March Into Spring

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The first photo here is 6 weeks post partum with my 2nd baby. I clearly felt uncomfortable about taking this photo even though I had no reason to. I stayed healthy throughout my pregnancy. I exercised regularly…ate well…I JUST HAD A BABY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And I had already lost 20 pounds of baby weight after this photo was taken. I had a PLAN of action this time around, unlike after 1st baby when I had no clue what sort of whirlwind I was being thrown into. This time I was prepared. Yet, I was still feeling uncomfortable in my own skin taking this photo. As much as I wish I could have just embraced my body and what it did for me (and trust me I LOVE what our bodies are capable of. I think it’s truly amazing and has brought me two of life’s most greatest blessings)…I still hated seeing myself like this. With my line of work as an online health and fitness coach, I knew that in order for others to see how our programs work, I was going to have to show others what was possible. So I took the photo, but I didn’t love doing it. And it’s still tough for me to share here today…even though in my heart of hearts I KNOW there is absolutely NOTHING I should feel bad about. If anything I should feel proud that my body was able to create two amazing little humans.

That being said…the 2nd photo here is taken about a year later. After a lot of hard work. After ups and downs. After a lot of personal and mental growth. After CHOOSING to make sure that I did not get lost this time. That I remained a priority in my own life. It’s not easy to make a change. But I knew after my 2nd baby, I wanted to feel GOOD. I wanted to feel like myself. I didn’t want to wait around and “see what would happen.” I made a decision to take things into my own hands. Instead of letting life control me, I would control my OWN life.

I know 100%, that without Beachbody, I would not have been able to make this type of change. I would have told myself that I would make it to the gym, that I would go on a run before my husband left for work, that I would somehow, someway fit it into my day…but I wouldn’t. I now know that about myself. I now know that I needed something I could do from home. I needed something that could be done quickly. I needed something structured…that told me what to do each day and how to eat better so that I didn’t have to think too much about it. That I could just get it done in 30 minutes, and move on with my day.

I was able to make this change not only with the incredible workout programs and nutrition plans (because they seriously are AMAZING), but even more so because of the community of SUPPORT that I have had to stay on track toward my goals and stay consistent with a healthy lifestyle. I don’t have some “insane level of dedication or motivation.” People message me frequently and tell me that they love my dedication, or they also tell me that they wish they were as motivated as I was. But I’m here to tell you that I’m not any different than anyone else. I love ice cream and pasta just like the rest of us. (and I eat it often lol) I sometimes hate to get my workout in. I am definitely not perfect…not even close. But because of this community…because I stay more accountable for things when I know I will be checking in…because I have the support of like-minded people around me…because I’m the coach and I know I need to lead by example…I have been able to achieve things that I never believed would be possible after two kids.

If you are like me and you WANT to feel good about yourself, but:
-you struggle to fit working out into your busy day, or
-you have become stagnant on your journey toward reaching your goals…
-if you think you could use the extra support of a positive community that values individual progress over competition…
-if you cannot afford an expensive trainer at the gym, but want workouts that are going to get results…
-if you need to improve your nutrition habits or need new ideas to make meals more fun…

then please join me and my group as we MARCH INTO SPRING…with our heads held high. Starting March 6th, we will begin our next group based on making progress toward reaching our goals and feeling more confident than ever going into that spring break season. I don’t know about you, but I have Punta Cana on the calendar, and I want to feel my best!

***Comment below with MARCH INTO SPRING and your email address if you want to join or you would like more details about the group! You can also feel free to email me at gina.notes26 {at} gmail.com ***

 

Hoping you’re having a fantastic weekend!

XO,

Gina

Get Happy, Get Lean – Let’s Rock 2017!

