Three Day Weekends

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

Three day weekends are the very best. There’s just enough time to get stuff done, be busy, and also relax. There’s just enough time to really enjoy being at home with your family but not quite enough time for them to make you crazy. Three day weekends are my very favorite kind of weekend especially when I get to spend so much quality time with my girl.

Pool time.

Pool time.

This weekend we made the absolute most of all three of our days at home. We spent plenty of time playing at the pool. One morning we went and there was no one else there so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was amazing. Sydney is really enjoying all the time we’re able to spend at the pool and I’m enjoying spending so much time outside but also in the water so that it doesn’t feel so hot.

Rockin' Independence Eve

Rockin’ Independence Eve

Friday afternoon we headed to the downtown mall area near our house for their Rockin’ Independence Eve party. There was music and food and plenty of entertainment for the kiddies. Sydney had a blast just running around playing with her flags. We even indulged in some fried oreos because she was being so good (& who doesn’t love a good order of fried oreos!)

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

Once it started to get dark we made our way over to watch the fireworks display. We found a nice grassy spot to sit and we ended up being right next to where they were setting off the fireworks. I love watching fireworks. I always forget how much I enjoy them until I see them on the 4th and then I remember that they are beautiful and amazing.

watching the fireworks

watching the fireworks

Sydney was a little less than thrilled by the noise the fireworks made and she (so very sadly) kept asking for them to be all done. I was able to reassure her that it was just loud noise and once she believed me she seemed to enjoy watching them light up the sky. We didn’t make it out to any other fireworks display this weekend because of the weather, which was a little disappointing, but at the same time I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been too excited about the noise again.

You look like the 4th of July

You look like the 4th of July

Saturday we enjoyed a nice long nap together because we were preparing for staying up late for more fireworks… but we woke up to a huge storm and that pretty much put the kibosh on sitting in the grass to watch any fireworks that night. Oh well… we filled our time with a nice long walk and then we went to visit Uncle George at work and bring the lifeguards dinner.

Playing in the pool

Playing in the pool

Sydney really enjoyed another trip to the pool. I didn’t really plan for swimming this trip, but Sydney didn’t seem to mind that she was playing in her dress. Whatever makes you happy, kid. Whatever makes you happy.

My little daredevil.

My little daredevil.

Sunday we enjoyed a very relaxing day and another trip to the pool (of course!) in the afternoon. After a couple hours of pool time it looked like it might rain a bit so we headed home to rest a bit (because there are few naps around these parts lately…). After it decided it wasn’t actually going to storm we headed over to the park where Sydney showed off her daredevil side! I wasn’t quite as excited about this as she was, because she’s pretty clumsy, but she did a good job and her excitement was enough to calm my fears. I only let her do it once though because that was all my heart could take.

Weeee!!!

Weeee!!!

We ended our weekend happy, tired girls. I was pretty sad to head back to work yesterday because I really enjoyed spending so much time with her… but it was nice to be back in the office where no one was throwing fits (because two-and-a-half is a very hard age sometimes).

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as we did!

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Vacationing.

Ocean City.

Ocean City.

Over the Memorial Day weekend we headed out to my parents house on the Eastern Shore and I wish we had more opportunities to go there for long weekends… but you know, work and stuff so I try to just soak up the time we do get to spend up there.

Yay Rides!

Yay Rides!

We headed up to Ocean City one morning because it’s not too far from their house. Since we have always had this house up there I spent so much time there as a child and I was really excited about seeing her enjoy the boardwalk, the food, the ice cream, the rides, and all the people to watch.

Carousel

Carousel

Sydney had SO MUCH FUN riding the rides and she wanted to ride them over and over again. We rode the carousel twice because she was obsessed with the ponies. I wasn’t sure how she would do riding the rides but she actually rode them all by herself and I was really impressed with her. She’s getting to be such a big girl.

Playing games at Ocean City

Playing games at Ocean City

After we got back to the house we headed over to the little beach near my parents house to play for a little bit before we had dinner. Sydney has experienced the beach before but she was a bit annoyed by the sand on her shoe and then also by the fact that it was IN her shoe after we left the beach.

A little beach time.

A little beach time.

