THREE

My baby is three today.  He’s grown so much in the last couple months – really gaining his independence, talking up a storm, and he’s no longer a baby, or a toddler, he’s a preschooler!

Avery started his first day of preschool today.
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I dropped him off, and he gave hugs and kisses to Joey and I and went off to play.  He didn’t cry or cling.. he’s all grown up!  He was so proud of his new backpack (a hand-me down from cousin Aiden), and wouldn’t let go of his ice age characters from his birthday party this weekend.
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There are so many things about Avery that I just want to bottle up and save forever because I know he will continue to change and grow.  But for now, here are a few things I’d like to store away and look back on someday…

Things ‘I can do myself’ :

    • Put on & Take off my shoes.  I’m working on taking off my socks, but since I demand to wear big long white sox like Grampy that practically go up to my knees, I get too frustrated before I can pull them off completely.
    • Sing the ABCs. I like to sing when putting the alphabet puzzle together with Mommy and when Mommy asks me to read anything, I recite the ABCs.
    • Use the Potty. I’m ALMOST potty trained… I just have to remember to tell Mommy I need to go, BEFORE I go.  I  can pull my pants down and use the step stool to get to the potty myself!  Oh and I stand up like big boys do ;)

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Avery was sooo excited when we went shopping for big boy pants – he took them out of the bag and laid them all out like this, silly kid!

    • Wash My Hands.  If Mommy asks me to wash my hands before dinner, I can go into the bathroom, turn on the light, pull up the step stool, turn on the water, get the soap and wash my hands, and put everything back.
    • Count to Thirteen.  I can count very high, but after 13, I tend to go back down to 8.
    • Ride a Trike and my Bike with Training Wheels. My favorite time to ride my bike is when we are visiting Great Grandma & Grandpa.

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  • Pick Clothes Out of My Dresser.  Mommy can ask me to go pick out clothes and I can get them all by myself.  Sometimes I come back with Pajamas or long shirts and I have to make a second trip, but I am learning!

Avery’s favorite things change pretty often now.  He has a short attention span and moves from one activity to another after a few minutes, and he could like one food today and hate it tomorrow.  But here are a few consistent favorites…

Favorites:

    • Fruit: Strawberries & Apples
    • Meat: Sausage & Hotdogs
    • Vegetable: Corn on the Cob

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    • Meal: Tacos or Spaghetti
    • Books: Thomas book from Sarah T
    • Candy: Jelly Beans & Sour Patch Kids
    • Snack: Popcorn & Fruit Gummies
    • Songs: There’s a Hole in My Bucket, Rain Rain Go Away, and the commercial song ‘I’m a Big Kid Now’
    • Color: Blue! or Red, or Green, depending on the day, haha.
    • Movie: The Elephant Movie (Ice Age)
    • Outdoor Activity: Riding his new tractor, playing in the garden, playing in the garage
    • Indoor Activity: Thomas Trains, Cars, Play Doh

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There are some quirky, distinct, and particular things we do every day that not many people know about but Avery never lets me forget and reminds me if we don’t do them.

Routine:

  • When I pick Avery up from school, he likes to wear his (heavy and full) backpack outside to ‘Show my kids’ (classmates) as he says, because he is ‘Big and strong’ and ‘Im a Superman!’
  • When Avery says goodbye or goodnight to Mimi, she gets 2 Kisses and 1 hug… every time!
  • Avery gets the mail every day after school.  He sits in my lap in the car at the mailbox, reads off the mailbox numbers, gets the mail out and brings it in the house.
  • When we go for walks, on our way back, Avery races us by going down Tom’s driveway (the neighbor, which runs next to ours) and beats us home.
  • We get jelly beans every day after school at Joey’s work
  • We stop and look at the ‘broken house’ every day (It’s a house they are building, but Avery has called it the broken house, haha)

Personality:

Oh Avery.  Words to describe this kiddo… Energetic, loving, caring, fearless, stubborn, persistent, determined, athletic, clever, daring, polite, bold, handsome, entertaining, bright, confident, curious, thoughtful, happy, and healthy.

Avery has his 3 year check up on Wednesday, I’ll be back to give his stats after that, and post pictures and video from Avery’s birthday party!

