a week at the beach with the in-laws

A year ago, my MIL texted me that she rented a beach house at the Outer Banks for a week, and we all had to be there. For 12 months, I lived in both anticipation and fear. Anticipation because I haven't had a beach trip in 5 years and I am always in the mood for one, and fear for reasons you've probably read about already.

I was afraid I was going to go outer my mind (lolololz), but I am happy to say we all survived. Probably because my mom was there as well.

James and I drove to North Carolina a day early to visit our old church in Greenville and take Gracie to see the ECU campus. Neither of us had been to Greenville since we moved 8 years ago. It was completely surreal to drive through town. When we were living there, our church met in an elementary school. They just bought their own building, renovated it, and they have two services on Sunday morning now. The church is thriving and it makes me so happy. The pastor is a good friend of ours, and seeing him again literally brought me to tears. We felt so at home. He also married us, and it just so happened to be the week of our anniversary. He told us he still tells stories of our wedding, because the best man dropped the ring and it rolled across the entire stage while everyone stopped and stared. 

It was the best morning. The best day. I am so grateful we got to do that. I would give anything to pick that church up and move it to Ohio.

After that, we drove by the church we were married in and took Gracie to see our old college. When we were in school, we used to talk about taking our future kids to see campus one day, and actually doing it was awesome.

Of course we picked the one day everything was closed, so we couldn't go inside any of the buildings or the bookstore. This fountain was built while I was still in school. I have pictures of me with James and a group of friends on this fountain as soon as they finished building it. Exactly ten years ago! Now it looks a little old and tired in person. 

It was hands down my favorite day of 2019. As close to a perfect day as I can get. Just thinking about it makes me feel like crying.

After that came a week at the beach with my MIL, her parents, and my mom. 

Having such a full house was nice, because James and I got to go off together multiple times for the first time in 6 months. It also gave me a lot of headaches. 

Our 8th anniversary fell during our trip, and it was great to celebrate back in the state where we met and married, and of course by seeing the pastor who married us. We picked a place to eat that was about half an hour from our beach house. The weather was unfortunately freezing and rainy, and when we got to the restaurant, we realized the internet failed to mention that it had all outdoor seating. And as I was saying, it was freezing and rainy. I love seafood, but I was not in the mood for it that particular evening, and finding a place to eat on the OBX that doesn't have seafood is not an easy task. Not to mention, all I had wanted to do was walk on the beach before dinner. But it was freezing and rainy. I slipped into a bit of a terrible mood.

It took 45 minutes of driving through the rain, but we wound up at Nags Head Pizza Co. which has some of the best pizza I've ever had in my life. We sat inside but right on the water, and our night turned all the way around. When we walked out of the restaurant, it was pouring, but there was a giant double rainbow overhead. Look at this!!! We could see both ends of it. I was screaming and abruptly stopped when I realized I sounded just like the viral double rainbow guy. The rain quickly stopped and we went to the beach and caught the tail end of the rainbow. Could we have a better anniversary present? No. We could not.

My MIL had a very strict beach schedule she changed for no one. She went to the beach every day to work on her tan just as the rest of us were hungry for lunch. My mom and I used this opportunity to track down the world's best fish tacos, which I am happy to say we found. We explored every bookstore and coffee shop and yarn shop (the OBX has TWO!) and ate some of the best food I've ever had in my life. We hit the beach and the pool every afternoon. A lot of people go to the beach to get a tan or lay out and read. I like a little of that, minus the tan because I break out in hives if I'm in the sun too much, but I go for the water. I want to do all the water activities. Despite the riptide warnings, I was in that water and digging for shells and loved every second of it. I had zero regrets until we got home and I saw articles about a 2,000 lb great white shark lurking off the coast of the OBX.

I spent every morning reading and drinking coffee on the porch while listening to the waves. I am very happy to be back in a house with only three people and much less talking, but it was a glorious vacation. 

Multiple stores had a resident dog. The yarn shop dog had been abused as a puppy and you could only pet her a certain way, but she had the sweetest soul. I fell in love with her. Deeply. I'm not a dog person. This is a big deal for me. I have not been able to stop thinking about this precious dog. The coffee shop dog has been there since my last OBX trip, and she was as sweet as ever. James and Gracie have been chomping at the bit for a dog for at least a year, and after this I think I might have accidentally agreed.

