Category Archives: Our Everyday

1700 Miles

Our Spring Break Road Trip 2017

Harrison loooves Thomas the train so much. Owen was never really interested in Thomas and Harrison knows every character by name and can quote the show like crazy. Somehow we found out about Thomas Land, which is fairly new and outside of Boston. We had been talking about going for a while, and it’s closed in the winter so we just kind of forgot about it. Owen’s spring break was coming up, and we were trying to figure out if we were going to go to the beach or just hang out here. The idea of a quick trip to Boston came up, but then we chatted about a few other ideas, and Michael mapped the whole thing out. We had to change our trip dates last minute because of my work + and then an event we wanted to be back for, and Michael was amazing at adjusting the trip and figuring out how to work everything out. I can’t even fathom maps or directions, so I’m so blessed to be married to a living Map. His brain works in math and geometry and all that, and mine just shuts down. I am so thankful for Google Maps which just tells me what to do. I even use the walking directions when I park downtown and need to walk somewhere. SERIOUSLY. I know! When we first moved into our neighborhood, I was so completely lost + scared. I used the one entrance/exit I knew of and didn’t make any other turns. Michael had figured six or more different ways out of the neighborhood by the next day. (We have been here ten years and I now finally can figure my way out in all directions)

This trip was truly such a memory, and I can’t get over just how well the kids did. We covered 1700 miles in the car. We left after Michael got home from work on Thursday the 13th, and drove to Waldorf, Maryland. Since Good Friday was the next day, and we came home Tuesday night, he only had to miss two days of work, which was awesome. Friday morning, we left Waldorf and stopped in Annapolis. We ate breakfast at Chick and Ruth’s Delly, which was so yum. We definitely had to try the crabcakes + corned beef hash. We did have other breakfast foods like bacon and eggs, too. Michael found this spot, and it was such a neat building. They say The Pledge of Allegiance there everyday – 8:30 AM Monday – Friday and 9:30 AM on the weekends. From their website, “It was the site of the original Annapolis City Hotel, from 1788 to 1890. On this site George Washington lived for some time after he retired as Commander in chief.” One thing I loved about this trip was just so much history we got to see and learn about. After breakfast, we walked around Annapolis for a little bit, and then got back on the road.1 annapolis MD 0001P I N this to pinterest1 annapolis MD 0002P I N this to pinterest

Friday was a big day…We did Annapolis that morning, and then drove to NJ for Diggerland, which just opened for the season. We probably spent around 4 hours there and did not do everything at the park. I was really amazed at how they adapted all of the equipment for the kiddos. It was also perfect for both of our kid’s ages. There were some rides only for Harrison’s age and some only for Owen’s (see here for the height requirements) I was looking over their website on Thursday morning and saw the height requirements, and was like AHHH I gotta go measure Harrison. So naturally I went to the closest best spot I know to measure a child – Brusters. HA! Who doesn’t need a dirt sundae when packing for vacation anyway? So, whoever thought of this park is brilliant – what little boy doesn’t love riding in a Garbage truck aka the Greased Beast. It goes up in the air and shakes like it’s throwing the trash out…Owen loved it. I think the Ground Shuttle was my favorite. Owen looooved being about to drive the Backhoe – that was such a cool ride. The barrel train may have been Harrison’s favorite- because, trains, but he also loved driving the Dumper Truck with Michael. Owen and Michael both rode the Spin Dizzy which looked super fun. Michael LOVES all things rollercoasters, and it looks like Owen will be the same way. It was a great park, and it wasn’t too crazy busy as we thought it might be on Good Friday. When we left Diggerland, we stopped by Liberty Park in New Jersery and Owen got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, which was on his list of things he wanted to see in NY. Then, we drove 7 hours to Plimoth, outside of Boston, where we stayed for two nights.

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On our way to Plimoth, we stopped at a rest stop. Let me tell you about rest stops in the Northeast. We are missing out here in NC. It’s like a party…think a full food court at a mall. Here in NC, there’s a bathroom and you might get a drink machine. I think people were meeting up and hanging out at the rest stops up north. Have you ever driven 40 to Wilmington? We totally need one of these mega cool rest stops along the way. We got to Plimoth late that night and slept in.3 Thomas Land Edaville 0017P I N this to pinterest