<3 Meghan

Keep Calm….

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Strangely, I’m not freaking out!  It’s the last year of my 20s, and I’m totally OK with that :)  I’m happier, healthier, and have so much more going for me this year, than last year, and the years before.  So, bring on year 29!!!

And honestly, how can I be bummed about the end of an era closing in on me when this little munchkin gave me a pink loufa, blue leopard print pajama pants, and mini M&Ms for my birthday this morning??!!

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Gotta love when you’re 3 year old picks out the most random things for your birthday present :)  Nothing better than that!

Oh and guess what I did on my lunch break today…
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Happy Birthday to me!  Thanks to my thoughtful little sis, I got pampered at the spa :)

Way to start off a birthday!!!  Back to work this afternoon, and then later tonight…we’re making pizza and watching a movie together to celebrate.  Tomorrow is Avery’s big birthday bash… sooo excited for this weekend… FUN FUN FUN!

<3 Meghan

A Marathon Weekend

Okay, I’m FINALLY recovered from our maraton of a weekend and have a free second to recap it before our upcoming busy weekend (Avery’s birthday party).  It all started Friday night… Avery and I joined Grampy at the Milton High School football game.

Grampy runs the chains (with the rest of the Valyou Chain Gang) every year, so I wanted to take Avery to at least one game this year.  We arrived before the game started and Avery enjoyed some time with the boys.
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Avery and I had fun watching the game, and the cheerleaders.

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Avery caught the eye of the cheer leading coach, who gave him two pixie stix (which I paid for later), and Avery joined some boys playing soccer behind the stands.
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Avery even played a little football with Grampy at halftime before we left.

We stayed until 8:30ish and headed home, but Mister Avery didn’t fall asleep until after we got home… darn those pixie stix! (which he LOVED by the way… this kiddo has his Grampy’s sweet tooth!)

Saturday MiMi, Avery and I did some grocery shopping.  That night we went to Kelly and Josh’s wedding.  I’ve known Kelly since forever… she’s been my sister’s best friend, so seeing her get married was so very sweet.

They picked a lovely little reception site, which was just down the road from us, in the town Kelly grew up in.  Although windy, the views were amazing, and her pictures came out quite good…

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Avery got all dressed up and was ready to party…kelly wedding 1

The venue had pretty views, and amazing grounds, so we snagged some pictures of ourselves…

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Avery was a doll during the reception… it did help that Kelly and Josh had a desert bar BEFORE the wedding even started… this kiddo had 2 M&M cookies during the ceremony to keep him occupied.  And when it was time for Kelly to come out, he got Josh’s attention and pointed saying ‘She’s coming!’  Too cute.

Avery and Joey kept busy with cars while we waited at our tables for the wedding party to come back from taking photos.

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We enjoyed a yummy dinner, which Avery actually ate well at!  The iPad and cars helped to keep him busy too.

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Aunt Sarah was a pretty bridesmaid…kelly wedding 6

And Avery busted some moves on the dance floor, thanks to those cookies, and crashed like crazy after.  We tried to stay late but I think he was all done by 8:30, haha.  Thanks for having us at your big day, Kelly and Josh –  It was fun to share with you!

Sunday was our busiest day… first, Joey’s Half Marathon!  Avery and I joined Joey (and his crowd of supporters) before the race started.

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Joey’s been working towards this race for months.  I was so excited to be a part of it, and see Joey accomplish such a momentous goal for himself.  You know me, I’ve only run 5K and 10Ks, so a half is crazy to me!joey half 3

Oh and that’s Michelle in the Pink, another friend running the half!

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We watched Joey and all the other runners set off on their 13.1 mile race!
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There’s Joey!

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And once they were off… it was time to wait!  Joey had run 12 miles two weeks ago, and he did 8 3/4 min. miles, so I figured he would be coming in around the 2 hour marker, so we had two hours to keep busy.  Joey’s parents, sister, and Avery and I went to a cute coffee shop that had this…

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A train table in their store!  Avery was tres occupied while we all chatted and ate and drank.  Avery enjoyed some carbonated juice and Sarah caught his funny face reaction to it…

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Then we were off to the finish line to await the runners…

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Joey’s friend Adam brough donuts and Avery devoured one!IMG_3204

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The runners started coming in and we patiently waited for Joey.  Avery flirted with Erica… he kept scooting away from her, haha.

