Category: Travel

Family Beach Trip 2016

I am still in a complete vacation hangover mode today and I don’t know if I (or my house) will ever fully recover.

We did things differently this year for our beach trip- we went with friends and we went somewhere we had never been before. Both were great decisions and we had a stinkin’ blast.

It seemed like it took us a sweet forever to decide on a place to stay that met everyone’s requirements (and by everyone I mean the men) but somehow we found a place in Indian Pass, Florida. Now, let me just tell you- I booked the place and there is nothing more nerve wracking than that when you have two families depending on it being a great place. So when I got there and the house was amazing and the beach was even better I almost sobbed with relief.

Honestly, I hesitate to even tell anyone how amazing this beach/area is because it is such  gem and I don’t want it spoiled by tons of people coming and making it exactly what we all wanted to get away from.

In short, it was absolute paradise in Indian Pass, FL. There was zero cell service and approximately 4 families total on the beach the entire week. IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THAT, Y’ALL. Sam and Andy fished the entire week and I feel like I’ve never seen Andy so happy and relaxed on a vacation EVER. Like, ever ever ever. The seashells were huge and we brought home 20 or so full sand dollars (for which Rory has big craft plans with). We saw sting rays, sharks, and even a bear.IMG_2178 IMG_1648 IMG_1774 IMG_1672 IMG_1691

Katie has a 5 month old and I realized how easy it is for Andy and I now that we have “big kids”. I actually got to read a book and lay out and just watch my people play while relaxing. Katie- you will get there soon! Even dinners were not nearly as bad as I envisioned. Mostly because of the perfectly timed “sure honey you can play on my phone”. Works like a charm.

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The week was spent with mornings at the beach, then a swim in the pool, and a rest before dinner. We ate so much seafood and shrimp that by the time we left Andy declared he didn’t want to see a shrimp again for a long time. Ha!

We also did several attempts at beach pictures and honestly I don’t even know where to begin on the disaster of these things. I have a whole blog post about it coming soon. That is how passionate I am about this.

So here are some random beach pictures that are cute-ish…

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But my favorite pictures from the beach are the ones of the kids actually playing and having a great time. Watching them and Andy at the beach having fun is my happy place.

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We had an amazing week and can’t wait to go back!

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And yes, we did get one good family picture on the beach. But LITERALLY just one.

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First Annual Summer Road Trip

If you would have told me two years ago that I would be able to hop in the car with the girls by myself and drive 5 hours and survive that- I would have laughed in your dang face.

I cannot believe how much easier and more fun each summer is getting. Not that I don’t miss my girls being little, but this is a brand new level of awesome when it comes to parenting.

First stop- Starkville, MS:

When we lived in Starkville as newlyweds, we joined a Sunday School class at First Baptist Starkville – the Newlywed Class to be exact. We met friends that were in the same stage of life (poor, struggling) and clung to each other for encouragement. We have all went our separate ways but kept in touch all these years later. A few months ago my friend Kristen, who now lives in Pennsylvania, told me that their family would be in Starkville for Memorial weekend. So we sent out a group message on facebook to see who all could come and wouldn’t you believe that most were able to make it! So we had ourselves a reunion on Friday night.

Y’all. There are just some people that no matter how long you are away from them when you are back together you realize I FREAKING MISS THESE PEOPLE AND LOVE THEM SOMETHING FIERCE. I was overwhelmed with the way I adore these people several times and even had some tears over it. We sat and talked and laughed until I literally hurt. Our time in Starkville was so sort but so sweet. I cannot wait until next time!IMG_8311 IMG_8268 IMG_8171 IMG_8193 IMG_8201 IMG_8235 IMG_8239 IMG_8241

Second Stop- Pleasant Ridge:

After our potluck reunion, the girls and I loaded back in the car and drove to Pleasant Ridge. My parents have a “little house” (as Ryder calls it) on the land my mom grew up on. When I found out they were going to be spending Memorial Weekend there I just had to go with the girls! To be honest, I didn’t know how Ryder would do for several days in the “crunchy” but they both had an absolute blast. We just sat around “the camp”, talked, ate, talked some more, rode in the ranger around the farm, swam, played in the mud, and took naps. It was the absolute best time.

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I miss the unplugged, “crunchy” life already!

Third stop- Huntsville, AL:

During the weekend Andy called me and told me our air was out. AGAIN. So I decided to extend our trip one more day because mama can’t handle no hot house, ok? To get home I have to drive through Huntsville and my cousin Brad and his wife Beth live there. They recently moved into a new house and they have a neighborhood pool so- SOLD. We stopped in for the night on Monday and slept like babies. Well, not my babies because they never slept. Anyway. They have such a beautiful home and it was such a nice way to spend our last night on the road trip!

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Stop 3.5 – Scottsboro, AL:

As we were driving home from Huntsville we were going through Scottsboro and I saw the sign for the Unclaimed Baggage store. I had no idea it was in Scottsboro so when I saw the sign I just had to go check it out! Andy and I have wanted to go for years and he was so jealous that I went. We didn’t have long because I wanted to get back home but it was amazing. The girls brought $10 of their own money on the trip and never spent it so I let them get whatever they wanted with the money. Obviously Ryder decided to choose the giant, creepy doll. IMG_8384 IMG_0073

Stop Four- THE POOL: 

We literally rolled up into Cleveland, put our bathing suits on and grabbed some towels, then headed to the Y! It is finally open for the summer! We have spent every day this week there and it is going to be an awesome summer! I’m so glad we got to kick it off with an amazing road trip! Me and the girls had so much fun and I cannot wait to keep this tradition of doing road trips during Andy’s outage each year together.

Rory practiced all weekend for her big swim test. She had to swim the length of the lap lanes and then tread water for 60 seconds without stopping. Girlfriend was determined and rocked the test! She immediately went to the diving board and did a flip off of it. SISTER GIRL HAS NO FEAR. I’m so excited for the best summer yet!

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the little weekend getaway

This past weekend Andy’s parents came in town and we took the opportunity to get away. We realized we hadn’t had a weekend away since last November! Crazy!

We couldn’t decide where to go at first, but knew we needed to be close since we were only going overnight. We have been to Gatlinburg so much lately and Knoxville seemed too close for a getaway, so we decided on Atlanta. I swear, every time I go to Atlanta I forget how much I love it. You hear so many negative things about it I feel, but seriously it is such a fun city and has everything you can want or need.

We were clearly sad to be leaving our children...
We were clearly sad to be leaving our children…

We left Saturday morning and went straight to Cheesecake Factory for lunch. Andy’s mom gave Andy a gift card for his birthday so the first meal was free for us, bonus! We hadn’t been to CF before and were pleasantly surprised! We walked around the mall for a bit and enjoyed getting to browse without yelling, “Don’t touch that!” one million trillion times.

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Andy’s birthday was last week and he had two requests for his birthday – 1) do an Escape Room and 2) eat at an all-you-can-eat-meat place.

So off we went to Mission: Escape Atlanta. We bought it online and reserved a time. There were 10 people in our group…. to be honest I was really nervous about this. I thought I would have no clue (literally) about how to escape and solve the clues. My plan was to rely on Andy’s engineer brain and just follow him around.

