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Posted in Books and Shows

July: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Can you believe July is almost over? We are in back to school mode around here. The kids have been attending 6th grade (middle school!) orientation all week, and I’ve been helping with 9th grade orientation. Less than two weeks, and we’ll all be back in the classroom.

That being said, I’m definitely in a reading groove this summer, and today I’m sharing the books I read in July.

This month, I read 5 books…and have started one more. My mom sent this to me, and it’s so true:

Of the five books I read in July, a couple were just ok, but one book was my favorite of the summer (and wasn’t even on my Summer Reading list!)

This month I read…

For my Good Reads Reading Challenge, I’m up to 26 of 40 books read this year!

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Open Book

Open Book

Summary:

Jessica tells of growing up in 1980s Texas where she was sexually abused by the daughter of a family friend, and of unsuccessfully auditioning for the Mickey Mouse Club at age 13 with Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling before going on to sign a record deal with Columbia and marrying 98 Degrees member Nick Lachey.

Along the way, she details the struggles in her life, such as the pressure to support her family as a teenager, divorcing Lachey, enduring what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship with musician John Mayer, being body-shamed in an overly appearance-centered industry, and going through bouts of heavy drinking. But Simpson ends on a positive note, discussing her billion-dollar apparel line and marriage with professional football star Eric Johnson, with whom she has three children.

Quick Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book at the library. I was actually in the library and saw it on the shelf. I took it with me on vacation, and it was a great beach read. I really enjoyed the book. Of course, I love reading and getting details on the lives of others, and it was interesting to read about Jessica’s childhood, her relationship with Nick Lachey, and her career.

Honestly, I’d forgotten how successful her Jessica Simpson line is, and she hadn’t started it yet when going through her divorce with Nick. I loved her mic drop moment when she told her dad she was tired of the back and forth about money during the divorce with Nick and to just pay him whatever he was asking. (When they married, he was the more successful one, but her career had picked up and was more successful at the time). She told her dad, “I will make the money back…and I did by billions.” Boom.

Anyway, I really did enjoy the book, and Jessica was so forthcoming with many details and she really has accomplished so much!

Rating:

Four…maybe five stars…depending on if she’s a person of interest to you.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars

Summary:

#A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Quick Thoughts:

I didn’t know this was a young adult book when I picked it up. The chapters were short making it an easy read for young adults. I didn’t really enjoy the first half but then I did get into the story line for the second half of the book. That being said, the overall story was pretty heavy especially once I realized what happened. I really enjoyed the “bonus” content. The author shares notes from her, notes from the characters, her writing process, her book proposal, why she called it “the liars” and more. I always love insight from an author!

Rating:

Apparently it was a Good Reads Choice 2014 Winner.

3 🌟 for the first half, 4🌟 second half and how the story wrapped up, 5🌟 for the bonus content 😂

The Cave Dwellers

The Cave Dwellers

Summary:

They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.

But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question in this unputdownable novel that “combines social satire with moral outrage to offer a masterfully crafted, absorbing read that can simply entertain on one level and provoke reasoned discourse on another” (Booklist, starred review).

Quick Thoughts:

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Similarly to We Were Liars, it took me some time to get into the plot, but the ending came together nicely. I did like the little excerpts of historical context sprinkled between chapters. The book shines light on politics, the upper class, and high society life. I’m glad I finished the book, but it’s not one that I feel like will stick with me.

Rating:

Three, mayb 3.5 stars

The Summer House

The Summer House

Summary:

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far.

Quick Thoughts:

The Summer House was a cute summer read. It reminded me of Virgin River with the small town setting, Lily coming to the small town for a fresh start. Lily’s love interest Rawlins, had a very Mel and Jack vibe of Virgin River. I loved the Village Vine newsletter updates sprinkled throughout the book.

Rating:

Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

Summary:

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

Quick Thoughts:

Malibu Rising is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s definitely the best book I’ve read this summer (and it wasn’t even on my summer reading list!) This book caught my attention from the first page and held my interest until the very last page. The plot seamlessly moved between the past and the present which provided so much insight into each character and made this book an easy page turner. I love the relationship between the siblings. You could feel Nina’s sense of responsibility and sigh of relief when she was able to provide for her siblings and that they “made it.”

One of my favorite quotes (in part) from the book: “It hurt to leave…but most good things come with a pinch or an ache.” This rang true in a variety of ways throughout the book. Malibu Rising is definitely a book I will always remember.

Rating:

Hands down, 5 stars. This is definitely the best book I’ve read all summer…maybe all year.

Summer Reading Update:

These are the books on my summer reading list:

  • Here’s to Us: read!
  • Big Summer: started but couldn’t really get into it.
  • The Summer House: read!
  • Girls of Summer: read!
  • That Summer: just picked up from the library!
  • Golden Girl: on the library wait list

I’m definitely going to miss having as much time to read once I get back to school. I still have a couple more weeks of summer, so I’m trying to get my reading time in while I can.

I just started Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins. I’d been on the library wait list, so I’m reading it now since it’s my turn!

What have you been reading lately?

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Everyday Life, Friday Favorites, Home Updates

Friday Favorites

Hello! Long time, no talk! How’s it going? My blogging break has been much needed, but I sure have missed posting!

Today, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites.

