Asher Wade’s 4th Birthday Party

Although we did take Asher Wade to Chuck-E-Cheese on his actual birthday (his request, and I’ve decided that battle is not worth fighting, as much as I dislike that place), and he had a little celebration at school that day, we officially celebrated him turning 4 years old this past Saturday with a super fun, farm themed bash. My parents, Matt’s parents, my brother and his girlfriend all came in for the weekend, and we invited his classmates and several friends from church and the neighborhood, so needless to say, we had a full backyard! I have a sweet friend that owns a lovely farm and has a traveling petting zoo. She brought over lots of precious animals, including some babies (!!) and a pony for pony rides. The kids had a blast! We grilled hot dogs and I made several “farm themed” snacks (thanks, Pinterest). I love how everything turned out and I really loved watching all the kids laugh and run around and love on the animals. If you are local and ever need a petting zoo for an event, I cannot recommend Noah’s Little Ark enough. The animals are adorable and so well taken care of and Cindy and her husband are as nice as they come.

Motivation Monday!

I realized I totally forgot to post last Monday, so I am including 2 weeks’ worth of motivation for ya! It’s been a busy 2 weeks, y’all. A 10K the Saturday before last and then a half marathon this past Saturday. Who am I?! Seriously, never would I have thought I would ever run a half marathon, let alone two in the last month alone, plus countless other short runs. Once I got over the initial fear of doing it (and the fear of crawling my poor body across the finish line, or throwing up at the finish line, or all of the above) and actually DID it, I realized that it’s actually, dare I say it, kind of FUN. It really is sort of an adrenaline rush, and such a feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line. I’m probably done with the races until spring rolls around. We are running an 8K on Thanksgiving morning, but then I’ll probably take a break throughout the winter. This girl does NOT run outside in the colder months. Give me the treadmill and my Orangetheory and I’m good to go. The plan is to sign up for the Biltmore Estate Half Marathon in Asheville, which is mid March. They give you a bottle of wine for finishing. Enough said.

Stats from 2 weeks ago:

Monday 10/31: Ran 3 miles along the river with my running buddy

Tuesday 1/1: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

Wednesday 11/2: Ran 5 miles along the river with my running buddy

Thursday 11/3: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

Friday 11/4: Ran 3 miles on the treadmill at 6.0 mph

Saturday 11/5: Matt and I ran in the Reindeer Dash 10K that morning. I came in just under 1 hour and was pretty pleased with that time.

Sunday 11/6: Pretty much rested my legs today, but did take a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood that evening.

Stats from this past week:

Monday 11/7: Ran 5 miles along the river with my running buddy

Tuesday 11/8: 60 minute Orangetheory Fitness class

Wednesday 11/9: Ran 3 miles along the river with my running buddy

Thursday 11/10: Ran 3 fast miles on the treadmill

Friday 11/11: Pretty much rested my legs in anticipation of the half marathon tomorrow, although I did take a few laps around the block with the pups.

Saturday 11/12: Half marathon day!

Sunday 11/13: Total rest day….much needed!

Pictures from the half marathon are below. We actually had several friends run this race, which made it even more fun. It was out at Chickamauga Battlefield and it was gorgeous. It makes those long distance runs so much better when you have some pretty scenery to look at. Granted, it was COLD. At least when we got started. The worst was standing out there waiting for the race to start. I warmed up once we got going, and thankfully the temps rose pretty quickly as the morning went on. Overall it was a great race and I’ll definitely plan to do it again next year.

Toddler Tuesday {Toddler Camping 101}

{Totally forgot to do my Motivation Monday post yesterday. Last week was so crazy, I honestly don’t even remember what I did, other than trying to fit in some short runs when I could. Back at it this week for sure!}

We took AW camping for the first time this past weekend. I thought this would be a fun way to celebrate Father’s Day. Turns out, camping with a 3 year old is somewhat fun, somewhat stressful, and somewhat of a nightmare;) Let’s just say that our weekend of camping ended with us packing up and heading out at 10 o’clock on Saturday night, lol. This was after listening to Asher Wade whine and complain for the whole afternoon about how he wanted to “go home to the blue house NOW.” He started off having a really good time, until he realized that camping involved bugs and sleeping in a tent. The child is TERRIFIED of bugs. Like, it’s borderline ridiculous. Obviously there were creepy crawlers all over the place, so that didn’t go over well. Then we explained that he was going to sleep in a tent that first night, and he started crying for his bed. I mean, I guess I can’t blame him. Our beds are a lot more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. Next time we will definitely splurge on some nice Aero beds or something. Yes, there will be a next time. I’m not one to give up easily. In all seriousness I do think he’ll get more adjusted each time we go. It was just a totally different experience for him. Plus I felt like there was still a lot of stuff he couldn’t do, and we were constantly having to tell him “No” which I know gets frustrating (for all of us).