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Just after the 2 hour mark passed, we spotted Joey and cheered him on as he crossed the finish line.

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Joey finsihed in 2:08:05… amazing for his first Half Marathon!

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It took a while for him to recover…

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A close up of his well deserved medal!

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We’re so proud of you Joey!!!

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We’ll be there for your next Half, Joey ;)  (He says he’ll never do it again, but I have to tease haha) For now we’ll just focus on getting my butt across the finish line for the Turkey Trot 10K :)

So after the marathon, while Joey recovered, Avery and I hit up two birthday parties.  First was Henry’s – he turned 4!

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The kiddos played and then sat down to some food.  Next, they made tye-dye shirts (Avery’s just went thru the wash and it looks great!  I’ll take a pic soon)  It was such a cute kits party activity!

Cupcakes…

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That the kids devoured… or at least Avery ate the frosting, haha.

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And a pinata full of candy!IMG_3219

Then we were off to Cooper’s 4th Birthday Party!  He was opening presents when we arrived…

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Next up was a pin the thing on the Minion…IMG_3224IMG_3226

The kiddos played on Cooper’s new swing set…IMG_3233

Ate this yummy cake… (Cooper’s Mom made it!)Capture

And then my phone died, haha.  What do you expect after such a busy weekend!?  The kids hit another piniata, and played before we headed home.  I was whiped, and Avery too.  But it was a fun filled marathon weekend!

This coming weekend we’re playing it a little more low key… just one party – Avery’s 3rd Birthday party!!!

<3 Meghan

Parc Safari

BURRR!!!! It’s official – It’s fall in Vermont.  It was below freezing when I brought Avery to school this morning, and yet the calendar doesn’t consider it fall until this coming weekend.  Well, we closed out our summer with a CHILLY trip to Parc Safari!  We had been when my sister and I were little (20 years ago to be exact – Mom found a dated park map from our last visit).

We had wanted to go this summer, but all our weekends were booked, and we had to get Grampy and Avery’s passports done (that was a feat in itself!), so we fit it in a little too late this year… we’re going in the peak of summer next year!

We hit the road early Saturday morning: We met up with Nana, Papa, and Joseph (My cousin) and drove north, to Canada!

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It was Avery and Grampy’s first time using their new passports, so exciting!  Just over an hour of driving and we arrived.

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Although it was chilly and there were cyclists zooming past us (um, note to Parc Safari: Your Cycle program is NOT appreciated by us people just walking around.  

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Bikes zooming by and taking up so much space in the park, and having sections marked off for them is NOT appealing to the normal walking on two feet guests) we made the best of our visit.  We had wanted to do the drive thru part first, but it opened much later than advertised (because of the cyclists) so we went thru part of the park first…

On the way, Avery and Joseph found some animals to pose with…

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And onto the REAL animals…

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The lions were first.  They were HUGE.  We walked around, and UNDER them…

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And thanks to our tall Papa, Avery got to size up his paws to the big kitty:

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We even got to see and hear the lions roar!  Next we saw a Tiger!  Avery had been looking forward to this animal the most, so we snagged a picture to send to Joey.

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And oh the animals we saw… lions, tigers, bears, oh my!  And monkies too!

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After freezing our butts off, we stopped for a nice lunch inside…

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And then it was off for the best part… where we got to drive thru the park and feed the animals!  Avery was thrilled to see the animals, but what’s even better than that?  Hanging out the car window while doing it of course!

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First up… the elephant!

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We tried feeding it an orange, but MiMi’s throw wasn’t on par that day ;)  The boys were pretty excited to see the big guy.

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Next up.. camels!

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They were so big… and slobbery!  We had bought the park food to feed all the animals, and the camels walked up to the cars as we drove by and ate the food from our hands!

Avery was very hesitant at first and didn’t want to feed the animals, but he was popping around in the car from one window to the next to look at the animals… and Joseph followed behind us … both kiddos doing this most the ride!

