paci’s allowed in the car… even though we gave them up months ago
straight to the park
Our house for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving sunrise with my sunshine girl!
Baby in a turkey hat!
Dinner at Mini Jalapeno! No more leftovers!
Mina with the pitcher of margs!
Sun setting on a perfect trip to the ocean!
We had the most wonderful trip to the beach for Thanksgiving! We rented a house that was on the ocean at Holden Beach for four nights. Mina and Pop Pop joined us for the trip and there was plenty of room for all of us. The house was recently renovated and we all really enjoyed the location. Holden Beach was quiet, but had everything we needed. There was a nice park that we went to right as soon as we arrived in town, and it was also walking distance from our house. It was amazing to be able to go in and out of the house right onto the beach. I had not done that since I was a kid and it is just the absolute best to play in the waves, come in for a snack, go out and dig in the sand, come in for a nap, go back out and run and play ball on the beach, and watch the sun set over the ocean. We watched the Macy’s Parade, which was a tradition I always enjoyed with my Mom, so it was fun to see Graham start to show and interest in the big balloons and the music. We bought most all of our Thanksgiving meal premade again this year which is a tradition that is really growing on me. There wasn’t much cooking to do once we arrived and this turned out to be such a good plan. We really got to enjoy our time at the beach as much as possible and no one was stuck in the kitchen cooking. We only went out for one meal this trip, the last night we went to dinner at mini Jalapeno. We were all pleased with the food we ordered. I am also happy to report that both Graham and Ellis Ann did really well in the car going and coming from the beach!! We are already looking forward to our next trip to the beach!
2020. What a year. What a ride. Because (fingers crossed) there will never be another year like this, here’s how our 2020 went down. While there were many lows and many unexpected events on this roller coaster of a year, we were fortunate to have many highs too.
January 3 – My last day at my job. I left work and went straight to get our Bertie girl.
January 6 – Started my new job. Beyond excited to have finally found a new opportunity using and learning new skills, and very hopeful for the future with the company.
January 17 – Bertie’s first trip to the beach
January 25 – Belated friends Christmas celebration. Everyone catches the flu and unbeknownst to us it would be the first and last friend gathering of 2020.
January 31 – Recover from the flu just in time to road trip to Morgantown, WV for the weekend. Bertie’s first night in a hotel. Front row seats to the basketball game.
February 18 – Fly to Destin, FL for training for my new job. My only air travel of 2020.
February 28 – Old Crow Medicine Show concert. Preceded by champagne and oysters and good times with friends. The last supper of 2020.
March 6 – Travel to the beach for the weekend. Blissfully unaware of what is happening in the rest of the world. Bertie’s first time in the sand.
March 10 – Travel by car to Macon, GA for my new job. Due to the rise in cases of Coronavirus my company has now issued a travel advisory for all employees so I’m unable to fly. To be honest, I shouldn’t even be there based on the travel restrictions issued, but my manager seems to think the rules don’t apply. While in Georgia the world seems to take a turn for the worst. COVID-19 is now rapidly spreading and we have no idea what’s coming. My last meal in a restaurant for months is at a Zoe’s Kitchen in Macon. My last trip to the gym in 2020 is also at a hotel gym in Macon.
March 17 – Last day working in the office. The world had changed almost overnight. We are now starting to realize we’re in a global disaster, but with a barrage of information both reliable and not so much, we don’t know what to believe or how bad things truly are.
March 20 – It becomes apparent we’re going to be on lockdown. We stock up on groceries and plan to be in the house for a few weeks.
Sometime in late March – The new job I had been elated to start has turned out to be a disaster. The lady I’m supposed to report to has died. My new manager is awful. After working from home for several weeks I’ve had no communication from anyone at the company about anything. As 2020 is taking a turn for the worst so is this job.
April 1 – I am convinced I am pregnant but refuse to take a pregnancy test on April Fool’s Day.
April 3 – I confirm my suspicion. I am pregnant. I am all. the. emotions.
April 17 – I am furloughed from my new job. In a short month the job has become almost intolerable. I love the work, but the people are miserable and I’m honestly relieved to have a few weeks away to come up with a plan.
Sometime in late April – With no communication from my new job and no clear end in sight for the furlough (and now knowing I’m expecting a baby and the situation with the pandemic is worsening) I ask for my old job back. Friends this is why they tell you not to burn bridges. You never know when a global pandemic will hit and you will be thankful just to have a job.
