Edinburgh, the Last Stop

view from the train, apparently not as entertaining as T. Swift
view from the train, apparently not as entertaining as T. Swift

Our final stop on our United Kingdom vacation was Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the cherry on top of what was already a fantastic trip. The 3 hour train ride was a little long for Luna, but we had a nice view and Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” video on repeat to keep us (i.e. Luna) happy. We learned quickly that Edinburgh was going to be the coldest of all our stops, but also the most beautiful. Stop #1: Edinburgh Castle.

IMG_4431 IMG_4434 IMG_4445

It was very windy. So windy, that it was difficult to push the stroller uphill. I tried to stay inside the state rooms, exhibits and gift shops as much as possible. There was a minute where I went outside in a courtyard area… I sat Luna down, told Peter to watch her and walked ahead of them to study the map. A few seconds later, I turned around to ask Husband something and was shocked to see a Chinese woman holding Luna and her Chinese tour group of about 20 surrounding them and taking photos with their iPads. I then see Husband with this face…

charlie

But, really, who wouldn't want to pick up the cutie and take her picture?
But, really, who wouldn’t want to pick up this cutie and take her picture?

We walked around doing touristy stuff and exploring the dark and mysterious St. Giles Cathedral before hitting the sack that night. We had to go to bed early because I was making everyone wake up an hour before sunrise the next day. We got up with the moon, dressed in lots of layers, put Luna in the carrier and started walking.

IMG_4491

The goal was to walk through town, to Holyrood Park and hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. It’s a very tall hill formed from an extinct volcano and is very popular for hiking, but is known for being a little difficult and often very windy. The plan was to hike to the top at sunrise, take in the amazing views, hike down and eat an enormous breakfast at a local family restaurant where I made a reservation. That was the plan…

Halfway up we could barely stand the incredible winds whipping us in the face, and poor baby Luna could not make it one more step. She was inconsolable and I felt like the worst Mom in the history of Moms for even attempting to hike with her to the top of a windy small mountain. In an attempt to redeem myself, I sent the boys up to the top and hiked back down with a baby strapped to me as the sun came up. I managed to find the restaurant where I had made a reservation and decided I’d have coffee until the boys made it down.

IMG_4498 IMG_4515

At least they got to enjoy the views.
At least they got to enjoy the views.

Here’s a video that shows just how strong the wind at the top of Arthur’s Seat was, and of my Dad-in-law almost falling down.

I was confused to find the doors locked, and even more confused when I read on the door that they don’t open until 11am everyday, especially since I made a reservation online for breakfast at 9am. I began walking uphill on The Royal Mile back to our hotel feeling peeved that I missed the sunrise, the views, a huge breakfast and had yet to have any coffee. Luna was feeling like 50 pounds hanging from my shoulders and was sound asleep, but as I carried her and wondered the very quiet empty streets as the sun came up I began to appreciate the moment. How many people can say they walked the Royal Mile with their baby in their arms as the sun rose? Besides, we got coffee and breakfast somewhere else.

Okay, I have rambled a lot on this post, so let me speed through some other top spots in Edinburgh. We hit up Holyroodhouse Palace where Queen Elizabeth stays during the summer and where Mary Queen of Scots lived and watched her boyfriend get murdered! (Have I mentioned my new fascination with Mary yet?)

IMG_4549 IMG_4560 IMG_4591 IMG_4596

We climbed the teeny tiny narrow 271 steps of spiral staircases of Sir Walter Scott’s monument, shopped and ate lots of good food. (Food blog to come!)

IMG_4604

view from Scott's Monument
view from Scott’s Monument

IMG_4675

We toured the Royal Yacht Britannia, the retired yacht of her royal majesty. It was impressive and interesting and oh-so very ridiculous. The queen would have the boat travel to somewhere, say Australia, then she would fly there with her forty-three palace workers and stay on the yacht like a floating hotel. That’s a little nutty.

IMG_4732

The queen's bed, surprisingly modest.
The queen’s bed, surprisingly modest.

