Fall has Arrived!

18 Sep

Greetings from Stuttgart, where the weather has finally started to resemble more of what we know and love for this time of year! I kid you not, it wasn’t until just a couple days ago that we didn’t have a heat index of 90*+. In mid September?! Every time we’ve been here in the fall- including last year when we didn’t even unpack our shorts when we arrived in mid-August!- the temps are already dropping steadily, mornings and nights warrant a jacket and the leaves have tinges of yellows and oranges on their edges…I think Mother Nature felt like she owed us one this year for giving us the never ending spring (we were in fleeces for Memorial Day!), knowing that this southern family needed some decent hot weather! Ha! And she was right- I haven’t minded one bit- bring on the sweat and sunshine! Yep, this has been me ;):

And speaking of sunshine, the downside of German fall? With it comes the rain. Endless, constant dreary. Blech. Today is the perfect example- we went to bed with it raining, woke up to it raining, and it’s still raining now. Hasn’t let up NOT EVEN ONCE. Guess I’ll need to think about getting out my sun lamp😉

Anyhoo, I guess what I’ve said before holds true- when I go weeks between blog posts, it must mean we’ve been having too much fun- and we have! So I thought this would be a good time to share some pics❤thumb_img_1243_1024

thumb_img_1241_1024

One of our all time favorite festivals is Pumpkin Fest. It happens every September in Ludwigsburg, a suburb of Stuttgart, and lasts for almost two months, which means that we normally hit it up at least a couple times. Some of you probably remember my posting about it last year (and also back in 2010 for those of you who have been with us from the start!), but if not, be sure to search for past posts🙂 There are so many things that make Pumpkin Fest so neat. For starters, it sits on the most beautiful palace grounds and surrounding park. Seriously- you’ve never seen such green grass, such bright flowers and such majestic trees. Second, it’s super family friendly with an entire section of the park designed for kids. Third, you just can’t beat the pumpkin cuisine! And I’m not talking froo froo lattes either- I mean real, top notch food made using pumpkins and gourds! Jambalaya, ravioli, pumpkin fries, squash flatbreads…And yep, pumpkin beer and wine. Duh.

thumb_img_1244_1024

thumb_img_1248_1024thumb_img_1251_1024

You’ve also never seen so many pumpkins and gourds! This festival has the world record for the most pumpkins in one place, and it holds the contest for the World’s Largest Pumpkin. (It’s something like 650lbs. and taller than me!)

thumb_img_1253_1024

thumb_img_1257_1024

In Rapunzel’s tower…

thumb_img_1256_1024

thumb_img_1259_1024

thumb_img_1260_1024

Look who we ran into! And just in time for the kids’ park! They loved this boat ride through the forest.

thumb_img_1265_1024

thumb_img_1264_1024

Last week had two pretty cool events. First, we threw an end of summer BBQ for our tribe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being here, in this situation, would be so much different- so much more challenging, not to mention just plain sadder!- without these people. Together, all of our families make up one big family of friendship, of love, of support, of comfort…Love getting to share this extended family with my folks, too. Wish I had more pictures to share from a super fun night, but we were all too busy ‘feeling American’- eating pulled pork (yep, my dad can even do killer pig in the oven! Ha!), laughing and watching football, complete with American commercials! It’s the little things❤

thumb_img_1284_1024

thumb_img_1283_1024

thumb_img_1282_1024

The other big milestone was that our girl started her last year of preschool! Holy cow, how is that even possible?! It feels like just yesterday we were walking into Ms. Lori’s class at Bethany UMC, Neve with a backpack bigger than she was and this mama with tears in her eyes. Oh how she’s grown in just these last few years and oh what a trailblazer she’s becoming.

thumb_img_1273_1024

thumb_img_1272_1024

thumb_img_1280_1024

When you’re trying to read along on the Kindle, but your Poppy gets distracted…

thumb_img_1276_1024

thumb_img_1287_1024

View from our bed. I absofrigginlutely love living in the heart of a huge city.

thumb_img_1288_1024

What this southern girl does with leftover pulled pork…

thumb_img_1296_1024

If everyone could say a quick prayer for my girl, Dulcie. She’s been having some pretty serious health issues this last week and we’d sure appreciate as many prayers as we can get!

And finally, this weekend marks the ‘end of Fest Season,’ which meant that we celebrated the only way possible- going to not one, but two, fests! (Still not sure how they figure the ‘end’ as they’re in the process of setting up the next one as I type, but who am I to question a good thing…Ha!) Nothing better than being outside all day long surrounded by pretty scenery, artists, crafters, games and deliciousness!

thumb_img_1310_1024

thumb_img_1309_1024

Gerber Fest, just out of our front door…

thumb_img_1314_1024

Y’all, this girl was a ROCKSTAR at the rock climbing wall! Seriously, John and I were so shocked and so proud. She made it all the way to the top completely unassisted AND with the wall tilted in at the top! Need to find her a gym stat!

thumb_img_1315_1024

Perfect space for a fest, right?

thumb_img_1318_1024

thumb_img_1324_1024

thumb_img_1322_1024

She was as fearless here as on the rock wall! All the way across the lake- going fast!- all by herself!

And there you have it- a glimpse into our last two weeks of fun, of saying goodbye to summer, of taking care of sweet Dulcie, of enjoying the life that’s filling our walls (still so nice to have my parents here for a couple more weeks), and of looking forward to all that’s still to come. Speaking of which, on Thursday, we’re headed to Munich to meet friends for Oktoberfest! And no worries, zillions of pictures to come!😉

Hope everyone has a great week!

Labor Day Shenanigans

6 Sep

How is that that awesome holiday weekend already over?! Seriously. It’s like that extra day just made it feel even shorter! We had alot of fun all weekend long- starting with making sure we got in one last pool day before the end of summer, and before school starts back next week. I love the ‘pool culture’ here. Y’all, it’s no joke. Each town has it’s own public swimming facilities- larger cities have several such complexes. Each one has several olympic size swimming pools, huge water slides, rolling grassy hills for sunbathing…And that’s just outside! Each place also has a huge indoor facility with several more pools, high dives, kiddie areas, saunas, steam rooms…It’s just incredible. And alot of fun, once you get past the crowds and all the little pool etiquette things you don’t know about! Ha!

thumb_IMG_1152_1024

thumb_IMG_1153_1024

Look at that neat mosaic bottom! Neve and Amalie enjoying it to themselves…

thumb_IMG_1154_1024

Beating the crowds means you get the pools to yourself!

thumb_IMG_1155_1024

And just to give you a glimpse of what these places look like later in the day- here’s a peak at last week’s swim lesson…

thumb_IMG_1081_1024.jpg

Yeah, we avoid the pool at these times because…MISERABLE.

