Our 1st Mom & Daughter Road Trip

Untitled design-4This past weekend we found our selves on a spur of the moment road trip to Mobile, AL. My best friend from college’s father had passed away and I made the drive to spend time with her and her family. Trevor had to work, so my daughter and I loaded up and we headed out Friday morning (yes, on the 4th of July. Love and friendship know no holiday) at 4:45 a.m. and headed for Mobile. We arrived around 10 a.m., stayed all weekend, and headed home Sunday morning around 11 a.m. It was good to see her and a family that I love dearly, but I truly hated the circumstances. Her entire family, even relatives I had never met before, made my daughter and I perfectly at home. The first night we stayed with her aunt and uncle because they had a daughter the same age as mine. Then the second night we stayed at my friends to get a full nights rest before driving back. We just hung out with the family and went with their queues on the comfort and healing process. I am truly thankful I was able to be there for her! Saturday there were a few hours when the family just needed to take care of some things, so my daughter and I made the 30 minute drive over to Dauphin Island and got in some much needed Mom and Daughter time. It was definitely not what we had foreseen for our holiday weekend, but with the given circumstances I would not have wanted to spend it any other way.

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4:45 a.m. Friday getting ready to leave the driveway.

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Excited that we get to spend a little quality time together on our first road trip!

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FINALLY went back to sleep. She stayed awake from the time we got in the car until almost Montgomery!!

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She was awake by the time we got to Mobile, and was excited about the bridges. 🙂

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She finally got to meet my best friend’s “little sister”. She enjoyed their entire family! She now has a pepaw and second mimi and a few more aunts and uncles 😉

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My best friend’s younger cousins. She said they were her best friends.

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We were still able to celebrate a little with her family.(Check out those shoes. We can travel 5.5 hours from home and my child will still manage to find the dress up diva shoes to play in.)

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Saturday we did give them a little time to take care of things and headed over to Dauphin Island. She LOVES the ocean and beach. I also think I found the spot for our family vacation next summer! I had never been either.

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Sand, sun, ocean, and cheetos. What more could a girl need? 😉

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Of course we went hunting for sea shells, too.

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She has got this figured out!!

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We stopped in Prattville for gas and lunch on our way home Sunday. She proceeded to roll her window down and let me know she likes for the wind to blow in her hair. Ha! (I locked the windows after that 😉 )

 

I hope you spent your holiday weekend with your loved ones and had a great time!

 

Things to Do North Alabama

Things to Do Thursday

It is Thursday and the weekend is in sight! Just hang in there. 😉 As you are looking forward to the weekend and the rest of summer, check out the list I have compiled below that includes many things to do across North and Central Alabama! I see day trip plans in our future!!

Things to Do – North Alabama!

AL Constitution Village – Huntsville, AL
Alabama Center of Military History & Veterans Memorial Museum – Huntsville, AL
Alabama Music Hall of Fame – Muscle Shoals, AL
Ave Maria Grotto – Cullman, AL
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, AL
Birmingham Zoo – Birmingham, AL
Blount County Covered Bridges – Blount County, AL
Carnegie Visual Arts Center – Decatur, AL
Cathedral Caverns – Woodville, AL
Cook’s Natural Science Museum – Decatur, AL (Check out our trip here.)
Coondog Cemetery – Tuscumbia, AL
Desoto Caverns – Childersburg, AL
Dismals Canyon – Phil Campbell, AL
Early Works Museum – Huntsville, AL
Guntersville Museum – Guntersville, AL
Hartselle Depot Days (September) – Hartselle, AL
Helen Keller Birth Place – Tuscumbia, AL
Historic Huntsville Depot – Huntsville, AL
Jesse Owens Museum – Oakville, AL
LaGrange College Site – Leighton, AL
Little River Canyon – Mentone, AL
Lookout Mountain – Fort Payne, AL
McWane Science Center – Birmingham, AL
Mentone Wedding Chapel – Mentone, AL
Mule Day (September) – Winfield, AL
Noccalula Falls Park – Gadsden, AL
North Alabama Agriplex – Cullman, AL
Oakville Indian Mounds – Oakville, AL
Pickwick Belle – Decatur, AL
Pond Spring (Gen. Joe Wheeler Home) – Courtland, AL
Rattle Snake Saloon and 7 Springs Lodge – Tuscumbia, AL
Rickwood Caverns – Warrior, AL
Ruffner Mountain – Birmingham, AL
Sci-Quest – Hunstville, AL
Splash Adventure Water Park – Bessemer, AL
Stevenson RR Depot Museum – Stevenson, AL
Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention (October) – Athens, AL

U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville, AL (Check out our recent visit with Girls Scouts here.)
Watermelon Festival (August) – Russelville, AL

Have you ever visited any of these?? Have some suggestions that I can add to the list?

