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Come one, come all!

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

The county fair comes to town each August, and for the past eight or nine years, in one configuration or another, we’ve been every. single. year. At first with just Bri Bri, and then with Bri Bri and Emma, and for the past few years, with all three kiddos. (Fun-ish, but completely useless, fact: We were even there the night before I found out I was pregnant with Madden.)

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

This year was extra special though, because both Madden and Emma are old enough to “get” it, and because Shannon got to tag along for the first time, too. Not as in “the first time with us,” but as in “the first time ever.” That’s right. Despite growing up and living practically her entire life just miles from the fairground, she’d never been (which I thought was insane not only because she lived so close to it all these years, but because when I was a kid, we never missed the fair). We were so excited for her to join us this year.

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

Also in attendance this year: Our friend H-er and her daughter. Heather and I go way back – for like, almost a decade – and her and RJ are good friends, too. In fact, they even live together and are basically best friends. Anyway, the eight of us met up two Fridays ago for Opening Day of the 2015 county fair, and spent an evening of family fun in absolutely perfect weather. Seriously. Look at that sky. It’s like it knew I was going to take a shit ton of photos of it.

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

Putting this post together I realized I didn’t take as many photos this year as I usually do, and I took drastically less photos of the people in our group, which I think is because our 8-person group was split into at least three different smaller groups for most of the night. Everyone was all over the place, which made capturing everyone kind of difficult. Still, I managed to get at least a few photos of each family member and that’s really ever my only goal.

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comIMG_5722Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

This year we didn’t spend as long checking out the animals, either. Madden was definitely the most into the animals – all of them – but even he was more about playing games and riding rides.

Prince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.comPrince William County Fair 2015 @ kelseyespecially.com

We only went once this year, which was new, and we didn’t stay quite as long as we had anticipated (still, we were there for hours…plural), but overall, another great year at the county fair. It was so awesome to see the kids so into it all. Definitely can’t wait for next year.

OMG! Also. There was a caricature cartoonist/artist/person there and I was SO excited because I’ve been wanting to have a caricature of our modern family done foreverrr. We were THISFREAKINGCLOSE to having it done – of all six of us: RJ, Shannon, me and the kids – until we found out the dude charged $15 per person. And for a relatively small portrait. No way we were paying $90 for a teeny 8.5″ x 11″ caricature of six people. Womp. Maybe next year. If we start saving now.

in photos, us

Bahama mamas | 02

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

[VIEW FIRST PHOTO SET]

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back from our 5-day trip to Grand Bahama Island for two weeks already. The time we spent there went by so. fucking. slow. (in a not good way) that by the time we made it home we were ready to dive head-first back into normal life. So we did. And we haven’t really looked back. I haven’t even made any progress on the mini book or video I’d planned on making for this trip.

I don’t know. We didn’t have an awful time, but we also didn’t have the spectacular time that a tropical vacay is supposed to offer, even though we went into the thing with basically no expectations after reading the reviews of the airline/charter and resort we booked. That’s a collection of different stories for at least one different day, though. For now, an easy post full of photos, mostly taken while strolling through the tourist’s marketplace directly across the street from our resort (and from which we didn’t purchase a single bite to eat, drink to sip or gift to give (not even a postcard for the mini album I may or may not make for this trip) because holy-goddamn-hell the prices of every-goddamn-thing were about 3,000% too high.Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Be back more next week (or maybe the week after?) with more!

HAPPY WEEKEND, FRIENDS!

in photos, us

Bahama Mamas | 01

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Apologies up front for this post. I have so many photos from the trip that I want to share but I feel like it’s TOO many, so I’m still trying to whittle ’em down, because while they’re all super gorgeous (not because of any rumored photography skills of mine (which are exactly that – rumored), but because the scenery was on point), I’m sure no one wants to look at 137 photos of essentially the same thing (palm trees!), followed by 93 photos of essentially another same thing (the ocean!), etc.

Anyway.

Here’s the first dump of photos from our trip. It’s not much, I know. Sorry? I feel like I have to get our photos up ASAP since we’ve already been back for like, a week, but other things have been going on IRL and I haven’t had much time to sit down and go through all the photos. And when I finally did have four seconds last night to start, photoshop shit the bed and shut itself down after only a few photos in because that’s the story of my life and instead of trying to outsmart it and try again I just went to bed. Anyway, just know that there’s more coming. More photos and definitely lots of words – I have a lot of details to share (what we did, where we went, when we did it all, blahblahblah), as well as some thoughts about our overall experience, but I still need to sort all that crap out in my brain and figure out how much to share and how to say it. Check back next week for that.

For now, a few photos from around the hotel/resort; of the scenery; and a few of our adventures.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Okay! That’s it for now! More next week – hopefully on Monday…if I can get my shit together over the weekend.

fitness, in photos, us

Anniversary hike to Whiteoak Canyon Falls

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

Last Saturday Shannon and I celebrated two years together. Yayyyyy! We agreed early on to not do anything big over the weekend since next week we peace out to the Bahamas for five days for a real anniversary celebration, but we had to do something on our actual anniversary. So, obviously, hiking. Except that the whole thing didn’t quite go as planned. Because naturally.

