Tag Archives: travel

5 Things Parents Do On Vacation Without Their Kids

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

My husband whisked me away last week for a whirlwind trip to NYC. There were several reasons (excuses?) for the trip, including a special concert, my recent birthday, and a desperate need of time off during a busy season, and it was well-timed and perfect. While it was short (48 hours, to be exact), it was just what we needed to relax a bit and treat ourselves before we stopped sleeping entirely.


During the trip, I noticed a few things we did simply because the kids weren’t around. Life with kids is awesome, but it’s different- no one will argue that. So on our two special days without them, here are a few things we did differently…

1. Eat all the fancy food. Of course when you’re in NYC, you get a little crazy about finding good food. But Hubby and I went to restaurants we’d never dream of taking the kids. There was no macaroni and cheese on any menu, and we ate adventurously (as is our favorite thing to do).

2. Walk quickly. The pace might be a bit quicker there, but we power-walked everywhere we went. We were able to make the most of our time (and not spend a fortune on cabs) because we could be quite quick. There were no strollers, no one hanging onto us or needing to stop and rearrange their sock. We strolled around the city, Googling and Yelping to find our next destination as we walked. It was amazingly simple and free.

3. Abandon the schedule. We are whenever we were hungry, and even if we weren’t. We stayed up really late. We stayed out the entire afternoon, whereas usually we are bound by naptime. There was nowhere to be except wherever we wanted. And most importantly…

4. Sleep late. I’ll be honest, the first morning, my body clock woke me up at 7:30. But I looked at the time, rolled over, and slept two more hours! It was glorious!

5. Call home a lot. We FaceTimed and texted my aunt (who kept the kids) a couple of times a day, just to make sure things were alright. And to share what we were up to. But not because we missed the kids. Nope. Not much.

It was a great time away, and fun to remember those things you get to do without your tiny buddies. But you sure do miss them while you’re gone.

Currently: A Summer Slacker

Y’all, I’ve been a slacker. I haven’t been writing unless I really need to (aka for My Big Jesus or for Toddler Tuesday). I’ve been soaking in the sun. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car. I’ve been barely glancing at my email, and hardly thinking of the blog. And it’s been nice.

But this week, I have catching up to do! I have friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and things I want to write about but just haven’t had time. So those are my priorities! And to catch you up, here’s a little currently so you know what’s been going on all this time!

Traveling || to Georgia, to hang with my folks! We spent the majority of the time in the pool, and I had some special time with some old friends I hadn’t seen. Between a pool date with my gal pal Katelyn (who I’ve been friends with since we were 13) and a date in ATL (oh yeah, I went down there ALONE) with my oldest bestie Lauren (friends since age 11 and the dawning of a love for BSB), AND a stellar brunch with my sweet cousin and my adopted little brother (here’s SnapChatting you, Harrison!) on our way through Atlanta to get back home, we were really blessed to see even more loved ones than usual.


Relaxing || at Lake Norman. Hubby’s parents graciously let us bring the family down for three whole days to soak up the sun, swim, boat ride and snuggle with the grandparents. We had good conversation, lots of fun, and special Sun Drop slushies – which my kids had never had before! (For those of you that don’t know, Sun Drop is a North Carolina-made soda, and the slushies were totally delicious.)


Anticipating || the Olympics! I foresee myself bumming everyone’s cable and spending lots of time at our favorite restaurant/bar to enjoy the games. We don’t have cable, and every two years I really regret it, because I’ve always loved being swept up in the Olympic Games. My favorite summer sports to watch are volleyball and gymnastics, and I also love swimming and diving. What are the sports you won’t miss?

Planning || D’s first birthday party! I can’t believe it’s here. I’m not really getting him gifts (he’s got all the toys and clothes a kid could want) but I want to celebrate him. And who doesn’t like a good cake smash photo? 

Organizing || the kids’ toys. While they were in camp last week, I’ve made it a separate mission to get things organized, and also get rid of or pack away for a while things that are not getting played with. It’s hard to get rid of toys when I have another kid that will likely play with those things when he gets a little older, but if I leave the toys unattended for too long, they’re everywhere, too cluttered up to actually play with, and getting stepped on and broken by two angry parents. So, here I am, getting things back under control. Phew!

Well, what are you doing currently? Are you looking forward to the Olympics? Have you vacationed yet this summer?

