Archive of ‘My Dearest’ category

New Beginnings

By Natalie

I’m officially no longer a nanny. Which makes me all sorts of emotional because that means I’m becoming a mother myself. Like many of the things in our lives we did not get here by accident. Nearly seven years ago Brandon promised me that one day I would live out my dream of staying home to raise our children.

At the time it was difficult to believe. Coming from a past of empty promises I was nervous about trusting his. Marriage takes a ton of trust and I was just beginning to practice it. Now I can tell you that he’s never made me a promise he couldn’t keep and while that may seem crazy it’s really not. Brandon is a logical guy if you don’t know him. He never made me a promise he couldn’t keep. As frustrated as that would make me sometimes when there was something I wanted I eventually learned that Brandon had our best interests and long term goals in mind all along. He made those tough decisions to say not right now which I now realize has been him leading us well all along. Seeing his promises come to fruition over the years has made it unbelievably easy to walk alongside him and trust him 100 percent.

I feel so overwhelmed by this time in our lives that we’ve prepared for. I feel incredibly blessed to have this time to rest, love on my husband in our final days as a family of two and to prepare for our daughter.

On my last day of work I came home to this beautiful bouquet of flowers. I told Brandon I didn’t feel like I deserved being rewarded for this moment. After all this is only a possibility because of how dedicated he has become to his career. His talent and his perserverence. To which he replied he would never be where he was today without such a supportive wife. Hold on let me go get my tissues…

To be in this marriage where we both feel like we’ve made eachother better people is what it’s all about. To be adored and appreciated by my husband who insists his accomplishments are largely influenced by my support is an unbelievable honor. It puts everything into perspective for me as his helpmate. [Genesis 2:18] To have this life I’ve always dreamed of all I really had to do was stick out some tough times, hard transitions and encourage my husband through his dreams. There were times when I had to pour into him because he didn’t believe in himself, times when I had to stand alongside him and hold his hand because the pressure became too much. Times where I had to tell him he was more than capable and deserving of chasing his wildest dreams and times where I totally messed up afraid it’d all come crashing down and put pressure on him myself. But in the end here we are. Both better through this sharpening process that is marriage.


Timing

By Natalie

We revealed the gender of our little babe this past weekend by cutting into this gorgeous cake from Drip Cake Bar. She’s a girl!!! We’re overjoyed and eager for her giggles to fill our home. I feel such a connection with her now that I can call her by name.

I’ve felt her move the past few evenings. Once when I had hibachi chicken at a recent girls night out and once when I had a slice of leftover cake! She loves food like her mama!

Pregnancy right now is pretty enjoyable. My hair will hardly straighten these days, it’s bizarre. Takes much longer than usual. I had it cut recently and Marissa who has been cutting my hair for a couple years mentioned she noticed a change in my hair. My roots want to remain true and ringlet all the way down. These hormones swirling around my body are unbelievable.

Bingley is suddenly realizing that he’s not the center of attention anymore.

Poor little bug.

I’m excited to see the growth in my 18 week belly but walking down the street I kind of feel like I appear to have consumed too many baguettes at lunch.

I hope to enjoy this time while our little girl is small and I can still reach my toes because before I know it I’ll be carting around a giant melon of a belly.

Currently I’ve been feeling a number of things both physically and emotionally.

I’m still having some low back pain but I visited a Chiropractor recently that specializes in prenatal care. I worked for physical therapists for 4 years but man oh man do I still love their sworn enemy the Chiropractor. I’ve gone in the past for neck tension and headaches which I’m hoping will also greatly decrease this time around. After my adjustment this past weekend I felt a rush of emotions. I was proud of myself for providing time for self care. I was rejuvenated to continue on this long journey of pregnancy with the help of my husband, my family, my friends, and the health care providers I have chosen to care for both me and baby.

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that for years I’ve been pouring my heart and care into other children and now I have my very own listening to my words inside me. A child that will wake up from a nap one day crying “mommy” and knowing I am that woman. I’m absolutely honored to be this child’s mother.