Still though, we had fun spending time together and Fall Creek Falls State Park was awesome. One of the nicer places I have camped. Beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife (deer would come right up into our campsite), the falls were stunning, nice swimming pool, horseback riding, hiking, golf, fishing, playgrounds and a huge lake with tons of water sports. For those that prefer to “glamp” there are cabins and a lodge and even a decent restaurant. We cooked our meals at the campsite, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to cheating a little and visiting the restaurant. There are just a lot of amenities that make the whole camping experience a little more comfortable. If you are more adventurous, there are also options for primitive camping. Options are always nice. I definitely recommend Fall Creek Falls if you are looking for a nice outdoorsy trip. We will absolutely go back.

As for the “101” aspect of this post, here are some of my toddler camping tips for amateurs a/k/a things we will know better next time: (1) Bring cots or Aero beds, stuffed animals, their own pillow, whatever you can do to make the sleeping situation more like home, (2) Bring plenty of toys, bikes, scooters, balls, coloring books, etc., so they have stuff to do while you’re trying to enjoy the campfire and drink a beer, (3) Bring a portable potty to avoid multiple trips to the bathhouse especially if you are in the midst of potty training, (4) Pick a quieter, less trafficked campsite, preferably close to the bathhouse and a grassy area, (5) Find a campground/state park that has other, toddler-friendly stuff to do (like a pool, playground, water falls, easy hikes), (6) Bring special/safer “tools” so they can participate (AW was fascinated with the lanterns, roasting pokers, lighters, matches, sledge hammer, basically anything we’d rather him NOT play with, (7) Bring lots of wipes and anti-bacterial gel, (8) Lots of non-toxic bug spray and sunscreen (we use the Alba and Honest Company brands) and a first-aid kit, (9) Practice sleeping in the tent BEFORE you go, (10) Lots of snack options and easy to make meals that they can participate in, (11) Start small and don’t bite off more than you can chew (a whole weekend was probably a little too ambitious), and my last and final tip that I always include when it comes to any sort of toddler event, (12) GO IN WITH LOW EXPECTATIONS:-)

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Since I had already planned to be off on Monday, I enjoyed spending the first official day of summer at home with AW. We also saw “Finding Dory” with Matt. This was the first time we have taken AW to the movie theater and he did great. It was such a cute movie!

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Mother’s Day 2016 (and other weekend shenanigans)

Ah, what a beautiful weekend!  I was sad to see it come to an end.  We don’t always get such gorgeous, perfect weather on Mother’s Day, but we were certainly blessed with it this year.  We had such a fun weekend and spent a lot of it outdoors.  We started off Friday night with an event hosted by our church called Shine.  Basically we throw a prom for those in our community that have special needs, including their families and caregivers.  We ended up with over 500 guests!  This was our first year to be involved with this annual event and it will definitely not be our last.  Besides having so much fun with all of the guests, it was incredibly uplifting and good for the soul.  So many sweet spirits in attendance and I loved getting to meet them all.  The theme was “A Night Under the Big Top” so we decorated everything to look like a circus.  It looked awesome!  To go along with the theme we had an area of carnival type games, and Matt, being the good sport that he is, volunteered to be in the dunk tank, which was probably one of the most visited games of the night.  All in all it was just a great event and we were so blessed to be a part of it.

Saturday was Asher Wade’s last soccer practice of the season.  We’ve had to miss a lot of Saturdays due to travel, but thankfully we were able to make the last one.  This has been a fun activity for AW and although he still has a lot to learn, I think he made some progress throughout the season.  He definitely has the dribbling and shooting part down…the problem is that that’s all he wants to do the whole time;)  Seriously though, there’s not much funnier than a group of two and three year olds playing soccer.

Sunday morning I was surprised with breakfast in bed (which ultimately ended up in the kitchen to avoid a potential syrup-in-the-bed disaster with #toddlerAW) and then a couple of beautiful cards, my favorite protein bars and cookies, and a Fitbit Blaze.  My boys know me well:-)  After church we changed clothes and headed up to Lookout Mountain for a little hike and to check out Lula Lake Falls.  I’ve been wanting to visit Lula Lake since we moved to Chattanooga, but since it’s only open one weekend per month and we’ve always had other things going on, this was the first chance we got to go.  It was seriously so beautiful.  Just so natural and peaceful and definitely one of the gems of our city.  I’m constantly amazed at all the beautiful places we continue to discover since moving here.

