Tag Archives: beach

Hola, Canary Islands!

9 Jun

OK y’all, summer is officially HERE! And we’ve had the most glorious week of sun and sand and surf to prove it! I can’t say enough good things about our time on Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands. I’m not going to get into the history and the story here (please stay tuned over at Treats, Travels And Truths over the next week as I get everything posted- I just couldn’t wait to share our pictures with all of you guys first!), but the Canary Islands are a part of Spain, although they’re WAY south, right off the coast of Africa. And trust me when I say that we could certainly tell just how far south- on the equator!- we were by that blazing sun! Casper to lobster in less than an hour and I’m not even exaggerating! Ha!

Canary Island Map

But on a serious note, this trip was a bit extra special in that it had been planned for nearly two years- one of the first ones we booked after we moved here. My grandmother had wanted it to be our family vacation since we’ve missed our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, so to get the best accommodations, etc., she booked it early and we all got to planning. It was to be an awesome beach week for us, her and my parents. But then some health stuff came up and the trip had to be changed. My grandmother and parents tried their hardest, but in the end, they couldn’t come. My first inclination was to cancel altogether- it just wouldn’t, *couldn’t* be the same without them. And besides, for what would we need a three bedroom suite for just us? But Grandma insisted that we go- it was important to her. So we invited our best friend, (Uncle) Andy, and we went. And we are SO thankful we did. No, it wasn’t the same as it would’ve been with my family, but it was wonderful. And fun. And relaxing. And the perfect refilling of our tanks. So thank you, Grandma, for the loveliest vacation. It’s one we will never forget. ❤

Tenerife Map

We stayed in the south, in Los Christianos, but spent time at lots of the different beaches, including along the north shore at Puerto de la Cruz. A highlight of our trip was our day in the middle of the island, though, exploring the volcano and its national park.

Alright, without further adieu, here is a pictorial account of our fabulous week on Tenerife, including lots of beaches, pools, a water park, a volcano, some giant cliffs, a little putt-putt and alot of just plain ‘ol FUN.

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Los Gigantes- these cliffs are thousands of feet above the water…

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View from our balcony

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Voted World’s Best Waterpark on TripAdvisor…Definitely the nicest we’ve ever been to!

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One of my happy places 🙂

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One of the best steaks we’ve ever had. Oh. My. Gawd.

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This lazy river is easily several miles long…

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Same ‘ol breakfast even on vacation…but with an awesome view.

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From our balcony…

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Poolside snack…

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The most visited national park in Europe, 8th in the world. El Teide is the highest point in Spain and the 3rd largest volcano in the world.

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Poolside dinner and a show on our first night…

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In case you were curious, it costs 1 euro to make a call these days…

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Northern shore of the island…

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For mom…Lovely trees ❤

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Topless beach for the day 😉 

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Playa de Troya, Black Sand Beach…

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They say Tenerife is the most similar landscape to Mars on Earth…So much so that they test Mars Rovers here. Totally believe it.

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Like riding a bike! She was a fish within 10 minutes of getting back in the water! Woohoo!

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Laying in the sun on a perfect beach, listening to the blue waves crash, the smell of suntan lotion in the air…YES. YES. YES.

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With a pencil behind her ear ‘like Daddy.’

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Standard lunch for every single day of the week. Not even kidding.

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Coming down from the volcano, we came to a grove of pine trees with a picnic table beneath…Lunch was served. Not a soul around for miles and miles…

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My new favorite shot of my people ❤

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And that’s it! What a terrific week and one that we’re already missing like crazy. Hoping to start getting things posted over on TTT starting on Monday, so be sure to check that out. The only saving grace is that my Dad got here this morning and will be here for the next two weeks! Our hearts are full. Hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start!

