Sunday, March 28, 2010

an interruption

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Outer Banks programming 
(mostly because going through those photos is exhausting) 
to bring you...


 And we couldn't be more excited.

All photos taken by Jess, in Duke's Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

a confession

Alright, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: I don't love going to the beach. I know, I know. I'm crazy. I KNOW. Personally, unless I'm pregnant and have strange cravings to consume sunshine by the ray, I would prefer to avoid heat. Plus, there are the sand grains that make their way into every nook and cranny of your person. Plus, you can never get clean. You go in the ocean to wash off the sand, and come out with wet sand on your feet and sticky salt water everywhere else.


Yes, there's a but. But, I have to admit that the beach in the springtime is a completely different - and enjoyable - experience. No sweating it out with only a sticky salt bath for relief. Instead, we played in the cool sand, watched the freezing tide come in and out, searched for shells. Jess was up at sunrise every day, which apparently is prime time for huge shell finds as well as spectacular photos. The brisk wind is so fresh, not blazing, and it really is as though the ocean smells better when you're not inhaling sunblock fumes.

Of course, it was made extra lovely by having Belle along for the ride. She was weary of the sand at first, but took to it eventually. She'd watch it running through her fingers, burrow her toes, and when she really got into it, she'd shovel it by the armfuls, digging small holes as though she was searching for treasure. She particularly loved the thick, smooth shells - touching them, throwing them, eating them. (What we believe was her attempting to cut a tooth. Perhaps we should've offered her one of the many teething toys we have? Perhaps we had no idea?) When we'd walk onto the beach, she'd start waving her hands at the ocean, kicking with excitement. And to tell you the truth, I think Jess and I were doing the same thing inside. I already miss that soothing lull of the ocean lapping, back and forth, back and forth.

So, in the end, I do love the beach. Just in the right season. There's a time and season for all things, no? It just so happens that the beach's season is spring.

The following is an approximately five minute video of some of our favorite pictures from the beach. I realize that most of you don't have the time to sit and watch this, but for those who want a little break, enjoy. :)

And yes, that is a real live seahorse whose life we saved (midway through the video). At least we hope that's what we were doing by throwing it back in the ocean. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

let the record show...

 Annabelle cut her first tooth...
...on a seashell.

The award for most awesome parents...
...arrives next week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

road trip?

So when Jess suggested that we take another road trip this weekend, I thought he was nuts. Doesn't he know that after last weekend's endless hours of winding roads, when I get near the car I practically break out in hives? Another road trip?

Nevertheless, I let the idea simmer (on low) for a while. He suggested we head to the beach, the Outer Banks to be precise. And because I know that when we go back to Utah in a few months, nearly everyone is going to ask, "So did you go to the beach?" I decided it would be a little silly if I couldn't answer in the affirmative after three years of near beach living.

So yes, yes. I've been to the beach. And it's positively lovely. I think everyone should go to the beach in the spring. There's something quiet about the roaring ocean that summer tends to drown out in sunblock.

I suppose that making it even more lovely is the company with whom we're sharing it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

little leprechaun

 As it turns out, this little leprechaun woke up on the wrong side of the rainbow.
Perhaps if we offered her a pot o' gold?
Not likely.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

back to the 'burg

 So we made our way back out to the Great Smokies this weekend (Gatlinburg, TN). 
Third time in six months.
And it's five (plus) hours to get there. 
When you have a cranky eight month old in the car
(who coincidentally blew out all over the place, but missed her new car seat - cranky, but skilled),
five hours is a commitment.
Like "going out" with a boy in middle school.
That kind of commitment.
Also, I have perpetual car sickness akin to the first trimester ever since that one time I got impregnated.
So five (PLUS) hours of pregnancy is a MAJOR commitment right?
This time my family (minus a sister and her hubby) met us for a half week of
eating, shopping, dead tree looking (the leaves have long since fallen),
frozen waterfall gazing, aquarium visiting, picture taking,
fudge consuming, belly laughing, no sleep getting good times.
And I just discovered that most of the photos taken are in a fancy format (RAW),
which takes effort on my part to convert.

I may or may not put forth that effort.

Only time will tell.

For the time being, trust me when I say we will be back to the 'Burg. 
It is positively lovely, and I feel as though the town was made just for us. 

Also, is it just me, or does Annabelle look something like a teenager here?

Monday, March 8, 2010


Once upon a time this headband looked comically ginormous on Annabelle's head.

How did ginormous turn into completely cute?

Sweet girl, stop growing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

i confess...