Turns out, I freaking loved it! I think staying in the background and observing and then using common sense is the key to success. They said the room had a 20% success rate so I was pretty proud our group got out! It was so much fun!

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The escape room was across from IKEA so, OBVI, we went there afterward. And obvi I couldn’t find what I wanted. Boo. Honestly, we were so tired from walking around all day that IKEA was kind of a nightmare idea that day- there were so many people there and it just wasn’t as enjoyable as it usually is. Oh well!

We got on Hotwire and booked a downtown hotel and ended up with the Hyatt. We spent $100 and got a top floor room with a view for an extra $10. Best $10 I have ever spent!

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the glowy thing on the left is the elevator…. they are fast and amazing and scary.

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IMG_5135We took a nap at 5:00pm because we are rebels and had no children to worry about!

Then we headed to Andy’s birthday dinner at Chama Guacha. He enjoyed it very much and I enjoyed eating dinner alone with my husband with no one complaining about their food or asking how many more bites they had left before ever touching their plate.

IMG_5053IMG_5059After dinner we rolled our stuffed selves next door to a fancy schmancy movie theatre with comfy recliner seats and a full restaurant. Because we didn’t have to share, we obviously got some dessert. I got a milkshake and, y’all, best milkshake of my life. We watched The Gift and I spent the majority of the movie covering my eyes because I hate anything remotely scary.

We then rolled ourselves back to the hotel and crashed so hard it wasn’t even funny. We slept until almost 10 and IT WAS GLORIOUS.

On our way home we stopped at the Calhoun Outlet Mall and without realizing it I tried on 230923 items of clothing that all looked like this:

IMG_5092That is when it hit me that we are finally in my favorite season- FOOTBALL SEASON.

Oh, State. Don’t you see how committed to you I am? Can you please try not to break my heart so bad this year? Can we please keep our dignity and at least beat Ole Miss this year?! Either way, I will be decked out in Maroon and White for the next six months constantly. Thank goodness Maroon is my color. 😉

So, basically we had the best time ever this weekend. Oh how we needed a getaway.

And in case you were worried about the kids….. they cried for a solid hour because they thought they were having “babysitters” for TWO nights instead of one.

Basically, they missed us none.

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summer is coming to an end.

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would get to the point where I could say that we have truly had the best summer ever, I would have laughed in your face. I mean, I can’t believe how fast time has gone now that I’m in this stage. I spent several summers inside with babies thinking that summer would never end. I mean I HATED summers. Last summer was fun, but this summer…… it was amazing.

Last week was our last official week of summer because today Ryder started PreK! Can you even believe that little baby who had to overcome so much is now a thriving PreK girl?! I can’t either. There were times I really didn’t think we would ever get here.11796458_10101829522154996_7770302727723680_n

The girls went to camp last week which was basically HEAVEN to me because I got to have four full days at home alone. I mean, that is a true vacation to a mama!

I’m going to be real honest with you people……

4 out of 4 days I took a nap.

A long, delicious nap.

OH YES I DID, SISTERS.

I did make myself do one productive thing each day. Just so I didn’t have to feel guilty.

The big thing I did though was closet purge! And I mean I got rid of more than half my clothes.

Before

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After- the giveaway pile.
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AND IT FEELS MARVELOUS.

I tried on every single item of clothing I own. If I didn’t LOVE it immediately I took it off and put it in a pile. I feel so much better about life right now and it is so much easier to pick what I’m going to wear each day!

I also made Andy do the same thing because, bless his heart, he has a hoarding problem.IMG_3398

He was thrilled.

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We also spent the week playing outside at night and having family game nights. Rory, Andy, and I take the game very seriously.IMG_3409

Clearly Ryder is serious about it too.IMG_3401

This weekend we went to Splash Country for our last big summer adventure.

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It was so crowded but we still had so much fun.

After our day at the water park, we went to the outlet mall to find some shoes for the girls. I thought this would be an easy task because clearly I am naive but OH NO. Honestly, I will just tell you that I didn’t think the girls could spend the entire day at the water park and then be able to shop for several hours but they did and only twice did Ryder tell us her legs couldn’t work anymore. That is a successful shopping trip if I ever heard of one.

The girls got new shoes and new jackets and a few clothes. They also entertained themselves and a whole lot of people that passed the window by pretending they were mannequins. It was hysterical.IMG_3537
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We went to approximately 47 shoe stores before heading to our last stop and finally finding the shoes that 1)fit – apparently every girl is in a size 12 because they were no where to be found and 2) met all the children’s requirements – weren’t too stiff, weren’t too soft, weren’t too pink, weren’t green, weren’t too girly but NOT boy-y at all.

I needed a strong drink by the time shoe shopping was over.

I meant a strong coffee, mother.

On our way out of Sevierville we stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat (it was 9pm and we were insanely delirious). All of a sudden Rory pulls out some of those try on hose/socks and puts them on her head. We, and about 10 surrounding tables, got a kick out of her and Ryder’s faces in them. Again, we were delirious and just cracked up until I couldn’t stop crying. It was just too much for me.IMG_3566 IMG_3569

I’m so sad to see our amazing summer come to an end, but I’m also so ready for the schedule and steadiness that comes with the school year. Rory and I have the week together while Ryder is at school and both of us are so excited for some one on one time.IMG_3665

to grandparents’ house we go!

Monday morning we woke up bright and early to head to Mimi and Papa’s house for the week! I’ve been planning all year to spend a week in West TN with my parents so the girls could enjoy them during the summer time when work isn’t quite as busy for them. (My mom will laugh at this because lord knows that woman is always busy at work, bless her.)

You should know that Rory woke up and got dressed to hit the road in an interesting manner….IMG_2301

Her explanation for such a wardrobe was that she could ride all day to Mimi and Papa’s house and then take off her shorts and top shirt and “VOILA! I WILL BE READY FOR BED WITHOUT ANY WORK!” That’s my girl.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in the pool with Telena and Jacks. Jacy and Josh graced us with their presence a few times too. The girls have had the absolute best time with Jacy and Jacks this week. Mainly because Jacy loves to get them all dolled up with makeup and dresses and even a sparkly tattoo or two… or twenty. IMG_2381

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Oh, Ryder.

I also spent time with my sister in law and nieces on Monday afternoon and OH MY WORD THOSE GIRLS ARE SO CHUBBY AND CUTE. No joke I couldn’t even handle myself with them.

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You should know that every single time I come to my parents’ house – WITHOUT FAIL – they end up having a big storm roll through and the power is out for extended periods of time. I realize that it sounds like a personal problem because seriously it happens every time which therefore means I am obviously bad luck.

Like we didn’t already know this.

So Tuesday night a gigantic storm rolled in suddenly and out the power went for 6+++ hours. I’m not exactly what time in the night it came back on but I do know that it wasn’t before I hit the pillow like a wrecking ball.

So to entertain ourselves in the darkness we did a few things.

1- We took the inaugural stroll around the block to assess the damage. In my parents’ neighborhood this is a big deal, y’all. Half the neighborhood comes outside and joins in and it is a wonderful time had by all.

I personally like to call it the old folks/nosy neighbor parade but I will admit that I do quite enjoy this tradition.