Here’s what we’ve been up to the past couple of weeks along with some of our favorites.

These bracelets are one of my favorite things to wear lately.

My friend, Amy, sent these to me. She hand makes these custom bracelets. She has so many cute and fun options. Check her out on Instagram (@soulshine.kc)! I know you’ll love anything she makes!

Hadley went to sleep away camp and had the best time! She was so sad last summer when camp was canceled, so she was so excited to go back this year! We were one of the first in line for drop off, and she had a great time with friends, old and new. Camp was definitely a favorite for Hadley this summer.

I loved seeing the photos on Facebook. I missed her, so it was nice to get daily updates and see her smiling face!

Hadley at camp was one of Hayden’s favorite parts of summer (haha!). He also went to golf camp for the first time, and he loved it!

One things that wasn’t a favorite…poison oak! It’s never good when your kid wakes you up at 3 am to tell you he’s itching all over! We aren’t sure where he picked it up, but it sure did spread quickly. Thankfully, we got into the doctor the next day and the steroid meds helped immensely.

We’ve also continued to have lots of baseball this summer. It’s always a favorite watching Hayden and his team play. They have lots of fun together.

Another favorite…we FINALLY got our new basement floors. I shared that our master bath shower leaked down to the basement bathroom and living space in early May, so the floors had to be ripped up. What we had put down when we updated the basement a few years ago was no longer being made, so we found something pretty similar and are really pleased.

The original floors after Travis ripped up the damaged flooring vs the new finished product:

Then, I found this pretty rug at Home Goods to replace our previous area rug. It’s super soft and I love the gray tones.

Another favorite is my new messenger bag. I’ve been wanting one for quite some time. I stopped in a favorite boutique that I hadn’t been to since before the pandemic, and saw this gold toned bag. It was my summer gift to myself for teaching summer school 😉 They had some fun straps and I liked the one it came with, but I got this one (in pic below) from Amazon!

Another favorite is dinner al fresco! The kids were having too much fun playing with friends, so Travis and I ended up having dinner on our back patio by ourselves on Sunday night. Steak and asparagus by Travis…and microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes by me!

Once July hits, I start thinking about school. I always feel better after I get my room unpacked (which will maybe happen next week?…they are still cleaning my area of the school), buy my desk calendar and lesson plan book.

I decided to try the Happy Planner teacher planner. If you know any teacher, you know we are picky about our planners. I’ve used a variety through the years, and I just thought I’d give this one a try. I was close to ordering one online and then realized Michael’s has some and they were 30 (or 40?)% off…+ my teacher’s discount at Michael’s! I love a good deal.

We are soaking up these last days of summer. We’ve had a couple pool days this week after a three week hiatus. June is our big pool month, then we had vacay, camps, and lots of rainy days that took the pool off our fun list for a bit. The kids have had lots of fun with their friends this summer at the pool. It’s definitely a favorite part of our summer.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Me…all summer long trying to keep up with my kids…vs. my parents in the 80’s (Although, the Major was pretty strict about knowing our whereabouts!)

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

One of my favorite vacation photos popped up in my Facebook memories recently. Siesta Key in 2017…sunset and the kids playing in the ocean.

I still hope to post intermittently over the next few weeks while continuing a little break.

I will share my Sentence a Day for July and what I’ve been reading this month as well once we get to the end of July.

I hope everyone has been enjoying their summer! See you back here soon.

Posted in Everyday Life

Brief Blogging Break

Hello! I hope your week is off to a great start!

Just a quick note that I’m taking a brief blogging break (Say that three times fast!) during the rest of July.

Once July hits, I feel this way as a teacher:

…and honestly, I kind of feel that way as a parent, wife, friend, and more! It’s just a very busy summer and a very busy season of life, and I’d like to enjoy the last weeks of summer, soaking in the time with the kids while prepping for the upcoming school year.

I’m taking the rest of the week off, and hope to join a link up or two in the upcoming weeks before sharing:

and…

at the end of the month!

See you back here soon! Take care!

Posted in Home Updates, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom

Hello! How was your weekend? Ours was filled with a few errands, baseball and basketball on Saturday (baseball was rained out on Sunday), some family time and more!

It’s already the second Monday of the month (sigh!), so I’m co-hosting with these ladies for our Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is Home Tour.

Well, I’ve written blog posts sharing our home improvements, so I will link back to those during this post. I did a Transformation Tuesday series during the pandemic sharing our house updates through the years.They include before and after photos of our fixer upper home that we purchased all most seven years ago. Wow! That’s hard to believe.

I shared in the first post of that series that I didn’t even want to look at our house because I knew it needed so much work. Travis convinced me to look, and we stopped by the house a few times before making an offer (at the same time that another offer was being made too!) The inside of the house we could update. We couldn’t beat the location, the yard, the schools, and more.

So here we go….

Living Room:

I love our living room and how bright it is. The only thing I wish is that we could change up the seating configuration. All the main seating is up against the wall with the windows. There were hardwood floors under the carpet in the living and office (dining) room. They were untreated which actually worked well for us when we tackled this and the kitchen area.

I’ve been thinking about adding “shiplap” to the walls on either side of the fireplace and add a mirror above the chest. That’s on our project “to do” list.

