Places

Hotel from Hell turned Heavenly delight!

The last time Logan and I went on a trip alone we only had one kid, and she was only 18 months old. We hoped a flight to our favorite city and enjoyed all the pizza, Broadway, and reunions we could in a few days time. Now don’t get me wrong, we have had quite a few nights at the house alone while the kids stay with grandparents, but those are always filled with a long to-do list of home projects more easily accomplished without kids. And although they might be considered “relationship building” in the eyes of psychologists everywhere, they aren’t exactly relaxing.

But this! This was it! 6 years of marriage (Happy Anniversary Muffin), Logan’s about to turn 30 (Happy Birthday also!), a new house, new job, a crazy year…it’s time!

But one BIG problem! We are ON. A. BUDGET. And as much as I love a good vacation, I love my saving account’s current balance more. So obviously, my frugal, travel hacking, credit card point-earning self decides the best option is to use points to book a hotel. At first I looked at nicer hotels and convinced myself that paying only x dollars after points was such a good deal!! We obviously deserved it. Then my sensible self set in and I was like, no way! Not falling into that trap! I have points and I’m getting a hotel for $0 cash, let’s do this! Besides we’re only going to be there to sleep anyway, how bad could it really be?

Y’all! It was BAD! Like, don’t take your shoes off in the room kinda bad. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

On the way down, Logan asked if I’d looked at the reviews. Duh! Of course I had! Who doesn’t look at the reviews? Well, apparently me. I googled it right then in the car and the first article that pops up is- “Teen accidentally shoots himself in the head at local hotel.” Awesome. But that was back in 2016, it was an accident, whatever! So I call to get an early check in- the first time they didn’t even answer. 30 minutes later I try again, “Umm yes, that’s a $25 charge for an early check in.” Wait. What??? Have you ever been to a hotel that charges for an early check in? But again, whatever. We skip the early check in and change our clothes in the vet’s office (I was also delivering my sister’s dogs to a border in Orlando so they could pick them up on the way home from their honeymoon. Once again, congrats Elizabeth and Justin!)

Whewff, we did it! We delivered the dogs alive, we managed to change our clothes and I actually put on makeup. It’s time to go to Epcot!!! Yes!!!! Time to eat and drink my happy, no-kid-carrying self around the world!!

Once again, this is a story of God’s timing. But life always is, isn’t it?

We decided last minute to go to Epcot on Friday because they were open the latest and we really wanted to see the nighttime show, since we haven’t yet. And then, it started raining. I’m not talking a nice delicate drizzle to cool you off in the Florida heat, I mean a sideways, tree bending, full downpour, kind of rain. At this point we had ridden our favorite rides, we made it around the world and I was a wine flight and glass of sangria in. We were wet and cold, plus we had been up since 4, so at 6:30 we decided I’d skip the tequila place and we’d miss the nighttime show. Instead, we’d head on to this luxurious resort where they don’t answer phones, charge a $25 early check in fee and guests misuse firearms. Thank goodness!

I spent 30 minutes checking in because the printer ran out of ink. The guy checking me in wasn’t in any hurry as he munched on his cookie while spilling crumbs on the keyboard. I finally get the key, sign my receipt, and hop in the car. We drive around the parking lot and I actually said, “Oh My Gosh!” Logan responds with, ” Maybe it won’t be that bad inside the room.”

IT WAS WORSE!

We climb the steps, because obviously they don’t have an elevator. We look down the hall and see a huge orange caution cone, a massive puddle and towels shoved up around a door. Logan’s carrying all of our bags, and I’m reading the room numbers as we skeptically tip toe down the corridor. 212, 214, 216, we made sure to use caution while approaching the bright orange cone shouting its warning that this particular room was out of commission and shut off from humans. And what do ya know, it’s OUR room!!! Yes, ours! With a freaking caution cone in front of the door. We slowly creak the door open and step inside to an AC unit cracked and falling off the wall. We flip on the lights and the stains start to show. Stains on the carpet, the furniture, the dust ruffle and my favorite, the bathroom door!! We stayed less than 5 minutes before deciding sleeping in our car would be a better option and walked out.

