Community over Competition

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

As women, I think it’s easy to see that we face immense pressure to look, act and even feel a particular way. When we begin to compare ourselves to others, it seems impossible to measure up. There will always be someone who wore it better, ran “the race” quicker and likely did it all in heels.

Competition: noun. A contest between rivals.

There is something so innate and primal about competition. It can bring out the best and the worst in all of us, can’t it?! Whether you are a Mama, a wife, a sister, a friend, we have to remember that we are not rivals, but instead are rallying for one another. We are on the same team.

Community: noun. A unified body of individuals.

We all have our own stories, our own struggles. It is easy to look at another woman and think “she has it all”, “why is she…?” “Why can’t I…?!” etc.

You guys…to this day I have the HARDEST time not comparing my body type to other women, particularly other Mamas. I gawk at how much faster they may have gotten back to that pre-baby weight (or that they even got there at all…because I’m still a work in progress). I have to remind myself that not only does it not matter but it’s not fair to stack myself up again someone else. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to her.  Especially because I’ve just entered her into a competition that she didn’t even know existed. She has her own baggage and struggles and I for one don’t want to be the cause of more.

For me, my news feeds are rarely the full story, but often a polished version of my best self that provide tiny glimpses into the bigger picture. We want to put our best most attractive, organized, balanced self forward. But why?

Why not embrace each other right where we are at? Why not say that it’s OK to be perfectly imperfect? I don’t know about you, but I think that we could all use the permission. So let’s swallow our pride and be real. Be women that call a spade a spade. Admit when things are hard and be gracious when they aren’t.

Language

If we are going to be on the same team, we can’t just act like it, we have to believe. We have to talk like it. Our language has to change. 

We have the power to speak life and not death into one another. We can validate one another while also encouraging and challenging at the same time. We can suspend judgement and expectation in order to reach out a hand and pull one another up. Our words have the power to liberate and build up. I want to chose this. I want to speak life rather than death because Jesus went before me in this. Because I am convinced that we can’t win any other way. 

If you’re tracking with me and want to hear more challenging but encouraging truths, do yourself a favor and pre-order Jess Connolly’s Dance, Stand, Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground.

Let’s chose our words, our thoughts and our actions wisely.  Let’s chose to be united, both our similarities and our differences. Let’s do hard things. Let’s chose to embrace community over competition.

Podcasts for Christian Women

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

Since Quinn was born, my quiet times of praying and reading my Bible have been way less consistent than in other seasons of my life. For a long time I felt loads of guilt over this, often causing me to distance myself from scripture and prayer even more.

About a year ago, I started listening to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. It was a gateway into podcasts for me. It served to encourage me and challenge me, while also drawing me back to Jesus and his Word.

When

I often find myself listening to podcasts in place of the radio. I am a multi-tasker to my core, so you can find me tuning in to the latest podcast while driving, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and occasionally as I get ready for the day. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love music and need to rock out to some JT and the Beibs now and then while having a dance party (one of our favorite household pastimes), but podcasts seem to be a great use of my time.

Podcasts I’m listening to these days:

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey– each week Jamie invites another woman to be her guest and they talk candidly about life. Jamie is engaging and hysterical. Episodes are approximately one hour and will have you feeling all the feels in one episode.

Risen Motherhood– Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler embrace the chaos that is motherhood. They are open, real and honest. I always feel as if they are speaking directly to me and walk away feeling challenged and encouraged. Episodes range from 15-36 minutes.

Coffee + Crumbs– Lesley Miller, Ashlee Gadd & April Hoss engage women in life and motherhood.

God Centered Mom– Heather MacFadyen interviews fellow Christian women about how to survive and thrive motherhood while stating centered on God.

Journeywomen– Hunter Beless chats with other Christian women all about life. Though she is a bit new to the podcast game her content is solid, as are her guests.

Proverbs 31 Ministries – These quick encouragement/ life lessons are perfect because they are only ONE MINUTE long!

5 Podcasts that are in my queue

  1. The Simple Show
  2. Truth’s Table
  3. The Inspired to Action podcast
  4. Mom Struggling Well
  5. The Busy Mom

This past weekend, my best friend and I were super blessed to get to experience Jamie Ivey’s The Happy Hour Live during a weekend trip to Austin,TX. Meeting Jamie, as well as two women that are regularly on her show (Melanie Shankle and Jess Connolly) was a joy. It was so encouraging to be surrounded by women who are all chasing after Jesus and to be reminded that we aren’t alone on this journey.