Liberty Park

Saturday was our day for Thomas Land. Woooo hoooo. It wasn’t too far from our hotel, and Harrison was beyond excited. Thomas Land is part of an older bigger park called Edaville. When you get there, you walk through Edaville to get to the back section which is Thomas Land, and the also have Dino Land. You pay one admission and you get access to all three. Dino Land was not open yet (opens in May I think), but we spent 4 1/2 hours just on Thomas Land, so were worn out at that point and didn’t do any of the Edaville rides. You could spend a whole day there if you wanted to ride all the other rides. It looks like Christmas is big there because they have a little Scrooge village. Edaville had also just opened for the season, and the crowds were not bad at all. In fact, at one point, there was a Thomas Show and people were eating lunch and we got to just walk on a ton of rides, and the boys rode by themselves. They had a super cute show at Tidmouth Sheds where Gordon, Emily, Percy, and maybe someone else made a cranberry pie. Cranberries are big in Boston, and Harrison also got a Thomas Land Thomas that had a freight car filled with cranberries. Harrison loved being able to play on Percy – he had a wheel and levers, etc on the back, and it was a huge hit with the kids. The Flynn ride was super cute because Owen could put out the fire + Harrison got to drive. Just like Diggerland, Thomas Land was great for both of their ages – I was surprised at just how much Owen LOVED Thomas Land. Toby’s Tilting Tracks, The Troublesome Trucks Runaway Coaster, Rockin Bulstrode, and Cranky’s Crane Drop were Owen’s favorites, all perfect for his age. Harrison loved riding on Thomas, of course, and riding Winston’s skyline express was also a hit. Tidmouth Sheds was probably his favorite. He got to see the show twice while we were there, and he just loved the talking trains.

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After Thomas Land, we drove out to Cape Cod, and ended up at the Creamery in Hyannis. We had promised the boys ice cream at DiggerLand and so we were finally about to get them some. I had never been to Cape Cod – it’s just so beautiful, and loved seeing all the houses. We drove up to the water – so gorgeous! After eating ice cream (we kinda had dessert first) we asked around for the best spot for seafood and ended up at Baxter’s. They had just opened for the season, so it was quiet. (Plus we were eating early..people started arriving when we were leaving) Oh man, the shrimp was delicious. After dinner, we drove to Plymouth Rock and The National Monument to the Forefathers because I have an ancestor that came over on the Mayflower. Even my dad still has his souvenir from when he was little, and his parents brought him to show him his family history. Owen was all about Plymouth Rock and that was something he really wanted to do on our trip since he had learned so much about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower at school. When we got back to the hotel that night, Michael ran out to Walmart which was across the street for Easter baskets, ha! We had decided not to drag ours around in the car.

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The next morning, we got up and we had a plan for which church we were going to in Boston, which a friend had recommended. We got so turned around with all the tunnels + highways in Boston, that we were going to be just so late after parking. (That’s how confusing Boston is, if Michael makes a wrong turn..just way too many tunnels and turns. He has to love when I try to help him with the GPS…then we are definitely making a wrong turn) I had never heard of the Big Dig – wow. So we found parking in the North End, which was close to Old North Church, where the lantern was hung for Paul Revere. We were late but they still let us in to church. I have not been in many old churches, where a pew has a door and then benches, so you are kind of like in a little room. You can still see the pastor, but the kids had a lot of space to run around in there. Also, the door to our pew was broken, so the usher let us know we were stuck in there, and he would have to get us out. I didn’t feel claustrophobic at that point or anything. And there was a sign in the little pew room explaining who was buried under our pew.

After church, we went to our lunch reservation at Beneventos in Boston’s Little Italy. It was yum + I had their house speciality. The trolley tour was next which was really great, and we got to see a ton of the city. The photos of the buildings were taken from the trolley. (Read about the giant teakettle here) I really loved seeing all the history in Boston. We were signed up for a boat ride, too, but it was just HOT. The trolley was great + we got to see where the Boston Tea Party was, which was something Owen really wanted to see. We rode the trolley back to a stop near our car + then headed for NYC. We had no trouble driving into the city, parked next to our hotel, and were so beat, we fell asleep quickly…Because, the next morning we were waking up at 5AM.