Husband’s highlight of Scotland was the video game exhibit (no photos allowed) at the National Museum of Scotland. Luna loved the kids playroom, running around the video game exhibit distracting people and dancing with me to “Just Dance”.

IMG_4813 IMG_4825

And, that’s the end of our amazing trip. No worries, though, there are many more travel stories to come!

green eyes

Cheers!

Running for a Cause

small things

I may have mentioned one or twenty times that we (“team workout buddies!”), have been running 5k’s every month in order to not only mix up our workouts, but to stay motivated when it comes to running. Well, we decided to skip the month of March because we have all just been too busy to even think about going for a run, plus winter just won’t go away. However, while searching for a race to do in April, I came across the “Free to Breath” 5k happening in Nashville on March 21st.

The Free to Breathe is a non-profit raising funds for lung cancer research. This hits close to home for me. I lost an Uncle to lung cancer when I was 17. I have a cousin who is a lung cancer survivor, and a friend who is also a survivor. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks, and I want to do my part help fund research in order to find a cure. Sooo, looks like we are doing a race this month!

Our team of 5 will run in honor of our loved ones next weekend and there are a couple of ways that you can help support us and our cause, if you so choose.

  • Join our team! If you are in the area, then sign up here, join our team and run the 5k with us! Go Team Workout Buddies! (Yeah, I know, we need a better name… suggestions?)
  • You can click here and make a donation with just a click of the mouse. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

act of kindness

It’s been raining all week, so hopefully the sun comes out soon and I can squeeze in some runs before the race. Either way, I’ll cross the finish line feeling proud and hopeful that I made a difference.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Cheers!

The Noble Trip To York

IMG_4247

While planning our trip to the United Kingdom I knew I wanted to start in London and end in Edinburgh, but I was not sure where we would stop in between. In fact, I basically looked at the map and thought, York looks about halfway…okay, done. My handy dandy  Fodor’s travel book, as well at the Internet, helped me outline an itinerary for York while staying in London. I knew NOTHING about York prior to our trip, so I needed all the help I could get, especially since I was the designated tour guide.

IMG_4259

Our first stop was Grey’s Court, which is a magical country cottage hidden between the Minster and the city walls. It’s a home that is over 900 years old and is now a restaurant/hotel. We had lunch and coffee and it was oh.my.gosh. amazing. Great food. Great service. Great ambiance. And, a great view. Everything we ordered was delicious and when we finished our waiter offered to give us a tour of the rooms and the property. Let me just say this; if you ever find yourself in York, book a room at Grey’s Court.

grey's

No high chairs, but Luna enjoyed eating on the comfy couch
No high chairs, but Luna enjoyed eating on the comfy couch

Next stop was the York Minster and I swear to you this was the most interesting church I have ever visited. St. Peter’s Basilica is unbelievable, but there was something so captivating about the Minster. Maybe it was the lack of tourist, the stain glass exhibit or the underground rooms… whatever it was, it kept us there for hours. The boys got to climb the spiral staircases to the top in capture some amazing views, but it was “too dangerous for children” so Luna and I stayed down below.

IMG_4112

There was on room with dozens of these heads, each one different and so detailed.
There was on room with dozens of these heads, each one different and so detailed.

IMG_4160

poor baby was terrified to walk on the glass floor!
poor baby was terrified to walk on the glass floor!

We spent the rest of the day walking and touring. We went through the Shambles (old narrow street that was once all butchers and now touristy unique shops). We naively hiked to the top of Clifford’s Hill, only to learn that the tower was closed. We drank beer and cider at the Trembling House of Madness, a cozy pub adorned with dozens of stuffed animal heads and is apparently haunted, and did some shopping, of course.

The Shambles
The Shambles

IMG_4178 IMG_4179

Day 2 we did some extreme walking. As soon as the sun was up we walked through the Museum Gardens before having breakfast in the gardens. After our huge meal, we spent a couple of hours walking the full loop of city walls. After that long walk (with a stroller) we earned a coffee break at the Perky Peacock, which is inside an older bridge tower. Then, off to the National Railway Museum! (Somewhere in here we went to the Yorkshire Museum..it lead much to be desired.)