Share them below!

I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Free Natural Science Museum in North AL

This past weekend we made a spontaneous decision to take our daughter to the Cook’s Natural Science Museum in Decatur, AL. Admission is free and it is an amazing place to take children ranging 3 and up. (And I love Free Activities.) Spring of 2015 it will be moving to a new, larger location in Downtown Decatur. So be sure and check the website for updates if you decide to visit!

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Cook’s Natural Science Museum

Of course, because the museum is owned by the company/family that owns Cook’s Pest Control, there definitely had to be bugs near the front entrance. 😉

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Most of the gigantic bugs have origins in other countries. THANK GOODNESS!

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This was our favorite set of bugs HAHA! The blue butterflies were a winner.

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This thing could give me nightmares.

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Moth. Large moth.

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A City Wildlife Habitat.

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Next was a walk through of ocean and beach science. Seashells of EVERY shape, color size.

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Pelican. (And a pirate ship steering wheel. Khloe wished she could be on a pirate ship 😉 )

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Porcupine Fish

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The Snout of a saw fish. I cannot imagine the size of the fish on the other end!

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This is always my favorite part in every natural science museum: the rocks, minerals, stones, etc.

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Of course, we had to examine each one of these.

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Now, how often do you get a change to hold a meteorite?

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Here is the said meteorite. It weighed around 20 lbs.

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We loved the “glittery” rocks. 🙂

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Again, my favorite part.

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We found Swiper the Fox!! 😉

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She wanted to stand next to the baby bear.

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I love how realistic it all appeared!

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River/ Pond natural habitat. Possibly Dad’s Favorite part.

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I wish I had a video of Khloe’s reaction when she walked around the corner to this. LOL

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A “torcupan” AKA Porcupine. 😀

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This could almost freak you out as realistic as it appears. Khloe loved to inform us that she knew it was a rattlesnake, but she hates snakes, “yuck!”

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This is an ELEPHANT LEG BONE.

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This was the closest Khloe would get to the Alligator. Haha!

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Full shot of the Alligator.

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Had never seen an Ostrich egg before. Wow.

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Bald Eagle. Magnificent.

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Eagle.

I did miss getting pictures of many of the other fowl. Turkeys, Swans, Canadian Geese, ducks of EVERY kind, hawks, and more. These are definitely not pictures of every single animal in the museum. We easily spent over an hour there. Khloe did not want to leave and would have circled through a few more times if we had let her. We bribed her with ice cream, though, and she was happy to go to the car. 😉

If you live in North Alabama or find yourself passing through, this is a must visit attraction. The current location is free, so make sure you check the website before heading out to make sure the have not moved locations yet.

EZ Girl Scout Troop Camp – Summer 2014

This past weekend, I took my girls to a one night “EZ Girl Scout Troop Camp” in Anniston, Alabama at Camp Cottaquilla.

The girls chose to use their Girl Scout Cookie Sales money to attend a one night camp. We left on Friday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. and headed home Saturday afternoon around 4. To them it was the greatest trip EVER, and that is what mattered!

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Entrance to the Camp

Out of my 4 girls, none of them had ever stayed away from home on a trip like this. So when we pulled in to the gate they were jumping up and down.

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This is the lodge at the front of camp. It houses dining and offices.

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This was our first view. The lake/pond, boat house, flag pole and pool.

After check in we dropped our bags off and headed to the lodge for dinner. They served pizza and drinks. The girls learned some songs and were given an assignment to create a skit that had to do with camp. Hilarious. After that we were given about 30 minutes to get our cabins settled and then we went to the campfire area where the girls sang songs and roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.

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This is where all of the troops come together for the campfire, girl scout songs, and s’mores.

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This is pretty much what all of the cabins looked like.

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Inside of the cabins. We literally FROZE. Who knew it was going to get into the 40’s in May in Alabama!? They held about 6 cots and some walking space.

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This was the bath house for “Four Winds” set of cabins and “Deep Woods” cabins.

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Cabins

Saturday morning it rained. My girls went fishing, canoeing, and pedal boating. In the rain and never cared. Before lunch they also got to do archery. By then it had stopped raining and that was a lot of the girls’ favorite part.

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My young cousin and a camp counselor at the archery range.

