Surprise Weekend for Moi

We threw our annual Christmas party this weekend and it was so much fun!  But before I get to that, let’s go back to last weekend.

A couple weeks ago, Bob called me from work and said,

Don’t make any plans for the weekend of Dec. 1.

When I asked him why, he said,

I have a whole surprise weekend planned for you.

Every day until the surprise weekend, he tried to throw me off course.  A few of the fake hints he gave me were:

  • We are flying there
  • He signed me up for a 10K (anyone who knows me, knows that that would NOT have been a good surprise)
  • Aruba

By the time I was supposed to be ready on Friday, I was thoroughly confused.  On his way home from work, Bob stopped to get us dinner at Corner Bakery and after scarfing it down, we loaded the car and left.

I assumed we were driving to our destination, but that wasn’t the case.  I was SO excited when we arrived at the train station!photo-23

 I just LOVE the train!  It feels so urban and old fashioned.


Clark’s first train ride!

We were headed to…DC!  Other than the final destination, I was still in the dark.

We arrived at Union Station (which is beautifully decorated this time of year) and walked just a few blocks to our hotel.  This kid was so excited that he didn’t fall asleep until 11pm!!! photo-24(I have to admit, I was just as excited to find out what else Bob had planned for me/us!)

Saturday morning, we all woke up Clark woke us up around 7:00am.  That was okay, because Bob said we needed to leave pretty early for my next surprise.  photo-25

On our way to my next surprise!

We arrived at The Willard Hotel where Bob had booked me a hot stone massage at the Red Door Spa!!photo-26


After my massage, I used the steam room, showered, and pocketed some of their complimentary toiletries until Bob and Clark made their way back to pick me up.

Then we headed to the spy museum just a few blocks away.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures there because technically they are not allowed.  It was really cool but Clark was tired, hungry, and cranky so we ended up breezing through most of the place.  We will have to go back when he is old enough to enjoy it also!

By this time, Bob and I were pretty hungry ourselves so we went to Matchbox Pizza in Chinatown for a late lunch.  SO YUMMY!!!DSC02599

photo-27We were all getting pretty tired, so after a quick stop into Urban Outfitters to take some silly pictures, we walked back to the hotel to squeeze in a nap before my night-time had to take the Metro to get there: another first for this point, I had NO IDEA where we were going.  Since we had a late lunch, I didn’t think we were going to dinner, but Bob seemed to be in a hurry so I wasn’t sure.  I wasn’t expecting this:DSC02600

From the end of November till the end of December, the National Zoo puts up more than 500,000 lights of animal silhouettes and musical light displays.  It’s so pretty and…FREE!!!  They even have these warming stations throughout with refreshments you can buy like cookies and hot cocoa, or coffee with Bailey’s for the adults!

It was pretty cold this evening so I used our Moby wrap to keep Clark warm (and I think it kept me warmer too!)DSC02612Here’s a video we took of one of the animated musical displays:

This was probably my most favorite part of the weekend.  Just because it was something different and we could do it as a family.

But the weekend wasn’t even over yet!!  In fact, after ZooLights, we hopped on the Metro and headed to Bethesda to meet my little sister for drinks and apps after she got off work.  I’m glad she got to be part of my weekend.  It’s been so fun having her live so close.  Clark was so tired by this point, though, so this was the best picture I looks like he’s smiling, but in reality, he was probably screaming in this picture.  Good thing it was pretty loud in the restaurant and we sat next to a couple who had kids, so they were totally understanding!  Sorry we kept you out so late, Clarky!!

Sunday morning, we meant to get up for early service, but it started at 9:00am and we all slept in until 8:45am.  Bob looked up another service for us to go to and we headed to the 11:00am at Capitol Hill Presbyterian.