In addition to it being Labor Day, we actually had another little holiday this weekend. It was our sweet Dulcie’s 7th birthday! To celebrate, we spent Saturday morning out in the country throwing tennis balls, running until we dropped and snacking on apples we picked right from the trees. We sure had two happy pups- and one happy preschooler!- on our hands! Followed it up with some lunch at Wine Fest and we were all happy campers!

thumb_IMG_1180_1024

Birthday Girl❤

thumb_IMG_1183_1024

thumb_IMG_1181_1024

thumb_IMG_1184_1024

The best part of the weekend was this:

thumb_IMG_1165_1024

Yep, mom made it Sunday morning, safe and sound! Now, the circle is complete and things are feeling pretty swell.❤ And the timing of her arrival even worked out perfectly because while she took a quick nap, we headed over to a ginormous indoor funpark to celebrate our bestie, Emmie’s, 7th birthday. Sixteen little kids having the times of their lives! Ha!

thumb_IMG_1166_1024

thumb_IMG_1171_1024

Childhood. Joy. Energy.

thumb_IMG_1170_1024

Look who else came to the party!

thumb_IMG_1176_1024

thumb_IMG_1177_1024

thumb_IMG_1178_1024

Last but not least, Labor Day itself turned out to be the funnest day of all! For months now, we’ve been hearing good things about an amusement park that’s only 45 minutes away and we’ve been dying to try it out for ourselves. But we’ve put it off- waiting for the kids to go back to school, trying to avoid a weekend, etc. Labor Day was the perfect day. Guess that’s one good thing about US holidays not coinciding with German ones- we’re off and the locals aren’t!

thumb_IMG_1198_1024

But seriously, y’all. This place was awesome. It’s like a mini-German-themed Disney World geared toward younger children, but still with plenty to do for the older ones (yes, I’m counting us and all other adults as older ones!). Beautiful landscaping, immaculate grounds, creative rides, delicious food…And no lines or crowds whatsoever yesterday! I can honestly count on one hand how many times I’ve seen my Neve as happy as she was here. She rode just about every single ride she wanted to ride, ate anything she wanted to eat, played anywhere her little heart desired. I can’t even tell you how happy it made us seeing her so happy. I absolutely LOVE this part of parenting. There’s nothing else like it in all the world.

thumb_IMG_1199_1024thumb_IMG_1200_1024thumb_IMG_1201_1024

thumb_IMG_1204_1024

thumb_IMG_1205_1024

thumb_IMG_1214_1024

thumb_IMG_1211_1024

thumb_IMG_1212_1024

thumb_IMG_1213_1024

thumb_IMG_1216_1024

I absolutely love John’s face here…

thumb_IMG_1217_1024thumb_IMG_1218_1024

As it turns out, Neve is absolutely fearless when it comes to rides. Never once did she get nervous or shy away from anything. Tears only came at the rides where she didn’t meet the height requirement. High climbs, steep drops, dark spaces…She couldn’t get enough. And no, we aren’t too surprised- she comes by it naturally😉

thumb_IMG_1220_1024thumb_IMG_1222_1024

thumb_IMG_1223_1024

You can see the Riesling vineyards in the distance…

thumb_IMG_1225_1024thumb_IMG_1228_1024

thumb_IMG_1194_1024

thumb_IMG_1229_1024thumb_IMG_1230_1024thumb_IMG_1231_1024thumb_IMG_1232_1024

thumb_IMG_1233_1024

In the distance, the Karacho Rollercoaster.

This is the best shot I could get of Tripsdrill’s biggest attraction, the Karacho. Opened just a few years ago, it’s one of the largest in Germany and considered one of the most state-of-the-art in Europe with 4 inversions and an acceleration of 1-100km/h in 1.5 seconds. Why am I dedicating a section to it right here? Well, because it’s the first major ride I’ve ridden in over 15 years. As a kid and a teenager, I lived for these rides- the bigger, the faster, the more adrenaline-pumping the better. You couldn’t keep me off one…For those of you who read my ’25 Things’ post last week, remember how I mentioned that I’ve dealt with panic and anxiety since my senior year? Well, a huge component of that is feeling trapped and when those bars come down on top of you on these huge rides, well, that’s been a deal breaker for this girl for her entire adult life. Until yesterday. In that moment near the end of this awesome day, I just felt a shift. And it’s like John felt it, too, right when it happen. He took my hand, smiled and said, ‘You need to do this. I know you and I know how good it’s going to feel when you do this. I’m here. Let’s do this.’ And I felt calm and confident and, as crazy as it sounds, in love. And with that, we rode our first rollercoaster together.❤

thumb_IMG_1196_1024

Still sitting in the coaster car as we roll back into the station. I can’t describe how proud of myself I felt in that very moment.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Germany if there weren’t some kind of alcohol involved! Ha! Every ticket gets you a free souvenir wine glass with a tasting in the cellar. Perfect end to a perfect day. Smiles all around.

thumb_IMG_1235_1024

thumb_IMG_1234_1024

Precautionary rain coats for the water rapids ride. Despite all the clouds in the pictures, it didn’t rain on us one single time all day and the temps stayed perfectly around 70*. Thanks, Mother Nature😉

Hope everyone had a fun and family-filled Labor Day!

WOOHOO! Weekend, baby!

2 Sep

It’s Friday, y’all! So excited! And even moreso than normal since my mom gets here- FINALLY!- on Sunday! And if I’m pumped, I can only imagine how ready my Dad is. Bless his heart (proud Southerner here!), he’s been here with us nearly a month all by his lonesome. But on the flip side, it’s been SO terrific having him. We’ve never in my life had this kind of uninterrupted time together and that in itself has been priceless- something I’ll cherish for always.❤

thumb_IMG_1074_1024

I’ll go ahead and warn you that this is going to be a photo dump. Lots going on here this week and just about all of it fun. The weather has been nothing short of amazing (maybe a day or two of a smidge hotter than perfect, but I’m not complaining! No, we don’t have air conditioner…) and we’ve been taking full advantage. This was Neve’s second week out of school for summer break, so while I admit it I was a tad bit jealous seeing all the darling ‘back to school’ pictures filling up my social media, I rejoiced knowing that we at least have a few more weeks of the best season of the year😉

thumb_IMG_1031_1024

thumb_IMG_1032_1024

Picnic in the park with friends❤

thumb_IMG_1035_1024

thumb_IMG_1043_1024

Because sometimes you’re already in your jammies before you realize you need an ice cream from the mall downstairs…And it’s raining outside. So we roll with it.

thumb_IMG_1052_1024

thumb_IMG_1077_1024

You can take a boy away from HIS yard, but there will always be A yard.

thumb_IMG_1082_1024

Swimming lessons at the outside pool!

thumb_IMG_1095_1024

Sunday Mornings❤

thumb_IMG_1080_1024

She LOVED this outfit she picked out. Can’t tell you how much I celebrate her individuality…

thumb_IMG_1047_1024

John spent last week in the Azores, an island chain of Portugal, but closer to the US than to Germany. He tried to squeeze in some sightseeing around work and would send us pics along the way.

