Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Thanksgiving for Four!

In true "Traveling Shenks" fashion, Ellie's first Thanksgiving was a busy one! 

Ellie hanging out with James watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 
A quick family portrait before we head off.

Thursday, we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with the Shenks at Mimi & Papa's. Lots of delicious turkey and Uncle Matt's creamed corn. Yum! James and his cousin, Jackson, hole up in the playroom together and only appear when it's time to eat so I don't really have pictures of him. But he was there. 

Relaxing with Papa. 
Cousins Hope & Taylor try to get Ellie to stick her tongue out at them, while she hangs out with Aunt Ayesha.
Ellie did it back and they loved it!
Playtime with Mimi. 
Cousin Hope snuggles Ellie and she looks very comfortable. 💕
Like the rest of us, Ellie ate too much and passed out. #milkdrunk

Friday, we celebrated our little friend Z's first birthday at the Magic Kingdom. 

Ready for a day of Disney fun.
Ellie is unconvinced about the TTA people mover in Tomorrowland.
A lovely night in Fantasyland.
James and I snag a selfie in front of the beautiful castle all lit up for the holidays.

Saturday, we headed up to Luther Springs in Hawthorne to spend a couple days relaxing out in nature with GrandPoppa and our pals, the Lawrence family.

Ellie thinks GrandPoppa is super comfy. 
Ellie hangs out with Ms. Enid, while Kim helps Z take a closer look at this new baby thing.
The kiddos are all decked out for the UF-FSU game. Go Gators!
Leo shows Scruffy the trail.
Kim and Z on a beautiful day at the lake.
James, Tia, and Beau duke it out over board games and snacks.
A gorgeous sunset sky full of color only mildly conveyed here.
The only way Ellie would sleep. Sigh. 
Out for a walk on a beautiful fall day.
Me and my girl, Kim, with her little man. I think he thought I was getting too close.  
James loves snakes and was really happy to get to hold a pet snake owned by a fellow camper.

Sunday evening we met up with our friends from Colorado, Ryan and Dawn, and their girls, Kendyl and Addison, at Disney Springs. They got to meet Ellie, and James got to try and divide his attention between two equally adorable cuties. Ha!

Big blue eyes and adorable pink boots. She's ready!
This picture is so cute to me! I love the way Kendyl is looking at James. 😍
Ellie gets all the baby love from Ms. Dawn. 
Ryan and I-- pals since the good old high school days. 
Having a chat over drinks with Kendyl.
Dancing the night away with Addison. 

Monday, November 27, our little Eleanor Marie turned two months old! Such an amazing little miracle and such a happy baby. She smiles and laughs at us occasionally and it's just the best thing. Not a great sleeper at this age, but a really great eater, so that's good.

Our gorgeous girl.
James is a fantastic big brother and he loves to read to her and try to make her laugh.

Tuesday night, we had our first date night out since Ellie was born, joining Ryan and Dawn at dinner at Shula's Steak House to celebrate Ryan's birthday. It was so much fun and the food was really fantastic. 

Date night happy faces.
Happy people having uninterrupted conversation, delicious food and wine, with no kids. Woohoo!

Wednesday brought us another friend popping in for a quick visit. Chris's high school friend, Justin, flew into Orlando and stayed with us overnight before heading to the east coast to see his family. It had been a few years since our last visit so we were happy to hang out, although next time we hope it's longer and includes his awesome wife and way cool daughter. 

Ellie spending some bonding time with Mr. Justin.
All worn out from her first Thanksgiving holiday. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chattanooga in the Fall

In mid-November, just before Thanksgiving, we took a fun road trip up to the Chattanooga area to get some fun time outdoors before the holiday madness. We took our trailer with us and camped at a KOA that was technically in Georgia, but only twenty minutes outside Chattanooga. The best and most surprising part was how much fall color was everywhere on the trees!! It was so beautiful and I just couldn't believe it was still around that late in the season. Such a wonderful surprise!

This crappy phone picture cannot do justice to how rich and vibrant the colors were on this drive!
Look! We have kids--plural!-- in the back seat. Better get used to the car, Ellie... 

The boys took their mountain bikes up and I found a really neat park, Enterprise South Nature Park, that had separate mountain biking trails rated by difficulty. They took off Friday morning to go mountain biking while Ellie and I stayed behind and explored the trails around the campground (which were quite lovely and peaceful).

So excited! James couldn't wait to use his mountain bike on something other than our backyard. 
Chris says James was awesome on the trail! He was really impressed. Way to go, kid! 
Ellie naps while I enjoy the peace and quiet among the trees.
Leo had a great time at the doggie playground. He loves a good slide.

After mountain biking all morning, Chris wasn't feeling super well, so he laid down for a bit and James, Ellie, and I took off on the campground trails around sunset. Walking through a forest is decidedly one of my favorite things to do. Doing it with my favorite kids was just fantastic.

There is no shortage of delicious places to eat in Chattanooga and we enjoyed some really tasty meals while we were there. One of our favorites was dinner at Urban Stack. If you head that way, we definitely recommend a stop there. Breakfast at The Bitter Alibi was also really good and their menu offers more creative brunch options than the usual fare.

James just wanted a squeeze while we waited for our food. 
Taking a turn holding his little sister. He's so loving with her.

Saturday morning we headed into downtown Chattanooga and explored a local farmer's market. We picked up some amazing BBQ sauce and hot sauce from a stand there that we are still enjoying. 
In the afternoon, we headed up to Lookout Mountain for some cool weather hiking. 

Ready to go! Wishing we had remembered a backpack...
Leo loves hiking and he has definitely missed the mountains.

I sincerely love trees.
A gray day, but a beautiful one.  
I love this picture! My two favorite guys sharing a moment in nature. 💕
Eating on the trail. Loves being outside. Our girl fits right in. 

Back at the KOA, James enjoyed jumping on the giant jump pillow, playing in the arcade, and riding bikes with other kids at the campground. I'm not sure he would have cared if we left the campground at all. He made friends with another boy just across the road from our trailer and had dinner and S'mores with them one night without us, which he thought was just "so awesome"! 

Pretending to meditate in mid-air. Silly kid. 
Ellie just chillin' in the camper.

As most of you know, I had a miserable pregnancy with James, sick with hyperemesis gravidarum for a large chunk of the time. Since he was going to be born in the winter in Utah, I bought him a little fleece bear suit to stay warm that was just ridiculously cute. So many times when I was super sick in bed, I would look at that little bear suit and remember why I was going through that misery and how worth it it would all be once he was here. I loved seeing him in it once he was born and I kept that little suit just in case I was ever lucky enough to have another little one to put in it. On this trip, I got to see my adorable little girl in it as well, and I am reminded yet again how lucky we are to have her. 

My blue-eyed girl rocking that bear suit.

And because it's so cute...
My sweet boy all snuggled into his bear suit (February 2009).