After a month of travel, we're now back to real life which included a 14 hour drive home, doctor visits, and 17,000 lbs of laundry and NO MORE BOJANGLES, which is a travesty. But now I might have a dog to look forward to, and just like the beach trip, I am am full of both anticipation and fear.


top 3

HAPPY FRIDAY my friends! I need to be packing for a trip, but I'm in the mood for some old-fashioned blogging instead. James woke me up at 6am when his alarm on his phone went off, and we discovered his phone was between the boxspring and the mattress. Sometime during that fiasco, I realized I had written a blog post about this exact same situation years ago. How lightning struck twice, I don't know. He couldn't make his phone fall like that again if he tried. Anyway, that got me in the mood to blog about silly things like ye olden days. Rebecca posted this awhile ago, and I thought it looked fun.

The Office
Parks & Rec
White Christmas
Napoleon Dynamite
The Holiday
(I guess I have well-rounded interests?)
My mom took me on a long weekend to LA & Disneyland my senior year of high school
Our honeymoon in Jamaica, despite the whole being stranded there thing
The Hiding Place
The Screwtape Letters
Little Women


Santa Barbara


4th of July

Creative Non-Fiction Writing (favorite college class of all time)
Pioneer Woman's Italian Beef Sandwiches
Tortilla Soup
Chicken broccoli rice casserole 
As a SAHM?
I can wear my pajamas all day if I want to (this only happens when I'm sick)

I can watch TV all day if I want to (I do NOT do this past the newborn days, but it's nice knowing I could?)
I can get together with friends in the name of a playdate
Honestly, no. I'm not a fan of celebrities in general.
Old Navy
Trader Joe's
I'm not sure what we're shopping for, so that should cover the bases
Strawberry Margarita by OPI

Dutch Tulips by OPI
Butler Please by Essie
Hand Sanitizer
Burts Bees Chapstick

Hair ties
Greek yogurt with fruit & granola

Scrambled eggs with turkey sausage
Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread with peanut butter

Unsweet iced coffee with cream

Flat White
Sweet Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew
Dutch Blitz


Veggie flax chips

English cheddar with caramelized onions

Chocolate crepes 


Chili & cornbread
Roast & mashed potatoes 
PW's oatmeal jam bars with vanilla ice cream

Any kind of cake or pie
I don't typically watch these anymore...but OC, NJ, NYC.
Gilmore Girls
Boy Meets World
The Office
Facebook just for the groups I'm in
Instagram, even though I hate it half the time
I don't really use Bible studies
Lamentations 3:21-28;37-38
Psalm 37
James 1:2-4

(I went with passages instead of verses--made it SLIGHTLY easier to choose)

JK...also long evening walks by myself.

Also...here are some funny things I found online this week.


I can't chica-go anywhere without embarrassing myself

Every 4-6 months, James has to fly somewhere for a work conference. I dread these because every time he leaves, someone gets sick or something ridiculous happens. I always want to go with him, but we've never been able to make it work. About 6 months ago, he found out he would have to go to Chicago. Since we can drive and I wouldn't have to buy plane tickets for Gracie and me, it made sense that we would go too and make a family trip out of it. Plus, I have been wanting to go to back to Chicago for years, mainly since I read The Devil in the White City and watched American Ripper.

I changed my mind about going the entire week leading up to the trip. Everything was going wrong: Gracie had a croupy cough on and off that was either from allergies or a cold, if she had a cold I felt like I was coming down with it too, and the weather forecast in Chicago was terrible and everything I wanted to do was outside. Not to mention my recent streak of ruining trips this year: getting a stomach bug and cancelling our trip to Amish country and then getting vertigo while visiting my parents. I couldn't make my mind up on what to do until minutes before we left. I said a lot of prayers and loaded our stuff into the car.

The weather had been predicting heavy downpours all day. There wasn't much I wanted to do, but I DID want to go to Millennium Park and Navy Pier. I went to Chicago once nearly 20 years ago and wanted to see things I didn't get to see then. By some miracle, the rain completely cleared out just as we drove into the city. The hotel James' company booked for us was AMAZING. It was this gorgeous, fancy, art-deco building right downtown. I've been to Chicago before, I've been to NYC, but my jaw still dropped. I rolled up in the hotel wearing a hoodie and jeans and was surrounded by power suits and high heels. I have never felt more out of my element and I completely loved it.

