Friday, May 31, 2013

Homemade Ranch Recipe

I love ranch dressing. Love. Sadly, it's creamy yummy goodness isn't so figure friendly. I've played around with it over the years and have settled in on a recipe that I really enjoy that's relatively healthy! I think it's pretty tasty!

1 packet Ranch seasoning 
1 c  skim milk
1/2 c light mayo
1/2 c plain fat free yogurt (or Greek yogurt)

Chill and enjoy!

Eventually I'll get around to making my own ranch seasoning so I won't have to use the packet!  Until I'm that motivated, this definitely does the trick!!

1 serving = 2 T = 1 WW P+

39 Weeks

Ellison is 9 months old today. She's 39 weeks old. She's been in our arms just about as long as she was in my belly. Holy time flying too fast!

Here's E (and me) 39 weeks ago...

And here's E 39 weeks later...


What I'm Eating on WW - Thurs and Fri


Breakfast: (4 P+)
Chobani Flips Vanilla Crunch

Lunch: (9 P+)
2 T Peter Pan Whipped PB
2 slices WhiteWheat Bread
22 Reduced Fat Cheese Nips

Snacks: (9 P+)
Starbucks Lite Java Chip Frap
3 Lance PB Crackers 

Dinner: (5 P+)
4 oz Turkey Breast
Sliced Tomato


Breakfast: (3 P+)
3/4 cup Special K Multigrain Oat Cereal
Splash low fat milk (less than 1/4 cup)

Lunch: (12 P+)
3.5 oz Turkey Breast
Hamburger Bun
3 tsp French's Honey Mustard
Chobani Flips Key Lime Crunch

Snack: (5 P +)
Kit Kat Mini
Edys Slow Churned Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Dinner (6 p+)
5 oz Turkey Breast
Sliced tomato

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I'm Eating on WW

Today got a little off plan, but I tracked it all and that's what's important!  The yogurt I'd planned to have for breakfast was not delicious (Chobani Flips Bee-Nana...yuck!) definitely not worth the 4 points. I went into an intern interview, came out, and guess what was on the front desk?!  Cinnabon. Really?!  I was starving. I couldn't resist. Plus side - they were Cinna Minis, so not 10,000 calories like its big brother. And...I only ate half!  It ended up only being 1 point more than my original breakfast and so much more delicious!  With lunch, I wanted a little something extra, so I went down to the cafeteria to get a side salad. The salad line was way long, so I got a bag of baked Doritos. Too bad it was 5 points!  Ugh. Then I has a Tootsie Pop because I wanted something sweet. After dinner, I wanted more sweet, so I had a WW ice cream bar.  Sensing a trend here? Don't judge.  We all have our vices.

Gold Star:  I tracked it all. And!  I didn't eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Seriously. I'm not kidding when I say there is ALWAYS junk food in my face at work!!

Here's what's up for tomorrow...

Breakfast: (4 P+)
Chobani Flips Key Lime Crunch
(High hopes this one will be better than Bee-Nana!)

Lunch: (2 P+)
Big Veggie Salad and 2 T Homemade Ranch

Snacks: (0 P+)

Dinner: (16 P+)
Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan

This leaves 4 points for incidentals. (AKA, whatever sweet treat is at work tomorrow that I have no power over)

Officially held accountable. 

Weekend Fun

We had a fun (albeit short, for me) Memorial Day Weekend! 

Saturday, we headed to Burlington for a crawfish boil at my mom and stepdad's house.  We got to town around lunchtime and Ellison, my mom, and I headed to the Tanger Outlets in Mebane to shop around a bit.  E racked up.  She got lots of fun goodies from Children's Place, Carter's, OshKosh B'gosh, and Gymboree.  The only thing that kept her from racking up at Polo and JCrew was the fact that they didn't have her size.  Lucky little monkey.  My mom and I walked away with almost nothing...except I needed new scrubs for work and we treated ourselves to a soft pretzel and lemonade.  My, how times have changed!!  The crawfish were so, so delicious.  I ate my weight in them and paid for it with swollen fingers later.  My sister and her boyfriend came too, and we had a great time just hanging out and catching up.