Remember a couple weeks ago when we found that neat biergarten, Barenschloss, at the end of an awesome little lakeside hike? Well this time we took company…and a blanket and wireless speakers! Best Saturday afternoon in ages!

thumb_IMG_1097_1024thumb_IMG_1099_1024thumb_IMG_1107_1024

thumb_IMG_1102_1024

This family. No clue what we’d do without them. Hallelujah that we’ll all be back in Charleston together at the end of these adventures!

thumb_IMG_1090_1024

thumb_IMG_1088_1024

Rare shot of all 4 Thomas ladies😉

thumb_IMG_1093_1024

thumb_IMG_1104_1024

thumb_IMG_1105_1024

thumb_IMG_1089_1024

Because sometimes you just want to match your girl❤

thumb_IMG_1108_1024

This may or may not be at about Beer #54. HAHAHA!

One of the highlights of Neve’s week was a Halloween-themed (how fun is that?!) birthday party for her friend, Lauren. What made this particular party extra special was that Lauren was one of Neve’s first friends- they met in the German Immersion class back when we first arrived- and several of her old classmates were also at the party. She and her friend, Taryn, even won the Mummy Wrap! Coincidentally, none of them are still going to that school (several switched to German kindi like us and a couple have started elementary school), so it was quite the grand reunion all around! Heck, it was even lovely for John and me to catch up with parents we haven’t seen in months!

thumb_IMG_1123_1024

thumb_IMG_1116_1024

With Estelle (also from Charleston- small world!) and Archer (Neve’s first- and still current- crush!)

thumb_IMG_1124_1024

Birthday Girl, Lauren, as the Wicked Witch…

thumb_IMG_1115_1024

I just love this picture of them. Archer, who just turned 6 and is starting first grade this week, is just the sweetest little boy and they have had the best friendship since the day they met.

thumb_IMG_1125_1024

It’s not often you get to shop with a fairy…Stopping by the commissary after the party😉

In case you’re not on Facebook or you missed my post on there, I’ll share it here because it’s one of my favorite posts ever- one of my favorite moments so far from motherhood.

As I was walking past a store today, this beautiful, lacy, sparkly, twirly, bohemian gown caught my eye. Without a single thought given to where she’d wear it or for what fancy occasion we might need it, I immediately went in the store and bought it. For no reason at all other than that I knew how much my Neve would absolutely love it. Everything about it just screamed Neve. After dinner tonight, I gave it to her and told her just that- that I got it for her just because. She got so excited putting it on that she got teary- and I did, too, because it just felt so good. She must’ve twirled for half an hour- even had me take a video so she ‘can remember what it looks like twirling even when she’s not wearing it.’ She took it off long enough to take her bath, then asked to put it back on as her nightgown. And as I turned out the light and leaned down for one last hug and kiss, she whispered in my ear, ‘Mommy, I just adore this dress. Thank you.’ Oh sweet girl, how I adore YOU and your feistiness and the little girl you’re becoming and being you mom. These are the moments that reach the little corners of your heart you didn’t even know existed…the ones that make it feel as if it could just burst.

thumb_IMG_1139_1024

thumb_IMG_1138_1024

My current favorite picture of Neve…

Meanwhile, back inside…Have I mentioned how much we love having Dad here??

And finally, this last shot…Nope, not taken the same night as the above pictures- just back in the dress because…well, just because.<3

thumb_IMG_1143_1024

Hope everyone has a great weekend- I guarantee it won’t be as great as our’s! Ha!😉

25 More…

1 Sep

Who would’ve thought that my ’25 Things You Don’t Know About Me’ would be such a popular post! I’ve gotten lots of great comments- and even additional questions- from it! So I figured I’d try to do a Round 2…Remember how I said that some of my blogger friends do these regularly?! I have no clue how. Well, I take that back. Maybe it’s because I’m a pretty open book- I call things as I see them, I have no filter, what you see is what you get…So it makes it all the more challenging to actually come up with the things that I tend to keep to myself! So here we go again!

big deal

1. Although you wouldn’t know it today, I’m an avid fingernail biter and have been since I was younger than Neve is now. I quit various times over the years, but not permanently until about 5 years ago when my wisdom teeth started moving around and made it so my top and bottom teeth don’t line up perfectly anymore! So I physically CAN’T bite my nails! (And yes, Neve inherited the gene- that I inherited from my Dad, btw- and started biting her own nails just before her second birthday.)

2. Speaking of wisdom teeth, I still have all 4 of mine despite years of warnings from my dentist and years of them causing me issues. Truth be told, I’m terrified of the anesthesia and would rather hope against hope that they’ll just reach a point where they can just settle in.

3. This one isn’t anything new to those who know me pretty well, but I’ve battled anxiety and panic since I was 17.  I’ve always been very open about this and a huge proponent of eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. In a nutshell, there was an incident at the beginning of my senior year that triggered my issues and I’ve spent the last 15 years learning about, and ultimately embracing, this part of myself.

4. I love to sweat. Like, love it love it. Whether it’s for exercise, in a sauna, doing yard work or just walking around in the summer (yes, I LOVE this part about Charleston!), it’s one of my absolute favorite feelings. That flush of intense heat you get right before you feel your pores open and it starts flowing…Heaven.

sweat

5. *By Reader’s Request :)* My favorite bands. Oh Lord, what a doozy of a question for me since I seriously love just about ALL types of music. But I will try, in no particular order:

  • Better Than Ezra
  • The Cars
  • Beastie Boys
  • Aerosmith
  • Everclear
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Heart
  • U2
  • Queen
  • The Temptations

6. I have seven tattoos- just got my most recent when I was home in June.

7. I really don’t like animated movies. I didn’t even as a kid. And until about 2 years ago, I can honestly say that I hadn’t seen a whole one in at least two decades. I can admit, though, that a few have grown on me- Inside Out, Home and a couple of the old classics…

8. I was in braces- or some form of mouth altering device- for 7+ years. That’s how screwed up my teeth were! I have the world’s smallest mouth and there just wasn’t room for all of them, let alone in an organized fashion! I got my braces off the week before my senior pictures in high school. Thank God. I still sleep in a retainer two nights a week and have a permanent one installed on the bottom🙂

9. My favorite type of food is breakfast.  I swear I love just about any and all breakfast foods, any time of the day- sweet, savory, gooey, wholesome, hot or cold…My top picks would likely be waffles, sausage biscuits, and cheese grits, but seriously- any will do🙂

breakfast

10. *Reader Request :)* My favorite movies, other than Son in Law (see my first 25 Tidbits…).

