MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 2017 | ST. LOUIS TRIP

No better time to recap a weekend like they day we are heading into the next, am I right?

Summer is (unofficially) here! Memorial Day has always been a kick-off to summer in my mind and we loove summer around here. School’s out, work slows down, warmer weather, pool days, getting together with friends/family to cook out…it’s just the best. This year we used our extra-long Memorial Day weekend to head to St. Louis with some friends to start this summer some classic family fun! Traveling with a one and almost three year old is not without it’s challenges (lugging a cooler around everywhere so the baby has milk, so fun) but it was so nice to get out of town and enjoy some time with my boys without the distractions of home.

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We packed up and headed out early Saturday morning so Cam could get a good morning nap on the way. St. Louis is such an easy trip from where we live, it takes just under three hours to get there which is the perfect amount for a weekend or even day trip if you are up for it.

We hit the zoo right as we got in to town. The zoo is “free” but you do have to pay $15 for parking and then of course we bought lunch (but you can bring in your own food). We also bought an Adventure Pass (which was half off the listed price with proof of our membership to our zoo at home) that lets you do all the extra attractions for one lower price. A storm rolled in during the early afternoon so we didn’t get to do everything, but I would still recommend the Adventure Pass! The first thing we did was see the sea lion show and it was adorable.

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Camden is at such a fun age to do stuff with! He is such an easy-going guy who loves to people watch, is still content to (mostly) sit in the stroller, and LOVED watching the animals! (He has propped his feet up on the stroller like this since he was super small. Why is everything he does so adorable?!)

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My boys. Melt my heart.
The penguins were by far the biggest hit of the entire zoo for Cam – he would have stayed in that freezing enclosure pointing at those things all day if we hadn’t had to move along for all those other obnoxious zoo visitors 😉

We spent the morning and early afternoon exploring the zoo but when we kept hearing thunder around 1:30, we decided to head back to the car before the sky decided to dump on us! We checked in to the hotel to have the boys “rest” but of course they were restless with the excitement of being in a new place so we had to figure out a back up plan, stat. On the suggestion of a friend we headed out to Monkey Joe’s which is an inflatable place – aka the perfect place for two small kids to kill a few hours indoors. They even had a toddler area where we could get in and play with Cam that was virtually empty of any other kids. It was a pretty impromptu stop and luckily I had a pair of newborn socks in my diaper bag (lol) but our friends didn’t have socks for their little one so my friend took off her no-show socks and basically tied them around his foot. It looked ridiculous but it totally worked and we were cracking up all night long when we looked at him. Parenting makes us so resourceful!

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By the time we were all over the play place we were starving so we asked Siri to tell us where the closest Mexican restaurant was. Amigos Cantina was just a few minutes away in a really cute neighborhood and I would recommend it if you are in the area! Probably nothing you need to seek out, though.

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After that we went back to the hotel and crashed. All of us. The next morning we got up and had an awesome hotel breakfast (I could really care less about a nice breakfast unless someone else is making it for me, ha!) and decided to head back to the zoo that morning to see what we missed the day before. We explored for a few more hours before getting in the car to head home where Cam slept almost the entire way. Amen.

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Monday we headed to my parent’s pool to let our little fishy swim! The water was FREEZING but he still had a good time running all over the place exploring and giving us several heart attacks. Why are all the things they can play with/do to hurt themselves so attractive to babies?!

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If you are worried that all I do is think about vacation…you would be right. I CAN NOT WAIT.

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As hard as we tried we still left my parent’s house with our first busted lip which of course happened in the last actual minute we were there. This boy got his first Popsicle out of the ordeal though, and I didn’t hear him complaining much after that.

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Monday night we had a cookout with family and I made this salad from How Sweet Eats. Aka my favorite salad of all time. So yummy!

