Monday, June 30, 2014

Daddy Dearest

I will fully admit to being a wee bit jealous that Puff will always have one more Father's Day under his belt than I do Mother's Day, thanks to Bimmer's late May birthday. (Read about his past two HERE and HERE). So this year was his third day of celebration over this little munchkin....


I was at a loss as to what to get him this year for a gift. So I was actually quite excited when he mentioned he'd like to visit the Biltmore. The cost of admission alone would be more than enough of a gift, right? (I did actually get him a gift from Bimmer, along with a card. I'm not that horrible of a wife!) Even though Bimmer had been sick, she rallied that day, so we hit the road to Asheville. (Note: Biltmore lets dads in free on Father's Day and moms in free on Mother's Day too. Plus, for at least the past few years, kids under 16 are free all summer!)
The line to get tickets was outrageous, but Bimmer was lovely and so patient. We knew going in that we were not going to see the inside of the house. Based on the time, we opted to head to the Antler Village and Farm area first. We took some cheesy photos on tractors and wagons, looked at farm equipment, played on a small playground, had lunch at Cedric's Pub, and then checked out the animals in the farm.

From there, it was time to head back up to the "big castle" (as Bimmer had been calling it) to check out the gardens. But first, we had to stop for a family photo op.
Bimmer really was in awe. She loved running around the big lawn as well.
The day was getting hotter (and sunnier) as it wore on, so the gardens were a little rough. Plus, let's be real, gardens in mid-June are mediocre at best anyway. (One day we will get there in spring to see them in their full glory!) But Bimmer hung in there and loved climbing the steps like a big girl. As in, she can now successfully climb steps without the use of any hands whatsoever. Major milestone!
It was a pretty awesome way to celebrate my husband and the father that he is to Bimmer. Now I just gotta start thinking up something equally as awesome for Mother's Day 2015.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kick Off Your Shoes

I'm pretty sure this post is going to be for no one other than Kimhead.

Today, I'm going to talk about SHOES.

(Just to give you a little insight on Kimhead's shoe obsession, check out this post of hers from back in May where she shoes a photo of her shoe reorganization.)

I am sooooooo not into shoes. Seriously... if I could own a pair of flip flops for the summer and a pair of gym shoes for the winter, I'd be set!
Since I don't have 20,000 pairs, I thought I would talk about what I figure are MY necessities.
#1 - TOMS
Until last fall, I would have never had this on any list anywhere. They looked cool, but they weren't really my thing. Then I decided I needed some comfy shoes that were dressier than gym shoes and that I could wear all year round. Enter TOMS. I am madly in love with my camo ones (which they don't have anymore, but I am hoping they come back with in the fall so I can buy another pair) and I recently bought these burlap ones to wear this summer. They were a little more interesting than the typical canvas ones. Puff was my consultant on that decision.
#2 - Reefs
My go-to flip flop for years has been Reefs. When I started college, I wore flip flops again for the first time since I was little. They just had not been my thing. Then I moved to South Carolina and realized they were kind of a necessity. I gave up on the cheap Old Navy ones once I realized the part that goes between your toes does matter... and Reefs have been my favorite ever since. I have black ones, dark brown ones, black ones with aqua straps, and most recently, light brown ones with gold metallic straps.
#3 - Nine West Ballet Flats
When I began my first real job in my current industry, I realized that the cute high heels from my former life were NOT going to fly. I was up and down and on my feet way too often for that. I had to give up on cute shoes. But not totally. I needed something work appropriate but that was comfortable if I were going to be running around. (Sometimes quite literally.) I have found that Nine West's ballet flats are my favorite. I need a rounded toe! I have them in black, silver, garnet, turquoise, bone, and herringbone. I keep my eye out for new colors, since I am in desperate need of a new colorful pair. I'm hoping to find some in leopard!
#4 - Nine West Riding Boots
I have loved the look of riding boots for years, but never felt that I had anything to wear with them. Once I finally jumped on the skinny jean train, I knew that riding boots were a must. I don't have too much to elaborate on, other than my Nine West ones have done me good so far. They look cute and after wearing them a time to two to break them in, they fit great! It helps that I can wear them sometimes with a skirt to work too. The flat bottoms work almost as well as a ballet flat for me!
#5 - Skechers
When Puff and I were set to go to Europe in 2011, I wanted some gym shoes that didn't scream American Tourist. So I found some cheap grey Skechers that were slip-ons that were comfy and looked much less jarring than the typical Nike running shoe. And when I got pregnant, they were my saving grace! No laces! Brilliant! Now, I feel like I can only wear them with pants, and they're not meant for the gym, but if I ever get pregnant again (heck, even if I don't) I will probably be investing in another pair sometime soon.
So, there you have it. My run down on the shoes in my tiny closet. I seriously don't own that many shoes.... (2) pairs of Toms, (2) pairs of gym shoes, (4) pairs of Reefs, (2) pairs of leather flip flops that I never wear, (8)ish pairs of ballet flats, black boots, brown boots, nude heels, black heels, black summer sandals, brown summer sandals, black summer heels, brown summer heels, white summer heels, pink summer heels, (2) pairs of wedges - although one hurts my feet too badly to wear, and I guess that's about it. For a woman, to be able to list all of those as quickly as I just did, means I totally do not have a shoe problem!
I leave that to Kimhead.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Photo Dumpin'