Lastly I’ve been feeling grateful for our vacation to Montreal last summer. After a few months of trying to conceive we decided to start saving more aggressively in the event that we could plan a trip before  getting pregnant. We both saw it as a consolation prize to being disappointed month after month with no baby. Months before we started trying I wrote in my journal that I longed desperately to be a mother but I also felt a longing to use my passport once more. I kid you not. Well what do you know the next year I got both. I also wrote at the time that before a baby I wanted to build deeper friendships, start healthier eating habits and I know it’s silly but.. read 12 books in a year. I was able to check off all of those things. At the time it felt like a silly list. I wasn’t too serious about it at first but God knew what was on my heart. He knew I needed those things to help propel me forward in my future journey of motherhood. He knew I needed a support system and he knew I needed to be able to not only set goals for myself but accomplish them. I love looking back on my words and seeing God’s big picture plan perfectly written out for me. I’ve always struggled with patience. I’ve often questioned why I felt like God was holding out on me. But looking back I’ve never doubted that the timing in which events have happened in my life were uniquely authored by Him.

Our trip ultimately served the much needed purpose of having a last big hurrah before baby since a month later we were pregnant. Brandon and I have shared 6 years together as a married couple. Much of my identity lies in being a wife. I have my moments where I become terrified that I’ll turn into a yoga pants wearing, crazy haired milk machine. Which let’s be honest that probably will come to pass. I’m nervous about splitting my attention between baby and Brandon because it’s just been us for so long. But after all our years together and the many opportunities we’ve had to reconnect and grow I know that we’ll make an amazing team for this little one. I’m confident that Brandon is still going to love me when my hair is frizzy and I have no make up on. Mostly because that’s generally been my life as a nanny. I know that ultimately I’ll still find ways to show Brandon my deep love and gratitude for him.

Blessings

By Natalie

IMG_0574We’re so excited to announce we’re expecting our long awaited dearest little one.

The past year has been extremely difficult for me to write anything meaningful or personal. My personal struggles had been consumed in trying to conceive our first child. I took a big step back from sharing things publicly because what now mattered to me was the support and closeness of family and friends. If it weren’t for their encouragement I wouldn’t have made it through with my head held as high nor would I have seen what God had in store for me during this waiting period. I learned the value of close relationships. Brandon and I became much closer than we already were, supporting one another when the other seemed to wonder what could possibly be the problem.

My emotions were all over the place until one day I had to choose to praise. If we got pregnant God was good. If we didn’t he was still good. The struggles I have overcome in my past greatly contributed to my faith in the one who has always blessed me and never left my side.

God was good after every negative test I frustratingly threw into the trash can. He was good through every ache that gripped my heart from the piece of our family that seemed to be missing.

I’ve loved the life that we’ve lived. We’ve taken some easy steps and some difficult ones but every single step has brought us to where we are today as individuals, as a couple and as a family. We felt ready months after our five year anniversary to start a family. We loved our lives and were ready for our greatest adventure yet. As the months dragged on my yearning grew deeper and deeper. All week I’d care for little ones who were not my own. Rocking them to sleep, praying for my own. Every day was a reminder that I was without. I had to make a shift and look at it differently. I had to choose to be grateful to have babies to snuggle. To curb the longing I had for my own child and grant it to the little boys that were in my charge.

I started a journal of letters to our child from the very beginning and I’m so glad I have that to look back on.

On September 1st 2016 I wrote “Whether I have to wait a month or a year for you, it won’t matter because God’s will in our lives is perfect.”

On October 15th 2016 I wrote “I’m anxious to share our life with you. I have all this love bottled up inside me waiting to be expressed to you.”

On January 28th 2017 I wrote “Life’s been tough without you.”

On February 3rd 2017 I wrote “I want you to know even before you were born you were in my heart. You have always been loved.”

On March 7th 2017 I wrote “I long so terribly to hold you. I’m wallowing in my sadness today because there is a lack of you… You are always loved. Always were. Always will be.”

On May 18th 2017 I wrote “I want you to be God fearing, empathetic and a kind person. I want you to be generous and have a hunger for more.”

On June 11th 2017 I wrote “Am I allowed to feel pain for something that has never been? That’s never been lost? …Promise you’ll come soon.”

On June 23rd 2017 I jotted down Romans 8:25-28

On July 20th 2017 I wrote “…I have sat on a doctor’s table and begged God to tell me why or at the very least when. I asked him to grant me patience and understanding. I was angry with him. Very angry that he placed me somewhere that I would feel this void so desperately. One day you might find yourself angry with God as well. All I can tell you is that he may not give you complete understanding of where you are, but he will give you what you need to get through it.

On August 11th 2017 I wrote “I feel empty today. Empty and sad.”

On October 19th 2017 I wrote “Oh my dearest little one, I just found out I’m carrying you and I feel so overcome with emotion.”

The letters continue, each signed xoxo. I share these personal excerpts because I know I was not alone in our struggle to conceive. I know we’re extremely blessed to have even waited such a short time in comparison to many others. I’m thankful for the time Brandon and I had together and the abundance of letters I was able to write to our child even before conception. Mostly I am grateful for the God who never left me, even when I questioned his plan.

