Category Archives: What I Learned
NYC For A Day
What I Learned in July
I can’t even comprehend the fact that summer is almost over.(Almost time for fall + holiday mins, woo hoo!) I realllly look forward to summer all year – the beach, (Beaches-n-Cream,hello) being able to take trips with the kids, and most of all, NO CARPOOL. If you’ve been following me for a while then you would know that carpool is not my BFF.Least favorite part of the day, so I enjoy my break from carpool for few months. We are probably skipping Meet the Teacher night again to sneak in one last trip to the beach. (Is that terrible?) School starts so early, and I just can’t even handle it. We have to soak in every last drop of summer possible. Our neighborhood pool has been chatting about staying open later this year which is super exciting + I hope is true.
As much as I love summer, I hate when it’s overwhelmingly hot. Air conditioning is my favorite thing ever, and I love having air conditioned indoor birthday parties – HA! So this whole being incredibly hot/air conditioning ramble brings me to the first thing I learned..
1.There are some people that enjoy being miserably hot. So, I have shown up to sessions at parks this summer, and it’s ridiculously hot…like almost 100 degrees, right. And there are people in the park running or sitting and reading. on purpose. in the heat. I don’t even understand it, especially the exercising thing. It’s way too hot people. (I think I’d rather read in the air conditioning at a coffee shop)
2. I am not the biggest fan of the dentist, and you can laugh, but one thing I do is have them but the x ray thing on me (it’s heavy + calms me) and then a blanket on top of that. I also listen to podcasts on my headphones to distract me. All this being said, I just saw that you can get your own weighted blanket ,which would be better than the whole x ray cover up thing and then a blanket. I bet these are so super calming.
3. WaterWipes. For all my friends with little ones in diapers, I just found out about these from a friend. How amazing that it’s just water + grapefruit seed extract. No chemicals for your little one and probably great for those little ones with sensitive skin.
4. So a friend of mine posted on her fb that her kids had never had Burger King crowns..and I was like, oh my goodness, neither have mine. Mainly because I never eat there – ha, so you know, I have to take them! And those crowns, hours of entertainment.
5. I went to visit a friend in Princeton, NJ this summer, and we took a day and rode the train in to NYC. It was the most peaceful ride. Riding a train to work every morning just sounds so awesome and peaceful. Some were sleeping/snoring, others were reading. So much better than fighting traffic. Although I will tell you, when you are waiting for the train, and those express trains come by, we were like so scared, we were about to cry.
6. NYC is so much busier in the summer. Michael and I took the kids during spring break and it was absolutely not as crowded at all. (See our Central Park photoshoot here + more about our big road trip here) So I’d highly recommend trying to take kids a different time of the year than summer. I thought spring break would be big, but nope. It was a lot quieter.
7. I have to admit, taking taxis is the way to go if you’re going to be in NYC for just one day. We really didn’t have time for a ton of walking with our strict schedule. (We had a shared google doc with everything laid out and timed before the trip) We got back to Penn Station within 2 minutes of our train leaving so we didn’t have any time to spare. And it’s sooo hot in NYC in the summer with all the asphalt, concrete and buildings, so taxis are just way better. (And as you already know, air conditioning is my bff. That, and Smartwater..electrolytes without the sugar of other drinks)
Sweet Tea in NYC
8. You can get sweet tea in NYC. Yep, my dear friend wanted some sweet tea, and she knew just where to find it, Chic-fil-a. I thought for sure it wouldn’t be sweet, but yep, it was.
9. Princeton, NJ is a beautiful town. This was my first trip to Princeton – loved seeing all the buildings, walking around the shops right next to the university + seeing all the huge, old historic homes.
Images of Princeton, NJ
10. You cannot be late to a Broadway play. I had never been to a Broadway play on Broadway (only when they travel) so I was shocked to see all the signs about not going in after it’s started. They are serious – you cannot be late. If you have to go to the bathroom, you just better hold it! We went to see Wicked and got there a few minutes before it started, whew. It was so, so, so good, and everyone gave them a standing ovation at the end.
11. There’s an app for the Hamilton lottery called Ham. It’s a nice app because it lets you know when the lottery opens, makes it easy for you to enter and then lets you know when it closes. Somewhere said around 10,000 people a day enter the Hamilton lottery so I wasn’t surprised when we didn’t win. But hey, never hurts to try.
12. Yelp Eat App. I love this app, mainly because I can order Sassool before I leave the house, and then go pick it up. There are some restaurants that deliver on the app, too. San Jose just started delivering to our house, and I love their fajitas. (This app is dangerous, people! You know I love having things delivered.)