We also spent one day wandering around the island of Chincoteague. We saw the ponies and had so much fun shopping and even stopped for some fresh, seafood lunch.

Seeing the Chincoteague Ponies

Seeing the Chincoteague Ponies

Some of my extended family was also up with us over the weekend and Sydney loves spending time with them. We had a really great time with them and Sydney obviously loves all the attention she gets from them. It’s also really cute to see them dote on her and spoil her rotten – not that she needs any more spoiling but it’s still awesome to see them love her so much.

Fishing off the backyard

Fishing off the backyard

We had my aunts, uncles, and cousins over for a BBQ one evening and we spent a significant amount of time fishing off the dock at my parents house. It is so awesome that they live right on the canal at the bay because Sydney really enjoyed fishing and so do I… which is great because Sydney was interested in holding the fishing pole for like a second and then she wanted someone else to hold it for a while until she remembered how much fun fishing is.

Fishing!

Fishing!

One morning I actually took advantage of the cooler temps, the beautiful view, and some free time to get a run in. I wish I could be running here all.the.time. because it was such a great run. I even managed to get my fastest time in AND almost get hit by a deer. That’s right. I ALMOST GOT HIT BY A DEER WHILE RUNNING. Because nature. It was mildly terrifying and also kind of awesome. Thankfully there were no other encounters with the animals.

beautiful view on my run

beautiful view on my run

Just writing about our trip makes me want to go back. Because this was my morning coffee view. And who wouldn’t want more of this?

morning coffee.

morning coffee.

Our Holiday Celebrations.

I hate to draw out the holidays, but I did want to capture the memories of this holiday season because Sydney was so in to it even though I’m fairly certain she didn’t really know what all the actual excitement was about.

Helping Mama decorate the tree

Helping Mama decorate the tree

First, our tree. Sydney was in love with our tree. I had her “help” me decorate and while I normally wouldn’t be so careless with my precious ornaments I opted this year to not put my most special, valuable, or breakable ornaments on the tree. I did include some that were breakable, at my own risk, but kept them up towards the top of the tree. We also talked a lot about how we weren’t supposed to touch the tree or take anything off of it. The first week we had the tree up she was all about bringing me ornaments, but after that she seemed to understand Mommy meant business when she said stop taking things off the tree! She really loved the lights – whenever we would come down in the morning over the weekend or got home during the week the first thing she wanted to do was turn on the tree. We have a little plug that has a button on it so it was easy for her to turn it on and off. We also had to work on not turning it on and off over and over again… I definitely underestimated her excitement for the tree and I’m kind of glad I did because seeing the excitement on her face when it was all lit up for the first time was amazing and hearing her exclamations of “tree!” all month long was really adorable, too.

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah started mid-December this year and I think it was the perfect timing for this year because it was over before Christmas started so they both had their complete separate celebrations. Not that I think she understood what was happening on any day of Hanukkah or Christmas but I think it helped to lessen the overwhelming feelings of presents (& toys!!) that I had haha. Each night we would light our Menorah, FaceTime with Steve’s parents and then open our gift for the night. On Sydney’s birthday she was completely uninterested in opening gifts so I didn’t think she would have much interest in opening them for Hanukkah or Christmas but apparently a lot can change in a month and she LOVED opening presents. So much so that she was very eager to help us open our gifts too. I let her open a couple of mine which is shocking but I got more joy out of watching her open gifts than I did from opening them by myself. I’m excited that next year we will be living much closer to the in-laws so we will have the opportunity to spend each night with them. FaceTime was nice because they were able to see her open their gifts, but I think being able to actually do that in person, together, as a family will be much more special. Especially next year when she probably will get it a little more.

Opening presents with Aunt Heather

Opening presents with Aunt Heather

We also enjoyed a night of Family Hanukkah – which is just when we celebrate with the whole family as opposed to celebrating by ourselves each night at home. Sydney was definitely overwhelmed with all her wonderful gifts – she was also completely spoiled loved by her Aunts but I’m not sure who had more fun with her gifts – them or her! I’m looking forward to next years celebration when we will have the opportunity to spoil love our niece as much as they love theirs. & I’m really excited to see Sydney & Hadley tear in to presents next year and be the absolute centers of attention!