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I think these were donkeys…

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And my favorite part… the ostrich!

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It was taller than the car and poked it’s beak for the food onto our hands pretty hard…

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We stopped and took a potty break halfwary thru (I know, I know, I owe a potty training post.. but just a hint, Avery is in big boy underpants all the time now!) and pet this guy…

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Back in the car, we saw these big fellas!

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And Avery warmed up and fed and pet some animals!

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These deer/antelope things were very calm and fun to feed and pet.

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They really get up close too…

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And to give an idea of just how cool this experience was, driving thru the park, this is what a Papa’s truck looked like behind us…

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Avery was full of giggles and smiles.. such a fun experience!

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Tip: bring lots of baby wipes!  We went thru a ton since these animals slobbered all over our hands, haha.

After the car ride, we walked a raised pathway and saw the Giraffes

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The baby giraffe was the first born at the park in 23 years, so it was fun to see her.  She was 1 1/2 months old.  Avery got to feed a carrot to the giraffe too (Tip: Bring bags of apples and carrots – the animals prefer them over the food the park sells, and the park is OK with it!)

We saw the elephant again…

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And Papa and I stood in Kenya!

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The platform was in the shape of Africa with all the countries mapped out.

Next up, a big Rhino…

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And these two animals…

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Avery had such a fun time with Joseph… these two goofballs…

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Running to see the next animal…

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Checking out some antelope…

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The Chetas woke up (they were sleeping when we drove by earlier) and we watched them for a while…

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With a couple hours left, we hit up the rides!  Avery rode a truck…

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Joseph took Avery on this flying ride!

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Avery cruised in the blue car… of coarse he picked the blue one!

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And took a ride on an elephant… the blue one!131_2217

And the boys went thru a fun ball pit obstacle course…

Then we went to the petting area… first, a camel.

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A pig…

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chickens and ducks…131_2223131_2222

And the last part… the deer path.131_2228131_2232

They came up and ate right out of our hands.131_2242131_2236

Joseph made a friend…131_2240

Avery sat down and waited for them to come to him and they ate out of his hand.

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We had so much fun!!!  Avery passed out a few minutes into the car ride home.. he was wiped out!  And he slept 11+ hours that night after such a busy day!

We’re excited to go back next summer… when it’s warm!!!

Happy Friday!  We had a busy weekend ahead of us: A football game tonight, a wedding tomorrow and sleepover with cousins, Joey’s half marathon Sunday, and two birthday parties Sunday afternoon!

<3 Meghan

Summer Races

I figure I owe an update on the running front…

I laid off the races for a couple months, so in August we watched two of Joey’s races, first was the Fairfax Egg Run:

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Avery and I had fun cheering on Joey, his Dad, and sister.  I’m sooo looking forward to running this one next year.  It was such a large turn out and the energy was great, oh and it helps that it’s just next door, a few miles from home.  Joey did well, and congrats to his sis, Sarah for her first ever 5K, and she rocked it, finishing in like 24 minutes, ummm amazing!  Joey did the 10k, a PR!  He’s been training for a half marathon, so yay Joey!

Next was the Run for Your Life in St. Albans.  Not as big of a turn out, but Avery and I had fun watching Joey and his Dad, and while they ran the 4.4 mile course, we watched construction on the railroad – Avery was sooo thrilled.  And after we hit up the playground :)
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Joey and his Dad did great, and they both won prizes!  It’s always a good race for Joey when he walks away with an award or prize.

And the most recent race… the COLOR RUN!  Last year I had registered for the color run in Boston, but I couldn’t go, scheduling conflict with the family reunion.  This year I did it in VT.  This Momma was up at 530am on a Saturday, psyched!
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Avery had a busy and fun filled morning with a friend and Mimi, so he was in good hands while I met up with my friend Ayla at 730 at the race.  We had both never done a color run before, so it was a fun experience to share.  We did an hour warm up of Jazzersize, which was perfect because it was freezing, so that warmed us up!

There were so many people, hundreds.  The most I’ve ever run a race with.  Here we are before and after the race, and the view from the start line:

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We ran thru four color stations, PINK, BLUE, GREEN, and Yellow.  We walk/ran because Ayla was getting over a bad cold, which worked for us because we got to chat the whole time, something us Mommas needed!