My hope is that you too find yourself encouraged and challenged by one or more of these podcasts. I am always open to chatting about them and would LOVE to hear what podcasts you’re into these days as well! Comment below with your favorites podcasts!

 

 

How to Save with Grocery Store Pick-Ups

I have been resistant to the idea of grocery store pick-ups. Until now. As a full time working Mama and wife to a hard working man who is currently working 60 plus hours a week, I’ll take whatever help I can get.

To be completely honest, my love for Aldi and my obsession with saving money tainted my preconceived notions of the whole idea of paying someone else to pick out my groceries, a job that I am perfectly capable of. I was naive. I had no idea what I was missing. This week, with zero food in the refrigerator, a busy schedule and the fact that my local Aldi closed for 7 weeks of renovation, I decided to bite the bullet. I gave it a try and quickly realized what all of the hype was about!

What You save:

  1. Time– Not only is it extremely easy to hop online and place your order (I placed mine at approximately 11PM like any sane person who has to be at work early the next morning), you are able to save your order to reuse or edit as needed. This saves a lot of time in the long run. You choose the window of time to pickup your order and then call when you arrive at the well marked pick-up location. The Walmart that I went to is conveniently on my way home. It has 10 well marked parking spots on the side of the building. That being said, most Kroger, Giant Eagle and Meijer locations simply have a lane or pull off spots in front of the store that are a bit easier to spot. I called when I had picked up Quinn up from daycare and knew that I was 5-10 minutes from the store. I waited for about 5 minutes and only got out of my car in order to open up the trunk.
  2. Money– Not only is Grocery pick-up FREE at Walmart, but you also save $10 on your first order of $50 or more with the code WOWFRESH. Kroger and Giant Eagle wave the fee for your first three pickups. You also save yourself from spending money on items that you didn’t even know you needed. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done it. As you roam the aisles, checking items off your list, inevitably items call your name and find their way into your cart. Whether it’s on sale or you’re like me and you feel the need to always have things “just in case”, I stray from my list at least a little bit each visit. Shopping online and pre-ordering groceries for pickup eliminates this problem and helps you stick to your budget.
  3. Sanity– We are all running in a million different directions. Why not take advantage of a resource that was designed with you in mind, in order to take one more thing off of your list?! I love the fact that after a long day at work, I was able to pick my daughter up from daycare and rather than drag her through the grocery store for 30 minutes to an hour, we picked up groceries in a matter of 5-10 minutes and are able to spend that much more time together doing a much more preferred activity.

Stores that offer grocery pickup services:

  1. Walmart – FREE
  2. Kroger ClickList – FREE for first 3 pickups; $4.95/ pick-up after that
  3. Giant Eagle Curbside Express– FREE for first 3 pickups; $4.95/ pick-up after that
  4. Meijer Curbside– Fee varies by location

Helpful Hints

Payment: Cash, check, or federal assistance can not be used to place online orders. A credit or debit card must be given at the time of placing your order, though it will not be charged until pickup. Giant Eagle will also take store gift cards.

Coupons: Stores will honor your loyalty cards and any coupons that you have loaded electronically to your card. You may also give any printed coupons to the attendant who brings out your order.

Substitutions: Any substitutions that are made are typically identified somehow (see below) in addition to the attendant notifying you at pickup. The substitutions are typically something small (i.e. we got blueberry whole grain waffles instead of regular whole grain waffles).

Estimated Pricing: If you order products that are priced and packaged per pound (produce, meat, etc.) then the price online is estimated and could vary slightly depending on what is available at the time that your groceries are selected).

Double check: Same day pickup is available if your order is placed by a certain time

Call ahead: Don’t wait until you are parked outside to call. Call on your way and your experience will be as quick and smooth as possible.

Though I was skeptical at first, I must say, I am now a believer. I am looking forward to the amount of time, money and sanity that this service is sure to save me! Let me know your own experiences with pick-up services and if you have any tips to share!

Wherever You Are, Be Fully There!

If you’re like me, you’re tired of running around in circles trying to get everything done. You’re fully exhausted and feeling like there is more to do than there are hours in the day. You feel like there isn’t enough of you to go around, to do it all.

