Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Summer is drawing to an end…

Well who agrees with me, Summer went so fast… One minute my children were finishing school and we were all looking forward to switching off our alarms and laying in bed in the mornings with no real plans for the day, then just like that it’s August, back to alarms as Heat Week kicked off, then early morning soccer practice every day, followed by thoughts of school buses, school supplies and back to school haircuts.

Summer for us always begins early, we are so lucky to have good friends with a beautiful pool… Once the weather turns and Spring is in full bloom, we are in the pool, and this has become over the years a big part of our Summer fun.  We usually visit two or three times a week, sometimes we stay for a BBQ too, but this year it’s been much more difficult to juggle with our kitchen renovation, we’ve managed it somehow and it has been so worth it, Florrie is now swimming without her armbands and Tate has gained so much confidence it’s crazy, he loves jumping in now and going under, it’s a pleasure to watch them.

 

We kicked off our Summer with some fruit picking at a local farm, it was a hot and dusty day, but we all had fun, ate way too many raspberries and Florrie discovered she loved fresh peas straight out of the pod… This made me very happy.

When we arrived in England earlier this year we discovered everyone was drinking Prosecco, what? It had become a craze, and I’m not going to lie we thought it was crazy, but as in all crazes we got hooked on our return home, this Summer has become a Summer of drinking Prosecco on the deck, with no kitchen to speak of we have grilled and grilled on our brand new BBQ and drunk copious bottles of Prosecco.


  

We Spent our Fourth of July at our friends pool, we had a BBQ too, then grabbed our suitcases and caught our late flight Down to Jacksonville, Florida for our 10 day vacation.  First stop the beautiful town of Saint Augustine, it was VERY hot, extremely picturesque and so busy, but we had a fantastic time, our condo was beautiful, the pool was warm and it was so much fun to swim every evening before dinner.  Next stop a flying visit to Daytona Beach on our way to Orlando, home to the Happiest place on earth… Disney World, it was extremely hot 103f, extremely busy but it was so magical to watch Florrie and Tate’s faces take in the whole experience that is Disney.  The first of our two days in Orlando was spent in Magic Kingdom and the second was spent in a slightly quieter Hollywood Studios, both very full long days, two days was more than enough time for me in theme parks, next year I’m taking a year off from them completely.


On our return from Florida the kitchen renovation kicked up a notch, permits were attained and contractors began to arrive, also Summer Birthday Season began with Jordan’s 26th celebration, a quiet one at home, followed by Farrel’s 22nd, Mabel’s 15th and Blu’s 17th Birthdays.  Farrel was flying to Arizona on his special day, so we had a Birthday Starbucks for breakfast before he left, then Both Mabel and Blu had soccer practice on their Birthdays so we celebrated around the coming and going that is August Soccer, Mabel with Hibachi and Blu with smokin BBQ.  Mabels friends also organized a surprise Beach party for her, which of course involved some parent help too… The sun shone, Mabel was totally surprised and had a fantastic time.

The first week in August came and it meant that my Mum was going home, with kitchen contractors in most days it was difficult to get out and make the most of her last few days here.  We did manage an afternoon at Dingmans Falls, it was a beautiful stroll through cool woodland, the Falls were relaxing to say the least.  The first weekend of August was Lumineers weekend, 6 tickets were purchased for the Stone Pony concert arena in Asbury Park, our car was loaded with beach stuff and people, the day did not disappoint even though we got absolutely soaking wet when a short heavy storm came in. I sat in the outdoor free concert on the beach with my Mum, Florrie and Tate, whilst the others all stood for hours and watched the show from inside the outdoor arena.


The last part of the Summer has been quiet for us, lots of swimming in the pool, eating Rita’s custard ice happiness, Florence’s absolute favorite, soccer practice, dinners with friends, contractors coming and going, trips to IKEA for kitchen parts, family BBQ and prosecco time on the deck, the Great British Bake Off on a Sunday evening, shopping with Dom for vacation clothes, including lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, Moms Taxi rides and let’s not forget the Sunflower Maze, a family tradition for us year after year, we love the sunflowers and getting lost in the maze, it’s always so hot in there so of course after numerous photos being taken I bribe Florrie with ice cream for just a few more shots, it works and I snap a few more before we buy sunflowers to take home and head off in the direction of something cooler.

…And that was our Summer 2016, almost over for another year, just a few more things to do on this holiday weekend. ✨

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Photographic diary, Uncategorized

A much needed vacation…

We have been back from our vacation for a week now and I am ready for my next one… Seriously you don’t realize you need to get away from life until you actually do it!