Since I got a grand total of one hour of sleep and Gracie wasn't feeling great/thought the hotel room was better than Disneyland and James was at a work dinner, we stayed in for the evening and ordered food. We sauntered to the lobby where I was still looking fly in my mom outfit and Gracie was wearing her pajamas in a sea of Important People. I was so happy when the DoorDash guy finally arrived, because I was STARVING. I muttered a string of "Oh thank you! You're the best! I LOVE YOU!" Yes, I love you. The situation got even more tense when the guy and I both looked down to see Gracie gently caressing his arm.

He could not get out of there fast enough, and honestly neither could I.

We woke up the next morning to a brilliantly sunny day. Bright and early, Gracie and I set out to explore the city. We clocked 6 miles by lunch time. We hit everything I wanted to see and even stopped for donuts. At Navy Pier, Gracie begged and begged to go on the ferris wheel. I have loved ferris wheels my whole life. I've always gotten such a thrill from heights and have never felt scared of them. But I looked up at the Centennial Wheel and thought I was going to barf. I don't know if it's just THAT tall or if this is what life in my 30s looks like, but for the first time I could sympathize with people who freak out over heights.

We bought tickets and got inside. Gracie was giddy. I wondered if she would get scared just like she did on the carousel, but she ate it up. I was fine until it started going up. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO BARF. By the time we got to the top, my legs were jello. This has never happened to me before. I loved it and I'm SO glad we did it but HOLY CRAP. All I could think about was what would happen if something malfunctioned. Every creak and groan and vibration sent adrenaline through me. Seriously though, it was so fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But yikes.

I am so proud of Gracie. I wasn't sure how she would do exploring a big noisy city, but she was amazing. We had so much fun together and I hope it's a fun memory for her.

More than anything, she wanted to go swimming. I can't stress enough what an ordeal this was. I realized I didn't have a cover up with me, and with the style of my suit with the high-waisted jeans I was forced to wear, I looked like I was on the way to Coachella. The sign in the lobby said the pool was on level FC for Fitness Center, and it was accessible via the 11th floor. I thought that was weird, but I'd figure it out on the 11th floor.

The problem is that the elevator would not go to the 11th floor.

I pushed the button over and over. Nothing. It would either go up to the 22nd floor or it would shoot down to the lobby. I got out and tried another elevator. Same thing. It would NOT go to the 11th floor.  It kept going down to the lobby despite pushing the "up" button. Every time it got to the lobby, it would open to a group of men and women in their business suits gaping at us---me in my Coachella wear and Gracie in a strawberry swimsuit. By the third time this happened, Gracie walked up to a random man and said "Can you please help my mom? She's confused." I ran for the stairs as fast as I could, and up we went to the 11th floor. This is after pushing a stroller for 6 miles, mind you. We get to the 11th floor. There is no pool. I ask a maid. She says she's never been able to find it either, but that it's "between the 11th and 12th floors."

Yes, I was/am as confused as you are.

We go to the 12th floor. I see a sign for the FC floor. We walk up more stairs, and FINALLY we find the pool area. Or so I thought. We walk into the fitness area and climb up two flights of stairs and then down a flight of stairs.

By this time I had no energy left to swim.

The only redeeming factor is that the pool was straight out of the 1920s. Quite literally. It's almost 100 years old and I felt like I had stepped into the Great Gatsby.

I have always said that the best coffeeshops and restaurants are impossibly hard to find and have no parking. The same goes for fancy hotel swimming pools, apparently.

We ended the night ordering Chicago style deep dish pizza and eating it in bed. It was sheer perfection. And the best part is that it was not hard to find.

My cousin and his family live in the south side of Chicago, so we visited them on the way home the next day. I haven't seen him in 10 years, and we've both gotten married and had kids since then. It was delightful. It's SO RARE that I get to spend time with one of my cousins, or really any of my extended family, and Gracie got to meet her little cousins.

I was so pessimistic going in, but it turned out to be the best trip. I'm so, so thankful everything worked out and Gracie and I got to squeeze a little vacation in, and James got to meet more of my family. It was the best, even if James and I wound up sick, which was especially bad because James had to lead training seminars and completely lost his voice.

So far I'm 3 for 3 on getting sick during trips this year. And we have another next week so start your prayer chains now.

And because it's Monday and you sat through a post about my vacation, please enjoy this very short, very stupid video that has had me literally crying laughing for days.


queen of the internet

Today I would like to crown myself queen of the internet and hereby ban everything that's been annoying me lately.