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Almost 2 years ago, I finally decided I had enough of being unfit after having my first baby and made the commitment to my health + fitness by starting P90X and becoming and online fitness coach. Two days into the program, I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and had to change the course of my journey. The road toward success or change is never easy and there are bumps (and in my case baby bumps! hehe) along the way. I could have easily quit and said “I will just wait until after I have my 2nd baby to work on myself. But I didn’t. I chose to keep going. A 2nd baby was an absolutely blessing…and it certainly was not an excuse to quit or give up on myself. Instead I chose to get healthy THROUGH my pregnancy…kept up with my exercise, improved my nutrition, helped others do the same…and it made it that much easier once baby arrived to keep going and get those results that I had originally intended.
 
This past year after getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight…I ended up surpassing that and getting back into even better shape than before. I challenged myself with tough programs + heavy lifting, and I also let myself breathe and have fun with yoga and dancing. I have continued to grow my business helping over 300+ challengers and have grown a team of 20+ coaches who are out there leading and inspiring others to reach their goals. I have also grown myself in ways that I never thought possible. I have learned that in order to help others, it starts within, so this past year has been incredible for self-reflection and growth. I have also learned that I would never be able to do this without the incredible supportive community of challengers and coaches to keep me accountable along the way.
 
Beginning January 2nd, I am LEAPING into the New Year strong to continue my personal journey, and I would LOVE for you to be there with me alongside to support each other!!! It’s never too early for resolutions, so if YOU are looking to make a CHANGE in the New Year, then please jump in to our amazing group and receive that support you deserve to reach your full potential.
 
The Beachbody community is also running their 2nd Health Bet this next month where challengers and coaches have the opportunity to win a share of a $2 Million pot JUST for completing 3 workouts per day and drinking Shakeology 5x per week. Sounds like easy money to me!!!! Getting paid to work out? Yes please!!!!
 
Let’s Get Happy, Let’s Get Lean…Let’s Rock Out 2017!!!
 
Who’s with me?!?!?!?!
 
Comment below or email me at gina.notes26 {at} gmail.com for details 🙂 ❤ 🙂 ❤
XO,
Gina

On Overcoming Pain

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So you may be looking at this photo, thinking “What the heck does this have to do with pain?” Bear with me. You all know I typically love to keep this space a happy, positive, fun place, but if I only shared the happy stuff, that wouldn’t be real life, right?

The other night, I was sitting on my couch prepping for my Leadership class that will go on tonight, and turned to the Chapter in John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Leadership” titled “The Law of Pain.” Ugh. To say that I was less than excited to dive into this chapter is an understatement. But this class has been so amazing and eye opening for me that I knew I had to continue on and reading this chapter is all part of the growth process.

So I dove in…and it was not easy. This chapter forced me to go back and think about all the painful experiences I have had in my past. And it asked me to evaluate how I had responded to this pain. Because no matter what…you can be the best person out there…but bad experiences have a way of finding you. It’s just a fact of life that there are ups and downs that we are unable to control. But what we CAN control is how we react and manage the pain.

As I looked back into my “pain file” of bad experiences, I looked over at my Christmas Tree and thought about one of the hardest times I have ever had in my life. It was a fall of 2012. It was supposed to be a happy time. I had just found out I was pregnant with my first baby. We named the baby Peanut. We were ecstatic. We called our closest family and friends and shared the news. Everyone was bubbling with excitement. We started looking at baby things online and thinking about how to shift our apartment around and decorate a nursery. And then only a few short weeks later, when I was 7.5 weeks pregnant our world came crashing down. I had started having some complications, but we were hopeful because we had seen a heartbeat on the monitor. But after one rough weekend, I knew something was wrong and come that next doctor’s appointment, our little Peanut was no longer on the screen.

It was the first time I saw my husband cry. And actually now writing this…as I thought I had come a long way from my pain, I am seeing that maybe it’s not true and it’s still very much there…as the tears are welling up in my eyes once again. I don’t know if I dealt with my pain very well at the time. I know I cried. A LOT. I know I felt empty inside. Like something was missing. Like I was supposed to be a mom, but then I wasn’t. It was just ripped away from me. Stolen. Like it was a fake, imaginary, dream…well more like a nightmare. Like this couldn’t possibly be my first experience at being pregnant. This negative, awful, scary feeling. Thoughts rushed through my head of “Would I ever be able to have a child?” and “Is there something wrong with me?” I think I closed up into a ball for awhile when I was alone and just wailed…and in public, I tried to put on a brave face and pretend that I was okay.