IMG_4201 IMG_4204 IMG_4225 IMG_4229 IMG_4269 IMG_4280

I am not typically interested in trains, but these trains were so very cool! We saw royal trains with complete designer bedrooms, living rooms, offices, kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. Fancy overnight trains for very wealthy people. (Why can’t we all travel by train these days?), bullet trains, very old mail trains, enormous engines and so much more. Every single person told us that the museum was “must-do” in York, and I now agree.

IMG_4285 IMG_4299 IMG_4316 IMG_4340 IMG_4360 IMG_20150227_134825949

Our last night in York was topped off with one of their famous ghost tours. Yes, York is apparently the most haunted city in Europe. The tour was cheesier than I had hoped, and we froze our butts off, but whatevs, we did it. Next stop, Edinburgh!

IMG_4398

Cheers!

‘Ello Gov’na

London was our first stop in Old Blighty, home of the queen, Paddington Bear and Big Ben. Honestly, I knew little of London before jetting off to spend a week traipsing about the city. What I did know, I learned from Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. I went expecting very rhythmic chimney sweeps, Diagon Alley, awkward single girls and not much else. However, I was chosen (by myself) as the tour guide/planner for the trip, which meant I needed to do a bit more research before taking my chaps on holiday.

I learned a little before we set off, and A LOT once we were there. I spent every night studying my guide book, city map and favorite travel websites in order to make sure the next day was planned to the max. We did, and saw so much that’s its absolutely impossible to write everything about London in one post. I’ll dedicate future blogs to more specific topics (food, shopping, Harry Potter, churches, etc), but this post covers the best of the best stuff you gotta see when you are in London.

must see

I used Fodor’s Great Britain tour book on this trip. Fodor’s is always my go-to. They tend to cater to the thrifty traveler and their suggestions are on point 99% of the time. For London, they offered a walking tour (yay!), and we did it the second we dropped our bags at our hotel.

Covent Garden Plaza
Covent Garden Plaza
Chinatown
Chinatown
Picadilly Circus is their "Time Square"... a pathetic excuse for a Time Square if you ask me.
Picadilly Circus is their “Time Square”… a pathetic excuse for a Time Square if you ask me.
The gates to Buckingham Palace
The gates to Buckingham Palace

The tour took us to Covent Garden Plaza, Chinatown, the theater district, Picadilly Circus, Green Park, Buckingham Palace,  the mall, Trafalgar square, passed the National Gallery and right back to our hotel at Charring Cross. We hadn’t slept in 30 hours, but it felt good to walk. The city invigorated us. Of course, when the walk ended, we had a little espresso break back in our hotel room before heading out for another walk through the city. This time we saw St. Paul’s Cathedral, Millenium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tate Modern. Holy Cow, that’s a lot to see in one day!

Buckingham Palace, looks a lot like a big White House to me.
Buckingham Palace, looks a lot like a big White House to me.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Millennium Bridge
Millennium Bridge
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern

Our next full day in London began with another early morning walk. This time we began by walking to the London Eye, to Big Ben and to Westminster Abbey (where we attended the first 5 minutes of a service, until Luna lost her patience). Finally, we took the tube across town to London Tower. There’s so much to see at the Tower, but the most popular attraction is the crown jewels, which you look at by standing on a large conveyor belt. After a lunch of fish and chips (fries), a walk over the Tower Bridge (NOT London), we took a rainy trip on the Duck Tours.

The London Eye, and no we didn't ride it
The London Eye, and no we didn’t ride it
Big Ben
Big Ben
entrance to Westminster Abbey, it's gorgeous
entrance to Westminster Abbey, it’s gorgeous
The four of us in front of Tower Bridge
The four of us in front of Tower Bridge
Aww. aren't we cute
Aww. aren’t we cute

The day we went to Harry Potter Studios, we managed to squeeze in a shopping trips to the most incredible department store, Harrod’s. And, yes, it’s bigger and more impressive than Bergdorf Goodman. We also had time to do some shopping at Hamley’s, which is a crazy old and super famous toy store in London that opened in 1760. Obviously, we bought souvenirs and gifts from both places. Luna and I both needed things.