It’s been a beautiful journey and we’re truly blessed to be given this gift.


How I’ve Been Feeling

  • The first trimester is kicking my butt. I started to feel nauseated all day every day starting at 6 weeks until now as it slowly subsides. I was completely unprepared for the toll it would take on me physically and mentally to feel so sick for such a long stretch.
  • The grocery store is still off limits!
  • Much to Brandon’s dismay I CANNOT stand the smell of bacon. Sad days in our home. No more Saturday morning bacon and pancakes.
  • ECSTATIC

The Facts

  • My due date is June 30th (Baby’s trying to creep up on my birthday.)
  • Nightly at home yoga has been extremely helpful for my mood and nausea.
  • I’m asleep by 9pm, 8pm if I’m lucky.
  • I have super smell!! Brandon has been amazed.
  • Cravings: Powdered jelly donut. A friend’s homemade oatmeal crust veggie pizza (which they graciously made for me!). Fried rice.
  • I’m blown away by Brandon’s love and care for me and our home during this season. He’s going to be an awesome Dad!
  • Bingley is mostly oblivious.
  • We have a terrific support system in our family and close friends. One’s who couldn’t contain their excitement when they heard the news and ones who even teared up at this answered prayer. They continue to encourage and pray for us which has been a lovely blessing.
  • Brandon and I are completly in love with this babe already.

 

Life Lately

By Natalie

hipster

My sister called me a city hipster recently. I have no idea what she means.


Our schedule has been all over the place this new year. While I’m ready to slow down and take a break I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed our busy schedule.

Bing hotel

We kicked things off in January with a week long hotel stay courtesy of our apartment complex. They had been undergoing some renovations for the past few months and needed to do some work in our apartment. We were grateful to get away from the noise and have our own mini staycation.

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Geese

Grant is learning the difference between a duck and a goose.

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Bing tent

We thought we’d take advantage of the warmer weather and plan a camping trip the first weekend in March. Of course we ended up enduring 30 degree nights, but the days were warm and we had the perfect amount of quality friend time.
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kabobs

Pam camping

Pam makes a stinkin good S’more.

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We spent our second weekend in March taking the Coggins up on my Christmas present. A weekend spent at family’s condo in Atlantic beach. We’ve really been missing out on off season beach trips and have totally decided to do it more often.

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Brandon Beach

It was just about exactly what we needed.

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I finally tried Hex coffee. Definitely in the top five.

Your coffee won’t last around here if it can’t stand on it’s own. There’s just too many places that have it figured out.

Hex


I took a break from social media and have a whole new outlook on it. I know, myself and everyone else right? I simply realized that I wasn’t living as much in the small moments that I could be. Through taking a break I was able to appreciate the small things for what they were and not for what others thought of them. Before I took a sip of my mocha at Hex I started an Instagram story.

“How do you like it?” Brandon asked.

“I haven’t taken a sip yet. I’m doing an Instagram story.” I told him.

“No one really cares about your cup of coffee babe.”

You see after nearly six years of marriage the truth sometimes comes flying out without any sort of sugar coating.

While I wanted to take complete offense I quickly noticed he had a point. It’s not so much that nobody cares. It’s more so that I was diverting my attention away from Brandon. He was excited for me to try Hex. He took time out of his day to take me out, why would I spoil that to sit and sift through a dozen photo filters? Nodding my head as he tells me what’s new in his world, while my full attention is zeroed in on that little device. Is it because it feels normal? Because I seek gratification in the opinions of others? I started to really question my reasoning for sharing.

This is a deeper issue and a touchy subject for most. But it is something that’s been on my mind and my heart. We do live far from family and to a certain extent social media has become a way to keep up with them. Lately I haven’t had the energy, or the words to compile a single blog post but I do wish to share a tid bit on Instagram. I think reasoning for sharing is different for everybody. For many social media can be a healthy and useful place. For a while there it evolved into a toxic place for me to compare myself to my peers and seek their approval for my own life. That caused me to seriously shift my perspective. It’s still a place for memories to be captured and shared with those I love. But now I’m more mindful of where I am and who surrounds me in that blurry space beyond my phone.


I made this beauty one weekend recently. I was in love with similar wall hangings I’d seen on etsy and knew I could come up with something from my yarn stash.

