Our Story

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Ben and I met in 1996, began dating in 1999 and married in 2001. Now 20 years and 2 children later, we have returned to where our life together began. Ben works for the Federal Reserve and I have the privilege of staying home with our two precious boys.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Week of School

We cheated! We went on vacation the first week of school. 
Thankfully, we have been at Shadowbrook long enough for the boys to know everyone there and feel comfortable in their environment. 

So when we went to Meet the Teacher before we left, we wanted Ms. Janice, Ms. Tamara, Ms. Brennan, and Ms. Mindy to know just how excited we were to be starting the school year with them...the NEXT week ;-)
First day of school
Say Cheese!
 One of Ethan's teachers, Ms. Tamara, is a huge Alabama fan so at the end of the week the boys wore their Alabama jerseys for her and gave her a big Roll Tide when they saw her. Sadie didn't know what to think of these Alabama boys :-)

We're off to a great year! 
I'm already teary-eyed thinking about this being Ethan's last year in this amazing church-school setting and that he will be in Pre-K next year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Santa Rosa Beach Vacation 2013

Our beach vacation finally came Labor Day week! We had been anxiously counting down the days for months waiting for what we knew was going to be an amazing time. Wonderful family and beautiful weather made for an unforgettable week with our toes in the sand. We sprinkled in a few excursions here and there and some great food which made the trip perfect! Mimi, Uncle Chad, and Aunt Ashley were great sports all week long keeping up with the endless amount of energy our boys have.

Seriously, who wouldn't want every day to end like this...
Our mornings pretty much went from breakfast in pajamas to swimsuits for the rest of the day.
Aunt Ashley and Ethan getting ready to head down to the beach
 Daddy's ready for the beach!
 Uncle Chad taking care of us
Thanks for the delicious strawberry lemonade ;-)

 We had the best set up! 
HUGE props to Uncle Chad for bringing his canopy and to Mimi for the beach mats to put under it that kept our bags, snacks, towels, and phones from getting sand on them. But just in case we forgot something, all we had to do was walk a few steps up to the house :-)
 We made sure we brought every possible toy needed to build sand castles
 And this guy could NOT get enough of the beach...sand or water!
We made lots of trips like this to the water to fill our buckets. I would love to have counted how many buckets the grown-ups carried to and from the water. Thanks Mimi for this one!
 Love them!
 Every now and then we would get a rare moment that looked like this...
 or this...
When we weren't down on the beach, we were in the pool. We loved having our own at the house and definitely made sure that we had special toys just for the pool, too! Mimi's "boat" float was a huge hit!
 So were the Max Eliminators

There were several visits a couple of miles down the road to one of our favorite places throughout the week. We LOVE Seaside!
  While we were eating dinner at Pickles, Ethan saw a monster truck drive down the road and this look stayed on his face for as long as it was in sight. Boys and their trucks!
 An evening picture after our ice cream
Then we would head right back to our cozy spot on the beach for some more playtime. 
Ethan was a water fanatic and was spoiled by everyone!
Ethan floating around with Mimi

 Riding the waves with Uncle Chad, Aunt Ashley
 Totally spoiled by Aunt Ashley
 AND Uncle Chad
 Riding the boogie board with Daddy
 Uncle Chad helping him ride all the way in on the boogie board
  Catching more waves with Uncle Chad on the float

Mimi's turn!
He wore everyone out and kept wanting more!
While Caden liked the water too, he was not as fearless as Ethan and preferred to be held when he played in the ocean
But this silly boy spent most of the week like this. 
Happy as a clam to chill and snack all day long in his chair
 Or get some lovin' from Mommy
 On another day, while the ladies went into San Destin to shop and visit the spa, Daddy, Uncle Chad, and the boys met Grandad and Uncle CJ at Eglin AFB at the Armament museum. Anyone that knows our boys, especially Ethan, knows how much they love airplanes. Ethan, particularly, is into military planes right now so he was on Cloud 9!

 His favorite plane, the SR71 Blackbird
Testing out the cockpit
 Letting Caden copilot
Caden getting in on the action
And once again, we returned to our favorite place. We were armed with all kinds of beach activities and the guys definitely made use of them. Of course, the football came out first but after that...
The big boys played a little badminton...
 Daddy taught the little boys the finer points of the game...
Ethan did some kite flying...
 Some velcro ball toss action with all of the boys...
Then a different ball toss...
 And last, some volleyball...
I love this picture of Caden!

 Taking everything back up to the house at dusk on our last day was a sad reminder that our week was ending. We definitely made the most of our vacation and thoroughly enjoyed making memories that will last a lifetime.

So long to our favorite place on earth,
we'll see you again next year!
SRB 2013

Villa Rosa...A Lifetime Ago

On August 11, 2001, a once in a lifetime event occurred in a very special place surrounded by a hundred friends and family members; truly letting us know how much we were loved since it was a destination wedding and everyone had to travel. It was an amazing day that I will never forget and the setting was absolutely perfect. Ben and I were so extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to return to that amazing place that we hold so close in our hearts two weeks ago surrounded by the family we have since created.
Sunset and barefoot on the beach...
 Cutting into one of the four cascading tiers...
 A post-wedding picture(we look so young!)

Spring forward 12 years and we return to the very same beachfront house on the gulf that served as the backdrop for our ceremony under the arbor on the sand and our all night party of a reception, not to mention the first half of our honeymoon enjoying the amenities that this amazing home had to offer. Truly, the home has changed minimally in the last decade and it was wonderful to spend a week reminiscing.
Gulf Front
 View from deck
View from our bedroom balcony
 The Spanish style side entrance
 From the drive
Beautiful living room with baby grand piano
Grand staircase
 Breakfast and sitting area...where we spent the majority of our time not on the beach
 Media/TV room...AKA the boy's playroom for the week
 The boys' bedroom for the week
 Amazingly, there were very few details that have changed and I loved walking through each room revisiting the past. I would post pictures of the other bedrooms and the luxurious bathrooms, but they were "lived" in and the house is so beautiful that I prefer to remember it this way. 

What struck me so much about this vacation was that 12 years ago when we were married here we were so easily able to set up and arrange the house to create a dance floor and seating on the beachfront deck with 2 guitarists and a sound system, an open bar with seating on the front drive deck, a full buffet reception inside the house as well as a separate bridal table and a separate groom's table, casual settee seating for fifty inside, and still have plenty of room for people to mill around and stand around talking with friends without feeling claustrophobic. Nothing felt compact and everything seemed to have a natural flow, it was a perfectly sized space. And once again, this past week when we didn't have anyone in the house other than our small group, we still used every space in the house. It felt cozy and again, like it was a perfectly sized space. I'm sure I feel this way because of the fond memories I hold here, but I believe that this is the most PERFECT place in the world. Our little slice of heaven on earth. Dr. Paul and Betty Appel did an amazing job when they built this home in Santa Rosa Beach and we are forever grateful for their willingness to share.