Pool essentials

The past two years the boys have done swim team, but with our schedule this summer we decided to pass on that and instead we got a pool membership and I signed the boys up for two weeks of refresher swim lessons at my work. Between our pool and my sister’s we’ve spent quite a few days at the pool:

Snacking…Floating…

Catching rings…

And taking a break from the big pool for the baby pool…

All of this pool time means I have a bag permanently packed for summer with essentials. Here are my favorites:

My s’well bottle is my favorite. It keeps water super cold and I typically bring it so the boys can drink out of it too.

Bumble and Bumble hairdresser’s oil for J’s blonde hair and my color treated hair. It seals in the cuticle so your hair doesn’t get brittle from the sun (or green in J’s case).

Coppertone Sport 70. This is not my everyday favorite (the boys either, they say it smells), but it’s thick and stays on, so it’s necessary for the pool.

Sugar lip balm. It has SPF, it now comes in all sorts of colors, and I wear it everyday in the summer when I don’t have to put on lipstick for work.

Supergoop setting powder with SPF. This is genius to use if I have put on make-up to touch up my SPF, especially on my nose which typically gets burnt if I don’t keep spf touched up.

Book to read while I watch the kids play.

Snacks. My kids require snacks.

Hat. I used to never wear hats, but I had several times where I burned my part, despite putting sunblock on, so I now almost always wear a hat.

Pool toys. But not an enormous raft. Those were banned after our pool after someone apparently brought one strapped to the top of their SUV. And it was bigger than the SUV. Ha!

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Current favorite views

The shine of new herbs, ready to plant:

A jar of drying paintbrushes ready for their next artistic adventure:

The view from our front porch right after it rains:

A circle of friends (who have know each other since they were babies) playing Uno:

J’s hair, unbrushed:

My favorite summer meal, simple and delicious:

A’s freckles, each one absolute perfection:

And a surprise treat from B:

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Currently wearing

On our June trips the boys learned the art of “running to the mall to complete your outfit when you forget a purse and cardigan”. It’s a complicated art, ha! So along with that, I picked up a few more items on our trips and thought I would share!

First up, JCrew, where I got a cardigan, evening clutch, a new super soft tee (I live in these during the summer), and a beach cover-up:

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Second, we ran into Madewell. I have never really found anything at Madewell, but this trip I was hooked. They had great tops and I could have bought three more pairs of the shorts I picked up.

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Once we got to the beach, we went to the outlets there and I picked up more than a few things for both work and play at JCrew Factory:

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And I have a few items on my list for Madewell for next time:

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And I loved shopping with my boys! To have a group of three that always tells you you look pretty, and my boys say “buy these earrings, Mommy, they will look lovely on you”, it’s pretty much the best thing ever. I just have to shop really fast before J decides he’s done and needs a cookie, ha!

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Why we “vacation”

When you have kids you always use the term “vacation” in quotations because it means something very different than the typical image of someone lying on the beach, relaxing endlessly with their toes in the sand. However, as we have learned over the past eight years, “vacations” are necessary. They cost too much, the travel is too long, somebody is going to get sick, and you may have to bribe a kid with endless cookies, so they don’t melt down and get you kicked off an airplane…or out of a Barnes and Noble. But we do it anyway. Because vacation time for us means a chance to disconnect from endless emails, work requests, and the full time nature of our jobs. Instead you have ice cream a lot, try out the Mario Maker levels your eight year old has been working on, and “bear-row” your five year old in the sand over and over at his request. And when your kids declare it the best week ever and ask when we are going on vacation again, you know that despite the fact you may return home just as tired as when you left it’s a different tired. A good tired. And you sigh, turn your computer back on, and start back to the everyday. And you start planning the next “vacation”.

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Wedding festivities

Besides the terrific zoo and museum, the major reason we made the drive to Ohio was for B’s sister’s wedding.