Sunday, we headed back to Charlotte early because my dad came into town for a couple of days from Louisiana.  It took us an extra hour to get back from Burlington thanks to race traffic from the Coca Cola 600 and a not so well planned out detour.  Once we were finally back, we headed out to Bad Daddy's Burger Bar for lunch.  This was the first time E was actually IN a restaurant.  The few other times we've taken her out to eat, we sat outside.  She loved it.  She's quite the nosey curious little one, so she was well entertained!  We tried to take naps when we got home (E never sleeps well in her pack-n-play, so she needed a good one!), but Ellison didn't want any part of that.  We walked down to the park and played on the swings and slide (Buddy included).  We grilled out a yummy dinner and called it an early bedtime.

I worked on Monday.  Yay.  Barrett spent the day studying for his CFP, and my dad and E hung out all day.  We cooked burgers on the grill for dinner and just enjoyed each other's company.  It was so great having my dad in town.  We're trying to figure out a good time to get E down to Louisiana for a visit, because his visit was too short!

Hope y'all had a nice weekend!  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Menu Monday

Happy Memorial Monday!  Linking up with Rachel for Menu Monday this week...

Here's what's going to be cooking in the Brooks' house -

Monday: Cookout - Burgers, Corn on the Cob, and Baked Beans
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese Panini and Tomato Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Breakfast for Dinner - Pancakes, Bacon, Fruit
Saturday: Bubble Up Pizza
Sunday: Leftovers/Take Out

What I'm Eating on WW - Days 5-8 Recap & Weigh In

Hope y'all have all had a wonderful Memorial Weekend so far! It's back to work for this girl today...hospitals don't close! You're welcome. ;-)

Days 5-7 on WW went well. I stayed within my points on Friday, so I went into the holiday weekend with all of my weekly points and all of my activity points. I  must admit, I fell off the wagon a bit over the weekend. 

Saturday we went to Burlington for a crawfish boil at my mom and stepdad's house. We didn't have coffee in our house that morning...so Barrett went to Krispy Kreme for coffee...and some doughnut holes.  Eek!  Mom and I went shopping and got an Auntie Anne's pretzel for a snack...Double Eek!  Crawfish are very low in points, but it's the potatoes, corn, sausage, and beer you must have with them that'll get ya! I didn't keep up with my points Saturday, but I feel pretty confident that I had enough points to allow myself a free day!

My dad is in town for the next couple of days from Louisiana. We went out to Bad Daddy's Burger Bar for lunch yesterday and I had a really yummy salad with grilled chicken. I may or may not have had five or six friend pickles with it.  We grilled filets and shrimp for dinner tonight and I had a salad and half a baked potato with mine. I didn't count points today either (oops!) but I'm not beating myself up since it was a holiday weekend. Hey - I ate a salad at the burger bar. Gold star!

Today's menu is as follows:

Breakfast: (4 P+)
Chobani Flips Vanilla Crunch Yogurt

Lunch: (8 P+)
Salad with Leftover Filet and Homemade Ranch Dressing

Snack: (10 P+)
Vanilla ice Cream with 1 T caramel and 8 Pretzel M&M's
Tootsie Pop
(I was at work on a holiday. I splurged!)

Dinner: (12 P+)
1/4 lb 93/7 Lean Burgers
Hamburger Bun
2% Sliced Cheese
1 T Light Mayo
1 Medium Corn on the Cob
Trader Joe's Frozen Asparagus Spears

Total Used: All daily plus 8 weekly points. I'm cool with this...it's a holiday.  :-)

AND...today was weigh in day.  Even after my no points counting weekend, I'm down...

-2.5 lbs.

It's a start, and I'll take it!  Back on the wagon today, y'all!

Happy Memorial Monday!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I'm Eating on WW - Day 4

I veered from the plan just a touch today.  I still stayed within my points though!  I didn't get around to my apple (again!), but I had an orange, some tomatoes with homemade yogurt ranch, and a Special K protein snack bar for snacks.  I also had some Edy's Slow Churned Cookie Dough Ice Cream for dessert.  This is why I really love Weight Watchers.  Ice cream is ok!  I also didn't get to my run today!  Oops.  That's OK though...I'll head to the gym after work tomorrow for a good running day.

Gold Stars for the Day:

-We had 25 Papa John's pizzas delivered to work today for lunch.  Do you have any idea what 25 fresh Papa John's pizzas smell like?  Deliciousness, that's what.  I didn't even sneak one little bite!

Here's what's on the menu for tomorrow...