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So many ridiculous details after that- an hour phone call with USAA trying to refund my points. A “resort fee” that will only be partially reimbursed. And nobody ever said sorry for the inconvenience. UGH!

But then, once again, God’s timing is perfect! Logan hoped on Priceline and started searching. He did an express bid- mystery hotel, 4 star, $80 a night. Whatever, 80 bucks is super reasonable and at this point I don’t even care about spending the money! Please, just do something!!

We pulled up and I swear I heard angels singing and trumpets blowing! The Sheraton Vistana Villas might actually be my favorite place on Earth at this moment. The guy checking us in was SO nice! He tells us our room number and looks slightly surprised, while mentioning that it’s a very nice room.We climb back in our car relieved and drive around to find our room.

Oh, guess what? It’s not a room! It’s a villa!!!19C051D3-9653-4159-893D-574A9B0C7E4E

Complete with living room, full kitchen and a washing machine/dryer. Logan was so excited about the washing machine he even did laundry. I mean, not to sound unappreciative, but we totally have a washing machine at home that he is more than welcome to play with, but apparently household appliances are only cool on vacation??

 

Anyway, a few lessons were learned on this trip:
1)Never book a hotel you’ve never heard of without during a VERY thorough background check.
2)God’s timing is always perfect. Even when a situation seems bad at first, maybe it’s only because God has a different and better plan for us.
3)Logan loves to do household chores when he’s not in the house.
4)The Cheddar Cheese Soup from Canada and the Sangria in Mexico are SO delicious!!!!

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Family, Home

Settling Down

I think 2018 has been the biggest blur of a year that I can recall. What’s super embarrassing is when I first wrote that sentence, I actually said 2017. Point Proven.

But we are FINALLY starting to settle down. We closed on our house in early September and it has taken almost 6 weeks for us to finally feel settled and in a routine. Of course this past week didn’t help anything since it was my sister’s wedding. (Which was beautiful! Congratulations Elizabeth and Justin!)

We sold our Florida house in only 3 weeks thanks to our fabulous agent Dru Swain! He is INCREDIBLE! And was absolutely fantastic to work with! We even had an early closing, so from the day our house went live on the market to the day we closed was only 6 weeks. Which it awesome! But I kind of thought I’d have the whole summer to goof around and squeeze in a few more memories on the beach with our friends.

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However, God has perfect timing, and I think the reason we sold our house in such a short amount of time is because He knew it would take us FOREVER to find our new house. Let me tell you, our buying agent/my beautiful sister in law was PHENOMENAL! Danielle took us all over North Georgia. We looked at everything! From a 6 acre farm, where I realized the idea of living on a farm is a lot more romantic than actually shoveling goat poop. To a fixer upper in short sale, when I decided the gamble of making money wasn’t worth the cash, stress, time and sweat it would take to actually turn the profit, while we had two toddlers at home and hubby works full time. We almost went with a house on two acres, but we knew we were buying at the height of the market and weren’t willing to pay them their asking price. new houseAnd then finally we settled on a beautiful home, with plenty of space, at a reasonably affordable price, with an unfinished basement, a new roof, and a million neighborhood kids. In fact, I found out today that our neighborhood alone accounts for 11% of the kids at the local elementary school. Needless to say, I’m stoked about tomorrow night’s trick or treating!! (I’ll post a story about our first married halloween later.)

During the summer before we were able to decide what on earth we actually wanted in our next house, my in laws were gracious enough to let us live with them. This is no small gift. We moved in with two dogs, a new cat, two kids, new schedules, routines, rules and lots and lots of laundry. We will forever be grateful of this opportunity. It gave us the chance to decide what we wanted, while living rent free. We realize this is a privilege many people don’t have while transitioning and making decisions about major financial investments. So thank you, Torina and Wyatt.

Like I said, it’s been a whirlwind of activities and emotions and moving so. many. boxes. but we’re here, and life is good!