Office:

So, our office is what would be the formal dining room. Our first couple of years here, we did have formal dining room furniture that we had in our previous home. We then decided to make this space more functional for us and brought up the desk that was in the basement, ordered this cute cabinet, and moved these chairs in from the kitchen for additional living room seating when needed.

Kitchen:

The kitchen is one of my favorite parts of our home. When we moved in, there was carpet in the kitchen! A few quick fixes we did pretty immediately included, pulling up the carpet, laying hardwood and then staining the kitchen, living room/office, and hall floors all the same finish. Travis painted the lower paneling white and eventually painted the fire place. We had the island installed within the first month of living here. We had the cabinets (they are great quality…just not our color preference) painted after living here about six months.

Since I wrote the kitchen post, we have made a few more dream list item updates with a gas stove and updated (as close to farm house style as I could get) sink. Here’s that post and the kitchen post:

Sun room:

The sun room was a perplexing space for some time. Travis painted the wall paneling gray almost immediately, and then we also changed out the flooring within the first six months of living here. Until April of 2020, we didn’t really use this room much, and it housed our leftover furniture. Then, the pandemic motivated us to figure out this space. We purchased some new furniture, brought up the tv cabinet form the basement that I had painted, and made this area more inviting. We now spend lots of time in here!

**Sun room part 2 is at the end of the Life Lately post.

Master Bedroom:

Our master was not a space I put forth a lot of effort. I always had bedding that I loved and wanted to feel cozy, but we hadn’t done much else to our room. Randomly, in December 2019, I had the idea to move our bed how it is in this photo (it used to on the wall where the pictures are). This created more space when you walk into the room which I immediately loved.

In April/May 2020, we purchased new bedding, Travis and Hadley painted the walls, we hung a little gallery wall, and Travis and I put up Wall Pops wall paper on the wall where our tv is located. (You can see that in the master bedroom post). Now, this room is the definitely more cozy. I do wish our room was bigger (as well as my closet), but the room definitely is more functional now and a space I enjoy.

Master Bathroom:

Like our bedroom, the master bathroom is also small. I can’t believe we waited as long as we did to update it, but the finished product was definitely worth the wait.

Kids’ Rooms:

The kids’ rooms both show their personality. We kept them as is for about nine months before painting them and adding some personal touches in the summer of 2015. Like the master, I do wish their rooms were bigger, and, of course, I wish they were tidier, but I kind of let them do what they want with their rooms, and ask them to pick up every couple of days. Hadley is asking for a bit of a refresh, but we just haven’t had time this summer. I can understand wanting a bit more of a “sophisticated” middle school look ;), but I do think her room has stayed pretty age appropriate which was my hope when making color choices a few years ago.

Hayden’s room is still pretty much the same, but he now has a desk in his room.

Basement:

The basement is still a space that is a work in progress. Like most basements, it’s not our most put together part of the home, but we have tried to make it inviting and have updated it with new floors, Travis (and I) painted the wood paneling and we’ve made color choices that tie into the rest of the house to at least make things as cohesive as possible.

Travis also painted these bookshelves white, added the wooden planks and mounted the tv. This was definitely a labor of love, but a cheap update with lots of bang for your buck!

I don’t think I’ve shared this but almost two months ago, our master shower leaked down into the basement bathroom and seeped on to the basement floors. So, our basement and basement floors currently look like a disaster area! I think the new floors will finally arrive this week, and then hopefully we can get the basement put back together.

Basement Bathroom:

The basement bathroom was my very first Transformation Tuesday post! It’s still one of my favorite before and afters. Travis now uses this bathroom, and the closet in the basement is where he keeps his clothes.

Thankfully, with the master shower leak, this area was spared except for a few wet walls (The insurance company brought out fans) and a hole in the ceiling to repair the pipe. That hole is finally getting fixed this week, but thankfully, this bathroom is still in great condition!

We still have a few more updates both major and minor. The hall bath still needs updated and the basement needs to be put back together. Then, we are doing little things like plantation shutters in the kids’ room, a shade for the front door and basement windows, and probably making a few tweaks in the kids’ rooms to prep for middle school.

So that’s a look at our home sweet home! I love looking at houses, so I can wait to see what others share! House Hunters and Fixer Upper (and similar shows) are my favorites to watch. House Hunters is permission to be nosy, and I love a good before and after on remodeling shows!

Next month’s topic is Daily Must Haves. The first thing that comes to mind is coffee! 😆

Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts, and I hope you have a great week!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays

Friday Favorites

Hello! How was your week? I can’t believe we are in the full swing of July! Up next will be school supply displays. Actually, I think they are already out…but I just close my eyes when I see the words “back to School!”

Anyway, as always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

My first favorite for the week:

My traditional red, white, and blue waffles for the 4th! I made them for the kids, and I even had one! So good.

We had a great 4th of July. I spent most of the day unpacking from vacation and going to the grocery store. Travis took the kids to the pool for a few hours in the afternoon. We had steaks for dinner and watched fireworks at our favorite spot.

Then, we shot off a few fireworks and sparklers before heading to bed.

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.

Another favorite for the week was Travis didn’t work on Monday, so we decided to celebrate his birthday a couple of days early. We went out to lunch at one of our favorite places and then went bowling at the new Lex Live. We had lots of fun.