I think I finally decided to truly embrace my pain when I wrote about this experience on this here blog. When I decided the walls needed to come down. I decided that it wasn’t my fault, and that this terrible experience was out of my control. And that I wasn’t some weird anomaly. This happens to a lot of women, and they just don’t talk about it. So I decided to talk about it. And deal with it. And I pretty much wrote that post as therapy for myself I guess…but I never expected what would happen in return. I got an outpouring of messages, comments, + e-mails from other women who had gone through the same thing. People that I was close to, and had NO idea they had gone through this. People that I hadn’t talked to in years came out and wrote me. People said “thank you” for sharing this, and I realized wow…I am not alone. And neither are they. I truly wish no one ever has to go through this horrible loss of an unborn child…but if they do, I am glad that I was able to be there for them as someone who could relate to their pain.

Now what does this all have to do with the photo on this post? Well, this wooden rattle was the first toy that we had gotten for our little Peanut. My husband brought it home from work, and we just loved it. We were so excited. And when we found out the horrible news, I just couldn’t bear to hang onto it for another child or to give it away either. It was Peanut’s rattle. We weren’t really sure what to do with it…so when Christmastime came along, we decided to make an ornament out of it as a symbol of our little Peanut. So that we would never forget that first little ray of sunshine. I suppose this was a positive way to deal with our pain.

Each year we open our Christmas box, and we take out that ornament to put on our tree…and I don’t get sad anymore. Instead I feel happy. I feel that Peanut is a part of us. That he or she is watching down over us on this special time of year and is blessing our little family, which now has two happy, healthy little boys. And I keep that hope that eventually one day I will get to meet my little Peanut in “person.”

I hope that whatever pain you have dealt with in your life or you may be dealing with now during this holiday season, that you can find a positive way to overcome it and growing stronger because of it.

Lots of love and light this Thursday evening to you all!

XO,

Gina

Easy Soups for Fall

 

I recently ran a Crockpots + Squats health and fitness challenge, and it had me experimenting a little more in the kitchen! I posted a few photos which had a lot of people asking for recipes, so I decided to put this together to share. I took these recipes from my cookbook called The Italian Slowcooker by Michele Sciolone, but I added a few of my own twists to them as well to make them my own.

First up:

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 large butternut squash, about 1.5 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut (Mom tip: buy this pre-cut! More expensive, but WORTH saving the time!)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and fresh ground pepper

olive oil for drizzling

*I also added a can of coconut milk and lots of cinnamon!)*

In medium skillet, cook the oinion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. If the onion starts to color, add a tablespoon or two of water and lower the heat slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the squash, potatoes, sage, and broth. I also added cinnamon here. If necessary, add water so that the vegetables are covered with liquid (I did not add water, FYI. I just added coconut milk or more broth until it was covered with liquid).

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I actually added cinnamon on top of mine, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Voila!

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The next soup I made last week was:

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, about 1.25 pounds each, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

*I replaced some of the water with canned coconut milk instead)*

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Romano because that’s my jam)

In a large slow cooker, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, oil, garlic, broth, water, coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the vegetables are very soft.

Let the soup cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Boom!

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And there you have it!!!!

Two delicious soups for fall!!!

The entire family ate all of this right up. Mom tip: If it’s difficult to feed younger children a pureed soup like this, you can also give them the chunks of veggies before you puree! My little guy devoured them!

Enjoy, and please share below any of your favorite easy soup recipes for fall!

Reminder: TOMORROW I will be announcing the WINNER for the Country Heat Giveaway!!! For your last chance to enter, please visit popcorn and pandas on Facebook before the end of the day!

Make it a great day everyone!!