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Lookie there- even the dog and my neck rolls joined in.

Step 2- Must make a faux campfire and sing loudly for all to hear in hopes the entire neighborhood will need to stick their fingers in their ears.IMG_2403Step 3- Must have glow stick to do a light magic show with before bedtime.

IMG_2434I quite realize my photography skills are POPPIN’ these days.

This is where I interrupt this program to tell you something downright TERRIFYING.

Wednesday morning Rory came in looking……… different.

As in girlfriend had stuffed her shirt.

I say to her, “Rory what is going on in your shirt?!” She nonchalant says to me, “Oh nothing, I was just itching.”

So I quiz her again and say that I know she can’t be “itching” because her shirt is soft and not scratchy at all.

I say, “Rory, we don’t put toilet paper in our shirts to make it bigger there.”

Rory: But I needed my “muscles” to be bigger!

Me: Rory, take that toilet paper out you do not need bigger “muscles”.

Rory: *insert eye roll* I JUST FEEL LIKE A WOMAN, MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *stomp uggggghhhhhhh stomp stomp stomp flush*

I CANNOT EVEN RIGHT NOW WITH THIS MESS.

On Wednesday I went to my friend Katy’s house and we got to sit and talk and just chill because our children are each other’s play date soul mates. I don’t say that lightly either. Every time we have gotten together they play and play and not once have they ever had a fight. It is blissful. The girls were super heroes saving the world from monsters and also attended a royal ball where they danced their butts off.IMG_2485 IMG_2478

Wednesday night I got to go eat with some of my favorite friends- Jinny, Alexis, and Emily. We laughed until my face seriously hurt and man, if that isn’t a sign of great friends I don’t know what is. I also almost peed my pants when we took approximately twelve hours trying to take a selfie.IMG_2490 IMG_2493

After dinner I met Katy and some friends for a late movie.

And then I crashed hardcore because mama can’t stay up that late anymore.

Thursday we spent the morning at the pool with friends (failed to get a pic) and the afternoon at Telena’s. It was such a wonderful and quiet day.

Last night we sat outside and enjoyed the swings because swinging at Papa’s is our very favorite thing to do. IMG_2351 IMG_2356

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Today is our last day at Mimi and Papa’s. I am so thankful we got this week to spend with them and we are excited to spend a long weekend with Andy’s family at the river. On to the next adventure!

Panama City Beach 2015

I still haven’t written Ryder’s birthday post.

I have avoided the upstairs at all costs (where the computer is) because NO AIR CONDITIONING.

Thankfully it is now fixed and slowly but surely cooling down in the house.

I thought about going through and editing all the beach pictures and then I was like…. NAHHHHHH. I just can’t even right now.

I CAN’T EVEN.

Sleep has been at a low. Our house and, well, ourselves are a mess. A HOT MESS. (get it?!)

So today I shall tell you about our vacation and posts the pics as I took them and CALL IT A DAY.

Thankyouverymuch.

To say this was the most fun vacation we have taken since becoming parents is an understatement. There were no diapers, no bottles. Just two little girls that have no extreme needs anymore.

I MEAN CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE WHAT I AM SAYING?!

It was so easy. So dang easy. So wonderful.

You should know that it was kind of gloomy the entire time with periods of sun. That was the only bummer. But the upside to that was that it wasn’t scorching/melting hot outside. It felt so good the whole week.

We arrived on Saturday and it rained the entire way. I will admit that it was the car ride from hell. Rory + Cars for Hours = DISASTER.

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But all was well when we got to the beach because it suddenly stopped raining just enough for us to get out for an hour or so.

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PCB15 612 PCB15 618 PCB15 651 PCB15 658The next day was overcast with some storms but we still managed to get out on the beach some. It was actually nice to not have to hear “I’m hot” complaints.

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So this is the part where I tell you the craziness that was our booking this trip.

Here was the thought process:

Get check from Oscar Meyer, book long weekend at beach.

Well, as it turns out, Andy ended up having off half the week for the 4th. So all he had to do was take off an extra day for us to be able to stay the entire week.

But the condo we booked was already booked up and that meant we had to get a hotel for the last night there. But then we added three days. So, we stayed two nights in the condo, one night in one hotel, and three nights in another hotel.

ARE YOU AS EXHAUSTED AS I AM JUST TYPING THAT?! It was crazy town.

I was a tad worried about how stressful that would be, but it ended up being totally fine. The hotels weren’t ON the beach so that was the only downside, but they both had great pools and the girls enjoyed it so much. The last hotel was the best because it had an indoor pool and a couch bed for them to sleep in.

Because let me tell you- The other one night in the hotel was …. interesting. 

PCB15 893I ended up sleeping diagonally  with my pillow on the nightstand and my legs under the children. Because #momlife.

Side note: Rory wants to sleep UNDER you. She legit tucks her feet and body under yours in the night. Ryder, like me, does not want to be touched. So you can imagine the joy that was that night of sleep with one child who can’t stop touching and another child who doesn’t want to be touched at all.

Okay. Back to the beach.

On Tuesday we went to a public beach and I will have to say, it was very nice! It wasn’t too crowded and it was such a sunny day. We stayed on the beach all day and had a blast.

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This is the part of the post where I interrupt to show you just how solemn and NOT DRAMATIC AT ALL Ryder is.

Casually walking to the beach….

PCB15 928WAIT. Something appalling has just happened!
PCB15 940Just kidding let me dance back to the ocean.PCB15 948Oh no. I feel unsteady….PCB15 952Oh, oh, ohhhhh I’m falling…..PCB15 953Oh, you want a picture of me?!PCB15 977Just one second missy…
PCB15 980I’m not gonna tell you again to put that camera up…. PCB15 982Let me become one with the sand and the ocean…PCB15 1010Let me just casually and not dramatically at all dig the tiniest hole known to man….PCB15 1040 PCB15 1045Okay now let us pause to talk about Rory and how completely ordinary she is… I mean she is not GORGEOUS AT ALL. And I totally did NOT have a moment of COMPLETE AND UTTER PANIC OVER HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE WAS because HEART BREAKER COMING TOWARD ME or anything…..

PCB15 738 PCB15 742I sent those pictures to most of my friends with the text saying, “I’m scared.”

I mean. She’s my kid so obviously I think she’s beautiful.

But this was the moment my future with her flashed before my eyes and I thought, “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!” Girlfriend is made for the beach. And girlfriend is going to break some serious hearts.

Honestly. Can you even with her tan and brown hair and brown eyes?

Totally ordinary and not gorgeous at all.

On opposite day.

Back to the beach…

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We went shopping at some gift shops one night to find Ryder a sand toy and the girls a little souvenir. Rory picked out some dangly earrings and therefore she is officially big now.

PCB15 727Rory also got a boogie board that night and as you can see on the above pictures she liked it. (I would make the effort to redo this in better chronological order but nah.)

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Ryder got a mermaid. I have no pictures of this.

We went to eat at Captain Anderson’s for dinner on Tuesday night and OH MY SWEET MERCY it was one of the best meals of my life. OF MY LIFE, PEOPLE. PCB15 1079 My girls. I’m so proud to be their mama. PCB15 1091After dinner we went to play Putt Putt and as per usual, the kids beat us.