I haven't done one of these in awhile. Just trying to catch up on life these days. You would think my "slow season" at work would be slower than it actually is, and that I would be just laying back and relaxing this summer. Or not. C'mon... do you not know me at all? Right... photo dump... Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Iron Anniversary

This weekend marks the SIXTH anniversary of my first date with Puff.
Which we consider the SIXTH anniversary of us being together. Yup... we were pretty inseparable after our first date. He just couldn't resist me :)
It feels like a long time, but at the same time, it doesn't. We just are always so busy and so on the go and making so many memories for ourselves, and now our daughter, that I can't even place a finger on when it went from one year to six.
So what's the key?
Ha... I knew you'd ask eventually.
No, for real... I knew you wouldn't. There is no key. Or maybe there is?
Right... back on track, Gail....
We've been through a lot. Not every second of every day is easy. In fact, they're infinitely harder now that we have a child together. That doesn't make our relationship less enjoyable (unless you count lack of sex... then it's less enjoyable) just enjoyable in a different way. It's that next season of our lives. And I would have chosen no better man to go through it with than Puff. We are definitely a match made for one another.
So what has been my favorite part of the past 6 years? Well, that's easy... he gave me Bimmer.
But outside of that, I just have so many awesome memories of us taking trips in the convertible to the mountains....
Bald Rock, near Caesar's Head, SC
And our best trip so far was the one we took to Ireland. I cannot wait until we are able to take our next big adventure.
Dublin, Ireland
We don't always find the time to spend one-on-one with each other anymore, but we're trying. We are pretty adamant about once a month dates, which are probably not enough, but without family in town, that's what we can get. And it's OK. We are chugging along and making plans for the future. And if we weren't happy with today, the future wouldn't be on our radar.
I'm glad it is.
I love you, Puff. Happy six years together! I can't wait for another six more.
(Mainly because that will mean we've been married for 10 years and we get to go to New Zealand. But I'm sure you already knew that was my motive!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Big Girl Bed

As you are well aware, Bimmer has never been the best sleeper. Now... I take that back... I should re-word. She has never been a good sleeper when sleeping in her own bed.


I'm sure you've read about "Operation Get in Yo Crib" HERE before. We had to try that a few times, and even had set-backs after all was said and done. Can you blame us for wanting to snuggle with that sweet little pumpkin?!?! Anyway, after a month or so of super frustration, on a whim, I took the front off her crib and made it a toddler bed. I made grand fanfare of it all, taking photos, making her get in and out of the bed on her own. It was a big flippin' deal. She was a big girl and I wanted her to realize that this was a big step in her life.