13. Lisa Frank Pajamas? This is hilarious + so excited about these! Click the photo below to see all of them.(photo via target)
14. The Luke Skywalker Landspeeder. If you have a little Star Wars fan, this is pretty much amazing!
15. I went through a lot with my nervous system after my heart surgery which I now know is super common after going through trauma. I’ve had an amazing primary care doctor, and I’ve felt really blessed to find their practice. (Beverly Medical Center on Creedmoor Rd, Dr. Goode) I had never had a panic attack in my life, and it scared me. Going through something traumatic kind of depletes your body of vitamins and minerals, too, which makes the whole cycle of your nervous system not working well keep going. Supplementing with minerals, magnesium, aswaghanda, and amino acids has gotten my body back on track plus healing my adrenals, too. My favorite supplement that is super calming is Stabilium . It’s a fish oil, and I just really love it if I feel my nervous system kind of revving up a little bit. All this being said, I decided to be really brave this month and get on an airplane and fly to NJ, knowing I’d be nervous about flying by myself and hoping my nervous system would stay in check. I was sitting in the airport before my first flight, and saw this post. (She went through something far more traumatic) I started crying right there in the airport. The words of a Moana song of all things just made me remember how much God loves me and fights for me, and how He’s healing me through all of this, what do I have to be afraid of?
I have crossed the horizon to find you.
I know your name.
They have stolen the heart from inside you.
But this does not define you.
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.
“You are not defined by your darkest hour. You are greater than what has been stolen from you. It is never too late to heal.” – from Kimberly Poovey’s article.
I’ve only had a few panic attacks, but I think it just surprised me that my body would just give out, in a way. And I share this because I’m now realizing just how common this is and how so many women go through this with the stress of having and raising children, on top of any traumatic events or high stress that might be happening in their lives. I’ve had so many good friends share what they’ve been going through and things that have helped them, which has been so super encouraging.
16. A journaling Bible. I love the idea of a journaling Bible for your kids – one with your prayers for them in it. Owen was baptized yesterday, and so I went to Lifeway a few days ago to get a Bible with his name + baptism date imprinted on it. It was a journaling Bible and I did include some notes for him inside, but I love the idea of using this Bible for prayers for him. I do have some just regular pens, but I’d love to figure out what I can use that’s colorful that won’t bleed through the pages too much.
A few articles on journaling.
Bible Journaling For Your Kids
Bible Journaling for Kids
17. One thing I forgot to mention about NY, the Mac Makeup Studio was a super fun experience! We did some make up tutorials, got a list of all suggested mac products we should use, and had super glam make up for the rest of the day. You can book an appointment online, and we got the earliest appointments that day.
View of the Empire State Building from the Refinery Rooftop. Make reservations online if you visit this beautiful restaurant.
As Seen in People Magazine + The Bump
Raleigh Maternity + Newborn Photographer
Rebecca Keller is a Raleigh Newborn Photographer featured in the Bump, Let The Kids Dress Themselves and several other blogs. Because we chat a lot about our personal lives on the blog, we may receive commissions from affiliate links.
What I Learned in June
Raleigh Baby Lamb Photographer
First of all, saying goodbye to June makes me want to cry a little bit, because I love, love, love summer. Ever since Owen started school, I love having the freedom to just get up and go + not have to plan our lives around carpool (my least favorite thing) or spring breaks, etc…. love that the weather is nice enough to go to the beach or be outside. (you know, when it’s not a million degrees) All this being said, I looooove summer.
- For all my pregnant friends, they have dill pickle almonds at Whole Foods. I was like, what, really?
- I have thought long and hard about the pros and cons of reading an actual book vs using a Kindle, trying to decide if I like one or the other better, but honestly, there are just pros and cons to both. The Kindle – first and foremost I love, because if I’m not prepared and I actually have a minute to read, I can just download a book, and bam, read. It’s also super small and fits in my purse so if I’m at dr’s appointments waiting, etc, I can just take it out and read. Which I usually wait at the chiropractor, so I’m always reading while the kids are playing in the kids’ room. The pros of actual books – keeping them and sharing them. (Although this does create clutter, too) And you know I’m a big fan of the library. (we are there every day or every other day in the summer. Seriously) It’s much harder to get the Kindle copy from the library so of course, right now, I’ve been reading tons and tons of library books, because, they’re free. I have so many books reserved and I forget about them, so when they are actually on hold for me, I’m like woo hoooo I forgot about this book!