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Wednesday was Ryder’s 4th birthday (coming Monday, her 4 year old post. I promise!). Andy and Rory had a fishing trip planned so it was just me and Ryder for the day!

I asked her what she wanted to do- told her we could do anything and suggested going to the beach and then pool and then whatever she wanted…..

She said, “No! I don’t want the beach. I want to go golfing and then I want to eat spaghetti with a giant meatball.”

WELL OKAY THEN.

Girl knows what she wants!

So we went to play golf and Ryder got FOUR hole-in-ones on her birthday. I mean. Seriously.

PCB15 1138 PCB15 1141After golfing we went to eat at an Italian restaurant and Ryder got a giant meatball for her birthday and it was her version of heaven on earth.

We didn’t buy her a big gift because the trip was the big thing and we were doing all the fun things they wanted in lieu of a birthday party/huge gift, but we did want to get her a few little things. She opened one gift when she woke up and then after lunch we headed to Target for her to spend $40 on a toy/toys and buy whatever dress she wanted.

This is where I inform you that it took AN HOUR AND A HALF for Ryder to pick out a Sophia Karaoke Purse and a Barbie. AN  HOUR AND A HALF BROWSING THREE TOY AISLES. I can’t even.

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Then we moved on to the clothing portion (where I felt for sure I needed to get an IV of caffeine at this point) and Ryder looked at

every.

single.

dress.

Then she finally said to me, “Mama- can I just buy some new pajamas instead?!”

SHE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS ONE. I have laughed over that ever since. She is so opposite of her fashionista sister. She just wants comfort. I feel ya sister.

You should also know that once we got to the check out she spotted princess pups. For $2. And she put back her $20 Barbie because she thought the princess pups were a better pick.

Most children would want those ON TOP of the other toys they browsed for an hour and a half, but not Ryder. She is the most sensible, content thing on the planet. PCB15 1159After the longest Target trip on earth, we decided we for sure needed a drink….

PCB15 1171I AM KIDDING.

We had time to kill so we went to Bed, Bath, And Goodness There Are So Many Clever Things I Certainly NEED.

I mean, that giant shatterproof wine glass was a good start.

Then we went to World Market where I wanted ALL OF THE THINGS and Ryder parked herself on a couch and took a snooze while I browsed the furniture section.

Again, MOST CONTENT CHILD ON THE PLANET.

We then got in the car and changed for our fancy birthday dinner.

This is where I tell you how much I love my minivan because I got in the back seat and changed and had so much room. We also had a dance party in the van because why not?

Then we headed to pick Rory and Andy up from fishing.

PCB15 1178They had the best time together. I’m so glad we had a day split up like that. Rory and her daddy are so much alike and love spending one on one time together and it is so rare. Ryder and I are the same way. It was such a good day.

Then we headed to Firefly  for Ryder’s fancy birthday dinner.

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She got chicken tenders.

Fancy.

PCB15 1189 PCB15 1190 PCB15 1195The girls did so good at the restaurant and I was so proud of them. They felt so special getting to eat somewhere so fancy.

They were better behaved than the drunk table next to us…. just a side note.

Then they brought her a molten cake and, well, you can imagine the excitement. Ryder and Rory proceeded to TEAR THAT THANG UP.

PCB15 1196 PCB15 1206After dinner we went to see Insdie Out and I will admit that I cried like a stinking baby. #hormones

We got back to the hotel to find that we were locked out of our room so while Andy handled this dilemma, Rory and Ryder crashed in the hallway. Preciousness.

PCB15 1352Want to know what is NOT preciousness?

Putting the kids to bed and getting ready for bed myself to find my pillow hostage by Crazy Sleeping Man Who Never Wakes Up. (I also regret to inform you that I left that beloved pillow at the hotel and haven’t slept the same since. RIP favorite pillow.)

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Thursday was our last full day of vacation and we lucked out to have some friends coming nearby that we don’t get to see often enough. So we headed to Rosemary Beach (30a if you are curious) to spend the day with them. This is where I tell you that we will certainly be staying there next year instead. Because I was fine with Panama City but it was CROWDED and I am not big on all the crowds.

PCB15 1363It was the most fun day. Anna Kate and Charli are the same ages as Rory and Ryder and they had a blast together. My girls haven’t stopped talking about wanting to go back to the beach with their friends one day. I tell you- there is nothing like having friends and your kids playing well together. It is the best.

After the beach day we headed to Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin and HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN THERE? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Destin area and never even heard of this. We met my cousin Margo and her husband and little girl. And by little girl, I mean TEENAGER – I CAN’T EVEN. I remember her stuffing her purses with pacies. Now I’m old and so is she.

Anyway.

Margo is one of my favorite people on the earth. Another side note.

We spent the evening with them and had a blast. I’m so mad we didn’t get a picture together! But as you can see the girls were so over pictures at this point in the trip…

PCB15 1388HA

Rory did the trampoline and the rock wall. Ryder attempted the trampoline but she didn’t quite get to the part where they jump. Or even stand there long enough to get buckled. Bless it.

PCB15 1400PCB15 1440Rory is fearless as we all know. She amazes me.

Ryder did, however, love the carousel.

PCB15 1432We got back to the hotel and the girls snuggled up in bed just like the other nights and it literally pains my heart because I feel like it might burst from so much love. Look at them. I just love them so much.

PCB15 1126Side note numero 203945304 – here are Ryder’s new birthday pajamas: “I Otter Be In Bed”

….. I MEAN FOR REAL….. YOU OTTER BE!

PCB15 1358We headed out on Friday morning which ironically was the only day the entire trip the children slept in.

Heifers.

Andy drove until ATL and then he passed the torch to me.

Side note # 98349843 : I hate driving. I would be 1 million percent content with never having to drive again. That is my dream. To be rich enough to have a driver. Or to live in NYC where I can ride the glorious subway every day. #goals

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And there you have it.

Our PCB trip in a nutshell.

IT WAS THE MOST FUN AND I WANT TO GO BACK.

I cannot wait until our next vacation. These girls are more fun by the day. Life is good, y’all.

Happy Weekend!

the big 3-0 and a weekend at Dollywood

Well hello there. I assume I have lost all faithful readers including my mom at this point because who likes a “blogger” who doesn’t blog?

I don’t either.

But I do have a good excuse, or 47 actually. My laptop is having issues and is being quite moody. The desktop was acting funky too. So instead of being angry at either, I choose to pretend none of it was happening or that I didn’t have a blog at all.

Unfortunately for all of you, ha, I can’t quit the blog. I JUST CAN’T. I have too much to say and too few friends to talk to. Also, have you met my beloved husband? Not really someone who likes to talk…. and that is the understatement of the century.

SO I HAVE TO LET ALL THIS INNER DIALOGUE COME OUT SOMEWHERE.

I have no idea why I went off on that whole tangent. But I did and I don’t have the energy to erase it so I apologize.

Andy fixed the office up for me to be able to type all my words and I’m choosing to ignore his hasty approach that confirms his need for me to stop talking to him and start talking to you all.

OKAY ENOUGH LET US DIVE RIGHT IN TO THIS EPIC UPDATE OF THE LAST WEEK.

