Thanksgiving 2022 at the Beach

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!

Beach hugs!

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!

Family Beach Trip 2022

loaded up and ready to hit the road!

We’re here!!

first trip to Provision Company for Sissy

Playing at the farm!

Celebrating three wonderful years!

We loved spending the afternoon at the pool!

Ferry ride to the aquarium in Elmo PJ’s

not a fan of the scuba diver. no thank you.

worn out.

mom and dad in the way back

vacation naps, am I right?!?

Bertie was so glad to have Aunt Jody with us, she never left her side.

Cooking fresh seafood at home

ice cream downtown

cute boy exploring

Neighborhood strolls!

Beach day!

Library fun!

Applesauce is life.

One last Provision Company meal before heading home

We had the best week at the beach! It was Ellis Ann’s first trip to the beach and I think she really enjoyed it. We are so lucky that Jo Jo and Penny were able to join us. We are in a stage of life now where the more help we have the more fun everyone has! I feel so grateful that the kids have Jody and Penny to vacation with and bond with since they will always miss out on the joys of their Grandma Francey.

We ventured out to the farm for an oyster roast to see Uncle Tim and the kids and all the animals. Their house is basically a kids paradise with all the space to run and play and all the animals and toys. Graham really enjoyed his afternoon here and it was great for Ellis Ann to get to meet so many people!

We spent a day at the aquarium. It’s funny how with kids you can build something up to be OMG SO MUCH FUN and then when the day of the event happens they are just not having it. Graham slept it and we had to wake him up and hurry to the ferry in his pajamas so we would make it to the aquarium, and it was like he just never quite woke up so he was very unimpressed with the aquarium. I think he did enjoy the ferry ride over, but on the ferry home both Graham and Ellis Ann were sound asleep.

We went for lots of walks. We spent time playing in the sand. We went out to eat. Ellis Ann had her first (and second) trip to Provision Company. We checked out the local library. We played in the pool. (The pool at Jo Jo’s rental house was a life saver!) We cooked fresh seafood from the market we can walk to down the street. We shopped. We ate ice cream. We played on the playground. We watched the boats. Just a wonderful week of beach things. We tried to relax and take it easy as much as possible, but that’s not easy to do right now!

Sean and I were able to get to one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary! It is absolutely wild to me how our lives have changed in the past three years. We are beyond lucky to have two beautiful children, a sweet puppy, a home, and now a second home to show for the past three years. It was a wonderful chance to celebrate all the things together!

We discovered the beauty of travelling in the off season. Our trip was in mid September, and while the weather was still plenty warm for all the things, it wasn’t sweltering hot and there were no crowds anywhere! It was really ideal with little kids! We can’t wait for our next trip back to our little house by the sea!

Paris – Day 7

On our final day in Paris we tried to fit in a few last minute things, while also keeping it low key and enjoying our last bit of vacation. We went to the Museum de l’Orangerie to check out the Monet water lilies, but didn’t see much else here. We were honestly overwhelmed with all the museums we had seen. We had lunch at L’Imperial Rivoli, where I tried a Croque-Madame for the first time… When in France Right?!? We did some last minute walking around the Marais neighborhood, and checked out the Picasso Museum. I loved that we had the museum pass for this trip. We never had to wait in line for tickets, or for entry, and we didn’t have to feel bad about the museums we breezed in and out of since we had already paid for the pass. We had our last chocolate croissant, packed our bags and enjoyed one last view from our colorful balcony. It was a WONDERFUL trip!!

This wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t show us being the ONLY people in the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Always the timely traveler Sean had us at the airport hours before it even opened, which feels hard to do at an international airport the size of CDG but we managed…

The Perfect Baby Moon at The Greenbrier

Our Room

Ready for the Bunker Tour

Patterns for Days

Casino

Peach Cake

Carriage Rides

The Salt Cave and Spa

Most epic afternoon nap

Afternoon tea

Perfect place for a swim

Jerry West’s Prime 44 Steakhouse

The best décor

Sean’s favorite chandelier

My favorite chandelier

Sunday breakfast

The Greenbrier was the absolute perfect place for our babymoon weekend getaway! I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a place to get away for a short trip on the East Coast. It’s the perfect mix of things to do and nothing to do but relax! We arrived on a Friday afternoon just in time for the Bunker Tour. This is a little piece of history that you should not miss! It is absolutely unbelievable that a fallout shelter for Congress existed for 30 years with no one being the wiser.