- Teach Your Monster To Read App. I just found this app and the former teacher in me looooves it as it teaches a lot of phonics skills. My other favorite is Endless Reader or Endless Alphabet.
- The boys picked maybe not the best Father’s Day shirt for Michael. We were shopping in Target when the boys spotted a Galaxy’s Best Dad shirt with a picture of Darth Vader on it. I really didn’t think about how Darth Vader really probably wasn’t the best example of a great dad.
- Cars 3. How many of you saw it? Like I really couldn’t wrap my head around it. Do any other superheroes become not so super in kids movies? I really didn’t enjoy this movie + storyline..it just left me kind of sad. It’s the movies – Lightning McQueen is just supposed to win forever, ha! Harrison, however, is more obsessed than ever. Lightning McQueen may have actually replaced the Thomas spot in his heart. (Um, so glad we did this road trip when we did) He plays with this for hours. I mean, the child has cars in his hand from when he gets up until he goes to sleep and is constantly saying, “I am SPEED.” or going on and on about “Cruise Retirez” how he calls her. He saw a Nascar race on tv at a restaurant recently and was just speechless. The child is all in. And speaking of Cars3 and Lightning McQueen, Harrison finally got a birthday party this year..If you’ve been following me, then you would know he was born on Christmas Day. And, of course, trying to plan a birthday party even anywhere near that time is just crazy. So finally, this year, he had a 1/2 birthday party. And with his love of cars + my love of air conditioning, a movie theater party was just perfect. Everything for his party came in a box from amazon and showed up at our door a few days before the party, because that’s just how I roll. We didn’t even end up using the cute cone cups because I was just so busy trying to get everyone fed + the cake ready. Thankful for Aunt Amy’s amazing cake skills, and Harrison insisted on having cake on his nose.He LOVED having a birthday just for him + it was such a super cute morning. (Cake – Delicious Bakery, Movie Theater – North Hills, who were just so amazing and went above + beyond, Cups (Similar to these), Piston Cups (Similar to these), Road Tablecovers , Pennant Banner)
- Michael made us a Garage Reading nook and it is the best ever. Nothing fancy, at all – just two chairs, a cooler, and a little table, but it’s been fun reading outside with the boys, getting some fresh air. (because they are bookworms like me) Or when they are playing basketball, I can sit in there and read.
- So without knowing the price because I was buying vitamins, too (I mean, it’s a candy bar, right?) I should have never tried it. This sugar free candy bar was amazzzzing. (1/2 the price at Harmony Farms. I bought them at my dr’s office,too) I’m already a dark chocolate fan so to be able to find it without sugar – my BFF. I can only buy one a year because they are so ‘spensive.
- Chic-fil-A has a gluten free bun. Awesome news for my gluten free friends! I mainly do not eat gluten at all so it’s nice to have the option of a bun. My favorite meal at Chic-fil-a is the grilled nuggets with a large superfood salad – YUM!
- We tried out the Lego club this month, and it is super cute. It is kind of confusing because they have two different club meetings. If you have signed up to be a Lego VIP (which is free) you have to be on the computer at 9 am on the 15th of the month to sign up for a free meeting, which is on weekdays. They build one small thing. If you want to sign up for the regular club meeting on Saturday mornings (9 AM before Crabtree stores open) it’s 10.00 and not only do they get the mini build, you get 5.00 in Lego points and then they get to fill up a little bucket with legos from the wall, build some more and take it home. Super cute + Owen loved it. This month I did the paid meeting, but I was able to get him into the free VIP club meeting in July.
- There is an instapot cheat sheet. Life changing.
- Since we’ve spent a lot of days at the library and I’ve been following Sarah MacKenzie for some great ideas for read alouds based on the month. Harrison and I have been reading a lot of great books about the pond. Over and Under the Pond, In the Small, Small Pond, and The Foolish Tortoise are a few, so of course, I was thrilled when we visited Michael’s parents that they took us to Simm’s Country BBQ. Such a great place with bluegrass, and of course, the kids’ favorite – the pond with turtles and fish. My teacher heart burst when Harrison said, “I see a tortoise.” from his book.