Opening presents with Aunt Mel

Opening presents with Aunt Mel

As we always do, we celebrated Christmas with my parents but we did something a little different this year. We had a Christmas Eve sleep over at my parents house. Since I started a new job I ended up having to work on Christmas Eve and without knowing if we would get off early (we did! yay!) we decided that it would be a bit ridiculous to drive all the way home Christmas Eve just to wake up, open presents, and basically turn around and head back that way to my parents for the day. We figured we would get much more celebration and family time if we just stayed and it was also the last Christmas we’ll celebrate in my parents (childhood) home since my parents are moving this summer to being their retirement years!

Mom was busy making side dishes for Christmas Dinner and Sydney pushed a chair up right next to her to help. My Grandmother on my Dad’s side passed this recipe for potato salad down to my Mom and my Mom has since shared it with me. I’m excited for the day I get to really share it with Sydney and continue the tradition, but for now the adorableness of Sydney helping my Mom make it is a memory I love.

Helping Nana make potato salad

Helping Nana make potato salad

We mostly relaxed Christmas Eve night and just enjoyed our time together. My mom got to read all of us The Night Before Christmas which is something she has done for as many years as I can remember (side note: one year she gave me a book that she had recorded herself reading and it’s definitely something I’m happy to have and know one day I’ll be happy to be able to hear her voice when I can’t.) She was overjoyed to have this moment with her children and granddaughter. It was probably her favorite moment of the night.

Reading the Night Before Christmas with Nana

Reading the Night Before Christmas with Nana

After we tucked Sydney in to bed we just kind of relaxed and waited for Santa to make his appearance. We headed off to bed early (well, late for me but I was trying to finish watching Elf lol). I had this wonderful feeling as I anticipated how surprised and excited Sydney would be in the morning and she did not disappoint me at all. She was in awe of all the presents spread out in the living room. We opened her stocking first and she was THRILLED there were two babies in there just for her.

Presents! YAY!

Presents! YAY!

I believe she was a little overwhelmed all morning with her presents and she didn’t seem to understand that she was supposed to open them all on this very morning when she had been opening one present each day for the last week. She did do a lot of “ooohhhing” and “aahhing” over her presents and that was super adorable.

Big girl opening presents!

Big girl opening presents!

She got a lot of fun pretend play stuff that has already been a big hit for her. She kind of lost interest in opening presents after a while so we tucked the unopened presents away for her to open at our house over the weekend because we had planned on having a small “Christmas” there to give her the big gift we’d gotten her & didn’t want to haul to my parents and back. We had a pretty low-key Christmas Day. My Aunt and Cousins came over and we also got a visit from Steve’s family which was a surprise because Mel and Heather usually spend the day with Heather’s family but they had kind of split up their day and ended up being able to spend some time with us too which made Sydney a very happy little girl. Overall we had a really wonderful day and it’ll go down as one of my favorite Christmas memories because of all of Sydney’s excitement. I know next year I’ll probably say the same thing, but for now, it’s my favorite!

Over the weekend we ended up having our own little Christmas morning for Sydney because I had made her a dress up cabinet with my dad and we were pretty sure that it wouldn’t fit in our car with all the rest of the gifts she would end up with (and we were so very right!). It was also nice because she didn’t open everything Christmas morning and this time it was a little less overwhelming for her because it was just the three of us and there were a lot less presents and chaos going on.

Extra Christmas Morning!

Extra Christmas Morning!

Overall we had a happy and wonderful holiday season. December always feels a bit chaotic (for me anyway) because there are so many celebrations going on between both our families but I do always feel really grateful that we have a close family that we are able to celebrate with every year without too much traveling hassle. I am, however, very much looking forward to next year when there won’t be an hour drive between us and our family. It really isn’t much but I’m sure being much closer will make things so much easier!

Christmas Village in Baltimore.

Over the weekend Sydney & I visited the Christmas Village in Baltimore with my parents. The Village is in its second year and I believe someone from my Mom’s work had mentioned it and after looking at the website we decided it would be worth going.