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My husband is a trooper. You know he loves me when he will plan a trip where he drives 1700 miles, sleeps for only 5 hours and heads out at 6AM to Central Park to take photos of the boys. (I’ll share more of these soon. A huge thank you to Little Apple Styles for picking out the boys’ super cute clothes)The city was so quiet at 6 AM but I was shocked at how many people were in Central Park exercising. We took photos for around 15 minutes + then grabbed a taxi back to our hotel. The boys really did not know what to think being in the taxi and seeing all the traffic and tall buildings. Harrison, our lover of all things transportation, was just so quiet + soaking everything in. It is a rare moment for him not to be chatting about something. We changed the boys + checked out of the hotel so that we could hang out in New York. (yes, we were there for less than 24 hours!) The original plan was to stay in NY for two days, but then an event got planned for someone so so special to us that we couldn’t miss, so we headed back a day early. Breakfast started with Pik A Bagel, since bagels are so NY and we’d almost hit our 10,000 steps by breakfast. Times Square was kind of funny…When Harrison was four months old, I went on a trip to NY and took a picture with Spiderman and sent it to my mom. Owen has never forgotten that. (He was 3 1/2 but that’s just how his little brain works…he doesn’t forget ANYTHING! ha!) So one thing Owen wanted to do was go to Times Square and see who might be there. He saw Batman and really wanted a photo with Batman..Well, it was like 9 something in the morning, and Times Square was pretty quiet for Times Square..and all of a sudden, a swarm of “super heroes” or whatever you want to call Olaf, appeared for a photo with Owen. I was crying I was laughing so hard because we really only wanted Batman but no one would leave because of course, they all wanted to make money. Needless to say, to get out of there, Owen got a photo with all of them, and Michael spent all of his cash! ha! The boys really wanted to go to MnM world, and you know Owen wanted to go to the Lego store, which was fun for them to see Rockefeller Center. People were still ice skating even though we were in short sleeves.The boys got me a sweet present at Tiffany + Co, (really so much fun to go there!) and Michael, of course, wanted to stop in Niketown. For lunch, we waited about 35 minutes at Serendipity, so not bad at all, although I think you can make reservations. The boys loooooved the frozen hot chocolate! I’m not sure if he’s always there, but the owner was there signing books, so that’s what Mimi got from me. (Serendipity 3 was the location we went to + where the movie was filmed) We did walk around a ton and got to see so much + the boys loved it. Harrison did get tired at one point + requested Michael carry him, but the boys stayed in great spirits. When we were finally done and at a crazy amount of steps, I was like, let’s just take a taxi back! HA! A taxi is my BFF.

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We drove the two hours to Philly that night to meet up with some friends to eat dinner, which was just so much fun + then we headed two hours to Maryland where we spent the night. The next morning we fought through crazy DC traffic (at 10AM) and barely made it back to NC with 30 minutes to spare before our friends’ event. Needless to say, we crashed that night. And I can’t even believe my husband went to work the next day! I was exhausted and I didn’t even do the driving!

So thankful for this trip, the memories made, and my sweet husband that made it all happen!

A few IPHONE snaps from our trip….

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As Seen in People Magazine, The Bump + Several Blogs Including Lemonade + Lenses | Rebecca Keller

 

 

 

Going to Biltmore With Kids

Biltmore Kids Photography 

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This was a trip we took last fall for the boys’ fall break. It was the second time My mom and I took the boys to the mountains for fall break. (You can read more about our trip last year here) Owen also was in kindergarten last year so our first official fall break! His kindergarten trip we only went to Sky Top + The Grove Park Inn, but this year we decided to add in Biltmore + stay at Biltmore. This was a two day trip. Yep, two days. So we crammed a lot in! We started early in the morning and drove all the way to Sky Top and spent a few hours there. We grabbed some apples, rode the hay ride, went through the bamboo forest, fed the animals, and of course, ate doughnuts.

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If you ever stop here, that walkway is rotted through so stay far far away from it:)Ok, we were close, but just don’t walk on it.

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Then, we left Sky Top and headed to a 4PM Carriage ride at Biltmore. We checked in to The Inn at Biltmore, which was just awesome. So, the best part of staying at Biltmore was the shuttle buses. We took one to the carriage ride, which then took us to dinner after. Harrison loves looking at and talking about, “neigh neighs.” He still calls them this even though he knows they are horses. The boys looooooved the carriage ride, and oh my, My mom and I did, too. We learned so much more about Biltmore and it’s the only tour where you can see those views of the back of the house, so cool!

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I haven’t been to Biltmore in several years, and I didn’t even know about the dairy and all we learned about the forest and how it was planted. (Read more about the dairy here) So, of course, the boys had to have ice cream from the Creamery, inspired by the Biltmore Dairy, both days we were there. We also ate dinner at the Bistro which was super yummy.
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The boys did really well on the house tour. There is a tour for kids narrated by Cedric, The Biltmore dog but Owen got tired of it pretty quickly. He was fascinated with finding all the secret doors and secret passageways. Harrison just likes to follow his brother around and do whatever he does. We ate lunch at the Stable Cafe and then headed to Antler Hill Village to pet the barnyard animals. Biltmore Kids Photography _4036P I N this to pinterestBiltmore Kids Photography_4037P I N this to pinterestBiltmore Kids Photography_4038P I N this to pinterest….which afterwards we had one last ice cream + headed home. It was such a fun adventure, and it wasn’t too long for the kiddos to enjoy Biltmore! See more info for kids + families here. 
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As Seen in People Magazine + The Bump | Raleigh Family + Kids Photography