We had cookie cake on Tueday (a day early) because we all barely even saw each other on his birthday (Wednesday) because I was with Hadley at her swim meet while Hayden and Travis were at baseball. Anyway, our neighbor bakes cookies and cookie cakes, so I ordered one for Trav’s birthday.

I laugh every time I look at this photo because Homer was desperate to be included in the pic…or maybe he just wanted to get near the cake! (Remember when he ate our anniversary cookie cake last year?! 😂 )

We did presents and cake eating Tuesday evening when Hadley got home from dance.

The cookie cake was so good! The buttercream icing was the best part.

Hadley’s final swim meet of the season was another favorite of the week. She swam her fastest times of the season in all strokes.

I was a bit hesitant about the 8:45 practices during the summer, but with the help of other swim parents, we’ve carpooled and made it work. It’s been a big adjustment after not swimming last summer and now she moved up an age group and swims 50’s. I’m proud of her commitment and determination. Hadley proved that you show up to the things you love…and donut days on Thursdays! 😉

Favorite Mom Meme:

🤣🤣

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

Since I’m on the topic of swim team, how about this flashback to the kids’ first ever swim season in 2017? My oh my how they have grown! Hadley’s swim cap and goggles slay me!

Weekly Recap

I had a few posts this week!

Monday is our Not just a Mom link up!

If you are a blogger, we’d love to have you link up with us for a tour of your home!

We’re thankful for those who read our blogs, so we hope you’ll check out everyone’s posts on Monday! I can’t wait to see what others share!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Baseball is back for us after having last weekend off. So, we’ll be at the ball fields off and on! Hadley is thrilled 😉

See you back here on Monday!

Posted in Travel

Isle of Palms Recap

Hello! Today, I’m sharing the details of our vacation last week to South Carolina. We often head to Siesta Key, Florida for most of our vacations, but we’ve gone to SC pretty often as well. I actually was thinking and we’ve been to Hilton Head once, Folly Beach three times and IOP three times as well. So, we know our way around the Charleston area pretty well. Since our summer is filled with baseball, we chose IOP because we can drive there in 8-9 hours, and we hadn’t been there since fall break 2018.

These memes are timely:

and…

It’s so much effort for my homebody self to get everything organized and packed, but the trips are always worth it once we get there.

Warning: photo overload! 😉 My love language must be photo taking!

We left after Hayden’s Sunday baseball championship game, and drove to Asheville. We arrived at our hotel around 10:00.

Monday

Monday morning, we slept in. Even I slept in! The kids and I woke up around 9:00 and, after a quick breakfast, we hit the road around 10:30. We definitely took longer than we thought we would in the morning, but the sleep was much needed.

We arrived at our hotel around 4:00, unpacked, and headed straight to the beach. There was an outgoing tropical depression, so it was really windy but no rain. We walked around a bit, and the kids splashed in the water before we changed and went to dinner.

We drove a few minutes to Mt. Pleasant and ate dinner on the water at Saltwater Cowboys. I had the shrimp tacos, and they were delish!

This pic of Hayden and Travis is a fave of mine!

Hayden and Hadley checked out the dock of the restaurant after we ate.

Then, we headed back, but made a stop for ice cream on Sullivan’s Island. As we were parking, Travis recognized the picket fence that I had the kids stand in front of in 2013. This photo (on the left) is on our gallery wall in our kitchen. The kids obliged for a “how it’s going…” photo for contrast of “how it started.” Since 2013, the kids have grown two or more feet and the house has definitely been upgraded!

We hit up Co-op for delicious ice cream.

We headed back to the hotel and went to bed!

Tuesday

Travis always gets up early on vacation, and I do try to sleep in a bit. The kids really sleep in on vacation! Travis usually goes for a run, and then it’s my turn to sip my coffee on the beach. It’s my absolute favorite thing to do!

Our hotel was on the beach, and we rented two chairs and an umbrella for our four full days there. They were set it by the time Travis got down there each morning. (We packed two smaller beach chairs from home, so we all had somewhere to sit when needed). These are the best spent money for sure!

Me: every morning…

I brought a ton of snacks and drinks from home, but Travis went to the grocery for sandwich stuff and other food for the week. The kids had a quick hotel breakfast (They had grab and go until 9:30 each day), and then we hit the beach.

I usually went to the room around noon to make sandwiches and grab any other food we needed. We typically stayed at the beach until 2:00 or so, and then the kids liked to go to the pool. I will say that Travis knows my love for the beach, an ocean view, and reading a book under and umbrella, so most days I stayed put while he monitored the kids at the pool.

We usually got an afternoon snack or headed back to the beach for a bit before dinner each day.

Travis and Hayden love oysters, so everyone freshened up before we went to happy hour at Pier 41.

Oysters were the happy hour special as was $2 champagne. They had oysters, Hadley had calamari, and I sipped the bubbly!

We went back to the beach afterwards. Hadley and I walked around while Hayden and Travis played catch.

I always love watching the sunset at the beach. Through the years, we’ve tried to make a point to go to dinner early and head back to the beach for sunset.

After the sun set, we headed to at late dinner near our hotel at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. We’d eaten there during a previous visit and knew the food would be good. Hadley got the salmon, I had a salad, and Travis and Hayden split the fish special.