Here we are at the finish!TBTV14_11_03080_L

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After the race, we hit up the photo booth…

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…and threw our color packets in the crowd in front of the stage (which I can only describe as ‘like a G-rated Rave Mosh Pit in a cloud of rainbow smoke’)… and after that we were even more covered in colors!  We hit up a few photo ops and went thru the Shout station where they used leaf blowers to get the color dust off us.

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Green got the best of Ayla, she said she was still blowing green out her nose the next day.  Me, it was blue.  Three showers and two days later, it all was finally gone, haha.IMG_3084

So much fun, and we are so excited to do it again next year… and are talking about doing more fun runs and obstacle runs next year together!

It’s already getting cold here… it went from summer to winter in a couple weeks.  Below freezing here last night, and now I’m off to run, thankfully the sun is out so I’ll be lucky if it has hit 60 outside!

Races to come this fall… Joey’s Half Marathon, the Glow Run, and the Turkey Trot.

<3 Meghan

Summer Vacation!

Whoa, can’t believe it’s Friday already!  These short weeks and long weekends are nice, especially after we spent a week on vacation at the end of August!

We spent a week (Sun-Fri) camping in Lake George, New York.  “We” being Avery and I, MiMi and Grampy, Joey, and Aunt Sarah!
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We arrived and setup camp!

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We got a site right on the river and next to a big field.  The campground was pretty quite most of our visit.  There were some kids on Sunday, but the rest of the week we felt like pretty much the only ones there.  No campers on either side of our site.

It wasn’t long before these two settled in and made themselves at home…

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We took walks around the park every day.  Avery loved stopping at the river and throwing rocks in.
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When Avery got tired from walking, he insisted Joey carry him… then Joey HAD to carry me too… sillyness!
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More fun…

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Avery on top of the world!IMG_2711

Look, we’re taller than Joey!IMG_2713

We enjoyed dinner outside…

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And we met our new friends…

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These ducks, who we named Donald and Daffy, came by a couple times a day.  We had fun feeding them!
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We ended the night, and every night, with a campfire.  Avery was so excited about eating marshmallows :)
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Everyone slept well and we started off the next day…

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Avery woke up and sat by the river with Mimi, eating breakfast.  Then when all our bellies were full, it was time for some basketball and bike riding!

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I treated Avery to a new bike, a big boy one with training wheels because he mastered his little trike last camping trip.  So, he and Grampy put together this little number:
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It’s hard to ride on gravel or dirt, so the basketball court was perfect!  We played basketball (well, I lost at horse over and over, haha) while Avery cruised around!

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And like I’ve said before, nap time while camping is a challenge… but not when you have a Grampy and a hammock…
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Joey brought his study materials for his Personal Training Certification Fantasy Football Draft ;)

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Ok, so I HAD to put this in… the boys are napping and the girls are playing cards and we notice a new camper near us, a couple sites over.  Then after a few glances we notice the guy is laying on the picnic table while the woman tweezes his nose hairs!  Ew!!!  I HAD to snag a picture, hehe.

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There was a nice wooden playground that Avery had a good time on every day.IMG_2731

And more marshmallows at night…IMG_2733

Aunt Sarah was with us for two days, since she’s off to grad school, and on one of those days, we all went together to Great Escape!!!!  It’s a Six Flags theme park.  We had been here when we were kiddos and since Avery was now tall enough to ride the kiddy rides, we went!
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We rode rides, had a picnic lunch back at the car, went to the water park, played games… a fun filled day!
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I’m not alone in the car… Avery’s driving but he’s too short to see!

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Riding the Train!

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Avery was so strong!!! He won a prize!IMG_2754IMG_2757
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Kiddie Roller Coaster with Aunt Sarah!

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Oh no, in jail!!!

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Waterpark fun!!!IMG_2826IMG_2827IMG_2828IMG_2829IMG_2830IMG_2831IMG_2832IMG_2833IMG_2834
We had such a fun day!!!!!!!