Thomas Family Greek Vacation

8 May

Hello, y’all! First of all, thanks to all of you who have made the switch with me over to Treats, Travels and Truths! It’s so exciting for me to really get things rolling over there. But like I said, I want to keep this space as somewhere to continue sharing our personal pictures- the stuff that we want to share with our family and friends. And that’s just what I’m doing today. John’s brother, sister-in-law, niece and sister have all been here for the past couple of weeks and we decided to use a week of their visit to take on our latest adventure, Greece! What a wonderful place and what a fun, fun time we had exploring its capital, Athens, as well as two of its islands, Mykonos and Santorini. Over the next week or so, I’ll have several posts up on TT&T all about each of these spots and how we spent our time there so please be sure to stop by there to read up if you’re interested. But in the meantime, here’s our adventure as described by pretty pictures ❤

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First up, Athens…

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Library…

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Top of the Acropolis

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Erechtheion Temple- next to the Parthenon and smaller, but much better preserved…

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The Parthenon

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Temple Erechtheion- right next to the Parthenon and much smaller, but much better preserved…

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Parthenon on the left, Erechtheion on the right…

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View of the south from the Acropolis

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Erechtheion

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The original theatre where Plato and Socrates both spoke…

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Mt. Lycabettus

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Legend has it that Poseidon (brother of Zeus) and Athena (daughter of Zeus) were fighting over the city when Athena cast her spear down and where it sparked, an olive tree grew. As a result, she won the city (thus its name) and Poseidon was given a smaller village nearby…This is the original olive tree from Athena’s spear…

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A girl and her espresso…

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When in Greece, eat….pasta! Ha!

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GYROS!

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On to Mykonos…

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First morning on our balcony…

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The walk to lunch…

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Chocolate faces!

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When you’re not sure if you’re on a road or someone’s (poorly maintained) driveway! Ha! *It’s a road!*

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Mom, see the fava beans?

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Siblings ❤

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Mykonos Town

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(Neve’s first crush…On our waiter…Raphael…Who played along beautifully…In case any of us were wondering how she’d react her first time ‘in love’ and planning to ‘marry him…’ ❤ ❤ <3)

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And finally, to Santorini…

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Taken from our balcony…These blue domes are some of the most photographed items in the world…

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From our balcony…

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Our front door…

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Grape Vineyards…They have to keep them cut very short or they can’t withstand the high winds…Wine is a staple industry on Santorini…

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Castle Ruins…

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Black Sand Beach…About 5 min before she was naked and in the water!

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Downtown Fira…

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Red Sand Beach…

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Only brewery in the Greek Isles, on Santorini…

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I really can’t say enough good things about our time in Greece. Athens was terrific, the islands were terrific, the sunshine and the (mostly) warm temperatures were terrific, the food was terrific, the people were (mostly) terrific…Time most definitely flies when you’re having fun! Can’t wait to share more over on TreatsTravelsandTruths.com!

Thanks for following along!

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!

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Y’all know I like some visuals 😉

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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 ❤

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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Poolside lunch…

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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!

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Finishing up his Garlic Grilled Octopus

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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!)

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

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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 ❤

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

Home Again, Home Again…

16 Jul

…Jiggity Jig. John always makes fun of me for saying that when we walk in the door from a trip, but my grandmother- on my Dad’s side- always said it and I have the fondest memories of her saying just that as we’d walk through her front door after a morning at the ‘Jockey Lot’ in Anderson, SC…Alas, it always makes me smile even though I have no clue what it actually means!

So I hadn’t intended to write this post today. Truth be told, I’d meant to write it multiple times over the last few days while Neve and I were still in Charleston, but life- the good life- got in the way and before I knew it, our time was done. We arrived back here in Stuttgart this morning after a long day and night of travel, so now my only goal for today is to fight this feeling of death and stay awake long enough to go to bed tonight and pray to stay asleep for the most of the night. (That won’t happen, no, but believe me when I say that sleeping during the day today would only make tonight an absolute nightmare and would start one crummy cycle of getting over jet lag!) Sharing our adventures from the last two weeks at HOME just seemed like the perfect- therapeutic- distraction.

