Thanksgiving Road Trip to Tybee Island Part 1

Last week, we took a family road trip to my absolute favorite place in the world, Tybee Island, Georgia. I’ve been trying to get an opportunity to sit down and recap it, while dealing with holiday projects! It’s been a crazy few days! However, tonight my daughter mentioned that my biggest fan happens to go to school with her and has been asking when I’m going to make a post about our trip, so I figured I should not leave my adoring public hanging on any longer.

We started our trip by jumping into the car around 4 AM and heading out of town. We like leaving crazy early because we are delusional and we hold out hope that young kids will sleep for a majority of the drive. We were wrong, as always.

We decided to stop in Nashville for lunch and to stretch our legs. For the most part I can say that this was a horrible idea. First off, we only had road snacks on the way there and we were basically hangry when we got there. We parked at Cumberland Park and walked over John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to downtown Nashville. The bridge was very cool and we got some incredible views of Nasvhille.

Nashville view from Pedestrian Bridge

This was about where the magic stopped. It was crowded and loud and honestly with three kids in tow and no food in my body I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t take in much because I was trying to keep eyes on my kids (specifically my four year old) AND every place we tried to step in to, to grab some food, was closed. We ended up at Margaritaville, and the food was just not very good. Nashville has been on my travel list for a while, so it was a bit of a let down, but I think we may try it again when it is just the two of us. We did leave there and head down to the Music City Walk of Fame. It was fun finding some of our favorite singers starts, such as Reba, Miranda Lambert, and Johnny Cash.

From there, we jumped back in the car for a couple hours and then stopped in Chattanooga to sleep for the night. I will for sure go back there! I wish I had gotten photos, but it was dark. It was clear and clean and quiet and it’s been added to my travel list. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Lookout Mountain. The only downside was that their grab and go breakfast didn’t include any meat. We decided to pass on muffins and apple juice and we hit the McDonald’s drive thru instead.

Once back in the car we finished our trek to Tybee. Just before Savannah I started to notice palm trees, and then I loudly pointed them out every single time we passed them. My family is so lucky, obviously.

We stopped by Hotel Tybee to see if we could check in early and much to our surprise, our room was ready! After hauling all of our things up to our room, we immediately went to the beach. Hotel Tybee is in a great location for this slower time of year. The hotel is right on the beach and the only thing separating the building from ocean is a public parking lot. It’s right next to downtown, so you can easily park your car and stay parked for a majority of your stay. I think it would probably be a bit crowded during peak season, but I loved it during this slow time. Also, I’d like to say that I really liked Hotel Tybee! It was clean and while all of the hotels on the island are older (which is part of the charm), you can tell that the owners are putting a lot of effort into bringing it up to date. I would absolutely recommend for your Tybee Island stay!

After playing on the beach, for a bit, we ran downtown for grown up refreshments because that’s what adults do when they have been in the car for 16+ hours with a 4 year old that was asking us every five seconds why it is taking so long. After stopping at Wet Willies for daiquiri’s (Tybee Island is open container legal! You can carry your drink around all over town while walking. However, it has been voted that there are going to be changes to that rule after January 1, 2021.) By the way, I got the “Naked Willie” which is sugar free. I liked it, my husband did not. However, I don’t drink soda or extra sugary drinks and he is in a serious relationship with Mountain Dew and Monster, so take that for what its worth.

To soften the blow of drinking slushies in front of our kids, and not being able to share with them, I offered to get them some ice cream. I noticed a super cute frozen yogurt store when we had first walked down town, so I ushered the kids inside. Beau & Arrow’s Frozen Yogurt was amazing! They have a wall full of flavors to choose from, and you just tell them what flavor you would like, and then you can choose from a huge selection of toppings. I saw everything for toppings from sprinkles to gummy bears. Pre-covid you would be getting your own yogurt, but ya know, pandemic, so they were happy to fill it up for you. You pay by the weight and honestly, I thought that the price was very affordable especially for a vacation spot. We might or might not have snuck a bite of our toddlers birthday cake with gummy bears (market research obviously) and it was delicious. Also, the owner is such an incredibly sweet woman, who is also from the Midwest originally. I loved talking to her while we were there. And if you think I’m going to go back in there for my own frozen yogurt on my next trip, when I don’t have to share with kids, you are absolutely correct.