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Our allergies hit us like a ton of bricks again. When I finally had the stamina to make it to Trader Joe’s for our weekly groceries my cashier made small talk with me. He asked if I had plans for the weekend. I told him I was getting sick so I’d be resting all weekend. He asked if we’d lived here long, that allergies can be rough for newcomers. Yada yada. I said yes, could be allergies. Then he grabbed the pink tulips I picked out and said “You know, I’m going to give you your flowers for free so you feel better. You get lots of rest this weekend.”

How sweet is that? I told him that wasn’t necessary and he insisted. He made my day with his kind gesture. He also ensured my loyalty to Trader Joe’s for life.

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City Living

By Natalie

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We moved recently to the Southend of Charlotte. We’re three blocks down and a couple over from the Panthers stadium, a five minute walk to Brandon’s work and a whole lot closer to everything we love. Two months ago we were in that pickle of deciding to stay where we were which was a great space, just not quite what we envisioned, or to move on. Brandon and I are move on until you get it just right kind of people.

We began our apartment hunting after the change of ownership at our old complex. In efforts to be sure we would get exactly what we wanted this time we toured nine different places. Including one gorgeous loft in the city with exposed brick walls. We had to say no to it, after we realized we would only have street parking, and the laundry was in the basement of the building three flights down. That kind of thing is only fun to watch in sitcoms, not so fun to do in reality. After careful deliberation and discussing with supportive friends we happily chose one of the first places we saw.

We packed up our precious belongings and trashed or donated the rest to uproot ourselves once more. Each time we move we’re refining our lives to be just where we want them. Getting down to our essentials, and creating a cozy nest full of only things we love. By no means are we true minimalists, we both enjoy too many hobbies for that and we’re still the slightest bit sentimental. However, we do well downsizing every now and then.

Our space isn’t just this little apartment, it’s spilled onto the sidewalks all over Southend. It’s on every street corner that I catch a glimpse of the skyline and am left feeling inspired. It’s in the downstairs lounge where we shared coffee this morning before Brandon had to head out to work. It’s in the coffee shop across the street and the park down the road.

Last week Brandon was sitting in nearly an hour of traffic to get home. Now he’s meeting Bingley and I on the sidewalk corner for lunch at a hot dog stand. The woman at the cart asked if Bingley ate people food. We said yes, and she cooked him up a broken hot dog she was unable to use. Lots of hungry laborers stretched their hands out to pet Bing and give him lots of love. To my left I saw a city I love, and to my right my very happy family. Friendly faces all around and my heart was full. This is my safe place. I never thought I would feel safe exposed out on the sidewalks. Not until I saw dozens of other dog walkers in the evenings. Men and women all dressed up with their earbuds in walking to work in the morning.

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I kissed Brandon on the street corner, and he walked back to work, while Bingley and I walked back home. It’s perfect here.

God’s been teaching me alot about contentment. When we were dating I used to tell Brandon my plans for the future. It all sounded canned, and naïve. When he questioned me about it, I’d say, “because that’s what everybody does.” It makes me cringe thinking about it.

Brandon would say “Who’s everybody?” and I had no answer for him. That’s when I really got to thinking about it. Is there one right formula in which you should live your adulthood? Absolutely not. Some people prefer the space of the countryside. Some people prefer the bustle of a city. Some moms wish and are able to stay home, some wish or need to work. I see a never ending ladder people our age are scrambling to climb, desperate to reach certain points when our peers do, and frantic if we don’t. Something inside me really wants to kick down that ladder. It’s why it seemed like a step backwards that we bought a 3 bedroom house, and now live in a one bedroom apartment. In reality for us it’s 2 steps back in space, and 10 steps forward in quality of life.

You know that old verse your Sunday school teacher would tell you when you had a test coming up, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13. Have you read the context lately?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

In a recent married women’s study I learned the context of that verse. Be happy, and content where you are. Don’t wait until you have it all to start living. You see, we live in a world full of comparisons. That’s nothing new to you. And you know, I think I’m done with it. As I was writing in my journal recently I felt like God was saying “Let it go. The life I have designed for you will be so different, there is no use in your scrambling. It merely shows your lack of faith in me.” Woah right? Sometimes we need God to tell us like it is. Whether I have what they have or not, I’m good. Whether they approve of my lifestyle or not, I’m good. I finally started paying attention to what works best for us, living in the faith that God has a different set of ladders for each and every one of us.

Hey There Raleigh

By Natalie

Raleigh just so happens to sit right in between where we live now, and our hometown. We’d never visited the capitol of our new state before so we decided to spend the day and stay overnight on our way up to Fredericksburg recently. The only troubling thing about doing that was how nice it was to split the drive in half. I say every trip up to Fredericksburg deserves a stop in Raleigh.

