Tag Archives: family

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.

Processed with MOLDIV

IMG_5649IMG_6015IMG_5704IMG_6074IMG_6032IMG_5741IMG_6062IMG_5769

IMG_5861343BF682-9368-4950-A2F0-513FBA22C8E3IMG_5980IMG_5709IMG_5719IMG_5840

IMG_5987

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

IMG_5757IMG_5970IMG_6010IMG_5755IMG_5716

IMG_5664

View from our balcony

IMG_5899IMG_5776IMG_5768IMG_5944IMG_5738

IMG_5855

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

IMG_5919IMG_5838IMG_5972

IMG_6068

One of my happy places 🙂

IMG_6044IMG_6066IMG_5839

IMG_5872

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

IMG_6020IMG_5863

IMG_5864

This lazy river is easily several miles long…

IMG_5653

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

IMG_5937IMG_5677IMG_5779

IMG_5782

From our balcony…

IMG_5807

IMG_6072

Poolside snack…

IMG_5911

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.

IMG_5982IMG_5689IMG_6035

IMG_5650

Poolside dinner and a show on our first night…

IMG_5817

IMG_5850

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

IMG_5898IMG_5890IMG_6063

IMG_5751

Northern shore of the island…

IMG_5638

IMG_5700

For mom…Lovely trees ❤

IMG_5893IMG_5656

IMG_6039

Topless beach for the day 😉 

IMG_6001

Playa de Troya, Black Sand Beach…

IMG_5814IMG_5699IMG_5859IMG_6079

IMG_5906

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

IMG_5679

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

IMG_5793IMG_5760IMG_5913IMG_5784

IMG_5824

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.

IMG_6047

With a pencil behind her ear ‘like Daddy.’

IMG_5706IMG_6014IMG_5791IMG_5920IMG_5748IMG_6058

IMG_5953IMG_5868IMG_6007IMG_5949

IMG_5858

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

IMG_5736

IMG_5878

IMG_6017IMG_5995IMG_5745IMG_5910IMG_5943IMG_5960IMG_5869IMG_5785IMG_5690IMG_5832

IMG_6077

IMG_5946IMG_5985IMG_5848IMG_5927IMG_5749IMG_5819IMG_6016IMG_6053IMG_5672IMG_5669IMG_6037IMG_6059IMG_5886

IMG_5789IMG_5956IMG_5877IMG_5721IMG_5862

IMG_5976

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…

IMG_6042IMG_5880IMG_6080IMG_6006IMG_5670IMG_5759IMG_5912IMG_5742IMG_5849IMG_5837IMG_5846IMG_5676IMG_6073

IMG_5777

My new favorite shot of my people ❤

IMG_5683IMG_5812IMG_5705

IMG_5947

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!

Happy (Just About) Summer!

25 May

Greetings, all! Fancy seeing you here- it’s been a while! Let me start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has made the move with me over to Treats, Travels And Truths– there’s absolutely no other place I’d rather start the journey than with you guys who have been following our shenanigans for all this time right here.The new site is coming along so nicely- growth is slow, but steady, and I’m learning more every day about the ins and outs of blogging on a larger scale. Most importantly, I’m having a really good time with it and that’s really all that matters, right? Please, please, please continue to help me spread the word and get the site out there- sharing it on Facebook or Instagram, sending the link to friends in emails or just telling them about it. I SO appreciate it. And you. ❤

So I just wanted to share some pictures from our last month or so. We’ve been really busy- and in a really good way for the most part! Y’all know we’ve had some visitors- my mom came for my birthday at the beginning of April and then John’s sister, brother and his family came a few weeks ago when we all headed to Greece (phenomenal vacay, btw). Other than that, we’ve been kinda all over the place- waiting for spring to arrive and taking advantage of days when it teases us (see the snow pictures below that were taken mid-April!), getting Neve registered for Kindergarten, Fruhlingsfest (the largest spring festival in the world!), rock climbing (Neve is in LOVE), celebrating Mother’s Day…Have a look!

IMG_4470

IMG_4484

IMG_4486IMG_5438

IMG_5247

She’s really taken an interest in drawing- and is pretty darn good!

IMG_4533IMG_4534

IMG_5303

Anybody else think these are the best kinds of lunch EVER?!