The problem with a vacation is its never long enough, Saint Augustine, Florida 2016 flew by… It took a lot of organization getting all 8 of us on the plane, settled in our condo, driving around in our rental cars and then onto Disney World… I was a tad frazzled by the time we parked our car at the airport on Monday evening, I had been packing, organizing and checking everything was in place for our trip away, it took me quite a few days to relax and enjoy.

 
We were very lucky our condo was fantastic, it was set in beautiful grounds with a gorgeous pool.  Historic Saint Augustine was a 20 minute drive away, well worth the visit, we chose to ride the trolley car, just so we could see everything in the extreme heat wave that was happening whilst we were there, although I have to say riding the trolley car to get around and see everything wouldn’t have been my choice had it not been so hot, I love taking photos and this method of being a tourist is very restrictive for someone with a love of photography.

Not to sound like a tourist guide, but if you ever get the chance to go to Saint Augustine Florida take it, but be sure to avoid July and August, it’s hot and crowded, it is truly beautiful though!
I had planned our vacation with a trip to Orlando, specifically Disney World, this was such a mistake, in hindsight we should have done this first, it was so busy and so hot it was exhausting, we needed a vacation from our two days in Disney.  I love all things Disney, unfortunately some people in our party didn’t feel the same, it was hot crowded, but in my mind Disney is where we all become children again and seeing Florence and Tate’s faces were just the most magical experience in themselves… It was worth every moment of the heat and the crowds…

On our last day in Orland we chose a slightly quieter option, when I say slightly I mean very slightly… Hollywood Studios was our destination for the day.  We got to sit down in the cool quite a lot which was a bonus and we got front row seats for the excellent Beauty and the Beast show, being a huge fan this was so magical and to just watch Florries face was just amazing.


The question now is ‘where shall we go to next?’

Happy Summer everyone 😍

Florence, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday sweet baby Girl 💟

Today is the last day my baby girl will be 4, her sweet face, her chubby cheeks and her cute little smile are only four for just today, tomorrow she will wake up and be a whole 5 years old… 

It’s crazy to think it was 5 years ago that I was planning to go into the hospital and meet my little girl… From the very first moment I saw her beautiful face I was totally in love and knew that this little girl was going to be very special in all our lives.  Today she is funny, smart and the bestest big sister a little brother could ever have.


Florence’s favorite thing to do is stay at home and play with her toys, she loves her toys so much, babies, Barbie dolls, kitchens, dolls houses, soft toys… the list is endless.  She loves to paint, draw, chalk and write letters.  Another of Florence’s favorite things is water, she loves to have a bath for hours upon end with all her toys joining her, she loves to play with water and most of all she likes to swim in water at the pool or at the beach, she is definitely my little water baby.


We have a crazy life with so many people living in our house, Florrie loves her siblings, each and every one of them, Mabel does her hair beautifully and paints her nails, Blu is just Blu with her and she adores him, her older brothers all adore her and in turn she has a special place in her heart for each of them.  Oh I must not forget our dog Simba, yes we do still have Simba and Florrie enjoys spending time with him.


Florence has been to dance classes which she loved, unfortunately the classes stopped and we now need to find another little dance school which we love as much as the last one, hopefully she will be starting dance again after the summer.  She is right now playing soccer, her Dad is the coach, she loves to run around play the games with the ball and meet the other girls.


This little girl makes me smile every day, she says the funniest things, she loves life and I’m glad at the moment I have chosen to homeschool her, it means I get to spend everyday with her, learning along with her, sometimes I teach her and other times she teaches me, more often than not it is her showing me something… She is crazy, funny, beautiful, but most of all she is simply amazing and we all love her to bits…

 


Happy Birthday sweet Girl… Have a wonderful day tomorrow 👑

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Life through my lens… Easter!

I’m a big event planner for special days… I like Birthdays to be special for the person who’s day it is, I plan what we will be doing, the food, the cake, the decorations, sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan, but I like to try to get it right, and Easter is no different! This Easter started on Thursday for us, unfortunately not for Paul though as he doesn’t get Good Friday or Easter Monday off, so with that in mind we headed to meet Paul for what turned out to be a late lunch at his office…

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The afternoon was slightly rushed due to car restraints that come with sharing your car… the weather was beautiful, if not a little windy, and the scenery was fabulous, so a few photos had to be snapped!

