Reunions, Rugged Camping, Swift, & Skiing

Summer was in full effect in July for the Jones crew! We spent our annual family reunion at the Virginia Creeper Trail with 38 of our cousins and aunts. I just love when this family gets together…it’s a guaranteed awesome time! We rode the trail twice while we were there, hung out at the cabins, ate delicious food, and had our first cousin night out to the Damascus Brewery to watch a band and indulge in some tasty beverages! Can’t wait to see what next year’s reunion has in store for us! We came back from that trip and spent the afternoon and evening with the Farrells for a July 4th pool party and fireworks viewing atop a local parking deck. That weekend, we met up with my college roommate, Jackie, and her family for dinner at their house. This is a newly rekindled friendship, but I swear it’s as if we saw each other yesterday. I can’t wait to host them at our house soon! The next evening, we enjoyed a fun date night with the Farrells and had dinner at The Stanley…it was so freakin’ delicious. I can’t wait to go back!

Now that Brayden had vouched that Camp Pisgah was incredible, it was time to take both of the girls for a week there. This time, Hanleigh’s BFF, Mila, would be there as would Brayden’s BFF, Cora. I knew the girls would be in heaven in the outdoors with their buddies. Hanleigh did seem a bit nervous when we dropped her off and as it turned out, she said she cried each evening, but her friends made her feel better and distracted her. She even wrote letters home to us about it, but when we picked her up, she said she had a blast. I asked her why she was homesick and she said it was because she missed and loved us so much…too cute! I know she had a great time, though, judging by all of the photos. I think at night was when she got a bit sad, though. Brayden was an awesome big sister, though, and sat next to her at some of the meals, which was very sweet of her to do.

Tonya hosted a Hawaiian-themed selfish club at her house in July, which was very fun and complete with delicious food and drinks. This is such a great concept (Selfish Club) and I’ve told a lot of my friends about it, encouraging them to start one themselves. Once the week of the girls’ camps had concluded, Trent and I decided to drive to Asheville and work from New Belgium Brewery on a Friday and then hang out in Asheville that night in order to break up the three-hour drive to camp. We ate dinner at a well-known restaurant, Curate, which was delicious. We sat overlooking the kitchen, which was very interesting to watch the chefs scatter about and time the meals to come out perfectly. We scooped up the girls the next morning and headed home.

We celebrated Wyatt’s 4th birthday at his house with all of Abby & Justin’s neighbors and other family members. He is so darn cute and their house is beautiful. It was fun watching all the kids go down the inflatable waterslide! The girls continued with summer camp and attended teen, gymnastics, technical theater, magic & tricks, cooking, and mermaid camps. Brayden joined up with the BEAM crew for a fun pool party with her friends.

I then ventured off to the Big Apple with Christina, Julie, and Renee to spend the weekend with the main purpose of seeing Taylor Swift at MetLife Stadium on Friday night. Here’s a sampling of some of the trouble we got into: checked into our hotel and indulged in pitchers of grapefruit rose sangria and lunch, walked to Times Square and bought M&Ms, came back and got ready, went to Beauty & Essex for dinner (it’s a hidden restaurant in the back of a pawn shop and was DELICIOUS!), and then went to the Taylor Swift concert. Christina and Renee were hesitant about seeing her, but quickly became “Swifties”. We had an awesome time. We were so tired after the concert that we went out for one more drink and then called it a night. The next morning, we had breakfast at the “Best Bagels in the World” (they really were!) right across from our hotel and ventured out into the city again. We went shopping in SoHo (TopShop, Steve Madden, boutiques) and then to Chinatown in search of knock-off bags and jewelry, with the goal in mind to go into a shady shop through some sketchy hidden wall, but no dice. Apparently, a few years ago, the real designers cracked down on those operations, so now you just buy it off the street (they wear long-sleeves to hide the jewelry) and if you want a purse, someone leaves you for a while to bring back a few bags based on what they think you like. We then went and got foot reflexology massages, which felt incredible after having been in high heels the night before and walking all over Manhattan that day. After that, we ate at Joe’s Shanghai for lunch (ahh, soup dumplings!), which was super tasty, as expected! After that, we went to Central Park and took a carriage ride (thank you, Christina!). Then, we came back to the hotel to get ready for dinner (it was a rainy night, so our grand plans of hanging out at a rooftop bar were squashed). We attempted to go to a few other clubs, but it wasn’t meant to be. We weren’t willing to pay the exorbitant fee for bottle service, so we went back to the Renaissance New York Midtown. I would definitely stay there again. On Sunday, I went for a run at the gym, and then we ate brunch and went to MoMA. I didn’t realize how many famous paintings they had there. From Matisse and Monet to Kandinsky and Van Gogh, the museum gave me goosebumps. Our flight back to Charlotte was quite delayed, but we made the most of it while sitting on the tarmac for 90 minutes, joking about Christina’s stalker across the aisle and making this college kid die laughing at our antics! It was an incredible trip. I can’t wait until the girls are old enough that we can take them to the Big Apple!

While I was in NYC, Trent was at his annual “Canoe the New” river trip with his college friends. They had a blast camping, cooking food over the fire, slowly gliding down the river, and cutting up as usual. I don’t usually hear much about these trips, but I know they have an absolute blast! The next week, I went to Spokane, Washington for the annual global marketing meeting. It was awesome to see all of my fabulous co-workers and work hard (with a little fun mixed in). I was asked to lead everyone for yoga on the lawn one morning and had about 15 people show up. It was awesome! I challenged them all a bit, but there was relaxation mixed in there, too! Our teambuilding activity was a scavenger hunt in downtown Spokane and our team WON! We received medals and enjoyed a celebratory dinner with everyone, followed by karaoke at a local dive bar with all of the marketing girls. I love this team! We started a new thing this year where we gave “shout-outs” to people who do a good job. I received about six of them, so was very humbled. It’s nice to be recognized for my hard work! At the conclusion of the meeting, I received a STAR award, given by our VP of Marketing, which was a surprise and made me teary-eyed.

Brayden attended a book club with her former 5th-grade friends and teacher as part of their summer reading for 6th grade. She loved being able to see Ms. Sadler again! We wrapped up the month with the annual weekend at Lake Tillery with Aunt Patty, Uncle John, GG, Dadaw, Kyle, Erin, Cooper, Abby, Justin, Landon, Wyatt, and Nash. Cooper got up on double skis (we were all so proud), and many of us skied as well (I got up on slalom on the first try, which I was happy about, since I only ski once a year). It was an awesome weekend, full of watching the kids make themselves into “hot dog toppings” on the splash pad, and running the Snack Shack with the requirement that people wear funny wigs and attire as their ticket to receive their lunch. Lots of laughter, as usual.

Brayden-ism:

  • She was doing her hair and had it pulled back off her face. I told her that I loved it and that she has a beautiful face. She looked at me and said, “You have a beautiful face, too, Mommy.” I say, “Well, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and then she says, “She get it from her mama.” (while snapping her hands back and forth and shaking her hips).

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