I have learned that there is no way to do it all and to do it WELL. Whether you are a mom or not, I know you feel me. There are a million things vying for our attention, our time, our money, our resources. I can do many things mediocre at best, but there is no way that I can be the BEST wife, mom, daughter, friend, teacher, small group leader, blogger, Mary Kay consultant, etc. I am learning that I can’t be all things to all people, nor do I want to be.

I have always been someone who has had many different irons in the fire. Ask any of my close family or friends and they will tell you that I have never been great at sitting still. You name the sport or extracurricular and I likely tried it. I have always loved being busy and am energized by people. I love being a part of something and better yet, creating and using my passions and talents in order to do so.

People often ask me, “how do you do it all?” I laugh. Because the truth is…I don’t.

Ya’ll, as I type this I am staring at a laundry basket full of clean clothes begging to be folded while I try embarrassingly hard to remember the last time that I vacuumed my floors, let alone mopped them. I still have to pack lunches, plan one more activity for school tomorrow and a long list of other to-dos that I’ll likely forget before I get around to actually writing them all down.

Be Fully There

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some pretty (excuse my language) kick ass women that are not afraid to share  the good, the bad and the ugly. Today, a friend at church asked how I was. Being honest, I told her that it was just a hard season for our family. She gave me the best advice. She said, “wherever you are, be fully THERE!”. If you’re at school, be at school. If you’re at home, be home. If you’re with girlfriends, be with them.

This is not a new idea, I know this. But it stopped me in my tracks. Despite my piles of laundry, dirty floors and growing to-do list, I can be present, face-to-face with whoever I am with. Despite the fact that I miss Q during the workweek and hate that she spends over 40 hours a week at daycare, I spend that same amount of time with someone else’s kids while teaching. I have 40 plus hours to love on them like they are my own. Even though Ryan is working 60 plus hours a week and our schedules are opposite, we can still be present in the time that we do have together. We can make the most of our time, rather than wish for more.

Seasons

It is so easy to wish this crazy, busy, stressful season away. Today as I listened to my favorite podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, she talked about getting our eyes off of other seasons. We can spend so much time waiting. Waiting for that next vacation, the next promotion, waiting for the kids to sleep through the night, to walk, to go to school and the list goes on. In doing so, we blink and we miss so much of the here and now. We miss the lessons and the beauty that is often entangled in the waiting.

My prayer for you would be that wherever you are, you are fully there! Ride out the season, admit when it’s hard and know that you can’t be everything to everyone. You are enough. You are doing great!

 

 

Newest Columbus Moms Blog Contributing Writer

I am thrilled to announced that I have been accepted as a contributing writer with Columbus Moms Blog! As a part of the City Moms Blog Network, the Columbus Moms Blog is one of their nearly 75 sites that span 33 states. The blog consists of Moms (and two Dads now) that are passionate about exploring their own city and sharing their knowledge with others. The blogs are authentic and vary widely in topic, thus appealing to many. I am so thankful that I get an opportunity not only to collaborate with some amazing, talented women, but that I also get to share my parenting stories and Columbus adventures with the city that has had my heart for so long.

I just started the blog back in May and have been blessed by its growth already. My goal in writing has always been not only to express myself and process much of life’s ups and downs, but also to encourage others and perhaps bring about a few laughs along the way. I hope that I can continue this mission as I begin the next chapter in the story of My Life in the Blink. I will be writing one post a month for them which is realistic and not overwhelming, particularly as I begin my 8th year of teaching. I am excited to see where this new partnership takes me. Stay tuned for my contributions to Columbus Moms Blog!

 

25 Must-Read Books for Babies & Toddlers

As my baby quickly evolves into a walking, talking toddler, I am constantly looking for new activities and books to introduce to her. Reading to my daughter is a non-negotiable. We LOVE to read together in our house! You will find books in every room in our house and I am convinced that this has helped to foster an early love of books for our daughter.

Here are 25 must-read books for toddlers and babies. Though these are books that we can’t get enough of in our house, the list is far from exhaustive. Our book list is constantly evolving as Quinn’s attention and love of books grows with her!

