Friday, May 29, 2015



Relaxing with family and friends last weekend over the Memorial Day holiday.  We spent most of Sunday at Prince Gallitzin campground with our friends, the Stifflers.  We had a great day and the kids are already asking when we can go camping with Maggie and Tommy again.  They rode bikes and even went swimming in the water despite it being freeeeezing.  It was such a nice day and sort of a tradition now that it's the second year in a row we've spent Memorial day Sunday with them (thanks guys!!) Then it was a big family day on Monday where we got to enjoy double cookouts; at each of the grandparents' houses.  Good food, people that love us, and beautiful weather - yea, pretty darn good weekend.

Crossing off items on my 100 small things list!  My baby sister, Tasha, and I ran in the Path of the Flood 5k last Saturday (item# 73) and, duh, our Dominican vacation (item #28).  Because my sails are low on wind for the 2014 yearbook, I jumped into completing item #56 Make the Hawaiian vacation photo book for the kids.  It's much shorter and sort of fun to go all the way back to 2009 when we only just discovered we were pregnant with our first baby.  I'm nearly done with the book already (only two pages left!) and I'll be happy to add it to our kids' collection of travel books and also cross it off the 100 small things list!

Reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and still loving it but a little sad it's almost done.  However, I'm so excited for the official announcement of the book club that I'm co-hosting with Ashley and Shelly starting June 1!  Stay tuned if you're interested in reading, being inspired, and breathing fresh air into your mind and life!

Delighting in watching our caterpillars grow each day!  Aunt Kitty got the kids the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden and our caterpillars arrived last Saturday.  Now only a week later, they are making their way to the lid to start to build chrysalis.  The kids (and let's be honest, B and I too!) are all so excited to see them each morning and talk about how they've grown and changed.  Nature is seriously the coolest.

Basking in the warmer weather.  We had our first outdoor dinner this week and the kids got to do a little redneck swimming in giant tubs since our baby pool didn't make it out alive last summer (add that to the shopping list!)  Brandon and I are back into our yearly disagreement about central air again.  He thinks since we have it, we should take advantage of it but I firmly believe that it builds character for our kids (and us) to be a little uncomfortable sometimes.  If it's hot outside, I want to know it when I'm in the house - I don't like the sterile feeling of a cold house and then you go outside and it's like, 'what?! it's summer, but I was just so cold in there?!' This week when I mentioned that I was too warm at night he said, "Ya know, I heard they make these things now that you can turn on in your house to make it cooler.  I think they're called air conditioners, we should get one."  he's HILARIOUS.

Awaiting Violet's first official crawl, gah, she's right there and I'm half excited and half bummed.  She's doing a lot of rocking, a lot of the knees-to belly-to knees-to butt movement (which is actually giving her quite a range of motion around this place) but no real crawling as of yet.  No hurry, little bug, Momma is fine with you not crawling just yet, hah!

Collecting items from every room and every space in our house of all the things that  It has been feeling increasingly suffocating looking around and feeling like all I see is junk.everywhere.  Too.much.stuff.  My inside voice is on a loop of repeating: 'get rid of all the things.' We are working on throwing broken things out (Maniacal Mom with a Garbage Bag is what makes children's nightmares, no?) and collecting other things that we are going to sell in an upcoming yard sale.  It's extra frustrating because we have lots of crap that we don't need, but also items that we need but have recently become the microwave (week 3 without it) and a grill (waaaah, grilled summer goodness, I miss you).  Serenity, now.  for real.  also #firstworldproblems in a big big way.

This week in interesting internet:

Cried my eyes out about this blogpost from Scary Mommy about the only regret of not having a daughter.  I know, I have a daughter, what's the deal, right?  I'm just so grateful to get to do the things the talks about.  Crying forever.

Discovered the Crystal Knows application and it blew my freaking mind (thanks Alana!).  Like brains exploded on the walls of my house.  It searches the public sphere to decide how to communicate with people in the most empathetic way (ie. in the way they best respond to).  It would be super helpful for businesses , especially if you're trying to sell someone something.  Looked myself up and it was spot on.  "It is natural for Tabitha to become offended by a borderline joke."  "In email always include a greeting and closing."  "Tabitha does not do well with blunt constructive criticism".  insanity.  #whoiswatchingme?

Crying some more over this makeover for a soon-to-be-wed couple.  Really emotional in a bizarre way to think of all the life and memories that is shared with your someone.  I just really love when life gets all smooshed down like that - to see the grand scope in only quick clip (movie montages are my favorite)  Brandon and I both agreed we'd love to have it done.  Also, dying laughing about the husband's reactions to his own make-up every time.

Feeling super inspired by Tess Holliday this week and her promotion of self-love.  I think I have fairly positive self body image on the spectrum of self-body image of all women everywhere(?) but as I was explaining to B this week, even despite that - when I'm looking in the mirror my internal dialogue is not particularly nice.  I mean it's not like I'm beating myself up but it's usually not any way I'd talk to a friend either.  Tess is honest to goodness flipping beautiful and somehow she reminds me that I am too.  Just the way I am right now in this second.  Even though I could be more in shape and I could eat better and blah blah blah.  That doesn't make me less beautiful than I am right in the very now.  I don't know how to explain it, but Tess Holliday helps me remember that I'm pretty right now and it's not like I have to hold out to be pretty someday in the future when I take better care of myself.  Anyway, I love her for that.

Family Vacation to the Dominican Republic

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We recently spent a week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at Ocean Blue & Sands Resort with our three little ones; 5 and under.  And it was amazing.