IMG_5304

Bedtime Stories ❤

IMG_5254

Fruhlingsfest

IMG_5252

IMG_5273

IMG_5271

IMG_5269

IMG_5268

Chocolate-covered fruit on sticks…

IMG_5278

IMG_5275IMG_5276

IMG_5286

IMG_4538

IMG_5302

What better last weekend in Germany than homemade pizza from scratch?!

IMG_5336

Morning waves from school ❤

IMG_5368

Mother’s Day Breakfast at Kindi…

IMG_5358IMG_5355

IMG_5391

Found a huge rock climbing gym less than 20 minutes from the house! Neve has really started showing an interest and is really good at it!

IMG_5394

IMG_5483

What do you do when you’re out walking the pups on Sunday afternoon, but a storm is rolling in? Find the nearest biergarten and wait it out 🙂

IMG_5475

IMG_5480

All doing our best impressions of the ‘Ears Up’ pose 😉

IMG_5476

IMG_5481

Waiting out the storm at the biergarten, overlooking Stuttgart…

IMG_5485

Good Lord. He is mine. ❤

IMG_5462

Just finished with Kindergarten Orientation on base. Safe to say that all three of us like the school, the teachers…and the playground! September can’t get here soon enough for this kid!

IMG_5493

We make Countdown Chains for so many things. This one marks when Daddy gets home this Saturday (the link with the stars) and when Uncle Andy arrives (the link with the smiley faces). This is the first chain that Neve made entirely by herself 😦

I told you we’ve been pretty dang busy! Lots of fun, though, and some pretty exciting stuff (how do we have a Kindergartner?!). And I’m happy to report that the weather is *finally* cooperating for the most part- we’re at least reaching 70/75F most days! Ha! I swear summer can’t get here soon enough! Speaking of which, our next adventure begins in just 5 days! We’re headed for the Canary Islands next week to do (hopefully) a whole lotta nothing- sun, sand, waves, drinks with umbrellas…Ha! This family needs some summatime, dammit! My little bit of planning is officially done (see selfie below where I reconfirm that I’m a nerd and must write down everything!), John gets home Saturday (he’s been in the States for work since last weekend), and Uncle Andy gets here Monday (he’s needing some Canary Islands in his life, too!) Life is good, friends. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

IMG_5452

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 ❤

Processed with MOLDIV

IMG_4556

First up, Athens…

IMG_4623IMG_4577IMG_4599IMG_4620

IMG_4603IMG_4602IMG_4616

IMG_4627IMG_4593

IMG_4634IMG_4609

IMG_4598IMG_4620

IMG_4631

IMG_4648

IMG_4653

Library…

IMG_4685

Top of the Acropolis

IMG_4706

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

IMG_4683

Enter a caption

IMG_4686

The Parthenon

IMG_0610

IMG_4672

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

IMG_4695

IMG_4642

IMG_4681

IMG_4694

Parthenon on the left, Erechtheion on the right…

IMG_4626

IMG_4606

IMG_4636

IMG_4688

View of the south from the Acropolis

IMG_4702

Erechtheion

IMG_4671IMG_4667IMG_4704

IMG_4662

The original theatre where Plato and Socrates both spoke…

IMG_4677

IMG_4627

Mt. Lycabettus

IMG_4708

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…

IMG_4650

A girl and her espresso…

IMG_4724

When in Greece, eat….pasta! Ha!

IMG_4643

GYROS!

IMG_4725

IMG_4659

IMG_4732IMG_4723

On to Mykonos…

IMG_4751

First morning on our balcony…

IMG_4749IMG_4748IMG_4747

IMG_4759

IMG_4754IMG_4757

IMG_4764

IMG_4778IMG_4779IMG_4776IMG_4782IMG_4768IMG_4794IMG_4801

IMG_4798

The walk to lunch…

IMG_4771IMG_4770

IMG_4833IMG_4803IMG_4792

IMG_4817

Chocolate faces!

IMG_4806IMG_4812IMG_4814IMG_4824

IMG_4834IMG_4836IMG_4788IMG_4805IMG_4809IMG_4800

IMG_4808

IMG_4852IMG_4880

IMG_4850IMG_4838

IMG_4858

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

IMG_4857IMG_4851

IMG_4882

Mom, see the fava beans?