With our treats in hand, we headed back to the beach to build a sandcastle and my 13 year old daughter decided this was a good opportunity to go into the freezing ocean up to her waistline in a hoodie and blue jeans. I mean, YOLO.

After a while of staring at her and shaking our heads, questioning where we went wrong, we decided we’d better head back into the hotel room to have her change and hopefully avoid hypothermia.

After a change of clothes, we headed down to Sting Ray’s for dinner. I had the crab cakes, the older girls had crab legs, and the husband had a tuna steak. The toddler had a corn dog that she probably licked before proclaiming she was full. Everything was so incredibly good and worth the visit! I will visit this one again!

After dinner we trekked back to the hotel and passed out before 10:00 EST. because vacation can be exhausting, even when in your favorite place on the planet.

Stayed tuned for part 2!

Home Makeover: Quarantine Edition- Master Bedroom

What a long, weird summer we had this year. After I finally got sick of baking 545154536 loafs of banana bread and finish every non-important task on my to do list, I decided to take on a new task. Basically, I think I was just trying to control anything I could while the rest of the world was feeling out of control. So, why not completely redecorate my house? We went from a white farmhouse to a dark western boho theme. And I am in love with the outcome.

So, I think now is a good time to start showing off my progress! Our house isn’t totally done, but really is a house ever totally done anyway?

Today we are going to start with my bedroom!

Here’s the before:

While I did really love this bedroom, I also had done our house in a neutral farmhouse style so that it could easily be listed and resold if needed. (I have commitment issues with houses… I usually want to move every three years and we have been here for 5.) It was time to make it a home for us instead of for other people.

I started out by painting the accent wall Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams. Sidenote: I learned over the course of this remodel that I will only buy paint from Sherwin Williams. Previously, our entire house was Dover White by Sherwin Williams, but I bought i

t all through Lowes. What happened was, no matter if I gave them the same card or the same paint formula every single time, the color never matched from one can to another. I know it’s normal for a small variation but I have had none of those issues with Sherwin Williams. Also, it’s worth it to pay a little more for good quality paint. You can do 4 coats of the cheap stuff or 2 coats of the good stuff. Spend the money and buy quality paint. Sherwin Williams always has sales, watch for their coupons.

Anyway, like I said, the accent wall is Tricorn Black, and the other walls are Accessible Beige. The person at Sherwin Williams helped me pick it out based on wanting to match with Tricorn and he did an excellent job. It fits the vibe of this room so well.

The duvet cover is from Target. This is the most comfortable bedding I’ve probably ever had. I also picked up the faux fur throw pillows at Target, as well as the lamps! The lamps are no longer showing online, but here is the same lamp in pink. I picked up the throw blanket at a local flea market.

Now, the cow print. That’s a whole freaking saga. Initally, I saw that our local-ish Target had a cow print in stock that I liked, so I jumped in the car and went to get it. Only to find out that it sold the night before through pickup. They were out of stock. I didn’t have time to look at other stores, so back home I went with my tail between my legs, but also with my bedding, lamps, and throw pillows (oops).

I ended up calling a bunch of Targets, out of stock everywhere. My local Target again said they had it so I tried to order it through pickup and it got cancelled, twice. I found a replacement from kohls, and I was so happy… until they cancelled. I just happened to find the exact one that Kohl’s had, on Overstock.com. He was exactly what I needed to fill the space.

I also scored this cactus print from Target during my accidental trip. I think it’s perfect in the corner. Also the hooden hanger for my bags was a perfect yard sale find! Black curtains are from Walmart.

There are still a few things I would like to add, but I love the way it is coming together. Did you do any major home changes during quarantine?

Guest Post: Handy Tips for a Safe, Healthy Halloween in 2020

Welcome back friends! If you are looking for some alternatives to Halloween in a pandemic…. we’ve got you covered!