Breakfast: (3 P+)

-Quaker Lower Sugar Oatmeal, Strawberries and Cream
-Coffee with 1 T skim milk (maybe two cups!)

Lunch: (11 P+)

-Nothing But Noodles Garden Fresh Salad (We're ordering in tomorrow because we have to sit in intern interviews all day)
-Grilled Chicken Breast
-Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Snacks: (0 P+)


Dinner: (8 P+)

-Homemade Hamburger Helper Leftovers (Y'all, this was good!  A touch spicy but so much better for you than that boxed nonsense!  Super easy too!)

This leaves me 4 points for incidentals...like maybe another serving of ice cream.  :-)

I also plan to run tomorrow, so that will give me 2 activity points. 

I haven't used any activity points or weekly points so far.  I'm saving them for the weekend.

Officially held accountable...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What I'm Eating on WW - Day 3

Today went well.  I didn't get around to eating my oatmeal for breakfast and I had a second banana instead of my apple.  I also didn't get to Cardio Funk because I got out of work late, but I did go to the gym for Week 2 Day 1 of C25K!

Gold Stars for the Day:

-I picked up a mini Dove milk chocolate, but then actually put it back down!
-It would have been easy for me to skip out on working out today since I missed my class, but I went to the gym and did something anyway.

Here's what's on the menu for tomorrow:

Breakfast:(5 P+)

-1/2 Panera Cheese Bagel with a light smear of reduced fat cream cheese (we have these every Wednesday morning at work, and I'm going to have to wean myself!  Won't be able to just go cold turkey on these!)
-Coffe with 1 T skim milk

Lunch:(5 P+)

-1/2 c fat free refried beans
-2 T chopped green chilis
-Lettuce and tomato
-1 T light sour cream
-6 Santitas tortilla chips

Snack:(0 P+)


Dinner:(11 P+)

-Homemade Hamburger Helper -- from scratch, y'all.

I'll have 5 points leftover for incidentals.  I also intend to complete W2D2 of C25K.  I seriously don't know how to count these activity points.  I'm saying 2 points earned for C25K right now.  As the actual running gets ramped up a bit, I may count more.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Officially held accountable.  :-)

Monday, May 20, 2013

What I'm Eating on WW - Day 2

Day 1 went well.  I was starving...guess that means I've been consuming a little more than I thought!  I stuck with the plan, except I didn't have my peanut butter and I had three tacos at dinner.  I was starving, remember?! 

Gold stars for the day: 

-I picked up Krispy Kreme doughnuts for E's teachers this morning.  Of course the Hot Now sign was on, so the entire way to work my car smelled like melty, sweet, icing goodness.  They were talking to me, I think.  I did not eat one.  :-)
-We had lunch provided at work today...Pasta with marinara or alfredo, garlic bread, Caesar salad, and banana pudding, but I ate the lunch I brought.  I didn't even lick my finger when I got a little pudding on it.  :-)
-It was one of our PICU docs birthdays.  There was cake.  I did not eat it.  :-)
-I also took E out for a little spin in the Bob.  Day 3 of Week 1 of Couch To 5K is finally under my belt.  I started C25K a while back, but i fell off the wagon after our trip to Florida, so I started over.  :-)

These are all very big deals, people.

Here's what's up for tomorrow...

Breakfast:(3 P+)
Coffee with Splenda & 1 T skim milk
Quaker Lower Sugar Oatmeal, Strawberries and Cream

Lunch:(7 P+)
2 Oven Tacos (leftovers from dinner)
1 c grapes

Snack:(0 P+)

Dinner:(17 P+)
Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Lemon Cream Sauce (I know...this is a little crazy.  But, it's what I had planned and I bought all the ingredients for it at the grocery store yesterday!)

Activity Points To Earn:(+9)
I'm going to Cardio Funk tomorrow night.  It's 50 minutes of kick your tail cardio.  I swear I burn a million calories in this class.  A million.  I didn't really know how to track it, WW has some pretty interesting entries for activity (carrying a box?), so I'm calling it "Aerobics, Jazzercise (High Impact)"  I'm not going to feel bad about eating that 17 point pasta.

Officially held accountable!