  1. The Day the Crayons Quit
  2. God Gave Us You
  3. Love You Forever
  4. When God Made You
  5. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
  6. Goodnight Moon
  7. I Wish You More
  8. If I Could Keep You Little
  9. Snuggle Puppy!
  10. On the Night You Were Born
  11. Hands Are Not for Hitting (Board Book) (Best Behavior Series)
  12. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  13. Guess How Much I Love You
  14. The Pout-Pout Fish
  15. Barnyard Dance
  16. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  17. See Inside Great Cities
  18. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  19. Ten Tiny Toes
  20. Wish
  21. Animal Alphabet
  22. Meal Time (Sign About)
  23. Everywhere Babies
  24. Barnyard Dance!
  25. Llama Llama Red Pajama

By reading to Quinn at nap times, bedtime and anywhere in between, she has grown to love not just books, but the act of climbing into our laps to hear their story. She goes to bed with a book and wakes up asking for more. I pray that we can continue to foster her curiosity and love of text as she grows!

Comment and let me know some of your favorite books for babies and toddlers!

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

Why Reading to Your Child is a Non-Negotiable

Books have been a part of our daughter’s life since before she was born. When I was pregnant, we started reading to Quinn. We wanted her to know our voices and to learn to love the soft cadence that accompanies a good book.

As a special education teacher and former reading intervention teacher, I believe strongly in the power of early learning and early literacy. Reading to our children is invaluable. They learn literacy, syntax, cadence, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, language, imagination and so much more, all while being read to.

Integrating Reading into Your Child’s Routine

We make sure to have books all over the house. In our living room we have a bin of library books in addition to several shelves devoted to our daughter’s books. In her room there are books in three different places. They are easily visible and accessible, as we want her to be able to read or “play” with them as much as she wants. We want reading to be associated with fun! Heck, we even have a special book for bath time!.

Early on, your child may not always be looking as you read and if you’re like me, sometimes that may drive you nuts. But I have to remind myself that there is power in not just seeing the text and pictures but in listening as well. Our daughter Quinn is almost 15 months old (how this is possible, I do not know!); today she let me read her almost all of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs at nap time, but yesterday she barely let me get through Snuggle Puppy, her favorite book. I learned early that persistence is key. We read to Quinn before naps and bedtime and anywhere in between. Whether it is for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, exposure to a variety of texts is so essential.

Libraries Aren’t Just for Big Kids

It’s never too early to take your child to the library for story time or to explore and check out books. Check out your local library to see what kids activities they offer; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

For those local to Columbus, OH, check out the following library resources:

Literacy Resources

Check out 25 Must-Read Books for Babies & Toddlers!

We even had guests sign Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday, Baby! at Quinn’s first birthday party. It’s that much more special when we read this book to her along with all of the personalized notes from loved ones.

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

Why Pins Mechanical Co. Scores a 10

Whether you are a Columbus native or are just fortunate enough to visit the 614, Pins Mechanical Company. is a must!

Ryan and I celebrated our 4th anniversary at The Boat House, the Columbus spot where we had our wedding reception. It has become tradition to visit every year on or around our anniversary. It has quickly become one of my favorite traditions, not only for the delicious food and impeccable downtown skyline view, but for the reminder of where it all started!

After an amazing dinner, we headed to Pins Mechanical Co. Neither Ryan nor I had been, despite the amazing reports from friends. Let me be the first to tell you that it did not disappoint!

Libations

Upon walking in, we were instantly struck by the list of over 30 craft draft beers to chose from, not to mention their awesome cocktails! Many of the taps even boast beer from Columbus breweries. There are two large bars at opposite ends of their huge space, so you don’t have to worry about waiting in long lines to order a drink.

Activities

Pins is known for their Duckpin bowling, but if you aren’t a big (or little in this case) bowler, then have no fear. There is ping pong, foosball, shuffleboard, pinball and my personal favorite life-size “beer pong”. If you’re a bit rusty, don’t worry, this version doesn’t have you chugging beer but rather enjoying a friendly game. In fact, we played this game for so long that we are now convinced we need a life-size set for our own back yard.
 
      

Food

Make sure to check out their food truck schedule in order to figure out which food trucks will be serving up delicious local flavors for the evening. There are typically two trucks, so you have plenty of options when you work up an appetite playing all of the games that they offer!

Pins Mechanical Co. scores a 10 in my book. If you haven’t already, plan a night out at Pins Mechanical Company and try it out for yourself! You won’t regret it!

