we at least got to video chat. Love you and miss you Daddy!

Me and my Daddy... a few years ago.
Me and my Daddy… a few years ago.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cheers!

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Easter + Passover = A Really Great Weekend

This weekend was Passover and Easter and it was such a nice weekend. It was full of food, friends, family, sunshine and spring-colored outfits. We did a lot of relaxing and spending quality time with people we love, and basically no time being productive. It was lovely.

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Passover was at a friend’s house who always host the most delicious and fancy Passover dinner. There’s wine, matzoh ball soup, charoses, yummy veggies and lots of decadent desserts. It was one of those rush around like crazy in the rain kind of days so we forgot to take one single photo. No worries, I made sure to make up for the lack of photos on Easter!

Easter basket! (She was way more excited about the fake Easter grass.)
Easter basket! (She was way more excited about the fake Easter grass.)
BFF's
BFF’s

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We hosted Easter brunch at our house for the second year.  It was a potluck meal with about 16 people and SO MUCH FOOD. I attempted making eggs inside of hashbrown baskets. They were a little overdone, but they looked really nice.

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Luna had the time of her life. She skipped her morning nap and ran all over the yard climbing everything in sight instead.

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We spent the afternoon playing with plastic eggs at the park. We really couldn’t have had a better Easter. Unless, of course, our Texas family were with us.

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Hope you all had a great weekend full of nice spring weather, love and mimosas!

Cheers!

‘Ello Gov’na

London was our first stop in Old Blighty, home of the queen, Paddington Bear and Big Ben. Honestly, I knew little of London before jetting off to spend a week traipsing about the city. What I did know, I learned from Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. I went expecting very rhythmic chimney sweeps, Diagon Alley, awkward single girls and not much else. However, I was chosen (by myself) as the tour guide/planner for the trip, which meant I needed to do a bit more research before taking my chaps on holiday.

I learned a little before we set off, and A LOT once we were there. I spent every night studying my guide book, city map and favorite travel websites in order to make sure the next day was planned to the max. We did, and saw so much that’s its absolutely impossible to write everything about London in one post. I’ll dedicate future blogs to more specific topics (food, shopping, Harry Potter, churches, etc), but this post covers the best of the best stuff you gotta see when you are in London.

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I used Fodor’s Great Britain tour book on this trip. Fodor’s is always my go-to. They tend to cater to the thrifty traveler and their suggestions are on point 99% of the time. For London, they offered a walking tour (yay!), and we did it the second we dropped our bags at our hotel.

Covent Garden Plaza
Covent Garden Plaza
Chinatown
Chinatown
Picadilly Circus is their "Time Square"... a pathetic excuse for a Time Square if you ask me.
Picadilly Circus is their “Time Square”… a pathetic excuse for a Time Square if you ask me.
The gates to Buckingham Palace
The gates to Buckingham Palace

The tour took us to Covent Garden Plaza, Chinatown, the theater district, Picadilly Circus, Green Park, Buckingham Palace,  the mall, Trafalgar square, passed the National Gallery and right back to our hotel at Charring Cross. We hadn’t slept in 30 hours, but it felt good to walk. The city invigorated us. Of course, when the walk ended, we had a little espresso break back in our hotel room before heading out for another walk through the city. This time we saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millenium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tate Modern. Holy Cow, that’s a lot to see in one day!

Buckingham Palace, looks a lot like a big White House to me.
Buckingham Palace, looks a lot like a big White House to me.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern

Our next full day in London began with another early morning walk. This time we began by walking to the London Eye, to Big Ben and to Westminster Abbey (where we attended the first 5 minutes of a service, until Luna lost her patience). Finally, we took the tube across town to London Tower. There’s so much to see at the Tower, but the most popular attraction is the crown jewels, which you look at by standing on a large conveyor belt. After a lunch of fish and chips (fries), a walk over the Tower Bridge (NOT London), we took a rainy trip on the Duck Tours.

The London Eye, and no we didn't ride it
The London Eye, and no we didn’t ride it
Big Ben
Big Ben
entrance to Westminster Abbey, it's gorgeous
entrance to Westminster Abbey, it’s gorgeous
The four of us in front of Tower Bridge
The four of us in front of Tower Bridge
Aww. aren't we cute
Aww. aren’t we cute

The day we went to Harry Potter Studios, we managed to squeeze in a shopping trips to the most incredible department store, Harrod’s. And, yes, it’s bigger and more impressive than Bergdorf Goodman. We also had time to do some shopping at Hamley’s, which is a crazy old and super famous toy store in London that opened in 1760. Obviously, we bought souvenirs and gifts from both places. Luna and I both needed things.