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Ten hour red-eye flights suck. Doing them with a 4-year-old who doesn’t sleep on planes sucks. Already missing home and your people sucks. But watching the sunrise from 35k feet over the Atlantic is pretty damn awesome.

Neve and I had a fun, low key Fourth of July eating pizza with the fam and then continuing our tradition of spending it with our neighbors, the Mathews, just three houses down from our house (yep, we still own it- it’s just being rented right now). We actually met Lindsey, Joey and Savannah on this very day two years ago, at the holiday block party. Our girls are just a few weeks apart and we were all fast friends. Sometimes, you meet people and you just click. ❤

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My goodness she loves her Uncle Andy…

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Coincidentally, John celebrated the holiday next door (that’s our yard on the other side of the fence) with our other neighbors- more people we just clicked with from Day 1.

Later that same week, we celebrated quite a special moment, Neve’s baptism. I can’t tell you how many conversations John and I have had about this topic over the last four years. Religion can be such a tricky thing sometimes- the differences in what things mean, what they represent, how different denominations view the same things…In this instance, John was raised independent Southern Baptist and I was raised Lutheran, which means that there are key differences in what baptism actually is and what it represents. I invite each of you to research these differences if it’s something you’re interested in because there really are some interesting discussions on it. But that’s not my goal with this post. I merely want to share the happy news and some sweet pictures. Neve did wonderfully and was so proud of her accomplishment. So were this mama and her family ❤

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What would a summer be without some fun times at the waterpark?! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ms. Lori (who was Neve’s first preschool teacher and who has been keeping her in the summers ever since) is one of our absolute biggest blessings. Not only does she love Neve like her own, but she’s seriously one of the best, most nurturing, most creative women- and moms- I’ve ever met. Spending time with her and her two kids was 100% one of the highlights of Neve’s vacation.

And in that same thread, what would a summer be without boating and more boating?! Seriously y’all, I can’t even. Being on my boat on any body of water (I’m not picky) in the sweltering heat with the people I love and listening to some good music…There just isn’t any better for me.

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My other happy place? Duh. The beach. I am a Lowcountry girl through and through- and I’m raising one, too! You’ll remember from the last post that we’d done Sullivan’s Island right after we got to town. Well, we got to round it all out over these last couple weeks…First up, Isle of Palms. John’s Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathi and cousin, Lauren, came all the way from Lexington, KY, just to visit with us and invited us to crash with them at Wild Dunes for a couple days. They stay there often when they visit and I’m always amazed at what a cool resort we have right there in our city. It’s everything you want in a beach vacation- crystal clear pools, tiki bars, umbrella drinks, live steel drum bands playing all day long, lots of people, the air full of the sweet smell of sunscreen and five short steps down onto the sand. Yep, it’s definitely the good life and we certainly realize how fortunate we are to have such awesome folks we get to call family. ❤

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Poppy got this kite for Neve when she took an interest in big kites after watching some YouTube videos. This one was so cool. But the wind was too strong, the cords snapped and it flew away never to be found again. :/

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And then there’s Folly, another of my absolute favorite islands on the planet. There’s just something about its vibe…its realness. It holds a very special place in my heart. I’ll just leave it at that.

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And then there were more of just those regular, everyday moments that all too often pass by unnoticed. Those ones I was telling you about before that feed your soul…that tide you over until you get your next fix. ❤

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Mornings at the pool with Poppy…And then Mommy’s bestie happens to see their truck in the parking lot and pops in for a quick catch up 🙂

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Summertime in Charleston = Humidity Ringlets and Blonde Highlights, just like mama 😉

