We missed you, Grindelwald!

12 Oct

Bright and early this past Sunday morning, my parents boarded an airplane headed for home after being here with us for quite some time. The night before, John asked me what would be the worst part about tomorrow. ‘Coming home to the empty-feeling-too-quiet house. That’s always the worst part,’ I said. ‘Well what if we skipped that part this time?,’ he asked. Bags were packed and waiting by the door when I got back from dropping them at the airport and by lunchtime, we back in one of our all time favorite happy places, along with our best girl, our best pups and our best friend.❤

Now y’all know that we’ve had a love affair going with Switzerland for years now. From the very moment we first set foot on its soil years ago, it’s held its place on our very short list of ‘places to beat.’ And that’s really saying alot considering we’re forever on the quest to do just that! Ha! But alas, it’s impossible. Other than being INSANELY expensive ($40 for two bottles of water and 2 12 oz. beers anyone?!), there’s simply not a negative thing about it. The people are friendly, their economy is strong, there’s such a wide variety of things to do from big city to countryside…And most obviously? It’s BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Switzerland and Hawaii are so completely different, yet they are equally tied for the most gorgeous places in the world. Hell, that’s why these posts are some of my favorite to share- because the pictures do all the talking for me! But seriously, if you only go two places in your entire life- GO.


You know, just riding down the highway in Switzerland…I 26, eat your heart out! Ha!

Now I’ve already done several different posts about this fabulous country, so I won’t go into alot of the history or the details, but I’ll pull some tidbits from past posts so you have the short version. It really is interesting, though, so I invite you to check out some of my oldies but goodies for all the depth you know you’re craving. Heehee. The last time we were there was with my family in St. Moritz over Christmas this past year. You can check that out here. Two springs ago, when we were living in Wiesbaden, we took Neve to play in the snow in Engelberg. Here’s that one. And then you can read here all about when our love affair with Grindelwald started back in 2010. I promise lots of pretty pictures!🙂


Downtown Grindelwald, nestled between the peaks of Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch peaks, blanketed with clouds…

The Alps, the largest mountain range in Europe, are split into five climate zones, each with a different environment. The climate, plant life and animal life vary on different sections or zones of the mountain.  We spent time in all five zones🙂.

  1. The section of the Alps that is above 3,000 meters is called the névé zone. (Yep, it’s no coincidence that you recognize that word <3) This area, which has the coldest climate, is permanently coated with compressed snow. Plants are virtually nonexistent here.
  2. The alpine zone lies between the height of 2,000 and 3,000 meters. Less cold, wildflowers and grasses grow here.
  3. Just below the alpine zone is the subalpine zone, 1,500 to 2,000 meters high. Forests of fir trees and spruce trees grow here as the temperature slowly goes up.
  4. At about 1,000 to 1,500 meters high is the arable zone. Millions of oak trees sprout in this area. This is also where farming takes place.
  5. Below 1,000 meters are the lowlands where a larger variety of plants are found. Aside from plants, villages are also in the lowlands because the temperature is more bearable for both humans and animals.

Love me some Swiss chalets!


Our abode for the night…


Grindelwald is a small alpine village nestled high in the Alps. With an area of 66 sq. mi, only 1.8% is settled by buildings or roads.  29% is used for agriculture, 16% is forested, 0.8% is either rivers or lakes.  So what about the other half, you ask?  A whopping 52% is unproductive land due to rockiness and glacier coverage.  WOW.  Grindelwald has a population of 3,860 with about 16% being made up of foreign nationals.  As is the case for the entire Swiss population, the residents here are generally very well educated- 67% of the population over age 25 have completed a minimum of a college degree.  The unemployment rate is less than 3%.  Thumbs up, Swiss folks!