IMG_4871

IMG_4843IMG_4859IMG_4867IMG_4864IMG_4883

IMG_4860

IMG_4743

Siblings ❤

IMG_4853

IMG_4959IMG_4903

IMG_4913

IMG_4923

Mykonos Town

IMG_4901

IMG_4886

IMG_4910

IMG_4941IMG_4915

IMG_4899

IMG_4955IMG_4928IMG_4916IMG_4944IMG_4927IMG_4921IMG_4911IMG_4965

IMG_4909

IMG_4919IMG_5197

(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)

IMG_4944IMG_4948

And finally, to Santorini…

IMG_5102

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

IMG_5031IMG_5070

IMG_5050

From our balcony…

IMG_5184

IMG_5019

IMG_5068

IMG_5028

IMG_4993IMG_5017IMG_5043

IMG_4976

Our front door…

IMG_5218

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…

IMG_5193

IMG_5042

IMG_5200

IMG_5037IMG_4929

IMG_5022

IMG_5138

IMG_5008

IMG_5016

IMG_5004

IMG_5069

Castle Ruins…

IMG_5194

IMG_4985IMG_5044IMG_4982IMG_5041

IMG_5072IMG_4983

IMG_5053

IMG_5159

IMG_5026IMG_5155IMG_5078IMG_5035

IMG_5148

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

IMG_4979IMG_4930

IMG_5161IMG_5188IMG_5130IMG_4988IMG_5042

IMG_5085

IMG_5135IMG_5131IMG_5032IMG_5012

IMG_4969

IMG_5128

Downtown Fira…

IMG_4911

IMG_5002IMG_5121

IMG_4980IMG_5166IMG_5202IMG_5185

IMG_5216IMG_5182

IMG_5187

IMG_5170

Red Sand Beach…

IMG_5195

Only brewery in the Greek Isles, on Santorini…

IMG_5231IMG_5209

IMG_5028

IMG_5124

IMG_5237

IMG_5070

IMG_5143IMG_5208

Processed with MOLDIV

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!

Still Home for the Holidays

3 Feb

Thanks for stopping back by for one last edition of our ‘Home for the Holidays!’ Trust me, it’s way easier to do it this way than trying to cram it all into one mega post that would take me three days to write- and you three days to read! Ha!

So, we got home from the mountains just in time to ring in the New Year and to watch the Clemson Tigers earn their spot in the National Championship. On top of that, we had decided to hold our ‘Thanksgiving 2.0’ feast as our NYE meal, so it really was an awesome, awesome night all around. I mean, what could be better than fireworks, football, a HUGE win, and the most delicious meal we’ve had all year?! Yeah, nothing, what’s what. 😉

All the AHHHHHH-MAZING foods we missed for the original, even if it meant five carb-loaded side dishes and three desserts! Ha! But it was so much more than the food. Mom and I cooked ALL. DAY. LONG. Every single recipe was handpicked; every single dish prepared from scratch while we gabbed and sampled and giggled. Our family then gathered around the table and feasted and laughed and savored…together. It was absolutely what we’d missed so much back in November. ❤

img_2850

Cheering on the Tigers!

img_2918

My first sight of 2017- walking out of the gym just after the sun came up on New Years Day. Had high hopes it was a good sign of things to come…

img_2917

Mornings spent playing in the floor in your PJs are the best ❤

img_2860

Yep, when you FaceTime with your pets ❤ (Side note: John had to go home a bit before us- work always gets in the way, doesn’t it?)

img_2946

img_2949

We were so fortunate to get to spend some good time with our sweet boy, Merlin, while we were in town. He passed away about 2 weeks after this picture was taken, at the age of 21. Will never forget what a truly cool cat he was. ❤

The biggest celebration of all came the following weekend when we kicked off Neve’s Birthday Week. How is my baby 5 years old already?! Goddess and Poppy had wanted to do something special for her while we were in town, so they booked a party at Chuck E. Cheese- Neve’s first time there! What a rite of passage ❤ Again, kept it super simple and small- and she had a blast! Added bonus? It snowed while we were there! Neve pointed out the window and yelled, ‘Look! Look! It’s snowing in South Carolina! I told you it was going to snow here!’ Touche, my girl.

img_2880

img_2883img_2894

img_2887

img_2884

img_2890img_2874

img_2907

img_2902

img_2903

img_2904

img_2923

img_2908

img_2881

img_2948

Couldn’t wait to get home to break open her gifts!

And just like all the best things in life, our time at home- with the people we love the most- came to an end in the blink of an eye. What better send off than a big ‘ol dinner of true Lowcountry cuisine? Pork rinds with blue cheese and Texas Pete, pulled pork, brisket and mac-n-cheese…Mmmmmm.

