An Old Town Christmas 2015

Alexandria lies just a few miles from the Nation’s Capital though it may take you quite a while to make the drive. I like the feeling you get when walking the streets of Old Town. It evokes a quaint village feel. Boutique shops, charming hotels and fine dining can be found at every corner.

Few weeks ago, I wanted to visit for the Christmas Parade on the Potomac River and witness Alexandria coming to life for the Christmas season but of course everyone hosts their tree lighting at the same time so we missed it.

Hubby was off from work on this lovely afternoon in early December when we made our way into the city. I am always dragging him places whenever given the opportunity. Just like the kids, he’ll thank me later. 🙂

We dined at Pizzeria Paradiso AGAIN. I suppose it’s our new place to eat. What can I say…they make some really good pizzas and you can even customize it if that tickles your fancy.

Last time we visited I promised my daughter a ride on the trolley and I was able to fulfill this promise. Seeing the joy and excitement on her face was more than I could’ve asked for. She got a kicker out of ringing the bell at EVERY stop., thank goodness for the trolley operator’s patience.

I must admit, King Street wasn’t as decorated as I thought it would be but it’s definitely worth a trip. If for nothing else, it offers fine shopping at boutique shops and big brand stores as well. It’s a lovely stroll but on those colder nights a tour from the comfort of a heated transport doesn’t hurt either. The trolley ride is free and very informative. It tells of Alexandria’s history as you drive along the way. So grab a cup of Joe or hot apple cider and hop on!

If this post didn’t get you excited about a trip to Alexandria, check out this Alexandria’s Presidential Appeal Article featured in the latest issue of AAA World Magazine, perhaps that will do the trick.

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BTW I forgot my phone in the car thus no pics while we rode the trolley.

~TOODLES~
Stacey

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A Short Pump Christmas

One of my favorite places to visit in Richmond is the Short Pump Town Center I can see you rolling your eyes and thinking…IT’S JUST A MALL, but if you’ve been there you’ll probably agree.

I love this place even if it is an outdoor mall! We often laugh about this because it does get cold in Richmond, but thankfully its been unseasonably warm this year; hence, my visit in December.

I don’t know what it is about this place; I don’t know if it’s being able to smell the fresh air and soak in the sunshine while you walk from store to store or having the opportunity to sit down in one of the many conversation areas and enjoy a cup of Starbucks or ice cream, depending on the weather. Whatever it is, I always enjoy watching the transformation in preparation for Christmas and this year was no exception!

So here we are during my girls-only weekend to Richmond; my mother-in-law joined us for the trip. I was glad she did; it was nice not having to chase after both girls.

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Watching my oldest face light up as we rode around the Town Center was definitely worth the wait in the LONG line (well, Grandma waited in line) while the girls and I played in our favorite store, Pottery Barn Kids. It’s probably more my favorite place than theirs, but I never get any complaints while they play with these lavish kitchen sets and one of a kind toys.

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Today was a great day with the girls.

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I love this place!

~TOODLES~
Stacey

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Christmas Wonderland 2015

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The moment you walk through the double doors of the visitor’s center you are captured in the spirit of Christmas.

This year’s H2Whoa-themed Gardenfest of Lights is a delight. It’s a spectacular display of more than half-a-million lights adorning the gardens. The Kelly Education Center (library) boasts an impressive one-of-a-kind model train display. The kids will love watching the train; be prepared to stay a while.

When you think of Christmas, name three things that pop into your head? SANTA CLAUS, FAMILY and CHRISTMAS MUSIC. There could be a few others, but I am speaking of the latter.

As we strolled through the gardens taking in the sights we realized it was missing that transformational aspect…MUSIC.  Music has that ability of transcending us to another moment in time and that’s what we needed. How can you have Christmas without Christmas music?

Nothing says Christmas like hearing the sounds of “Jingle Bells, or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, or “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, or Luther Vandross’ “Every Year, Every Christmas” or Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas” or The Temptations’ Silent Night or Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” or Danny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” or Boyz II Men “Let It Snow” featuring Brian McKnight. It would’ve been a real Christmas miracle if it snowed this year but you get my drift…THERE WAS NO MUSIC!

It’s not often that I complain about anything at the renowned Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden because they usually think of EVERYTHING, but not this time.

If you’ve visited or plan to visit this spectacular lights display, please share your thoughts about the music, or lack thereof. You have until 11 Jan 2016 before the lights go out!

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My kids trying to blow out the fire, thanks to their auntie.
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Always so studious
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A rare moment with his Grandma.
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Happy Holidays!!
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~TOODLES~
Stacey

Christmas Parade 2015

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The weather has been absolutely AH-MAZING! All the more reason to pack the kids up and enjoy the outdoors while it lasts…after all we are talking high 50’s in December!

The kids and I made the drive down to Richmond, VA for the Hanover Christmas Parade. A first not only for them, but also for me. This isn’t your typical parade with gigantic floats; this is a local affair with tractors, ponies, classic cars and even ingenious ones.

I was so proud of the kids as they waved to the paraders and my oldest yelled Merry Christmas. They were rewarded with quite a bit of candy canes they were actually allowed to eat. I couldn’t say no….it’s all part of the Christmas tradition, right? 😉

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As the sun drifted off into the horizon the temperatures dropped significantly, but no trip to a Christmas parade is complete without a sighting of Jolly Ole Saint Nick, of course.