  • Urban Cowboy
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Blue Crush
  • 50 First Dates
  • The Birdcage
  • Down to You
  • Home Alone
  • Shag
  • Pretty In Pink
  • Crash
  • Dirty Dancing (duh, I’m a girl)
  • Ghost
  • What Dreams May Come
  • Bad Santa
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • Elf

11. I learned to swim before two years old and could ski behind our boat before my 5th birthday.

12. There is not a person on this planet who loves Christmas more than I do. Everything about the season- the music, the shopping, the crowds, the weather, the baking, the giving, the feelings around it all. November and December are most definitely my jam.

13. I have the mouth of a sailor. I shit you not. I do my best to reign it in when I need to, but I mostly just embrace it.

curse meme

14. There’s something about taking a shower in the middle of the afternoon that I really dig.

15. I absolutely love mixing hot and cold foods together. Ice cream over a warm brownie or apple pie, cold milk in hot oatmeal, cool salsa or sour cream on a warm taco…You get my drift!

applepieicecream

16. Despite my small stature, I walk with a really heavy step. I’ve always felt that my walk is super awkward and I hate for people to watch me walking or walk behind me.

17. I loathe talking on the phone. LOATHE. With the exception of a handful of immediate family members and my absolute closest friends, every time my phone rings, I wish there was a button I could push that would relay the message, ‘Please hang up and evaluate if this can be accomplished with a text or email. Thank you.’ Ha!

phone

18. I recently cut 17 inches off of my hair- 13″ before we went home and another 4″ while we were there! And I LOVE it!

19. I couldn’t care less about brand names- for clothes, for shoes, for handbags, for accessories, for art…As long as I like it- as long as it speaks to me- that’s what I care about. Now, that’s not to be confused with not caring about nice things. On the contrary- I really like nice things, well-made made things, high quality things…But here’s the thing- all of the above can be found where you least expect it if you just look for it.

20. Which brings me to what I do think it usually worth the money…TRAVEL. I know this isn’t a shocker considering I’m posting this on travel-centric blog, but it’s true and something I can’t reiterate enough. If you’re in a position to stretch your comfort zone, to see other ways of life, to educate yourself on other cultures, to get lost in foreign lands…DO IT. Stay at the nice place, eat at the good restaurant, walk until you’re sure your feet won’t recover. Even if it’s only in a new-to-you city an hour from your house. And do it NOW. It will change your life.

travel

21. My current girl crushes include Ruby Rose, Emma Stone, Ellen and Samira Wiley.

22. I absolutely, positively MUST have a toothpick after every meal.

23. I’m fascinated by abandoned places- vines growing all over buildings, houses going back to nature, items left behind to tell the stories…That’s just it- it’s the stories of places that once had such life…FASCINATED.

abandoned

24. A bath can help to solve any problem. If I’m sick, if I’m stressed, if I’m angry, if I’m grieving…Taking a hot bath instantly brings me up a notch or two. I take at least one every single day.

25. I physically sway or rock just about all the time. It’s not a nervous thing at all, but rather a peaceful one. If I’m standing in a line somewhere or at the bathroom sink doing my hair and make up…If I’m standing on the street corner catching up with a friend or sitting by myself in a parked car…I can almost guarantee you that there’s music playing in my head, that I’m swaying side to side and that I’m pretty zen.❤

zen

So there you have it- 25 more things that you may not have known about me! Sheesh, I’m spent. It’s taken me nearly 6 weeks of keeping a list to come up with this many! So with that in mind, maybe I’ll set myself a goal to do another one by the holidays! Ha!

Happy Thursday!

 

Happy Monday!

22 Aug

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend- we sure did! Let me back up…So last Monday,we got a surprise visit from my Uncle Mike- he’s married to my Dad’s sister, Julia. He’d been keeping up with the Portugal saga and how my Dad had ended up back here with us in Stuttgart several weeks sooner than he’d intended. So being the cool- and luckily retired!- guy that he is, he booked a flight quickly and came to spend the week traipsing around with my Dad! I know, right?! We all had the best time and I don’t think there’s ever been an easier, more laid back house guest than Mike. We so enjoyed having him here with us and hope that he’ll return soon, maybe with Julia in tow, too!

So what all have we been up to…For starters, our neighbor and one of Neve’s best friends turned 3! It’s always tough fighting the traffic to make it to their backyard BBQs, but it’s worth it😉 Sure do love when our whole group is able to come together. Beyond that, we just hung out, ate at some of our favorite spots, and he and Dad played tourists visiting all the car museums, etc.

thumb_IMG_0951_1024

thumb_IMG_0957_1024
thumb_IMG_0958_1024

thumb_IMG_0973_1024

All the essential beverage groups represented- three kinds of beer and a water!😉

thumb_IMG_0972_1024

thumb_IMG_1003_1024

Neve’s been LOVING working on her swimming now that the outdoor pools are in full effect!

thumb_IMG_1002_1024

thumb_IMG_1001_1024

If only the pups would’ve warmed up to Mike…

We wanted to take Mike on at least one day trip during his visit, so we gave him several options…He ended up choosing one of our favorites, Rothenburg! I’ve done several posts on this cute little town already, so I won’t go back into details here, but be sure to check back if you’re interested. In a nutshell, it’s the oldest medieval walled city left in Germany. It’s picturesque- straight off a postcard and everything you picture when you think of this country. Half-timbered colorful houses, cobblestone streets, rolling green hills as far as you can see all around…We just love Rothenburg❤

thumb_IMG_0978_1024

thumb_IMG_0981_1024thumb_IMG_0979_1024

thumb_IMG_0974_1024

thumb_IMG_0990_1024

 

thumb_IMG_0986_1024

So many grapevines growing all over the city, and all packed full of ripe grapes!

thumb_IMG_0982_1024

thumb_IMG_0996_1024

Ha! Didn’t this shot turn out so fun?! We were touring a little dungeon exhibit and they had one of these old timey ‘neck violins’ for John to model. Ha!