Please enjoy this guest blogger post from More Happier Moms

Handy Tips for a Safe, Healthy Halloween in 2020

Spooky season has arrived, and Halloween is just around the corner! However, we all have to take a different approach to the holiday this year. After all, trick-or-treating and costume parties are about as far from COVID-safe practices as you can get – and you certainly won’t see anybody bobbing for apples this year. 

More Happier Moms knows how important it is to keep traditions going, even if you have to find new ways to do them. That’s why we’ve gathered together this list of alternative ways to celebrate Halloween in 2020: 

Host an Outdoor Party 

COVID-19 spreads mainly through airborne particles, so wide-open spaces keep your risk low. 

Organize a Trunk or Treat 

Trick-or-treat alternatives make a lot of sense this year.

  • Trunk-or-treats are a longstanding tradition for kids in areas where traditional trick-or-treating won’t work. 
  • You can apply the same principle to COVID-19 safety by organizing a socially distant trunk-or-treat with family members or your COVID-19 bubble
  • Check out these tips for keeping this kind of celebration as safe as possible. 

Go Virtual 

Connecting online keeps everyone safe. 

  • Use a chat service like Zoom to host a virtual costume party, so your little ones and their friends can share their spooky looks. 
  • Host a virtual pumpkin carving contest – everyone carves their pumpkin ahead of time, then get together on zoom to show off your creations
  • Grown ups can enjoy a virtual event, too. For example, schedule a Halloween Happy Hour where all the guests enjoy the same festive cocktail

Yes, this will be a different kind of Halloween, but we can still make the most of it. These are just a few of the ways you can embrace the Halloween spirit without significantly raising your risk. Take care, and Happy Haunting!

Visit More Happier Moms for more ideas and inspiration for your parenting journey!

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

Great Salt Plains- Jet, Oklahoma

Hi Friends! It’s been a while since I posted. Oh goodness quarantine has been so weird. And of course we had to cancel our vacation to Florida, so we decided to take a quick road trip to the Salt Plains in Jet, Oklahoma. I had been dying to go for a couple years, so it was a good excuse to go.

It’s about a 3 hour trip from our house, so its a decent sized road trip. Definitely make sure to stop at the gas station to use restrooms in Jet before heading out to the Crystal Digging Area. There is nothing out there but wide open plains and a port a potty that may not even be open, if you happen to go during a pandemic.

The salt plains themselves are gorgeous. It would be an amazing place to take some photos! My girls weren’t interested though.

Make sure to take LOTS of water. Not only to drink but also to clean up after digging in the clay/salt. I would have taken a bigger water container with us if I was to do it over again, instead of just water bottles.

Bring a shovel, or more than one, my husband was super excited that we were doing manual labor instead of lounging on the beach in Pensacola.

Basically, you dig deep down into the clay until you hit water, about 2 feet. Once you hit water, let the hole fill up and then use the water to slosh up against the sides of the hole. The clay will wash away and the crystals can be found. We found one small crystal between all of us, and I think the biggest issue is that we didn’t go far enough into the plains.

What we did get is really, really dirty though. Turns out the clay is practically sunscreen so I ended up with a spotted sunburn. Make sure you sunscreen up and when you get done, do another layer. That salt is HOT.

All in all, it was fun but if we were to go back I would go deeper into the plains to find more crystals and I would go in the fall or early Spring when it isn’t 56415615 degrees outside.

After the plains we went to the lake area. It was $10 for parking. We parked the car and paid online and then carried our food down to a picnic table. After eating our lunch we took turns changing in the car (No restrooms, remember) and then we went down to the lake.

That was the most disgusting lake I’ve ever been in. The bottom was complete mud. You could walk out into the middle of the lake and still only be knee deep in the water, but by then your legs are covered up to your calves in mud. Maybe it would have been fun to have a floatie, but otherwise. We weren’t impressed. Except my toddler, who had a great time building a sand castle. She still talks about the beach we went to and the sand castle she built.