Prior to our vacation, we worked with Mary Trofino of Trofino Tri-Star Travel to get our trip organized.  She was absolutely amazing, patient, and dedicated to perfection.  She was such a blessing in our planning process.  (thank you, Mary!) 

We gave her a budget of about $1000 per adult for a week long all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana, and Mary found a way.   She booked us through Apple Vacations to Ocean Blue & Sands all-inclusive resort and we flew out of BWI.  Mary even booked our stay&fly hotel room at the Wingate by Wyndham the night before we left.   Have I mentioned that Mary is amazing?

counting down our vacation on their color charts
We have been to all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana in the past for vacation, so we are somewhat seasoned veterans when it comes to Dominican vacations (see here in 2012, and here in 2010).  It was Greyson's third time in the DR!  We are also very very blessed to travel with family; BOTH sets of grandparents join us (along with my aunt & uncle, a pair of good friends from PA) all on this year's trip!  Extra eyes, extra hands, extra love.  Can't beat that.

these beautiful, youthful people are my children's grandparents.  #luckiestkidsever
We had an uneventful travel day (always a good thing) and were graced by the travel gods to have sleepy kids on the way there.  Our day consisted of a 5am trip to the airport via the hotel shuttle, a 7am flight from BWI to Punta Cana, DR (about 4 hour flight), and then a 30 minute bus ride from the airport to the resort.  Minutes after we arrived, we were overjoyed to see that my best friend, Karpy, and her family had also just arrived from North Carolina (which our nearly simultaneous arrivals was all due to Mary's awesome planning and coordinating!) Karpy, her husband Matt, and their fourteen month old sweetheart Andrew took the leap to international vacationing with a little one for the first time!

And then, the kids demanded pool time, so that's where we spent the whole first afternoon before even checking into our room and getting settled!  

The week was beautiful in all the ways beautiful vacation could mean;  the weather was great, the resort staff, food, drinks, fun was all beautiful, the company (our kids, the grandparents, our best friends, our whole group, each other) was all fun, funny, and kind.

Violet and Andrew had their first taste of beach vacationing and they loved the sand, pool, and snoozing in the arms of loved ones whenever they felt like it! They each had a crib to sleep in at night, a stroller for wandering the resort, all the crackers, yogurt, and fruit loops their hearts desired.  Best of all; they had the attention and smiles of everyone around them to entertain them all week.


And who can complain when you get to spend Mother's Day on vacation?!  All the mommas got to enjoy some r&r as we had the fellas fetch us spiked drinks all afternoon and we had delicious dinner via the Steakhouse menu that night.  

me and my momma
mommas and babies
We snuck in a grown up date night during the week.  The grandparents took our kids for the evening, while Brandon and I headed up to the 'grown ups only restaurant' and enjoyed dinner with no little hands stealing food from our plate or any little voices interrupting our conversation.  Then we headed back to enjoy drinks on the balcony of Karpy & Matt's room while we kept an eye on a snoozing Andrew and they enjoyed a grown up date dinner out.  It was a great evening to ourselves and amazing to feel like we were on an international vacation just the two of us...but only for the evening because we miss the kids too much otherwise.  HAH.  #parentprobs

We had two down days because our bigger two each wore themselves down to the point that they made themselves sick.  With four grandparents, two parents, and friends all at their disposable for playing; the kids went non-stop since the moment we arrived.  So it wasn't that big of a surprise when Grey started throwing up on Monday night with his bright red cheeks.  He spent all day Tuesday sleeping in our room (Brandon stayed with him) and then Gemma did the same thing on Tuesday night and she and I hung out in the room laying low all day Wednesday.  Their bounce back time was about 36 hours and then it was back to normal  We are certain that it was due to all the playing and sun (no one else in our group got sick) - we always say, "it's not really a party until someone throws up!" So check it off, dude; definitely a good time was had.

As for the resort review:  we loved the Ocean Blue & Sands and would definitely recommend it, especially to families.  All of the dining restaurants are located on one strip and most don't need an early reservation.  We had the best fun at the Mexican themed Margarita's.  The staff was accommodating with all of our kid-related needs (high chairs, milk, straws, etc) and we made friends with many of the servers and entertainment crew who were so kind and loving to us and our babies.  

at breakfast with our tribe
our dear friend Carlos!
We got to see Matt participate in a hilarious Sheriff competition on the stage during the Western theme night.  We enjoyed dinner on the beach with live music one night before the beach party.  And even joined in on some daytime entertainment like a painting class, and egg tossing game, and pool aerobics!

We had a magical time.  And honestly, we can't put a price on the memories for our family on a trip like this.  It's the experience that we value, the introduction of a new place to our kids, the opportunity to introduce them to the Spanish language and hear their own Mum speak it.  To give them a whole week of undivided attention from us and their grandparents.  The chance to vacation with our very best friends for a whole week and make memories with Andrew.  It was all wonderful.  So so wonderful and blessed.


So my suggestion for planning big family vacations (and well actually for all of life) is always the same:  do the thing that seems too ambitious.  Jump first and then figure it out.  It is not generally easy but it is almost always worth it.

Vacation planning:
Trofino Tri-Star Travel
Apple Vacations

Vacation supplies:
One Step Ahead  -  Most of the kids awesome beach attire (swim shirts, hats, headbands, frogglez, tents, and Violet's raft) all come from One Step Ahead.  This is not statement is in no way sponsored:  I love them and they are my go-to shopping spot for all summer safety gear.
Stearns Puddle Jumpers - not sponsored statement:  these are the best floaties we've ever purchased.  They are going on their second year of (heavy) use and holding up like new.  Kids feel totally confident in them as do the parents.  Certified like a life jacket.