Saturday, June 30, 2018

May and June Recap

I normally try to post monthly recaps, but the beginning of June was just so busy for us that I didn't get around to thinking about a recap until about halfway through the month. So this month you get a little extra bonus two for one special! To be honest, it's been nice to take a bit of a blogging break as we go through our summer. I've needed to relax, unwind, and unplug a bit. But that being said, it just feel good to get on here and write again. Here's what we've been up to the last two months!


In May, I finished up my 7th year of teaching. Where has the time gone?! I had lots of excellent, fun kiddos in class this year- many of whom I've had in class for the last three years. It will be weird to go back to school in the fall and not see their smiling faces in my room anymore. I'm definitely blessed with the best of the best when it comes to students. Aaron finished up his 5th year of teaching and will be tenured when he returns in the fall. We are both still teaching in the same school district, and having summers off together is the best!!

Year Seven: Last Day vs. First Day. This year was incredibly different and challenging. For 186 school days, I had to battle mom guilt, missing my boy, and pumping at work 😐. There were days I didn't know if I could make it. But I also got to teach all AP Lang and gifted kiddos, who were the absolute best. They made me laugh and helped me stretch my brain each day. I got to see my sweet boy every afternoon with a renewed appreciation for each second with him. We had snow days and breaks. I cut my hair. I ran four half marathons. I learned how to leave work at work for a change. When I look back on year 7, I may not see my best year of teaching. I may have had days I just had to make it through. But I will see a year where I was refined and shaped, where I learned just as much (or more) than my students did. And I hope and pray that I made a difference for at least one kid. Year 7, you were a good one. If you need me, I'll be sipping lemonade poolside and adventuring with my boys for the next two and a half months πŸπŸŽ‰πŸ’•! #summerbreak
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My Brother's Wedding 

Our biggest highlight of May came over Memorial Day weekend, right after school got out. My youngest brother, Kirk, married his gorgeous bride, Anna! It's crazy to think that there's another Blakley girl running around now- my mom was the only one ever since I got married and changed my name. Kirk and Anna had a beautiful wedding, and they are so perfect for each other. I definitely gained an awesome sister in law. Eli had a fabulous time staying up all the way until 10 pm and dancing the night away. We even brought along his little walker and he just worked the reception and dance floor all night. It was so much fun!

For the rest of May, we enjoyed taking Eli on his first swims of the summer, hitting up the park, and settling into the slower rhythm of this season. Eli also turned 15 months old, and I shared alllll the fun things about what he's up to these days in this post. Check it out if you haven't already (especially if you like seeing all the baby cuteness like I know I do!)


June started off with a bang! On the 2nd, I ran my fourth half marathon, the Hospital Hill Half. The weather was predicted to be incredibly hot and muggy, and I was cautioned that I likely wouldn't be able to go for a new personal record (PR) on this difficult course. But the training and my competitive spirit paid off, and I was able to chase down a new personal best! 

5th Anniversary Trip

The morning after my half marathon, Aaron and I jetted off on a five day kid-free trip to the beautiful Puerto Vallarta in celebration of our fifth wedding anniversary. We slept in late, ate and drank anything we wanted any time we wanted, took low quality selfies, turned off our phones, ate fancy dinners without having to worry about anyone throwing food, and soaked up some serious Mexican sunshine. I let fish nibble on my toes, read four books, and had the best spa massage of my life. We played board games, walked the beach, and had long talks about our future goals. Boy oh boy am I grateful for the incredible time of relaxation and rejuvenation with my main man. We never want to forgot how this all started, with just the two of us. 

My parents watched Eli for us while we were gone, and I didn't have to worry one bit. He had so much fun he didn't even really want to come home! 

 Since our anniversary trip was a week before our actual anniversary, we ended up going out in downtown KC to celebrate that night. Highlights included our first visit to Repeal 18th, Gram and Dun, and also the Waffle Bar! We always try to go new places in KC that we've never been, and none of these disappointed! 

Highlights for the rest of June included a wonderful Father's Day, a family reunion, celebrating my mom's upcoming retirement, more pool time, playing outside, and having the best time with our sweet little man. He is such a good sport and he honestly makes everything that much more fun.

Eli's 16th Month

Eli has continued to talk up a storm, learning all sorts of new words. He has a new found love for turning light switches on and off around our house, and he begs me to hold him up so he can do so over and over again. Some sweet church friends of our passed on their cozy coupe and race car toy to us, and Eli loves sitting in his "car" and turning his steering wheel back and forth over and over again. He got in the race car cart at the grocery store and screamed bloody murder when we pulled him out to leave- kids loves steering! He also loves banging on the keyboard when I sit it on the floor for him, and he really boogies to the music as it plays. He's walking flawlessly now, and especially loves toddling around the splash park- this kid has no fear! He also has his mama's sweet tooth, and he loves ice cream (and pretty much any of the food Mama may have to offer). 