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Someone even got a prize when we left…

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More fun back at the campground the next day…
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Treasures, As Avery calls them.  (aka, rocks)IMG_2760

Cheese for breakfast!IMG_2761

A morning walk with Grampy

We spent a day in Lake George walking around visiting shops, stores, the waterfront, and arcades!!!
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We had some nice warm weather, so we cooled off in the campground pool…
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Avery did so well in his swimmies.  He was always with someone,  but he can float in the arm floaties by himself, and he’s learning to kick and paddle… he just isn’t quite going anywhere yet without someone giving him a little push :)

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Jump!!!

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Avery loved jumping in the pool… and we had some fun taking pictures of us jumping over each other…

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On our last full day camping, we woke up to a rainy day.

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But in between showers, we went mini golfing!  It was Avery’s first time…
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He did great and had so much fun!IMG_2785

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At times when he swang, Grampy said he played like Happy Gilmore with a hockey stick, haha! Like this swing I caught on camera…IMG_2790IMG_2792IMG_2793IMG_2794

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We built up an appetite golfing, so for lunch… we had ice cream!!IMG_2795

On the way home, the boys were pretty tired…

We got back to camp and their napping continued…. what else is there to do on a rainy day but nap???

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Mom and I played scrabble!!!
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Avery kept occupied making up games like making his own little hideaway under the table seats…

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We packed up in sprinkling rain on Friday and headed home.  The trip was fun and full of laughs and memories… :)

<3 Meghan

Another One Bites the Dust

Labor Day weekend starts now for me (Thanks to my office for closing early on long weekends!)… and with this weekend we say goodbye to August, and summer…

…. AND goodbye Stafford Loan 1-02 !!!
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That’s right, another loan, paid off (pause for happy dance) !!! Man, does that feel good!

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21 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $16,916.93
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $24,951.00

In less than 2 years, I’ve paid off almost $25,000 in debt!  And I made a nice dent in the next loan on my list to knock off… made for a pretty good month financially – check it out:

August Review

  • Starting Balance: $18,917.17
  • End Balance:  $16,916.93
  • Paid Towards Loans: $2,066.83
  • Interest Paid: $66.36
  • Principle Paid: $2,000.47

Yeah, that’s right, I put over TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS towards loans this month – woo hoo!  That’s the most I’ve ever put in during a normal month (no additional income like tax return).  And if you look at my monthly expense analysis from my bank account, I wasn’t super frugal either – we spent quite a bit on entertainment:  I got Avery a new bike and big boy underpants (oooo potty training!), we went on a couple dates, and ate out a few times.

Expense Analysis August

Next month, I’ll feel the repercussions from our vacation (pictures coming soon!) and have a few bills to pay from that, so I don’ expect to top this next month.  Plus, we’re taking a fall, adults only, vacation weekend in Salem, MA, which will need to be paid next month, so those expenses will show next month.

I’ll stay on my high for now though, because, look how close I am to my goal!!

student loan payoff aug 14

Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

If I keep it up (which I plan to!), I’m projected to get these all paid off by May of next year… 8 months to go!!!

Loan Pay Off Plan

student loan payoff plan sept

 

So, the plan is to chip away at Loan 1-01 (highest interest loan) for the next 4 months: $1500 a month extra to this and it’ll be gone in December!  Then like dominos, they will fall: in January I’ll knock off Loan C (next highest interest), February will be Loan B, March I’ll kick Loan A with my tax return (anticipated to be around $3,000, if not more), April Loan 1-04, and May Loan 1-03. Done!

I was never a patient person, and maybe I can thank Motherhood for the absurd amount I have now.  This has been a LONG process.  It’s taken hours of planning, budgeting, number crunching, and tons of patience. But I’ve kept my long term goals in mind to keep me motivated.  I know that when this is all said and done, It’ll feel soooo good to be debt free, and then I can start my journey to save and build a house for Avery and I – a house he can call home, forever.  We will finally have our roots, our friends and family nearby, and an amazing community to be a part of.  I’ll finally have the relief, as a mother, that I’ve set a good foundation for him to grow up safe, happy, and healthy.

Enjoy the long weekend – we will – We have a fun weekend planned: two parties, Avery’s first theater movie, fishing, and tonight… a double date, bowling!

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.