End of Summer

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Romper: Target (similar here) – Also love this long-sleeved one for early fall / Sandals: Call it Spring / Sunglasses: Brickyard Buffalo / Pendant: antique heirloom / Watch: Michael Kors / Bracelets: Tory Burch, Stella & Sparkle, Guilty Jean

Ahhhh, yesterday was the first day of fall, and while I do love all things pumpkin, I am sad to see the summer come to an official end. We had a great summer complete with lots of traveling and adventures, and this romper sure got a lot of play from the lake in the Poconos, to the playgrounds of Brooklyn, to the streets of Nashville in Tennessee, to the Jersey Shore in Cape May, down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Our first full summer as a family of four was a success! Can’t believe it’s over. We will remember it fondly, but part of me is excited to break out the boots and crush some pumpkin spice lattes. 😉

Happy Fall + Happy Weekend!

XO,

Gina

{40} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading  I’ve read a lot since my last Lately… post! Some of my favorites include Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins (finally read it!), Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and No Excuses! by Brian Tracy.

writing  A workout calendar and agenda for my Lipstick + Lunges Challenge that starts TOMORROW! So excited. There’s still time to join, so feel free to comment below if you want to be included.

listening  You may think this song is terrible, but I don’t care. I love it anyway. 

thinking About how excited I am for my littlest guy who just started learning how to walk!!! If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can check it out here on my Instagram page.

smelling  The amazing food from the coffee spot I am currently sitting at writing this post. That’s right…I’m at a coffee shop…ALONE! #amazing

watching  Not much these days, but still Orange is the New Black when I’m folding laundry or need a break.

wearing  Jeans and a tank top or tee. My fav go-to uniform these days. My Mama Bird tee above can be found here along with some others you might enjoy.

exercising Been beasting out lately with Hammer + Chisel, which is mostly weights. Whew! Not so used to the constant weight lifting and the longer workout times (I’m used to getting it done in 30 minutes over here!), but after 2 weeks down I am feeling pretty strong!!! I think I’m even ready to bump up the weights a bit.

feeling  Uneasy about the recent explosion that went down yesterday in Chelsea (NYC).

wanting  Time to slow down. My boys are getting too big too quick.

needing  To decide what I am going to pack for my upcoming coach’s trip to Sundance, Utah!!! My coach is setting up a professional photo shoot for each Diamond member of our team! And of course, out of the whole trip, we are in a tizzy about what to WEAR! LOL! Typical…

loving  The hilarious and imaginative stories my 3 year old has been coming up with lately. Everything from traveling to different states by train, to being eaten by bears! He cracks me up and I love hearing what he will come up with next!

wishing  That I brought headphones to this coffee shop. But honestly. I’m not complaining. Because remember? I’m at a coffee shop…ALONE.

hoping  That I can find the Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Latte at my local Target. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be there! I must try it.

craving  The Farmer’s Biscuit with egg, kale, and cheese at this coffee shop I’m sitting in…oh wait…craving satisfied. I’ll work that off tomorrow. 😉

clicking  Over on the fall trends at my favorite go-to mama/baby/kid deal shop, Brickyard Buffalo. Obsessed with the “Sharing is Caring” tee!

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HAPPY SUNDAY!

What have you been up to lately?

XO,

Gina

3 Week Yoga Retreat

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I was an athlete growing up, but yoga is something I discovered in my 20’s after college. Being that person who was always into cardio heavy sports like soccer and basketball, yoga was quite a switch. The quiet, calm music…having to hold balance and stay still in a position for an extended period of time. It was definitely different. But the moment I tried it for the first time, I knew I loved it. There was just something about it that made me feel AMAZING after it was all over. It was a different feeling than I had experienced from exercise before. I normally felt exhausted, tired, banged up, bruised, sore, and more after a soccer or basketball game. But after yoga I felt rejuvenated. I felt a clear mind. I felt a release of stress, tension, and anxiety. I knew that yoga would not be going anywhere in my life.
 
While living in New York, I have had the pleasure of attending amazing yoga classes from my favorite teacher Brian Williams! If you haven’t taken a punk rock yoga class before, or a class on top of a roof in this amazing city, this guy will rock your world. Seriously. I am still dreaming of taking his week long yoga retreat vacation to some beautiful, tropical location. One of these days, I will make it happen.
 