We had a stinking ton of fun meandering around this city. Charlotte is modern and rustic and beautiful and sketchy all at once. Raleigh was so different. It was smaller than we imagined which made it quaint and full of character.
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Right off the bat we tried some eastern Carolina barbecue at The Pit. You know it’s good when they can get away with a name like that.

Across the street we stopped in at Videri Chocolate Factory to sip on americanos and gobble up some decadent truffles.

When my sister asked what our plans were in Raleigh I told her, “Oh I don’t know, walk around and eat. We’re foodies if you haven’t been able to tell already.” That’s totally what we did. We stopped in some eclectic shops, and we ate. We don’t eat pricey truffles the size of nickels very often, but when in a chocolate factory, that’s what I always say.  
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In between lunch and dinner we stopped in the museum of natural sciences. We got there an hour before they closed and had no idea how huge the place was, so naturally we went back the next morning to ensure we saw it all. Also, to check out that boa constrictor again. It was wrapped so snuggly around the branch in its habitat that Brandon was convinced it was fake.

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Brandon and I never really were great classroom learners. We like learning on our own terms. We’re do your own research, extract what’s important to you and throw out the fluff, tinker around with your own projects until you get it right visual kind of learners.

I once had a chemistry teacher who went blue in the face trying to teach me moles after school. It wasn’t clicking. The lightbulbs in my head were not even flickering. She repeated the logistics on and on, and could not understand why I wasn’t grasping the concept. All I saw were numbers on a paper. Once she started playing Mythbusters in the classroom I started getting interested. Not because we were watching a show in school, but because I desperately needed visual, experimental aide.

Get us in a museum with all that knowledge at our fingertips, where we can move along at our own pace and we’ll be the last to leave.

But seriously, we had to pry ourselves away that evening before they closed, like a couple of science geeks.

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When we thought we had eaten our hearts out we noticed our hotel had a snack bar. It was much too tempting to pass up, so we grabbed some goodies, and sat out on the lounge balcony to chat. I love these heart to hearts on trips. Whether it’s a week, a weekend, or even overnight we always make it a point to wrap up our stay with a genuine heart to heart. Brandon will tell me where he’s at, and I tell him where I’m at, we talk about our explorations, and then we talk about our future.

Face to face time is such important work in a marriage. We enjoy ours most with coffee at the kitchen table or on the couch. But having them on a trip where our eyes are opened to new possibilities is always a pleasant setting.

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Myrtle Beach & The Future

By Natalie

imageimageIsn’t it interesting how you make up these plans for your life, so certain that they’ll come to pass.. And years later you find yourself chuckling at those plans. Because you were a different person when you made them.

Brandon and I sat on the pier in Myrtle beach this past weekend after filling up on fresh seafood.

We took turns talking about our favorite memories together in our five years of marriage. Our wedding. Our honeymoon in the mountains. Our vacations. Our moves. Our growth. All of it.

We took some time to talk about our future too as we watched young kids splash around in the water. We had a plan for where we’d be at this mark, but it is so far off from what we ever imagined.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal journaling lately, leaving little to be shared here. But this is a safe place, so I’m just going to toss it out there.

I thought I’d be dying to get pregnant by this point. And part of me does feel that way, sure. I have a happy home, a dog who loves licking sticky fingers, and a supportive husband, why wouldn’t I feel the urge to expand our family?

But sometimes ya know.. I really don’t. If it happened tomorrow, I’d be happy. If it didn’t, I’d still be happy. Babies are scary right? God allots you the strength you need, and the patience to get through parenthood, which is incredible. But I’ll admit, after so many years it gets hard to imagine what it’ll actually be like.

I stayed with my sister last trip to Fredericksburg. My eyelids were growing heavy, and I was dying for sleep when I looked over, and saw Nem passed out beside me. I walked into the kitchen to clean up, and I saw my brother in law fast asleep on the couch. I squinted to see the time on the microwave, telling me it was close to midnight. I walked into the living room, and saw Maceo sleeping in his swing. This tiny little human rendering his whole family exausted. I got myself ready for bed, and was about to slip under the covers when my sister’s alarm on her phone went off. It was feeding time. AGAIN. My brother in law woke up as delirious as ever, and Nem came to, eyes tired. We spent another few hours awake, caring for Maceo, and watching Caribbean Life on HGTV.

People say you’re never ready, and I believe that’s certainly true. It sort of seems like you get convinced to do it, then once you tell everyone how hard it is, they give you this knowing nod.