thumb_IMG_0977_1024

thumb_IMG_0991_1024

thumb_IMG_0994_1024

Now, I’m sure you were thinking to yourself, ‘Where the heck is Neve in all these pictures?!’ Well, Neve was actually having her own fun- her first real sleepover! Our good friends, Cameron and Ji, just moved downtown a few blocks from us (they were living in a suburb until they saw how much fun we were having downtown! ;)) and to celebrate getting settled in, they asked Neve to come spend the night with another of her besties, Emma. They’re the exact same age- their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart- and so similar in personalities that it’s freaky sometimes! Anyhoo, Neve did so awesome! Seriously, we’re so proud of her- the first time staying in a new place, without any family. Heck, I was that kid who didn’t spend the night away from home until sometime in middle school! Seriously, I tried it once for a slumber party in like the 4th grade and my mom had to come get me at 1a (do you remember that, Alissa?). So way to go, Neve! (Thankfully, Ji knows that I fret and sent me pictures all along the way- looks like they had the best time!)

thumb_IMG_1009_1024

thumb_IMG_1014_1024

I can’t even tell you how much I love this picture! I died laughing!

thumb_IMG_1011_1024

Headed to the park…

thumb_IMG_1010_1024

Feeding the Feuersee ducks and swans…

thumb_IMG_1008_1024thumb_IMG_1015_1024

So here we are back at another Monday…Mike is on a plane headed home, Neve is out of school for her three week summer break (late, I know!), John is in the Azores (islands owned by Portugal, but actually closer to Bermuda) for work until Friday, so Dad and I are holding down the fort. Planning to get in some swimming, some picnicking, and lots of playing this week❤ Hope everyone has a good one!

thumb_IMG_0537_1024

For those of you who’d asked to see my shorter hair…17″ gone! Lovin’ it!

 

Spanish Beach Bums!

16 Aug

Back again with the second half of our southern Spain getaway! Y’all, it couldn’t have been any better if I’d read about it in a glossy travel magazine. Like I said yesterday, my requests were: staying ON the beach, being able to hear the ocean from our room, sweaty hot sunshiney weather, and lots of people. Let’s just say that every single box was checked and then some!

map2

Y’all know I like some visuals😉

map

Torremolinos is 13 km west of Malaga.

Now, before we get into all the pictures (and trust me- there are a ton of ’em! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!), let me talk about the ‘lots of people’ part. John and I both tend to go from one extreme to the other on preference here. Sure, sometimes it’s so nice to stay somewhere remote where you have plenty of space and quiet and peace. Sometimes that’s exactly what your soul needs- to disconnect, to recharge. But other times, your soul needs crowds and noise and movement and room service. Sometimes, your soul needs LIFE. And for me, those times often come in the summertime. I think it goes back to growing up in a seasonal touristy city, near the beach, on the boat, vacationing in Myrtle Beach (still one of my favorite places on Earth, btw)…Some of my happiest times involve all things summer- which includes throngs of people- so that’s probably why I equate those things with these types of vacations. They truly feed my soul- and refill my tank❤

thumb_IMG_0854_1024

Once a poor fishing village before the growth in tourism began in the late 1950s, Torremolinos was the first of the Costa del Sol (ie. Sun Coast) resorts to be developed. The average population is about 80,000, but this more than doubles from late spring through early fall. A large portion of the tourists are from the UK (which we loved! We talked to several and they told us that the beaches in both Spain and Portugal are wildly popular for them because of their quick direct flights…) and Scandinavia.

thumb_IMG_0855_1024

View from our balcony…Look at that blue Mediterranean water!

thumb_IMG_0859_1024

Two of our hotel’s pools…Loved how the fact that they’re infinity pools makes them just blend right in…

thumb_IMG_0717_1024

There are 8 km of beach just in Torremolinos (Costa del Sol runs the entire coast and is comprised of lots of similar towns, so there’s beaches for days!) with a paved promenade running from end to end- walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists…Every 100 meters, it seemed, there’s another beach bar or restaurant, all specializing in fish.

thumb_IMG_0861_1024

Hey Dad, who knew you had your own beach bar!

thumb_IMG_0872_1024

thumb_IMG_0873_1024

Yep, that’s my daughter! Look at that hair once it hits humidity😉

thumb_IMG_0877_1024

thumb_IMG_0876_1024

thumb_IMG_0862_1024

We rented one of these, with three chairs, both days- in the front row right along the ocean. Best 5 euro spent!

thumb_IMG_0866_1024

Within walking distance from our hotel- along the promenade- is the next town, called Benalmadena, and its gorgeous marina. We loved heading that way for dinner for the simple fact that the views were unbeatable! Unfortunately, the food (for most of our trip) left alot to be desired. You know that’s true when I order a hotdog for three meals in a row! Ha!

thumb_IMG_0867_1024

thumb_IMG_0869_1024

thumb_IMG_0868_1024

This hotdog was actually pretty good! As close as I’ve had to home for sure!

For our two full days at the beach, our one and only goal was relaxing (ok, and playing a little, too). We slept in both mornings, then moved ourselves out to the pool or beach around 9a, swapped to the other (pool or beach) sometime in the afternoon, headed in about 5p to get cleaned up and go to dinner. Seriously, that’s all we did and it was so freakin’ magnificent I can’t even.

thumb_IMG_0757_1024

thumb_IMG_0880_1024

Poolside lunch…

thumb_IMG_0879_1024

Neve’s swimming has come lightyears this summer. Finally! And these two days in the water just solidified it. She can swim side to side, she can jump off the side and make it back to the ladder, the can mermaid twirl (don’t ask) and she can float on her back for well over 60 seconds…Dare I call her a swimmer now?! WOOHOO!

thumb_IMG_0884_1024

Finishing up his Garlic Grilled Octopus

thumb_IMG_0888_1024

thumb_IMG_0887_1024thumb_IMG_0889_1024

thumb_IMG_0754_1024

thumb_IMG_0890_1024

thumb_IMG_0891_1024

thumb_IMG_0764_1024

thumb_IMG_0892_1024thumb_IMG_0893_1024

You can’t tell, but this is a topless beach, as are many of the beaches across Europe. Of course it’s not mandatory, just optional. And honestly, I find it so liberating! No one bats an eye. Young and old women, thin and larger women, pale and tan women…It’s just so refreshing to see positive body images being celebrated and embraced! And before you ask, yes, I took mine off and joined right in the positivity🙂 (Although no, I didn’t walk the beach or anything- don’t get crazy!)