But for now…since becoming a mom, it’s nearly impossible for me to make a yoga class (or any other classes for that matter). When my older son was about 18 months, I finally decided to get back into shape by taking my workouts to the living room. I quickly found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and I was going to need something more low impact than P90X. I WISHED Beachbody had a yoga program at that time, but they didn’t. The closest thing they had was PiYo, and I absolutely loooooooooved it. This combo of pilates/yoga/cardio/sculpt/strength + Chalene Johnson will always have a special place in my heart. However, it was not truly yoga.
 
I am THRILLED that as of yesterday, Beachbody has launched a new *** 3 WEEK YOGA RETREAT *** that you can do inside your own living room!!!! This is the program I have been waiting for!!!! Now I don’t have to feel left out because I can’t make the classes, but I can do them from home. 21 different yoga workouts for 21 days. On demand, so you can not only do them at home, but wherever you need to go. Pretty amazing.
 
The super yogis will love this, but it’s even better for those just beginning or those needing a low impact workout.
 
I’m currently doing Hammer + Chisel as you may have seen from my posts yesterday, but I seriously cannot wait to rock out this yoga program as soon as I am finished! I already know that I will love it. ❤
Hope you all had an awesome Labor Day Weekend! I cannot believe they are already serving pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. I am sad for the summer to end, but I do love the fall. School also starts this week for my oldest guy which is crazy! He will be in a 3’s program this year, and it will also be my first experience as a mom packing lunches! Is it weird that I oddly excited about that? I am also a bit excited to get started in our new routine. Yesterday, I was feeling all “Bring Back the Summer,” but today I think I’m embracing the new season.
 
Namaste!!!
Gina

Monkey Turns Three

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Dear Nico,

Three years ago today you came into our lives 2 weeks earlier than expected. I thought I would be going to work, but the doctor said it was time for you to make your appearance. Papa and I were freaked out and nervous but excited at the same time. It took probably 36 hours or so before you finally arrived, but there you were. So tiny and fragile, my little monkey.

You changed my world the very minute you arrived. I learned about unconditional love and how fiercely I could love another human being. I learned that being a mom is hard…like REALLY hard…like how did no one ever tell me it would be THIS hard?! But it’s also the most rewarding job I have ever had in my entire life.

I have watched you grow over these past three years into an incredible little human. Everything you choose to do you do it full out with 110% effort. There is no holding back. You go all in…always. You are so intelligent, always seeking knowledge and answers. Reading books is one of your favorite things to do, and I know that will be such a huge asset in your future. You have a wild sense of adventure like your Papa, but you also approach situations with caution like myself.

You may drive me crazy sometimes, especially when you are tired and don’t want to nap, but you also make me melt into a puddle when you are sweet to your little brother or you hug me tight.

I seriously cannot believe you are three years old today. This is the year you go from toddler to little boy. You are growing and changing and becoming more and more independent each day. It makes me sad to lose my little baby, but I’m so proud of all your new accomplishments and achievements and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Happy 3rd Birthday to my Sweet Little Monkey, Nico Bonzo! Mama and Papa love you SOOOOOOOO freakin’ much.

XOXO,

Mama

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Happy 1st Birthday Luca

Baby Luca Has Arrived

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My Luca Bear. I cannot even believe my little baby is ONE today!!! It feels like you were born yesterday, but that also you have been here forever. When we got the news of my pregnancy with you, I thought for sure you would be the crazy one. Your brother was a pretty awesome baby, and I thought there is no way we could get two awesome babies. You kept me up all night kicking my belly during my pregnancy…and I guess the whole keeping me up thing hasn’t really changed haha, but aside from that (and the fact that you occasionally bite me…ouch dude, you should really probably stop that), you are pretty much the most awesome baby ever. Just sayin’. Like AWESOME.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such a cool, chill, laid-back, patient child would arrive in my arms. I suppose I have your father to thank for that! It’s tough being the 2nd child. I’m not a 2nd child myself, so it was hard to imagine until you came along. Sorry little sis. But yeah, in this past year I have seen how hard it can be. Your older brother getting tons of attention, following his schedule…you along for the ride…mostly dragged along, woken up from naps constantly, pushed around, toys stolen. Of course there are the hugs too (mostly too tight). We kept a book of all your brother’s milestone moments, but we were too busy and stressed to create yours. But you honestly have handled everything like a champ…and with the BIGGEST SMILE!!!!