April 27 – My first big girl house is sold. After being on the market for less than 48 hours in the height of lockdown I received an offer. A few weeks later we go to the closing, and just like that, I’ve sold my first home I bought for myself.
May 4 – The first doctor visit. Beyond relieved to see that our little nugget is thriving. Still feeling all of the emotions.
May 15 – After nearly two months in the house and going absolutely crazy for a change of scenery, we hit the road for West Virginia prepared to tell Sean’s family our big news. On the way we call and FaceTime my family members to let them in on the secret.
Sometime in late May – Things finally start opening back up. What started as a two week “safer at home order” has now surpassed two months. I’m finally able to go back to work part time at my old job. With millions of people out of work I’m thankful to have the chance to go back to work.
May 22 – We decide to brave it and head for the coast for Memorial Day. With the car loaded down with food and essentials we make it with no issues. While we can’t venture out much, it’s wonderful just to be somewhere besides our own house.
June 3 – We go back to the doctor to check on our nugget. Everything looks perfect and we elect to have genetic testing done. We will be able to find out the gender early from this testing.
June 5 – Our trip to the coast the previous weekend went so well, we decide to do it again this weekend. This time we celebrate Sean’s birthday with our friends at their house in South Carolina. We spend the weekend by the beach and the pool and enjoy takeout from some local spots. Because I’m still not working full time and Sean has some extra time off we extend the trip and head to our beach house for a few days. While Covid has upended everything, it’s nice to have the extra time to relax.
June 8 – We’re in the car driving to pick up takeout for dinner and the nurse unexpectedly calls with our test results. She says the genetic testing came back perfect and that she has the gender. I put the phone on speaker, and in the most uneventful way we find out we’re having a boy as we drive down the road. We’re both elated to find out he’s healthy!! We spend the evening eating our takeout and calling family and friends to share the news!
June 26 – Having not seen friends in months we head back to the beach to meet up with my college friends. Over the past weeks it’s become clear that socializing outdoors is much safer, so we spend the day on the beach with them.
July 1 – Back to the doctor to check on the nugget. We have our anatomy scan that confirms he’s a boy and he’s healthy!
July 2 – We head back to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July. What’s normally a rowdy weekend, with the town full of tourists, a huge festival, partying, and fireworks turns into a quiet weekend on the deck with just the two of us.
July 24 – We go back to the coast for the weekend. I’m now halfway through the pregnancy and we’re ready to make our news public.
July 31 – We close on the beach house. While it’s been in my family for years, and we’ve had the good fortune of being able to enjoy it basically whenever we want. It is now ours. And this feels good. To be honest the beach house has been a huge part of our sanity up to this point in 2020 and I can’t imagine not having this safe escape this year.
August 4 – Four days after closing on the house a Category 1 storm comes ashore. We did nothing to prepare since we’ve made it through Category 5’s with no damage. The storm spun off a water spout that came onshore as a tornado and made its way directly up our driveway. We were fortunate to have only a huge limb across the deck, but the town saw more damage than I’ve seen in 20 hurricane seasons.
August 28 – I am 25 weeks pregnant and celebrate my 36th birthday by going out to eat at a restaurant for the first time since March.
September 21 – We celebrate our first wedding anniversary with P.F. Chang’s takeout and Gigi’s cupcakes at home.
October 3 – We celebrate the baby Zoom style with Sean’s family. The perk of the Zoom celebration is that the family from across the world gets to join us.
October 8 – Back to the coast! We stay several nights and decide this is our “babymoon.” It’s not the trip to Hawaii we imagined, or even the back up trip to Arizona or Colorado we thought would be possible when covid first hit, but we’re thankful to still have a healthy nugget and a happy place to get away to. We enjoy our second meal out at a restaurant since March. I can’t believe it has been nearly a year since we were at our favorite beach restaurant, and we’ve essentially missed their entire season this year.
October 24 – We celebrate the baby with our friends at another Zoom shower along with a drive by shower. We had hoped to have a small celebration in our backyard, but with everything opening up cases are rising and it’s just too risky. Luckily we found a way to celebrate somehow!
October 29 – Hurricane Zeta comes ashore at the Gulf Coast and makes its way north. Because it’s 2020 they’ve run out of names for the storms and started using the Greek alphabet. It’s nearly November and we’re without power for almost two days from a hurricane.