Let’s pull the bandaid off and talk about the elephant in the room.

I turned 30.

Last Tuesday was the big dirty thirty birthday. The girls and I spent the day at the pool and doing a little shopping. It really was a fun day. BUT SO LONELY because Andy was working. That night I took the girls to VBS and Andy got off in time to eat dinner which was a miracle.

I mean. When you get to be my age….. your birthday is just a day. IT IS SO SAD but so true.

003One thing I decided was that you know what…. I could look worse at 30. I could definitely look much better (ha) but IT COULD BE WORSE.

You should know that one of my best friends, Erin, wins the birthday award. She sent happy birthday texts all day. These are some of my faves.

010She knows the way to my heart. There is nothing I love more than a funny ecard or meme.

The best thing about last week was all the sleep I got.

No but seriously.

VBS. Verified Beautiful Sleep.

Er. I mean Vacation Bible School.

Rory went to our church in the morning and then at night they went to a friend’s church.

THEY LOVED IT AND SO DID I because OH THE SLEEP. Twice they took naps AND slept through the night.

Which makes me ask- IS THERE A VBS EVERY WEEK THIS SUMMER?!

It was blissful. The girls had so much fun and I did too.

130 070 011On Friday I got to have lunch with Erin as she passed through Chattanooga and my kids were CRAZY. Like I figured they would be but Rory was on another level. 141I decided to go ahead and make my planned trip to Sephora even though I was certain it would be torture.

Luckily for me, the children discovered the art of swatching makeup. And I’m sure everyone was being all judge-y and rolling their eyes but HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN TWO GIRLS TO SEPHORA BEFORE!? The staff all raved about how sweet and cute the girls were (tricky kids) and I got to shop for a minute without worrying. (Side note: The girls adored the Too Faced Contour Palette and therefore it’ll be my next makeup purchase. Also they loved their blush.)

164For my birthday, Andy got me family season passes to Dollywood and Splash Country. Saturday morning we woke up and headed to Pigeon Forge to conquer both parks!

Except then a weird thing happened…….

We were standing in line to one of the rides and Andy and I were talking about how much fun we were having and how good the girls were being when all of a sudden he says, “let’s just get a hotel and stay here and do the waterpark tomorrow.”

I ALMOST FAINTED.

Andrew does not do spontaneous. It isn’t in his nature.

This is why we make the perfect couple. I do spontaneous 98% of the time. It is how I function. We balance each other perfectly. Without him I would have no stability, without me he would have less fun.

So he booked a hotel and it was settled. We were throwing caution to the wind and staying the night.

And then it hit me. Never in a million years did I think we would make it to this stage in life where that is even an option. I mean. I had a baby and then had a baby. Meaning I had two babies at once on very different schedules and milestones. I had two in diapers. I had two that DID NOT SLEEP – FOR THE LOVE. 

Suddenly I felt like I had been transported into a space of time that I never thought possible. No diapers. No bottles. No need for 2309230239230923092309230923032902939230923092320390293029302930923029309230920392390294302842048029402930912309103298203904 baby items for an overnight trip.

WHAT IS THIS LIFE?!

So we stayed at Dollywood and rode every ride we could manage. Rory and I loved hitting up the rides together. It is so fun when your kids start to be able to ride more than kiddie rides. We did the log ride, a few roller coasters, etc, and had a blast together.

Ryder and I did some kiddie rides together too while Andy rode the ferris wheel.

Little fact- I don’t do ferris wheels. No. I cannot.

Here are some pictures in no particular order:

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Before:
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During:
228 253 265 284 292 293 296We, of course, tried (and failed) to get a family picture in front of the DollyWood sign. So I got just the girls which is better anyway.

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Being at Dollywood reminded me so much of my grandparents. Oh how I miss them. The hardest thing is knowing my kids won’t know them. I know my Granddaddy would have gotten a kick out of them and my Grandmother would have loved on them like she did all her grandkids. The little one in the middle was me. Rory’s twin. Telena is in the shades and Tasha is the one who refuses to smile. I’m guessing it was because her socks were rolled unevenly and the sun was glaring on the all white getup she had on.

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So we get to the hotel at 8:30 (bedtime) and there are two things you should know – 1) we had not eaten dinner and 2) I was getting a migraine.

I go into the room to make sure it was okay and it was one of those times in life I will never forget going from the start of a migraine to wanting to puke my head hurt so bad in just one second. The room smelled so badly of smoke. I could not get out of it fast enough. Andy went in and felt the same. So at this point I have a full blown, gonna puke from pain migraine. And no dinner or hotel room. This was the point I started doubting our spontaneity.

We finally got the hotel thing figured out- shout out to Best Western in Sevierville, TN for going above and beyond to make up for their smokey room. They had no vacancy and called every hotel in town to find a room for us. After all of that, we headed to TGIFriday’s because it was the closest thing and I barely remember it because all I could do was repeat, “Do not throw up,” because of the migraine. I ended up going to the car and wrapping a beach towel around my head and putting earplugs in for about 10 minutes to dull the pain.

We went to Walmart to get me some pills (thank you lord for ExedrinPM) and underwear. Oh yes. I love spontaneous things but I gotta have some fresh underwear, okay? I’m classy like that.

It took almost the entire night but the migraine finally subsided and we were up and ready to hit Splash Mountain.

(Sorry if I’ve lost you on account of all those boring details. But seriously I don’t want to hassle with erasing it all.)

I had no expectations on the water park because I hadn’t heard much about it but y’all it was good! I only took one picture which I can’t deny might be the highlight of my photography career since I clearly captured something beautiful.336

That back tatt tho.

I’ve zoomed enough times that I feel I can professionally say that the lower tattoo (some call a tramp stamp, I call it 18 year old rebellion) is a whale tail.

Let us compare.

whaletail

 

You’re welcome. Call me Detective Tizzy.

Rory took turns with Andy and I riding the big slides (the child has no fear and it is amazing). Ryder and I rode the lazy river at one point a total of 13 times consecutively. I was sore from the lazy river. Because FYI- there is no lazy in that river with a toddler.

We decided to leave around 3ish because we were all exhausted.

354This was before we even started the car to leave. Side note: toddler potty still ridin’ dirty in the minivan. And still the best decision of my life.

For those of you wondering:

If you live close enough to drive to Dollywood (Gatlinburg area) for a day or two- DO IT. My kids loved every second and I plan to take them back as many times as possible.

Now. Let me tell you the terrible thing that happens when you eat hotel faux eggs and go into the sun all day…….

Andrew was up the entire night yelling into the toilet.

I describe it that way because we all know that men do not simply throw up.

They shout into the toilet so that the entire world can hear.

I say this with all the love in my heart, by the way.

It is just humorous to me how loud it is when a man pukes.

He was completely fine and over it by noon.

Thank you, Lord.

So I will say this. While I love a good spontaneous decision, I feel as thought maybe next time we will plan instead because it ended up being half a hot mess. But we had such a good time and it was the perfect getaway for us after two weeks of chaos.

This week is going to be hot as heck so I shall spend my time in the pool with the kids and work on my mom tan.

“What is a mom tan”, you ask?

A mom tan is when the front half of you is much tanner than the back because

1) Who has time to lay out evenly?