After, we walked around for a bit.  It was pretty cool because the weather was gorgeous and hardly anyone was outside.  photo-29I was in desperate need of some coffee, so we found a Starbucks, and then Bob said we had plans for lunch.  He took me back to Union Station, so I asked if we were taking the metro again or something.  He said no, and started looking around the train station.  Apparently, he couldn’t find the restaurant.  I have to admit that at this point I was pretty hungry so I started complaining a bit.  As we passed by a Ben and Jerry’s, I even said

Bob, I would take ice cream!!  I’m soooo hungry!

He refused and we finally found B. Smith’s!  And…SURPRISE AGAIN!!!  There were 4 of my friends waiting there to eat with us!  (And way more of them to come!)  We had an incredible all you can eat buffet of breakfast and lunch foods AND bottomless mimosas.DSC02625Because there were so many of us, they gave us our own room.  It turned into a 3 hour lunch!!  Clark of course was the center of attention and absolutely loved it!

After lunch, Bob said our train didn’t head back to Baltimore until 7:00pm so we had some time to kill and thought we would check out the monuments.  Unfortunately it started to rain a little so we decided to change our tickets to the earlier train.

It was only sprinkling on our walk to Union Station, but I didn’t want Clark to get wet/sick so I covered the stroller with a blanket.  Apparently, he didn’t like that he couldn’t see (or maybe that people couldn’t see him).photo-34He’s so funny!

Overall, it was such an awesome weekend and I feel so lucky to have these two boys in cahoots with each other to give me such precious memories!photo-36


Texas Trip 2012: The Final Days

AHHH.  I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging last week.  Sometimes it’s just hard to find the time with a little rug rat on the move.  I know our Texas vacation was taken over a month ago now, but I want to finish the recap so that I don’t forget anything!  So without further ado…

For the last few days of our Texas vacation, we decided to split up from the group and see another part of the Lone Star State.  After saying our goodbyes to the rest of the family (and the player piano), Bob, Clark and I hopped in the car and made ourselves comfortable for the 5+ hour drive to San Antonio.

On our way, we called to reserve our hotel room and discussed what we wanted to see.

Once we checked in to our hotel, we headed to the River Walk.  It was nice, but…definitely not conducive to pushing a little one in a stroller.  There were a lot of steps (we couldn’t find the handicap access!?) and the walkway was pretty narrow so we basically had to walk single file.  At least we got a couple nice pictures.We had dinner at a restaurant right on the River Walk and then headed back to our hotel…

…which had a rooftop pool…

…so we took our baby swimming…

…at like 10:30pm…

Hey! It’s vacation, right?!  Bedtime is for suckers!

The next morning we got up for breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and headed over to see the Alamo.  Bob loves to read all the placards at places like that.  I like to take pictures of Bob reading placards.  hahaWe asked a stranger to take a family photo for us.  Yes, we are wearing coordinating outfits that my mom got us!  I love it!Okay, so, the Alamo was pretty cool and you can’t go to San Antonio without checking it out, but now we are on to our favorite part of our Texas trip.

Bob read about the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in our AAA Texas TourBook.  It is 400 acres of land with over 40 exoctic and endangered species living naturally.  As soon as we pulled up, we saw the giraffes.

So we bought our tickets for the Drive-Thru and headed inside.  We decided to first check out the petting area to see if Clark had any interest.  There were lots of baby goats…

An emu…

A couple llamas…And sheep…Clark was pretty apathetic about the petting zoo experience, but he was a good sport for the pictures.  Then we headed back to the car to do the Drive-Thru and Clark passed out in his car seat.

There were soooo many cool animals!

We are cheapos so we didn’t buy the pamphlet that tells you all their names, but we got tons of pictures.  (Attention National Geographic, I know that you will be contacting me after seeing these awesome photos I took, but I am not interested in coming to work for you.  Thanks anyway!)  

Yes, some animals were more interesting than others, but it was so cool how all of them would get pretty close to the car.

This one cracks me up.