November 1 – We celebrated our Bertie girls first birthday!
November 5 – My coworkers surprised me with another shower for baby boy! It was really special since it was the only real “party” we got to have for him!
November 7- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are finally announced as President and Vice President elect. I cry buckets thinking about what this means for little girls everywhere!
November 10 – I have surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma from my forehead. Keep it coming 2020. Skin cancer are you serious!? Wear sunscreen friends.
November 16- At 36 weeks pregnant I am offered a new job. I cannot believe it.
December 6 – Our baby boy, Graham William, is born. He is the spitting image of his daddy and perfect in every way. We are so lucky to have had this bright light to bring us through 2020.
December 22 & 23 – Christmas comes early this year in the form of a COVID vaccine. Sean got his the 22nd, and I got mine on the 23rd. I cried happy tears getting my shot!! We waited all year for this and to be among some of the first to get it is a huge relief! It seems fitting that my first solo outing with Graham was to get my shot!
December 25 – We celebrate our first Christmas with Graham! He gives us a Christmas miracle and sleeps well the night before. We enjoy our day at home, with just the 3 of us and of course Bertie. We’re in the thick of the newborn phase so we have boxed macaroni for Christmas dinner!
December 31 – Graham goes on his first road trip. We ring in 2021 at the coast with steak and lobster takeout from our favorite restaurant and drink champagne we brought home from France. Graham sleeps through dinner and I don’t know of a more perfectly 2020 way to end the year than at our favorite place, reminiscing about past trips and celebrating what’s to come for our new little family of 4.
I am looking forward to 2021. While 2020 was a tough year for everyone I feel so lucky to have had the greatest joy of all to close out the year! Wishing you and yours a better 2021!
Asheville, NC is one of my absolute favorite cities! Lucky for me, it is about a two hour drive from my house and we get to go there often. It’s beautiful anytime of year, each season for different reasons. We spent a summer weekend catching up with our friends and relaxing, and it was just perfect. We tried lots of new to us spots on this trip! Here’s a few highlights:
This Airbnb could not have been better for two couples. There is a downstairs studio apartment and an upstairs studio apartment each with their own separate entrance. The house is conveniently located, while still feel very secluded. We had no issues getting an Uber to pick us up and it was just a short ride to everything we wanted to see. Bonus – it is pet friendly too.
We started our weekend with dinner and drinks at Wicked Weed Brewing. I’ve visited lots of the breweries in town on many different trips, and I think overall the beer at Wicked Weed is probably my favorite. They have so many choices, and unusual things you won’t find anywhere else.
We randomly happened upon Ben’s Tune Up. In all my trips to Asheville I have never heard anyone mention this place, but it is a seriously cool spot. From the outside, you may not even notice the place at all, but they have live music, a neat outdoor area, and a full bar menu (and apparently food too, but we didn’t try anything).
We tried out a hiking spot that we found in a guidebook in the Airbnb. Finding the trail was hilarious. After turning down random roads for twenty or so minutes, passing a tractor convention, and using the four wheel drive to cross a stream we finally arrived at the parking lot. BUT there were no signs for the trail. We saw a girl on a bike find her brother who she had lost on the trail for an hour or so, and still we headed off into the woods. It was very beautiful and quite the adventure and I’m happy to report that we did all make it back in one piece.
Our first trip to Sierra Nevada. It is huge and there were SO MANY people. There is a lot space so everyone was kind of spread out, making it not feel that crowded. That being said, I’m honestly not sure if I would go back. They do have some beer options that you can’t get in stores, there was an outdoor food area where we ate a great hot dog, there is a pretty garden area that you can walk through and live music outside so it’s definitely a fun spot, but for me it’s so far out of town that it’s probably not worth the hassle.
One of my very favorite things to do in Asheville is to go to the Grove Park Inn for cocktails. The view from the back porch is the absolute best view in town any time of year in my opinion. We had some wine and watched the sun go down over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I can’t think of much better.
We tubed down the French Broad River for the first time. We went with Zen Tubing from their Midtown location. This was the perfect relaxing activity for a hot summer day. You float by several breweries and restaurants; we thought it would be easier to get out and check them out than it was. We ended up just staying on the river and snacking on what we had packed in our cooler and we loved our day on the river so much.