2) Who has had a kid and enjoys laying butt up in the air?!

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

the vacation(s) recap post.

There are a few things you should know.

1) IT IS FREAKING COLD. I just want y’all to know this because I know no one on earth is talking about it. I feel I should break the silence.

2) I have the worst case of vacation hangovers ever in the history of ever.

No but seriously. This morning Rory asked me if I would ever wear nice clothes again. Bless her heart.

But here’s the deal. Its freaking cold and I don’t want to get out of sweats because I can’t get over my tired from vacation.

The funny thing about it is that we got a decent amount of sleep and I even slept in a few days at the end of vacation. Shocking, right? Andy and I had a system though and it worked out well for both of us.

Let’s rewind here and do a little recap.

After a few glorious days at home over Christmas, we loaded up and headed for the beach. One of my best friends, Misty, and her husband recently got a beach house in Gulf Shores and graciously invited us and three other families to join us.

I’m going to be real honest, I was a bit worried about the trip. Five families (one I had never met before) in one house. 12 kids under the same roof. That sounds like INSANITY, doesn’t it people?!

Let me tell you something.

It was a stinkin’ blast. Those kids played SO WELL together. I mean, we barely broke up a single “fight”. The house was big enough for everyone to sleep and the living space is so well laid out that we didn’t feel on top of each other AT ALL. In fact, when we were inside, we barely saw the kids. They went off and did their own thing in the loft areas.

It was pretty much the best vacation of my life. I know that is a strong statement, but seriously. Cassidy, Kayla, and Misty are seriously my sister wives. They are the kind of friends you wait your whole life hoping you get lucky enough to have. They know my worst and, hopefully, my best and they still love me. Well. They better still love me. To get to spend a week with them and their husbands who I love too (don’t tell them though) was a dream come true. You know it is so rare to find friends that you honest to goodness love their spouses just as much. I have had plenty of friends that their spouses weren’t my favorite or that Andy would never be friends with. Basically what I am saying is, I won the stinkin’ lottery with these friends. I won’t ever get over being thankful for them. Then we threw another couple that I had never met before but instantly fell in love with too and it was just the best week of life.

I mean I wish I could tell you we did something insanely excited at the beach but…. actually no. I don’t wish that. Because I stayed in my pjs and *GASP* didn’t wear hardly any makeup for the entire vacation and OH MY GOSH IT WAS AMAZING. We sat out on the porch in our pajamas and watched the kids play in the sand. The craziest thing we did was play Heads Up after the kids were in bed and I may or may not have almost peed my pants from laughing. I also may or may not have pulled a muscle demonstrating break dancing. It was pretty epic.

I made a little video to put a bunch of pics and little clips in one place- here it is:

It was the saddest day ever having to leave. I held it together until I got in the car and then I cried like the baby I am when it comes to leaving my besties. It is just so hard because there is never any indication when I will see them next and it just makes me so sad. Andy and I seriously say all the time that if Texas would’ve been 4 hours closer to home we wouldn’t have ever moved. He loved his job there and I loved every single thing about Texas EXCEPT that it was just so far away from all our family. I am constantly trying to convince the girls they need to move closer to ME. ha!

From GS we headed to Gatlinburg to spend a few days with Andy’s family. It was a nice trip and we had a lot of fun. The girls obviously loved being spoiled by his family and all the attention of the aunts and uncles and grandparents. We played a ton of putt putt (and learned that Ryder is a putt-putt prodigy with EIGHT total hole-in-ones over three games) and walked about a hundred miles shopping while we were there. Rory was in heaven with all the signs of “Dolly Partner”. I think for her birthday we will have a Dolly Parton party. Her life would be made. Here are a few fun pictures from the trip:

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Andy and I had a plan that while in GS I would take care of the kids more and let him relax more and in Gatlinburg he would let me sleep in and relax more. It was the perfect plan and we both felt like we had the most relaxing two vacations in history. Teamwork at its best, people.

Let me tell you something else about the past few weeks.

Andy had off 13 total days. Since we have been married that has never happened, ever. I’m going to be brutally honest here…. I was worried about it. I thought “oh dear lord we are gonna be so sick of each other on day 3”.

But let me tell you what actually happened. Instead of getting tired of each other, we tag teamed SO well and had the most fantastic 13 days of our marriage probably. I’m not even kidding y’all about this. You know I wouldn’t lie to you. If it was awful I would tell you.

The first five days were spent at home and these were the days I was worried about the most. I am so used to be home alone that it is hard for me to break our routine and have someone else in the mix with me and the girls for so long. Andy stepped up to the plate though and helped me. We BOTH relaxed and took turns handling things with the kids. I was almost sad to leave and go on vacation because we were having such a great time together and with the girls. Then we headed on two different vacations and tagged teamed again and BAM best 13 days in history. Also, there isn’t much better for marriage than long car rides to get to talk and laugh together.

The day he went back to work I literally cried. (Shocker. I mean I never cry or anything.)

He got home from work that first day and said, “I missed you today!” as soon as he walked in the door and I cried again. Because Andy is not a talker (understatement) and is not mister “let me express my emotions ever”, so when he walked in and immediately said that it just melted my little heart more than anything he’s ever said. I had missed him all stinkin’ day and was so glad to be missed as well. I’ve missed him every single day this week and am longing for the weekend.

And now it is horribly cold and I feel bad even complaining because I have friends in NEGATIVE degree weather. But it makes for a hard time doing ANYTHING other than hunkering down under some covers and watching TV. The problem with that is the fact that I have children who have the nerve to want me to feed them and play with them and mother them. The little savages.

Hope y’all had a great holiday and are staying warm. Andy is working 90% of his days outside right now and I feel insanely sorry for him and anyone else out in the cold all day. I feel a pot of taco soup coming on, what about y’all?!

Happy Thursday!

 

Girls Trip to NYC 2014

About 6 or so months ago a group of friends were texting and joking around about how we needed a break and would love to go on a girls trip.

This seemed far fetched because how on earth could we possibly manage to get FIVE husbands to agree to let all the wives go on a trip to NYC at the same time?!!!!!!!!!

Basically the trick is to be married to the best husbands on earth. *shameless mushy plug*

We hopped the first flight Thursday morning. To say we were giddy would be the understatement of the century. I’m pretty sure we said, “OH MY GOSHHHH I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING,” 230923023 times.

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I ended up next to Trace Adkins in the security line. It was so not fair because my phone was in my purse going through the scanner.

I may or may not have stared weirdly as he took his belt off.

He said, “how are you today?” in THAT VOICE and I pretty much went to into 15 year old melt on the ground mode. WHY IS HIS VOICE SO …. sexy? (I cannot believe I’m saying this on my blog.) After we had our clothes back on – HAHAHAHAHAHAH- meaning from TSA craziness, I tried so hard to rush and get a picture with him. But I couldn’t get my phone in time and I wasn’t about to run to another terminal and bother him. So here is your picture:

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Unfortunately I apparently used all my celeb sightings on him. In the Nashville airport. Sigh.

Ahem. Back to the trip.

After a crowded ride on the NJ transit, we arrived in NYC. It was a drizzly day, but still beautiful. Two of the girls, Rachel and Jinny, hadn’t been to the city yet and I don’t think I will ever forget turning around to see their faces react to seeing the buildings the first time. It was absolutely priceless.