Currently 

Happy Monday! This week I’m writing my update today, and then leaving town tomorrow! There should be lots of pictures going up on my Instagram of our Roman adventures!

Smelling || tomato plants. They don’t smell exactly like tomatoes, but they’re still delicious. To me, the smell symbolizes summertime. The plants are so fragrant, and I associate them with being at home and working in my garden. Do yourself a favor, and next time you’re at Lowe’s or Home Depot, walk over to the garden section and take a whiff. It’s delightful.

Hoping || that my baby boy is better today. He ran a fever yesterday after church, and we just sat and snuggled all evening. While I enjoyed that, I could tell he wasn’t feeling great. My kids are thankfully rarely sick, so I worry a little bit more. Here’s hoping he is feeling better by the end of today!

Traveling || to Georgia! I am excited to go down to my home town this week for the first time since March. I’m seeing friends, family, eating at my favorite restaurant (I’ll have a Hoagie Carmichael on wheat, please.) and spending long, lazy days in my parents’ pool with the kids.

Baking || zucchini muffins! I did that silly thing again this year where I didn’t notice a zucchini in the garden until it was HUGE. The only thing to do then is scoop out the tough seeds and bake with it!


Well, that’s about it in my homestead. So, what are you up to? Have you traveled yet this summer?

The Awesome In Austin

Well, part 2 of our Texas travels last month is finally done! After a lovely weekend in Dallas, Hubby’s parents and the two of us rented a minivan (our first, ha!) and drove to Austin to Hubby’s uncle’s house. We spent two and a half days seeing Austin through the eyes of locals, and it was awesome!

Sunday evening, we had a nice meal at their home, in a surprisingly hilly neighborhood. Austin apparently has a less-than-flat terrain, and the next morning, after some breakfast tacos (here’s looking at you, Tacodeli!) we took a hike in a nearby park, called the “hill of life”, that led us to a stream. It just so happens that Austin has been getting an unusual amount of rain, and so the stream was more like a river. I still did a little wading!

Monday afternoon, we had a late lunch at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. I can’t say enough how creative and delicious that place was! They had great beers on tap (Hubby and I drank local beers) and awesome, creative burgers. They also had truffle fries (WOW!) that rounded off a big fat lunch quite nicely. It was really fun, delicious, and also good that we had a late lunch… Peak meal times are usually SLAMMED.

That evening, we headed downtown. First, we explored and had pre-dinner drinks at the Driskill, an historic hotel (1886!) and bar in downtown Austin. It was beautiful, authentically furnished, and made you feel transported in time. Everything was leather or cowhide, with a big Texas “lonestar” all over it!

We had dinner at Cantina Loredo, where delicious, modern Mexican food and creative, strong margaritas reigned. After dinner, we went bar hopping again with our cousins, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, seeing their usual places and meeting a few of their friends.

On our last half a day, we had breakfast at Texas Honey Ham – the baked potato hash was to die for – followed by a little exercise. We happened to pass Stevie Ray Vaughn on our way.

(As a point of interest, Austin had been getting so much rain, and continued to get it, that the next week, we received a picture of Stevie, up to his hips in water.)

We went back to the house, packed up and prepared for the airport, and had a last lunch at County Line on the Hill BBQ. I had heard of but never tried Texas BBQ, and I was not disappointed! I ate way more than I should have, but it was delicious, and had a gorgeous view to boot. It was the perfect last meal!

Overall, we had an amazing time in Austin with our sweet family, and I even came home with a perfect pair of boots. (Thanks, Cavender’s!)

Everything’s Bigger in Texas (or Dallas, At Least)

A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I took a trip to Texas. It’s the second time we’ve gone there together, and the second time in less than 6 months! Hubby’s god-brother was getting married in Dallas, and we went to his wedding. After the weekend of celebrations and exploring Dallas, we went to Austin for a few days to spend time with his aunt and uncle. (I’ll soon write a separate post about Austin.)