Foodies that we are, y’all know that we were beyond pumped for dinner! The Swiss’ two national dishes just so happen to be two of our absolute favorite dishes on the planet, so there’s never any question what we’ll be having! Fondue and Rostis. *Swoon* Now, I’m not talking Melting Pot fondue. Hell to the nah. I’m talking legit, real, handmade from the cheese produced from the milk produced from the cows wearing big brass bells just a block away fondue. There’s just no comparison. And Rostis are just awesome. I’ve been making them at home for years, but again- No. Comparison. Rostis are grated potatoes in a cast iron skillet mixed with onions and bacon, then topped with any number of things like local cheese, local sausage, fresh laid eggs…Great, now I’m salivating.unadjustednonraw_thumb_1135eunadjustednonraw_thumb_1135f

Early the next morning, we set our sights high…Very high…As in the Top of Europe high.  That’s right, folks, we boarded Europe’s highest railway and headed up the mountain to the Jungfraujoch, dubbed the ‘Top of Europe.’  A little background information first…


I could get used to throwing open my shutters to this view every morning…

Adolf Guyer-Zeller began construction of his 4 mile long, 25% grade railway and tunnel (it goes through the Aletsch glacier) in 1898, originally planning to have 7 stations inside the tunnel before reaching the summit. After several major problems, instead, the 16-year construction ended with the tunnel reaching only to the height of the Jungfraujoch, rather than the originally-intended Sphinx (now a research lab), with only two intermediate stations with viewing windows placed in holes used to remove excavated rock during construction. It takes about 1.5 hours to get from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch. And every minute of the ride is like a magazine picture…



Headed up the mountain on the train just after sunrise…That’s Grindelwald under the clouds…






The Jungfrau Region, south of Interlaken, is perhaps the most dramatic, certainly the most memorable, mountain scenery in the whole of Switzerland. Yes, the Matterhorn may be more recognizable, but the sheer scale of the awesome giants, on offer here at close quarters, takes your breath away.  The area is dominated by the mighty triple crest of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (Ogre, Monk and Virgin) – three giant peaks rising side-by-side into the sky.

In addition to amazing viewing platforms and off-the-grid ski slopes, the Jungfraujoch is home to one of the Global Atmosphere Watch’s atmospheric research stations, as well as the Sphinx scientific observatory and Europe’s highest radio relay station. The high altitude, clear air and easy access by mountain railway are ideal conditions for astronomers, geologists, physicists, meteorologists and hydrologists all to use the research station daily.











Not sure what it is, but every time we’re in Switzerland with the pups, Meg steals the show. People are obsessed with Frenchies! I promise you that no fewer than 19 people stopped to take a picture with Meg, both up on the mountain and just walking around Grindelwald. Here she is making her debut on this Colombian guy’s Instagram. At least he had the excuse that he was missing his own Frenchie, Django❤



Heading down into the Ice Palace, which is actually just a trek directly THROUGH the glacier!



Neat to see the layers of sediment from eons ago…





Headed back down the mountain…


The glacier can be seen in the center of this shot- the dark face topped with a bluish ice…










Strolling down Main Street❤


And with that, our whirlwind visit to Grindelwald came to an end- we piled back in the car and made our way back to Stuttgart to start another week. And while we’re still trying to remember what it’s like not to have Mom and Dad here and while we’re still missing them something fierce after just a few days, our little impromptu trip to a nearby slice of Heaven really and truly did take that empty-quiet-house feeling down a notch or three. Life is good, kids. Life is good.



6 Oct

…Otherwise known as Stuttgart’s better version of Oktoberfest! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the original Oktoberfest in Munich is fantastic, but the one here in Stuttgart- called Volksfest- is just a little bit better. On the surface, they’re identical. Both are giant fairs complete with oodles of rides, games and greasy foods. Both have 12+ huge tents serving up fest beer, German food and live entertainment. So what gives Volksfest the edge? Well frankly, the tourists. Or lack of them! Munich has become such a ‘bucket list item’ for so many people- mainly Americans and Brits, according to the stats- that it just has a bit more of a touristy vibe, and beyond obnoxious crowds. Higher prices year after year, marketing to everyone but the locals, more souvenir stands full of useless crap, cuisines moving away from traditional Bavarian style…Volksfest just feels a bit more ‘real.’ In fact, most predict that it will take over the top spot (it’s currently the #2 beer celebration in the world) within the next decade.