My oldest trying to keep up with Grandma as she rushed off to see Santa.

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Grandma flexed her muscles while waiting in line for Santa.
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All the little boys and girls cheered loudly for Santa. Their faces lit up with excitement every time Santa asked them what they wanted for Christmas. I was excited to hear what my oldest would ask for. Last year it was a vacation, but this year it was a measly ONE DOLLAR BILL…really? I have work to do!

My son was not a fan of Santa Claus. You know that one kid who screams bloody murder the closer he gets to Santa…yep, that was my boy. Smh

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Help me, Mommy!
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He wanted NOTHING to do with Santa. Perhaps next year will be better when he learns of the magic of Jolly Ole Saint Nick. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. ☺

~TOODLES~
Stacey

Virginia Adventurers

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Some days you just need a change of scenery.

When I left home I had no idea of our destination. The only thing I was certain of was not exploring Washington, DC 🙊 I had a full tank of gas, my DSLR camera, snacks (with three kids, I never leave home without it), a few dollars cash and we drove off into the beautiful sunshine.

It’s been exceptionally warm the past few days and I intend to soak up every last-minute of it before the weather changes, YET again.

During our drive I called my mother-in-law and she suggested Alexandria, Virginia (Old Town to be exact). I’ve driven through here many times but I’ve never hung out here.

The kids and I especially my oldest had a lovely day spending time at Windmill Hill Park, lunch at Paradiso Pizzeria (my daughter insisted), and soaking up some sun at Market Plaza while being serenaded with live music from a master of the fine arts.

She was scared yet intrigued as she listened from a distance.
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Eventually she had the courage to get closer.
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King Street is the perfect place for a stroll; the street is lined with cute little boutique shops and restaurants to satisfy whatever it is you’re craving.

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Window shopping anyone?
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It was hard work keeping these kids out of the fountain! On a summer-like day I can’t say I blame them.
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We were having a jam session to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk (Jayla’s FAVE song) before an airplane interrupted, hence, Jayla holding her ears.
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“Mommy, are they having a Halloween party?”
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We attended a halloween party few weeks ago and now she associates pumpkin with halloween parties.

The food was great, the music a pleasant treat to my eardrum. I would say today was a great day. I hope it was for you, too!

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~TOODLES~
Stacey

Serenity Farms

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I’ve been wanting to take the kids to a pumpkin patch, but I kept waiting for the perfect time that never came.

The weather had taken a turn for the better so I decided today was the day. Of course the farm was closed, but the owner graciously told me I could join the kindergarten crew the next morning at 10:15 a.m.!!!

I wanted to scream, “Lady you do see three kids, right?”  Three LITTLE kids, but I graciously accepted and said thank you.

That night I thought about not going but I had already told my three year old. I don’t know about you, but she forgets NOTHING.

It would be my luck that the kids were up until THREE a.m, yes THREE a.m!!!

By some miracle, we made it on time ☺

All aboard?

First stop, the petting farm. All was well until Piglet moved.

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The twins never really recovered. In fact, I think it actually got worst.

You know that dramatic moment your life flashes before your eyes? Well, each encounter with the animals was like that for my kids.

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I’ll let big sister protect me!

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Even big sister was scared, but then again she’s scared of EVERYTHING.

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I decided to let them check out the caged animals.

But…the other animals followed.

If my kids could truly vocalize, I think they probably would’ve cursed me out that day.  I laughed so hard. I know it’s not nice, but I just couldn’t help it. You had to have been there. I promise you would’ve laughed too besides no one was harmed in the process.

Next stop, Casper’s Castle, aka the haunted house. The kids HATED it! When my oldest saw the ghost at the end she asked me,

“Mommy, did that thing just move?”

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This photo sums up their days lately, Nelle cheese-ing for the camera while her brother stuffs his face.

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In the end they all had a BLAST. Jaeden was asleep before I even drove out the parking lot!

It was a beautiful day BUT

The problem with organized field trip is you don’t get as much time as you need.  I needed more photos of my pumpkins with their pumpkins (oh, the irony, I know).

Sometimes having a big sister isn’t so fun, huh?

Can you back up off me?

I love being their mommy.

“ANY DAY SPENT WITH YOU IS MY FAVORITE DAY. SO TODAY IS MY NEW FAVORITE DAY”

~TOODLES~
Stacey

Museum Time

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One morning, my daughter woke up and asked to go to the museum; but it was laundry day. The next morning during breakfast she said “Mommy, ask me where we’re going today?” So I asked and she responded with “THE MUSEUM”.

Luckily there are many museums at our disposal in Washington, DC. We settled on the Smithsonian Natural History Museum as she wanted to see dinosaurs.

She was very excited as we left home. It was an easy drive into the city and after one loop around the block we found free parking.

On our way to see the dinosaurs she had an important question. She needed affirmation that the dinosaurs wouldn’t move like in Dino Dan. I explained that dinosaurs were extinct and I ensured her she could hold my hand if she needed to. She held my hand briefly before she was off exploring.

We had a lovely afternoon learning about dinosaurs and watching my kids run around the museum. I love being able to spend my days experiencing things from their vantage point.

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We also checked out other areas of the museum

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I have no idea what caught his eye
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” Walrus, just like Paw Patrol”
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Today was a good day!

~TOODLES~
Stacey