Menu Monday

Hey Y'all.  Back at it again.  Linking up with Rachel over at In No Simple Language for Menu Monday.  I'm thinking if I do this backwards, post before the week instead of after, I may acutally do it!  Here's what we're eating here in the Brooks house this week:

Monday: Oven Tacos (Just ate these.  Delish)
Tuesday: Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Lemon Cream Sauce
Wednesday: Homemade Hamburger Helper
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Chili and Cornbread

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back on the Weight Watchers Wagon

Really.  The time has come.  It's time to get my mind out of pregnancy/baby mode.  I simply must stop putting things in my mouth because they taste good.  Must. Stop. Now. 

So...it's back on the Weight Watchers wagon for this girl.  I've hopped on a few times over the last 8 years or so.  The summer before my senior year of college I lost 30 pounds on WW.  I was in the zone.  Time to get back in it.  I am not comfortable in my clothes yet, and I can't just go out and buy more clothes so I'm comfortable.  Better solution ---- put down the cookie.

I'm holding myself accountable here.  Feel free to follow along, or feel free to skip these posts.  Either way, I think that putting it out in the bloggy universe will make me feel like I'm answering to someone....

I'll post my daily eats and plans.  It'll take me a couple of weeks to really get in the swing of things and get it down to a science.  It takes a bit of practice to figure out the best foods for the best points.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears. 

Here's what's up for tomorrow...

Breakfast:(4 P+)
3/4 c Cheerios
1/4 fat free milk
Coffee w/ 1 T fat free milk and Splenda

Lunch:(7 P+)
Homemade "lighter" egg salad on 2 slices White Wheat bread
1 c grapes

Snack:(2 P+)
Apple w/ 1 T whipped peanut butter

Dinner:(7 P+)
Oven Tacos (Pinterest inspired)

This leaves me 6 remaining points for incidentals (i.e., emergency snack needs!) and toppings for my dinner.

Officially held accountable.  For tomorrow at least.  :-)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Mother's Day

{side note: this has been sitting in my drafts for almost a week.  we've had a rough few days around these parts...more on that later!}

We had the best, best weekend.  I must admit, I celebrated last year too.  This year, though, was so special because I got to share it with my sweet Ellison.

Saturday, we traveled to Burlington to spend the day with my mom.  Ellison enjoyed snuggling with Grammy and Pop Pop.  We had a yummy lunch of grilled ribs and brats, and Ellison even gnawed on a corn cob for a bit (which she loved by the way, and might just be the best teether ever!).  Ellison made all the grandmas the cutest little flower pot.  My mom and Kenny got me a sweet gift: a photo of E from her first trip to the beach (it lives on my desk at work now), a picture of E and me that's on a ceramic tile with a stand, and two new cookbooks.

Sunday, I enjoyed sleeping in a bit and was woken up by the sweetest snuggles from both of my babies!  Barrett made delicious brown sugar pecan cinnamon rolls and fruit salad for breakfast, complete with mimosas!  We went for a picnic in the park and E got to play in the grass for the first time.  It was such a gorgeous day!!  We took a little trip to Target and bought E a new toy to practice walking with (she might be a tad to young for it still!) because everyday is really about her.  :-)  Barrett grilled great steaks for dinner, and I ended the day with a nice glass of red wine.  Ellison got me a gift certificate for a pedicure and a hot stone massage, which was super thoughtful of her!  She also made a sweet little handprint craft for me at school.  But, my most precious gift, by far, is my sweet little family.  I am truly blessed.



Hope you all had a wonderful mother's day!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

Thanks so much to Sherry over at Our Sweet Life for nominating this little blog for a Liebster Award! Liebster is the German word for favorite/beloved, and this award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers by other bloggers to say "Hey, I like you. Other people should read you too."

Here's how it works...

1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.

3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.

4. Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.

5. No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

Eleven Random Things About Me:

1) My sophomore year of high school, I was in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of the Universal Cheerleaders Association.

2) I grew up in Louisiana. My dad and stepmom still live there along with a ton of other family members. If you've never been to LA, you should go. It's like another country.

3) I know that I paint my nails a heck of a lot better than the ladies at the salon because I'm too type A for my own good. But there's something about sitting and being pampered that's too good to pass up, so I still pay for it.

4) My hubby and I met in middle school. We were always great friends but didn't start dating till my senior year of high school. I really only applied to ECU because he was there. Good thing it worked out!

5) I'd rather eat dessert than dinner.