The boys danced the night away:

And I got a few pictures with this guy:

And this guy:

And this kid wanted to eat all the cupcakes:

And we got a family picture too:

And then we were off to our next summer adventure!

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Star Wars Costume Exhibit

The Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal is under construction, but they still have exhibits and their children’s museum open to the public. When we found out that our days in Cincinnati coincided with a traveling Star Wars exhibit we knew we had to put that on our list.

They had everything from a light saber battle:

To Hans Solo and Chewbacca:

There was Boba and Jango Fett:

And many more costumes from both sides of the force:



For Star Wars enthusiasts like my boys it was very cool to see the actual costumes and all their detail, especially Darth Vader:

And per our usual, the boys watched every single video on costume production from beginning to end:

The exhibit itself is not very long, however, the boys extended it by watching the videos, and there was a really cool set of allusion mirrors at the end where you could dance like a storm trooper, C-3PO, and Darth Vader. It wasn’t an exhibit that I would have driven a long distance just to see, but it was definitely worth going to since we were in the area. My favorite part was seeing the interweaving and details of the designs, and the boys liked the interactive (light saber controlling, short film) parts of the exhibit.

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Trails & trails

Before the weather gets too hot and we have to do any hiking really early in the day we headed out on two different hiking excursions this past week.

First up, the boys and I started venturing through our closest trail, The Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary :

This particular trail is a flat elevation for the part we walked:

And once you get past the beginning of the trail it is shaded:

It also has a shaded bench area at the start to bird and animal watch:

It was a good thing the weather was nice and a little breezy because we were still hot and sweaty by the time we returned home:

Then the next day my Aunt and Uncle were in town, so our whole family headed out to hike one of our favorite trails at Hayes Nature Preserve:

I think we’ve only hiked this trail in the winter, so it was definitely different to see it all in the late Spring:

We found a cool little cave:

However, I think the kids’ favorite part were the rocks to climb at the end:

And a fuzzy caterpillar to inspect was also the talk of the morning:

We had a great time adventuring through the forest!

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This and that

This is one if my favorite parts of every morning. J comes in with his daily menagerie of peeps cuddles up at the end of our bed and likes me to pat his back while he wakes up:


This is a picture of our neighborhood geese that had babies! Check out their goslings:

Hopefully they stay together, unlike Jon and Kate.
This is the stack of library books that I picked up this week to try to attempt to keep up with A’s reading (and a few books for J and The Lion King DVD):


This is how J spent his time before TBall practice on Tuesday:

And this is how A spent his time:

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Hiking gear musts

Whenever we go hiking we have some must haves to bring and wear. First up what I wear:

Light weight tank & leggings, hat, sunglasses, and quality shoes that I don’t mind getting dirty. You honestly don’t catch B and I outside without sunglasses on. It’s not because it’s sunny all the time (which it is a lot here), but it’s because it prevents allergens from getting in our eyes. Seriously. I don’t know if you’ve been to the south, but allergies here are no joke. I keep trying to convince the boys to wear sunnies by buying them new ones constantly. It hasn’t worked great, as you can see above. Hats are also a must to prevent ticks from getting in your hair (insert wide eyed scary face here).

The boys wear athletic gear (our favorites are under armour and champion) and lightweight shoes that are washable.

Our must haves to carry (besides lots of trail mix!) are:

All of these are on the Cub Scout list if hiking essentials. We’ve convinced A that we have a map and compass on our phone, so we don’t need to bring those as well, however we also carry a battery pack charger for our phones. And if you need extra help you could always read our go to guide:

Just kidding! However, this is one that’s great for our area:

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Weekend shenanigans 

This weekend we had milkshakes after the “should have known this was coming” meltdown by J when A got a new bike:

The boys set ground rules for a game of tag (that were all immediately broken):

Oh and A got a new bike (he outgrew his old bike):

We had our first spring popsicles:

And we watched Born in China (the new Disney documentary) on a rainy Sunday afternoon:

This was the best picture I could get. Seriously, these boys! 

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