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As the weather was going to be reasonable for the weekend, we decided to head to my happy place… The beach on Saturday! It was a bright sunny day with lots of sunshine and blue skies, but oh, that wind was brutal… Paul was a trooper and spent along time playing in the sand with Florrie, even with the mother of all hangovers (no sympathy there though)!

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Easter Sunday was not a restful and relaxing day for me as I’d imagined, there was the basket making, the gift opening the egg hunt organization, cake making and dinner prep, but thankfully my mum did most of the last one, by late afternoon I sat with my glass of wine and breathed a sigh of relief…

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Easter Monday was girls shopping day out, of course Tate was the only boy allowed until at the last minute Jordan decided to gate crash our fun Urban Outfitters day shopping…

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There is just something about Easter weekend that I love, perhaps the promise of spring just around the corner, or the thoughts of an alarm free week ahead as my children had Spring break… Or just some quality time with my family… One thing is for sure though, getting home after a fun packed weekend, kicking my shoes off and sitting on my new rug, hand dancing with my children to Jordan’s new vinyl was the perfect way to finish our Easter off!

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… And just like that, it was over!

As summer draws to a close I am reflecting over these past few months… We started out in a very unorganized way, we have had very little BBQ’s this year… Really not like us, we haven’t sat out all evening drinking a chatting, again very unlike us, and I personally have just felt tired and drained… Now I can’t even blame Tate for lack of sleep as he is such a good baby… I just really feel there is something lacking about this summer… And now it’s almost Fall!

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I think my lack of energy is because I need to find a direction and. stick to it, I feel like sometimes, I just wander aimlessly around, but these past few years have been tough for our family, due to a series of events, life just seems hard in every direction… So I’m trying to find some positive vibes in each and every day, because despite everything we are a close, loving family and that means everything in life… Well that and a glass of wine, of course!

The one thing I will remember this summer for, is our pool days with our very kind friends, this year there have been a lot of fun wet days spent in their pool, and for that I am truly grateful to them… Florence’s confidence in the water has improved so much, her love for swimming has increased so much over the summer months, each pool day has seen her grow into a happy diver, swimmer, racer and her smile each time she jumps into that water is magical!

This was Tate’s first summer pool experience, although he was dubious at first I think his confidence has grown too… We even got a couple of smiles from him as he kicked his little legs, splashing away!

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This is also the summer we discovered that Florrie loves sand, the Cake Boss shop, movies in the park and Twix Bites… Now we are all totally addicted! Mabel has become a very competent swimmer and Blu has actually left his Xbox and his room and sat with us for long periods of time… We even got him to chat a little… Now that is crazy!

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Summer also saw Mabel hanging out with her friends more, movie dates, swim dates and of course shopping trips to the Mall, this was also the summer that she became a teenager and went to her first concert, which she absolutely loved!

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We have been to the beach a total of three times this summer, and I have decided that beach days out of season are the best… The long drive sat in traffic, the high costs to park your car and then the charges to get onto a extremely busy beach in the height of summer are far outweighed by our after Labor Day beach trip… The drive was easy, parking was not only easy but very cheap, 4 hours on the beach plus one hour having ice cream equalled $5 prime position parking versus $15 for a dusty long walk parking place in the height of summer. The weather was fabulous yesterday 93f, the beach was free and much quieter than it was a few weeks ago… My thoughts are summer may be almost over but I can see a few Fall beach days in our future… Maybe!

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Well school has already started for my older children, universities/colleges are back, but tomorrow truly signifies the end of summer for me… Blu heads back to High School as a Sophomore and Mabel starts her final year in the Middle School as a newly fledged teenager, I’m starting this semester with a new project, homeschooling a three year old… But that’s a story for another day!

Good luck to everyone for this new school year and to all us parents with the love and support each of our children need!

Uncategorized

MIA…

The summer used to signify rest and relaxation for me, when my older boys were young the start of the summer holidays/recess meant long lazy days, no alarms meant laying in bed all morning watching tv and on those days we planned an outing we would be up extra early visiting places before the crowds arrived… The beach trips meant leaving the house at 6am and getting to the beach with a breakfast picnic and a flask of coffee, just as the crowds arrived at lunch time we would pack up and leave… I thank my very good friend for showing me this way of summer beaching… Such fond memories!

Now these past two weeks of summer have not been like that, it’s been go, go, go… We have left too late for trips to the beach, meaning we have arrived at the beach to find crowds of people and then have sat in hours of traffic on our way home. When we have been at home all I have heard is I’m bored, I’m hungry and what are we doing tomorrow?