And the next morning- our travel day, coincidentally- we woke up with a true 5 YEAR OLD! Oh my word, I can’t even. So of course, before we made our way to the airport, we had to start the day off right- with pink pancakes, frosting, sprinkles and whipped cream!

img_2957

img_2956img_2958

img_2964

All settled in and ready to spend our night high over the Atlantic…with our matching tattoos ❤

Words can’t describe what a wonderful time we had being home for the holiday season. It was so special for so many reasons- and it was exactly what our family needed. We certainly are blessed- all of us. And we need to remind ourselves of that every single day- to be present, to be open, to feel gratitude even in the smallest of moments, and to do our absolute best not to take any of it for granted. ❤

I’ll leave you with a shot I took just after walking in the door at home in Stuttgart…when Neve discovered her big birthday gift that Daddy had been assembling- complete with custom lighting on each floor (love our engineer!)- while we were away. Just look at that happy face- Morning. Made.

img_2969

Boone for the Holidays

2 Feb

So after our marvelous Christmas at home, our next stop was the North Carolina mountains to spend some much needed time with John’s family. Over the years, we’ve often met in Gatlinburg because it’s about halfway between Charleston and Lexington, KY. Sometimes we like to switch it up, though, so for this holiday season, we opted for Boone, NC. Every time I’m there I’m reminded of just what a cool little town it is, how much personality is packed into it and just how pretty the entire region really is.

In true Thomas fashion, we found a great big house to rent for our time and it ended up being such a fun house. My guess is that it was once a sorority house just based on how it was set up with lots of private bathrooms, lots of separate sitting areas, individual thermostats…Well, whatever it was, it’s now call the YaYa House and is owned by four self-proclaimed hippie ladies who have gone out their ways to add all the little touches that make a house a unique home.

img_2790

I think I’ve told y’all this before, but one of my favorite things about visiting with John’s side of the family is the large size and the ‘togetherness’ of it. Playing boardgames into the night, doing puzzles, cooking…Not having to ‘do’ much of anything, yet still making some of the best memories. I love that about the Thomases, always have. And I absolutely love the way our families have melded together since Day 1 ❤

img_2757img_2761

img_2754

Checking out the week’s digs ❤

img_2762

img_2771

Yep, the owners even left up all the Christmas decorations for our belated celebration…

img_2764

img_2783

img_2774

Brisk early morning walks around the (oh-so-hilly) neighborhood ❤

img_2789img_2791

img_2784

f696802b-e1df-4837-990a-825a6322c39e

img_2796

Can’t go wrong when these two bake and decorate your birthday cake!

img_2787

Lost Province Brewing Co.

img_2772

img_2838

Playing word games by the twinkly lights…

img_2786

An afternoon exploring downtown Boone ❤

img_2766

img_2842

img_2839

These two. #RelationshipGoals #whenboardgamesrequirehandsonparticipation

img_2816

Mining for gems- we ended up with two rubies and a sapphire 🙂

img_2814

And this Rose Quartz, Neve’s favorite ❤

And as if our time together wasn’t fabulous enough, Mother Nature even gave us a gift on our last morning- SNOW! Oh, it was so pretty. And our time in the mountains was so lovely. We really are blessed to call such great people our family…And who would’ve thought that we’d come to the Carolinas and see snow, not once but TWICE! That’s right! Stay tuned for Part 3 of our time at home for the holidays, when it snows in Charleston during Neve’s birthday celebration! Talk about a cool unexpected gift!

img_2831

img_2830

img_2829

Home for the Holidays

1 Feb

Well whatd’yaknow, it’s been over a month since our last chat- and I’m not the least bit sorry! Ha! 😉 That just goes to show you what a wonderful and busy time we were having at HOME for the holidays. Our family Christmas and New Years were everything we hoped they’d be- togetherness and happiness and thankfulness and warmth and energy and love. It was glorious.

