Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013

My summer vacation officially began on Thursday, August 8th. For Mother's Day Chris surprised me with two tickets to the JT and Jay Z concert and Kim flew up to join me for the occasion and to visit for the weekend. I worked half a day Thursday and then went to pick Kim up from the airport. After a detour by the house, we quickly got dressed (well as quickly as two ladies can considering this was the first time we'd seen each other in seven months), grabbed a cocktail and on the road we were to Baltimore. Kim and I had tried for weeks to get a hotel room in Baltimore for the evening but believe it or not, everything was completely sold out or we were going to have to pay $800 for a room. Since this was a gift Chris said he had always planned on providing our transportation for the evening. So you're thinking a car service, right? Why yes, the car services of Brandon Cockerham and Chris Wall! Brandon drove us up to Baltimore and Chris came and picked up up after the concert. Top notch service.

What an awesome concert! We had the absolute best time and immediately following the concert we were trying to figure out how to make it to the next show. Little did I know that they were only performing in ten cities and Baltimore was the second to last stop. JT and Jay Z opened the show together and then they alternated every few songs, at times singing together and other times doing solo performances. The best part of the show was singing along to their old school songs, especially Jay Z's. It has been many years since we heard some of his songs but the lyrics came right back to us. Of course they closed the show with Suit and Tie and Jay Z's Forever Young. I'd pay to see the concert over and over again and I can't thank Chris and Kim enough for putting such a special night together.

On Friday I worked from home, so we took it easy and recovered to an extent from the evening before. On Friday night we went to the newly built Merrifield Town Center. If you live in this area and haven't been out there then I highly suggest making a trip. The reason for our trip was to dine at Four Sisters restaurant. It is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the area and it's very inexpensive. The Washingtonian magazine always features a "Cheap Eats" and "The 100 Very Best Restaurants" edition each year and Four Sisters is always ranked. It was a great dinner and not only did Carter try new foods so did Kim. We were about halfway through our meal when I realized that everything had crushed peanuts on top. I had a moment of panic when I realized Carter was stuffing food in his mouth as quickly as possible, but he seemed just fine. So, Carter's first experience with peanuts was completely by accident but turned out great. Although, Chris and I were paranoid all evening worrying about a delayed allergic reaction. The joys of being a parent.

After dinner Chris took Carter home and Kim and I stayed to do some shopping. They have a lot of really cute boutiques and a Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus- just like Nordstrom Rack but a little on the higher end. After our shopping excursion we enjoyed frozen yogurt from Sweet Green. They also have a large outdoor movie screen located in the middle of the town center and on Friday evenings they play a movie and Saturday mornings they have an event called "Cartoons and Coffee." Such a great little area to visit in you're in town!

On Saturday we slept in and then ventured out to the Italian Store to pick up lunch and get supplies for Chris to make dinner. The Italian store is a gourmet Italian specialty shop that has been run by the same family for over 30 years. They feature items sourced from Italy and Brooklyn. They sell fresh pasta, sauce, meat, cheese, Italian subs, NY style pizza, prepared meals, wine, dessert, and much more. They're really known for their great sandwiches and on any given day you should expect to wait in a lengthy line, especially around lunch time. If you plan to make a trip on the weekend make sure you go early. On our trip we picked up sandwiches for lunch, fresh pasta, pancetta, cannolis and Berger's cookies for dessert.

I feel like I need to have a special paragraph dedicated to Berger's cookies. While we were standing in line waiting on our sandwiches, Kim started freaking out. I'm talking about freaking out to the point where people standing around us stopped and looked at her to make sure she was OK. Kim had spotted a shelf underneath the sandwich counter with Berger's cookies. All she said for two minutes straight was "Omg they have Berger's cookies! You don't understand, these are the best cookies in the world!" All I could do was just laugh because I've never seen anyone so excited over a cookie in my life. A lady standing beside Kim asked her if they were really that good because she had always seen them and wondered. Well Kim convinced her to buy a pack. How many did Kim buy? Three packs, and I'm sure there were close to ten large cookies in each pack. The cookies are made in Baltimore and they're pretty darn tasty. It's basically like a shortbread cookie covered on top with fudge. If you're ever in the Baltimore area or happen to go to the Italian Store, pick up a pack.
Carter enjoying a Berger cookie

Saturday afternoon we went to the mall to buy Carter some new shoes but made sure to make it home in time for cocktail hour! I bought Chris the book Speakeasy for his birthday last year so he has turned into a fantastic mixologist these days. Some of them are a little too over-the-top for me but several have been right up my alley. I actually have no idea what he made Kim and me that evening but it was really good. He also prepared the most amazing ragu bolognese you've ever tasted. We found the recipe a few years ago in Bon Appetit magazine and it has been our go to since then.
Kim's first birthday present to Carter. Can you tell he likes it?