We woke up Saturday to the sound of steady rain and after a couple of hours of obsessively checking TWC app, decided to scrap our plans to celebrate our anniversary on our anniversary. Sunday would be our new Anniversary (observed) for this year, and Saturday became just another Saturday. RJ took the kids to get donuts for breakfast, then left ’em with us and took off. The rest of the day was the most lackluster, boring thing ever. So boring that I fell asleep on it, which may not seem exceptionally remarkable to you but I never, EVER take naps. So that means it was really boring. Like, WHOA.

After braving the commissary with all the kids on the weekend, whereat I bought Shannon a grocery store bouquet of flowers (with which she begrudingly posed and decided she hated her face in the photo so I cleaned it up a bit for her), Shannon took the kids to the pool while I napped and when I woke up I was in a piss poor mood, angry that the anniversary I had been planning since fall was a trainwreck. I headed to the gym by myself to wrap up my most recent cycle of programming by re-testing a 1RM back squat and couldn’t even hit my old 1 RM. Not cool. On the way out of the gym my chocolate protein shake spilled all over the stack of clean gym clothes I had just put in my gym bag. When I got home and went to take a shower, I opened the linen closet to grab a clean towel and ALL OF THEM fell off the shelf and onto the floor. Then, while tidying up around my hoo ha in an attempt to salvage part of our anniversary by hopefully getting some later that night, the razor I was using to shave literally BROKE OFF (almost) IN MY ASS. Buns of steel? Whatever. Over it. But clearly I couldn’t be all the way over it before one. more. mishap. After getting out of the shower and putting on face moisturizer, my toothbrush falls off the counter and into the toilet bowl brush cleaning thingy that sits between the toilet and the counter. What the hell, universe?

And then, and then, Shannon hands me a small bundled gift for our anniversary right before bed and I literally fell down on the bed wailing, upset that she’d gone against our agreement to not get each other anything and devastated by the reminder that I didn’t have anything to get her because the thing that I had been planning to get her since last fall was gifted to her by someone else. A someone else whom I approached months ago and informed of my plan to get this something for her for our anniversary and pleaded with him to please let me do this for her and he told me, “Too bad. I’m getting it for her. You’ll have to find something else to get her.” DICK.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

Thankfully, Sunday morning started way better. RJ took the kids out for breakfast and Shannon and I decided on a trail: Whiteoak Canyon Trail, which leads to Whiteoak Canyon Falls, which are the highest falls in Shenandoah National Forest. We hit up the grocery store for snacks, then hit the road for Shenandoah. Everything was going great until we were (according to our screenshot-ed directions) three miles out, and then a monumental shit storm of unfortunate luck happened. (Though, to be fair, this hike turned out way better than our last attempt in Shenandoah back in May.)

Literally, in a three-mile span of time (which I realize isn’t an actual unit of measurement for time but whatever IDC): I realize I left the memory card for the “real” camera in the computer at home, which means I won’t be trying out my new lens after all so sorry that you’re stuck with these crappy iPhone photos; we get lost; we pull over to pee alongside a creek and I step in shit – while wearing flip flops; we loose cell and data service, so we can’t look for a re-route and instead have to just “sense it out” and hope for the best. Three-ish hours later, we finally found the goddamn trail parking lot – just in time to get THE LAST proper parking spot, thankfuckinggod.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

Because we started the trail at the boundary of the park, we ended up hiking Whiteoak Canyon Trail “backwards” from the bottom to the top, which means that the best part of the hike – the falls – was, for us, at the start of the hike. We didn’t realize this at the beginning and figured the “Upper Falls” portion of the trail, which was all the way at the top, DUH, would be the primo part of the hike. It wasn’t. The view was cool, but it was mostly just of the tops of the trees and the sky, and can only be fully experienced by taking a suicidal leap off the top of the big rock formation up there.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

The view from the lower falls, on the other hand, was fully enjoyable from the base of the falls, at which point you could also safely experience the falls by lunching on a giant rock in the middle of the water, or wading or swimming in the pool of water at the base of the falls. Yes, please. We’ll take that.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, EspeciallyWhiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

Whiteoak Canyon Trail can be hiked as an out-and-back, or you can break off at a couple different points to loop around on other trails and eventually hike back to where you started. Once we made it to the top we hung out for a bit, vacillating between turning around and heading back the way we came or continuing on to hike one of the loops, which we really wanted to do. It was only a few more miles (added to the 6 miles comprising the out-and-back) to do the loop, but with it being Sunday and already almost 2:00 pm and still having at least 2 hours of hiking regardless of which way we went, and then a 2+ hour drive, ahead of us, we opted to just turn around and head back the way we came.