thumb_IMG_0766_1024

thumb_IMG_0919_1024

thumb_IMG_0921_1024

thumb_IMG_0922_1024

Notice the crescent moon over the palm tree…Going to Carolina in my mind❤

thumb_IMG_0923_1024thumb_IMG_0925_1024

thumb_IMG_0909_1024

thumb_IMG_0916_1024

thumb_IMG_0924_1024

thumb_IMG_0918_1024thumb_IMG_0894_1024thumb_IMG_0896_1024

thumb_IMG_0926_1024

Yep, the stars definitely lined up for on this one. The weather, the hotel, the beach itself, the language (yay for majoring in Spanish and being able to speak!)…And most importantly, the three of us being together. Just us. After being apart for a month while Neve and I were in the States and then being so crazy busy since we got back, we really needed this time as a family to relax and to play and to enjoy. So THANK YOU to my wonderful husband for planning such an incredible Spanish getaway just for us. And for always putting Neve and me above all else. You move me❤

thumb_IMG_0932_1024

We will most definitely be back- I foresee the Costa del Sol becoming a regular quickie getaway for the Thomas clan!

Hola, Granada!

15 Aug

And hey there, Alhambra! That’s right, we just got back from a lovely little getaway in southern Spain! I don’t think I even mentioned that we were headed out of town- that’s how hectic things have been around here these last couple weeks! But actually, this one had been in the pipeline for a couple months now. Technically, it was a late anniversary celebration- John planned the whole thing from start to finish and let me tell you, it simply couldn’t have been any more perfect.

For months- since last winter at least- I’ve been dying for a beach vacation. An all out, boardwalk, ice cream stands, tiki huts, hearing the sound of the ocean from your room, umbrella drinks beach vacation! Being in Charleston back in June only whet my appetite, too! Ha! So we started researching options and stumbled upon one that just happened to be close to one of John’s top Bucket List items, La Alhambra, in Granada. Once again, isn’t it great the way things just work out that way?! So last week, we caught an (obscenely) early flight (left the house at 4a!) to Malaga, Spain, rented a car and drove 1.5 hour north to the city- in time for a churros-and-chocolate breakfast at a sidewalk cafe❤ Then we spent the day taking in the sights, culminating with an afternoon at La Alhambra, one of the best surviving examples of ancient Moorish/Islamic architecture in the world.

thumb_IMG_0712_1024

Even the ride itself from Malaga to Granada was just gorgeous…You don’t realize how arid that part of the country really is, or mountainous…Or how many olive plantations there are! Turns out Spain and Portugal produce over 80% of the world’s olives!

thumb_IMG_0720_1024

thumb_IMG_0722_1024

thumb_IMG_0724_1024

Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, right at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and at the confluence of four rivers, the Beiro, the Darro, the Genil and the Monachil.  The population is about 473,000 people, ranking as the 13th-largest urban area of Spain.

thumb_IMG_0726_1024

thumb_IMG_0727_1024thumb_IMG_0730_1024

thumb_IMG_0705_1024

The region surrounding what is today Granada has been inhabited since at least 5500 BC. In 711 AD, the entire region was conquered by the Moors from Africa and by the eleventh century, Granada had been loosely established. The name translates into ‘Hill of Strangers,’ because the original city was based in a valley, making it very difficult to defend. Over the next century, as Moorish control grew, the borders of Granada extended onto the surrounding hills, securing its place as one of the most important cities in Al-Andalus.

thumb_IMG_0744_1024

Granada Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Incarnation, took 181 years to be built. It was started in 1492 with intentions to be a Gothic structure (which can be seen in the oldest part of the cathedral, the main), but then as rulers changed, it became a beacon of the Spanish Renaissance. We loved the look of this cathedral and really appreciated the differences we saw when compared with the more Italian-ish styles that we’re a bit more used to seeing. Ornate, but not too ornate…Colorful, but only in a way that adds to the character…

thumb_IMG_0780_1024

thumb_IMG_0735_1024

thumb_IMG_0752_1024

thumb_IMG_0771_1024

thumb_IMG_0753_1024

Beautiful old stone floor…

thumb_IMG_0774_1024

thumb_IMG_0770_1024

There are actually two of these organs…You can see them in the top interior picture- on either side of the archway near the nave.

thumb_IMG_0779_1024

thumb_IMG_0781_1024

thumb_IMG_0782_1024

The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, is the most well-known, best preserved structure left from the Islamic dominance of the Iberian Peninsula. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD on the remains of Roman fortifications and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition) and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes.

thumb_IMG_0783_1024

thumb_IMG_0787_1024

thumb_IMG_0785_1024thumb_IMG_0790_1024

thumb_IMG_0792_1024thumb_IMG_0794_1024

thumb_IMG_0798_1024

The detail in just one shot…Wood, stone, tile and paint…From the 14th century.

thumb_IMG_0799_1024

Tile work.

thumb_IMG_0802_1024

The Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon. La Alhambra is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

thumb_IMG_0803_1024

thumb_IMG_0807_1024

All walls are carved stone. Many have Arabic inscriptions at the top with mathematical patterns at the bottom…

thumb_IMG_0809_1024

thumb_IMG_0805_1024

thumb_IMG_0811_1024

A courtyard in the center of a quadrangle…

thumb_IMG_0806_1024

Tiled ceiling

thumb_IMG_0812_1024

thumb_IMG_0820_1024

thumb_IMG_0818_1024

Moorish poets described Alhambra as “a pearl set in emeralds,” an allusion to the color of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind. The park, which is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park is usually filled with the sound of running water from fountains throughout. These are supplied through a conduit 5 mile long, which is connected with the Darro River.

thumb_IMG_0828_1024

Only stained glass in the entire palace…

thumb_IMG_0829_1024thumb_IMG_0834_1024

thumb_IMG_0832_1024

Looking out over Granada…

thumb_IMG_0836_1024

thumb_IMG_0843_1024

We decided just this small outbuilding could be our villa😉

Despite long neglect, vandalism, and some ill-judged restoration, the Alhambra endures as an atypical example of Muslim art in its final European stages. The majority of the palace buildings are quadrangular- with all the rooms opening on to a central court, and the whole reached its present size simply by the gradual addition of new quadrangles, connected with each other by smaller rooms and passages. Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived there, however, each new section that was added followed the consistent theme of “paradise on earth,” with sun and wind freely admitted. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic. In every case, the exterior was left plain and austere.