After lunch our troop went on a Fairy Hike and a Nature Hike. The fairy hike took them throughout the entire camp and they learned about the 3 fairies that live at Camp Cottaquilla. It is a really cute story and if you have the opportunity to take your girls, I definitely suggest taking them!! The EZ Camp was one night and was just enough for the age of the girls in my troop. Our Junior troop consists of ages 9-11. The other troops there were Daisies and Brownies (K-3rd grade.) I think it was perfect for the maturity levels and ages. They offer week long camps but I think that most appropriate for the older end of Juniors and above.

Have you ever been to a Girl Scout Camp with your troop? What was your experience like?

Why Do I Hate the Word Elopement?

marriage_proposal_clipartMan of the House and I are getting married in October of this year. I previously posted about our engagement that happened last November (“Mommy Will You Marry My Daddy?” ) We have slowly planned over time versus having to rush and do it all at once. We originally found a place in Gadsden, AL that I am still in love with. If you ever need a venue for such an occasion or banquet, etc. please consider patronizing J & D Farms. It is an absolutely beautiful place.

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barnIt is absolutely beautiful. Check out their website if you have time.

We planned to use J & D Farms when we were going to have a traditional style wedding with ceremony and reception following, everyone invited, all of that good stuff. Then it began to feel like things were getting a little out of hand and also making it feel stressful for us. That stopped us in our tracks. We changed our plans completely.

We decided to go on our honeymoon, get married there in a private ceremony, and then have a reception the following weekend when we returned home. Perfect. There will still be a wedding dress, officiant, photographer, etc. at the ceremony. There will still be a full blown reception with food, family, music, drinks and fun. Oh, and a photographer there as well. Our daughter will still have a pretty little dress, and I’ll still get my hair done professionally for both days. Here’s the deal, though: It will be less stressful, it will be per our wishes, and we won’t have any regrets. Sounds like an absolute perfect wedding day(s) to us!

Then what happened was every where I looked in the Asheville area, offered elopement packages. “Great venue for your private elopement!” Hotels offer elopement packages, there are officiant and photographer combined elopement packages. Elopement, elopement, elopement. I hated it. Elopement? We are not eloping. Are we? To me an elopement is a spur of the moment hey, let’s go get married kind of thing. I was still taking 8 months to plan our  day and trip and honeymoon. Does that count as an elopement? I guess since we aren’t inviting anyone and it will just be us then it is considered an elopement? It still makes me want to be like “wait, this is still like a wedding and we are still having a reception! No one is running off and secretly getting married??” Ha! I know I am being ridiculous, maybe. But I still hate the word. Our invitations for the reception say “following a private ceremony”. Cannot bring myself to say “we are eloping.” To each his own, right? I don’t view it as an elopement, so who cares in the end. (;

Am I the only one who doesn’t like using that word to describe my wedding events?

2014 Bucket List

Wow. It truly seems like this past year went by faster than any before. Maybe it was all of the activity that kept us so busy!

This year in 2013 we:

  1. Celebrated our daughter’s 2nd Birthday!
  2. Purchased our first home (yay, no more climbing apartment stairs!)
  3. Participated in a Dragon Boat Race together! (I really wish there was a video.)
  4. Experienced the sudden death of a friend.
  5. Went on a family canoe trip.
  6. Completed an internship while working full time.
  7. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree!!!
  8. Took our first family trip to the zoo.
  9. Bought a Welsh Pony for our daughter.
  10. Attended monthly youth rodeos for our daughter.
  11. Successfully (we think) planted our first flower bed together!
  12. Welcomed a new niece to the family!
  13. WE GOT ENGAGED!!!
  14. I volunteered to become a Girl Scout troop leader.
  15. Adopted our first Salvation Army Christmas Angel.
  16. Got a 12 week old Miniature Dachshund (long-haired, dapple) puppy for Christmas.
  17. I overcame an iron deficiency after 2 IV iron treatments.
  18. I am still battling an anemia induced B12 deficiency.
  19. Successfully potty trained our daughter. Hallelujah!
  20. Decided on/ purchased our first major appliance together: a Dishwasher.

Of course, we did the celebrating birthdays of multiple family members and friends (trust me when I say MULTIPLE); attended weddings and showers for those getting married; and of course showed up for every holiday get together with both sides of our family.

Did I mention that we have a two year old who has two speeds: asleep and wide open?

Maybe that list does not seem as busy as others, but it was very constant for us. And 2014 already looks busy!

With planning an upcoming baby shower in January for my best friend, a 3rd birthday party for our daughter in February, and then our wedding in October I am already tired. Ha! I feel like I should’ve went into a career involving event planning.