From bottom to top and back down, the entire hike took us exactly 4 1/2 hours – we set out at 10:43 am and drove away at 3:13 pm. It took us 3 1/2 hours to make the uphill trek, including the time we took for breaks to eat and pee and take pistols-on-rocks photos, and about an hour to hike back down, also including an extended stop to play in the water at the lower falls.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

We had a lot of fun hiking this trail, and it was the perfect day for it. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to hike this trail, take it! But know going into it that it. is. hard. And that’s coming from two chicks who workout like it’s their job. You will be sore and achy the next day (or two (or three)), and you’ll feel the soreness and achy-ness creeping into your muscles and your bones during the hike. Personally, we were happy to do the hardest work at the beginning and are really happy we started at the base of the trail (as a total mistake, actually). But doing the work at the beginning doesn’t mean you won’t have any left at the end. The way back down was quicker, but it was still pretty difficult. And it was even harder on our joints.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

Overall, a great hike. We’d love to do the full loop some day, and we’re looking forward to taking the kids on the initial 0.8 mile, relatively flat and navigable trek out to the lower falls and swimming holes. Hopefully we can make that happen sooner rather than later!

Whiteoak Canyon Falls, Shenandoah National Park, VA // Kelsey, Especially

On our way home we stopped for ice cream at Moo Thru, which was a little barn on the side of the road and amazing. Their waffle cones were warm-to-the-touch fresh, and the raspberry and lemon sorbets we got had little chunks of fresh fruit in them. So yum.

We got home just before 6:00 pm, with a fucking gallon of water, a bag full of NYAJ takeout (our default) and NPR streaming on the laptop, because for some reason it wouldn’t play on my phone and I really wanted to listen to the Climate One episode on advances in neuroscience. Because I’m secretly 90.

To top it all off, we were in bed before 9:00 pm. Because, you know, work night.

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PS: Check out our 1 Year Anniversary weekend last year.

family, holidays, in photos

‘merica

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

I realize that I’m an entire week late sharing this and that quite possibly no one will read this because it’s the weekend, but I’ve got to put these memories somewhere (here) and better late than never (now), right?

Unless we’re talking about Christmas, I’m not a holiday person. And even when it is Christmas, I’m still not totally excited about it. IDK. Holidays just aren’t my thing. But along with having embarrassing photos taken and trips to the ER (bonus points if they happen on a holiday and take photos of the ordeal (like here, 2/3 of the way down)), celebrating holidays is the stuff of childhood. Especially when they involve fire/things that go “BOOM”, staying up late and good ol’ ‘merican pride.

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

So because of that and the fact that not celebrating the Fourth of July is borderline treasonous, I gave in (like I do every year) and we celebrated the Fourth. Although to be fair, I shammed out of our big plans last minute and opted to stay at home and do the neighborhood thing instead. Whatever. The kids are old enough to have a genuine interest in celebrating the holiday but still young enough to think staying home and setting off little bottle rockets is the ultimate. I have at least another year before we have to Go Big, so until then I’m staying home.

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

Originally we were s’ppose-ta head over to the other side of the county and set-up shop on a pavilion in a small, historical town to watch a big(ger-than-in-our-neighborhood) fireworks show. We did that last year and it’s what we were going to roll with this year, but neither of us were feeling doing something that involved (which is, admittedly, not very involved at all) since we were both still fighting off The Post-Oregon Sickness. Anyway, our resolve was already wavering when while at the pool earlier in the day the neighbors from the street behind us invited us to their street’s little block party. OMGYESHOWDIDTHEYKNOW?!

After remembering how terrified of the fireworks Madden was last year, and that it took us 90 fucking minutes to get out of the parking lot post-fireworks and then another 30 to drive home, we decided to scrap the cross-county plans and just walk around the corner instead. I mean, it can’t get much easier than that. So after the pool we picked up a few desserts from the store, put the kids down for a late nap and once they were up we headed around the corner, just before dusk.

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

There were a handful of families with small kids there, which was awesome for obvious reasons (other little people to distract my little people and let me off the hook for a bit!), even if we didn’t know any of them; a table full of food; music; and, of course, fireworks.

Madden spent the entire evening ooing and ahhing over fireworks, and asking for cookies but then refusing to eat them and instead letting them pile up all over the place and then asking for more. Emma spent 87% of the evening with Lulu (the neighbors’ dog), 10% of the evening with Ms. Margie (the wife), and the other 3% of the evening asking for cookies and brownies and cake. A bit of advice to remember for all future potluck-y gatherings: Never be the family that brings the dessert because then your kids think that (1) they have some sort of monopoly on it because “they” brought it, so no one else can have any, most especially other kids, and (2) they convince themselves that because “they” brought it, they’re entitled to as much of it as they want, whenever they want, even when you say “NO.”

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

Madden and Emma were both pretty impressed with everything this year and had a blast. Hallelujah for a kid-approved easy (and free!) neighborhood celebration. I tried my hand at some low-light photography but only a handful of images turned out decently enough to be shown here without complete embarrassment. I’m not kidding when I say I have next to no clue what I’m doing when it comes to photography and pretty much just point and shoot while constantly fucking with all the “manual” mode settings and holding my breath waiting for something to work. Most of my attempts at fireworks photography ended up gross.

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially 4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

But a few turned out really great, or at least not totally shitty. My favorite one? The one up at the very top. Can’t get much more ‘merican than fire and an empty red solo cup.

4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially4th of July 2015 // Kelsey, Especially

Happy belated Fourth and ‘MERICA! and all that jazz.