So by FAR the coolest part was the zebras!!  When we got our tickets, they gave us a bag of pellets to toss out the car window for the animals.  Also, you could drive the loop as many times as you wanted.  So, we spotted the zebras towards the end of the loop off in the distance.  Then, we saw that the car behind us got them to come right up to their car so we circled around again for our own close up experience.  Check it:

Yeah…that was my car window!!  I was too afraid to touch them because all the signs said that they might bite, but Bob “pet” the one on his side.  Ohmygosh!!  It was so awesome being so close to them.  I mean…ZEBRAS!!!  This place was SO worth the trip.  We highly recommend it to anyone in the area of San Antonio!

After the Safari (that’s what we started calling it), we had planned to head to Austin and spend the night there.  We didn’t have a hotel reservation and by the time we got there, we still hadn’t found a good deal for the night so we decided to just drive through the city.  (Didn’t get any pictures)

Then we figured we would just head toward Dallas (our flight was out of Fort Worth), maybe stop somewhere in between for the night if we got tired.  Since Clark always does so well in the car, we don’t mind driving when we’re all together.  We made it all the way!

After an unfortunate hotel room booking (think cockroaches in the bathtub…eek!), we called around and found another place to stay for the night.  Friday morning we got up and checked out the JFK Memorial.

And we walked around a bit, window-shopped, etc.

Clark was happy in his stroller.We spent the night at my aunt’s house after going to dinner with her and my cousin.  Then headed back to Baltimore the next morning.

We were sad the vacation was over, but excited to get back to home sweet home.That was our summer vacation!





Post-Wedding Fun #2 (Club Lake)

On Sunday after the wedding, we headed to our family’s lake house just north of Dallas.  The lake is such a special place for all of us.  It has been in our family since my grandfather was a kid.  It’s a great place to just relax and spend quality time with each other.

574646_10152026628575321_1602412437_nPlus there’s swimming!

And we have a jet ski.

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The lake is private and has lots of rules like you have to go counter-clockwise on it, no wake on the outside of the buoys, etc.  One rule is that your engine can’t be over a certain horse power.  The boys all hate that rule because it means the jet ski isn’t strong enough to pull them on water skis.  We do have a tube that we use, though.  Just not always on the water. 🙂

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Because of how many people were staying at the lake, our family of 3, my sister and her family, and my cousin and his girlfriend stayed in these little bungalows on the other side of the lake near the new clubhouse.  They were kind of like stand-alone hotel rooms.  On Monday morning Bob, Clark and I were up early and decided to walk around a little, check out the clubhouse and get a few family pictures.  It was so beautiful.  Calm and Quiet.  DSC01306

Clark “rode” in our Kelty Kids backpack.  Best hand-me-down ever!DSC01302

Since no one was around, we had to use the self timer for our family pics.  This was the best one we got.DSC01319

I also managed to get a picture of our lake house and dock.  See it there in the middle behind the trees?DSC01309
My dad and brother in law, Chris, were both leaving on Tuesday morning so on Monday night we went to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Molina’s.  Of course there were family pictures beforehand!228510_10152026627680321_1907138904_n

Oh yea, and…Clark hurt his finger that day (totally my fault).  Ellen is a nurse at the Naval Hospital and works with wounded warriors.  I think she may have over-done the bandaging.386847_10152026626890321_45611317_n

The food was awesome (as usual) but we were a little disappointed that Molina’s got their liquor license back.  They used to give 2 free margaritas with every meal but this time we had to pay for them :-(.  

I love this picture of my niece!

DSC01341She is a riot!  One of her favorite things is to get pulled around in a laundry basket.  I mean, she would literally do it for hours.  Clark joined her for a few rides.DSC01320

He thought it was pretty fun too!

We were so lucky to have had such nice weather while we were there.  The temperature was so pleasant and it wasn’t as humid as it would normally be in the middle of August.

It was great to spend some time with my cousin, Sheldon and his girlfriend, Kate.
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They left Tuesday night to head back to Dallas and Wednesday morning, Bob, Clark and I were heading to San Antonio for the night.