Throughout the last week I have been reflecting on this year, how it has flown by, all of the events coming in 2014, and like most honest people, the things I regret never getting around to or that I had hoped to do. I’ve decided instead of doing “resolutions”, I want us to create a Bucket List for 2014. I don’t want our end of 2014 year reflections to mainly be surviving or going through the motions of life. I want to accomplish more than that. I want us individually and as a family to be more adventurous, dedicated to one another, and accomplish those projects we keep procrastinating. Here are the things we hope to experience and accomplish this year:

2014 Bucket List for Our Family

1. Sky dive. Isn’t this usually on everyone’s “Life Bucket List”? I wanted to sky dive for my 18th birthday, but you had to be 19 without parental consent. There was no way my mother was signing a consent form allowing me to jump from a plane. I want to sky dive this Summer. Obviously, the toddler will have to miss this adventure.

2. Zip line through the mountains. We are going on our honeymoon in Asheville, North Carolina in October and have actually found a place to check this off of the list. Yay!

3. Spontaneous weekend Road Trip. I know that we will be going on our honeymoon in October and need to be budgeting for the wedding, but the honeymoon trip will be made without our daughter. We already missed out on any traveling in 2013 because I used every bit of my vacation and sick time from work to complete my internship. Even if we do a simple Memorial Day weekend trip to stay with friends in Gulf Shores, it will be a needed refresher.

4. Put down electronics and focus more on one another. You can find the inspiration and need for this in a previous post about becoming a Hands Free Mama.

5. Complete major outdoor projects. We really NEED to refinish/refurbish/revamp our storage building and build the pony a stable and put up a fence for her, so that we can bring her home from my in-laws house. She has already eaten a few young tree saplings. (Oops.) And I WANT to plant our front flower bed since we did the back one first. I know that sounds backwards, but the way our house was originally built, the back is the curb appeal view when pulling into the drive way. Hopefully we are going to be here for a few years, so I’m not trying to rush ALL of the projects and to-do lists. If we can get those three things done this year I will just be happy as a lark. (;

6. Survive our wedding. No really. Not because I am a bridezilla and plan to make it a helluva day for everyone, but because I want to hopefully have a stress-free planning/wedding day, and then have a great honeymoon trip. I want to have the plans made without procrastinating so that the day can just flow and happen. Surely that’s what every bride wants, right?

7. Invest more in our relationship. With both of us working full time and having a 2 year old, there leaves little time for the necessity of sleep, let alone time to invest in ourselves and in our relationship the way we should. If there is one thing I want to make a priority this coming year, it is to remember our relationship needs more. Even if we have a low-cost date night just once a month, that will be more than we accomplished in 2013!

8. Practice patience. I want to learn how to practice patience with our daughter as she is learning and growing and changing on us.I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

9. Let Go. Let go of the people and things in our lives that we cannot control and that we cannot continuously please. Letting go of how much effort I put into wanting to achieve an environment of “harmony” or “getting along” with the overly and unnecessarily negative people that are permanent figures in my life is a huge issue of mine. To be such a strong willed, opinionated, and minded person it amazes even me that I have such a problem with this. I cannot and do not want to remove them from my life, but the concern for their happiness/ approval/ “friendship” before my happiness has come to a halt. Hey, lessons have been learned this year!

10. Focus and invest 110% more on my daughter than I already do. I hope that we can develop a schedule of 2 nights a week that are ALWAYS devoted to crafts/ learning/ bible study with her. We already do those things, but this week might be 4 nights a week, next week just once, then 2 weeks might pass until it happens again. I want to get us on a schedule of consistent development and learning time.

11. Learn ABC’s by recognition. This one is for our daughter, as I hope you knew. (; She can singe her ABC’s 50 times in a row and never mess up. But we are still struggling with recognizing a majority of them on sight. By this time next year, I want to have made significant progress on this.

12. Pray more. I believe this is self explanatory. Before making major decisions in our lives, I want us to learn how to pray more and end up stressing less!

13. Live. We both want to learn to let go of obsessing with the little things or the stressors in life. Our daughter spills an entire glass of milk in the kitchen floor because she is truly trying to be a “big girl” and help, hey it is okay. They make towels and napkins for that. Life is about so much more than that.

So how was your New Year’s? Do you have any important resolutions or a bucket list for 2014?

Whatever your new year thoughts and plans are, I hope that you thoroughly enjoy life this year and all it has to offer!

From my family to yours, have a great 2014!