The kids wanted ice cream, so we got that on our walk back to the hotel. We all went to bed with full bellies.

Wednesday

Wednesday started with another morning filled with sunshine and coffee.

Once we all got down to the beach, we took our traditional beach family photo 😉

On this day, we purchased a boogie board, and the kids had tons of fun.

I got some time on my own in the afternoon with a book and a cool beverage.

Wednesday evening we headed to Charleston to eat at Coast. I love all of the colorful home in Charleston!

Our dinner at Coast was my favorite. The atmosphere was amazing, and the food was phenomenal.

Hadley, outside of Coast, looks like she’s 11 going on 16!

On our way to dinner, I spotted Sewing Down South which is Craig’s pillow store. I love watching Southern Charm, so I was excited when I saw his store! Hadley and I stopped by there for a few minutes after dinner. Craig wasn’t there, but the employees were so friendly!

We ended our evening in Charleston walking around Battery Park. We usually do this every time we visit.

Then, we headed back to the hotel and went to bed!

Thursday

On Thursday, I checked the weather, and they were calling for 100% chance of rain on Friday, so we beached hard on Thursday!

I got my “me time” in the morning.

Then, we hung out in the sand most of the day! Hadley borrowed my hat for a bit:

Then, Travis and Hayden wanted round two of oysters, so we went to Binkys, by our hotel, for Happy Hour oysters.

Then, the kids played in the pool for an hour or so before we headed to dinner at Papis.

When we visited IOP for fall break 2018, we went to Papi’s TWICE. We loved it that much. So, we couldn’t wait to eat there again. We got all the dips and chips, some margs (for the adults ;), tacos, and then churros for dessert!

After dinner, we headed to the beach for a bit before bed!

Friday:

Friday morning’s hour by hour forecast seemed pretty favorable for a decent day at the beach. One more morning of coffee …

followed by my sunshine and sand.

The day actually turned out to be so nice. The wind picked up and the skies got cloudy around 4:00, so the kids hit the pool and then we got ready to go into Charleston again for dinner.

The kids really wanted to do a ghost tour, so Travis found one for Magnolia Cemetery at 9:30 pm. We walked around Charleston, and as expected on the Friday of 4th of July weekend, most restaurants had quite the wait. We go to Hyman’s every time we come to Charleston. They said their wait was about 1.5 hours, so we walked around, and Hayden and I got ice cream sandwiches at Peace Pie (key lime pie for me and chocolate peanut butter for him), and Hadley got some macarons from Le Macaron which was next door.

The wait ended up being about an hour, and we ate dinner around 8:00. We were a bit pressed for time because we had to be to the ghost tour by 9:15. We ate quickly and headed that way…

Hyman’s has these little cards on the tables that are fun to read. Fun fact: When Travis and I visited Charleston for the first time in 2010, we ate at Hymans, and I have carried one of these marriage cards in my wallet ever since. I should probably refer to it more often, but it’s a good little check list!

This one is so funny and so true!

The Magnolia Cemetery Nighttime Tour was so good. I didn’t know what to expect, and I told the kids to be prepared to be “spooked” a little, but it was all good.

We met our group and tour guide, Joy, at the gates of the cemetery at 9:15. Joy was amazing! Hayden and Hadley were the only kids on the tour. After she closed the gate, she pulled them aside, and told them they could ring the massive bell to start the tour. She gave us all flashlights, and explained that we needed to stick together because there are various birds, bugs, spiders, and ALLIGATORS! that we may see on the tour.

Joy was so knowledgeable. The tour is listed at 1.5 hours, but she told us that her tour takes about two hours, and she wasn’t wrong! As we walked, she shared the history of of the cemetery, talked about Charleston, the people who were buried in the cemetery, and sprinkled in spooky stories within the history.

My kids loved it! Hayden White was often found near Joy, asking her questions!

Checking out a mausoleum…

We spotted the huge cranes, definitely saw spiders, and had to keep our eye on a alligator that we spotted in the pond as Joy told one of her stories!

Her tour ended right around 11:30, and I definitely wish we had time to drive through the cemetery during the day just to see some of the headstones and structures in the daylight.

We got back to our hotel after midnight, packed up most of what we could before falling asleep around 1:00 am.

Let me tell you what is more spooky than a southern cemetery at night…me on less than 5 hours of sleep 🤣

We were up by 6:00 and on the road around 7:00. Of course, we hated to say goodbye to one of our favorite places, but we were ready to get home and see Homer!

To sum up the trip with a favorite quote:

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
~e.e. cummings


I never realize how much we need to get away until we do. Grateful for some time in the sunshine with a mix of sand and saltwater. The week provided a time for great memories, wonderful weather, amazing food and a different setting for the kids to bicker 😂

This was me most of Sunday…unpacking all my overpacking…

If you made it to the end of this post, you’re the real MVP!

I’m so glad we made the time to squeeze in some uninterrupted family time in one of our favorite places.

Have you ever been to the Charleston area? We’ll definitely be back…hopefully soon!

Posted in Three things

Three Things

Hello! I like to do a Three Things post every few months just diving a bit deeper into what each of us is up to. So, here’s the summer version of:

Summer brings a mix of sports, activities, and more.