Overall, the lake was not worth the trip to me and the crystal digging would have been better when it’s not as hot. Maybe in April when the season opens, or October right before it closes down. We won’t make another trip down there, but if we were in the area we would definitely stop and try again. And I would really like to take my girls to get some cool sepia/vintage photos.

What local trips have you made this quarantine summer?

Senior Celebration Despite the Pandemic, Small Town Style

Photo Credit: Sheri Thompson

Even amidst a global pandemic, our small Kansas town gave the class of 2020 Seniors a night that they will never forget. Last Sunday, the community of Caney rallied together to put on a night of celebration for the kids that have had to postpone their graduation date. While the governor specifically stated that graduations are not allowed, the school board did some quick thinking and made an unforgettable event for the kids while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. This is how the Shoot the U and Cruise Down Memory Lane for the Seniors was born.

To fully understand this event, let me first explain this small town tradition. Like many small towns, the kids of Caney spent many evenings cruising around, listening to music and waving at their friends. After driving down the main street of town, actually named 4th street, they would make a U turn at the end of the street and continue back down the street where they came from. This would lead them around the city park and then back to that same route. The fun in shooting the U was always less about the drive itself but about seeing your friends, listening to music, and showing off your vehicle. This tradition has been a part of Caney for as long as most can remember.

So, it only made sense for the Seniors to be celebrated with a Shoot the U Event. The Seniors began by lining up at the grade school, where most of them started their school career. They were allowed two vehicles per child. The kids and parents did an incredible job of putting together unique vehicles. There were kids riding in the back of trucks (one in a recliner in the truck bed!), kids on trailers, in convertibles, jeeps, cars, ATV’s and so much more. Vehicles were decorated with balloons and signs, and chalk paint, etc.

While the Seniors and their families traveled down 4th Street, the streets were lined with spectators. (While practicing social distancing of course). There were aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers and neighbors snapping photos and cheering the kids on. Before shooting the U, each child was announced, as well as sports and clubs they were part of during their high school career, what scholarships they received and what their future plans are. Photos were taken, and it was broadcast via Facebook live for the people that couldn’t be there and for everyone to view later.

After this, they traveled down the road to the football stadium and then the high school to receive additional gifts. There were photos taken and goody bags given. Awards were handed out. Yard signs and photo plaques were given to each child. Photo banners hung on the highway.

Also, it didn’t stop with the school administration. The entire community did an incredible job to create an unforgettable night. The local gas station donated $5 in gas for the event for each senior. Sonic donated a free drink to each senior and Big G’s, the local burger place, donated one ice cream cone coupon per senior.

While these kids had to miss out on so many things for their last year for high school, and nothing can ever make up for that, I truly believe that this helped soften the blow. There is nothing quite like living in a small town. Especially when someone is in need. I have watched this town rally together so many times over the course of my life and I had no doubt that they would love our kids just as fiercely as always.

Easy Sign Making with vinyl and PVPP

I know everyone is bored in the house and looking for DIY projects, so I thought I’d share one of my favorites. I love to use vinyl as a stencil to make signs. I use what is called the paint, vinyl, paint, peel method. (PVPP)

I start off by painting a piece of wood the color that I want my lettering to be. This sign was burgundy with white lettering so I painted the board white first and let it dry.

While it dried I cut out the letters with some permanent grade vinyl that I wanted for my sign. Next I laid them out to make sure they fit. After I made sure they fit and I measured I attached the vinyl to the wood using transfer tape.

And then I painted over the vinyl letters with white paint. You want to use the same color paint first on the board so it will create a good deal. This helps prevent leaking.

After that coat of paint dries, paint over everything with your board color. This took a few coats.

Once the paint has a little bit of time to get tacky I peel off the letters using a wedding tool. I did have a small amount of leaking under the vinyl due to the amount of coats I needed, so I used a small brush to touch up those spots.

And ta da! I let it dry for a few hours and then it was ready to go to it’s new home.

Banana Ice Cream

Have you ever taken something super healthy and ruined it by making it even more delicious? That’s what I did tonight, whoops. I learned about this recipe the other night at an online Tupperware party. Thanks to the zillions of frozen bananas in my freezer I had to try it out.