thumb_IMG_0838_1024

thumb_IMG_0821_1024

The decoration consists for the upper part of the walls, as a rule, of Arabic inscriptions that are manipulated into geometrical patterns. Tile mosaics, with complicated mathematical patterns, are largely used as panelling for the lower part. Similar designs are displayed on wooden ceilings. The palace complex is designed in the Nasrid style, the last blooming of Islamic Art in the Iberian Peninsula.

thumb_IMG_0804_1024

After leaving La Alhambra, we both immediately considered it among our favorite palaces/fortresses we’ve ever visited and have talked about it countless times since. Yes, it’s that amazing and it’s easy to see why it’s considered a top destination in the world (#1 most recommended sight for this year!). There are just so many things that set it apart- the tile work, the stone work, the woodwork, the colors, the light and air and water flowing through every single room…All of these things just come together so beautifully and so perfectly. And the simple, yet gorgeous, ways that nature is incorporated throughout- in the center of the quadrangles, in the fountains of crystal water, in all the surrounding gardens and hillsides. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a place with as much beauty and harmony all in one structure. It’s truly breathtaking…

Taking that early flight and driving all the way to Granada to kick off our vacation proved to be the absolute right decision. We found the city to be just lovely and, well, Alhambra to be a once in a lifetime visit. I can’t recommend it enough. And even for those of you who say that you ‘aren’t really into architecture,’ I dare you to visit this place and still say those words.😉

thumb_IMG_0708_1024

Smiling at the thought of heading to the beach! Ha!

And with that, we made our way back southward to the coastal town of Torremolinos, just past Malaga on the Mediterranean. The next two days were EXACTLY what the doctor ordered- sun, sand, blue waters and the three of us doing a whole lotta nothing! Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for all those colorful beach pictures- I promise they’re just as pretty❤

thumb_IMG_0850_1024

Always a sign of a really good day.

thumb_IMG_0709_1024

Sneak peak of tomorrow’s beachy post- from our balcony!

 

Monday Mash-Up

8 Aug

You know it was a good weekend when you have so much to share on a Monday morning! Ha! We really did have a good weekend, with some great pictures to prove it, if I do say so myself😉

To start things off, it was Sommerfest weekend- four straight days and nights of food, drinks, live music and just all around FUN- all at Schlossplatz, Stuttgart’s main square, just a few blocks from our house. No better place to meet up with friends for Friday Night Dinner if you ask me!

thumb_IMG_0577_1024

thumb_IMG_0557_1024thumb_IMG_0556_1024

thumb_IMG_0560_1024

thumb_IMG_0562_1024

Those clouds look pretty ominous, right?! They’re actually why we missed opening night on Thursday because it was raining so hard, but we just went prepared with umbrellas and rain jackets this time…And wouldn’t you know it…The clouds parted!

thumb_IMG_0569_1024thumb_IMG_0553_1024

thumb_IMG_0573_1024

These balloons were the coolest things ever! I’m not even kidding. We were just sitting there gabbing with friends on our blanket when right behind us, these things start inflating. WOW. So neat to watch!

thumb_IMG_0570_1024thumb_IMG_0564_1024

thumb_IMG_0566_1024

thumb_IMG_0576_1024

thumb_IMG_0554_1024

Saturday night, we found ourselves running errands in one our favorite suburbs, Boeblingen, which has the cutest little Alstadt (Old Town). One of the best things about living here is just being able to walk everywhere- so after dinner (where they gave us the most delicious fresh watermelon and (not so delicious) uzo with our bill!), we did just that. And it was lovely.

thumb_IMG_0595_1024

thumb_IMG_0585_1024thumb_IMG_0588_1024thumb_IMG_0589_1024

thumb_IMG_0581_1024

thumb_IMG_0586_1024

And then came yesterday, always our Sunday Funday. The weather was absolutely perfect, the countryside was calling our names and we just had to answer. Our initial goal was to take the pups out for a good run and stretch. Y’all know from lots of my previous posts just how easy that is here- drive 10 minutes out of the city in any direction and you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of nature…Rolling green hills, fields tilled for planting, forests straight out of a fairytale…Well, one thing that’s super common here are roadside fields of whatever’s in season- berries, pumpkins, flowers…- with a small box for you to pay for whatever you pick. Yep, all on the honor system. Only in Germany😉 Well, it’s sunflower and lily season and we just couldn’t help ourselves!

thumb_IMG_0613_1024

‘Kasse’ essentially means ‘pay here.’ As far as you can see, little fields one after another of different kinds of flowers- just take your pick! Literally!

thumb_IMG_0614_1024thumb_IMG_0616_1024

thumb_IMG_0619_1024

Yep, she brought her magnifying glass to inspect for bugs❤

thumb_IMG_0621_1024

thumb_IMG_0622_1024thumb_IMG_0624_1024

thumb_IMG_0627_1024

thumb_IMG_0628_1024

thumb_IMG_0629_1024

thumb_IMG_0635_1024

thumb_IMG_0637_1024

Little Miss Attitude😉

thumb_IMG_0640_1024

thumb_IMG_0686_1024.jpg

And just so you see what we ended up with…Oh if only one of us was a florist- or had even the slightest bit of flower arranging skill! Ha!

By the time we finished picking flowers, it was lunch time and John remembered this biergarten, Barenschloss, out in the woods that he passes when he rides his bike to work. So we found the highway nearby, parked the car, and starting hiking…All the while, him ‘hoping this is the way.’ Ummmm….? (And yep, I deserve a gold star in the mom department for thinking ahead and knowing she wouldn’t want to be in that dress all day!) It turned out to be the PRETTIEST wooded hike right alongside the most peaceful lake. And about a mile down the path? Yep, Barenschloss. And about 500 people laying on their blankets, throwing a frisbee, playing catch with their pups! Ha! PERFECT Sunday lunch❤

thumb_IMG_0642_1024thumb_IMG_0644_1024thumb_IMG_0646_1024

thumb_IMG_0649_1024

thumb_IMG_0650_1024

thumb_IMG_0663_1024

thumb_IMG_0652_1024

thumb_IMG_0653_1024

thumb_IMG_0654_1024

Popsicles with friends🙂 (Does this log carving look like Falcor to anyone else?!)

thumb_IMG_0655_1024

thumb_IMG_0661_1024

thumb_IMG_0660_1024thumb_IMG_0659_1024

thumb_IMG_0662_1024thumb_IMG_0667_1024

thumb_IMG_0665_1024

thumb_IMG_0669_1024

Sorry for all the pictures, but…We were just so many pretty picture-worthy places over the last few days! All three of us absolutely love getting to experience new things and find new places to explore. And when that happens to line up with some awesome weather, HELL. YES.😉 (Btw, I’m ignoring the fact that the forecast is calling for rain and highs in the 60s for the rest of this week.)