Luella’s Bar-B-Que was SO good! We all ate until we were completely stuffed, forgetting that we had a dinner reservation in just a couple hours. The wings there were some of the best I’ve ever eaten!
For me no trip to Asheville is complete without a meal at Curate. A pitcher of sangria made table side and a table full of tapas, YUM. Try the cured hams if you go!
We also tried Wedge Brewing Co for the first time. The highlight of this was that they serve Ginger’s Revenge Beer. So delicious and the perfect summer drink after a weekend of over eating!
The last stop of the weekend before heading home was at Biscuit Head. I LOVE this place. There is usually a long line to get in, but going on a Monday morning really cut back on the wait. If you’re wondering if the wait will be worth it…it will! A gravy sampler and a jelly buffet, what could be wrong? SO GOOD!
Hurricane Florence has devastated the entire eastern part of North Carolina. While there is significant damage to the area, we think our beloved happy place has been mostly spared. Bridges and roads in to town are flooded out, so we won’t know for sure until we are able to visit. In the wake of Hurricane Florence here’s what you can do to help:
Donate to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund here or by texting FLORENCE to 20222.
Register with the state of North Carolina to be a volunteer. They are urging people not to self deploy to the area, instead register and let them know how you can help so your skills can be best used. Check here for other volunteer opportunities in North Carolina.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina supports some of the hardest hit areas. Give to their efforts here.
The Diaper Bank of North Carolina is in need of supplies. You can donate to them here or purchase items from their Amazon wish list.
Check this article for a few other organizations you may consider helping, and some important reminders to think about before you donate to any unfamiliar groups.
Remember while many people are in need of material items, water, medicine, and non perishable food, cash donations can help ensure that organizations are able to purchase those items which are in the highest demand. They can also be purchased locally which can help to stimulate the local economy. Only donate material items to those organizations which are specifically requesting you do so.
To find the latest on power outages, road conditions, and storm cleanup in North Carolina.
When I have approximately two million things to do and no time to get them all done, I like to further delay everything by creating more lists. One of my favorite list to make is places I want to go.
Living in the southeast is great because there are so many beautiful places to see that are just a short drive away. I’ve never actually been to any of these places, they’re just tops on my list of weekend adventures.
Located about 30 minutes south of Knoxville, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. This place looks absolutely stunning. They host the VIP’s of Nashville’s country music scene quite often; Maren Morris was there earlier this summer. It is well known for it’s food and wine selection and they have a huge variety of activities to chose from as well. The views of the Smoky Mountains and the relaxing atmosphere don’t look to bad either.
Known as America’s Resort, the Greenbrier opened in 1778 and has hosted 27 of the country’s 45 presidents. The history at the resort is reason enough to visit. There is a Bunker at the hotel that was once a Cold War fallout shelter, and a top secret relocation place for members of Congress. Tours of the Bunker are available to guest. The spa and long list of available activities look great too!
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Old Edwards Inn is known for its amazing spa. I would love to spend a weekend checking out the town of Highlands and enjoying some relaxation time at the spa. They have a beautiful golf course if that’s your thing. I can imagine it’s beautiful here anytime of year, but how pretty would it be in fall to see the leaves changing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I love to visit Blowing Rock. The town is so cute, and easy to walk to lots of good restaurants and shops. Westglow is located right outside of town. The spa here looks phenomenal. If you follow country music, Eric Church and his wife were married here. It doesn’t hurt that this is just over an hour drive from my house.
Primland is a beautiful resort located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. You can stay in an actual luxury tree house, with stunning views of the mountains. I’m sensing a theme here, apparently I’m in need of a weekend away in the mountains to relax and unwind and enjoy some spa time! Yes, please.
I’ll finish with something completely different. Kinston, NC is not somewhere you usually think of when you think of a great weekend getaway. Now famous, Chef Vivian Howard opened the Chef and the Farmer in 2006 and since then Kinston has seen a huge revitalization. Mother Earth Motor Lodge is a step back in time to Kinston’s glory days. Mother Earth Brewing (the hotels sister company) is just a few blocks away. How fun would it be to stay here and eat at the Chef & the Farmer and check out the town.
How lucky am I that all of these trips are just a short drive from my house? It’s funny to me that almost all of these are in the mountains, as I’m typically a sand and saltwater girl! Now to get the time and money to go check them all off the list! What destinations top your list of local places you’d like to see?