Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pirate Greybeard's Treasure Hunt

A piece of ocean near the mazzio's gate
One night at dinner, Jonathan started talking about hidden treasure. And before you know it, we suddenly had a treasure buried in our yard. And that treasure belonged to Captain Greybeard the PIRATE! He sailed in from the Elizabeth River and buried the treasure in our very yard. But the treasure could only be unearthed by a worthy young boy.  The tale grew and grew and Jackson's eyes got wider and wider. He was wiggling in his seat over the idea of buried treasure. JB said that we could have a special night to look for it and I threw in, "yeah, we can camp out afterwards as well" (knowing full well that I would get to stay inside with Rachel!)
near a seat on the porch 
So, two weeks later we made it happen. I searched so hard for a treasure box that I forgot things to go in it. Thankfully we have neighbors with kids who are willing to donate some of their excess toys to our cause!  We gathered some gold doubloons from the Mazzio's and mardi gras beads from the McNabbs and a real life cardboard treasure box from Michael's (spray painted an authentic-looking silver). Jonathan researched how to make a map using a tea bag and he worked late into the night crafting the map and burning the edges. 
learning how to read a map
Then, we got silly and wrote 5 limericks to find the map. It was so fun to create an adventure for our little one. It was fun to be clever and creative with my husband. It was fun to see the boys take off on their treasure-finding adventure, wearing headlamps of course! And since then we have had many, many treasure hunts in our house with our stash of pirate treasure.

Our other adventures have included:
Spending lots of time with BB and Grandad. They are super fun and they happen to live across from the beach and love to watch both of our kids while we run errands or have a date night.  Win Win. 

We had a great mother's day. I am so blessed that these two kids call me mom. I am thankful for such an amazing mother who taught me how to love, how to be selfless and serve others and how to be kind.

I attempted to take a selfie in the dark of Rachel attacking me with kisses before she goes to bed.  She grabs on and really dives in for some open mouth, slobbery wet kisses. I love it despite the fact that I'm all sticky and gross when I put her to bed! 

-Jackson is very concerned with Today and tomorrow. But he doesn't quite understand them. He calls both naps and bedtime 'naps' so he tries to figure out when things will happen based on after nap, or after NAP. Child. They are the different things.  Then, if something happens tomorrow he wants to know when that is. So I explain that it is after breakfast, play time, lunch, nap, play time, dinner and bath. But he asks, "when is breakfast?" Well, it's when you wake up. "When do I wake up?" After bedtime. "You mean, after nap?" No, after bedtime. "When is bedtime". So on and so forth it goes!

-"When I die I am going to be with God." Yes, Lord.

-When all the kids came back from Children's church a few weeks ago, Jackson held the door for all 40 of them. What a gentleman! 

-While talking about how to make new colors like purple and pink over dinner one evening, J suddenly blurted out, "The musical word for loud is FORTE. The musical word for soft is piano." He won't really tell us what he does at school but we manage to find out through moments like these.  

Jackson had his final day of Preschool on May 22nd. His class performed a few songs including 'where is thumb kin' and "zip-a-dee-doo-dah". It was precious.  He was much more animated than he was in the Christmas program (poor guy had only been with his class for 2 weeks so he barely knew any of their names, much less any songs they do in music 1x/week).  
Finally, I am not one for art. I don't really enjoy it or go to art galleries. But my friend, Ann, opened an art gallery on 44th street called the Corner Gallery. She features all local artists from Hampton Roads and Richmond. I went to an opening of one of her new exhibits and fell in love with this painting. I couldn't explain it because I never react to art, even the really famous stuff! We just finished reading a book by Tim Keller for our Community Group Bible study and it was about work and how we are created to cultivate the earth and create beautiful things, including art.  I truly see how art can be beautiful and point towards the Creator of this world (and although the art is beautiful and can produce joy in me, HE is the one who deserves the glory).  I gushed about it to Jonathan when I got home. There is something so simple and elegant about it. Jonathan made arrangements to get it and surprised me with it for our anniversary last week. Husband of the year award. What a thoughtful gesture that has meant so much to me. And now, I can wake up each morning to this beautiful peace hanging on my wall. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beach Week