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Family

Paw Patrol Party

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Miller Grace turned three in the beginning of January! What???? It’s insane how quickly time is speeding by. We originally scheduled a party closer to her birthday, but she had the flu so we had to postpone. And I’m really glad we did! It gave me much more time to plan everything AND we had our counter tops installed before her party! (Post on that to come)

MG was SO excited to have all her friends over to play and eat cake. And because it was postponed, we got to hear about how excited she was for weeks leading up to it! haha Every time we went to the store she would ask to buy decorations for her party. Every night before bed she would tell us her Paw Patrol party would be tomorrow and go down the list of friends coming over, games they would play and food they would eat. Because of the timing of our counter top installation, she also thought the “new, beautiful, Skye, counter tops” were party of her birthday present and she continues to tell us that 2 months later.

I wanted to incorporate MG’s favorites while sticking to the Paw Patrol theme and with the help of Pinterest and Amazon, I think it turned out really cute.

We hosted the party at our house in the morning. We went to a morning party earlier in the fall and loved that everybody was able to play before the kids started getting cranky and the parents were able to do their normal Saturday activities in the evening. However, I’m not much of a morning person, so instead of our 10-12 party time,  I probably should have done more of an 11-1. It’s all a learning process though, right? haha

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We decided to make the party as easy going as possible! We hosted the activities in the driveway. I took out some sidewalk chalk, bubble wands and a bubble machine and we blew up the bouncy house that we purchased for her birthday party last year. (We ended up using the bouncy house inside last year due to bad weather. We moved all the living room furniture out of the way and let the kids have at it). We also had the soccer goal up and a ball out in the yard.

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We had Pupperoni Pizza (and cheese too) for lunch with an assortment of snacks and appetizers including: Pawberries, Pawtato Chips and dip, Dalmation Dip and Dog Biscuits, Farmer Yumi’s Crops, and the crowd favorite, Pups in a Blanket. ( Shout out to Angela for helping me make the cute little pop up signs for the food! Here’s a free copy if you want to download the labels and use it for your own paw patrol party.)

 

 

Drink choices included the toilet bowl, water, lemonade and sprite. I also provided a yummy beverage for “Old Dogs Only.”

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I created a table for the party favors, which also doubled as the cups for the kids.  I purchased the masks and fire hydrant cups from amazon. Just click on the hyperlink to find the ones that I ordered. I was super happy with them. We wrote names on the bottoms of the cups, everybody was able to keep track of there own and it prevented any spills which was great!

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The after-party continued in the living room while the kids played play doh and dress ups and danced to Frozen songs and of course told “Malexa” to “play paw patrol theme song.”

 

Happy Third Birthday Miller Grace! The days may be long but the years are surly flying by!

You can use the following links to shop my party on amazon!

Family, Places

Christmas Travels Part II- Georgia

 

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Dahlonega is a beautiful little town nestled in the North Georgia Mountains and home of one of the first major Gold Rushes! We have made a little tradition of doing a family photo shoot in the square. The Christmas decorations make the tiny town that much more magical and we love walking around to all the shops.

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This year my step-sister Caitlyn was able to come do our family pictures and we absolutely LOVE them! Thank you so much caitcarrphotography.com ! She shoots locally in North Georgia, all over the US, and internationally as well. Here are some of my favorites from our Christmas session.

 

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At the end of our photo shoot we enjoyed the chocolate we picked out and Lochlan got to try her first little morsal! I think she liked it!

 

We tried a new Italian restaurant called Grape Vine’s  for lunch and it was super delicious.  Logan and I might even try to sneak away for a date night next time we’re up there.

We only spent two days in Dawsonville this year, but managed to squeeze in time with both our families. It’s so weird to me having all of our family in the same town. Growing up, my grandparents lived pretty far away from us, and in entirely different sides of Virginia. So we would go visit each set separately for a week over the summer, or a holiday. It was so nice to get that cherished time with them. And it was always super relaxing and filled with fun events. Of course I’m remembering this from a child’s perspective, and it probably wasn’t so stress free for my parents. It’s nice to have everyone together so close, but when we go back to Georgia I feel like every single tiny second has to be planned out to make sure we can fit everything in. I must admit, I’ve become quite good at it over the past couple years. I’m so thankful to have a great family to spend the holidays with, but orchestrating the trip does a number on my stress level, that’s for sure! Haha

It’s also really awesome that Miller Grace and Lochlan have so many cousins the same age as them. As in, literally born in the same year! Somehow Logan and his brothers all managed to have a baby in 2015 and then again in 2017! I guess we’ll have to wait and see what 2019 looks like?? Haha The kids have such a blast playing and I love that they get to make memories together!