But here’s the twist. I don’t doubt we are in a place where we’re ready. Nannying for one has taught me a lot. I realized very quickly that it’s better to get out of the house for all our sanity, even if the kiddos scream and cry. I know what it’s like to deal with temper tantrums in Target, cleaning up vomit, getting sneezed on, coughed on, and prepping food for hungry bellies while my own hunger pain is eating away at me.

My mom in law tells me it’s different with your own. That there is nothing like having your own children. I cling to that truth. I know that when we have our own it will be hard, and beautiful, and fun, and frustrating, and tiresome, but everything I ever imagined.

imageTo be honest, halfway through writing this I felt like deleting it. Because what if I feel differently tomorrow? Or next week? Or just a couple months from now? I’ve decided that’s ok. It’s ok to feel like today I want to travel more. See more mountains, more beaches, more of the world. Spend more quality time with my husband, and focus on becoming a better me.imageTomorrow I can throw that all out the window, and say let’s start a family. Because no matter when you have kids you will be making a sacrifice. There’s no shame in cutting off deadlines, and living in abandonment of the path God has you on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t plan, it just means that it’s ok for plans to change. It’s ok to uproot, and move towards whatever feels right for us at the moment. Life is surprisingly much smoother that way..

And Nana Poe says no! More grand babies! I do hate leaving you hanging like this. One day Mom, I promise. One day. image

Gone Camping

By Natalie

imageI am not in the business of leading you to believe that the events which take place in our lives are absolutely golden. Because just like everybody else, that is not always the case.imageWe went camping this past weekend and we did have quite a bit of fun, but I also managed to forget batteries for the lantern, misplaced Bingley’s long leash, and very last minute we decided we were in need of a sleeping bag.

Saturday morning we shoved most everything in our tent to meet Sara and Dave for an apple festival. After meandering around, wasting fourteen dollars on tickets, and wondering what all the fuss was about, we realized we were in the wrong place. Parking at a family farm full of kiddie swings, and hay mazes rather than an apple orchard.

Naturally Brandon was all “What’s the name of the place we’re supposed to be?” And when I responded he said, “Yea, that’s not where we are.” And he pointed to the sign out front that read Peach Farm. Copilot fail on my part for the umpteenth time in our marriage.

Because I consider myself such a planner… such an organized freak, these things just get my goat. Trickling their way in to ruin things. I give myself the hardest time. I don’t like it one bit, but I do send myself into these whirlwinds of self shaming, and I’m exhausted from it. This time it was forgetting things, and getting us wrong directions. Weeks ago it was accidentally demolishing a souvenir shot glass from Sacramento in the garbage disposal. Weeks before that it was having made a dinner without 2 important ingredients that made all the difference. And so on…

I can’t stand for it. Not when it’s only simple honest mistakes. Not when I remembered everything else on our trip including Wet Wipes that I excitedly whipped out like some kind of magician when Brandon plainly mentioned he wished to rinse his hands after his S’more Friday night.
imageimageimageBack at the campsite I sat to chop peppers, steak, and onion for our kabobs. B went out to grab batteries for the lantern, and I wanted to sit there feeling terrible that it was my fault he was needing to run out. But just before the thoughts could take hold of my mind I heard a bunch of children playing behind me shouting “Daddy this, and Dad that.” All while this father set up their camp. I thought to myself as I often do, “What will it be like to camp years from now and hear those words escape the mouths of our own little ones?”

Brandon came back and I totally had to apologize for my behavior. Then we moved on, and got to skewering our kabobs.imageimageimage

Swooooon.

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Fall Camping Essentials

As told by Natalie Poe for her kind of Camping

Leisure 

  • Tent
  • Camping Chairs
  • Sleeping Bag (as a top layer for warmth)
  • Air Mattress (lightly blown up to provide support for gravel sites)
  • Pillows
  • Flannel & or fleece blankets
  • Lantern
  • Book

Food Supplies

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  • Tablecloth
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Pot Holder
  • Grilling Tongs & Spatula
  • French Press or Percolator
  • Thermos (one for drinking water, one for coffee)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Egg Carton
  • Salt & Pepper + Other Condiments
  • Camping Utensils
  • Plates
  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Wet Wipes
  • Long Skewers (for hot dogs & mallows!)
  • Pot for Water (to make coffee in the morning!)
  • Thermal bag (to keep the non refrigerated stuff from freezing, or melting)
  • Cooler
  • Ice packs
  • Camping Stove (this is what we heat out water up on.)
  • Firewood
  • Fire Starter (bricks or gel)
  • DIY Firestarter
  • Reusable Bags

Puppy

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  • Food & Water
  • Food & Water Bowl
  • Long Leash
  • Doggie Bags
  • Treats
  • Sweater (if you’ve got a small short haired pup who needs it)
  • Glow in the Dark Collar!