And after that first night, it was BLISS. Total bliss, I tell you. She went down without much incident, and even if she woke up in the middle of the night, it was only once, and she was easily put back to sleep with a guiding hand and a rub on the back for a few seconds.

But then we started faltering, as we are known to do. And Bimmer started to become more resistant to bed in general. So after a few nights of fighting with her and sitting on the floor by her bed for an hour trying to let her work it all out, I gave up. Then, we went to Florida. So I really gave up, as I slept with her in my bed for an entire week. We knew coming back, we would have to come up with a new approach.

And what has that approach been? Well, for now, we are letting her fall asleep in bed with us, and then about an hour later, we are moving her to her bed. It sucks on one hand, but it's great on the other. She then is staying in her bed the entire rest of the night. Which means Puff and I are able to get more rest ourselves, without a toddler kicking us in the back/side/head. Sometimes she still wakes up in the middle of the night, often asking for a clean diaper, but then she goes back into her bed (not ours) without much fuss at all.

It's working. For us. For now.

The bottle is going to be kaput before the end of the summer, so I'm not sure how that is going to affect our whole bedtime routine. Since we took away her morning bottle months ago, she has been reluctant to drink any milk when she wakes up in the morning, so I'm super wary about the bedtime situation.
Oh, toddlers. Such a joy, aren't they?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ride the Rapids

As I mentioned HERE, back in January my team won for department of the year for our local company. Then, a few weeks later, we actually won team of the year for our national company. Props to all the awesome women I work with!!! It helps that we honestly enjoy coming to work every day. (Ya know, for as much as you can honestly love that sort of thing.) So, our local company decided to give us the opportunity to celebrate. We were presented with a few options... everything from amusement parks to days of pampering to driving courses. We took an anonymous vote and the winner?


Some of the girls were skeptical, but I was pumped. Especially when I saw ziplining! (No, it wasn't nearly as cool as the one we did in Haiti or the one I did in St. Lucia, but hey, a day out of the office to zipline? Who can complain about that?)


I wanted to do as much as possible, while most of them were more content to take breaks to have a beer. Nope... I wanted my helmet and my harness! (It helps that I don't drink beer!) I did their Mega-Zip twice and then tried the Mega-Jump. I will fully admit, taking a step off the top of a high platform was one of the scariest and strangest feelings I have ever had! Although after that first step, the rest was super anti-climactic. I'm glad we hadn't had to wait in line for that one!

The hardest thing I did that day was one of the ropes courses. We did the Canyon Crossing, which was supposed to be one of the easier ones. Um.... sure.

That's my work BFF, J-Really

I was happy I had a good friend of mine in front of me, and one behind me, because we were all awesome cheerleaders to one another. It ended in a short zipline, which was great because it was a nice little bit of freedom and relaxation after the mind-fuck I just experienced from a swinging rope bridge that felt a gazillion feet off the ground! We also rewarded ourselves with the quick canyon zip. You only have to be 45 pounds for that one, so I wonder how soon is too soon to take Bimmer? Hmmmm.... hopefully that girl is fearless!

After lunch, a few of us tried stand-up paddle boarding. It was not my thing. With that being said, I did totally fine in the standing up and not falling in part. But that's the thing... I have this weird phobia of river and lake water. And I didn't want to fall over into the river! Once I figured out how to turn and got back to shore, the guide said that I had "perfect form." Yeah, just not the perfect mental capacity. Instead, I stood on the dock and watched my friend repeatedly fall on her ass and eventually into the water.


The big she-bang at the end of the day was rafting. I opted for the "Family" rafting, since I had never been before. I knew it was a controlled environment, but no part of me wanted to end up OUT of the boat. We went through the family rapids twice and they were fine... the guide kept intentionally doing things to get us stuck in certain places and get us soaked. Then he talked us into the adventure side, and it was a lot quicker and a lot more fun! Who knew?!?! I wanted to go one more time, but the rest of the girls had had enough. Oh well... I guess I'll just now have to buck up and agree to let Puff take me on a real rafting trip on a real river.