We had a blast on vacation with my parents for their yearly timeshare week at Ocean Beach Club in Virginia Beach. It's so refreshing to take a stay-cation. It's still a ton of things to load in the car for a family of 4 but at least if we forget something we know where to get it. We also get to really enjoy VA beach, which is rare even though we live right here. 
We spent the whole week in the pool, visiting with family (Aunt Joyce, Jake, Great grandpa, Aunt Janis, Aunt Jeanette, Hana, Libby and That Guy), eating good food, walking on the boardwalk and playing dice.  We are so blessed to be able to see our family so often despite the distance between everyone. I'm so thrilled to have so much time to see my kids with their great grandpa as well. 
great grandpa and greatgrandchild #3
The whole gang (after 6pm = Rachel is sleeping!)
J finally knows the names of my aunts and uncles but has really enjoyed nicknames for the Coles in particular. Uncle Walt has the endearing name of "That Guy" and Hana and Libby, excellent cheerleaders, are called the Glitter Girls! Tonight at dinner, J told me that he went over to visit Hana and Libby and "THAT GUY" was at the house too! :) he spent a fun afternoon at their house celebrating Libby's Confirmation. They played on the trampoline all afternoon and J slept well that night! 
Jackson and Libby the Glitter Girl
J and Hana the Glitter Girl
Rachel was a dream baby during vacation and really seemed to enjoy the life of leisure. Who am I kidding...her whole life is one big vacation right now! She slept in a room with us and didn't know we were there. She enjoyed hugs, watching all of her family members and her first time in the pool. As with most things in life, she adores the pool. Just in time for a week in the sun, she also figured out how to take off hats, so we thankfully managed to escape without a sunburned head

She also makes a really cute subject for when I want to practice my new photography skills! 

Drool baby
J is a kid who was made for vacation. He woke up every morning and grandmom took him out on the balcony to watch the waves and look for dolphins. He asked for cookies and Raspberry tea every morning and afternoon. He snacked all day, ran around at the park and played for hours in the pool with dad, grandparents, aunts and cousins. He napped HARD each afternoon for over 2 hours! He now has beach kid hair that is sun kissed along the edges. It's so fun to see how comfortable he is with family members who he only sees a few times each year. He's totally turning into our extroverted child! 

Rachel got her first haircut (at less than 8 months old!) by Jonathan. There was a long piece that hung in her eyes and while I knew it probably drove her crazy I couldn't bear to cut it. Jonathan was right...she looks much better! 

J and cousin Jake 

A rare picture with just Rachel
Mom and dad were so great and gave us many opportunities for date nights while we were there. We enjoyed dinner and beer at Lagerheads and then cocktails and a walk on the beach another night. We also did our annual Bachelorette draft picks with Jonathan and Amber. I'm not feeling too good about my stinky team this year but it's really anyone's game

Beth sent us an email from the Aquarium alerting us to a Seal Release party one morning. They rescued a seal in April and she was healthy enough to return home. We, along with hundreds of other beach-goers, attended the seal release and saw the sweet little seal try to swim through the chop to make it back home. Jackson, always wearing his helmet (safety first!) managed to make it into the Virginian Pilot article the next morning!  

Vacation looks good on her! 

My, how time flies: 2015 vs 2014 (pregnant with Rachel)

Finally, on the last morning there, Aunt Janis, aka Captain XXXX left a treasure of chocolate doubloons for Jackson to hunt for in his room. He's very into pirates and was THRILLED for a new adventure. She is such a thoughtful Aunt and we are so grateful for this week with our family!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Only Little Once Photography Class

We love our newborn photographer, in case you missed all of my gushing about her approximately 7.5 months ago. She offered a photograph course entitled, "Only Little Once", specifically geared towards parents taking pictures of their children. I immediately asked JB if I could take this course, despite my fears of having never left my breast-fed-only baby for more than 3 hours at a stretch.  A friend from church also signed up for this course and we figured there would be 8-10 people in it. But, we were pleasantly surprised to have 4 women in our class. What a treat with all the personal attention and help with figuring out our cameras!