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So exhausted after playing with her cousins

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One of the neatest gifts Miller Grace was given was my late Grandfather’s medical equipment.

Miller Grace tells us time and again that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. My Mom found a little shop in Dahlonega and had a bag embroidered with Dr. Miller Grace, and filled it with my Grandpa’s stethoscope, octoscope, reflex hammer, band-aids, wraps,  and splints. She even got a white doctor’s coat to match!

 

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We decided it’d be best to leave the bag and all its belongings at MooMoo’s house so that MG doesn’t end up performing surgery on her sister. And it will make playing with it that much more special event when she visits.

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It was a great couple days with our family celebrating Christmas. Although it can be so crazy, it’s also filled with a ton of love, laughs and great times!

 

Family, Places

The Donut Hole

Logan got in around bedtime Friday night after his first week away and Miller Grace was THRILLED! She asked him to bring her a special gift all week, and he did not disappoint! He showed up with a cake topped with paw patrol figurines, and she has slept with those little puppies every night since. The first night he was gone I ended up moving her to my bed around midnight and I heard her say, “Oh Hi Daddy! You bring me a special present?” in her sleep. It was so sweet to know she was dreaming of him but a little sad since it was his first night away. She was also super excited because Daddy got her a new car!!! The way we keep our cars, it really might be hers one day! Haha ( Read Bertha’s story here).

We woke up and MG said she wanted Waffles, so we decided to take the new car for a drive and go to one of our local favorites, The Donut Hole.

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Check out that roomy back seat, with enough space that even Darla got to ride in the middle!

 

It was SO delicious! I had the Gulf Coast Omelet and it did not disappoint. Filled with shrimp, crab, peppers, onion and cheese, I had it with a side of tomato slices and a biscuit. YUM!!

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Logan had the Special which gives a great sampling of everything yummy: Pancakes, Ham, bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns and a biscuit.

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Miller Grace and Lochlan ended up splitting a pancake instead of waffles and we went home with a whole meal’s worth of leftovers.

 

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Miller Grace got two sprinkled donuts on the way out, one for her and one for her bestie!

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It was such a beautiful day. We’re trying to savor every last weekend down on 30A.

Family

Bye Bye Bertha- The End of an Era

When Logan turned 16 he got his first car, Bertha, at least that’s what I called it. Fast forward 12.5 years and it is FINALLY time to part ways and say our goodbyes.

Bertha's spedometer at 255,000 miles

He’s needed a new car for at least the past 3 years. But being the trooper/frugal man that he is, he stuck with her through the ups and the downs… mostly the downs. When the air conditioning decided to only work on the passenger side and only when you had it in the right spot, between the 4 and 5 marker, this big (former) defensive tackle kept with her, and let his hair blow in the wind; at least while the window still rolled down. But then Bertha decided she didn’t want that driver side window to be able to roll back up. Luckily for Logan, this happened on a rainy day…at 6 am…on his way to work. Door stop holding up the windowYet, Logan still stuck with her and fancied her up with a nice doorstop wedged in the bottom of the window. So now, during the beautiful Florida summer, this man got to experience the luxury of no A/C and no wind blowing through his luscious locks. On the plus side, he did have his own personal sauna. People pay a lot of money for that.

When Bertha could no longer bear the weight of Logan’s extra muscular forearm, her center console finally broke in two. Logan the money savvy stud muffin that I love persevered through this troubling time by buying a console top on ebay. Of course it wasn’t the correct color, and he installed it himself.

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So apparently center console #2 also started to break.

Bertha was now looking as stylish as ever. I think my favorite thing about this wonderful car was the cracked bumper. In fact, the cracked bumper was actually the start of her beautiful transformation. It happen 5 years ago in the middle of the night. I was following Logan home when he stopped suddenly in the middle of the road resulting in me rear-ending him, busting his bumper and totaling my car. To this day he insists that there was a litter of kittens crossing the road. I saw no kittens, only my airbag blown up in my face. Since I love him I took him at his word.