And this trip proved to be quite different than our summer visit. Not sure exactly why, but it just had a whole different feel to it. Maybe it was the holiday magic in the air or the hustle and bustle that inevitably comes along with the season or just that we had a new appreciation for being ‘home for the holidays,’ but for whatever reason, these few weeks had more of that true family vibe going on- less running the roads, less cramming things (and people) in- more cooking together, shopping together, sprinkling in some lazy jammie days here and there… ❤ That’s not so say we didn’t fit in as much awesomeness as we could, though- we spent some time in the mountains with John’s family, we rang in the new year with what I coined ‘Thanksgiving 2.0’ (a meal with all the favorites we didn’t get to have during our holiday in Garmisch!), we celebrated Neve’s birthday with Party #1 and her first Chuck E. Cheese experience…So yeah, we stayed pretty busy one way or another!

And since I’ve now accumulated over 300 pictures- I was there nearly a month, you know! Ha!- I’m going to break things down into a few different posts just to keep the sanity. 😉 For today, I want to share with you some pictures from our first full week at home, including Christmas. For the first time in many, many years, we kept things super small and super simple- just us, and embracing what the season is all about- our blessings. It’s one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had and one that I will remember for always for so many reasons.

img_2652

First morning home, staying in my childhood bedroom, and look out the window to see these two- bundled up in their pjs- swinging in the backyard and talking about life ❤

img_2650

When your best friend finishes her 5k and comes directly to see you on your first morning in town. ❤

img_2669

Lazy mornings are always the best ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8a77

When your tribe loves your girl almost as much as you do ❤

img_2649

Reunited at last ❤

img_2689

img_2656

6175c147-0b6b-4b5d-b711-a04e2e2ce7d9

The bond that these two share ❤

img_2703

img_2709

When brothers become Daddies, Christmases get even better ❤

5e833e7a-ff33-4b26-b1bd-e77faebe6744

img_2676

Oh how she loves her Uncle Andy ❤

img_2673

img_2712

Christmas Eve

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8a94

Caught in the act!

img_2732

Christmas Morning

img_2733

img_2741

When you love so many of your gifts equally…

img_2737

img_2739

img_2730

Christmas Day ❤

img_2745

img_2744

So you can see that we sure did have an amazing Christmas. It really was beautiful and full of all the feels. Just what our family needed ❤

Stay tuned for Part 2- we’re headed to Boone, NC, to do it all again with John’s family!

It’s beginning to feel alot like…

9 Dec

…Christmas! Amiright?! I have been waiting for this day for weeks now- when I can finally say that ‘this time NEXT week…’ we’ll be on a plane over the Atlantic headed for HOME! Oh Lord, I just don’t have any words. I was telling my mom last night on the phone how my whole perspective has changed this year. Well, that’s true on so many levels, but in this instance, I was talking about the whole coming home, being home for the holidays, surrounding yourself with those who make your world complete…Being away from home- so far away and immersed in a completely different culture- really brings alot of focus to what matters most. Especially this time of year. It sure is going to feel like one big, weeks-long bear hug. All three of us are counting on it ❤

So in honor of this one week countdown, I just wanted to share some of our holiday pics so far. We’ve really been having alot of fun with the season this year- Neve is the absolute PERFECT age right now for all things Christmas and we LOVE it. And this year, she’s getting to celebrate the season in a whole new way, too- with German traditions at kindergarten, so we’re learning things right along with her!

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89cc

Christmas carols and hot tea and twinkly lights to end the day…

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89f1

John knows me so well. When he ‘brings me flowers,’ he almost always goes for the most creative, funkiest arrangement he can find. And they’re always our perfect centerpiece.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_899d

The Advent Calendar is always one of her favorite parts of December!

Even with bare trees and temps in the 30s, we have still managed to have some amazing sunsets. Neve and I have actually started to really love our rides home from gymnastics because we get to see some of the most beautiful natural paintings. This week, we made a game out of counting as many colors as we could in this sunset ❤

If any of you have ever been to Germany this time of year, then you know how awesome they do Christmas. Seriously. I’ve never been a place that goes as all out for the season as here. It’s amazing. The stores, the streets, the famous markets…Everywhere you turn is Christmas. And on a grand scale, with all different styles. Trees, lights, music, warm drinks, fresh baked goods…Definitely our kind of place 😉

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89a4

Our shopping mall below our house…

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89a3

unadjustednonraw_thumb_899f

Modern take on visiting Santa…

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89a0

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89ec

At my favorite shopping mall, Breunigerland.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89ff

