In eight years, we have never spent an anniversary together in the US and six of them we have been apart. (Summer missions trips and June weddings have not proven to be a good match… ) Yet, never does the day go by un-celebrated. Tonight proved no different, when three minstrels appeared on my porch.

Travis knows how to keep the spark alive…But apparently, before visiting me, The Anniversary Singers visited my parents, four cities away, where they had been told I would be. (Does no one read this blog?!) I am full of mystery. It’s how I keep the spark alive.

Leaving VA Beach…

is always rough.

I can’t imagine why…

– Olivia playing Check Up Charlie” – a HUGE win for this two year old, she was occupied for hours …(My Mom buys quality toys and keeps them forever. This is no longer available new, but there are a few being resold on Amazon)
– Sophia riding “The Shadow” – a great tool for learning to ride a two- wheeler, or for letting  a child ride a two-wheeler but go at an adult pace…(again, my parents no doubt bought their version 15 years ago for much less…so keep an eye out at consignment stores)
– Final days of Swim Wings…it’s amazing what everyday in the pool can do…
***What are some new (or retro) toys that you (or your kids) are enjoying this summer?
(Back soon with details from the Fabulous Destination Wedding I just attended…but first, I have to put away all the groceries I swiped from my parent’s house…)

Sweet Sweet Things

Love this place. LOVE IT. We started going as kids when, in a somewhat confusing move, our Pediatric Dentist gave out free donut coupons to the bakery next door after each cleaning. I hadn’t been inside in years, but it’s not as much about what goes in, as about what comes out…such as:

the Mozart Cake.

It’s been my birthday cake, bridal shower cake and baby shower cake (in the form of baby booties…)and my birthday cake again and again. Seeing so many of them up close was almost too much for me…

but not for Olivia…We had been talking about bakeries for some reason and when my Mom needed an order dropped off (80th Birthday Mozart Cake of course), O and I took the opportunity for a little indulgence

“The Cookie Monster” was divine. She went for his eyes first…

(… hanging in Virginia Beach…drinking more pool water and eating more oversized face cookies than is probably healthy…)

Good Neighbors…

Returning from this…

reminded me about this…

Our local castle may not be surrounded by a moat, but the Governor’s Palace does stand in front of beautiful gardens and the famous “Palace Maze” accessible only with a CW ticket…or a Good Neighbor Pass.

The Good Neighbor Pass is available to locals (City of Wburg, JCC, Bruton District of YC) for $10 –  for an entire year of access to everything Colonial Williamsburg (including the bus service!)

Every year they let me choose between a new picture for my pass or just continuing with my old one. I choose to hold on to the original. It’s from the summer of 2007. I have very LONG hair and am holding seven month old Sophia, with absolutely NO hair. It’s sentimental.

This year we are going to take advantage of much more of the exhibits, but in the past, I’ve mainly used my Good Neighbor Status for the Palace Gardens – it’s a wonderland back there…

And this may have been the birthplace of representative democracy…

but don’t be surprised if you see a princess…

or her little sister who may or may not end up sliding into the beautiful, serene pond, only to alarm nearby tourists.(note to self: do not let go of your child on a slippery bank in order to take a picture…)

I Heart Jet Noise…

or at least I am remembering to try to.

Growing up here, roaring sounds and shaking window panes were ingrained into the lifestyle. I remember being on the phone with Erin in high school, instinctively pausing our conversation when the jet flew over my house, and then pausing again, as it went over hers…

Then I grew up and moved away and when I come back, I find it jolting. I catch myself wanting to exclaim, “How do you people live this way?!”

This is the normal here. My parents live a few miles from Oceana Naval Air Station – home to 300 strikefighter jets, of which I don’t know much about except their volume. This area of the state is heavily defined by military presence – navy, army, national guard.

 Yet, lately I’ve been learning the even the smallest geographic corners of this country overflow with massive military presence – families giving and sacrificing, and waiting, celebrating and mourning.

At least, right here, all day long, our ears won’t let us forget places very far away, those called to them, and the families who graciously send them…

…even while we are at the water park.

(… visiting La Familia in Virginia Beach…soaking up more sun, sand, and chlorine than we even thought possible…)

What about [the] BOB?

I’m not a great Child Product Consultant…I  was never able to wear my babies without injuring myself and I tend to find out about “the latest thing” three years late…but, when it comes to strollers, I get passionate.

Late one night, months ago, I threw out the idea for a Florida Vacation. We both sat silent for a moment. Was it possible? Where would we stay? What would we do? What about the drive? There were many unknowns in that first dialogue.

But from the forefront, I stated one non-negotiable.

“If we go, we are taking The BOB.”

“But how will we fit it in the trunk with the luggage?”

“Strap it to the roof. If that doesn’t work, strap me to the roof and pack it.”

In the end, The BOB got the roof and I got a seat (kind of.)

We bought a “sportrack roof basket”and strapped it on. It looked sporty and aggressive – not like we were a family overly-dependent on a stroller. In fact, when folded, you can barely tell it’s a stroller. It just looks like some intense piece of gear from REI.

On the trip, it was perfect as both beach buggy, and personal theme park monorail. At Disney, I packed each pocket so thoroughly, no bags were necessary, which meant, no bag check was necessary, which meant quicker park entry, which meant…everything with small children.

Both girls will still sleep in it too – in the rain. Enough said.

And finally, I knew that if, worse case scenario,we were to break down somewhere on I-95…The BOB could wheel us to safety and shelter…It’s like my own mental AAA.