We finally put up his swing in the backyard, and he loves swinging in there and looking around while Mama and Daddy hang out on the deck. He had his first story time visit and parachute experience, and we are getting ready to make our first trip of the year to the zoo. He's so inquisitive, and loves trying to figure out how things works and watching Daddy work on cars. Eli is the best baby and he brings us so so much joy. I'm not sure how I'll ever be able to go back to work in August, so for now I'm just soaking it all in (and reading lots of books or taking naps during Eli's three hour afternoon nap). What a life! 

I hope you all are having a fantastic summer. If you made it this far in the post, congrats. I feel like you are truly my friend and maybe I should put a secret phrase here that you can text or message me just to show me how committed you are to reading- ha! (Secret phrase: no diggity. I look forward to hearing from you ;) But for real, I hope that you are finding lots of joyful moments to enjoy the sweet sun and beautiful memories that come along with this time of the year. Cheers to July! 


Monday, June 25, 2018

New York City for Couples

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Traveling as a couple is one of my very favorite things to do. You've got a built-in travel buddy, a chance for thousands of memories, and a fantastic opportunity to broaden your horizons and adventure together. Though there are so many types of vacations you could take, big city vacations are without a doubt some of the most jam-packed vacations you can enjoy. When it comes to cities, there’s one that appears on more bucket lists than the rest of the US combined: New York, New York. Here are just a few of the options that New York City has to offer couples!

See a Show Together

One thing that I've always wanted to do with Aaron is to see a Broadway show together. I went to two when I was in New York City with my High School Choir (we sang at Carnegie Hall!), but I've never been with Aaron! Aaron was actually up for it, we just didn't plan ahead enough and the shows didn't work with our schedule. If your guy is a little reluctant to visit the theater, maybe find a show that’s a little more gender neutral, like A Bronx Tale at the Longacre Theatre. Most guys enjoy a show as much as any girl, sometimes it’s just about convincing them to get in.

Listen to Some Music (And Maybe Even Dance)

What better way to cap off the evening after a show than to take a night on the town? Enjoy a cocktail and hit the dance floor together. I'm a huge sucker for dancing, and I love when Aaron twirls me around and we share a good laugh. Side note- I knew I would marry him when we danced at my friend's wedding just one month into dating. Anyways, there are plenty of places to get your groove on in New York, but an extra unique experience can be found at Dizzy’s Jazz Club. Overlooking Central Park, this speakeasy is in one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of the whole city, and always has fantastic live music from some of the country’s very best jazz artists. I'd love to check it out the next time we're in the Big Apple!

Take a Stroll Around Town

The city is absolutely overloaded with fantastic places for a romantic stroll. A lot of them can be found in or near Brooklyn, which was a really fun place to visit the last time we went to New York City. Take a boat out to Coney Island for a day of sand, sea, and old-school fun in what was once known as the "Playground of the World". There are few things more romantic than imagining a walk hand-in-hand along the boardwalk, listening to distant sounds of fun as they meet the tranquil waves of the coast. Sign me up for that now, am I right??

Breathe in the Beauty of the Outdoors

For as crowded and truly modern of a city as it might be, New York is not without its quiet places of beauty, either. Central Park might be a little crowded, but the New York Botanical Gardens offer a more tranquil experience. But don't assume that tranquil means boring: this place has flashes of color and fragrance that can make each individual garden thoroughly worth taking the time to explore. There are exhibits of all kinds, too, from music and poetry to farmers' markets. There’s always something happening around the city, so plan your visit well to catch your favorite kind of event.

Jump into culture, see sights like never before, and enjoy the high life together in New York. Crowded as it might be, few places truly capture the spirit of exploring a true metropolis quite like it does. What's on your list for you next visit to the Big Apple?


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eli's 15 Month Update

Normally I post some fun Eli updates in my monthly recap post, but I'm a bit behind this month and Eli is already nearing 16th months, so I figured I'd pop up in and give a more lengthly recap. Sure, some of this is simply for this Mama to remember, but I also love sharing with all of you who have watched him grow right along side us. So, without further ado, here's Eli's 15 month recap!

Little man continues to be on the little side, but he's always followed the curve for his age so everything's fine. He's weighing in at 20.6 pounds (18th percentile) and is 31.25 inches long (50th percentile). His big ole noggin has an 18.75 inch circumference, which puts him in the 75th percentile. So basically he's got a tiny waist, is decently long, and has a big head. This can make clothes a challenge sometimes. He typically wears 18 month clothes, but he still fits into some 12 month clothes. If we do two piece outfits I have to put him in 18 month tops and 12 month bottoms. Jammies and rompers are fine. Who knew that I should have never bought any clearance shorts last year without drawstrings?? The 12-18 and 18-24 month clothing jumps seem so huge that it's so hard to guess sizing! He's still got his beautiful big blue eyes and I hope they never change!