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Lazy Sundays ❤

And that concludes what feels like a whirlwind trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry. I knew our time at home would fly by, but I had no idea just how quickly…Nor just how sad I would be for it to come to an end. Just keeping it real here, but coming back to Germany has proven to be the biggest bag of mixed emotions for me…so bittersweet. Of course I’m elated to reunite with John and our pups (Neve even warned me as we were getting off the plane this morning that ‘tears will be rolling down [her] cheeks long before [she] even sees Daddy’- and they were! It was precious.) and to catch up with our dear friends here whom we’ve missed so much (our neighbors even welcomed their second baby just a few days ago!), but there’s a huge part of me that’s very much still in Charleston- still in the house I’ve called home for decades, still running errands with my mom, still soaking up the sun and the sand and the water, still taking advantage of having Netflix available, still stopping by my dad’s latest construction project just to say hello, still playing Team Trivia at a local bar with my best friend on Tuesday nights…Right now, being back in Germany and away from home is hard. I’m sad and relieved and excited all in one. But I’m doing my best to follow my own advice- advice that I believe in so fully that I had it tattooed onto my arm just a few short weeks ago. I feel a bit off right now, until I don’t. It’s a sad time right now in some ways, until it’s not. Sometimes being pulled backward is only to ensure our greatest projection forward. Our minds are the atmosphere and our feelings are just the weather, ever-changing and constantly flowing. That in itself makes me smile. Until next time, Charleston…

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Home Sweet Home…

4 Jul

…and it feels SO good. Y’all, I can’t even tell you how awesome it is to be here in Charleston. Of course, I’m sure you could’ve guessed I’d be having this kind of reaction- either because A) you know me even a little bit 😉 or B) the fact that I haven’t had a chance to chat with you guys in two weeks, which is always a good sign that time has been limited! Speaking of which, don’t even get me started on how quickly time is flying. Two weeks already?! Sheesh.

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I want to start with the most wonderful BBQ my parents threw for us last weekend. Something like 75 of our closest friends and family showed up to spend their afternoon- and some even well into the evening!- with us in the backyard. Burgers, hotdogs and all the fixins’…Sweet tea brewing, sunshine shining (fans blowing ;))…Kids in the pool…Grown-ups playing Cornhole in the shade…Neve and I couldn’t have asked for a better party, a better afternoon. And we couldn’t have been more perfectly reminded of how great the people we surround ourselves with truly are. Thank you so much to everyone who came to hang out!

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Just in case any of you need to put a face with a name you’ve heard about many a time on here, this is my best friend, Sam ❤

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Probably my favorite shot of the day…My dad and his cousin, Billy, having some fun with the potato gun!

In addition to running ourselves ragged the entire first week- getting in all of our doctors and dentists appointments- we’ve managed to pack in as much summertime and friends as we possibly can these first two weeks…

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My dad’s cousin, Billy, recently hiked the entire Appalachian Trail over an 8 month period. Yeah, WOW. (Check out his cool blog if you’re interested- MyATGuide.com) He’ll next be hiking El Camino (Portugal/Spain/France) starting in mid-August. My dad is going to be joining him for the first 2 legs of that one 🙂

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Possibly one of my new favorite pictures of my girl. And she’s rocking my old shorts from 1985ish.

Neve has loved having playdates at her cousin, Norah’s, house…They even had their very first sleepover this weekend!

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She’s also been loving her time with Ms. Lori and her (not-so-) littles, just like she has the last few summers. I still don’t know how we got so lucky to have them in our lives. ❤

John’s family came from Kentucky to visit a bit while we’re here. Always a treat to spend time with them- I know Neve sure loves having them around. And we were able to get in some downtown time on multiple days, so it was beyond win-win in my book! Ha!

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One thing I absolutely miss the most living in Germany…Backyard summertime dinners with family ❤

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One extra cool thing that’s happened? I added to my personal art collection and took my bestie along for the afternoon, as if we needed anymore bonding time! Heehee. Her first time in a studio, so it was extra fun 😉

And last but not least, my goal for this past week- after all the running around like a headless chicken of last week!- was to touch water, ie. my favorite thing about this city. And I’m proud to say that I did, not once but twice! First up, y’all know we’re a boating family. Very few things in life make me more content than being on my boat- oh, how I’ve missed my boat! Doesn’t matter where we go- the lake, the river, the harbor…All it takes is good people, good music and the sun shining and I’m a happy girl. And you can see from the pictures that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Seeing her truly LOVING something that I’ve loved since I was her age is just so freakin’ awesome. Every summer she loves it more and more.