I love weekends that leave you with a full heart! It’s crazy how much joy one little boy can bring a person, but this kid is just that – a JOY. He is so curious and content and just loves to be out and about doing stuff. I’m sure the independent toddler stage will come soon enough, but right now we are enjoying every second with our laid back boy! I’m SO excited to take him to the beach (29 days! Eeek!). Parent life is awesome.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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Linking up with Katie, September Farm, Meet @ the BarreLiz, and The Slaughters.

CAMDEN’S FIRST BIRTHDAY

Last week we celebrated our big ONE year old! I went back and forth about having a big first birthday party and eventually settle on going big or going home. When your immediate family alone is 30ish people, what’s a few more?! We hosted it at our house and thankfully the Lord took pity on me and we woke up to bright, sunny skies and the most perfect day for a indoor/outdoor party!

As much as I tried to get done the weekend and week before I was still running around like a chicken with my head cut off for most of the day handling last minute details and didn’t have time to snap any pics before everyone got here. Then I proceeded to forget to take pretty much ANY pictures during the party, so thanks to my friends and family for making most of this post possible 😉 Here are some pictures of the big day!

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Big birthday boy ready for his party!

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I tried to keep the party “decor” simple. A banner of his monthly pictures (that is still hanging in our kitchen because I can’t bear to take it down…)

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A chalkboard of all his favorite things…

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And a #bday banner from the Dollar Spot at Target pretty much wrapped it up! Funny story, I took these to our grocery store the morning of the party to have them filled with air. After she huffed and puffed about being super busy because didn’t I know Mother’s Day was tomorrow? it turned out that you fill them with air…from your lungs. Go me.

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Our favorite bakery (Piece of Cake) made us the cutest sprinkle cake and a smash cake to match. (Blue #1 candle found on Amazon)

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Ready for the birthday boy!

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I shared the story of these non-pineapple, pineapple cookie favors I made for our guests over on Instagram the day before the party. So funny. My life is ridiculous (but they were adorable).

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I had to keep pulling the cake away while we sang “Happy Birthday.” He wanted to dig right in!

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This guy did not care one lick about the actual cake underneath all those sprinkles and icing. The whole back half of icing was gone but the cake was barely touched. He does not get that from me! #allcake #noicingplease Side note: This and other pictures my sister took with her iPhone 7 has me super convinced that I need one. You know, for work purposes.

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Love my boys!

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 Camden Lewis, there are no words that can accurately express the love and joy you bring to our live’s every single day just by simply being here. Being your mom is the absolute best, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I’m so grateful of the ways you have changed me in the last year! You are already loyal, kind, opinionated, silly, smart and a physical reminder of God’s love, grace, and provision. I love you to the moon and back, sweet boy!

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FRIDAY FIVE

Happy Friday, Friends! It’s been a crazy week and it’s not slowing down so let’s do this!

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ONE | Someone is celebrating their FIRST birthday tomorrow with 50 of his closest friends 😉 No toys needed, somebody just get this kid a washer/dryer system and he is good to go! I did not expect to be so emotional as I prepped for this party, but it has been a rough week. All my mind can think about is how fast the past year went and how fast the next 17 are going to go…sigh.

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TWO | I scooped up this top (thanks for the recommendation Caycee!) and I LOVE it! When I first pulled it out of the box I thought “why on earth would I have ordered this?!” (I think it was the tie-front that was scaring me) but when I put it on I was sold! Super flattering.

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THREE | I made these Jalapeno Grapefruit Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo and I would highly recommend if you are a marg drinker. Spicy and sweet, but not too sweet! I also realized that maybe I should invest in some sort of hand juicer because my hand was cramping by the time I squeezed all the limes and grapefruit.

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FOUR | I have been almost obsessively thinking about our upcoming beach vacay during this super stressful work week (which has been pretty helpful with my usual stress-eating, ha). I can’t wait to see how Cam does on the beach now that he is a little older than the last time we went! If is likes sand on his feet like he likes grass on his feet, we’re in big trouble because that would be not at all.