IMG_3662 IMG_3890

Our last full day of walking all across London was a record breaking day, as far as steps go. It began at Kensington Palace, home of William and Kate and former home of Princess Diana. We toured the state rooms and then walked to Victoria and Albert. I LOVED the Victoria and Albert museum and their incredible gift shop. We stayed and explored until we had to leave to make our reservation for afternoon at Fortnum and Mason. (More on that magical experience to come.) And, because we ate so much we decided to walk it off by walking a few miles back to our hotel after taking in the view of London from the Shard.

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
playing dress-up in the palace
playing dress-up in the palace
a little bit of  V&A
a little bit of V&A
mmm fancy tea
mmm fancy tea
someone massacred their first macaroon
someone massacred their first macaroon
The Shard
The Shard
view of London Bridge at night
view of London Bridge at night

If you managed to get through all of this, congrats. You just got my very long summary of all the best stuff to see in London, minus the food, the shopping and anything hip and trendy that the locals do (that will have to wait until next trip). After my fast and furious tour of London, I’ve got to say it’s awesome. It is a cleaner, more polite and beautiful version of NYC. Although, our friend in London feels the same way about New York… grass is always greener I guess.

Tower Bridge at night
Tower Bridge at night

Have any of you been to London, or do you plan to go? What was your favorite spot? What do you plan to see?

Cheers!

A Trip Across the Big Pond

We are home and recovering from our 2 week vacation across the Big Pond, and I must say it was AMAZING. Yes, even with a baby, it was freakin’ awesome. I have been mentally preparing sooo many blog entries for you and I am itching to get started. If only this little baby would leave me alone for more than 2 minutes. Geez, obsessed much? Well, while Luna naps for 2 seconds I’ll very quickly give you a synopsis of our trip and a sneak peak at blogs to come!

Our first stop was London, and 6 days was not enough time!

Tower Bridge in London
Tower Bridge in London

We took a day trip to Cambridge and hungout with our very good friend Katy and her daughter, who we haven’t seen in almost 3 years!

Cambridge, that's me and my best friend Katy on the bridge!
Cambridge, that’s me and my best friend Katy on the bridge!

And, in one very busy day we saw Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath! That makes for one very big, busy and long day.

Windsor Castle - the largest inhabited castle in the world
Windsor Castle – the largest inhabited castle in the world
Stonehenge, more than just rocks
Stonehenge, more than just rocks
The Roman baths, in Bath
The Roman baths, in Bath

We took a train to York to spend a couple of days, and oh my…I fell in love with this city. Just the Minster itself with mesmerizing, but there was so much more. Like 900 year old restaurants, haunted pubs, shopping in the Shambles and enormous trains.

York, it was love at first sight.
York, it was love at first sight.

Our final stop was Edinburgh, Scotland. It was by far the coldest city we visited, but walking in the gale force winds, rain and snow was so worth it. And, also, Harry Potter.

Edinburgh, Scotland, so much more than I expected
Edinburgh, Scotland, so much more than I expected

And, Luna is the cutest little international traveler you ever did see. Just wait, there is a bunch of adorableness headed your way!

You can expect A LOT of  baby photos
You can expect A LOT of baby photos

Cheers! (Just in time too, guess who just woke up?)

Luna’s First Birthday Party (On a Budget)

one

Before having Luna, I swore I would not be one of those parents that goes stupidly nuts for a kid’s birthday parties. Don’t get me wrong, a love a good themed party, but I do not want to spend a silly amount of money on something she will never remember. Now, that I am a parent, and just planned the big first birthday party, I’ve got to be honest, it is hard not to go a little crazy. Planning an extravagant party is as fun as shopping for baby clothes and accessories, which is another problem I have. I am happy to say I managed to save A LOT of money and still have an amazing shindig for my baby girl.

The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!
The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!