After a picnic at the foot of the falls, we packed up and headed home, stopping for ice cream of course;)  Matt cooked one of our Blue Apron meals that night and we opened a bottle of wine and toasted to another successful Mother’s Day…my fourth one!  Each year gets better and better and I am truly so thankful that God chose me to be the mother of such a precious little boy, and the wife of such a sweet husband.  My boys certainly know how to make a lady feel special.  I definitely felt it yesterday.  Although I always feel so much joy and happiness on Mother’s Day, I also can’t help but notice a quiet sadness deep in my heart as I think of the mothers out there that have lost a child, or that are longing for a child, or the child that is grieving the loss of their mother.  Like many holidays, this is one of those days that can often bring up a lot of sadness and darkness for some.  It can also bring up hope too, though.  It’s also a reminder there are so many different ways to be a mother, and ALL mothers should be celebrated.  So, whether you are a birth mom, an adoptive mom, a fur baby mom, a grieving mom, a longing mom, or simply a mom at heart, Happy Mother’s Day!  Moms rock!

Disney Trip {Take 1}

Well, we are unfortunately back from our amazing Disney extravaganza. And I mean, very unfortunately.  The last time I remember being this sad about having to come back to the real world was when we were on our honeymoon.  Normally I’m the type that likes to get home, back to my house, my bed and my usual routine, but not this time.  I would have stayed on that Disney ship or at the Disney resort for as long as possible.  It was seriously the best trip ever and I am so thankful we were able to do it.  The family time and memories made were irreplaceable.  I can’t even say enough good things about the cruise…it totally blew us away and far exceeded our expectations.  We loved it so much that we booked another cruise while we were still on that one, so that should tell you something right there!

 I plan to do several posts, providing more details, tips and thoughts about the cruise, especially since we have gotten a lot of questions from friends, and of course include pictures!  I have so many and it’s hard to pick and choose. We were gone for 11 days after all.  The ones in this post are from our time in Sarasota, the hotel we stayed at in Port Canaveral before boarding the ship and then our first afternoon/evening on the ship

We started the trip with a visit to Sarasota.  It’s always nice to go “home” and relax in sunny Sarasota.  I’m really glad we started the trip like this – besides the obvious perk of seeing my parents and grandpa, I felt like we were able to get in vacation mode and relax a little before the main vacation started.  I don’t know about you, but it always takes me a few days to unwind, and on most vacations, that’s usually halfway through the trip.  I feel like just when I start to unwind and relax, it’s time to go home.  That wasn’t the case this time since I had these few days to decompress and by the time we boarded the ship, I was truly in vacay mode.  While in Sarasota, we basically just relaxed, did some shopping, and spent a lot of time outside.  We had an early birthday celebration for both Asher Wade and Matt, and AW experienced his first hibachi dinner at our favorite, DaRuMa.

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My parents kindly drove us over to Port Canaveral the day before we disembarked on the cruise.  If you ever leave for a cruise from Port Canaveral (which is one of the most popular ports), I definitely recommend staying at a nearby hotel the night before.  It was nice to already be there and have the shuttle take us right to the port in the morning.  We stayed at the Radisson, which was literally 5 minutes from the port, was reasonably priced, and it had an awesome pool.  We surprised AW with a specially made PJ Masks “Catboy” costume.

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Boarding the ship was a breeze.  On past cruises, I remember this process being really chaotic, but this time was not bad at all.  I assume Disney caters to families, knowing that with young kids, quick and efficient is the way to go.  We were greeted by characters in the terminal and just a whole lot of excitement in general.  When we first walked on to the ship, they make a big deal out of it and announce your name and you basically walk a red carpet….”Now entering, the McWilliams family!”  It was adorable.  We waited to board until 1 o’clock that afternoon, so we were able to get right in to our room, although our luggage wasn’t delivered until later that afternoon.  When we got to our room we saw that it had been decorated for Asher Wade’s birthday!  So, so cute, and totally worth the extra fee I paid to have this done.  All week long, every time we walked in to our room, he would exclaim “Mickey did this for me!”  He seriously thought Mickey had decorated the room for him.  So precious.  Another tip about boarding day: Pack a carry-on with swimsuits, change of clothes, sunscreen, and anything else you may want until you get your luggage.  We did this and were able to go enjoy the pool immediately.  By the time we got back to our room, our luggage was there and we could get cleaned up and ready for the evening.