What you need:

  • 5-6 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • a handful of chocolate chips

Throw the bananas and the milk in a blender, blend together. Stir in chocolate chips.

I made two batches because I had a ton of bananas. Then we threw it in the freezer for about an hour. We put chocolate syrup and caramel on ours because well, yolo.

It’s cold today but this will be a great summer treat!

A letter to my 2020 Senior

My sweet Rachel. You came into the world in August of 2002. What should have been the beginning of my senior year of high school was actually my first taste of motherhood. To say that we grew up together is a gross understatement. I went from being a teenager girl without a plan for her life to being the mother of a bald headed blonde baby doll. The moment I held you for the first the first time, it changed me. I realized that I had self worth. I saw that I had someone else to live for. I knew that as long as I had you, everything was going to be ok. And, somehow, I was right. We have made it through so many things throughout the course of your life. Some days I look back and cringe because I wish I could have given you something easier and more stable. A cookie cutter family with a white picket fence. No traveling back and forth on weekends. Just a normal life with no worries or conflict.

But, I have to remember this is just as much part of your story as it is mine. Being raised by a divided family for all those years likely taught you as much as it taught me. I just hope you know that you are loved by all of us, both sides of your family, and we are all rooting for you to succeed. You’ve grown from a blonde haired freckle faced kid that loves video games and art to this amazing young lady that is going to use art and technology to start your next chapter, as an auto body mechanic. (Seriously, I cant get over how bad ass of a career choice this is.)

I hate the fact that your senior year was ruined by this virus. I know you were looking forward to prom so much. And graduation! We should be watching you walk across the stage in a couple of weeks, but instead we are waiting and watching to see if there will be a formal graduation ceremony once our state opens back up. I hate the uncertainty that you are facing. I hate that you’ve applied to your tech school but don’t even know if school will be opening in fall. What kind of weird life is this now? When you tell your kids about this one day they will likely look at you like you have three heads. Be sure to tell them that we had to wear masks to the grocery store too. And that parks were closed. They will think you’ve lost your mind and maybe have you put in a nursing home.

In just a couple of weeks you will be wrapping up your senior year and you will be moving on to the next stage of your life. In all honesty, that kind of shares the hell out of me but also, I am so excited for you. I hope and pray that this stupid pandemic will remind you to take nothing for granted. Life is short and tomorrow isn’t promised.

Here are some things it’s helped me realize:

  • Don’t rush growing up. It’s really not that fun anyway.
  • Go to school for what you want to do and then if you hate it?! The world won’t end. Do something else. At least you’ll know.
  • Travel while you don’t have kids to worry about dragging along (or leaving behind with your mom).
  • Eat food that you love and don’t have to share with anyone… and while you still have a decent metabolism. But also eat some veggies sometimes too.
  • Decorate your house the way you want because you are the one that has to look at it every day. Trends go away and you’ll get sick of looking at your farmhouse decor while living in the middle of town.
  • Maybe develop some healthy habits like drinking water and exercising so that you won’t be forced to later in life when it’s a lot harder to make changes.
  • Find something you love to do and do it. It doesn’t have to be a side hustle or even related to your career. If playing video games makes you happy awesome, or painting, or reading or whatever… find what that thing is and make time for it every week. Don’t lose sight of who you are and what makes you happy in pursuit of paying the rent.
  • Your family is always here for you. Even if they are kind of annoying or a total mess sometimes, we love you and we are always your safe place. ❤️

I can’t wait to see you finally walk across that stage and celebrate your accomplishments. (Even if it’s just the 5 of us.) You have made me so damn proud. Corona may have messed up your senior year but I promise you, these are not the best years of your life anyway. They are just a step stone to take you where you need to go next…. and I can not wait to see what is waiting for you next.