You rarely complain, you are incredibly patient, you go with the flow, and again with that smile!!! You are ALWAYS smiling. Like the happiest baby on the planet. I don’t think you even really cried for like the first 6 months of life. Not really. You truly made becoming a mother for the 2nd time a much easier process than I had anticipated.

A year ago today, you arrived in my arms and it was love at first sight. I knew how hard I could love a human being because I had your brother, so when you came, it was just instant. I knew I would love you just as much. And my love has kept growing throughout this past year.

I love the way you light up and crawl toward me when I come into the room with your little one legged crawl.

I love how your eyes smile along with your mouth…your Irish eyes are always smiling.

I love the way you snuggle your head on my shoulder when I sing to you before bedtime.

I love how independent you are with feeding yourself, and it’s seriously impressive how much you can eat.

I love how interested you are in animal sounds, dancing, drawing, my workouts, + the ABC song.

I love the way you push cars around a room and say “Broom Broom!” like you are having the time of your life.

I love the way you are always happy to see your brother even though he can sometimes be a butthead to you. You forgive him every time.

I love how when you say “Papa” it’s always in a whisper.

I love your sense of humor and that belly laugh that erupts whenever I show you a silly face.

I love those crazy curls on your head that no matter how many times I brush them, they pop up in a mohawk style.

My Luca Bear. Luca Dukes. Dukes. Goose. You have made our world so incredibly happy. You bring so much joy to our family and I seriously cannot imagine what life would be like without you in it. Apparently this birthday means you are a toddler now, but I don’t believe it. You still seem SO tiny to me (and maybe that’s because you are), but you are still my little baby, and I don’t see that changing for awhile. I am constantly amazed at the new things you accomplish on a daily basis and while I want to really keep you my baby forever, I am also excited to see you learn and grow even more in this next year.

Happy 1st Birthday to my sweet little angel baby. I love you to the moon and back again.

Love,

Mama

Let the Countdown Begin

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This photo was taken 2 years ago at our last family trip to the Outer Banks. Nico was almost 1 year old, and I was so excited to bring him there for the first time. You see, the Outer Banks is like a second home. My parents grew up vacationing here, and then I grew up with my sister and cousins vacationing here. My uncle lived here for 25+ years, and my cousin also calls this place home. We have family friends here, we know our way around, we have our favorite restaurants, beach spots, shops, and traditions we keep. We spend long days here lounging in sand or playing corn hole on the beach. We ride the waves and sit in chairs getting lost in conversation until we realize we are halfway in the ocean lol. We go for jogs and walks down to the pier and back. We spend our evenings with a quick dip in the pool then off to celebrating summer birthdays, dining on restaurant seafood + home cooked pasta and meatballs, and mingling with family. Our late nights are spent here playing board games, drinking wine and playing guitar/singing out on the deck. It’s the one time of year where my entire family gathers to be together at once. We may need more than one house to fit all of us there, but we make it happen and we create the best memories.

I’m sure many of you have a place like this that is so special for you and your family. What is that place for you???

As I think about our upcoming trip to the OBX in 4 days, I think about my little Luca…who is the age and size that Nico was in this photo. I am excited for him to experience all of this for the first time, and happy that Nico may even be old enough to carry some of the memories home with him (and maybe some seashells too).

I may be raising little city kids up here in Brooklyn, but they sure as heck will be OBX beach babes every summer.

Counting down – 4 days ’til OBX fam

XO,

Gina