Although... ick... real river water? Gross!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

One Last Celebration

As you read HERE, Bimmer turned two without much fanfare. Since last year's first-birthday-party-in-my-head didn't materialize quite how I wanted it to, I decided not to even bother gearing myself up for another heartbreak like that. So, there wouldn't be a huge second birthday party. But that didn't mean I was soured against celebration forever for my little one. We would just have to think a little bit more outside the box. A trip to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia has been on our "to do list" for awhile and Bimmer's 2nd birthday was the perfect excuse to check it out!

We dressed so no one would lose us in a crowd.

The day was overcast and dreary, but it worked out so that it wasn't all that hot, nor overly crowded. Bimmer loved the gorillas and zebras and ostrich. (Yes, since the kid knows what an ostrich is!) I had hoped to take the train ride and hop on the carousel for her first-ever ride, but that was not meant to be. We spent a few hours there, but then it started to drizzle, and it was time to hit the road anyway, since Kimhead was hosting a lunch in the birthday girl's honor.


Kimhead is seriously so sweet to offer her home and to cook for us. Two of my other besties from college, Rach and Biner, were able to come as well. We grilled, opened gifts, and spent long overdue time together.


And since Bimmer had been associating Mickey/Minnie Mouse and birthdays together lately, I couldn't let that detail slide by. I got Minnie plates and Kimhead got some Minnie & Mickey balloons and a banner. And of course, we had to splurge and get the kid a fun decorated cake. (Since Puff never got them as a child, I am determined to always get her one!)


It wasn't the grandiose party that sometimes people throw for their little ones, but I have something up my sleeve that will be more along those lines for next year... for a year when she will actually know what is going on! Regardless, we made happy memories with our little girl this year for her birthday. I'm still trying to not focus on the fact that she is already two. Time flies when you're madly in love!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Two Years Worth

On Bimmer's actual birthday, Puff was adamant that we go just north of Greenville, SC, to Furman University for a British car show that was part of the Gallabrae Scottish Festival. And Bimmer obliged, since she's the coolest baby ever. Anyway, this lent us the opportunity to take some awesome photos of her on their gorgeous campus with her two year old blocks. Of course, she's such a diva and did not want to give up her sunglasses. I love this kid!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Leaving on a Jetplane

The first time I was on an airplane, I was two years old. We flew from The Fort to Orlando. I have been on countless airplanes since then. Somewhere around college, the idea of flying shifted from being sorta cool and glamorous, to being a dreaded necessity to accomplish my goal of traveling to as many cool places as possible. (9/11 ring a bell?) Yet, even though I don't love flying, I knew that it was the best and fastest way to get from South Carolina to Florida. Yes... it is a looooong ass drive. Trust me. We did it with Bimmer when she was just 5 weeks old. (HERE)


This time, we were taking to the friendly skies. I booked a direct flight from Atlanta to Tampa, because I sure as heck didn't want to risk any mix-ups on flights on a connection. And why Tampa, when our destination was Sarasota? Well, because we would end our trip in Clearwater, and it made more sense for me for our final destination to be closer to the airport. Our first flight out was at 8:45am. Logistically, the MIL put a wrench in my plan by being out of town and not being able to drop us off at the airport. So we had to get a car service pick us up at her house (where we spent the night prior) and drop us off at the departure terminal.

Why did we not drive ourselves to the airport? A few reasons... but glad you asked. First off, Atlanta airport parking is ridiculous. It was actually cheaper for us to get a ride than it would have been to leave our car there for 7 days. Second, had we driven, the reasonably priced lots sometimes involve shuttles and/or a lot of walking. We had Bimmer in a stroller, her diaper bag, a carry-on, two suitcases, and her car seat. There was no way we could have lugged all that crap from a parking space to the terminal.