I was slightly stressed out before the party. We had seven people staying at our house (not counting us), and lots of other people from out of town staying at other houses. The entire weekend was jam packed with plans and I did not know how I was going to get everything done for the party. I don’t know why I ever worried though… every person at our house pitched in, offered to help and basically did all the decorating for me without me ever even asking them to help. Our family and friends are the best and now I realize I couldn’t have gotten it all done if they had not all been staying at my house driving me nuts. Thanks guys.

birthday girl

Luna’s party was “Winter Onederland” themed. Of course, I got the idea from Pinterest. Where else? I wanted an inexpensive way to transform our house into a white glittery winter landscape and I figured out the perfect way to pull it off. Here’s what I did:

big eyes

1. I emailed everyone I live near and asked if I could have any [insert needed craft supplies] they no longer wanted. I figured everyone has random bits of construction paper, glitter, felt, ribbon, etc they want rid of and I was right.

2. I borrowed, borrowed, borrowed. I’d love to eventually own all white matching pretty serving trays and platters, but right now that’s just not possible. So, I borrowed them. I also borrowed lights and decorations. Luckily, several people decorate their house like winter wonderland for Christmas.

3. I shopped at Costco. We had brunchy type food (bagels, hummus, veggies, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, biscotti, nuts and juice). It was easy to pick up almost all of this and disposable dishes in bulk at Costco.

4. I got crafty (and made all of our guests get crafty). We used all of those donated art supplies to create our own decorations. I just wish I had more pictures of the decor… We were so busy celebrating!

5. We had a relative make the cakes. Our Aunt Amy is an AMAZING baker. She made the most delicious tye dye cake for us and a healthy smashcake for Luna.

cakes

Clearly, Luna loved it... I did too!
Clearly, Luna loved it… I did too!
"Want a bite, Mommy?"
“Want a bite, Mommy?”

We ended up spending very little on the party. I may make all of Luna’s birthday parties winter themed…

The best part of the party planning was asking that no one brings gifts for Luna. We asked instead that our friends and family (who want to bring a gift), bring a toy to donate to the Renewal House (a residential recovery program for addicted women and their children) instead. We ended up with a nice collection of gifts for the Renewal House and are so excited to bring them their gifts! Luna is a lucky little girl, she needs nothing and we are so happy to give these toys to kids who really need them.

singing

Thank you all SO much for the many Birthday wishes and comments on the birthday blog and birthday video posted last week. Husband and I could not feel any luckier and our little girl couldn’t feel more loved.

our family

Oh, and if you’d like to make a donation to Renewal House, just click here!

ball pit

Cheers!

The Third Edition of Annual Friend Photos

Welp, another year has come and gone, meaning another year of “annual friend photos” has taken place. Remember those stunning photos my BFF’s and I took last year? And the year before? We take a group photo each year to 1) make sure we always get together at least once a year, 2) commemorate our time together, and 3) watch our families grow, and grow and grow. We actually took this year’s photos over Thanksgiving break, but because I am SO behind in life, I’m just getting around to sharing them.

That's one BIG group
That’s one BIG group

The amazing, talented, sweet, loving and life-saving Simone from ST Photography took our photos again this year. To be honest, we originally scheduled with another photographer (simply because we planned to get a new photographer each year, just as part of the tradition). However, at the last minute lots of things went wrong (no one’s fault) and our session with our new photographer got canceled. I had very limited time left in Texas, and we were all certain the annual photos were not going to happen. Enter Simone. She literally rearranged her schedule to fit us in, never rushed us, was incredibly patient and somehow managed to get 5 sessions squeezed into one hour before the sunset. ALL with 6 very active kids! It was nothing short of miraculous. Maybe we should call her Saint Simone?

DSC_5219

BFF's
BFF’s

God, my friends are beautiful, inside and out.

DSC_5300 DSC_5277 DSC_5262 DSC_5260BW

Annddd then, there are the family photos.

DSC_5038 DSC_4987 DSC_4905 DSC_4882 DSC_4856 DSC_4849

It’s magical. Photographers are magicians. Thank you, Simone for giving us these bits of magic to cherish forever and ever.