Clothing

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  • Layers, Layers, Layers! (especially when it’s warm during the day, and cool when the sun sets.)
  • Wigwam Socks (to keep your little piggies toasty)
  • Warm Sneakers, Boots, or Moccasins.
  • I like to wear athletic pants that I can pull fleece pj pants over for extra warmth
  • Hoodie
  • Long & Short Sleeve Tees
  • Hat (sadly not everyone has an awesome sister in law to knit them a warm hat like we do. So you will have to settle for some other ho hum hat.)
  • Fingerless Gloves
  • And of course, flannel!

The Apartment Upstairs

By Natalie

We are so backwards. When Brandon and I first got married we lived in the second floor of a house owned by an older man. The entire floor was a completed upstairs apartment featuring our own kitchen, laundry, bedroom, bath, and separate driveway. It was everything the pair of us young love birds needed.

imageAfter 2 years we left the apartment to spend the summer house sitting a close friend’s home, while she was on a missions trip. Which allowed us the time to house hunt without being held captive by a lease. At the end of the summer we bought our first house, and remained there for just under a year when we decided to uproot our lives completely and move to Charlotte, NC. Which felt very much like running away together. Being the best sort of romantic.

We found a townhouse in what we believed to be an alright neighborhood, only to find a year later that our commutes were less than ideal, and the places we enjoyed passing time were miles away. All summer I sat in bed at night flicking through our limited rental options on Zillow. Searching for homes that our little family would be comfortable in, and I couldn’t find a single thing. Which when you are aching to move, is the very worst feeling.

Then one evening I was sipping on my white mocha at our new found favorite coffee shop, and I spotted a decent apartment. Being in a smaller space wouldn’t be half bad if we were living in the area we actually wanted to live in. So we decided why not pack up from the townhouse, and move on to see what another area might be like? You see, there’s something you have to understand about us. The older we get the more often we gather to reassess our everchanging future. “Is this the right time for this? Should we wait longer to make one of those? Should we go ahead and revamp the dining chairs? Would two dogs actually be better? Nope definitely not. And which vacation should we be planning for next?”

Well this time it was a conversation about living space, and if sacrificing a little extra elbow room, and storage space was worth being part of a community we enjoyed. When you move away to find yourself, you don’t just sit in the first place you see, and figure it’s good enough. You keep striving for everything you’ve dreamed of, and moving until it feels right. Moving to an apartment in a different part of town felt right. So we went ahead and threw our name in the hat, and ended up with a move in date.

At this point you know I’m giddy. There is nothing I love more than spending a Saturday afternoon sifting through the junk all the way in the back corner of the closets. I’m not even worried about packing up our place on my own this time. Because let’s face it, Brandon will most likely be sitting in the midst of all his cables deciding which ones to keep like he was deciding the name of our first child. All in the time that it takes me to bubble wrap our entire kitchen.

As I’ve recently been deciding what stays, and what goes I’ve nostalgically been thinking back on our old apartment. And how now it won’t be referred to as simply the apartment, but our first place together. As we will technically soon be in an apartment for the second time.

Our landlord at our first home together turned out to be friendly. His outrageously obnoxious sneezes were plenty audible from our bedroom, and his grunts, and coughs everytime he ate a meal, were a little embarrassing when company was over. But that situation could have been so much worse.

The carpet in our bedroom was dark green, and the kitchen cabinets had forest green leaf handles. The standing shower with the gold trimmed doors was a nightmare to clean, and the trees in the driveway always dusted something on our cars no matter what season it was.

At one point we had a nasty run in with bugs. These tiny little vermin would scurry across our kitchen countertops, and I tried so very hard to convince myself that they were not cockroaches. Until the night I was making dinner with the stove on, and the oven preheating, when I managed to smoke out the mama roach. Screaming for Brandon to come quick I realized those were all of her babies on my counter that I had been smushing. B caught her, and later admit to me that he’d seen her before, but her quick little legs escaped him. I must have heated up wherever she was living, so much so that she needed to peek out, and that’s how she lost her life. But you know, I don’t feel bad. Because every morning, and every night I’d scrub those countertops clean, annoyed by those nasty bugs that were screwing with my cleanliness.imageNow here I sit in our living room full of furniture we picked out together. Bingley asleep at my feet, and the sound of jets soaring through the sky, and I’m thinking to myself.. “Back then, I never saw us here.”