But before we left, we HAD to take a picture with my mom, the kids, and grandkids in front of the player piano.  When we were kids, my mom took us to Texas every summer for a week to see this side of our family (her parents and our aunt, uncle and cousins).  We always spent a few days/nights here at the lake and one of our favorite things to do here was load the player piano with “76 Trombones” and watch it play as we sang along.

DSC01360We really don’t use the piano much anymore and it’s a little out of tune so my aunt decided to give it to some friends of my grandfather’s who live at the lake year-round.  It’s so sad to see it go, but at least this way, we can still visit :-).DSC01363
I don’t know the next time we’ll get to go to the lake again, but I can’t wait.  It’s so fun and relaxing!

Next week, I’ll finish up our Texas Trip Recap with our awesome day in San Antonio.  Think…Safari! (for real!)

I can’t believe summer is over!  It seems like it flew by.  But fall is just so beautiful and come on, who doesn’t love football season?!?!  GO HOKIES!!!  GO STEELERS!!!

Post-Wedding Fun #1! (Guest Blogger)

As I mentioned yesterday, the babies fell asleep at the ceremony and were down for the count.  Since I had to miss most of the reception, my sister Ellen volunteered to guest blog about it:

While the youngins were being tucked into bed in the hotel room, downstairs at the wedding reception, the music was bumpin’……….

El didn’t let her broken toe slow her down on the dance floor.   She even was able to drag our dad out there for a few minutes before he let go and scurried back to wall-flower status.

Sam showed off his signature move, the “finger pointing.”

Our mom and aunt, the “Barlow girls,” looked hott and were breakin’ it down.

Some sweet friends of the groom actually assisted our 88 year old grandpa and offered him a “walker dance.”  He even cracked a smile for the picture.

And the new Mr. & Mrs. Hodges couldn’t have looked happier.

Thanks for all the pictures and captions Ellen!

Wedding Day!!

Saturday morning we hung by the pool again while some of us (cough, cough…Bob) recovered from the night before.  (In his defense, we discovered that the Advil he took that morning, was actually a sleep aid pill.  Whoops!!  Let’s just say he got a really good nap that day!!)

We had a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant with the kiddos.  Luckily they had a small outdoor space perfect for Jo to run around.  Clark can’t wait till he can join her!

The food was okay, but the company was better!

After lunch we hit up a cute baby/kids boutique and got some frozen yogurt.  Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

We sort of overestimated how much time we had to get ready and found ourselves running around the hotel room rushing to make ourselves look presentable.

I’d say we pulled it off though.

Except Sally forgot her headband!!


There were no pictures permitted during the ceremony, but Ellen snagged this one of the beautiful bride beforehand.

By the end of the ceremony, the babies were sleeping, but we got a great Dreibelbis family photo.The reception was at our hotel, but since the babies were sleeping, Sally and I called it a night to keep an eye on the little ones.

Since we are so lame, Ellen volunteered to guest blog about the reception!!  That’ll get posted tomorrow so stayed tuned!






Rehearsal Dinner

We got to Dallas on Friday with enough time for a quick swim at my aunt’s house before heading to the hotel and getting ready for the rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner was held at my aunt’s country club.  It started with a little cocktail hour which we used to take plenty of pictures!

My cousins:  Hayden (the groom) and Sheldon (the Captain).

A blurry picture of Ellen and my dad.

A girls picture.  That’s my niece, Jo.  She’s a handful, but OH-so adorable!!

Like father, like son pictures.

My big sister wrangling the little ones.

My 88 year old grandfather playing with Clark.We moved into the dining area for dinner.  It was delicious!  

My aunt assigned the seating so that we were split up and were able to meet some new people at our tables.  It was a great idea.

The cousins, my brother and one of the groomsmen.

My aunt Kathleen, Erin (the bride)’s parents, aka the Rowdy Dowdys, and her brother.

My parents.

Sheldon and his girlfriend, Kate.  We got to know her pretty well since she stayed at the lake house after the wedding too.  We all approve! 🙂

After dinner, there were speeches.  Of all varieties.  Some were funny.Some were heart-felt.

This was a game by two of Erin’s friends.  Hayden and Erin sat back-to-back in chairs and traded one of their shoes.  They were asked some questions like

Who’s a better driver?


Who said I love you first?

They raised a shoe to answer.  It was so cute and funny to see which answers they agreed on and which ones they didn’t.

Dessert was sooo good.  I had too many brownies!

The whole night went so well and we all couldn’t wait to see these two get hitched the next night.

Back to the Grind

No posts last week because we were on VACAY!  My cousin’s wedding was in Texas (where my mom is from) and we stayed the week after at our family’s lake house outside of Dallas for a few days, then road-tripped it to San Antonio for a night.  I’ll be back with posts about all that later this week and next, but here are a few pictures of our departure.

This was literally how our guest bedroom looked around 10pm the night before we left.  (BTW, our flight was at 7:59am!!)  I get really rammy** about packing.  I try to pack light, but am always paranoid we won’t have enough.  Ellen (my little sister) was flying down with us, so she stayed with us that night and helped me get organized.

**Rammy is a term my family uses that I think is short for rambunctious.

Next morning, we loaded up the car with our luggage, the stroller, and the baby.

Ellen wanted us to leave by 6am, so it meant we saw the sunrise on our way to BWI.  We probably should have left even earlier because we almost missed our flight.  That’s not unusual for Bob and me.  We always cut it close.

The early wake up meant coffee was a MUST for Ellen and me.We made our flight and Clark was pretty good for the ride!  He only fussed when he was tired.  I don’t think we were those people with the baby.  

We only had a few minutes to catch our connecting flight so we literally were running through the airport Home Alone style.

Well…Ellen wasn’t.  She broke her toe the week before our trip so she couldn’t run.  We told her we’d hold the plane for her if she didn’t make it in time.  She was sporting a stylish pair of boots for the trip!  When in Rome, right?

Fun Fact: Because of her toe situation, she literally only packed left shoes!We were so excited to land in Dallas.  Just had to pick up the rental car and head to my aunt’s house to meet up with the rest of the family.

Clark wanted to make a stylish first impression when he met the cousins.Can’t wait to share more of our trip with you!  We had a blast!!

Hershey Park Happy

I grew up in Central PA.  About 20 minutes from Hershey which means we went to Hershey Park EVERY summer.  I have so many great memories spending time there with my cousins and middle school/high school friends.  In fact, when Bob came to visit me at my parents’ house for the first time, we spent the day there.

Almost a month ago, Bob’s company hosted their company picnic at Hershey Park for their Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland regions.  Bob was able to buy tickets through them for an awesome deal and it included lunch!!  They even gave us water bottles, a beach towel, beach ball, a frisbee, and some sunglasses.  Each employee was allowed to get up to something like 6 tickets so Bob suggested inviting my parents and my little brother (who’s home from college for the summer).  We sort of made a weekend out of it, heading up there on Saturday to have dinner with them and sleep over.

Clark got to spend some time with his buddy, Jake.  (My mom’s yorkie)

Sunday morning we all skipped church and got ready for the day at the park.

Love this picture of Clark and my mom.

My brother went out with friends the night before.  This was Clark’s impersonation of him.

Probably pretty spot on.

They both needed a nap before we left.

We were pretty slow moving and didn’t get to the park until about 1pm so we bee-lined to the food.  They had hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, pasta salad, fruit, drinks, and some ice cream treats.  We were pretty impressed with the food considering there were SO MANY PEOPLE to serve.

After lunch we hit up the rides.  Of course we got some “waiting-in-line” shots.

My dad is not a fan of coasters.  A direct quote from him when asked if he wanted to ride The Claw with us.

Yeah right!  That would kill me!

So we put him in charge of the baby.  It was some grandpa/grandson bonding time.  They both loved it.

The weather wasn’t too hot, but it was warm enough for Bob and Sam to ride some of the new water rides.

The day was so much fun!  It was a blast spending time with family at such an awesome place!  Can’t wait to do it again next year!

So many things to see and do.  Good times to be had.