I’m going to break this up into days. This will probably be a long post because I just don’t want to forget anything. So, you were warned. Another disclaimer- these are all cell phone pics. Which look much better with Instagram filters and I don’t have time to do all that. Don’t judge the quality.

Day 1: Pizza, One World Trade Center, WTC Memorials, St Paul’s Cathedral, Century 21, Republic, ABC Kitchen.

Our first meal was pizza because, hello, NYC!

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After the best pizza ever* at John’s Pizzeria at Time Square (the Margherita pizza is where it is at, y’all), we headed downtown.

(*I still think Lombardi’s in Little Italy is the best pizza on earth, but John’s was delicious too.)

 

First we stopped at the “Little Chapel That Stood” or St Paul’s Chapel. Apparently it is the time of year where they repair all of the churches in NYC. I was so disappointed because of all the scaffolding that blocked the beautiful little church.

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Probably one of the most significant things we have experienced happened on the first day. We went down to see the new WTC and to see the memorials. As we were standing there in awe of the beautiful water memorial, a man walked up. I saw him walking by the names, glancing at them… and then just as he was about to walk by it caught his eye- a certain name. Jean Destrehan Roger.

We couldn’t take our eyes off of him. He stood there tracing the name with his fingers. His expression was a mixture of happiness and sadness. There was a sad smirk on his face as he stood over the name. We all stood there crying. It was one of those things that was so hard to watch, as he clearly loved the person behind the name, but it was impossible to look away.

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Jinny took this beautiful picture and we all cried when we saw it.

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One World Trade Center is insanely impressive. I lack the words to even express it properly. It was cloudy and we couldn’t see anywhere near the top. And in the middle of these massive downtown buildings there are beautiful trees that border these gorgeous memorials. It was truly breathtaking.

IMG_3577_3 IMG_3588_2_2 IMG_3597_2 IMG_3598 IMG_3600_2We headed over to Century 21 to try and detox our emotions and Y’ALL. I have always been such a huge C21 LOVER and I don’t know what has happened since the last time I was there but IT IS NOT THE SAME. Everything was so expensive. It was insanely crowded. I couldn’t even handle it. It isn’t the same C21 I fell in love with years ago.

That night we headed to Chelsea for drinks and dinner. We went to a bar/restaurant called Republic before our dinner reservations AT TEN PM, and it was such a good place! The food looked delicious and I fully plan to go eat there next time I am in NY.

IMG_3608_2We headed over to ABC Kitchen for dinner. Y’all. Y’ALLLLLL. First of all, you need to book a month in advance for a table. So just FYI.

Secondly, BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE. No but seriously. I decided to go all out and get the lobster. One of the best decisions ever. It was AMAZING. I got the salted mashed potatoes as a side and, also, best decision of my life. I literally almost licked the bowl. And my plate. DEAR MERCY it was so good. The apple orchard martini was so delicious too.

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Basically, if you go to NYC you MUST go to ABC Kitchen. You will not regret it.

Day 2: Chinatown, Little Italy, Katz’s Deli, Broadway, Times Square.

Just short of seeing NYC for the first time, the next best thing for someone to experience in the city is Chinatown. It is the most hilarious and crazy place ever. I feel like I can’t even describe the lengths these people go to just to get us a fake Louis. Watching someone experience it for the first time is pretty priceless. I’m glad you got your bag, Jinny!

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After Chinatown we roamed little Italy and NoLita and who knows where else looking for a cheesesteak place that had 4 stars. We walked about 20 miles to discover that it was closed. SO WRONG. Luckily Katz’s deli (famous from When Harry Met Sally) was on the same block. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.

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We went to Times Square and got in line at the TKTS booth for tickets for Broadway. Doesn’t the guy in the back look happy?

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We got all dolled up to go see Chicago. I mean. FANCY.

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So. Chicago was extremely disappointing. We all had seen the movie and loved it. So we figured the musical would be 100% better. So here’s the deal. The stage stayed exactly the same the entire musical. There were no costume changes, no props, nothing. The singing was good, yes. But we all expected so much more out of such a long-running, highly praised musical.

Even so, jazz hands are totally addicting.

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We stumbled into an Italian restaurant off times square and it was … eh. The waiter was a jerk face. That’s all I can say about it. Ha.

Day 3: Mood, Rockefeller, 5th Ave, Central Park, Picklebacks

Saturday started off with a trip to Mood from Project Runway. Jinny was in heaven!

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Then we headed up to Rockefeller, 5th Ave, Central Park, etc.

It was really neat to see the tree at Rockefeller being put up! We had no idea how much went into it. On the side you could see tons of branches waiting to be put in to fill it up.

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And here we go again with the scaffolding at all the churches in NY. I was so sad they didn’t get to see St Patrick’s without it. There was even scaffolding all over the inside of the church. It was so frustrating to me!

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Obligatory Tiffany in front of Tiffany’s picture:

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We spent some time in FAO Schwarz and then grabbed some lunch and headed to Central Park to eat and see some of the park. It was so stinkin’ cold Saturday so we didn’t spend too much time but it was seriously so insanely beautiful. I’ve never been to NY in the fall and it was absolutely the prettiest I’ve ever seen it.

We had a lunch buddy and I wanted to put him in my pocket he was so cute.

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We also saw some people filming and we ran into the actors at a coffee shop and asked what they were filming and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the film. It is an independent rom-com if I’m remembering correctly.

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I’m telling you- NY is so gorgeous in the fall!

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Some of the girls went shopping and some went back to the hotel after Central Park. My feet were KILLING me and I was so dang tired (and also running low on the moneys) so I went back to the hotel. But we saw Macy’s with the beginnings of their Christmas decorations. This “believe” on the side of the building made me all teary-eyed and excited for Christmas!

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For dinner we ended up splitting up and going to two different places. Emily and I were really wanting some good Thai food so we headed to Peak Thai on 49th and 2nd Ave (they don’t have a website so I gave you the address!). It was SO DANG GOOD. The place is small and intimate so this isn’t a place to bring 20 friends, but a great date night.

Which is basically what Emily and I had, a great date night- HA!

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We asked two different people to take our picture. They both were not great photographers. Ha!

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We met back up and went to a little bar after dinner and ended up at an SEC meetup. Unfortunately it wasn’t any of our teams but it was still fun to see other SEC lovers in the city.

After they left a group of about 30 young Koreans came in. They looked 12. For reals. But apparently they were 22. They were so precious and young. We had to leave because we just couldn’t chill next to tiny infant babies.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching one of the guys from the group go to lean on what HE thought was a wall but was in fact a curtain…

and he literally flew across the place he fell so hard. I mean, he seriously committed to leaning on that faux wall. I still cannot stop laughing about it. It was a really fun night! This picture cracks me up every time I see it.

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*picklebacks not pictured*

Sunday we slept in and got everything packed up and ready to head home. We were all ready to see our kids and so tired from all we packed into our time.

We headed down to Chelsea Market first. I’m so glad we did too because that place was seriously amazing. Next time I’m going to dedicate several hours to the market for sure. I would mark it as a must do for a trip to NY.