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Now, Ol’ Bertha was so loyal to her beloved Logan she molded the driver’s seat to his body. Good for Logan. Not good for me. The seat was so broken in I looked like a little 90 year old lady trying to drive an Escalade. Did I mention Bertha was a Chevy Impala?

Bertha was on her last limb and we all knew it. It was time for Logan to go shopping. Since he was in  Georgia, he called me while he was looking around. As I listened to the conversation between Logan and the car salesman I heard the following:

Salesman: We’ll give you $500 for the Impala.

(Knowing Bertha’s condition, I think, “Hey, that ain’t too bad!”)

Logan: Nah, at that price, I think I’ll just keep it.

WHAT????

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After discussing it and reevaluating Ol’ Bertha’s beautiful and oh so charming characteristics, he decided to trade in his loving Bertha. And we welcomed Ava the Avalon into our family with open arms!

 

Family, Places

Christmas Travels Part I- Rock City

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Daddy is SO lucky to be surrounded by so many girls!

Daddy moved to Signal Mountain a little over a year ago and let me tell you, it’s a neat little place. Just slightly north of Chattanooga, it boasts the benefits of the city below, the views of the Tennessee River, and the quaintness that comes along with being in the beautiful state of Tennessee.

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Lochlan playing with the butterflies last July.

BTW if you’ve never been to Chattanooga I would DEFINITELY recommend making a trip!

Last Christmas we stayed a couple days and got season tickets to Rock City and The Tennessee Aquarium, which FYI, is a tax deduction, so save those receipts! We’ve gone to the aquarium a few times and absolutely love it, especially the beautiful butterfly exhibit.

But this Christmas we only had 24 hours and decided we had to go see the lights at Rock City! It was gorgeous! From the top of the mountain you can see into 7 states and the view is breathtaking! Especially if you stand a little too close to the edge, but that’s for a different reason haha.

 

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Lochlan loved the lights and Miller Grace loved everything! We had the best time dancing through the different lands of lights, eating cotton candy the size of our head, and exploring deep in the caves to see all the gnomes!

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Miller Grace was SO excited to decorate her very own Gingerbread man. I gave her the money and she went and purchased it all on her own. She took it to the table and picked her favorite color and within seconds broke it in half! Talk about devastated!

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The cookie lady was so sweet and replaced MG’s cookie right away. I helped her hold the icing for the next one!

 

 

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Perfect enough to eat!

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One of the things I’m looking forward to most about moving is being able to visit Daddy and Candice more often and enjoying the different events at Rock City through out the year.

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Daddy and Miller Grace during our visit last year.

*Side note- This year we went on Thursday, December 21st and it was PACKED! Last year we went December 28th and it was much less crowded.*

Home

The Lobster’s Shell


I heard a parable about a lobster- the way it grows. The lobster becomes uncomfortable as it begins to outgrow its shell. It might start with a little tightness here or an annoyance there, but soon the lobster is made so uncomfortable it has no choice but to shed its shell and grow a new one. When the lobster sheds, it loses its protective hard layer, leaving it vulnerable until it can rebuild a new one that fits it better. The moral of the story was actually about retreating during a time of vulnerability, and that taking care of yourself is important during a time of growth. But the larger take away for me was that maybe we need to pay more attention to the times we become uncomfortable. Maybe we need to start noticing those pinches, and annoyances and stop brushing them away and pretending like we fit inside the shell we created. Even if it does mean becoming vulnerable for a moment. If our protective layer is hurting us, then maybe we should create a new one that fits us better.

But creating a shell is some serious work! Our shell is everything we’ve spent our life doing. It’s what defines us, and it usually includes a whole lot of things that we really, REALLY love- our career, home, relationships, our protective layer that we’ve built to ensure our safety. Obviously, I’m not suggesting we walk in and quit our jobs, sell the house and move across the country without a game plan just because we’re momentarily uncomfortable. That’s different. What I’m talking about is a deeper need to change our environment to give us the opportunity to grow into what we desire to become. So here we go! My family is shedding its shell and we’d love for you to join us on this journey of creating a new one.

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