Sometimes when I’m making dinner in front of the stove I’ll have visions of old mama roach, and she reminds me of where we’ve come from. That every difficult period, and every transition has been so perfectly placed in our lives to teach us something, and to remind us of how grateful we should be for those stepping stones that landed us on our montaintop.

How We Vacation: Charleston

By Natalie

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Who’s idea was it to vacation in Charleston in this blazing heat?? Surely we weren’t thinking clearly when we pushed our trip from May to June.

Hot, muggy, beautiful Charleston,

Thanks for the tan.

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imageThis trip was actually amazing now that I’ve had a moment to think about it. We like to vacation with no particular plan in mind. No scheduled tours, no itinerary, just a handful of bookmarked Yelp found eateries, and places we might like to see.

Which works out pretty well for our personalities.

We revisited an Inn in Mt. Pleasant which perfectly sat us twelve minutes from downtown Charleston, and twelve minutes from Isle of Palms Beach in the other direction. We stayed at this inn for our 1 year anniversary and loved it so much we decided to go back, and I’d highly recommend! Three years later and this place still had an amazing breakfast, and wonderful service.

imageAlso, this cooler bag is a must.

Through my sunglasses I watched as a younger couple argued in the sand. The man stood red faced next his cooler on wheels, as the woman pointed toward the shore. “Look, right over there.” She said.

“If we just sit it on the packed wet sand, it’ll be fine.”

The man shook his head, clearly annoyed with beads of sweat rolling down his temple. “No, no no.. this thing’s gonna tip. I don’t know why we brought it.”

And yea, unless I was providing a beach lunch for a crowd, I’d have left the rolling cooler behind too.

This ↓ thermal bag is a much more practical option. To be honest I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. Thinking it’d solely get it’s use from the occasional picnic. But it’s proven to be great for the beach, (as seen previously here) and road trips too. It fits a few ice packs, and several tall drinks. Plus.. it’s personalized.

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This is my Could we pretty please stop by that cute Cafe a few blocks up? face. Cause I was getting pretty sun tired. image

I know, I know. Rainbow Row. It’s beautiful, it’s iconic. It’s a see it once, take a pano, and move along kind of place. We’re the type of people who drove across the golden gate bridge, took a few pics from inside the car, and zipped by the vistapoint. Cause.. the experience had been had. I saw the golden gate bridge for the first time. The moment was over as quickly as it came. It wasn’t going to do a backflip for me. It just was what it was. This magnificent structure that I had the privilege to see. And that was that.

Later, during that trip B and I had lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. The fog had cleared, and the top of the golden gate was just becoming visible. I peaked around Brandon to see the bridge standing ahead.

I remember the bridge pretty well.. but what’s much more vivid in my memory is that moment spent with Brandon. That moment where we sat together discussing all the new sights we were seeing.

I had the same experience when I went to Europe with my sister. We sat at a table outside a cafe in the middle of Athens. And just to the left of Nem’s head sat the Parthenon. It was such a surreal moment. We saw it up close. We toured it, and then there it sat in all it’s ruin, while Nem and I sipped our iced coffees. The parthenon was pretty fantastic, but so was the time we spent together. Attempting to thank our waiter in Greek.

We saw the trevi fountain together, and I remember it being crowded. Everyone scrambling to toss their coin in, and get a picture. I remember that we hung back, stepped into a gelato shop instead, and devoured the creamiest italian gelato with the fountain in our peripherals.

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I like keeping it that way. Spotting landmarks, and stealing a moment to take them in, and then focus on the person I’m sharing in that moment with. That’s what it’s all about for me.

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After rainbow row, we hit up Carmella’s. The doors were wide open inviting us inside to the cooler air. The menu had italian ice listed at the top. Sold. After tasting a sampling of Coconut Cream I COULD NOT turn it down.

The woman behind the counter asked if we’d like a glass of water to which we exasperatingly replied. “Please, yes, please, thank you so much.” Because we sweat gallons this trip, and being dehydrated makes you cranky, and no one wants a cranky spouse on vacation.

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Rosy cheeks, and happy. That’s what we were going for.

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p.s. How can my husband still look so manly while eating tangerine italian ice with a baby spoon?

I love him.imageAnd that’s how our trip went. Perfectly relaxing, and restoring. With a pleasant overdose of Vitamin D.

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