Volksfest, attracting about 5 million people each year, takes place over three weeks in late September/early October- coinciding with Oktoberfest happening a few hours away. Let’s take a quick look at it’s really cool beginnings…

In 1815, a gigantic volcano eruption in Indonesia led to a climatic catastrophe even in Europe. The explosion hurled rocks, ashes and dust into the sky. These were distributed by the jet stream around the world and caused crop failure and famine in Europe. The winter of 1815 in Wurttemberg was the coldest in history- snow until May, no summer, alternating rain, whipping hail and thunderstorms continuing into the growth season. This made harvesting crops in those years impossible. Throughout Germany, people were starving. The little existing flour was stretched with sawdust and the planted potatoes were dug up again. When Wilhelm became King of Wurttemberg in 1816, Czar Nikolaus of Russia, helped with deliveries of grain. Then, in 1817, when the first harvest wagon from the region was finally brought in, King Wilhelm celebrated by throwing a harvest festival for his people. He donated cash prizes and honorary awards for outstanding agricultural accomplishment- the festival was designed to encourage the farmers. Today with around 350 companies, Volksfest is the biggest carnival-festival worldwide.


On the train, headed to Fest…Thank God for public transportation!

We were really pumped to get to do two Fests this year- the first a few weeks ago with friends in Munich and this time here at home with our girl and Uncle Andy❤ Neve LOVES fests- the rides, the lights, the tents, the music, the dancing…She was in Heaven, and this time, she had her own dirndl like Mommy!



My favorite pic of the night❤

The rest of us had a pretty kickass time ourselves, too. Unlike a few weeks ago, this time, being in the tent wasn’t the main objective. When Neve goes with us, we usually get there in time to (hopefully) find seats in a tent (we lucked up on the third tent we tried!), eat dinner and have a beer or two, then spend the rest of the night riding the rides, eating fair food and marveling at all the festivities. And you know what? I 100% love both ways of doing it! There’s definitely something akin to Christmas morning about watching the wonder and the pure joy through your daughter’s eyes.



We ended up in the Dinkelacker tent. Coincidentally, this is the brewery that’s a block from our house and we can use our keen senses of smell to tell when they’re brewing😉





Some friends back in Columbia, SC, are doing a school project where ‘Flat George’ travels the world and returns home with stories and pictures from his adventure. Tonight, Flat George joined us at Volksfest!







Never, ever, ever has there been a cuter little ‘German’ girl. Or one who loves Fests more.❤


Sweaty and out of breath from dancing and singing on our table❤






Dad and Andy about to be slingshotted into the night sky!



Just try to get this kid off the rollercoasters!



Have you ever ridden fair rides in a dirndl and lederhosen? Ha!


‘Twas definitely a fun, fun night here in Stuttgart. And one that almost didn’t happen- at least not as we’d planned as I’m sure many of you know that there’s a hurricane headed straight for our hometown, Charleston, SC. Well, at the last minute, the predicted storm track shifted just a bit eastward and the projected speeds slightly lowered. That coupled with the uncertain airport closures and insane parking lots that are currently the roads in the Lowcountry helped my parents make the decision to stay with us through the weekend as originally planned, which meant not only our fun night at Volksfest, but also John’s early birthday celebration scheduled for tomorrow night! Yep, we intend to keep the shenanigans going right up until they board that flight!❤ (And yes, that’s another saga in itself- can’t even imagine this house without them here by this point, so I’m not even going to go there yet! Telepathic hugs appreciated! ;))


Hallo, Amsterdam!