  1. Of course, sports don’t stop for Hayden, even in the summer. He’s playing on a travel baseball team, playing summer league basketball which is very laid back, and playing golf whenever he can convince Travis to take him! He is spending his summer continuing with occasional hitting lessons and since he’s not doing swim team this summer, he’s had more time to attend athletic camps. He’s gone to basketball and baseball camp this summer and still has a golf camp to attend!
  2. He’s getting the hang of wearing contacts. Again, we haven’t really made it a huge priority but about a month ago, he was able to put them in with less help from us (I will spare you the details 😉) On vacation, he put them in on his own a couple of times even if it took a few minutes. Hopefully by the time school starts, he will have mastered this!
  3. Hayden flew through John Grisham’s Theodore Boone books, and he absolutely loved them. He’s also finished one of his summer reading books. It thrills me how much he loves to read!
  1. Hadley’s summer activities include swim team and dance workshops. Since she didn’t swim last summer, this summer has been a big adjustment because she’s in the the younger end of the 11-12 age group and this age group starts swimming 50’s! She’s had a couple of practices where they swam twenty 50’s! They also play games during practices, make signs for the meets, and have donut days on the Thursdays after swim meets, so it’s typically more fun than serious for summer swim. For dance, she’s been taking a pre-pointe class which she’s been so excited about as well as a turns and tricks class as well.
  2. Hadley is so excited to go to camp this summer. It’s definitely something she missed last summer, so she’s counting the days!
  3. Another thing she missed last summer was being able to hang out with friends, go to sleepovers, and other social activities. This summer, she’s definitely making up for lost time, and it’s been nice to see her have so much fun with her friends and be a bit more independent.

Homer:

Homer, of course, loves having us home more again! Also, a couple of our neighbors have dogs his age and size, so he’s been able to burn some energy with them a bit lately. Even Homer is a social butterfly! Also, unfortunately, he’s been very itchy again this summer. So, he got an allergy shot in early June, and needs another one soon. The vet said it’s probably a grass allergy, and at least last summer, he only got about four shots and was fine the rest of the year.

Travis and Me:

Travis:

Travis is in full on sports dad mode! He’s helping Hayden start training for the middle school cross country season, and shuttling him to all the baseball practices and games!

Also, we are celebrating him today! Happy birthday, T-rav! (We actually did cake and presents last night since tonight is a much more hectic night with activities)

Me:

As for me, I’m helping again with summer school. Session 2 started yesterday. The first session went well, and it was nice being able to work a couple days a week for a few hours and still have a huge chunk of summer to enjoy with the kids. Now that the calendar has turned to July, I’m trying to enjoy these last four to five weeks of summer as well as mix in some productivity too!

So that’s what’s been going on with us! Tomorrow, I plan on sharing the details of our Isle of Palms trip and then Friday Favorites to finish up the week on the blog!

Posted in Amazon

Prime Purchases: July 2021

Hello! How was your weekend? I’m still trying to get back in the swing of things post-vacation. I’m caught up on laundry, I’ve been to the grocery, and now I’m trying to get my life together with summer school session 2 starting this week, kids’ activities and more! Take me back to the sunshine and sand!

We had a lowkey 4th of July…Trav took the kids to the pool while I did the some laundry and grocery shopping. We grilled out and then watched fireworks from our favorite spot!

Bonus! Travis was (still) off work yesterday, so we went out to lunch to celebrate his upcoming birthday.

Today, I’m linking up with Tanya for this month’s Prime Purchases post.

Well, this month was apparently all about me! haha In preparation for vacation, I bought myself a few items. (and some goggles for the kids!)

First up is the midi dress. I actually bought it at the end of May, and wore it to Hadley’s dance recital. I know it’s something I will wear to school and a few other times this summer. Also, I think it can be dressed up or down which is always something I think about when spending “a little more” on an item. This dress comes in a few color options and definitely doesn’t disappoint!

Boho Midi Dress

Here we are at Hadley’s dance recital:

I’ve had this dress saved on my Amazon list, and I knew I wanted to order it before vacation. I love this dress so much. It’s great quality, flowy, and super cute. The embroidery flower detail makes for a more elevated feel, and this dress is so comfy and easy to wear.

Leopard Babydoll Dress

Hadley got these faux Birks last year in white. She wore them all last summer and this summer as well. They’ve held up extremely well, and I had my eye on the rose gold version. That color has gone in and out of stock, so I jumped on it when I saw my size was back in stock. I will say that I typically wear a size 9 in shoes, but I ordered a 10 based off the recommendation of these slides that I ordered last year in white and then in pink this summer. The 10 definitely fits me perfectly.

Sandals

Here I am last week in Charleston in the baby doll dress and sandals:

I always buy a few tanks in the summer, and I prefer the crew neck style. I ordered this one in blue and gray and they are perfect for wearing to the ballpark or even tucked into nicer shorts for a cuter summer look.

Crew Neck Tank

I often wear ball caps to the pool. I love a ball cap, but sometimes, on a hot day, I want the sun off my face, but I want my head to be able to breathe. (Does that make sense?) This visor hat has been perfect. A feature of the hat that I love is that it rolls up and has an elastic band to secure it together. That way, I just leave it in our pool bag when I’m not using it!