On Friday evening we went into the nearby town of Lewisburg. It has apparently become quite the local foodie spot. We tried out The Livery Tavern, which was honestly just OK. Our waitress was great and we enjoyed our dinner, but I think if we go back we would try somewhere different. There were quite a few spots we were considering trying out, like The French Goat and The Humble Tomato, so something to look forward to for next time! After dinner we went back to the hotel and checked out the casino. To me one of the fun things about the resort is that it still has a dress code, sport coats are required for men in the casino. It was fun to get dressed up and enjoy an evening out. Once we had run out of luck I decided it was time for late night cake! We had the funniest experience at the dessert shop. The nicest man was helping us grab a slice of peach cake to-go, and then he offered us the cake buy one get one free, so why not!? Two giant slices of peach cake, never heard of peach cake but sounds delicious! As he is packing it up in the to-go containers, another employee walks up to the counter and says “do you know what you’re having?” referencing my very pregnant belly, which I totally missed and responded with “CAKE!” After my moment of embarrassment we took the cake back to our room and it was SO GOOD!!

We started out Saturday with a trip to The Pomona Salt Cave and Spa. The Greenbrier has an amazing spa that I’m sure is worth every penny, but is v expensive. We were both able to do facials, and a trip to the salt cave, and lunch, and smoothies here for nearly the same cost as one facial at The Greenbrier. It’s about 15 minutes driving from the hotel. We loved our experience here! I’m sure it’s not as fancy as The Greenbrier, but it was a perfect relaxing morning. We also loved that there was a café and smoothie shop on site. The lunch and smoothies that we got were great! After our relaxing morning we went back to the resort to relax and I had an epic afternoon nap. We went for afternoon tea in the main lobby and followed that up with a swim in the pool. That evening we had dinner at Prime 44, Jerry West’s steakhouse onsite at the resort. The food was delicious, but the service was even better. Honestly, a perfect day!

One of the things we kept noticing all weekend was how wonderful the staff at the resort is! Our waitress told us that she was a third generation employee from her family. Everyone is so helpful and friendly and really wants you to feel taken care of!

On Sunday we closed out the weekend with the full breakfast buffet in the main dining room! All in all it was a perfect weekend away preparing for little girl!

Also happy to report that I finally checked this spot off my bucket list of places I want to visit in the south!

Paris – Day 6

I could say this about all the days of the trip, but Day 6 was one of the best. We took the train to Versailles early that morning. We got there almost as it was opening and it really was not crowded (with the exception of the crowd you see in the Hall of Mirrors photo, which I think may always be like that). I think visiting in November also helped with the crowds. One thing I will say about our trip to Versailles in low season was that much of the furniture and other things that the audio guide mentioned seemed to be missing, possibly it was being cleaned or restored, and the famous gardens were a little lackluster with nothing in season. However, we enjoyed there not being much of a crowd and still getting to experience this famous location. We stayed a few hours and then took the train back in to Paris. That afternoon we explored Montmarte. I loved this area and would love to spend more time here. There are so many amazing shops and streets that you could spend days wandering here. We watched the sun set over Paris from the Sacre-Coeur, which I highly recommended. The view at sunset was magical. We wandered from here to the Hotel Particulier for some fancy drinks in a cozy spot off the beaten path. (Also happy to report we are still making the drink the bartender here taught us.) We finished up with dinner at Buillon Pigalle. The restaurant was a mix of tourist and locals, and the food was fantastic. This was one of our best “authentic” French meals. We are still trying to recreate the beef bourguignon.

More from our trip: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 7

Paris – Day 5

Our the 5th day of our trip we covered a lot of ground. We started with a tour of the catacombs. I cannot express how much I disliked this. Sean had booked this as something he wanted to do, and I had no clue what we were getting into. I do not like small spaces, I do not like being underground, I do not like dead bodies, I do not like there being no emergency exit. The catacombs are all of those things. That aside our tour guide was really knowledgeable and engaging. We were lucky enough to be in Paris when the Rembrandt collection was on display at the Louvre. We had reservations that afternoon to check it out. We hit the highlights of the exhibit and hit the road. The Louvre was overly crowded to the point of not being enjoyable, as it turned out our reservation was only to see the Rembrandt pieces not the rest of the museum and we weren’t sad about it because it was such a cluster. That night we had tickets to see a ballet at the Palais Garnier. I had mostly just wanted to see a show inside the famous opera house so we could see the inside. It is definitely worth seeing in my opinion. It’s gorgeous. We wound up loving the show we saw, we had amazing seats that I had purchased basically by accident, and it was great to drink champagne and feel fancy for a night.

More from our trip: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 6

Paris – Day 4

Day 4 of the trip was a museum and shopping day. We started the day with breakfast at Brasserie Le Bourbon. There were lots of business people here having meetings and eating. We enjoyed eating here. We followed that up with walking to the Rodin museum, which allowed us to take in some sights around the area. The Rodin museum was probably my favorite that we visited. I loved that it is both inside and outside, it wasn’t crowded, and you could walk around the gardens right in the middle of the city. We then went to the Museum D’Orsay, which has lots of great highlights, but we were lost most of the time we were there. It was crowded and difficult to navigate but we did manage to see some beautiful art! From here we walked to Rue Saint Honore to do some shopping. We stopped in Laduree since no trip to Paris is complete without the famous macarons. After our shopping we hurried back to change and head to our dinner reservation at Frenchie. We made a huge mistake and tried to take an Uber since we were all dressed up, we ended up sitting in so much traffic that we were late for our reservation. The restaurant staff was so great about it, but they have a strict cancellation policy so Sean was freaking out the whole drive there. The food at Frenchie was AMAZING. It is one of the best meals I have ever eaten. We had the sommelier do the wine pairing for each course also. We were lucky enough to have seats at the bar looking into the kitchen, which was a great experience. After dinner we walked to get a drink at the Experimental Cocktail Club, which was a fantastic spot our server told us about. When we were ready to head home we tried Uber again, but had no luck as our driver drove away as we were walking toward the car. We opted for the metro back, and I was not please about being in the metro late at night in high heels, but what a cool looking metro stop.