Story time
On Sunday Chris, Carter, Witt and I headed to the beach for the annual Wall family beach trip. This year was a little on the hectic side because Ray and Marsha just bought a new house in Tidewater and they closed on it the Tuesday before we all arrived. Needless to say they were busy all week moving things into their new home and getting their condo ready to rent. They had a lot on their plate but fortunately they still allowed all the kids and grand kids to pile in for some summer fun.

There were nine kids in one house, ages three months to ten years old! Everyone hand their hands full but it was a lot of fun! Carter absolutely loved all of the activity and attention that his cousins gave him. We spent most of our time at the beach and one afternoon at the pool. The last time Carter made it down to the beach he was around six weeks old. I was excited to see how he would like it now that he's a little older. Boy did he love it! Not only did he love playing in the sand, he enjoyed eating it too. The second day on the beach Ray even got him to fall asleep on his beach chair and Carter napped for over an hour. What better place to take an afternoon nap. You have the breeze from the ocean and the sound of the waves.

After four days at the beach, Chris and Witt flew back to DC and Carter and I headed to Charlotte to visit my family for the remainder of the week. Fortunately my boss's district office is located  by Southpark Mall so I was easily able to work from their office on Friday while my parent's watched Carter.
Carter playing with one of my childhood toys. Have you caught on to the fact that my mom has pretty much held onto everything from our childhood? Lol, I love you mom!!

Saturday morning my mom, Carter and I went to Mason's first birthday party. Mason is Erin Banker's, my childhood best friend's, son. Erin's mom and my mom actually grew up playing together as young kids. Mrs. Hinson's mom and my mom's aunt lived down the street from one another so there were many times when they would get together to play. Little did they know that they would both have daughters right around the same time and they would both go to Providence Day School. Erin and I were inseparable from kindergarten through the fifth grade. I have vivid memories of Erin being at my house when I first learned to ride my bicycle without training wheels. I ended up leaving Providence Day School after fifth grade and going into the public school system. Unfortunately Erin and I lost touch with one another through middle school and high school, but thanks to Facebook we reconnected after all these years! We both ended up marrying men by the name of Chris, right around the same time, and we both got pregnant around the same time and had little boys within a few weeks of each other. How crazy is that?  It's been wonderful to reconnect with such a special friend and share in all the wonderful and challenging experiences of being a first time mom. Now if only we lived closer to one another and could get our precious boys together for play dates!

The Erin's and their boys.

Carter enjoyed Mason's drum set!

Erin C. & Erin H. in the PDS talent show!

I can't even remember if this was fourth or fifth grade, but it's pretty cute.

On Saturday afternoon Justin and my Grandmother in Statesville came to the house to visit. That evening we ate dinner at Chuy's, a Mexican restaurant that recently opened next to Cowfish (best sushi ever!) at Southpark. That evening one of Justin's closest childhood friends, Jonathan, and his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Emma, came over to visit. I have vivid memories of Justin and Jonathan as kids so it's hard to believe that he is now a dad with a precious little girl!

Emma, Justin and Jonathan

Carter wasn't happy when I held Emma so he decided to join us in the picture.

On Sunday we took it easy around the house and my grandmother in Charlotte and my great aunt Vi came to visit. Can you tell that Carter got a lot of attention over his vacation? When I sat down to think about our trip, we visited with 36 people! Not too shabby for a one week trip.

I think the Suburban is just the right size.

Helping Gigi clean out her car.
On Monday Carter and I made the trip back to DC. We were sad to see our trip come to an end but we knew it was time to get back to our little routine. Carter has nine teeth coming through right now so I think he was ready to get back into his bed, in his room after being in a pack and play for a week. It was a great trip and we really enjoyed seeing so many of our family members and friends. Believe it or not, but there were still people that we didn't get to see that we hopefully will on our next trip.
Pit stop at McDonald's on our way home. When traveling solo with the little man on a 7 hour road trip we took the easiest route for lunch- don't judge! :) 

I hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing summer. It's hard to believe it's coming to an end this weekend. Time seems to fly by these days and even though I'm sad to see the summer months go I am excited about the fall. My three favorite holidays are quickly approaching and I will have to say that I'm excited about the cooler temperatures. For those of you with little ones headed to school over the next few weeks I hope you have a great year!

Farewell summer!

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