Sun Visor Hat

I’ve already shared a few favorite cover ups this summer, and then added this one into the rotation. It comes in a variety of colors, is lightweight, and I love that it is a little higher cut in the front than in the back.

Tunic Cover Up

Here I am at the beach in the visor and the cover up.

Last but not least, I purchased another two pack of goggles for the kids. No matter how many times I’ve told them, “if they aren’t on your face, they should be in the swim bag,” we still end up losing them. By “we,” I mean Hayden. These are great quality and Hadley even uses them for swim team.

Swim Goggles

I’m going to slow my Amazon roll for the month of July. I ordered Trav’s birthday present and a couple of things for Hadley for camp, but I’m going to try to treat July like a do January and give my debit card a minute to catch a break! Soon enough, I’m sure I will be ordering a few back to school items! Sigh…I don’t even want to think about that!

What have your Primed lately?

I hope your week is off to a great start!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Friday Favorites, Travel

Friday Favorites

Hello and Happy Friday! Also…

Or should I say…😂

Linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

This has been quite the week with lots of favorites.

The kids had lots of fun with friends this past weekend.

Hayden’s on a summer basketball team, and following their game on Friday, we went out for pizza and ice cream with friends.

Hadley spent most of Saturday and Sunday at a pool / slumber party for a friend.

Hayden had two baseball games on Saturday and he and Travis went to the pool Saturday night and met up with some friends.

Sunday, Hayden’s team won in extra innings to move on to the championship game of the tournament.

There’s a grandma on the team who takes the photos with her nice camera. She gets some great shots of all the players and the team.

The dugout photos are some of my faves.

…and another favorite is Hayden’s team won in the championship game!

Right after Hayden’s game, we hit the road for…

Isle of Palms, SC.

We went from 90+ degrees in Kentucky to the sand, saltwater, and sunshine of South Carolina.

We’ve eaten delicious seafood all week!

Shrimp tacos

Hayden and Travis were able to enjoy some oysters…

I always say if I win the lottery, I’m buying a house here!

We often vacation in Siesta Key, Florida, but we head to SC every few years. With the short window between baseball tournaments, it was the perfect getaway destination. The last time we were here was for Fall Break 2018. I love the Charleston area.

2018

A few fave photos from the week:

Family time
Sunshine Sis
Mom & Dad
Surfer Boo
Beach Bums

Favorite Beverage:

I still love White Claws, but Trulys have been my drink of choice this week, & I’ve loved the Fruit Punch variety pack!

Favorite 4th of July Tradition:

We will be home for the 4th of July this weekend, and I will be serving my favorite red, white, and blue waffles for the kids.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Currently me…

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

We were cruising down Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island, and Travis remembered the photo I took (it’s on our gallery wall at home) of the kids in 2013.

While my kids have grown over two feet since then, and the house was definitely updated, some things will never change: they had to be bribed with ice cream for both pics 😂

Weekly Recap

I had two posts this week:

I hope you’ve had a great week. We definitely have, & I hope to share more details about our trip soon!

Have a great weekend. If you need me, I will be unpacking and dreaming of the beach!

Posted in Books and Shows

June: What I’ve Been Reading

Well, my summer reading is off to a good start! It’s been nice to have some extra time to read. Whether I’m at the pool, killing time between ball games, or reading before bed, I always make sure to have a book on my Kindle as well as a book to read.

I was able to read five books this month!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York

Good Apple

Summary:

Elizabeth Passarella is content with being complicated. She grew up in Memphis in a conservative, Republican family with a Christian mom and a Jewish dad. Then she moved to New York, fell in love with the city—and, eventually, her husband—and changed. Sort of. While her politics have tilted to the left, she still puts her faith first—and argues that the two can go hand in hand, for what it’s worth. 

In this sharp and slyly profound memoir, Elizabeth shares stories about everything from conceiving a baby in an unair-conditioned garage in Florida to finding a rat in her bedroom. She upends stereotypes about Southerners, New Yorkers, and Christians, making a case that we are all flawed humans simply doing our best. Good Apple is a hilarious, welcome celebration of the absurdity, chaos, and strange sacredness of life that brings us all together, whether we have city lights or starry skies in our eyes. More importantly, it’s about the God who pursues each of us, no matter our own inconsistencies or failures, and shows us the way back home. 

Quick Thoughts:

…or not so quick thoughts…I could probably write a whole post on just this book. I loved and appreciated it that much.

It was so funny, and Elizabeth Passarella certainly has a way with words! Passarella is a Southern Living columnist who was raised in the south but is raising her kids in NYC.

The book touched on raising kids, manners, education, religion and more.

Chapter 15 was one that hit home with me. I loved her perspective on minor issues like why she doesn’t pack her kids’ lunches and bigger issues such as how she came about making the decision on where to send her kids to school.

She talks about school lunches being free. She says, “They’re (Dept of Ed) trying to soften the lines between kids who have no other option and kids who show up with salmon sashimi.” She just puts a funny spin on something that’s so true…even school lunches show the who the “haves” and the “have-nots” are. She says, “I like that idea, everyone being in the same boat. There are ample other ways for kids to congregate into haves and have-nots.”