Which brings me to our stuff. It was probably the most stuff I have ever traveled with. But, it was still less than I see others taking! We took two medium sized suitcases and we split all of our clothes between the two. (We always do that in case one suitcase manages to get misplaced en route.) Then we took Bimmer's car seat. I had contemplated renting one through the car rental company, but then was too worried about the quality of the seat we may get, so we decided to take our own. We bought a big ol' bright orange bag from Babies R Us to put it in, so at least it was covered a little bit. We checked it because we didn't really want to putz with trying to lug it on to the plane.

As for stuff we took on the plane? We are minimalists when it comes to carry-ons. In fact, people with rolling carry-on suitcases should be taken out back and shot. Puff agrees. So, we had Bimmer's umbrella stroller (which got gate checked, but was necessary to take with us, especially since the Atlanta airport is huge) and then we had her diaper bag (which has these handy-dandy straps that hook right on to her stroller handles) and then a backpack. What did we take to entertain Bimmer on the plane?
I was a mad-woman in the weeks leading up to the trip, trying to find the best plane toys and activities. A small toy store in Hendersonville, NC, introduced us to the Melissa & Doug water paint contraption (you put water into a brush and the paper turns colors when the water is used) and a magnetic board. We let Bimmer choose which one she wanted, and she went with the mermaids. I hid them as soon as we bought them, so they would be a novelty on the plane. I also went to the dollar store and got a small pack of fat crayons, a small notepad with colored pages, a small coloring book, and lots (and lots) of stickers. We also let her take one stuffed animal/doll. And snacks... raisins and gummies seemed to be my favorite since they took awhile to chew and take awhile to get out. (Thanks to Katie for that advice!)
I feel like this post has suddenly rambled its way into a corner. Let's regroup. Here are my tips for flying with a toddler, after we successfully got there and back with no meltdowns or angry neighboring passengers:
1) Take lots of toys and snacks
2) Be as hands free as possible - having small carry-ons that were hands-free was helpful for us
3) Be the LAST people to board the plane - boarding first to have extra time to get settled, just means more time trying to keep a 2 year old restrained, which seemed like the dumbest idea in the world to me
4) Change her diaper right before you board - we ended up having a poopy one right before we came back and I was so happy I didn't have to try to change that on the plane
5) Be patient and don't expect to be able to "sit back and enjoy the flight" - although Puff certainly got to more than I did, but I was the one switching her from one activity to another when I noticed she was starting to get bored - even the SkyMall magazine was a hit, as was taking everything out of the seat pocket and God bless the plane on the way back with built-in TVs with some shows and games that were FREE!
6) Get them their own seat! I couldn't have imagined having to hold Bimmer at this age - since she was technically still under age 2 when we took her.
Puff and I have definitely decided that even if Bimmer would have cried for the entire hour and ten minute flight, it still would have been better than driving. I'd say we have officially switched gears and have opened up a whole new option for our family and we may just get back on the travel wagon sooner than expected. I'm thinking Turks & Caicos for next year... time to get Bimmer a passport!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Birthday Postings

Bimmer is officially TWO!!!! In fact, she "graduates" up to the 2K class at school next week. Pardon me while I go turn into a giant lump of sadness in the corner for just a sec.
Bimmer with her early birthday gift from Mamaw & Papaw
Her birthday was on a Saturday this year, but Puff and I wanted to make sure she got to celebrate with her classmates at school as well. So both of us took off work early and showed up to her class with some birthday cupcakes to share for their afternoon snack!
Is it just me, or is Puff looking extra sexy in this photo?
On the day of her actual birthday, we went to a British car show at Furman University, since that's what every two year old girl wants to do on her birthday!
It worked out, because they have a beautiful campus and this picture loving mama was able to take her 2 year old photos with her blocks there. (Stay tuned for that post with photos.)
For her gifts, Mommy and Daddy got her a table & chairs from Ikea, a doll stroller, a train set, some Elmo flash cards, a bubble blower, and a pillowcase with her monogram for her big girl bed. And a Minnie Mouse balloon. For about two weeks leading up to her birthday, if you asked her how old she was going to be, she just would say "Minnie Mouse Birthday!" And then sometimes start singing happy birthday to herself.
For her birthday dinner, we had pizza on our deck and then the special fancy cupcakes I had gotten from a local bakery. The girl even knew to blow out her candles and did it in just two quick puffs! It's so hard to believe that she is such a growing girl. I love this age, minus the occasional tantrums and the regression to biting kids in her class at school, but otherwise, I just want to bottle her and keep her this size forever.
Happy birthday, Bimmer! Mommy loves you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Vacay: Clearwater