I know I shouldn't do this because people are bound to be offended even though I mean this in genuine fun. This is referring to NO ONE in particular, because I've seen all these things so many times that I've completely lost my ability to remember who does what. I LOVE YOU ALL REGARDLESS OF HOW ANNOYING YOU ARE ONLINE. Don't get huffy.

I also realize I annoy other people. I pretend it's not true, but I know it is.


Let's get started.

1. I think everyone ran a marathon this weekend. Literally everyone. I'm not misusing the word literally here, because that's another pet peeve of mine. I have a lot of respect for people who run marathons, because my body was not built to endure that type of pounding. I have the joints of Queen Elizabeth pictured up yonder. I can't run long distances just like some people can't plow through books like I do. We all have our things. With that said, every marathon runner seems to think they are the first person to ever run a marathon. WE GET IT. You tortured yourself on purpose so you can brag about it on Instagram and buy those bumper stickers with the distances on them and make everyone on the highway roll their eyes. Good for you, I don't care. I can't even pretend to care. I'm sorry. I don't care about PRs or your average mile time. I'm on my A-game when I run a 12 minute mile. I have no shame about this.

I would also like to add people who post pictures of their Fitbit or Garmin or Apple Watch or whatever post-workout. Nope, don't care! Not to brag, but I can EASILY eat twice as many calories as you burned. In half the time. SO THERE.


2. Game of Thrones. I know we live in a culture of "DON'T JUDGE ME," but this is one thing I get a little judgy about---mostly if you proclaim to be a Christian. Incest? Rape? Really, guys? That's what you want to put in your mind? I do not want to sound holier-than-thou because trust me, I have my guilty pleasure shows that aren't exactly beneficial. But this is just on another level of disgusting to me. I don't care if there's a good story--that's just gross and wrong. I'm not going to argue with anyone about this. I will not keep an open mind. Some things are just not okay. Also, I'm REALLY tired of hearing about it. YES, WINTER IS COMING. IT COMES EVERY YEAR.


3. Endgame? Avengers? I straight up don't know what movie it is but it's something with superheroes. I have a soft spot in my heart for Batman, but aside from that I could not care less. I'm not one for fantasy or sci-fi, though. Harry Potter doesn't consume my life. I fell asleep watching Lord of the Rings. I can't do Star Wars. It's not my genre at all. Nothing at all wrong with liking it, but I'm going to possibly gouge my eyes out if I see another superhero post.

4. When people share their IG post in an IG story with an emoji over it or something, basically begging people to go like their post. 9 times out of 10, I've already seen your post and now I want to go unlike it because you're shoving it in my face (this is how my brain works--I'm not defending it). I don't follow many people at all on my personal account so this seems SUPER redundant to me, but on my book account I follow more people and can see how it can be helpful when a post you would want to see slips through the cracks. But it's still annoying and I stand firm on this.

5. The Enneagram. I AM STILL ANNOYED. Ashley, if you're reading this, I requested the Enneagram book from the library because I told you I would try. That's how much your friendship means to me! I'm going to try. So it's possible I could change my mind. But if I see "That's just the Enneagram 4 in me!" one more time, I will burn the internet to the ground. Stop using a stupid personality test to validate your flaws! I don't care what number I am, and the only wings I care about are chicken wings.


6. People who complain about the weather. Granted, I get huffy about the heat and humidity in the summer, so I'm preaching to myself as well. The weather doesn't care about the calendar. Sometimes it snows in April. Sometimes it's 75 degrees in January. Weird things happen. It WILL warm up. And winter WILL come again. LIFE WILL GO ON. Posting about it on the internet will not cause the thermometer to suddenly go up, but my blood pressure will.


Don't get offended---I think we all need to be able to poke fun at silly things like this without getting so up in arms. We are all annoying to someone!

What annoys you online? Do you agree or disagree?


april things

+ March was not my month, but I had high hopes for April for one simple reason: I went bathing suit shopping and found a bathing suit THAT FITS. It's a little more ~flashy~ than my usual selection of anything that looks like it was made before 1960. Honestly, I really just want those Victorian full body swimsuits to come back into fashion so I don't have to worry about my skin that's mildly allergic to the sun and keeping my mom bod and stretch marks in check. But I am in my THIRTIES now, I bore a child, and I'm determined to stop expecting to see my college self in the mirror.

