Archive of ‘Travels’ category

How We Vacation: Nashville

By Natalie

A while ago I wrote this post about how when Brandon and I vacation we typically do little planning. We pick a place, find a few spots we might want to see, a few restaurants we want to try and maybe a coffee shop or two. We’ve had lovely encounters where we stepped into a shop straight off of the street and that always seemed to work for us. In the past we’ve preferred a nice place to stay with a lighter itinerary because vacations are meant for resting.

On our recent trip to Nashville we planned things virtually in the same manner. We were hoping to lounge around in our airbnb most of the day, having been beautifully decorated by the owner, an interior decorator. However, Felicity was not one to sit and relax for the next four days. There seems to be no telling a toddler, “Hey we’re on vacation this week, we’re all just going to sit and relax for a few days.” Being in a new space she was anxious to explore everything on her level, most of which was breakable. The best thing for us to do was to go out exploring and though we’ve wanted to see Nashville for some time we wondered if this really was the best time. (more…)


Weekend Adventures

By Natalie

After making it through the first few hard months of caring for our infant we decided to keep our goals for the year small, but intentional. A personal goal of mine is to remember people’s names better when I first meet them. Remembering someone’s name always makes them feel noticed and that’s what I strive for. I’ve always been terrible at this and I think I’ve actually been doing better these past few months simply by being mindful. (more…)

First Family Trip

By Natalie

“You’ll blink and she’ll be grown.”

That’s what the woman at the washing station said to us just outside our hotel. I rinsed the sand off of my feet under the water spout.

“I know, it’s flying by.” I told her. Felicity was wrapped up close to my chest riding around in the ring sling. I held her new sun hat down on her head, a gift from my sister, perfect for our spontaneous beach trip. Felicity was asleep but sure to wake up any moment ready to eat.

We made it out to Folly Beach, SC this past weekend. Felicity is 8 weeks old and we appear to have a perfect little angel on our hands. She’s been sleeping for 8-9 hours through the night consistently for the past couple of weeks. Which has kept us feeling much more capable to handle the day to day.  (more…)

From Here On

By Natalie

Now seems as good a time as any for a recap on the last couple months. I’m writing this at the birth center, where we will be welcoming our little girl, having my blood drawn four times over the course of 3 hours for a more conclusive glucose test. Luckily for me I get to pass this time in a more private lounge space on a comfortable couch surrounded by the sound of midwives clicking their sandals down the hallways.

This is what I’ve hoped for when deciding where we would give birth. A place that feels like home surrounded by encouraging women who’s job is to do nothing more than empower the mother I am becoming and create community amongst all us new parents. We’ve been educated here and had the opportunity to share our hopes and fears with others who are due around the same time that we are. It’s provided such comfort as we near the end of this pregnancy.

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Montreal – The Food

By Natalie

Friends! It seems that I never officially told you about our food experience in Montreal! Though it’s months later I still feel it’s worth mentioning considering we are the kind of vacationers who love to eat eat eat!

There were so many beautiful cafes filled with friendly baristas. They’d toggle between english and french causing you to believe you were half a world away. I wanted nothing more than to sip at each cafe window, eyes fixed on the characters striding up and down the streets. (more…)

Montreal – The Sites

By Natalie

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Montreal has so much to offer for an extended stay. It’s a great walking city which is right up our alley. Everywhere that was too far to walk we opted for Uber which was much easier than renting a car. I’d recommend doing this to any city you visit. We’ve learned through experience that paying for parking can often be a hidden travel expense. In addition to not having to worry about parking the locals know their drivers as well as their streets better, plus they’ve acquired the knowledge of cut throughs. Brandon was much more at ease that he didn’t have to drive and I was much more at ease being picked up on our doorstop and being dropped off right where we intended to be. (more…)

Montreal + Thoughts on Travel

By Natalie

Montreal-115Every time we step out of our comfort zone we’re forced to reassess the direction in which we live our lives. Brandon and I set aside the time to ask each other the tough questions. Are we where we want to be? If we’re not how do we get there? Are we gracious friends? Are we generous enough with not only our income but our time? Are we surrendering our struggles enough? What are our current priorities? (more…)

Filled to the Brim

By Natalie

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Here’s the thing. You can’t tell me that God doesn’t answer prayers. Because I’m standing next to one.

I’ve been surrounded by answered prayer all year.

A year into moving here I prayed for God to bring true friends into our lives. People we could share our lives with, laugh with, eat with, celebrate with, support and love.

It seemed like a silly plea at the time, but worth asking for because God has come through before with so much more. I confided in an old friend when I was at my lowest through a written letter and as soon as I received her reply I felt completely wrapped in her love. She wrote, You are noticed. Heard. And seen. Although you are in such an uncomfortable season, I can assure you, you fit.

That’s all I needed to hear. I fit. I didn’t know where yet, but I fit. I signed up to serve in eKidz and Brandon and I joined a couple’s small group, where we found true friends we could go through life with.

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At the end of the summer a few of us drove westward to our neighboring mountain town Asheville.

We ate and walked all over town chatting, laughing, and building stronger friendships.

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This trip took place right in the middle of the gas shortage in our area. We drove out to Asheville with half a tank and didn’t think much of it. We figured we’d fill up the next morning on our way out. So far we hadn’t seen any gas stations in Charlotte out of commission, so we deemed it something the news most certainly was blowing out of proportion.

That was only until we rode out of Asheville with an empty tank. The first gas station we saw was out of gas. The next two we hit were out as well. By the fourth and fifth gas stations we really started to panic. We were driving further into nothing, with a screaming empty gas light.

The plan was to meet our friends for lunch at Sierra Nevada, just another 10 minutes out from where we were. Nine empty gas stations later we rolled into the parking lot. We walked in to sit at the table an hour late. Brandon hates dissapointing people and I hate being late. We were embarrassed and frustrated. I had chocolate cake for lunch which about sums up our experience.

But this story is all to speak highly of our friends. They were gracious and listened to our woes. I felt safe after such a nerve wracking drive.

After lunch Nate and Pam offered to drive us in one direction to find gas, while Russell and Jamie drove in a different direction to do the same. The first to find gas in this eerily post apocalyptic setting was to grab a tank and get it back to our car.

Jamie called, “I hear you’re looking for gas. We got it.”

We pulled up to the station they were at and saw Russell crouched down filling a tank for us. If that isn’t true friendship, then you tell me what is.

We made it back to our car and filled it with enough gas to get back to the station.

We made it home safely and it’s all thanks to our friends.

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At the end of 2015 we were given jars full of water at church. We were to come up with one word as a prayer for our next year. Once we had our word we poured our jars out, believing God would fulfill the desires of our hearts. I’m here to tell you that in my life He has. He always has.IMG_7858

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

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