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When your elastic breaks 30 minutes into the day and there’s not another one around for 100 miles! (*Note: If you don’t know what this is taking the place of the elastic, you aren’t redneck enough to appreciate this creativity! 😉 )

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My kid ❤ When you give the day absolutely everything you’ve got and just can’t quite make it back to the landing. 

And finally, Sullivan’s Island. It’s by far my favorite beach, mainly because the tourists haven’t really found it yet and you can still go there without feeling crowded in the least. As I sat there watching the sunset, I couldn’t help but think of this…It doesn’t how matter how many beautiful cities we visit or how many beaches we play on, nothing- and I mean NOTHING- do I find as stunningly beautiful and breathtaking as a Lowcountry beach. The marsh leading out to it, the rolling dunes, the soft sand, the shells, the baby waves, the ghost crabs digging their holes, the wide openness of the shore, the salty pluff muddy smell…Even the brownish green water. Again I’m reminded of just how fortunate we are to call this great city HOME. Note: I may or may not have gotten teary first setting foot on the beach- and that says alot because y’all know I’m not usually a happy crier! Ha! Another Note: I may or may not have done that multiple times over these last two weeks!

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Wow, that was alot of pictures, right?! There’s just so much I’ve been wanting to share with you guys (obviously 😉 ) and what better time to sit down and do it than our halfway mark! In so many ways, that sounds so crazy because I feel like we just got here and there’s so much left for us to do and people to see and fun to have. But in other ways, I feel like we’ve been gone from Germany- from John, from our pups, from our friends, from our routines- for quite a long time. And we’re really missing all of them. Thank Heavens for modern technology that’s helping to bridge the gap!

In the meantime though, we’re just going to soak up every ounce of goodness that being home has to offer because we know good and well that it’ll be time to go home in a flash. Being here with my parents, in my childhood home, a block from my grandmother, surrounded by so much familiarity and comfort, having slow mornings in our jammies and getting to say goodnight before heading up the stairs to bed, eating dinner together at the kitchen table…THIS is where the good stuff happens, where the real moments are made. THIS is what feeds our souls and calms our seas. THIS is a gift we’ve been given and what really matters. THIS, afterall, is everything.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th!

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Portugal, the Relaxation Phase…

2 Jun

…and oh how I wish we were still there in that phase! Instead, we’re back here in Stuttgart and I’m listening to the rain fall outside my window. *Sigh* And to make matters worse, apparently I picked up a snot bug somewhere along the way and now I’m wrapped up like a burrito on my couch, feeling like death, and taking solace in oodles of pretty pictures- and sharing all of the last week’s amazingness with all of you guys 😉

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So we had the BEST time in Portugal. Seriously, one of the best adventures we’ve been on in a very long time. It’s as though all the stars just lined up- a new country that looks so different than most of Europe, a new culture that is so friendly and inviting, a new cuisine (who knew that the Portuguese eat more fish than anyone else in the world?!), the most perfect weather…But what really was the most special part was that it was just the three of us, exploring and basking in all of the above, and truly enjoying one another. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important it is to water one’s own garden…and that’s exactly what we did. We came home with gardens full of bright blooms- and very full hearts ❤

OK, enough with the feels and onto the good stuff! Y’all, I have 277 pictures from our five days in Portugal, it was THAT pretty! So in an effort to lighten the load, I’ve done everybody a favor and split the post in half- the Relaxation Phase (beaches, pools, countrysides) and the Adventure Phase (Lisbon and Porto). Now to narrow down the best shots to share! Ha!

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Our absolute favorite thing about this trip was where we stayed- outside the small coastal village of Obidos about an hour north of Lisbon. We had done tons of research ahead of time trying to decide the best location- we almost always end up in the heart of the big cities, mainly because they’re the most convenient and give the most authentic feel of immersion. But this time, our goal itself was different. Our goal was just to be together- to relax, to recharge and to breathe. When we found this resort- at least 15 minutes away from civilization, down remote country roads- we knew it was perfect.