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FIVE | I feel like everyone and their brother has read this book so this weekend I decided to see what the fuss was about and downloaded the audio book to listen to while I ran errands. It gave me Shonda Rhimes vibes (here’s a love story, rip the apart/your heart out, rinse & repeat over and over and OVER) but I definitely liked it and would recommend!

Have a great weekend!

Keep up with all my posts on Bloglovin | See day to day pictures & stories on Instagram | Read my tweets on Twitter | Like the Rachel Emily Blog on Facebook | Pin along with me on Pinterest

Linking up with Katie, September Farm, Meet @ the BarreLiz, and The Slaughters.

CURRENTLY | MAY

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B A K I N G
Still going strong eating my bean muffins for a snack most days. I shared the recipe in this post and a lot of you thought I was super crazy but that just means more chickpeas to go around for me. Other than that, I don’t bake. I thought for one hot second about making Camden one of those healthy baby cakes for his birthday but then I remembered who I was.

L I S T E N I N G
Still listening to all the podcasts but I’ve also jumped on the audiobook train and am loving how many more books I am able to get through. I just finished this one but I’m not sure I would recommend it. It was just ok and I figured out the ending within the first couple of chapters.

L O V I N G
How I can finally really tell a difference in the way my body feels after I’ve eaten crap vs. something healthy. Like, immediately. I’ve heard people talk about this for years but never really got it until the last couple of weeks even though I’ve gone through several super-strict clean eating periods of my life. I’ve been eating really clean the last couple weeks (well, I didn’t eat much of anything last week thanks to a stomach bug that ravished our household) but I let up and ate some chips and queso last night while out with a friend and my stomach hurt alllll night. And still this morning! Maybe I’ll remember this next time? I’ll never fully give up chips and queso but maybe we don’t need to eat a whole basket Rachel? No? Maybe?

P L A N T I N G
I don’t want to talk about it. (Why can’t I keep plants alive? WHY? They act like they can’t water themselves. Or maybe there’s been too much water falling from the sky lately? I really don’t know why I even try.)

R E M E M B E R I N G
Past beach vacation trips! I’ve got vacation fever something fierce right now and I love that I can go back and reminisce on trips past here on the blog! My Girl’s Trip to Rosemary Beach, our 2015 trip to Captiva Island (though I was super newly pregnant and MISERABLE on that trip), and our trip to Orlando/Cape Canaveral (omg look at that tiny baby) last year. I’ve also been stalking our vacation house via the website which is super normal behavior, right? We are going to Captiva in July and I can. not. wait!

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Linking up with Anne, Annie, Natalie, Kristen, and Amanda.

TO DO LIST FOR MAY

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Raise your hand if you think those Justin Timberlake “It’s Gonna Be May” memes never get old. I crack up every. single. time. Ahh, the good ole days of boy bands. We were at my in-laws yesterday for lunch and Camden found and old Now That’s What I Call Music CD – Volume FIVE in their entertainment center and it was FULL of boy band gems including It’s Gonna Be Me. We got such a kick out of reading through the songs and reminiscing! (Read the whole list of songs here!)

Maybe because it’s my birthday month, it marked the start of summer vacation from school, or the fact that it historically holds some of the mildest weather, but I have always love love love the month of May! Who wouldn’t love those things? Nathan and I have both got a super busy month ahead work-wise so I want to be super intentional about doing some fun things! Here’s our To Do List for May:

+ Meet and snuggle two of Camden’s future besties.

+ Beat the crowds and celebrate Cinco De Mayo with a fiesta at home (with homemade margs, of course!).

+ Spend lots of time with my sister who is coming in from Connecticut for a visit.

+ Throw a first birthday party!

+ Stick with the TIU Bikini Program.

+ Celebrate my first official Mother’s Day and my 29th birthday on the same day!

+ Go to my favorite wine and jazz festival with girl friends.

+ Take a weekend trip with friends over Memorial Day

Hard not to be excited for May, right? Do you guys have any fun plans?

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Linking up with Biana, Erin, Katie, and Jenna.