Eli is a great eater! We made it 15 months nursing, which surpassed my goal of one year. I am thankful for that sweet time and what it did for our bonding, my health, and our wallets. I'll miss some of those snuggles since Eli is wiggly these days, but he drinks whole milk like a champ and will usually cuddle with me while he drinks his morning sippy cup of milk. He enjoys cereal pieces or rice cereal with his breakfast, but will also totally eat eggs, hashbrowns, and even bacon if Mama and Daddy are making a big meal. He usually eats some sort of fruit and yogurt for lunch, and his favorite is bananas- which he's learned to eat on his own as long as I peel it for him. He sometimes gets so excited about his bananas that he forgets to chew, which has led to a few banana-vomit-nap-wakeups (momming is glamorous, folks). Dinner is usually his biggest meal, and he is all about bread, peanut butter, most veggies, rice rusks, strawberries, and the occasional pouch. He also loves anything he can find on Mama and Daddy's plates, and recently tried pulled pork, pizza, and enchiladas. He has seven teeth, with an eighth on the way. Generally, teething doesn't give him much trouble. The boy can eat!

Eli continues to be a great sleeper, and I'll continue to pray that this doesn't change. With school ending and without having to get up so early to get to work and daycare, we've been letting Eli sleep in a little, and he totally will. He generally goes to bed around 8 and wakes up around 8 or 8:30, but if he wakes up sooner he'll just lay in his crib quietly and hang until we go get him. (What a champ, am I right?) He took two two-hour naps all the way through the end of the school year, but I decided to try to transition him to one nap this summer. After letting him sleep in a little later in the morning, he pretty effortlessly could stay up from 8 until 1 pm, and then go down for one three-ish hour nap. This means mama can get some stuff done...or go to the pool while Daddy is home and E is napping. What a dream!  If E has any early cranky moments, we just go outside or have a snack and then he's good. It's been so nice to have a good chunk of the morning free to go to the park, the pool, etc, and not have to worry about coming back or a morning nap. And I generally try to get up and work out before he's awake, so I'm basically in love with this schedule and have no idea how I'm going to get myself back to work in a couple of months. Ugh! Who wants to leave a sweet face like this??

I have genuinely loved every single stage with Eli. He's so great, and I really find more and more to love about him as the days pass. I had no idea how much fun this new toddler stage would be! Eli is talking up a STORM! His new words and phrases (in addition to his previous words) include the following: tree, flower, bubbles, car, shoes, bug, pool, puh (which he says when he poops), bye bye, wow!, bath, and (my new personal fave) "See ya"- which he says at completely appropriate times. He is a huge mimicker and it is the sweetest thing ever. He is FINALLY walking, after taking his sweet time and just preferring to crawl everywhere at breakneck speed. He isn't completely flawless, but generally he'll take 12-16 fluid steps, pause to catch himself, push back up, and then get after it again. I'm so excited for this new progress, and all that it means when it comes to less crawling in awkward/dirty public places, less carrying, and more exploring together, hand in hand. I have a feeling he'll be running before we know it! He's so full of wonder and discovery and it's incredible to watch his brain at work.

Other fun things Eli does: dances and tilts his head side to side whenever he hears music (see video above of him tearing up the dance floor at my brother's wedding), pauses to pick up twigs and carry them in one hand while holding my hand with the other, tries to put any shoe in the house (including my heels) on while saying "shoes" over and over again, loves going outside to watch Daddy do man things, begs to go down the slide in my lap again and again (and how could I deny him?), shoves way too many "fishies" in his mouth at once, giggles and blows bubbles in the pool, gives mama kisses on the lips, LOVES his finger toothbrush and tries to brush on his own, tries to put my sunglasses on backwards and upside down, loves pushing anything with wheels, giggles with glee anytime I tickle him or point out his belly. I could keep going. This boy is the best!

All in all, Eli is a joy and I couldn't ask for a better baby. I know that there are lots of days ahead, and that not all of them will be easy or fun or wonderful. We will have our moments, but I'm cherishing the ones we do have now. Eli is the greatest gift that I never knew I was so desperately missing. I never knew I could love someone so much. My love for him is fierce and he loves right back. My heart could burst into a million pieces when he looks up at me with raised arms and a cheesy, toothy smile, and says, "Mama!". Sweet Eli, you are prized and precious, liked and loved, chosen and cherished, blessed to be a blessing. You're a child of God, and a treasure in our family. We love you so much, no matter what, and we always will!