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Headed out to paradise…

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Who would’ve guessed the oasis that awaited us at the end of this road?! Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the blue water and white sand beaches, Praia del Rey. It’s one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever been to.

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Stepping out of our front door, heading down to the beach…

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Before we continue, just a bit about Portugal because…well, you know me! Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe, sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Spain. The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. In other words, it’s super old and in fact, some of the first evidence of Homo Sapiens have been found there. The Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigothic and the Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista. Portuguese nationality can be traced back to the creation of the First County of Portugal, in 868. In 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence.

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Just a little visual of our travel…

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Every restaurant has these ‘door greeters.’ We never had the heart to tell her their real purpose 😦

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Bathing caps are required at indoor pools in Portugal. She thought they were awesome!

And just a few neat Portugal factoids…It’s the leading producer of cork in the world, although the industry is struggling as the wine industry continues to shift away from cork bottle toppers. Eucalyptus forests cover 7% of the country (!) as they were planted in the 1970s to help with erosion- they’ve since taken over and grown rapidly. (The smell is HEAVENLY!) Apparently Portugal is known for its wind- it’s often consistently with gusts of 25 mph! Another interesting industry is pine resin, used in turpentine. We actually had to look this one up ourselves (and examine up close and personal!) after seeing lots of little buckets hanging from the pine trees headed out to the resort. Best part? Tapping the trees doesn’t harm them in any way. Very neat, right?

And last but not least, a few government tidbits…Portugal’s economy is in the rebuilding phase as it was part of the major EU bailout back in 2011. (This translates into it being an excellent time to visit!) It’s the first- and only- country in the world to decriminalize all drugs. Yep, possession of all substances- up to 10 days worth of individual use- is allowed, although trafficking and distribution is not. The government will offer- and pay for- drug and alcohol rehab. The maximum prison sentence for any crime is 25 years- they do not have the death penalty.

OK, on with the picture party! 🙂 Right down the road from Obidos is the little fishing village of Peniche. Two awesome things about this town- it’s had lots of fossils from the Jurassic period and it’s one of the top surfing destinations in the world, second only to Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline. Who knew?!

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Dinner one night overlooking the lagoon…

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A wonderful unexpected highlight of our trip…See those people, and sweet pup, obstructing our lovely view of the lagoon? Well, their soon-to-be 4-year-old, Florence, was playing just out of the shot to the left and about 15 minutes after this picture was taken, Neve finished her dinner and wanted to play, too. Long story short, we all ended up out on the patio until long after the sun had set and a new friendship was born. ❤ J and D are from England and have a vacation home just a few hundred yards from our resort. We spent the next day enjoying our vacation all together at their villa, then took the party into town for some walking and ice cream eating. Neve is still talking about her new best friend, Florence!

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Neve and Florence

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The best street performer guy I’ve ever seen!

The most fun day, right?! Such a lovely day for all of us and I truly think that we will see these sweet friends again. We have so much in common, including a mutual travel addiction!, so who knows, maybe we can plan a trip somewhere exotic one of these days! 😉 Needless to say, here’s how much fun Neve had and how John and I unwound ourselves:

There really couldn’t have been a better vacation for the three of us if it were written in a storybook. I know I say similar things about many of our adventures- and it’s true that we truly love all of the new experiences and fun that our traveling lifestyle affords- but sometimes you just get extra lucky with an extra special one that refills every single one of your tanks.We really are lucky. And blessed.

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Sunset from our balcony…

Join me tomorrow- same time, same place- for the other half of our Portuguese getaway- exploring the hills and narrow cobblestone streets of Lisbon and Porto! I promise the pictures are (nearly) just as pretty 😉

 

It be SNOWING!