We met for 2 hours of class at Moka, an amazing coffee shop in Virginia Beach (check it out if you have never been's amazing).  It was actually really nice to be back in a class environment after being out of work for almost 9 months.  We learned all about the Triangle of functions in photography: f stop, ISO and shutter speed. We talked about bokeh (aka the pretty blur in good photos) and white balance. It was like learning a new language of words that I had seen on the buttons on my camera but I had absolutely no clue what they meant! 

We all went to the Chesapeake Arboretum following class and photographed our children. Many thanks to Jenny for lending me her adorable girls since my kids were tied up with family vacation/bedtime at the beach. Here are some of my favorites from the first day and practicing later that week! 

We shoot with a 50mm lens which Jonathan loves and I have always found takes really really orange pictures. The timeshare has lots of oranges in it, so it was amazing to see how this picture wasn't scary Halloween orange. i'm still learning how to play with where my subject is to get the best lighting but it's so fun to figure out the puzzle of how to get a good picture! 

We went out to the beach last night to play some baseball and I thought it would be a good chance to practice shooting. I cranked up the shutter speed to 1600 and was able to get these crisp action shots of Jackson. No more blurry arms or faces!

Many many thanks to Erin. We love the photos you took of our family when Rachel was born. You teach an amazing class that is easy to understand and accessible for people like me who have a nice camera but have what to do with it! I feel excited to continue learning about my camera and getting some great pictures of the kids. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015


We thoroughly enjoyed the month of April. We spent many days outside, got passes to Busch Gardens, watched lots of soccer and visited the park as much as possible. We've had Community Group Bible study events, dinners out with friends and good family time around the house. 

Jackson is a spunky 3 1/2 year old. He's grown 1 little inch in the past 6 months but for some reason seems so much taller. He is unafraid of new things like jumping off of very tall ledges, climbing the highest spots on the playground and scootering around ODU like he's part of a race. When we go as a family (JB on the skateboard, pulled by Lincoln; J on his scooter, hooting and hollering and having a blast; me running besides behind with Rachel in the jogger), we turn lots of heads at ODU :) 

Here are some Jackson-isms: 
"Daddy eats on the couch. He tells me not to tell you"
One day when I was wearing a maxi dress: "Why are you wearing shirt pants? Mommy, why are you wearing a long shirt?"
When he stubbed his toe: "My Thumb toe hurts"
"Grandad, you wear me out! Do I wear your out? We wear each other out!"

As was true when he was younger, Jackson still loves wearing no pants (he does have undies on, though, no worries!)
J and R are becoming good buddies. She is learning to hold her own when it comes to her toys but Jackson still wins every battle for stuffed animals or puzzle pieces. There are occasional moments when I find him reading to her or teaching her about a special toy of his. Then other moments he is roundhouse kicking her in the stomach or throwing a teddy bear at her head.  Good thing she is tough and completely adores him. 
We saw this picture of Uncle Matt, Aunt Chase and William and just had to share it. Aren't they a good looking group? I can't believe we live so far away and only get to see them once a year or so. But, pictures will have to do! 
We have really enjoyed our days at Busch Gardens this spring. Jackson confidently goes on rides by himself. He likes everything he has been on so far (JB and I have to trade off who has to go on the teacups before we vomit...) and is dying to go on the battering ram (the huge ship that goes practically upside down). If he was terrified on it and I could hear him screaming, I would never forgive myself. I think JB can take him on it while I hide somewhere out of sight or hearing distance with Rachel.  

Some days in the Spring, you come home from church and put on Christmas PJs and watch Frozen.  As you can tell, Rachel really likes it too!
I forgot these pictures in my last post on Grandparents and how thankful we are for them. WE love grandmom and pop pop and are so grateful that they make the 3 hour trip frequently to see our kids grow up! 

Finally, Jonathan spent the last year working on an album of original songs and melodies for church. He produced this at Blue Room Studios (aka our computer room) with his friends Ben Lyon and Allyson Sabin. I'm so proud of them for their creativity, inspiration and hard work. Please check out the album and download it for free (you can put $0 when it asks to name your price).