With the weeks of the summer flying by I want to bring back rest and relaxation with a healthy mix of days out and chores around the house… I need to get organized right now!

We got together one evening and for the first time ever we planned a summer list of want to do’s…

Morristown… Cake boss shop… Completed
Dingmans Falls walk
Flea market
Beach… Completed
Water play park
Dorney Park/water park
LBI
Arboretum… Completed
Mall… Completed
Read a book… Completed by Mabel
Concerts in the park… Completed one movie in the park
Bowling
Arts and crafts projects
Hyline NY
Zoo
Go carting
Mini golf

As you can see we have completed a lot of our list in just two weeks, in between all that fun we have also had a lot of excitement with some relaxing pool time courtesy of our friends beautiful pool, and also Mabel has had a wonderful sleepover and a two day community pool play date… All this water fun led to us purchasing an adventure waterproof camera… The underwater photos are amazing and not worrying about sand in my camera on the beach is so good!

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If you love taking your camera everywhere you go… Then I would recommend an all adventure camera, taking photos in the pool is amazing and beach photos become worry free… Sand in the camera is no longer a worry… Our camera was on offer in Costco $149.99, $50 off and included a float handle, so when your not using your camera it can just Bob around in the pool, waiting for the next time you want to snap away… Mabel has taken selfies to a new level… Underwater… So much fun!

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As always I must mention food… My summer favorite at the moment is salad with fresh figs, a suggestion from Rachael Ray, yesterday I bought some beautiful fresh figs from Trader Joes, I quartered them and added them to my green salad, drizzled balsamic glaze over and it was sooooo good! Tonight I am making a variation of the Pioneer Woman’s Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches with a nice fruity green salad again…. Happy summer cooking!

Uncategorized

MIA…

This summer has not really gone as planned, it’s been quieter than usual, explanations coming later! The food we have eaten has been oh so bad, junk food to the max, we have been at home a lot, just a few days out and about, and then this last week we did finally organize ourselves enough to vacation for a week… And that really was an oh so much needed break away!

A couple of weeks ago, we finally got our acts together and booked a week away in North Carolina… I was not looking forward to the 8 hour drive to Raleigh, but with 3 drivers, Dom came along with us, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t really know what I was expecting from this southern state but it more than lived up to my expectations, so much so, I think I could easily live there! Everyone was extremely friendly, the roads were easy to drive on, clean, wide and the best thing no traffic or police hanging around in every nook waiting to get you for silly things! The whole place seem to be thriving, new and again so clean, no empty, closed down buildings in sight, everywhere seemed to be booming unlike here in New Jersey! Now if you wanted to eat out there was everything you could imagine and things you hadn’t even thought of, every shop you wanted was all within an easy driving distance… Each town had it’s own identity, Raleigh was more a smaller city with thriving business’ everywhere, Apex was the cutest small quiet town and my absolute favorite Chapel Hill, a thriving college town with lots of bars, shops and a great feel about it!

A two hour easy drive took us to Wilmington NC, home to Dawson’s Creek… Who knew? Here in Wilmington are three beautiful sandy beaches… Wrightsville Beach was the nearest to our hotel, clean, gorgeous blue water and well worth a visit, we spent 6 hours on this beach, Florrie even took a dip in the water here, but she still did not like the sand! I think the beast thing about this beach for us was the Starbucks situated just off the road just before you got to the beach! Carolina beach was a little bit more vibrant with a boardwalk and shops, this beach was beautiful, very clean and the most gorgeous view out to sea, we were on the beach for about 4 hours when a storm came across the beach, it was amazing to see, we maybe stayed too long taking photos of the amazing sky, because when the rain came, it really came hard and we got absolutely soaked… It was fun though! There is also another beach within Wilmington, Kure beach, unfortunately we did not manage to get to that one… Maybe next time!

Downtown historic Wilmington was my perfect town, a gorgeous boardwalk along the water, cute restaurants and shops, antiques, homemade ice cream and lots more for the avid photographer and her camera, unfortunately my younger children did not feel the same so we cut our tour short of this must visit town!

All in all I am totally in love with North Carolina… There was one tiny thing I was not so impressed with though… I do not like pumping my own gas, thankfully on this trip I did not have to do it, I am guessing I have turned into a Jersey girl… As they say Jersey girls don’t pump gas, and this Jersey girl has forgotten how to pump her own gas!

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