 

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

Greensboro Reenactment

Owen has been studying the Revolutionary War at school, and has been chatting about it nonstop. When Our State Magazine featured the reenactment, I knew we would have to go. Plus, I grew up in Greensboro so it was cool to learn about. Michael was out of town on a church Men’s retreat and my parents live in Greensboro so win win. I got to spend time with my Mom + the boys got to learn about history. We learned a lot about the actual battles that took place in Greensboro, where they were, and all of the different types of soldiers. Harrison may have even been more fascinated than Owen. We ended up sitting next to one of Owen’s friends from school in Raleigh, which was super fun to run into them. They had a whole tent camp set up for you to wonder through, which was really neat to see. Then, all of the soldiers marched to war and more soldiers joined in the marching. The place was packed out and I ended up standing next to another photographer so we chatted about photographing the whole thing #teamcanon The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was an important part of the war and you can read more about it here. After all the hiking through the park. we headed to Ozzie’s for ice cream. If you live in Greensboro, and haven’t been, it’s delicious! Almost as good as Beaches-n-Cream:)

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The boys with General Greene.Greensboro Reenactment 2343P I N this to pinterestGreensboro Reenactment 3412P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3928P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3929P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3930P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3931P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3932P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3933P I N this to pinterestraleigh photographer 45_3934raleigh photographer 45_3935P I N this to pinterest

As Seen in People Magazine and the Bump | Raleigh Newborn and Family Photographer

 

 

 

So this room has been a project for months..I feel like I have been working on it and working on it and working on it…but, it has also been fun to have a project. I never really redecorate anything, and Harrison’s nursery looked exactly like it did when it was Owen’s. The boys sure have enjoyed it! I have a big brother so we grew up alternating watching Anne of Green Gables or Star Wars. So naturally, after seeing every movie a million times, I’m totally a Star Wars fan. (I was just really nosy and read The Princess Diarist, too) It took me a loooonnnnng time to finish this room, and I’m sure I’ll still change things around a little, but I’m glad it’s finally done!

 

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We decided to get two twin beds in Harrison’s room so that when we have cousins staying, etc, we have more room in the house. Owen’s room still looks the same, although I’m sure he’d love an update, and every once in a while he sleeps in there, but he mostly loves that he can be in the same room as his brother.Their beds can be found here from American Furniture Warehouse in Greensboro. I love that there are drawers. Any extra storage helps!

Their quilts, sheets, shams + droid pillows are from Pottery Barn Kids.  (Thank you Mimi!) Chewbacca is from Build a Bear. (Harrison loooooves that place) He smells like Chocolate and of course, has all kinds of Chewy sounds. Owen did not want a new bear but requested that we get his all time favorite Duffy bear a darth vader outfit from Build a Bear. I love that little lightsaber – it totally lights up.

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raleigh child photography NC 343_3862P I N this to pinterestI think Michael was the most excited about bringing this  home. I saw the stormtrooper at Target before Christmas and of course wanted to buy one every time I was in there, but I just couldn’t spend the 100.00. We ended up with scoring it on clearance after Christmas for 25.00. Woo-hoo. Harrison loves that he makes the noise, “pew, pew” and Owen is exactly the same height as the storm trooper.

The letters on the wall are from Hobby Lobby. And the cashier wanted to wrap each letter individually, and I got all kinds of stares like, what is she doing with all those letters + we got places to go. It was not easy to find every letter, and my sister-in-law may have been awesome and picked up a Y at the Hobby Lobby in Greensboro for me. We are both Hobby Lobby addicts, so of course, she spent like 60.00 while she was there. And here’s the thing about Hobby Lobby. Almost the entire store, is always on sale. If what you want isn’t on sale, it will be next week, OR, download the app so you always have a 40% off coupon. Dangerous, I know.

Curtains are from when Pottery Barn kids was leaving Triangle Town Center…about seven years ago. They just happened to fit the nursery perfectly!

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Some Jedi books the boys are reading…

Star Wars

Darth Vader and Son

Star Wars a New Hope

Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Return of the Jedi

And on our wish list..
Star Wars ABC-3PO: Alphabet Book (I know Harrison would love this one)

 

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Ok, then there’s the millenium falcon alarm clock. I think I was a little bit more excited about this than the boys. I was so so excited that I think they think the clock is magical or something. It is so fun for them to wake up to the theme song and all kinds of other space noises.

Pajamas from Hanna Andersson.