DSC_5660BW DSC_5577

Cheers!

Surviving a Road Trip With a Baby

In the last ten months we have taken a handful of road trips with Luna. She has driven from Nashville to Southeast Texas twice, across Tennessee a couple of times, to Hilton Head Island, Indiana and Atlanta. I’m thrilled to say we have survived every road trip with very few fits and in great time (and some with a dog!). Husband and I like to think of ourselves as expert travelers. I knew having a baby would change the way we travel, but definitely not keep us from doing it. Luna just made it slightly more challenging, and at ten months old I think we’ve got the “road trip with a baby” down pat.

PicsArt_1417495153839

1. Drive while baby sleeps. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Our route to Texas takes 11 hours. Prior to Luna we have always made the trip in 11 hours or less. The first time we attempted this road trip with Luna I knew I didn’t want to drive all day because a) I didn’t want Luna to be stuck in her carseat all day, b) I didn’t want to be stuck in the car all day, making multiple stops and wasting time. We decided to begin driving at 8pm, Luna’s bedtime. It worked like a charm. In fact, the most recent trip took us 11 hours there and 11 hours back. Bam!

2. Arrange Accordingly. When traveling with a baby you have to pack the car strategically. First of all, you are most likely bringing way more crap than you typically would, so you need to be sure it all fits. Also, you need to be sure you can reach the things you need and get to them quickly. The diaper bag, snack bag, drinks, phones, car chargers, purse and sunglasses are my most important items and are either in the front or right behind my seat.

3. Stock up. Pack lots of healthy snacks, water, caffeine, diapers, wipes, baby snacks (bottle, cheerios, sippy cup), good music, and entertaining baby toys. We have made the mistake of traveling without food and always end up eating too much fast food and junk. Driving all night/day makes you feel bad enough and when you throw sugary salty processed food into the mix it can make you feel 1000 times worse. Plus, when you have everything you need on hand you save money and the time it would take to stop. I usually get snacks that are easy to eat while driving…nuts, fruit leathers, apples, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars, etc.

4. Sit with baby. If the baby wakes up, it may be a good idea for one of you to move to the backseat. Luna is often fussy when she wakes up and it helps if she can see someone’s face or have someone rub her belly and sing to her. Of course, the musical noisy toys help too!

5. Be smart. Do not drive sleepy. It is very tempting to try to push yourself to drive, drive, drive and get to your destination as quickly as possible, but it’s not worth your’s or your baby’s safety. Husband and I made it very clear to one another that we are in no hurry. We take turns driving while the other one sleeps and if we have to pull over and sleep or even get a hotel, then so be it. While we are on the subject of safety; make sure that your baby is buckled in correctly. You may want to brush up on the correct way to use your carseat.

6. Take advantage of pit stops. The times that Luna did wake up, we found a place to stop, but not just any place. If we were going to take the time to stop, feed and change Luna then I wanted to make the most of our time. If possible, find a place with clean restrooms, wi-fi, decent food options, a comfortable place to sit and room for baby to get out some energy. So far, I have had great experiences at Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds. They aren’t the healthiest options, but you’d be surprised by their cleanliness, customer service, and coffee options…especially at 4am.

7. Plan for things to not go as planned. If you have a baby you know that it is virtually impossible to plan ahead. We often have the best intentions; we make lists, pack more than we need, leave early and follow every single guideline, but Luna often has her own agenda. So, when your baby wakes up, throws up, has a diaper explosion or just needs to get out and wiggle, learn to go with the flow. I am a planner, so I know this can be hard to accomplish, but if you plan for things to go awry, it won’t be as disappointing when they do. Plus, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when everything goes smoothly!

Happy traveling,

Cheers!

Black Friday and Family

image
Happy Thanksgiving from my little turkey!