- Three birthdays and Father’s Day is really too much for one month. We made it through – lots of celebrations, but whew, I’m tired. Owen’s birthday was first (June 9th) Then Michael’s birthday (June 11th) Harrison’s 1/2 birthday party (June 17th) and then Father’s Day the next day! When Owen was in Kindergarten, we had some really sweet room moms who went all out when we had special snacks and things for the kids at school. Since I’ve been reading a lot of Sally Clarkson, I really loved this idea of making days special for kids + celebrating them. I’m not a Pinterest/crafty mom, but I can sure show up at the dollar store, head to Walmart, or my favorite, order on Amazon. Owen really wanted to be with his cousins for his birthday, so we spent a day in Greensboro. It started at the Greensboro Science Center, which has some fun new stuff like the Octopus! Loved him! I will be honest I got a little creeped out when I saw this. Like, who feeds him or cleans his cage safely? Also, this poor one fish took shark bait to another level. They said he had gotten bit the day before and they keep trying to fish him out but he wouldn’t let them catch him. We walked outside to see the animals, too, and the new ropes course is just amazing – like a dream for Owen. It just reminds me of Peter Pan…but he needs one more year before he can do it. Then, we went to Delicious and picked up his amazing Minecraft birthday cake + headed to Lucky32. They are always so amazing + helpful with birthdays. I looooooove Lucky32 because collard greens, of course. Mimi brought amazing minecraft sunglassesfor the party. The next morning, inspired by my amazing kindergarten mom friends, I had put up my banner+ tablecloth. He had a few presents to open – a Minecraft torch, gel pens , and a Minecraft Bible. Michael died laughing at how much he loved the gel pens. (Like, whhaaaaa. How much did we spend on the basketball goal and he’s going crazy over 10.00 pens!He spent his birthday at Galaxy Fun Park with a few of his friends…and then his other cousins showed up yaaaaay! Just in time for Michael’s birthday, too! What a fun birthday weekend for him.
- I read more in the summer. And ya’ll, I really am a speed reader, but I just love books so much. We have done some road trips lately which has helped me sneak some books in. Some favorites this month have been The Jane Austen Projectand The Lost Book of the Grail. I also was lucky enough to get The Identicalsfrom the Lucky Day Shelf at the library..since I was number 367 waiting for it on hold and it was looking very unlikely that I was going to get it this summer! Right now I’m currently reading New York, which is a huge book, but really fascinating. I’ll admit, I get a little intimidated at huge books. I got Alexander Hamiltonlast year and still haven’t finished it because just look at it, I’m like whew, will I ever get through it. I almost need those books to be on my kindle, so I don’t know and I just read.
- This is just a funny quirk of mine but I am loving that facebook has the little emoji button so I can use them on my computer, I am just wishing they would put the most used first, like my phone – ha!
- Bottle feeding a baby lamb is harder than you think! A dear friend of mine invited us over to see her baby lambs + feed them. They were just so cute, frolicking and running everywhere. Taking a second to eat was the last thing on their minds, but they were sure cute!
- My firstborn has always been kind of timid about things, not a big risk taker…he finally passed the swim test this year – so proud of him. I have been kind of shocked that he is a huge ropes course fan. It all started with Galaxy fun park, and he also tried Go Ape and loved it.
- A basketball is better than an x box. Owen has been begging ya’ll for an xbox, and we just aren’t ready for that. We let him play minecraft on the ipad, but I’m just not ready to start the xbox yet. He was pretty sad about it, but we had already told him not yet. After his daddy + uncle spent hours putting together his basketball goal, and he’s gotten to spend so many hours playing with his goal…we were in the car one day, and out of nowhere, he said, “Mom + Dad, a basketball goal is way better than an xbox.” Heart melted.
Rebecca Keller is a Raleigh Newborn and Family Photographer in Raleigh, NC. Contact the studio for more information about family and maternity photography. As Seen in People Magazine + The Bump, and on several other blogs including Lemonade and Lenses and Let the Kids Dress Themselves. Because we chat alot about our personal lives on the blog, we may receive commissions from affiliate links.
What I Learned in August
August is always a farewell to summer. (sniff, sniff) Though I will admit, I love the cooler temperatures..sweaters, jeans, boots, coffee, all of that. I wish I was more of a fan of vitamin D, but my favorite is to be inside curled up with a book and a warm drink.(I love rainy days, too! Except when I’m supposed to be working outside.) We spent a few days at the beach, just the four of us, right before Owen had to go back to school. I was so super sad to drop him off for another year.
What I Learned in August..
1.The new library in Wake Forest is awesome. My kids love pouring through the kids section, it is awesome.
2.Reading to my kids is my favorite, and something I want to make more of a priority of in September. Reading has always been big in our house, and we read a lot, but sometimes at night, I just need to work so Michael puts them to bed. It’s my favorite, favorite, time, and something I don’t want to miss. (Check out our what we’re reading posts here)
3.It’s the little things. One day during the first week of school, Owen came home and told me, “My teacher smiled just at me.” How precious is that – something so small can make a child’s day.