+ My parents moved last month to another state. They are slightly closer to us now, but not by much. This has taken a lot of adjusting for me for various reasons, and G & I went to visit them last week. The day before we were suppose to leave, G woke up covered in hives. I know that hives are technically not a big deal, but they LOOK scary and my anxiety flag was already flying free. I HANDLED IT SUPER WELL. After consulting with the pediatrician's office (God bless nurses who can sense my panic and comfort me over the phone--you are the real MVPs), we gave her Benadryl. I was hoping she would fall asleep on the couch so I could pack for our trip in peace. Instead, it had the opposite effect and she spent the entire afternoon running continuous laps around the house.

+ By the end of the day, she had done two full doses of Benadryl, had been smothered in hydrocortisone cream, and the hives were getting worse. I called my dad for some advice and told him that the Benadryl was making her wildly hyper. He told me that the colic medicine my pediatrician gave my parents when I was a baby had the opposite effect and made me scream even more instead of putting me to sleep, so he wasn't surprised that she wasn't responding correctly either. This makes sense, because I never respond the way I should to medicine, which is why I take nothing more than ibuprofen unless it's an emergency. Nothing affects me the way it should.

Funny he said that, because three days later I woke up with vertigo. I used to carry my medicine for it everywhere, but I haven't had any vertigo attacks in quite awhile, and I got cocky. I switched bags a couple weeks ago and didn't put it in my new one. OF COURSE. All I had with me were one and a half tablets of Children's Dramamine, which I give G on every road trip to prevent this from happening again. I opted for the half pill, and then fell asleep for three solid hours.

This is what James had to say about it. Having a husband who works in the pharmacy industry is very helpful.

I took less than the children's dose and fell asleep and could barely form coherent thoughts the rest of the day. Yet there is not a sleeping pill in sight that can put me to sleep during the worst of my insomnia. This is why there is no fear of me getting into drugs. Lord only knows what would happen.

+ On the way to visit my parents, I drove through the world's most ominous looking storm. Pictures cannot convey it. I was on a remote road in rural Ohio and ALMOST pulled over and knocked on a farmhouse door to see if I could hide in their basement until the storm passed. There was some definite rotation in those clouds, and later I found out there were tornado warnings. We made it through the storm, though a semi was tailing me the whole time. I had to slam on my brakes and one point, and he went off the road to avoid hitting me. Once the storm ended, there was a windstorm. I'm not sure if you've driven down a highway with 50 mph winds hitting you for 6 hours, but it is not fun. It was just a stressful drive. Two days later, it snowed 5 inches at my parents' house, and of course I did NOT pack for that. On that same day, two states away at home, an EF-2 tornado touched down. Spring in the Midwest is INSANE. Two days after it snowed, it hit 80. No wonder I got vertigo, you know?

+ I started a bookstagram account. I don't mean this to come off as a plug, but I get the most interaction these days on my book blog posts. Social media is really tricky for me these days. I don't have a ton of interesting things to share that doesn't involve motherhood, but that's not something I feel comfortable sharing everything about since it's Gracie's life too. The only thing I get excited talking about publicly is books. Hence, this account. If you want more timely book reviews or just book talk in general, here ya go! I'm still planning to post book reviews here too. It's actually made social media feel kind of fun again.

+ We explored a town in Illinois that literally looks like the set of either Gilmore Girls or a Hallmark movie. It had a town square with benches, flowers, and a giant fountain. The buildings were all super old and adorable, full of boutiques, antique shops, a bed & breakfast, and an old fashioned candy store. There were golden footprints on the sidewalk showing spots where Lincoln once stood and gave speeches. My history-loving heart about burst.

+ Easter was a hot mess. It's fine, it was nothing bad, but you know. It was a hot mess. Thankfully Gracie had no clue. She had a couple little things in her Easter basket that happened only thanks to Amazon Prime at the last minute when I realized Easter was two days away--but it's no problem because we are NOT trying to make Easter into second Christmas like apparently the rest of the world is.. She thought her egg hunt in the living room was the best thing ever and is constantly hiding eggs for me to find now, which I usually find at the wrong time, like when I sit on it. I managed to make a good dinner and dessert even though Kroger Clicklist forgot to include a few crucial ingredients. I totally forgot about dying eggs, so James boiled some before church and I let her go to town with her water colors. And seriously...could this little girl be any more adorable? No. She could not.

Anyway. There are two pairs of shorts I ordered from the world wide interwebs currently sitting in my mailbox. Let's all pray these go the same way as the bathing suit, or I'll be praying for another surprise springtime snow.