Right this second, I am sitting in the backseat of my Mom’s SUV on the way to Houston for our annual Black Friday shopping trip. We’ve already hit up Target and Starbucks and I am SO pumped for a day full of shopping. It’s also Luna’s first experience, and while I’m excited to share this tradition with her, I have to also remind myself of what makes this “holiday”, as well as all the others, meaningful.

image

While Black Friday is completely materialistic and probably part of the problem with Christmas becoming more and more about stuff, I can’t help but enjoy it. I love the tradition, the time with my Mom, sister, aunt, cousin and husband, the coffee, walking, Christmas music, crowds, list making and Mexican food lunch. Its more about the experience than the stuff, but we get a lot of stuff too. The problem is that Husband and I are hoping to teach Luna to appreciate the holidays for more than the gifts. So, how can I continue my love for Black Friday and also teach Luna to not be too materialistic?

image

My best idea is to focus on giving. The holidays should be about giving. So each year we will make lists for people we love, and search for gifts to give. We will think about people who need some holiday cheer and shop for them too. If we find a gift we have to have then we will find something we already own to giveaway. We have too much stuff as it is, so I’m more than happy to give much of it away.

image

When we aren’t giving, we will focus on family. We will take selfies with our Starbucks, eat together, help each other pick out gifts, make lots of memories and sing some Christmas carols off key.

image
Mmmm first bite of meat!

I know, we will never give up Black Friday or shopping or caring about stuff, but I hope I can at least teach Luna that there’s so much more to the holiday season than the media and retail industry wants us to believe. I’m so thankful I have this little girl here to constantly remind me to be a better person.

image

What do you think of Black Friday? Yay or nay? How do you shop for the holidags?

Happy Black Friday and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

image

Cheers!

Surprise, I am 30

For the first time, I have not made a big deal about my Birthday. Every year, I announce on November 1st that “Birthday Month” has officially begun. A few weeks later I make an even bigger deal that “Birthday Week” has started. But, this year, I said nothing. Why? I’m not quite sure… 30 just didn’t excite me. Or, maybe I’ve just been too busy to think about it. Whatever it was didn’t matter, because why I failed to make a big deal about turning 30, my family and friends did not.

On my actual birthday me and a few close friends ran a Holiday themed 5k together and everyone dressed in a theme…”Hilarie’s Nerdy 30!” Even Luna was sporting suspenders and a homemade onesie. We were adorable. I ran my fastest 5k (which isn’t very fast, 27 minutes) and every one of us got 1st place in our age group! Plus, we won for “most spirited team”!

image
Btw, my parents do not have wifi so all blogging and photo editing is done only with my phone this week! Bare with me.

image

image

After the race, we had brunch with more friends and family. The food was great and the company was better. I got showered with gifts which was totally unnecessary but a nice surprise. And, of course, we topped it off with some holiday lattes from Starbucks.

My birthday ended with an overnight drive to Texas. When we arrived early the next morning I was then spoiled by my Texas family! I truly thought it couldn’t get any better, but the next day I received the biggest surprise yet.

The next day was my Mom’s birthday and she decided she wanted to celebrate that night by going to a local Mexican restaurant that I also happen to love. When we got there the waitress said my sister was already there and walked us back to a big dark room. My first thought was, “why on Earth would Natalie want to eat in this dark room”. Then, I spotted my Uncle and thought, “oh, that’s so nice that he came to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!” At that moment the lights turned on and everyone shouted “SURPRISE!”

I looked at my Mom to see if she was surprised and then thought, “why wouldn’t my sister tell me she planned a surprise party for our Mom?” I started looking for her for some answers and she began putting a sash on me and I then realized everyone was saying “Hilarie, it’s for you.” Oooohhhh

image

image

image

I was seriously shocked. Not only was I surprised about the party, but I could not believe how many people were there! There must have been about 40 people. It was really the nicest surprise. I got to see so many people I love, many who were meeting Luna for the first time. I felt very special and so loved.

image
I actually bought a sash for my Mom too!

Now, that it’s here, I guess 30 isn’t so bad. In fact, it has started off way better than I ever expected.

Thank you so much to everyone for making 30 such a great birthday and Happy Hilarie’s Birthday to all of you!

Cheers!

oh and P.S. the winner of the Dr. Who shoes was chosen and is in the comments of the Practically Perfect Shoes post!