As you read HERE, about our time in Sarasota, Florida, here is the second part of that whirlwind trip, which took us up to Clearwater. We purposely added this stretch so we could stay at a nice resort right on the beach. Bimmer loves her some beach time and I am inclined to give it to her. (Spoiled, much?) So, buckle in... here is the second part of our summer vacay...
I'm not quite sure what Vacation God we made happy, but when we got to our hotel (Hyatt Regency Clearwater) we were blessed with a massive upgrade to a suite with a full kitchen, two baths, and three balconies. Even though we got there just as a torrential downpour started, it was short lived, and we were high on adrenaline from arriving in town!
That night, we gave in (again) to the touristy suggestion and walked up to Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. We had heard the atmosphere was great, right on the beach, and the grouper sandwich was heavenly. Well... since it had been raining, they had the plastic walls down on their patio and the food was pretty mediocre. In fact, I vote it the worst food we had the entire trip! Definitely won't be going there again, nor recommending it to anyone! But walking up there did afford Puff the opportunity to do this...
The next morning was overcast, but I was bound and determined to have some beach time with Bimmer, who loves it so much! She had a blast with her beach toys and having Puff "jump" her over waves. I may not have been getting the suntan I was hoping for, but I was making awesome memories with my husband and my daughter. Not to overlook the fact that day was also my 4th wedding anniversary!

For lunch, we packed up and headed to an area on the mainland called Dunedin. We had lunch at the Broadway Café (it was decent) and checked out their little shops. It was a really cute area only about 10 minutes from our hotel that didn't feel so much like a touristy area in Florida. From there, it was back to the hotel and time to check out the 8th floor pool. Their kid's pool area was great and when we upgraded to the big pool, Bimmer was anxious to put back on her swimmies and jump in!
That night, we were itching for some food that wasn't seafood, so we consulted with the concierge and headed to The Gondolier for some pizza. I didn't realize it was a chain, but when it was that good, who cares? Pizza was a nice break for Bimmer too and she scarfed down as much as we did! We spent some time browsing cheesy tourist shops that night and Bimmer was so obsessed with the Surf Style "mascot" out front that she was talking about it even after we got home!
Our last full day was spent with a brief stint at the beach (the wind was not kind that morning), lunch at the hotel pool bar (it was nasty), and then more swimming in the pool before a looooooong nap! Again, I wasn't getting the lounge around-drink a cocktail-get a tan day that I had hoped for, but who can complain about a nap?

That night, we begged the concierge to give us the inside scoop on someplace that locals would go to eat, and we found ourselves at the Clear Sky Beachside Café. It wasn't the best food in the entire world, but it certainly was pretty darn yummy. I had blackened shrimp and Puff had their grouper. We were about to turn into a shrimp and a grouper, respectively, by the end of this trip! Before putting Bimmer to bed that night, we took full advantage of our balcony that overlooked the water to take in one gorgeous sunset.
And since we're never ones to not take advantage of every second of every opportunity, the last morning, we hit the beach up one last time before heading to the airport.
It really was an awesome family vacation. I am loving that as Bimmer gets older we are able to do more activities. We will never be lay at the beach all day kind of people. Do I long for the days when Bimmer can swim by herself and entertain herself for a bit in the pool while I have a cocktail and read a book? Certainly. But we'll get there. And I most certainly am not wishing away these days with her.
Travel is an important piece of the life Puff and I want to live. And we are so thankful that we are able to instill that in Bimmer as well at such a young age. It wasn't a far-flung trip to anywhere crazy, but it was just the most perfect little getaway for us at this stage in our lives. We made memories... and that is what it's all about!