18 Jan

I realized last night when I was talking to my good friend, Sue, that I had the perfect story to begin this post. Sue is from Michigan (which, by the way, considering I’ve ended up pals with every single woman I’ve ever met from there, I seem to mesh well with Michiganders! ;)), currently lives in the Lowcountry and she’s my go-to-gal for all things winter/snow/seasonal simply because she knows all there is to know about navigating these situations- and I don’t care if she laughs at me when we discover yet another thing about which I have no clue! Ha!

So onto our story…We’ve been waiting forever for it to really snow here in Stuttgart. Not just a dusting or a few flurries, but the real lasts-longer-than-a-blink kind that makes everything pretty. Finally saw it on the forecast for this past Thursday night and Neve went to bed pumped. Friday morning didn’t disappoint- we woke up to our own little Winter Wonderland and out at her school, there was even more. It was AWESOME.

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Before school…

So that afternoon, I get back to school to pick her up. They’re out on the playground, as always, and the snow is falling. Big chubby flakes. There’s probably 3 inches on the ground- more around the sides where it’s been piled up… I spot Neve on the far side of the playground- in the jeans and tennis shoes I sent her in. (Top half had a good coat with hood, plus a hat and mittens, so at least I get those points.)

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Neve is behind the slide in this picture…

Her bottom half is drenched- I can see the drops of water dripping as she runs… She sees me, gets real excited and immediately throws off her shoes. I’m like, ‘no, no, what are you doing?’ yelling across the playground. Meanwhile, she’s got the toe of her sock in her little grip and pulls it off, then the other one- all of this happening in a matter of seconds, mind you- and before I can even get halfway to her, she’s running barefoot through the snow yelling, ‘Mama, mama- it’s like the BEACH but with SNOW!’ The closer I got, the faster she ran and kicked it like it sure enough was sand, the louder she kept correcting that I obviously hadn’t heard her- ‘No, no. It’s like the BEACH!! But this is S-N-O-W!’

When the fiasco was over, I got to her, she got quiet. I asked ‘Are your bright red feet cold?’ She thought really hard, got the oddest look on her face and said, ‘I don’t know. I can’t be sure. Maybe.’ Lawd.

Alas, we are that family. The newbies to this climate without a clue what we’re doing. And we’re OWNING it! Ha! The teacher and a couple moms pulled me aside and quickly educated me on how the Germans do snow- wearing snow boots in, changing into regular shoes, then putting snow boots back on for outside. And keeping rubber pants in their cubbies. I’m sure my eyes kept getting bigger and bigger as I was thinking, holy moly, what a lot of work and a lot of clothes and a lot for me to keep up with each day! Bless their hearts.

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After I got the shoes back on. You can tell how drippy the shoes are- they’re usually about the color of the jacket!

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So we left feeling like we’d learned something…and waving proudly at all the onlookers 🙂

We’ve done our best to take full advantage of this snowy goodness for the entire weekend- we’ve walked to dinner in it, we’ve driven in it, we’ve laid on the couch and marveled at it…

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We even checked off a couple things from our Bucket List. The first: a snowman!

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Yep, we rolled up just about all of our first snow into a snowman. At least Mother Nature replenished our supply a few hours later ❤

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Again, we didn’t plan wisely. Our snowman had a banana nose, an apple slice mouth, cough drop buttons and a Kubota trucker hat with a feather! Ha!

And we FINALLY got to sled! Neve’s Uncle Andy gave her a new shiny red sled for Christmas and she’s been asking daily when she’ll get to use it. Well, what baby wants, baby gets! We spent today just outside of the city in the small town of Holzgerlingen. One of John’s friends from work lives out there and his back door opens right into the biggest, prettiest, hilliest park. Add a foot of snow and you’ve got the perfect place for us to all meet and make it our playground!

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Heading out with Emma 🙂

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They made it to the bottom!

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Snowing HARD!

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Thanks, Goddess and Poppy, for the snowsuit and boots! And now I even know how to send them to school! 😉

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You can’t tell, but it is like blizzard conditions for the few minutes around this one!

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Looking back at the top…

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So yeah, hope you can tell just how much we have been like kids in a candy