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Our last full day of walking all across London was a record breaking day, as far as steps go. It began at Kensington Palace, home of William and Kate and former home of Princess Diana. We toured the state rooms and then walked to Victoria and Albert. I LOVED the Victoria and Albert museum and their incredible gift shop. We stayed and explored until we had to leave to make our reservation for afternoon at Fortnum and Mason. (More on that magical experience to come.) And, because we ate so much we decided to walk it off by walking a few miles back to our hotel after taking in the view of London from the Shard.

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
playing dress-up in the palace
playing dress-up in the palace
a little bit of  V&A
a little bit of V&A
mmm fancy tea
mmm fancy tea
someone massacred their first macaroon
someone massacred their first macaroon
The Shard
The Shard
view of London Bridge at night
view of London Bridge at night

If you managed to get through all of this, congrats. You just got my very long summary of all the best stuff to see in London, minus the food, the shopping and anything hip and trendy that the locals do (that will have to wait until next trip). After my fast and furious tour of London, I’ve got to say it’s awesome. It is a cleaner, more polite and beautiful version of NYC. Although, our friend in London feels the same way about New York… grass is always greener I guess.

Tower Bridge at night
Tower Bridge at night

Have any of you been to London, or do you plan to go? What was your favorite spot? What do you plan to see?

Cheers!

A Trip Across the Big Pond

We are home and recovering from our 2 week vacation across the Big Pond, and I must say it was AMAZING. Yes, even with a baby, it was freakin’ awesome. I have been mentally preparing sooo many blog entries for you and I am itching to get started. If only this little baby would leave me alone for more than 2 minutes. Geez, obsessed much? Well, while Luna naps for 2 seconds I’ll very quickly give you a synopsis of our trip and a sneak peak at blogs to come!

Our first stop was London, and 6 days was not enough time!

Tower Bridge in London
Tower Bridge in London

We took a day trip to Cambridge and hungout with our very good friend Katy and her daughter, who we haven’t seen in almost 3 years!

Cambridge, that's me and my best friend Katy on the bridge!
Cambridge, that’s me and my best friend Katy on the bridge!

And, in one very busy day we saw Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath! That makes for one very big, busy and long day.

Windsor Castle - the largest inhabited castle in the world
Windsor Castle – the largest inhabited castle in the world
Stonehenge, more than just rocks
Stonehenge, more than just rocks
The Roman baths, in Bath
The Roman baths, in Bath

We took a train to York to spend a couple of days, and oh my…I fell in love with this city. Just the Minster itself with mesmerizing, but there was so much more. Like 900 year old restaurants, haunted pubs, shopping in the Shambles and enormous trains.

York, it was love at first sight.
York, it was love at first sight.

Our final stop was Edinburgh, Scotland. It was by far the coldest city we visited, but walking in the gale force winds, rain and snow was so worth it. And, also, Harry Potter.

Edinburgh, Scotland, so much more than I expected
Edinburgh, Scotland, so much more than I expected

And, Luna is the cutest little international traveler you ever did see. Just wait, there is a bunch of adorableness headed your way!

You can expect A LOT of  baby photos
You can expect A LOT of baby photos

Cheers! (Just in time too, guess who just woke up?)

My Favorite 5k Yet

Our Valentine’s Day began bright and early, well dark and early. I was up at 4:30 am, and for once, it wasn’t Luna’s fault. We had to get up, get ready, drop-off baby at the Grandparents and head downtown for the Hot Chocolate Run!!! Who wouldn’t want to do a run with that title?

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It was the most organized and well put together race. It all began at the Expo where we easily picked up our race packets and hoodies. Everyone was so nice and helpful. They allowed us to try on the hoodies and even exchange them for a different size if it was needed. Everything was neatly stacked, color coded and well-stocked. It is one of the few races where I actually got the size I requested. They also handed out hot chocolate and chocolate dipped marshmallows, not a bad way to kick off the even.

The Hot Chocolate Run is by far the biggest race we’ve ever done. Over 9,000 people signed up, and when we parked downtown at 6am, the only people we saw walking the streets were other runners. It was below freezing, but everyone seemed happy and excited at the prospect of running towards a mug of hot chocolate. We were running a little late (surprise, surprise), and had to park about a mile from the Start line, so by the time we arrived and joined our corral the race started.

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Dressed in matching Valentine accessories, we ran around Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and through the streets downtown. Since so many people were there, it made running a lot more fun and the race went by much faster. There were tons of excited volunteers cheering us on as we ran, photographers, signs, and video cameras. As we approached the finished line the race announcer actually said our names over the speakers…Here comes Hilarie! Bella is approaching the finish line.. It was all very motivating. At least it must have been because we finished the race with an 8.10 pace and we haven’t run in weeks. I was very happy with that time.