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That night we kept it simple.  Matt and I were ready for some adult time, lol, so we sent AW off to the kid’s club for an hour and we enjoyed a cocktail and the sunset before collecting him for dinner.  You alternate restaurants for dinner each night and like most cruises, you either have the early or late seating.  We had the late seating (8:15 p.m.) and it worked out fine.  I was a little nervous because normally AW is in bed by then, but I’ll tell you right now…just throw bedtime schedules out the door completely on the cruise.  He was up until midnight most nights.  There’s so much fun stuff going on, you just don’t want to miss anything.  We always had some sort of activities going on after dinner.  This first night was kind of low-key and after listening to some music after dinner (and AW busting some moves on the makeshift dance floor), we headed back to our room to watch a movie.

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Honestly, one of my favorite memories from the cruise was laying in bed at night watching Disney movies.  You have an “on demand” option from your room where you can watch basically any Disney movie.  It was so fun to turn one on every night before falling asleep.  Asher Wade was introduced to some of our favorites like The Lion King and Finding Nemo.  He was also obsessed with those old school Mickey cartoons.

Toddler Tuesday {weekend shenanigans}

We had another busy, but fun weekend.  #toddlerAW was in full effect and had no shortage of things to keep him entertained.  We barely had time to get him down for his afternoon naps.  I’m kind of wondering how much longer we will be able to hold on to these naps.  To be honest, they are kind of annoying because we always have to stop whatever we are doing and make sure to get him home for nap time.  He’s never been one to nap on the go, and like his mama, prefers to be in his bed, in a dark room, with the fan on to drown out any outside noise.  He still takes a 1.5-2 hour nap most days and really seems to need that mid-day rest, or he can get pretty cranky as the day goes on.  I may kick myself when he finally does stop napping, but I feel like it will make things easier to not have to work around his nap schedule all the time.  When I mentioned this to Matt the other day, he quickly confirmed that he definitely still likes nap time and hopes AW keeps them up as long as possible, but I think he only feels this way right now during March Madness…nap time = daddy gets to watch basketball games in peace.

Anyways, we had beautiful weather again this weekend (at least until this cold front moved through on Sunday afternoon) and spent a lot of time outdoors soaking it up.  Friday after work we went by Whole Foods and picked up some food and drinks for an impromptu picnic at the park.  Asher Wade is getting so big and doesn’t have to stick to the toddler playground anymore…he’s right there hanging with the big kids and climbing all over the larger play structures, scaring mama to death most of the time;)  He still loves those bucket swings though… 

Saturday morning was soccer practice.  He was a little ornery this time and wasn’t too interested in participating until the very end.  For some reason he acts really shy at soccer, which is totally uncharacteristic for him.  Later that afternoon we went to an Easter egg hunt event that my company organized.  It was really well done and AW had a blast.  This was the first time he really seemed to “get” the concept of an Easter egg hunt and he was all about, talking strategy before they blew the whistle (“I go get the bluuuuue eggs mommy”) and then filling his basket as though his life depended on it, knocking over kids and taking names in the process.  That child definitely has the McWilliams/Whitley competitive streak.  Pray for him.    
  
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This slide.  It took him a good ten minutes and some tears to initially figure out how to pull himself up the ropes to get to the top, but once he figured it out, we couldn’t get him off.  He did that thing over and over. 

The pony rides and petting zoo were a hit as well.  He was obsessed with this chicken. Very serious about holding it and didn’t want to put it down. Thankfully chicken was a good sport.

He wasn’t too sure about the Easter Bunny and I had to sit up there with him.  If I remember correctly, I had to sit with him last year too.  He adores Santa, but something about that bunny makes him leery.  May have been that lazy eye…  This little boy…such a mess, but such a blessing to us:-)

Fall Fun {Take 1}

Like every other person in the blog world, I am kind of obsessed with all things fall.  Candy corn, pumpkin anything, flannels, leggings, Uggs, cool, crisp, weather….I live for it all.  Drop me in a pumpkin patch with my precious family, and I’m pretty much in heaven.  Then stick a pumpkin spice latte in my hand….oh man.  It’s all just too much.  Favorite time of the year hands down.  Everyone teases me and my tendency to pack our October weekends with fall-esque activities, especially Matt, but he’s a good sport and goes with the flow, and drives us from one activity to another.  {Thanks Matt!}

Chattanooga has no shortage of family fun.  The city had already won my heart over, but it’s been killing it with the fall and Halloween activities and events.  It doesn’t hurt that the scenery is just amazing with the vibrant, changing leaves, the mountains and the river.  Such a beautiful city.  This past weekend we took plenty of walks along the river, Matt and I had our very first Chattanooga date night and took a sunset cruise on the riverboat, and Sunday we all visited Greenway Farms and then checked out Blowing Springs Farm for their corn maze and pumpkin patch.  Everywhere was beautiful and we had a great time.  I heart you Chattanooga!