3 Oct

Once again, Monday has rolled around- why is that always the case? Sheesh. I never know if it makes it easier or harder having had an amazing weekend to look back on. In this instance- when it’s really cold and rainy outside and I’m just getting home from grocery shopping and have piles of laundry calling my name- I’m going to go with harder. That’s how good this weekend was. I kid you not. All the stars lined up- one of our favorite cities, three (yep, Andy made it- WOOHOO!) of our favorite people, the perfect weather (this is a first- it’s rained, sometimes freezing!, every single other time we’ve been there), no traffic, no one ended up in jail😉


So yeah, we’ve been to Amsterdam a handful of times and it just gets better every time. The first time we visited was for John’s birthday back in 2010- I planned the whole thing as a romantic, over the top weekend all about him- boutique hotel with black velvet walls and gold chandeliers, Heineken Brewery tour, personal chef preparing his favorite delicacies, and one delicious homemade bake by yours truly❤. You can check that out here , along with all the nitty gritty details about the Netherlands and its capital city.


The other notable visit came just last spring when John surprised me with a trip for Mother’s Day. He- and Neve- planned all the details- a gorgeous room overlooking the canal at one of the oldest hotels in the city, reservations at all of our favorite restaurants, homemade gifts and a visit to the famous Keukenhof Tulip Gardens. Completely different trip than our first, but every bit as fabulous and memorable. Check it out here if you need to jog your memory.😉



Our new house and ride…

Y’all, we had the BEST weekend. We stayed at a great little AirBnB apartment in the heart of the hipster De Pijp neighborhood. We walked our tushies off, we thought ahead to make reservations at all our favorite spots, and we even rented our own boat this go around to see the city in true boating-family-style! Really couldn’t have gone any better. And getting to finally share such a special city with the people we love- priceless. So I give you: Amsterdam❤



One of our favorite meals in the world. Cheese fondue with freshly baked bread and lean steak, served raw and cooked at your table in pesto sauce over an open flame. OH. MY. WORD.






Best part of our apartment- people watching one of the busiest nightlife streets in the city!



Best pancake house in the Netherlands. Totally earns that reputation. 















When the city is already too crowded, how do you accommodate bike parking? On boats!





Our visit to any city isn’t complete without a stroll through their busiest market!



Remember my post about these a few months ago? They’re plaques in the sidewalks in front of houses that were raided during WWII. Engraved are the names, birthdays, death dates and places of the victims. You have to bow your head to to read them. I love everything about this whole concept- and that it’s so widespread.



At our favorite restaurant, Moeder’s (Mother’s). In the background, those are pictures of mothers. Thousands of pictures of mothers. 


You can’t help but feel good eating here.



One of the most well known ‘coffee shops’ in the city…

We covered so much ground in just 2.5 days, right?! Yep, we were sure tired by the end of each day, but it was so worth it. And I think it’s safe to say that Mom, Dad and Andy all fell in love with the city just as we did years ago. There’s just something so neat about Amsterdam. Yes, it’s beautiful and it’s unique, but it’s also very REAL. It feels lived in and worked in and in constant motion. It reminds me of NYC in some ways. It’s the perfect mix of old and new- of history and modern. The people are friendly, the lifestyle is progressive and there’s an overall feeling of acceptance. Of peace. Of happy. Yep, we’d move there in a second.🙂


Oh, and you may have noticed something- er, someone- missing in all these pictures. Where was Neve?! Well, we gave her the option this time since she’d already done Amsterdam with us last year- she could either come do it again (because she LOVED it the first go around!) or she could stay at the house with Ms. Rachel, her favorite teacher/friend in Stuttgart- the one whose been keeping her practically since we got here. She thought long and hard, but ultimately decided she’d have more fun at home. And fun they did have! They- along with the pups!- did the markets, the zoo, the huge Killesburg Park, dinner at McD’s…