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After we caught our breath we picked up our mug full of hot chocolate, fondue and treats to dip in our fondue… all of which were delicious and so needed. We were freezing when we finished! The little amount we sweated chilled us to the bone once we stopped moving. We stuck around to check out the after party, but soon enough we were too cold and left for our traditional breakfast, cupcake and Starbucks. It was the perfect way to start our day of love.

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Thanks, Husband for running with me, even though I know you are faster, hate running and don’t actually enjoy us forcing everyone to wear matching outfits. I love you the most. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers!

Black Friday and Family

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Happy Thanksgiving from my little turkey!

Right this second, I am sitting in the backseat of my Mom’s SUV on the way to Houston for our annual Black Friday shopping trip. We’ve already hit up Target and Starbucks and I am SO pumped for a day full of shopping. It’s also Luna’s first experience, and while I’m excited to share this tradition with her, I have to also remind myself of what makes this “holiday”, as well as all the others, meaningful.

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While Black Friday is completely materialistic and probably part of the problem with Christmas becoming more and more about stuff, I can’t help but enjoy it. I love the tradition, the time with my Mom, sister, aunt, cousin and husband, the coffee, walking, Christmas music, crowds, list making and Mexican food lunch. Its more about the experience than the stuff, but we get a lot of stuff too. The problem is that Husband and I are hoping to teach Luna to appreciate the holidays for more than the gifts. So, how can I continue my love for Black Friday and also teach Luna to not be too materialistic?

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My best idea is to focus on giving. The holidays should be about giving. So each year we will make lists for people we love, and search for gifts to give. We will think about people who need some holiday cheer and shop for them too. If we find a gift we have to have then we will find something we already own to giveaway. We have too much stuff as it is, so I’m more than happy to give much of it away.

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When we aren’t giving, we will focus on family. We will take selfies with our Starbucks, eat together, help each other pick out gifts, make lots of memories and sing some Christmas carols off key.

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Mmmm first bite of meat!

I know, we will never give up Black Friday or shopping or caring about stuff, but I hope I can at least teach Luna that there’s so much more to the holiday season than the media and retail industry wants us to believe. I’m so thankful I have this little girl here to constantly remind me to be a better person.

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What do you think of Black Friday? Yay or nay? How do you shop for the holidags?

Happy Black Friday and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

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Cheers!

Surprise, I am 30

For the first time, I have not made a big deal about my Birthday. Every year, I announce on November 1st that “Birthday Month” has officially begun. A few weeks later I make an even bigger deal that “Birthday Week” has started. But, this year, I said nothing. Why? I’m not quite sure… 30 just didn’t excite me. Or, maybe I’ve just been too busy to think about it. Whatever it was didn’t matter, because why I failed to make a big deal about turning 30, my family and friends did not.

On my actual birthday me and a few close friends ran a Holiday themed 5k together and everyone dressed in a theme…”Hilarie’s Nerdy 30!” Even Luna was sporting suspenders and a homemade onesie. We were adorable. I ran my fastest 5k (which isn’t very fast, 27 minutes) and every one of us got 1st place in our age group! Plus, we won for “most spirited team”!

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Btw, my parents do not have wifi so all blogging and photo editing is done only with my phone this week! Bare with me.

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After the race, we had brunch with more friends and family. The food was great and the company was better. I got showered with gifts which was totally unnecessary but a nice surprise. And, of course, we topped it off with some holiday lattes from Starbucks.

My birthday ended with an overnight drive to Texas. When we arrived early the next morning I was then spoiled by my Texas family! I truly thought it couldn’t get any better, but the next day I received the biggest surprise yet.

The next day was my Mom’s birthday and she decided she wanted to celebrate that night by going to a local Mexican restaurant that I also happen to love. When we got there the waitress said my sister was already there and walked us back to a big dark room. My first thought was, “why on Earth would Natalie want to eat in this dark room”. Then, I spotted my Uncle and thought, “oh, that’s so nice that he came to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!” At that moment the lights turned on and everyone shouted “SURPRISE!”

I looked at my Mom to see if she was surprised and then thought, “why wouldn’t my sister tell me she planned a surprise party for our Mom?” I started looking for her for some answers and she began putting a sash on me and I then realized everyone was saying “Hilarie, it’s for you.” Oooohhhh

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I was seriously shocked. Not only was I surprised about the party, but I could not believe how many people were there! There must have been about 40 people. It was really the nicest surprise. I got to see so many people I love, many who were meeting Luna for the first time. I felt very special and so loved.

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I actually bought a sash for my Mom too!

Now, that it’s here, I guess 30 isn’t so bad. In fact, it has started off way better than I ever expected.

Thank you so much to everyone for making 30 such a great birthday and Happy Hilarie’s Birthday to all of you!

Cheers!

oh and P.S. the winner of the Dr. Who shoes was chosen and is in the comments of the Practically Perfect Shoes post!