...Sometimes I make cake, cookies, brownies, etc., just so I can eat the dough or batter. Sure, I enjoy the finished product as well, but the pre-product is where true joy is really found. Did you know you can just dump a little cake mix in a bowl, add water, and wallah - PRE-PRODUCT. (Some of you are gagging right now, right?)

Jess has been studying all week for the ethics portion of the bar exam (it's taken before the "real" test), and I thought I'd have some of our favorite cupcakes ready for him when he gets home from taking said exam. You know, celebratory cupcakes. (But who really needs a reason for cupcakes? I mean, seriously.)

Pretty sure I consumed a few cupcakes worth of batter.

Although I make truly homemade cupcakes occasionally, our favorite happens to be Pillsbury Moist Supreme Devil's Food Cake, straight from a box. You can add some sour cream for richness, but I customarily make it as instructed. The trick is in the frosting, you see. We use this recipe. Substitute almond extract for the vanilla, and you'll be in heaven. 

NOTE: I did not frost Jess' cupcakes pink. These are actually from Annabelle's baby shower. You know. Back when she was a baby. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

like mini wheats (minus the frosting)

I will be the first to admit that I hoped (if not assumed) the weight I gained during pregnancy would work itself off as easily as it worked itself on. However, it was quickly apparent that this wasn't to be the case. I also didn't realize how difficult it would be to fit a workout into a day full of busy baby duties, often after a night of scattered (or little) sleep. Of course, as of late, I've been spinning, which has changed my life dramatically, but that was only with the encouraging cooperation of a husband (he watches Belle when I go to the gym) who understands that a Shauntel who has worked out (hard) is a happier wife, mother, and just generally less cranky all around. But I have another little workout secret in my arsenal. At the recommendation of my sister-in-law, who also recently had a baby, I decided I'd try Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.

*It's a twenty minute workout. Anyone can fit in twenty minutes. Whether the babies are napping or playing on the floor while you jump around, it's something a mom can definitely work with.
*There are three levels. I'm still doing Level One, mostly because I have it memorized and can do it while I watch something (Gilmore Girls) else. But also because Level Two frightens me. Point: It will last you a while as you work through each level, and with the change in levels, you get some variety.
*It is a great upper body workout - I can definitely see a difference in my arms and back.
*You do three circuits of strength, cardio, and abs, which is nice because it covers all areas.
*If you use it even just relatively faithfully, it's definitely cost effective. It's about $10 (I bought it on Amazon for $8.99), depending on where you buy it.

*If you're already relatively slim and don't have much to lose, you might be able to get "shredded" by using this DVD alone. However, for someone like me who has tens of pounds to lose, this will definitely not be a miracle workout. (However, it is a great supplemental workout, especially in terms of strength training.)
*Jillian Michaels is kind of comical after about the second time you watch it. During the last circuit of crunches, it really doesn't help when she says: "Feel that knot in your stomach? That is fear leaving your body." Oh, that's what that is.
*You need two hand weights. I bought five pound weights (3-5 pounds is the recommended dosage). However you can also be creative here and use water bottles or other bottles full of liquid that you have on hand. (I'm serious.) Additionally, she tells you you need a mat, but if you're working out on carpet and you're cheap like me, a towel (or nothing) suffices. Especially if you skimp on the push ups. Which I may or may not do.

I've done Level One of the 30 Day Shred for over a month. I do it 4-5 times a week, even on the days I spin. I have definitely noticed a difference, and especially in the first few days, I was sore. However, my body craves hard cardio, and I am sure that the spinning is what has really made the difference for me. I couldn't tell you if I've lost any weight (I don't own scales and only step on them when asked to by a nurse, they just cause me to obsess about my weight more than I already do), but I can tell you that I feel better. My clothes fit better, I feel better, and my arms are definitely losing the pregnant appearance. (When I'm pregnant, all parts of me mirror my stomach.)

It's definitely worth the $10 you'll spend, especially if you have kids and want to have a go-to quick and effective work out.

Post Edit: I didn't mention that I've also changed my food intake a bit. Less calories and fewer treats. Nothing too drastic, but a definite change. I have always firmly believed that any successful lifestyle change (diet) involves both exercise and diet changes. And those changes should be relatively long term, not just a quick fix. But that's just me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

eight months

I feel like this last month has been the most quickly passing month of the past eight.
Maybe it's because she seems to be changing so dramatically from day to day.
One day she's stationary, the next we lose her in the laundry room.
She's both my tiny baby and my almost toddler all in one.
Sometimes I look at her, and I'm pretty sure
my heart might


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