Pandemic Update

Oh my goodness. Hi. Hello. The world is closed. So… weird, right? I’m on day 37 of social distancing. I still maintain that I am definitely an introvert and I really do enjoy being at home, but maybe only on my own terms. I sure do miss buying overpriced coffee and wandering around Hobby Lobby and TJ Maxx while my children are at SCHOOL. Not at home with me every freaking day. Asking me to open fruit snacks and complaining about being bored. I do not love asking 867935626235.2 times a day if all of their school assignments have been turned in. I am not made for the homeschool life at all. I have a senior that is missing so many lasts. I have a 7th grader that lives for sports and is a social butterfly. I should be complaining about how much time we are spending at the ball field right now. AND we have a 3 year old that doesn’t understand what is going on, but she knows that school is closed and she does dance classes on mommy’s laptop now.

When all of this started, I was a little bit excited. What! 2 weeks at home! “I’m going to finish projects and get caught up and oh my gosh I’m going to be so productive.” Uh, nope. Actually I’m going to spend this time worrying about my kids and their sanity and maybe cry 8 times a day because everything is so fucked.

I have to do lists and those items just move from one day to the next. It’s been a month and I haven’t decluttered our entire house or written a novel or made so many things for my flea market booths that they will be overflowing. I haven’t restocked my etsy shop or lost 12 pounds or anything. Hell, this is the second blog post I’ve even attempted. And I HATE that but some things are more important.

It’s ok that I haven’t changed the world, because instead I’ve embraced so many things. I’ve spent time with my kids. We have baked and hung out and talked. I’ve played with my toddler. We had smores around the fire pit. We have talked about feelings and fears and anxiety and depression. We have laughed. We took pandemic porch pictures.

My car isn’t racking up a zillion miles because it’s sitting instead of running to town 2-3 times a day. The gas I’m saving is crazy.

I’ve exercised 40 days in a row.

We are eating healthier because we aren’t eating out, basically ever. We have gotten take out 2 times in over a month. I am sick of cooking my own meals, but my body appreciates it.

We aren’t spending a ton of money because I’m not running to walmart 2 times a week and buying random impulse things. I make a list throughout the week and then do grocery pickup.

Everyone is getting more sleep. I love not getting up at 6:30 in the morning. I’m going to be spoiled and ruined when school starts again.

A lot of these changes are going to come into play with how I live my life after this is over. There are things I love and things I took for granted (like date nights with my hubby!).

It’s easy to look at this situation and think of all the downsides. What we are missing out on. What we have had taken away. (prom, graduation, vacations, etc.) but try to be grateful too. We are getting a chance to slow down in at least one area of our lives.

However, it’s ok to be sad too. Crying is ok. Being sad and angry is ok. Your feelings are valid and even though other people have it worse than you, that doesn’t dismiss your feelings. Own them. Deal with them and then take a deep breath and think about all the things you have to be thankful for. You can do hard things. We are going to make it through this.

How are you doing?

Sand Alphabet Dig

Thanks to the Corona outbreak, my kids have now been out of school for going on three weeks. My older kids are still waiting for the school to finalize their plan for continuing education, but my toddler is BORED. She doesn’t understand that we won’t be going back to school this year. So, I decided this is a good opportunity to put my Early Childhood Degree to good use.

The biggest thing to remember with young kids (and probably older kids too now that I think of it) is that they learn so much through play. I will not be sitting my three year old down to work on a bunch of worksheets. We may throw one in here and there but the most important thing I can do is let her play!

This activity is super easy. Here’s what I used:

  • Sand
  • A plastic tub
  • Letter magnets
  • A piece of paper
  • Page protector (optional)
  • A marker
  • Shovel and sifter

I had all of these things on hand. If you don’t have sand you would use rice or rocks or beans or dirt or whatever you can find. Be creative!

I started with writing her name on the paper and covering the paper with a page protector. This isn’t necessary but it’ll make the paper last longer.

Then we dumped the sand in the tub, and added the letters. I stirred them around to bury them.

Then I explained what we were doing and let her go for it!

Also, remember that their attention span is not super long so if they don’t actually finish it’s OK. My kid gave up after finding a few letters and now she is burying herself in sand. 🤷🏻‍♀️ The point is that we played, and we did something new. (And it wasn’t on the iPad! Score!)