At the top of the Killesburg Tower overlooking Stuttgart…

I’m pretty sure Neve would tell you that she had the better weekend over ours in Amsterdam. Ha! And I’m pretty sure that I was the one who had the harder time being away from her! Thank Heavens for FaceTime! And for Rachel. Y’all have heard me talk time and time again about Ms. Lori back at home- how she’s one of the best things that ever happened to Neve, to our family…Her absence in our lives here, in Neve’s life, has most surely been felt, and we knew that coming into it, which is why we prayed for God to bring another special person into our lives here in Germany. Well, he did just that with Rachel. Y’all, she’s a saint. She’s so good with children, SO good with Neve, so kind and genuine and creative and crazy smart…And she’s become a great friend to me. She’s from North Carolina (yay for Southerners!), graduated from Chapel Hill, moved to Germany, met a boy, went back to get her masters in education…And the rest is history.🙂 The nerdy part of me loves that Rachel and Neve speak German when they’re together.😉 Anyhoo, we are so blessed to have Rachel in our lives- the peace of mind she’s given us is immeasurable. She has most definitely helped fill a void more than we could’ve hoped.


And speaking of blessed…Our Neve is so brave and so fearless- just look at all these pictures proving just that. She’s comfortable on trains, on buses…She’s confident helping to take our pups out into the city…She can climb tall, swaying towers, she can do ziplines by herself…She can be away from us for two whole nights and still thrive and feel secure and be happy. We’re just so proud of her- for her first time staying away from us, but also of who she’s becoming. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it makes me just a tiny bit proud of us, too. We are raising this kind of girl- this kind of person- who will do great things, I just know it. Times like this make me believe that we must be doing something right, at least some of the time.❤


This face- and this little body…I’m pretty sure I squished her to death when we got home.❤


25 Sep

Show of hands- how many of you have a visit to the world famous Oktoberfest on your Bucket List? Well, it was definitely on ours and had been on my parents’ ever since we moved here, so after a decade of being in and out of Europe, we’ve finally crossed it off! And it was totally worth its spot on the list, too. SUCH a fun experience!


So to kick off this little picture post, y’all know I’ve got to get a bit nerdy and give you some backstory. Don’t judge. Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, complete with a traveling fair. It takes place for 18 days in late September/early October every year in Munich, Germany (about two hours from us in Stuttgart). Other cities around the country also host similar festivals (stay tuned for my post on Stuttgart’s own Volksfest- our personal favorite- in a couple weeks!), but Munich’s was the first (held in 1810, as a wedding celebration for King Ludwig and Queen Therese) and is still considered the most popular, drawing more than 6 million visitors each year and serving nearly 7 million liters of beer (!).



Our tent for the day, Schutzen Festzelt. Each tent is known for different things. Ours was known for good food (especially pork) and good, modern music by live bands. It’s one of the larger tents, holding about 8000 people.

So what does Oktoberfest look like? Well, it’s basically a giant fair- complete with rollercoasters, giant stuffed animals to be won at games, and greasy fair food- with ‘tents’ (ie. giant wooden restaurants) throughout, each serving its own kind of food and drink. I tell you what- these ‘tents’ are more sturdy and better put together than many a house I’ve been in! That’s how permanent they look and feel! The majority of tents specialize in whole roasted chickens and beer (each tent is sponsored by a different brewery), but there are also wine tents, dessert tents, wild game tents, etc. In addition to varying cuisines, tents range in size from smaller (2000ish people) to massive (10,000 people), as well as style (traditional, progressive, rowdy, older crowds, etc.) So in other words, choosing which tent you’d like to spend your time in is big business and there are lots of things to consider!


So do you just choose one and walk in? Well, yes and no. There are two different options for getting into the tents. The first is to go during slower times (ie. weekdays, earlier in the day) and hope to find a seat inside. Sometimes you luck up, other times you don’t. (You can’t be served food or drink without a seat.) If you tried to do this at night or on a weekend, you’d have about a 0% chance of this happening. The second way is to round up 10+ people and buy a table reservation in advance (this isn’t an option for smaller groups). With reservations, you choose one of three ‘shifts’- morning, afternoon or night- in the tent. Although we’ve done it both ways, this time we opted for Option 2 and it couldn’t have turned out any better! We always prefer the afternoon shift for various reasons- less being exhausted before it’s all over, more stamina, slightly more ability to hear ourselves think, more stamina, less vomit from surrounding patrons…so that’s what we went with this time. Plus, half of our group was leaving the next morning for their Ireland vacation, so…yeah😉


Of course we’re embracing the culture! With the number of fests always going on, we had to splurge for a dirndl (it’s three separate pieces- the dress with built-in corset, the apron and the blouse) and lederhosen. Traditionally, the placement of the apron bow denotes married/single/widowed and the symbol in front of the suspenders is the region you’re representing.