 

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

When the Honeymoon is Over: 10 Lessons in Love

Four years ago today I walked down the aisle toward my best friend. It was my best yes and even on our worst day, he will always be my best yes. Our anniversary is an excuse to share some of my favorite snapshots from our Columbus, Ohio wedding. More than that though, it’s an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned since the honeymoon ended.

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of love. We draw up perfect mate, the perfect proposal, the perfect wedding day and imagine a future paved with yellow bricks and smooth sailing. After all, that is what we see in movies, isn’t it?!

Four years ago, I would have said that Ryan and I had been through a lot together. And we had. Difficult family circumstances, job changes and some minor health issues were among some of the things that we had conquered together. We were young and confident that we could tackle anything. In the honeymoon phase that followed our wedding, Everything was new and exciting. We vowed “for better or worse” and we were living in the “better”.

I am so thankful for the honeymoon phase that allowed us to balance love and passion with learning how to live under the same roof, how to communicate and how to compromise. But I’m more thankful for the four years of everyday life that we’ve lived side-by-side since then.

Since our wedding day, we have had our share of “worse”. Marriage is hard. Life is harder. By nature we are selfish people. Marriage is designed to be a partnership, one in which we serve and love the other person, unconditionally, without expectation. Wait, what?! You mean I am supposed to give without expecting anything in return? That’s a tall order that is sure to leave everyone falling short (see what I did there?!). We so often seek our identity, our happiness and fulfillment in each other and then are left confused why we don’t always have that “warm fuzzy” feeling. Love is a choice. It’s a daily choice to choose your spouse and their needs over your own. Though the honeymoon is over, I am convinced that it’s in choosing to love someone day in and day out that we find true paradise.

I love Ryan with my whole heart and every day God shows me more of the amazing man, husband, father and friend that he is and continues to be. He has carried me through some of the most devastatingly hard moments of my life and picked me up and helped me to put one foot in front of the other (some days quite literally). He has seen me at my ugliest, darkest moments and loved me even more because of it.

Lessons Learned

We have learned many lessons (the hard way) since our wedding day and are constantly learning how to love each other better. Here are some of the lessons that we have learned:

  1. Grace over perfection- Forgive often; let go of unrealistic expectations. This is a daily battle for me! I am a perfectionist and am thankful for a husband and better yet a God that reminds me that perfection is not attainable, nor should it be this side of heaven.
  2. Ask each other these questions weekly: “How have I loved you well this week?” and “How can I love you better?” Here is the kicker: once you ask these questions you must listen. You can’t talk, argue or defend yourself. Listen and acknowledge what your spouse is saying. We got this idea from great friends of ours. Even after doing this for several years now, these are two of the hardest questions to ask one another, but this has been so significant in growing our marriage and has truly saved us from many arguments.
  3. Date Night– I love dating my husband. Whether you have kids or not, date night is essential. Intentionally scheduling time weekly (or every other week if that seems more reasonable to start) is a non-negotiable in our household. We can always tell a difference when we have had time to just be “us”. We have also found that having girls and guys nights out with friends is very important. We strive to make time for each of us to have a night out with friends once a month at the very least.
  4. Write notes– There is a reason that passing notes and love letters is nothing new. Hand written notes are a quick way to make a huge difference. Whether on a post-it or an “I Love You Because” Board (I made one out of an old frame and use dry erase marker), we love dropping each other a line, whether silly or serious.
  5. Know each other’s love languages– If you haven’t yet, read The 5 Love Languages. We read this while we were dating and it has been beyond helpful. There is also a Five Love Languages, Small Group Study Edition if you’d prefer.
  6. Hold your tongue– Words are powerful and can’t be taken back. I’ve learned this one the hard way. It’s so easy to try to “win” arguments, as if they were a battle of good vs. evil, rather than a team attempting to work together to accomplish a common goal. Often times, when my unrealistic expectations aren’t met it’s easy to point fingers, rather than look at the big picture.
  7. Admit when its a hard season– Marriage is not always easy and doesn’t always feel like a honeymoon. It is OK to acknowledge that something is off…you can’t fix the problem if you don’t admit it’s broken. It is much easier to work through it than to let it fester.
  8. No sleeping on the couch- This was an early rule that I instated. We don’t go to bed mad and we don’t sleep in separate rooms (unless of course we fall asleep rocking the baby to sleep). This only created bitterness and never solved arguments. True communication can’t happen if you aren’t face to face. 
  9. Invest in each others interests– Guys, if you know me at all, you know that I know next to nothing about football. I love supporting the Bucks and the Bengals and know enough to get the gist, but Ryan is a diehard sports fan. Football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey… you name it. Over the years, I have tried to learn more about the technical side of things (I even when to a clinic to learn all of the rules of football…albeit, the fact that they served food and wine might have been additional incentive). When we started dating and for a few years into our marriage, I had my own baking business. Ryan doesn’t like baking…heck, he doesn’t even like eating sweets (more for me to eat!). Yet he would help any way he could, staying up late packaging and making deliveries because he knew what it meant to me.
  10. Create a budget and stick to it– Money is said to be the root of many relational struggles. Regardless of where you are at financially, there are sure to be discussions about money and where it should or shouldn’t be going. Early on in our marriage, we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course. This has helped us to communicate regarding money and allowed us to take control of where our money is going, rather than to assume we are on the same page. This has been a huge stress reliever for both of us!

This is far from an exhaustive list and we are far from experts at this whole marriage thing. I pray that God would grant us decades more together. I am sure that if we are granted this time, one day we will look back and laugh at how young and naive we were even now. In the meantime, I pray that each day we would continue to choose each other every day and choose grace.

 

Photo credit: Thank you to Allison at Kismet Visuals for capturing our special day so perfectly. You were a joy to work with and we will forever cherish the these glimpses of our perfect day.

 

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.

A Weekend in Annapolis

We had a whirlwind long weekend in Annapolis! We were there for a family wedding and wanted to take full advantage of our short stay since it was our first time in Maryland, let alone Annapolis.

Ryan and I got a humble glimpse at what life and parenting with two kiddos would be like as we traveled not only with Q, but with our 4 year old niece. We are going to need some practice…and maybe more time before we move to man-to-man coverage, as we like to call it.

Once we settled in, we were ready explore the city. We always stay at Marriot’s and their customer service is impeccable, so before exploring any city, we like to ask the staff some of their favorite must-sees in their own city. One of the recommendations was Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, a delicious local gem whose fresh seafood did not disappoint.

Helpful hint when traveling on a budget: do your research ahead of time. You can often sign up for e-mails at the restaurant of your choice in exchange for free or discounted food. We happened to be just in time to enjoy happy hour so we tasted some local brews and decided that we couldn’t chose just one appetizer, so we split 3 of the 1/2 price appetizers rather than ordering our own entrees…another fun, but somewhat unintentional way that we saved money!

The girls overheard the receptionist at our hotel say “ice cream” while recommending places, so our after dinner stop was determined and I wasn’t mad about it! We indulged in the local ice cream at Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory. It is a small by charming shop lined with brick to match the character of the city, along with dozens of delicious flavors to chose from.

Saturday morning we decided to check out a local favorite Chick & Ruth’s Delly, featured on Man vs. Food. We were pleasantly surprised when we got to witness and take part in one of the traditions that helped to make them famous- the Pledge of Allegiance. It is recited every week day at 8:30 and on weekends at 9:30. The Naval Academy brings service men and women from across the country to Annapolis; thus even as we stood and honored a timeless tradition, we were surrounded by those that had or were actively serving our country. What a special experience not only for us, but for the girls as well.

After we carbo loaded we walked to the Naval Academy.  I was a proud Mama/ Aunt, thinking about what an outstanding learning experience this would be! However, the humidity quickly got the best of all of us. After many complaints, once on base we did a quick walk around and headed straight for the air-conditioned museum. Again, great idea in theory until I realized we now had a toddler and a 4 year old in a building full of historical breakables. It was fun while it lasted though and I have no doubt that one day we will go back and it really will be a great learning opportunity!

The Wedding was held at a local Catholic church with the reception to follow at the gorgeous Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. We were nervous about keeping the girls entertained and behaved during the wedding but when in doubt…food!

Quinn has so many (1st and 2nd) cousins that are so close in age. They have a blast getting into trouble together!  Check out dresses similar to this PinkBlush Wrap Dress. They are perfect for maternity, postpartum or any other body type for that matter!

Though we drove almost 16 hours roundtrip (with stops), it was well worth the trek. We saw so many people that we loved and discovered an amazing city in the process. Annapolis, we will be back some day to discover more of your charm and delicious seafood!

For more information on what to do in and around Annapolis visit:

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own.