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8a00

And speaking of Christmas markets, we finally made it out to one of the most well-known all around, the Medieval Esslingen Market. Can’t believe it took us this long to get to it as it’s only about 30 minutes away at most. The town itself is so cute, but the market was downright awesome. And huge. What sets this market apart from the rest is that, in addition to the regular stuff, a huge part of it is a time warp back to the middle ages. The huts are primitive, the vendors and many of the people walking the streets are dressed in animal hides or rags, the wares they’re selling are handmade in medieval style and they’re preparing delicious, simple foods over open flames and clay ovens. It was TERRIFIC.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c9unadjustednonraw_thumb_89cb

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89beunadjustednonraw_thumb_89b6

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89ae

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89ad

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c7unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c0

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c4

You can see the mean physically turning the medieval Ferris wheel! So neat.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c3unadjustednonraw_thumb_89bc

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89ba

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c1

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c5

Looks can be deceiving. This was plain sweet bread wrapped around a stick. And it was the most delicious thing ever. Yeasty, doughy, warm, chewy…Jeez.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89c6unadjustednonraw_thumb_89b8

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89b4

This past week, we crossed off two super important items from our list- family flu shots and pictures with Santa! Woohoo!

santa-2santa-1

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89a8

Thumbs up for keeping flu bugs away! 😉

In addition to finding our new favorite Christmas market ever (I’m really not kidding), the other highlight was probably our baking day. My mom and I bake homemade goodies for friends and family every single year- we have since I was in at least highschool, maybe earlier than that. It’s one of my absolute favorite Christmas traditions. Getting our list together, spending entirely too much time deciding on what we’re going to bake this year, buying all the groceries, destroying the kitchen for an entire day while listening to Christmas music and sampling as we go, packaging the fruits of our labor and hand tagging each and every one…I adore all of it. Well, this was our first year not doing it together (yep, we even got to do it last year here in Germany because they were here with us!) and I knew it would be a tough time. Long story short- once again, my husband needs a gold star. He really, really, really stepped up and made the whole day so beyond special. Like, I could get teary just typing about it! Not even just the day itself, but weeks before when we sat down to make our list and to go through recipes to decide what we’d bake. He- and Neve- both went all out and it made for the most perfect family day. Y’all, we baked for 7 hours straight- neither of us sat down the entire time, not even once. When something was in the oven, we were prepping something else…or cooling or packaging or sampling ;). For me, there’s just something about sharing homemade goodies with your nearest and dearest that really captures the spirit of the season. Oh, and for anyone curious- we did my famous Cookie Butter Iced Brownies, Shortbread Funfetti Bites and Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89deunadjustednonraw_thumb_89df

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89e2

And of course, Mr. Clark Pricklepants has been having way too much fun while we’re asleep. Neve just loves hunting for him- and laughing at his antics- each and every morning ❤

And now I’ll leave you with one of my newest favorite pictures. It was taken last night after a wonderful early Christmas celebration with our tribe. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, took up their entire back room, ate, drank and were the merriest of merry. It was perfect and effortless. And this picture just captures it so perfectly. ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_89f7

I am Thankful.

22 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving Week, y’all! Hard to believe that it’s already that time again. So before everyone settles into their kitchens to start preparing the most glorious feasts, I just wanted to take a few minutes and reflect, as much for myself as for all of you. This season has been particularly challenging for me this year as it’s my first one- in all my 35 trips around the sun- that I’m not with my family…That I’m not at home…That I’m not surrounded by the sights and sounds (and smells) that I realize now I appreciate so much. And I’m missing all of those things something fierce. So while it can sometimes be easy for me to get stuck in this rut, I’m making the conscious effort not to. I’m deciding, each and every day recently, to be grateful for what I do have and to be all the more excited to go HOME in just a few weeks!

So without further adieu, here are some of the things, and people, that I’m most thankful for this year.

I’m so thankful for Neve. To be her mom, to see who she’s becoming, to do what I can to help her grow in every sense of the word.  She is an AMAZING person.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88a3

When your hair doubles as a weather forecast.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88a2

 

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88a7

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88bc

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88b0

I can’t tell you how often I think to myself, ‘I wish I could be half as stylish as my kid.’ She dressed herself completely ❤

One thing about my girl that I’m especially thankful for? Her fearlessness. Remember last month when she got her first haircut and I told her that if she still wanted it shorter, we would go back? Well, she’s talked about it ever since and never once wavered. No hesitation, no fear of regret, nothing but excitement. She made the decision and just a few hours ago in fact, she went full steam ahead. *Life Lessons*

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88c9

My big girl ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88ca

 