6) I hate running. Hate it. But I'm making myself train for a 5K because I know it's good for me.

7) I really hate all cardio. Except for dancing. I'll dance my pants off at any given chance.

8) I love to read. LOVE it. I haven't read a single book since E was born, but I have been known to spend entire weekends on the couch with my nose in a book. It's probably safe to say those days are likely over!

9) I love to travel, especially to tropical locations, but I'm pretty scared of flying. I tend to work myself up a little bit, and am usually squeezing the life out of Barrett at the first little bump or noise!

10) I was the President of my sorority in college. Go Alpha Xi Delta!

11) It was hard to think of 11 random things about me!

Nominator's Questions Answered:

1. What do you love most about yourself? Everyone should love something about themselves!

-I love that I'm a people person. I can talk to pretty much anyone. My profession requires me to be able to build rapport with people really quickly. I have to become someone's best friend fast during highly emotional, scary circumstances.

2. What is your favorite place you have ever been and why?

-St. John. It's seriously the most beautiful place I've ever been. Clear blue water, white sand, and green mountains. It's so peaceful and undisturbed. And, there are men on the beach who chop open coconuts with machetes, pour in rum, and pass you a straw. Need I say more?

3. What do you enjoy doing most for fun?

-Oh, lots. Being with my sweet family; drinking wine and catching up with friends; sitting with my toes in the water and my tail in the sand.

4. Why did you start blogging and how long have you been doing it?

-I started blogging to document our life. Now that E is here, it's a wonderful way to help our family, who mostly lives far away, keep up with her development and sweet face. I started our blog in 2009.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

-In 5 years, I hope Baby #2 has arrived. I hope I'm content with my job. I hope we're just as happy, if not more, as we are now.

6. What was your first job?

-I was a hostess at an Italian restaurant in high school. My first big girl job was right where I am now. Six years and counting...

7. What is your favorite holiday memory?

-When I was little we'd spend Christmas Eve at my grandparents' house. We'd eat way too much, all the cousins would be together, and it was the most special way to bring in Santa.

8. What is your favorite season of the year and why?

-I think I'm an autumn girl. For starters, it's football season. College football season, that is. Pirate football to be exact. I also love pumpkin, and the chill in the air, and Halloween, and our birthdays. And...because its NC, it is definitely still possible to have 85 degree days!

9. What person has inspired you the most?

-I am fortunate enough to be able to work with children and families everyday who are going through some of the most unimaginable circumstances. Through diagnosis, pain, sleepless nights, chemo, and sometimes end of life, these families smile, laugh, love, and show us all how to live life to the absolute fullest. They are true inspirations.

10. What is your favorite vacation memory?

-My honeymoon. It was perfect. A whole week of relaxing with my toes in the sand and not a care in the world with my very best friend at my side.

11. What is your favorite sweet treat?

-All of them!? I've not ever really been known to turn down a treat. I especially like baked goods...cookies, cupcakes, pie, etc. (see random fact about me #5 above)

Questions for Nominees:

1) If you were offered the vacation of your dreams, free of charge, where would you go and why?

2) Are you a cat person or a dog person?

3) Are you in your dream job? If not, what is your ultimate career goal?

4) What is the last gift you were given? What is the last gift you gave?

5) What's worse...Sunday night or Monday morning?

6) If your house was on fire, assuming all people and pets were safe, what three things would you grab?

7) Coffee or tea?

8) Do you believe in love at first sight?

9) What is the worst movie you've ever seen?

10) If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

11) What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?


Not sure I have eleven blogs in my regular reading list that will qualify (most of them have lots and lots of followers!) but here are a few of my favorites. Quite a few of them are fellow moms of cutie babies about E's age. I found them with a Kelly's Korner SUYL link up when I was pregnant. Others are friends or friends of friends. Go show them some love. Enjoy!

-Neinast: Life at its Finest
-Angie & Keith: Baby Makes Three
-The Cogdill Crew
-Running with the Raccas
-Our Traveling Nest
-Hudgins on the Move
-Eloquently Emily
-She: Adventures in Motherhood

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sunny Florida

Last month, we made the trek to Florida to visit Nana and the Dude.  Ellie Belle had so many first, fun adventures while we were there!  We had an absolute blast, Ellison was a champ the whole time, and we can't wait to get back soon!  Here's a taste of all the fun we had!  (There will be lots and lots of photos...you've been warned!)