Christmas Village in Baltimore

Christmas Village in Baltimore

I’ve read on some expat blogs (like Casey over at We Took The Road Less Traveled) all about the magic that is the European Christmas Market and I was excited. I guess my hopes were set a bit too high because I was let down big time. We were very excited to spend some time doing some specialty Christmas shopping and eating some delicious treats but we were let down in a huge way. AND we paid $5 PER PERSON to get in just to be let down.

Christmas Village in Baltimore

Christmas Village in Baltimore

First, it is really small. It advertised 60 vendors, which is a lot, but the space was very small for the market to be set up in. Also, I guess I was expecting some larger “stalls” than what was set up. The small stalls made it VERY crowded and if there were two people at some stalls it was too crowded to go in or see what was being offered. We probably ended up missing a lot because we simply could not see what was being offered by each vendor. Some vendors had stuff set up both inside and outside of their stalls and those were the ones that seemed to be getting the most business because they were the easiest to access.

Having some fun with the photo props

Having some fun with the photo props

Secondly, the items for sale were – in my opinion – extremely overpriced. Some of the wares were handmade, which is fine but those handmade wares were definitely priced higher than necessary. I ended up spending next to nothing because I knew I could purchase similar quality handmade goods at one of the local shops near my home. We purchased a few, reasonably priced items from a couple vendors but most of the stuff we saw didn’t seem to be worth the price tag. It was kind of disappointed because we were really excited to shop and we were extremely let down by the shopping experience we were greeted with. They did have this special shop in the back of the tented area that sold items “straight from Germany.” You had to wait in a separate line to get in to that shop – which was, you guessed it, super cramped. It was also REALLY expensive. I saw a relatively small, wooden nativity scene that I was interested in until I saw the nearly $300 price tag attached to it. It was plain wood. Plain. No paint, nothing fancy, plain. Needless to say I did not leave with that or anything else from the special market.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

Thirdly, the food. Another let down. It seemed, on the website, that there was much food to be eaten and my mom and I were so excited to eat and shop our way through this market. At least there was mulled wine because I would have been seriously disappointed if there wasn’t.

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

Then, there was supposed to be a Kids Corner and a Kids Train but we didn’t see any of that set up. There is a chance we missed it, but really the set up was pretty close quarters so I don’t think we did. And – there was a train, presumably we would have heard that. I’m not sure if we went too early for that to be set up (it opens at 11 and we were there around 2), but we didn’t even see anyone that you could really ask about it except for two girls that were manning the ticket booth and swamped with a huge line so we didn’t ask because by that point we were too disappointed and way too over the whole thing to try to salvage anything of it.

Happy girl.

Happy girl.

Additionally, there was an inside tent with some vendors set up. That was a nice break from the cold but it was really crowded. The tent definitely needed more space because it was hard to maneuver around other shoppers with kids and/or strollers. The “beer garden” and entertainment section was right smack in the middle. They had some tables set up so you could enjoy the music/entertainment but the little section certainly didn’t accommodate a lot of people. We couldn’t find a table so we ended up standing to eat the food we bought. It didn’t make for an enjoyable meal and it made us glad we had stopped for a bite to eat before we got there since we had gotten a late start.

She loved the Carousel.

She loved the Carousel.

We definitely left the Christmas Village disappointed but we managed to salvage our day by wandering around the Inner Harbor and letting Sydney run off some energy since she had been stuck in her carseat for almost 2 hours and then in a stroller because it was too cramped for her to walk on her own (since she is a terrible listener sometimes and she would have likely just run off or broken something).

Selfies on the Carousel.

Selfies on the Carousel.

We also visited the Carousel they have set up at one end of the Inner Harbor. I wasn’t sure how Sydney would react to it but she LOVED it. She was excited about the horse (!!) and once it started going boy was she full of giggles and laughter. Her excitement about the quick ride around the Carousel definitely was the bright spot in the day.

Checking out the Ships in the Harbor.

Checking out the Ships in the Harbor.

After a slow walk back we headed home. Thankfully we weren’t sitting in any game day traffic (thanks to the Army Navy game that day) on the way home because we left during the game so our ride home was much quicker than the ride there. All in all I enjoyed spending the day with my parents and I’m glad we were able to do that but I don’t think I’ll we’ll stick to doing stuff that would be way less disappointing than the Christmas Village in Baltimore.

Grandpa and his girls.

Grandpa and his girls.