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Asher Wade’s Birthday Derby Party

We celebrated Asher Wade’s second birthday this past weekend in true Kentucky fashion with a Derby themed party!  It went off without a single glitch!  When does that ever happen?!  First off, we could not have asked for better weather.  Temps in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky.  Second, there were pony rides, and what kid doesn’t love a pony.  Third, but definitely not least, we have the best friends and family ever, and they make every special event, all the more special, just by being there.  So thankful to everyone that came out to celebrate.  As he grows older, I know Asher Wade will realize that there are so many people that love and care for him.  I could just go on and on about what a great group of friends we have.

It was so much fun to plan this party, and although it’s really exhausting, it’s totally worth the time and effort.  Gotta figure out how we are going to maintain par for next year!  Rather than go into a bunch of detail about the party, I will just let the pictures do the talking…

First off, this is how I roll with party planning. Gotta be organized!

First off, this is how I roll with party planning. Gotta be organized!

The food….

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The kids were so excited when the ponies showed up!

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After watching the horse race, we did birthday cake.  The same sweet lady that made his cake last year, did it again this year.  She is from Matt’s hometown and she is the best!

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Some of the kids got a little tee-ball game going later on.  So cute…

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So much fun!  I wish I had gotten more pictures of everyone, but it was hard to remember to.   Oh, and can I just show off my fascinator for a minute?:-)

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an Update….and then I will be back

Just dropping in a for a quick update because, well, it’s April, and before I know it, it will be May, so at least I’ll know I blogged in April:-)  Seriously though, I’ll be back soon with more updates once we get moved and settled.

I’m really excited to share some pictures of the new house, but since we haven’t moved in yet, I’ll probably wait to do that.  We closed a couple weeks ago, but have had some work done, and are continuing to do so (painting is going on as we speak and new carpet is going in the upstairs guest rooms next week), so we won’t be officially moving in until next weekend.  I can’t wait to get in there and decorate!  It’s one of those houses that’s just so fun to decorate and personalize.  The layout is really nice, there’s tons of hardwoods, rooms are big, and there are a lot of cool details like exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and eye-catching light fixtures.  I have all kinds of decorating and design ideas, and it’s hard to have to budget and start projects as we can afford them.  I just want to do and buy everything right now!

Standing in front of the new digs the day after we closed.

                    Standing in front of the new digs the day after we closed.

We've been frequenting Home Depot A LOT.

                                  We’ve been frequenting Home Depot A LOT.

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This past weekend we took Asher Wade to Disney Jr. Live Pirates and Princesses (a/k/a Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia the First).  We went in with low expectations about how long he would make it, but lo and behold he lasted all the way until the last 10 minutes or so.  He LOVED it!  Like squealing and clapping and bouncing up and down in his seat loved it.  The only downfall (if you are a boy mom like me) is that the princess portion came on first, so by the time Jake came on, he was starting to get a little antsy.  It was totally worth the outrageously priced tickets, snow cone, popcorn, lemonade, Jake flag and Jake plastic toy that broke literally 30 minutes after buying it.

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Monday we had quite the adventure.  It actually started Sunday night.  I know parents are quick to say “Oh my kid didn’t sleep at all last night,” when really that means they didn’t sleep as soundly as usual.  Well, let me tell you, my kid didn’t sleep AT ALL on Sunday night.  Like, it was the worse night we’ve ever had with him.  He cried and wined all night, could not get comfortable, and was basically just a pitiful mess.  I figured he had an ear infection, and I was actually worried about strep throat because Matt and I had both been sick with colds and sore throats.  We knew something was wrong so as soon as they opened, I called the pediatrician to get him an appointment.  In the meantime Matt noticed that his thumb was looking all pussy and swollen, but Asher Wade often chews on his thumb when he’s upset, so we figured it was just from the night before.  We get to the pediatrician and she checks his ears.  Perfect.  Checks his throat.  Perfect.  Everything else looks perfect.  What the heck?  We mention his thumb in case she wants to prescribe some ointment.  “Umm, so that’s an abscess and it’s infected and likely very painful.  We are going to have to cut it open and drain it.”  Good times, let me tell you.  I actually had to leave the room because (1) I don’t do good with blood and puss, and (2) I can’t stand seeing my child held down for shots, let alone to have his finger cut open.  Supposedly he was very brave and had minimal tears.

Not to gross you out, but ouch!

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No worries….an hour later he was back to himself;)

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