Ellison's first plane ride was an absolute, 100% success!  She was such a good girl.  We are absolutely certain that we only purchased 2 tickets and listed E as a lap child, but the airline was absolutely certain that we had paid for 3 seats.  Who are we to argue with the man at the check in counter, so we gladly took the third seat.  This meant we were able to keep E's car seat with us on the plane instead of gate checking it.  We breezed through security except for having to take elevators to get up and down because of the stroller.  Ellison was super patient.  We fed her some peas before we boarded which bought us a little time before she was ready for a bottle.  Once on the plane, we put her in her car seat in the seat between us.  When we took off, we fed her a bottle and she fell right to sleep!  She woke up just before we were landing, so we let her snack on some puffs and she was a happy camper!  We were armed with a bag full of her teethers, toys, the iPad, and other goodies.  She only needed Sophie.

Straight from the plane, we headed over to a bar on the water and took E for a little stroll before we headed home to get her ready for bed. Once she was snuggled in, Barrett and I headed out with Mike to pick up some Mexican for dinner, I had my first margarita, and we were officially on vacation!

The next day, we headed to our favorite beach, Boca Grande, for Ellison's first beach experience!  She had such a good time at first.  She giggled and played.  She didn't love the water so much, but I think it was because the water was chilly.  Rookie mistake...we forgot E's paci...so naptime was a huge fail.  She got a smidge cranky, so we headed to the car to try to make it all better.  After a good wipe down to get rid of the sand and sweat, a change of clothes, and a nap in the cool air conditioned car, she was good as new.  While she napped, Barrett and I grabbed a beer and sat in some adirondacks in the sand.  Once she'd had a good power nap, we headed over to Miller's Marina for our must have tuna nachos. 


We headed back to the house and let E try out the pool for the first time!  She was way more into the pool than the ocean.  Thanks to a solar heater, it was like bath water and she was definitely digging it!  She was a natural and just kicked away!  She even took a little dunk under water with Nana's help.  I think we'll have a little fishy on our hands!

That evening, Barrett's Grandma Jeanne came over.  Ellison thought her Great Grandma was so fun.  She especially liked her bracelets! 

The next day, we spent the morning lounging around and hanging by the pool.  We headed out to Peace River Seafood for lunch and ate our weight in crabs!  Ellison got to see lots of new things...including a parrot, geese, chickens, roosters, and goats!  She thought the goats were hilarious!

We headed out after lunch for an evening boat ride.  I was a nervous wreck about E not having a life jacket, but all was well and we had a fun time.  We parked the boat on the beach and took a little walk.  We saw manatees, took some good pictures, and Ellison got her first look at a fish up close.  She thought it was awesome...I thought it was gross!  Animals without fur aren't really my thing!  On the way back to the marina we stopped to watch some dolphins play in the water.


The next day, we loaded up and headed out to the beach at Nocomis.  This was a much more successful trip!  We remembered E's pacifier...so she was able to take a good nap while we were on the beach which made for a much happier baby! 


That night, Barrett and I went out for date night.  We went into Punta Gorda and started the evening by having drinks and listening to music on the Wyvern Hotel rooftop while watching the sunset.  Beautiful.  We had dinner at this great place downtown called The Perfect Caper.  It was really yummy and the service was great.  We took a little walk, stopped in for a drink at The Celtic Ray and then headed back home.  Date nights are the best. 

The next day, E hung out at the house and swam in the pool with Nana while Barrett and I went to spend a couple of quiet hours on the beach.  We saw Santa while we were there too (see pic below)!  Later that night, we were able to spend some time with some of Barrett's extended family who live down in Florida.  It was so great to get to catch up with everyone!  Ellison got to meet her third cousin (second cousin once removed?) who is 4 or 5 months younger than she is.  She thought he was great and wanted to play...he was a little more reserved!  :-)


The flight back home was pretty easy too.  We got a third seat again which was super helpful...so helpful in fact that we for real might actually pay for her next time!  She fought her nap just a little on the way up, but I'm pretty sure that Barrett and I were the only ones who noticed!  She slept the entire flight, even through the landing, and we were back home.

We had such a fun time....as usual...and can't wait to get back again soon.  Now that we know Ellison is a budding travel buff, we'll be much more likely to venture out much more often!