Walking through the front door of Schutzen Festzelt at noon and already a madhouse. Each tent has its own decor, its own colors, its own placement of stages and tables…Fest tables are typically long and skinny with benches down each side to accommodate 10 people each.


View from our table on the second floor. BEST seating we’ve ever had! (And yes, this is how packed it is on a Thursday afternoon!)



Festival beer is sold in one size and one size only. Each masse holds 1 liter.


Can I get a hallelujah for whoever invented the pushup bra?! They make them here specifically to go under dirndls- and to add 2+ cup sizes! 

We realized while we were home this summer that our good family friends, the Heaths, were also planning to cross Oktoberfest off their Bucket List this year, so the coordination plans began. Our two families go way back. My mom and Susan worked together in the operating room at Trident Hospital in Charleston in the late 80s. When I was in middle school, and the Heath boys in elementary school, we started vacationing together, along with two other familes- the LePines and the Forinashes. In other words, we’ve all been close for the last 20+ years❤. Harrison, the youngest Heath, graduated from West Point a few years ago and is now stationed in Germany with his wife Sammi, so just like my parents, his parents and his brother, Kyle, are in town for a visit. What better excuse to plan some awesome joint ‘fest’ivities. (Ha! See what I did there?!)






Our tent sold Lowenbrau beer, one of the most popular breweries in Germany.







When you discover the table behind you is also from N. America…Canada, but close enough😉


Finding the perfect hat😉


The Heaths


View from the deck…



One of my favorite things about doing the afternoon shift is that when you leave the tent, the sun is just going down and the fair is in full swing- all the lights and sounds and smells that can’t help but make you happy! No, you don’t always necessarily feel like riding loop-di-loops after 5 hours in a tent, but walking around and just taking it all in sure is fun in itself.


Missing our girl- Neve’s favorite ride at every fair!


We really did have such a fun day- and to get to share it with my parents and our great friends from home was just icing on the cake…er, gravy on the schweinehaxe! Ha! Definitely an experience- a little trip to Munich- we’ll never forget. Next week, Round 2 at Stuttgart’s Volksfest!



Just in case you were wondering what one eats for dinner after a full day of festing…We plan ahead❤

And to quote another girlfriend who also just got back from Munich, “Rick Steves said it best: ‘Fest is about people getting together to celebrate culture, happiness, and embracing life.'” Yes, it surely is.❤

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


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.



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!)



In Rapunzel’s tower…




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



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❤




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.




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



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


What this southern girl does with leftover pulled pork…


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!



Gerber Fest, just out of our front door…


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!


Perfect space for a fest, right?




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!



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


Beating the crowds means you get the pools to yourself!


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…


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!


Birthday Girl❤




The best part of the weekend was this:


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!



Childhood. Joy. Energy.


Look who else came to the party!




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!


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.









I absolutely love John’s face here…


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😉



You can see the Riesling vineyards in the distance…





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.❤


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.



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.❤


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😉



Picnic in the park with friends❤



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.



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


Swimming lessons at the outside pool!


Sunday Mornings❤


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


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!



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!



Rare shot of all 4 Thomas ladies😉





Because sometimes you just want to match your girl❤


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!



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


Birthday Girl, Lauren, as the Wicked Witch…


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.


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.



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


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.


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🙂


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.❤


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.




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



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



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❤







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



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!




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!)



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


Headed to the park…


Feeding the Feuersee ducks and swans…


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!


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!


Y’all know I like some visuals😉


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❤


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.


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


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


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.


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



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




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


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!




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.



Poolside lunch…


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!


Finishing up his Garlic Grilled Octopus








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!)





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







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❤


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

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