Our trip started a little bit rocky, as we BARELY missed our flight out of Charlotte. It just so happened that early Friday morning was a popular time to fly, and security was PACKED and quite slow. As we watched our boarding time come, we stood there waiting and waiting. Finally, we got through security and RAN (not kidding) to our gate, we were about 90 seconds too late. We begged and bribed the attendant to let us on, but – we later found out – there were TSA agents standing close by, and she didn’t want to reopen the door in front of them. I guess I don’t blame her; safety and stuff. Anyway, she happily put us on the next flight, about 80 minutes later, and sent us off to breakfast. Obviously, this happened:


We still arrived in Dallas around 11, local time. And you can tell, right when you get off the plane and look around, that everything is bigger in Texas. It must be the way things are spread out, and how much extra space they have. Anyway… We took an Uber (thank goodness for Uber while you’re traveling!) to our hotel, the Hyatt House in Lincoln Park. Most of the wedding people stayed there, so it was full of friends and very affordable, and pretty nice to boot. Our first objective was lunch, so we went with a Mexican place that was walking distance from the hotel. Blue Mesa Grill was a higher-end southwestern place, and we were very pleased. To top it off, they had delicious margaritas and the service was great!


After lunch, we did some shopping at the Northpark Mall, also within walking distance of our hotel. We hit up a few stores, but really nailed it in Lucky Brand – we both needed new jeans! After our shopping excursion, it was definitely time for a nap. Our 4:30am wake up time was a looooooong time ago.

The rehearsal dinner that evening was at the Dallas Arboretum. It was gorgeous, outdoors at sunset, overlooking a lake.


We loved the location so much that we came back the next day to spend some more time looking around. After the dinner, we followed the younguns (aka the wedding party) to The Rustic, the biggest bar I’ve seen to date. Clearly a kitchen and music venue, but mostly a bar, it had a huge inside and an even huger (yep, I said it) outside. We got there to hear the band’s last song, but the night was far from over. There were inside and outside bars, tables, chairs, and lawn to hang out on. SO MUCH SPACE! So obviously that was where we closed out the night.

Back to the arboretum in the morning: it’s just $15 to get in, and there are 60+ acres of gardens, fountains, trails and places to sit and chat or read. There’s also a children’s area, with a splash pad and several other things specifically for kids (we didn’t get to check it out since we’d left the kids in NC).

When we left the arboretum, we walked to White Rock Lake Park to get some exercise (it wasn’t far from there – it’s the same lake the rehearsal dinner overlooked) and ran until we were famished for lunch. We picked up an Uber (right there in the park!) and checked out a local taco joint: Tacos La Banqueta. We just looked up “best tacos in Dallas” and that place came up. When we got there, it was literally attached to a gas station. A little off-putting, but I’m glad we stayed, because the tacos were delicious and cheap. It was clearly a local, hole-in-the-wall type place, perfect for a (sweaty) quick lunch.

Back to the hotel for a little pool time, and getting ready for the wedding, an amazingly intimate and beautiful ceremony. After that it was drinks, dinner, and dancing all night long! We had a great time celebrating the couple, and seeing them off to their honeymoon!


Sunday morning, we got up, packed up, and went with Hubby’s parents to Austin! They rented a car and drove, just about three hours. I’ll write a separate post about Austin for ya next week!

Have you ever been to Dallas? What do you like best? Are you FROM Dallas?! What do the locals love?

DisneyWorld with Toddlers: It Wasn’t So Bad!

When I announced to my friends that Hubby and I were taking the bigs on a whirlwind trip to Disney, some people thought we were crazy. And maybe we were. We flew early Tuesday morning to Orlando, checked into our hotel, ate a quick and early lunch, and got on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We came back a few hours later for naps (and beers for Mommy and Daddy, because we stayed Club Level, which included a happy hour). Then back to the park for dinner and more rides. When they started roping off the street for the nighttime parade and fireworks, we hopped on the monorail to go back to our hotel, clean up, and then catch the fireworks across the water from there – while we had dessert!

That’s me and EK in the back. Check out her face!
The next morning, the kids were up early, so we showered, packed, went to our character breakfast (more on that in a minute) and headed out early. We were in the MK soon after it opened, and we spent the morning having a great time, had some lunch, and the kids passed out in the stroller. So naturally, Hubby and I took turns on Space Mountain, and did some shopping while they slept. When they woke up, it was back to the monorail, visiting two of the other resorts (I mean, we are definitely going back soon and want to make an informed decision on where to stay!) and then our shuttle back to the airport.There were definitely a few things that didn’t go as nicely as we planned, such as the kids not staying/falling back asleep in the car on the way to the airport. We had left the house at 5am, and I had been hoping they’d sleep another hour. The fact that they didn’t caused some turmoil in my poor son’s day. He doesn’t do well on no sleep. But there were also things that were even better than we thought. For instance, we arrived at Main Street USA seconds before a parade began. The kids saw tons of their favorite characters within half an hour of getting inside the park! And it was a really exciting kick off to their trip.
 For J, because he’s a two year old boy, the most exciting things were the trip on the airplane and the monorail to and from the park. He is easily pleased by transportation, so he was a happy boy. Even his disappointment in not being able to run around on the airplane was curbed by juice, cookies, stickers, and, most of all, sitting next to the window.