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We went downtown after the market to the Financial District. We saw Wall Street and the bull.

Now listen.

This was my first time seeing The Bull. Want to know what it looks like in real life?!

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That’s right, folks, it is COVERED with people so much so that you can’t even see it. Jinny had to fight off several people to get a picture with it.

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Note: more scaffolding.

IMG_3871We were so burnt out by the time we made it back to the hotel that we decided, after some convincing from the bellman, to cram into a standard car taxi to go to the airport. Oh yes we did. It was a clown car up in there. The driver was hilarious. Actually, we took a grand total of only 4 taxis the entire time we were there and all of the cab drivers were so fun and sweet. Being southern, we obviously talked their ears off. We learned that one was NOT a baseball fan, another was moving back to Haiti with his wife of 30 years and 6 kids after being away for 20 years, and the last one had a strong opinion about Chinese drivers. IMG_3880Y’all. As I was recapping I wanted to cry that the trip was over. I had the best time and hope we can make this girls trip a yearly thing. It was a dream of a long weekend. NYC is the PERFECT girls trip for anyone looking for a place to go with girlfriends!

Thanks for such a great weekend Emily, Jinny, Rachel and Alexis!

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I thought I would end this with a few little tips about heading to NYC if you haven’t been before:

– PLAN AHEAD. It is so important to get reservations made a month in advance (or more for some places) and to plan your days out. The only thing we didn’t do well was planning our meals. Next time we will have all the meals nailed down before we go. Go to Open Table to make your reservations!

– Immediately get a metro card. The subway can seem scary, but it is THE BEST. Seriously, my favorite thing about NY is the subway. Download the CityMapper app on your phone and it tells you EXACTLY how to get everywhere. From walking to the nearest subway, to which train to get on, and then walking to your destination after getting off the train. Sometimes you have a little trial and error, but you can always hop on another train at the next stop. Don’t waste money on cabs, people! The subways system is AMAZING.

– If you aren’t sure which way to go on the street, ASK. Us southerners have heard crazy, UNTRUE things about New Yorkers. We never had a person act rude to us when we asked for directions. Now, I wouldn’t ask too much because that would be silly since you have a phone that can tell you, but sometimes our phones would act weird and I just needed to go one block over but I wasn’t sure which way. So I always asked someone and it saved a lot of time and extra walking.

 

actually living.

About a week or so ago, I heard a remark somewhere (honestly cannot remember where I heard it) and it went something like this:

Are you actually living your life or are you living it through your phone?

Besides Instagram, despite what it might seem, I really don’t log onto social media much. I post everything through Instagram and then I occasionally get on the facebooks to give a status about my boringbuthilarious life. So it really isn’t the social media thing making me not live my life…

It is my camera.

I’ve lived a good part of my life now through the camera on my phone. Constantly trying to capture that perfect picture and spending time coming up with the perfect caption.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t regret a single picture. I’m so proud and thankful I have captured so many details of our life through pictures because it sets our family up to never forget anything. I know my kids will immensely enjoy having so many pictures of them growing up. No one ever regrets taking too many pictures.

What I DO regret is the times I’ve been more concerned about taking the picture than with what is actually going on. I’ve missed out on a lot of fun and gotten frustrated for no reason because ALL I WANT IS A FREAKING PERFECT PICTURE or ALL I WANT IS TO CAPTURE THIS BEAUTIFUL (I think? because I’m not really living it…) MOMENT.

So, the past couple of weeks you’ve seen less pictures because I’ve “challenged” (hate that word, but whatever) myself to maybe give up a few pictures to actually LIVE in the moment instead of living through my phone.

Most of all, I want my children to remember me as a mom who enjoyed time with them and not remember me for only trying to get a picture to enjoy.

Is any of this making sense? Do any of you struggle with this as well?

So this post is, GASP, going to have a lot of very imperfect/not-so-good pictures. And, even more shocking, I AM OKAY WITH IT.

Last week we took a little mini-vacation to the Chattanooga area. To say we had a good time would be the understatement of the century.

Friday night we met with our friends Amber and Bill and their three boys for dinner in Downtown Chattanooga. It was so good to see them and see their boys. Amber and Bill went to my dad’s church when I was a freshman in college. They married a week after Andy and I and we have kept in touch (thank goodness for the internets!) ever since. We walked to the park by the river and let the kids play. It was so cute seeing them play together. Rory and Will (and Ryder a little bit) played tag and it was so cute. Amber is such a good, fun mom and you can so tell just being around her kids. They have great imaginations and are so fun.

(The “funny” thing about not taking so many pictures is that the girls did much better when I did want their pictures taken… interestingggg.)

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We did our normal Hotwire thing and stayed in the Chattanooga Choo Choo for about 1/4th the price you could book it online. HOLLA, Hotwire, HOLLA.

Now. I will say the hotel wasn’t a 4 star retreat. But it was clean and had great outdoor pools and the room was very large. So, what else do you need?

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The girls absolutely loved seeing the trains. They were so cute soaking it all in.

Rory was obsessed with “The Big City”. She kept saying, “Mom. When are we going to go back to The Big City? When can we go explore The Big City?” It was so cute.

One of their favorite parts of the entire trip was riding the free shuttle Chattanooga has that runs downtown. They seriously thought it was the.best.ever.

Saturday we rode the shuttle to the Tennessee Aquarium. The girls hadn’t been to a real aquarium before so I knew it would be really fun. But I had NO IDEA how awesome it would be to experience them seeing it and taking it all in. I just had no clue.

They were so cute and thrilled and EXCITED the entire time. Everything blew their minds. Watching them made me (and Andy!) laugh and giggle and it was just such an overwhelming blessing to see our kids enjoy something so much. I know it is just the aquarium but y’all don’t even understand. I literally cried watching them enjoy it so much. And because I kept my phone put up and on silent, I got to truly soak in every second of it.

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Their favorite part was the sharks for sure. Rory loved touching the sting rays too. It was such an awesome experience. I cannot wait to take them back, and now I’m definitely taking them to the Atlanta aquarium as soon as I can!

After the fun morning, we walked to Coolidge Park. Walking in heat never ends well with Ryder. Her legs most certainly stopped working. But we FINALLY made it after some tears and a lot of sweat. The girls and I rode the beautiful carousal and then the girls played in the fountains while mom and dad took a rest in the shade.

(Rory is practically a TEENAGER in these pics! wahhh!)

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The girls loved staying in hotels for a few nights. Only one night they slept decent though. We decided to do two double beds instead of a big king bed. I’m not entirely sure that was the best choice, but who knows. All I know is that it seemed like we did A WHOLE FREAKIN’ LOT of playing musical beds. We started off one way and woke up in totally different beds every night.

(Musical beds is a lot like musical chairs except there is no music and mommy ends up with no sleep.)

But, the girls were so cute snuggled together at the beginning of each night.

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Y’all. We had an amazing weekend.

I took some pictures and most of them are poor camera-phone quality.

And I don’t even care.

I enjoyed every second with my family (no for real- like every second) and the girls got to have their mom sans phone.

It is the best thing I’ve done for my girls and for myself

Sometimes you need to actually live your life instead of trying to make it fit into your camera. Am I right?!