To say that I’m thankful for John is an understatement. I’ve sung his praises plenty of times on here, so I won’t go into them again too much right now. Just to say that he gets me like no one else on the planet. GETS me, gets me. He is a calm in the storm, a rock, an anchor…He is a best friend, a partner in crime, a cheerleader. And during challenging times like this holiday season, he is exactly my counterpoint. Oh, and I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again- seeing the man you love as a dad…There’s NOTHING like it.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88a0

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88a9

She asked him to marry her, complete with her long gown blanket. I was the minister. ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88aa

I am thankful for the wonderful friends in my life, both near and far. Yes, life gets in the way and we don’t get to see each other- or even talk to each other- as often as any of us would like, but it doesn’t matter. Knowing that you’re part of such an awesome tribe- that you have people who love you not because they have to, but because they CHOOSE to- is the most comforting, grounding feeling. Waking up to text messages, getting unexpected care packages, chatting online unexpectedly in the mornings with one of your insomnia-prone friends ;), being invited next door for impromptu tea parties…THIS is what makes the world brighter.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88adunadjustednonraw_thumb_88a8

unadjustednonraw_thumb_114a0

I am thankful for my fitness. I’ve always been into an active lifestyle, but this year has really taken it to the next level. Why the change? I rediscovered my love of cycling- specifically, Peloton. It’s a cycling community that has been truly instrumental in changing things up for me. More than ever, I appreciate my body, its capabilities, its beauty…I can’t even imagine missing my morning rides now! I mean, look at that sunrise that greets me and the fall colors that surround me?!

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88bf

unadjustednonraw_thumb_889f

unadjustednonraw_thumb_88ae

I’m thankful for new (to us) traditions. A few weeks ago, Neve’s school celebrated Laternefest. In a nutshell, it’s the secular celebration of St. Martins Day and it’s celebrated throughout all of Europe. St. Martin was a kind and gentle man who was a friend to children and the poor. Legend has it that he ripped his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snow storm. That night, he dreamt of Jesus and was baptized the next day. In celebration each year on Nov. 10 and 11, children walk through their cities carrying lanterns that they’ve made at school to symbolize light overpowering the darkness. They sing all the songs they’ve learned to spread joy. And they finish in a big public square- usually with a park nearby- to mark the culmination of their celebrations, complete with food and warm drinks. Spending the evening with 20 something of Neve’s classmates, their families and her teachers, regardless of the freezing rain and bitter cold, proved to be the absolute perfect and happy end to a fiery election week.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_885aunadjustednonraw_thumb_885e

unadjustednonraw_thumb_885c

With one of her best friends, Emna.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8867

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8860

Stopping for some caroling.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_886a

Homemade snacks and warm tea at the park.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8868unadjustednonraw_thumb_886d

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8869

I’m thankful for my family. No, they may not be here with us right now, but they’re always with me…Always. I realize just how fortunate we are to have each other, to be doing this life together, to count on each other through thick and thin. So many people don’t have the kind of family that we do. And I’m so thankful in every sense of the word.

DSC_0017.JPG

This picture is framed on our shelf.  It was taken at my parents’ retirement party when Neve was 5 months old. She’s been talking about it alot this week- about how happy everyone is. And that makes me so happy 🙂

And finally, I’m thankful for this season of change and for this most unique Thanksgiving. We are leaving tomorrow, headed for the Alps to celebrate the day with other families in our same situation, at a resort managed by Americans at the border of Germany and Switzerland. We’re staying in a hotel with an indoor pool area for kids, a fancy spa for grown ups, an outdoor area for pups…And serving a big traditional Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday! How’s that for making lemonade out of potential lemons?! Here’s hoping everyone has the loveliest holiday and a wonderful official kick-off to this holiday season. THANK YOU for coming along on this journey with us. ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_8871

Our Elf, Mr. Clark Pricklepants, should be arriving back here this weekend, according to the Big Guy! 😉

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 😉

unadjustednonraw_thumb_11294

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 <3. You can check that out here , along with all the nitty gritty details about the Netherlands and its capital city.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_11293

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. 😉

unadjustednonraw_thumb_11292

unadjustednonraw_thumb_112b4

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 ❤

unadjustednonraw_thumb_1129d

unadjustednonraw_thumb_1129e

One of our favorite meals in the world. Cheese fondue with freshly baked bread and lean steak, served raw and