For EK, she loved riding rides (and being tall enough to do just that) and catching sight of characters, even though we didn’t wait in line to see/hug a single one. This is the only trip that will fly, because they didn’t really know what they were missing. Hubby and I knew we could’ve pushed them a little harder or waited on longer lines to do more/different things, but they were happy sitting in the stroller and watching a lot.

Speaking of the stroller, I am REALLY glad we had it. It was more comfortable than the plastic bucket ones you can rent, and way easier in the heat than carrying or wearing them. They were even able to be in the shade most of the time because our stroller has great sunshades. They also napped well in it the second day, since we had checked out of our hotel that morning. We actually Googled “places to let babies nap in the Magic Kingdom”. The answers were somewhat disappointing. Most of them had since become places that strollers weren’t allowed.
What ended up happening was during our Space Mountain Fast Passes (just after lunch), Hubby and I tagged out to be able to ride it. While he was in line/on the ride, I strolled our kiddos around the back of the building, just being curious, right? I found a small smokers’ area, but just past that was a lovely walkway, next to the speedway, but far enough away that it wasn’t loud. It was a fairly quiet stroll all the way to where the Dumbo ride is located. We just strolled back and forth to wait for Hubby to be finished, but by the time we’d gotten back to where the real noise was, the kids were heavily enough asleep to not care that it was loud.

 We proceeded to shop a little, have a snack, try to get on the ferry (no strollers there, either) and actually decided to leave on the monorail and visit a couple of the other resorts before they actually woke up. It was awesome. And after that, it was just a beer at the hotel waiting on the shuttle to the airport.

Have you taken your small kids to DisneyWorld? What did you think? Any tips for us when we go next time?

Currently

Hey there! It’s time for a little update about my life currently. I always link up with Becky at Choose Happy, and the first week of every month, I also link up with Jenna at Gold and Bloom, and Anne in Residence! Join us and let us know what’s happening with you currently!

And just because it is now May, here’s one of my all-time favorite memes: 

Celebrating || the start of summer! I know- it isn’t quite here yet. But the weather is warm, school is close to ending, and the pool is opening at the end of the month. I’ll take it!

Reading || I’m just finishing up a devotional book called Deep Cries Out. It’s by a favorite writer of mine, Kristen LaValley, whose blog I stumbled upon in the early stages of creating my own. The devotionals are short, accompanied by a verse or two of Scripture, but designed to be deep and eye-opening. It’s been a great little book, and I highly recommend it! Here’s the link to get it on Amazon: Deep Cries Out

Pondering || how to be creative at home with the kids this summer. The big kids are signed up for two weeks of camp, and we have a pool membership (YAY!) but I don’t want them to be bored. I want to spend lots of time at the children’s museum, and visit the one in the Greensboro (apparently the memberships give discounts to the other one? Does anyone know if that’s true?). I want to visit the parks/playgrounds in town we’ve not been to yet, and I really, really want to spend some time in the mountains (Tweetsie is a-calling) since they’re so close, and we have so many friends and family nearby. But even with all of that, we will have time at home, time when it’s raining, and time it’s just too hot to do much outside. I want to have crafts or activities ready. Any ideas for me?!

Sipping || POG juice! While we were in Disney, the Polynesian breakfast has a special drink made of pineapple juice, orange juice, and guava juice. Around here, the guava nectar I’ve found has high fructose corn syrup in it (yikes) so I’m on the hunt for syrup-free guava. The kids loved it, and I like the tropical feel! Bonus: it makes an incredible mimosa!

J REALLY enjoyed the juice.

Going || to Texas at the end of the month for a wedding! I know, this sounds familiar. Weren’t we just in Texas for a wedding? We WERE but we’re going again! This time for some dear family friends, and in Dallas (you know, instead of Fort Worth). We will likely have some fun stories and pictures when we get back!
What’s going on in your life currently?