The hyper drive  and Star Wars marquee light are also from Pottery barn kids. This was like a must for the star wars room. I was pleasantly surprised to figure out I had a credit card with rewards I hadn’t cashed in for over a year, so I was able to get pottery barn gifts cards for these – year made.

Below that are the Cameron two shelf bookcase +metal bins, and mercer rug. I was super excited to get these over President’s Day Weekend, because all of this was crazy on sale. Like, if you are going to shop at Pottery Barn Kids, that weekend is the stuff. I knew we needed a low bookshelf for the signs overhead and that one was perfect. The bins include labels, too, which Owen loves organizing and came up with categories right away.

The Parker Chair is from West Elm. I went in there trying to figure out how to spend a gift card and that chair matched the Star Wars theme perfectly!

Let’s talk about the remote control R2D2. I was just as crazy about this toy as the boys. I mean, it projects Leia. Whaaaaaaa? They did not have toys this cool when I was a kid. We were able to score it for 20% off, too.raleigh child photography NC 343_3858P I N this to pinterest

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Owen has been into legos since he was 2 years old. Duplo was his BFF and at 3 1/2 he moved up to the big legos. He has loooooved putting them together, and they have been a great challenge for him. I think he got the Millennium Falcon for Christmas one year, so that was sitting around the house already waiting for their new room, and Darth Vader was in his Easter basket one year.

I love having plants in their room..especially snake plants to help clean the air. (Totally still waiting on a darth vader pot to come in the mail for my snake plant:)So, when I found this death star air plant...LOVE.

There is a big, let’s make a fairy garden terrarium craze for girls, right, and then one day on Pinterest, because what else do you do with all your free time but look up star wars ideas on pinterest, I found the Star Wars Terrariums. Amazzzzing! We went to Homewood Nursery and the boys got to sit at a table and we got one on one help with ours, which was just awesome. I feel like I would have been so in the dark trying to follow the instructions. Homewood is one of my favorite places, and a great spot to make a fairy garden or a Star Wars terrarium. They also have classes on Saturdays.

Our light up Death Star canvas is from Hobby Lobby. If you haven’t been there, make sure you block off an entire day. Ok, maybe a couple of hours. Bring snacks because you will just get lost in there, and you’ll need substanance. It is similar to one from Pottery Barn Kids. It’s not super bright so fun for them to have on at night when they go to sleep.

 

We ended up leaving the wall bookshelf by Harrison’s bed. He loves being able to reach the books and I try to rotate and put the seasonal books there, but he always ends up adding his favories.raleigh child photography NC 343_3860P I N this to pinterest

As Seen in People Magazine + On The Bump. Raleigh Commercial and Styled Family Photographer.Rebecca Keller is a family photographer featured in People Magazine who spends her time sipping iced coffee, chasing after her two little ones, reading, running, and editing. Because we chat a lot about our personal lives on the blog, we may receive commissions on affiliate links in articles. Contact Rebecca Keller Photography for more information about Spring Mommy and Me Mini Sessions Raleigh and Raleigh family photography.

 

A Mason Jar Salad Party

mason jar salad party 45_3306P I N this to pinterestSo a few weeks ago, I got invited to a Mason Jar Party. And now I am hooked. Lunch for a week in around 20 – 30 minutes? YES. When one of my BFFS invited me, I was seriously excited. Ok, so what is a Mason Jar Party? The host picks a recipe. (This was a recipe from last week – so yum! A salad with zoodles– yes!!!!) Then, she sends out an email with all the ingredients and everyone emails back with what they are going to bring. Sign up Genius would also be great for this, especially since it’s free.


Ours are planned for Monday mornings, which is perfect for having lunch ready for the week. (Sunday evening could also be a good time.) When everyone shows up, they put their ingredients on the kitchen table. Then, you just walk around and fill up your five mason jars (We are using this size+ I also ordered mine from amazon) one by one. Then, you’re done, you can leave + lunch is done for the week. The salads have been SO YUMMY too. Some of the recipes have cheese or grains, so I just leave that out of my jar. The first week someone made a salad dressing with the recipe. This past week there wasn’t one, so I just used my salad dressing at home. I have added some extra protein at lunch time, too. Also, I couldn’t make it last week, so my BFF Brooke took my jars + ingredients and I can sub for her, too. Win-win! These were so yummy, I had to stop myself from trying to eat them for dinner, too! Eeeek!

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Rebecca Keller is a Raleigh Children Family Photographer featured in People Magazine and on several blogs including The Bump and Let the Kids Dress Themselves. Because we chat a lot about our personal lives on the blog, we may receive commissions on affiliate links in articles.