4.Since we have a big Minecraft fan in our house, we hear about it daily. Um, who knew you could listen to minecraft parodies on You Tube.
5.I didn’t know this website + their facebook existed until this month. So much organization inspiration. You’re welcome.
6.So one of my goals for August was to read The Mason Jar Cookbook. And then I just happened to get invited to a Mason Jar Party by one of my BFFS (read all about it here) Oh my, I loved it so much. The easiest, healthiest way to do lunch for the week!
We crammed a lot of summer into our last beach trip!
Dixie Grill in Wilmington
Sunset Slush, Beaches-n-Cream, Ocean Boulevard Coffee (chocolate milk) The Filling Station in Shallotte
Putt Putt + go kart
beach raft fun
Linking up my post with Thinking out Loud Thursdays this month.
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.
What I Learned in July
1.Packing Groceries ahead of time for the beach is my favorite. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I mostly eat whole30. Fast food doesn’t really work that great for whole30 and our grocery stores are limited at the beach. (no Harris teeter with whole30 approved bacon) My mama is doing whole30 with me, and we did fine with our groceries/eating out Memorial Day week, but this time we decided to grocery shop here for a lot of things + also pack our cooler. I think we went to the grocery store for two things the whole week, and it was fabulous. (July 4th is also the busiest week at our tiny beach and Food Lion gets super crowded..which it was also nice to avoid the crowds) We got to eat our bacon all week and several other yummy things we brought along….and no wasted time at the grocery store. We did also stop at the Harris Teeter on 17 in Wilmington when we were driving in and picked up a few things we forgot (Across from the Walmart) It’s hard to see it from the road and never super busy. I also try to never leave the house without something in my purse, my favorite is either almonds or these. (I looooove them – so yummy. it’s that sea salt!)
2.Further proof that Sprouts is coming to Falls of Neuse and Litchford. I am beyond excited about this. I have been hearing rumors, there have been articles online, etc, but now there is a picture in front of the spot. I am sooooo excited!
3.Having to be quick at photo shoots is important lately. This has been my month of running from the rain during sessions..Well, ever since spring. There have been some sessions where we barely missed a storm, some where it stormed in the middle, and some where it stormed right when the session started and ended. It’s been a crazy weather month.
4. Kindness is always important. One thing the boys and I have been doing each week this month is focusing on how we can think about someone else that week, what can we do to let someone else know we are thinking about them. Owen has thought up some pretty sweet ideas, and I know Pop Pop loved having a peach cream pie surprise delivered to brighten his day. (Scratch Baking was in Our State this month, and he had been talking about how he really wanted to try one of their pies. The peach cream was unbelievable. I may have had a bite)
5.The biggest difference I noticed this month from whole30 is how much I love not being addicted to sugar. There are definitely some days I miss it, but overall I don’t feel like I need it everyday which is a huge difference for me. I do try to cheat once a week, and I’m so much more selective about what I want for my cheat meal – ha. I also now make my coffee in the vitamix without fancy creamers. (The vitamix makes it frothy like a latte which is awesome) My coffee includes organic coffee, grass fed collagen, smidge of coconut oil, smidge of grass fed organic unsalted kerrygold butter and a 1/2 tablespoon 0rganic cacao. I’ve also been experimenting with the Savory Spice Shop’s Murray River Salt and Fleur de Sel salt to see which one I like better in my coffee. Every since our trip to Amelie’s in Charlotte, I neeeeed salt in my coffee.
What I read this month..
This has been a super busy month with our first Coastal family minis, a week at the beach, and then so many sweet newborns I’m still editing. I did mange to squeeze in two books, but I had hoped to read more this month. Reading is my favorites because it makes me relax + de stress, and totally love my kindlebecause I don’t have to wait for amazon to deliver them or try to plan a trip to the bookstore (not going to happen probably)
1.The One-in-a-Million Boy. This was such a great book and sweet story. I did cry a little bit because I’m a mama, but I loved that it was different then picking up a love story beach read that I read too many of in the Spring. (I needed light + happy when going through my surgery)
2.Before We Visit the Goddess This was another great story, and I read it so quickly. I loved how it told you about the grandma, daughter and granddaughter’s lives. There were so many different people telling the story, such a great read.
Rebecca Keller is an NC Raleigh 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 Holden Beach and Raleigh family photography.