peach

And now on a crummy note since I know alot of you are following along through me (thanks to everyone who has reached out in support!)…My dad is en route back here to Stuttgart as we speak. He so enjoyed getting to see Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, last week and really gave the hiking of El Camino his absolute best effort. But some things- and some partnerships- just aren’t meant to be. From the moment my dad and his cousin, Bill, connected in Portugal last Wednesday, it became apparent that their personalities, their ways of doing things, their goals, their values, their core principles…are just very…different. My dad is the most caring, kind, generous man you’ll meet. He’s honest to a fault and he’s so wise. And he’s fun! He would do anything for anyone, give away his last dollar to someone who had less. But sometimes, folks just can’t see how lucky they are to have such a person by their side- how blessed they are to have such a person along on an adventure of a lifetime. And sometimes, that person just reaches his limit and calls it a day. (Remember that whole wisdom thing I mentioned?) We’re all SO proud of Dad for jumping into such an adventure feet first and giving it his all every (literal) step of the way. He is a rockstar. And John, Neve and I are beyond pumped to have that rockstar here with us for the next little bit.❤

 

It’s August, Y’all!

3 Aug

Does anyone else feel like it was JUST Christmas?! It’s so strange because in alot of ways, yes, Christmas feels like eons ago and ALOT of awesome adventures have been had since then, but in other ways, I just can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that summer is just about over- it just got here, dammit! But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s because spring lasted an infinitely long time here (we were still in jackets the week before we headed to the States in June!) and because I know from last year’s experience that we never even got to unpack our shorts when we arrived here the third week of August. (Yep, our official One Year Anniversary is almost here!) In other words, I don’t think Germans can fully appreciate the meaning of the season! Ha! John’s been joking lately that he’s so ready for fall and crisp air and pumpkin everything and chili. I just look at him with disdain and tell him to shut his mouth.❤

Anyhoo, just wanted to share some pictures from the last couple weeks as we’ve really settled back in here at home. Back to the farmer’s markets, taking the train instead of the car, evening walks for ice cream, dinners with our tribe…All the good❤

thumb_IMG_0285_1024

thumb_IMG_0286_1024

thumb_IMG_0289_1024

thumb_IMG_0290_1024

thumb_IMG_0292_1024

thumb_IMG_0310_1024

thumb_IMG_0311_1024

When you get home from a month away and crave the two best parts of German cuisine- sausages and fresh produce! Ha!

thumb_IMG_0321_1024

When she picked out this dress, she told me, ‘Most of the kids at school here don’t wear stuff like this. But I can…because I’m from Charleston. And they would like Charleston.’ Yes, they sure would, sugar.❤

 

thumb_IMG_0324_1024

One night talking about our time in London led to the next night’s homemade British delicacies!

thumb_IMG_0333_1024

thumb_IMG_0363_1024

thumb_IMG_0368_1024

After-dinner ice creams at Schlossgarten…

thumb_IMG_0370_1024

thumb_IMG_0374_1024

thumb_IMG_0366_1024

thumb_IMG_0371_1024

thumb_IMG_0506_1024

Ringing in August 1…with a jacket. Yay.

thumb_IMG_0381_1024

Celebrating 12 years of wedding bliss with a long overdue date night❤

thumb_IMG_0510_1024

And last but not least, we’ve had the best last 24 hours! My dad got here yesterday morning as a quick stopover on his way to Portugal to hike the famous El Camino trail. What an amazing adventure, right?! It doesn’t matter if it’s been 6 months or 3 weeks, reunions are always…

I mentioned all of this a while back, but in case we’ve got any newbies…My dad’s cousin, Bill, spent 10 months last year hiking the Appalachian Trail- solo. (I know, WOW.) When he came to Charleston in June for our BBQ, they got to talking about his next hike- in Europe- and the rest is history. El Camino starts in Lisbon, Portugal and heads north through Porto (yep, the same two cities we visited this past May, so feel free to look back at those posts!), then across the northern coast of Spain, and north again through the Pyrenees Mountains and southern France to Paris.

thumb_IMG_0385_1024

Bill will hike the entire trail over the course of several months. Dad will hike until he’s ready to come back here to Stuttgart- probably 6ish weeks- or in time for Oktoberfest, whichever comes first! Heehee! He and my mom were coming all along for the Fest, so it worked out just perfectly. See how the Universe does that?😉 My mom will meet him here next month, and then a few weeks later, Andy will be joining us as well. The WHOLE gang together again for the first time well over a year. YES.❤

Dropping him at the airport this morning- exactly 24 hours from when I picked him up- was bittersweet. His time here was short, but it was full of all the good stuff and I think I speak for all 4 of us when I say that we didn’t want it to end…

thumb_IMG_0518_1024

Dinner at the biergarten…

thumb_IMG_0521_1024

But on the flip side, I know he’s going to have such a wonderful adventure with so many stories to tell when he’s through. I’m so proud of him- our whole family is so proud of him- for taking on this challenge doing it with gusto. A few years ago, he did the Race to Bermuda on a sailboat full of strangers (who came back friends) and here he is setting out to hike hundreds of miles with nothing but what he can carry. That’s my dad, y’all.❤ We can’t wait to have him back here sometime next month to hear all about it! In the meantime, Bill has a blog that he intends to update along their way, so if you’d like to follow along, head over to MyATGuide.com. I’m sure I’ll be updating here a bit, too, but straight from the horse’s mouth seems like more fun😉 Good luck, Dad! We love you!thumb_IMG_0516_1024

12 Trips Around the Sun!

31 Jul

On this day 12 years ago, John and I said ‘I do.’ How is it possible that it’s already been that long? In so many ways, I would swear it was just last month. It was SUCH a good day. And I know everybody says that about their wedding, but we still have folks talk about the fun they had that night…Twelve years after the fact! 

Many of you were there to celebrate with us, but for those of you who weren’t- we got married in a church in Summerville, SC, and then moved to my parents’ back yard for the most awesome reception under a huge white tent with twinkly white lights. We had all of our favorite tunes playing, a big dance floor, BBQ with all the fixins’, an open bar and all of our family and closest friends around us. We stayed that night at a cute B&B there in town, then headed southward on our honeymoon- to Key West and the Bahamas- the next morning. It was truly a night that changed our lives forever.

And for the skeptics who had trouble wrapping their brains around our initial 7 month love story- ie. we met in December, got engaged in March and married in July- and the ‘when you know, you know’ mentality…We told ya so❤

Click the link below to see our life whittled down to 3 fabulous minutes!

%d bloggers like this: