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24 December, 2014

Girls' Night Out: Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Last year the girls in the family went to Garden Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  For some reason I couldn't make it...probably sick and pregnant.  I was really excited to go this year.  And Eric and I decided that even though it was going to be a late night, that Evie could go, too. I'm glad we took her.

My mom and sister, Evie and I took off during Atlanta rush hour (yeehaw!) for the Gardens.  I am so glad we chose a non-peak night AND went early.  

The gardens were magical. Such a fun night out.

 They serve drinks and snacks, like hot chocolate with a little something-something extra and I had a glass of champagne with cranberries.
 I was glad we had Evie in the stroller, though next year I'll probably have her walk and put Maggie in the stroller. Or skip the stroller and wear Maggie.  It was too chilly to bring our little Mags since she was still recovering from her post-flu cold.
 I had a lot of fun playing with the manual settings on my camera to get some different "looks" with the lights.
 Our city is just so beautiful at night and even more magical with the garden lights.
 Evie REFUSED to pose for any pictures. So I had so sneak in this one of her watching the train :)
 It would be the perfect date night spot, but it was just as fun as a girls night out!

These glowy lights were synced to music and changed color with the tunes. Very fun. We could have watched these for hours. It was fun to dance with Evie and watch them change.
After the Garden Lights we drove to Hob Nob  right outside the park for a quick dinner before heading home.  Evie Girl was fast asleep.  She couldn't stop talking about how much fun "Big Girls Night Out" was.  And that she got to have a hot choc-o-late.  Looking forward to next year!

Funday: Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta

It had been a few weeks since we had a Family Fun Day. As Eric and I were trying to think of something a little out of the ordinary I remember that Evie had seen Legoland at Phipps Plaza when we went to see Santa.  She had fun just playing in the gift shop so I knew she'd enjoy spending some family time at the Discovery Center.
But in typical Evie fashion she was a bit nervous trying something new.  Once the gates opened and we went in she warmed right up.

Our first stop was the Lego Factory. A (kind of stupid) mock factory of how Legos are made. The tour guide was goofy and engaging. The kids had fun.
We raced out the door and went straight for the Ninjago ride. Evie was tall enough to ride it, but we couldn't bring Maggie.  It was a half ride - half video game ordeal. We road in a cart through a maze while pausing occasionally to kill off some bats and skeletons with our guns.  Evie was a little scared by the noises and spooky characters, but after we left she said this was her favorite part of the day! Kids are weird.

Next was my favorite part of Legoland.  It was a replica of the city of Atlanta. It was so fantastically well done that I couldn't take enough photographs of it.  Each mini scene had some buttons to control some of the characters - like move the football players at the Falcon's Stadium, or move the cable car up Stone Mountain.  Evie enjoyed interacting with the mini city.  Eric and I loved pointing out all the impressively accurate details of the city scape.
 (This picture is just for Eric's Dad!)
 The MARTA train worked and looked exactly like it - the 1970s color scheme and all!
 (This is for Rosemary and Colin -- my Braves game buddies! Rest in Peace Turner Field)
 One of the neat details of this room was that the lights went up and down every few minutes so you could see the city during the day and the night.  So cool!
Next Evie and Eric decided to ride Merlin's Apprentice. We were excited that Evie could ride this ride too! The more you pedaled your car the higher you went.
Maggie had fun playing in the Duplo pits.  After she started eating one I realize exactly how/why the Flu spreads so quickly through children. Haha. Gross.
 Evie spent a good bit of time playing in the Duplo kitchen and making "letters" to mail.  She was enthralled with the mailbox.

 Meanwhile, Eric took Maggie over to the Duplo tower shakers. He just put her on the platform and turned it on. Haha. She belly laughed at the vibrations.
 My only regret of the day is not doing a little family karaoke. Okay, maybe regret is not the right word.
We were quite a bit disappointed with the "Fire Academy" - it took up a big portion of Legoland and parents couldn't go in.  Evie could only get so much out of this without some parent supervision. Also, we have a pass to a play gym like this. Seemed like a waste of money to us.

We had to skip some of the attractions like the 4D movie (we were on a time crunch), the Laser Maze (too young), and the Lego Racers station (too crowded with a birthday party)
 So we headed over to the Duplo play area.  We could play a little more with her...until....
she took another step up this staircase and had a potty accident.  And all her spare clothes were in the car.  Whomp Whomp.
I ran for the cafe to buy a few snacks and we headed for the car.  Our trip ended up being only an hour or so when we would have loved to stay for the movie and do the car racing.

We had a great time, but we would definitely bring a friend or cousin next time.  Eric and I agreed another kid to play with would have been more fun for Evie.  And to be honest, I'm not sure this place is really worth the cost of a full price ticket at her age.  Four or five seems to be a better age. A year long family pass or birthday party seems to be the way to go for the most bang for your buck.

Much thanks to Legoland Discovery Center of Atlanta for sponsoring this post.

A Sprinkle for Paige

Maggie is napping. Evie is out with Nana. Taking a hot second to catch up on some blogging.

Saturday after Thanksgiving we had a small, family "Sprinkle" for my sister-in-law, Paige. They're expecting their second the beginning of February. Thanksgiving was the last week Paige was allowed to travel before baby Ellie arrives.

Since they live about 4-5 hours away, I wanted to do a little something for them.  It was also two days after Thanksgiving, so keeping it simple and light was paramount.

 Evie was my co-hostess. She absolutely loved being my helper. She helped get the table set, pour the sprinkles into the candle holders, clean the living room, and distribute the game supplies. She was giddy with delight.  Evie kept jumping with excitement to help with the next task "for baby Ellie's party, Mama!"
We did the party at 2pm.  I kept the "sprinkle" theme pretty literal. We served ice cream sundaes and used sprinkles and polka dots as the decorations.

I tried to keep this super budget friendly.

For toppings:  I chopped up leftover Halloween candy.  Shhh. I used sprinkles I already had.  We cut up some fresh strawberries (preggo's request!), crushed a handful of Oreos, and I toasted some almonds and candied them.  I also made Danielle Walker's dairy-free caramel sauce.

For ice cream:  I made two varieties.  The first was a plain french vanilla. I used the recipe that came with the KitchenAid ice cream maker.  The second was  Danielle Walker's dairy-free coconut cream ice cream.

For drinks:  Eric made some iced tea (this is the south, after all).  And we bought a few Cokes for those who might like a Coke Float (and because this is Atlanta, after all).

I kept the decorations suuuuper simple.  Which, is not like our family. Haha.  I reused the pom-poms from Evie's birthday.  I found the "It's a Girl" banner in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby (now I can use it for photoshoots, too!).  The candles and candle holders were all bought new at Hobby Lobby during the 50% off candle & accessory sale.  I made sure to purchase things I could use again.  I used a coupon to get some large things of pink sixlets (to put in wine glasses) and nonpareils (to put in votives).

A baby shower isn't a shower without games. Love them or hate them, they're a must.  But I hate them. Ha. So I decided to go with games that would be more of a conversation starter.

I chose Old Wives Tales (free printable here)  because we had 4 generations of guests. I thought this would be fun to see what nonsense everyone had heard and which ones were "true" with the mom-to-be.

The other game I came up with about an hour before the shower (while I was in the shower!).  I scrambled through my girl's story books and took one or two random lines out of 12 different books.  I copied them on to a piece of paper and then read them to the party guests.  They had to guess which book the lines were from.  This was great for all the guests because even those without kids could remember the lines from their childhood or from babysitting.  I used a mix of family favorites (since this was a family shower) along with a few new popular books. This game made for some great laughs, story telling and debate!

And then wrestle mania broke out so it was time to switch to opening gifts.

Paige's sister lives in Oregon but sent a beautiful hand painted canvas for Ellie's nursery.

Paige and David already have a three year old boy, Zachary. Everyone was encouraged to bring a girly gift for the nursery, or to spruce up the baby essentials.
Paige received lots of goodies, like monogrammed Boppy covers, crib sheets, hooded towels and lots of frilly clothes.
It was a great afternoon showering Paige and welcoming baby Ellie. We can't wait to meet our new (and first!) niece in February.

Maggie is looking forward to a little cousin to laugh and play with :)