More from our trip: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 5, Day 6

Spend the Day in Reims

Paris – Day 3

On our third day of the trip we took the train to Reims to explore the champagne region. It took a little over an hour to get there and was well worth it. This was maybe my favorite day of vacation. Reims was a fun town to see and we found it very walkable. The Museum of the Surrender allows you to experience the location where the German’s surrendered World War II. The map room is still exactly as it was on the day of the surrender. We really enjoyed this museum. It is next to a local school and we accidentally went into the school looking for it. Ooops. From here we walked to the Reims Cathedral. It is absolutely beautiful, the stained glass is unbelievable! The history here is fascinating; It was built in the 13th century and was the location for all of the coronations of the French monarchs. After this we walked to Brasserie Le Gaulois for lunch. Our waitress was great and talked about how much she loved having a chance to practice speaking English, however the food was honestly not good. Kind of reminded me of the French version of Applebees. I should mention that we came to Reims on a Monday and many places are closed so we didn’t have as much to choose from. We knew that going in to the day and were fine with it, but I do wish we had been able to try some of the places we heard about. One cool thing about the restaurants in Reims was they have great champagne selections so we were able to try a few from places we weren’t able to visit. From lunch we walked to Tatinger where we had made a reservation for a tour and tasting. Most of the larger champagne houses require reservations for a tour. We enjoyed the tour and our guide was great. We did a tasting and ended up buying some to have shipped home. From Tatinger we walked to Pomery. We did a tasting here and bought a couple more bottles. After a full afternoon of champagne drinking we found l’edito brasserie to stop in for dinner. We enjoyed the food here and our server was great! It was the only restaurant of the entire trip we went to where the server spoke no English (our problem not his – for being in France and not speaking any French), but he kept apologizing to us and was just so nice! Our last stop before the train was the local grocery store. This was a great stop as we found many of the local champagnes we hadn’t been able to try for sale here.

More from our trip : Day 1, Day 2, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6

Eiffel Tower Photoshoot

One of the best things we did in Paris was to book a photo shoot with The Paris Photographer. Remember how I said I didn’t love how our wedding photos turned out. Well, it is so great that we booked these photos before even getting our wedding photos back, because we have some images that we love from this special time in our lives. A colleague of mine heard about our trip and told me about The Paris Photographer. Her sister had been married in a small ceremony in Paris and they had taken absolutely beautiful photos from the ceremony. I did some research and found that they book mini sessions that are totally affordable (the wedding packages would have been out of my price range). We booked our session with Ioana and she was so much fun! The session included these 15 images, which in my opinion is plenty. She happened to get stuck in the metro on the way and ended up being very late to the session. She was texting us updates the entire time and it was totally not her fault, but I think she felt really bad so what was supposed to be a 30 minute session ended up being nearly two hours, so we had a lot of images to choose from and I just love these photos!!

Paris – Day 2

On our second day in Paris we got up and had photos taken at the Eiffel Tower with a photographer from The Paris Photographer. I have mentioned before how I wasn’t too happy with our wedding photos, so we were SO HAPPY we did this! The photos turned out great and are such a fun memory. After our photo session we went back to our apartment to change into more comfortable clothes before heading out to explore the Jewish Quarter in Marais. We had heard about the food in the neighborhood and decided to go for lunch. The crowds were crazy and there were lots of long lines, we went to L’as du Falafel first but couldn’t even find the end of the line so we went to another spot nearby where we could be seated right away. I’m thinking it was Mi-Va-Mi, and it was really quite good. We took a little nap after lunch before heading out for the evening. We decided to head for rooftop drinks at Perruche, which a very cool spot on the top of a Printemps department store. We arrived just before closing time, but they were so great and let us come in for drinks anyway! The view from here is awesome and we really enjoyed this spot!! It was a Sunday evening so it was a little tough to find a spot to eat. Apparently lots of places close up early on Sunday. We weren’t far from Champs-Elysees so we decided to walk here from drinks in search of food. Since it is a more touristy area the shops and restaurants were still open. We browsed a few of the high end store before finding Cafe di Roma for dinner. It was definitely one of the more touristy places we ate, but there were locals there too with families and children. The pizza was good and we were happy to find a place that was open!

More from our trip: Day 1, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6