Honestly, for me in regards to lunch packing, I just don’t need one more thing to do. 😆 (I will offer to help my kids pack their lunches right after dinner…but it’s only during that window of time that I will offer to help if they want to take me up on it.) I really appreciated her thoughts and perspective.

She says, “The way I see it, for us, there’s no downside. School lunch is character building.” They have to stand in line in the cafeteria, practice patience and flexibility, and deal with disappointment. None of that can hurt.” *She does also acknowledge that her kids are good eaters and have no allergies, so she doesn’t have to stress about school lunch offerings.

She just provides a real and refreshing perspective with her thoughts.

As far as schools go, she referenced how sometimes parents make a decision based on nostalgia, feeling like they should replicate their childhoods for their kids based on how they grew up (which she had that frame of mind in the beginning as well). She shares her conclusion that God put them where they are supposed to be and they (kids and parents) can “bloom where planted.” It was just such an interesting take on school choice and perspective when making these decisions.

I’ve actually made decisions for my kids because I was nostalgic about things I didn’t experience in my childhood (although it was a good one 😉) We had kids in our neighborhood but nothing like what my kids have now which we thought about when choosing our current home. Also, we moved when I was in the 7th grade which was a difficult transition for me. So, Travis and I were intentional about moving to an area where we put trust in a solid k-12 school experience for our kids and are hopeful that path continues to be a great fit for them.

This book was funny, informational and insightful.

Rating:

The Good Sister:

The Good Sister

Summary:

From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was just ok to me. I know a lot of people have read it and liked it, but it seemed rather predictable. I did breeze right through it, and the plot does provide a few twists and turns.

Rating:

Girls of Summer:

Girls of Summer

Summary:

Lisa Hawley is perfectly satisfied living on her own. Having fully recovered from a brutal divorce nearly two decades earlier, she has successfully raised her kids, Juliet and Theo, seeing them off to college and beyond. As the owner of a popular boutique on Nantucket, she’s built a fulfilling life for herself on the island where she grew up. With her beloved house in desperate need of repair, Lisa calls on Mack Whitney, a friendly–and very handsome–local contractor and fellow single parent, to do the work. The two begin to grow close, and Lisa is stunned to realize that she might be willing to open up again after all . . . despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior.

Juliet and Theo worry that Mack will only break their mother’s heart–and they can’t bear to see her hurt again. Both stuck in ruts of their own, they each hope that a summer on Nantucket will provide them with the clarity they’ve been searching for. When handsome entrepreneur Ryder Hastings moves to the island to expand his environmental nonprofit, Juliet, an MIT-educated web designer, feels an immediate attraction, one her rocky love life history pushes her to deny at first. Meanwhile, free spirit Theo finds his California bliss comes to a brutal halt when a surfing injury forces him back to the East Coast. Upon his return, he has eyes only for Mack’s daughter, Beth, to whom he is bound by an unspeakable tragedy from high school. Can they overcome their past?

As the season unfolds, a storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, forcing Lisa, Juliet, and Theo to decide whether their summer romances are destined for something more profound. Nancy Thayer dazzles again in this delightful tale of family, a reminder that sometimes, finding our way back home can bring us unexpected gifts.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was on my Summer Reading list. I’ve always enjoyed Thayer books, and this one didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed the character relationships; I thought it was interesting how the characters were “paired up” with parallel story lines. Also, for me, the story wrapped up nicely!

Rating:

The Last Thing He Told Me:

The Last Thing He Told Me

Summary:

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

Quick Thoughts:

This book seems to be a popular one, and I can understand the hype! This was a pretty good read and unlike any other book I’ve read in regards to how the story unfolds. Like the summary says, “Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity…” and that part kind of nagged a me a bit while reading and didn’t think some of it seemed feasible. Overall, I understand the hype of this book, and the ending had a moment, that as a reader, I enjoyed.

Rating:

Here’s to Us:

Here’s to Us

Summary:

Celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe has always been a force of nature with an insatiable appetite for life. But after that appetite contributes to Deacon’s shocking death in his favorite place on earth, a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage, his (messy, complicated) family is reeling. Now Deacon’s three wives, his children, and his best friend gather on the island he loved to say farewell. The three very different women have long been bitter rivals, each wanting to claim the primary place in Deacon’s life and his heart. But as they slowly let go of the resentments they’ve held onto for years and remember the good times, secrets are revealed, confidences are shared, and improbable bonds are formed as this unlikely family says goodbye to the man who brought them all together, for better or worse–and the women he loved find new ways to love again.

Quick Thoughts:

Of course, for me, Hilderbrand never disappoints, and I loved this book. I thought the best part was that the story centered around Deacon’s three wives (two ex-wives + current wife) after his passing. Each wife is so different, and holds a special tie to Deacon. Also, because he was a chef, Hilderbrand includes an occasional recipe of Deacon’s mixed in to the story which I thought was a fun touch. I really enjoyed this book, and it is another one I can cross off my Summer Reading list.

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

Here are the books on my Summer Reading list….

I’m mixing them in with other books that I want to read.

  • Here’s to Us: read!
  • Big Summer: just picked up from the library!
  • The Summer House: just downloaded to my Kindle!
  • Girls of Summer: read!
  • That Summer: on the library wait list
  • Golden Girl: on the library wait list

What have you been reading lately?

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}