Birthdays, Beaches, New Experiences, & Nashville
We wrapped up the last month of summer break with lots of fun activities, camps, and trips! The girls finished up their YMCA camps (bakery boss, gymnastics, neverland, magic & tricks, teen camp) and I celebrated my 41st birthday with the family at Oggi (so good!). Trent and I had a date night at Queen & Glass and that next weekend, I had my annual girls’ staycation with a smaller (yet equally fun!) group of girls (Nina, Julie, Megan, Tonya). Now that their pool deck had been renovated, we stayed at the Omni. It was really fun, although it had much more of a family vibe than the Sheraton (where I think we’ll go back again next year). We went to dinner at Fin & Fino and then ventured to Whisky River for some bottle service and dancing. Megan’s adorable jumpsuit ripped when she was dropping it low, but the best thing was that she didn’t care at all. We continued the party to Rooftop 210 for a couple of dance-offs (see video) and ended up back at the hotel late trying to find somewhere to eat. We woke up the next morning and had breakfast at Rush Espresso. I think this was our 4th annual staycation and they continue to be really fun!
Hanleigh celebrated her 8th birthday with a pool party at the YMCA. There was a bit of drama getting all of her friends in on a Sunday (unbeknownst to us, Sundays are members-only days and guests aren’t allowed). Regardless, she had a blast with all of her buddies. I can’t believe she is eight years old! Where has the time gone? She got some of the gifts from her wish list (LOL dolls) and even a betta fish that she named Stinky Mah Doo Doo Jones. Unfortunately, Stinky wasn’t meant to last very long…I think we had him two weeks before he got sick. We’ll get another fish soon. Oops. Brayden got together again with her BEAM crew for a pool party, which was great because it’s so awesome to see those girls continue to stay close even though Emily is at a different school.
We went on our annual family beach trip where we celebrated our 17-year wedding anniversary and had a blast at Ocean Isle. The Joneses, Halls, and Mom/Jack rounded out the crew. During a couple of mornings, we went on a four-mile run and then immediately came home to jump in the pool since it was so hot. The weather was really nice and our theme nights were a success. For ours, we did “dress like your spouse” (which was a bit therapeutic!) and some of the other theme nights included beach night, crazy sunglasses night, and hippie night. We had a blast crab hunting and one of my favorite videos of all time was captured during one fun night when we dumped the crabs on the sand and every one of us went shrieking, jumping, and running around…especially Hanleigh. I could watch that video over and over again. We played Putt-Putt, went to Jinks Creek, and saw Mamma Mia. It was a well-rounded trip.
Once we got back from the beach and now that Hanleigh was officially eight, she was able to go whitewater rafting (family course) at the USNWC, so we spent a day there rafting, ziplining, and doing obstacle courses. She loved rafting and even Brayden did it with us and had a great time. I think she’s warming up to the idea of doing it more often. Hanleigh couldn’t keep the grin off her face. A couple of times, though, we had to reach over and grab her PFD so she didn’t go over the edge of the raft. A day or so later, we took Hanleigh to get her ears pierced (we said she could do it at eight years old). She was a bit nervous, but you could tell she was very proud of herself once she did it. Of course, picking out earrings was the best part!
Kendall and I went to River Jam one Thursday night for yoga under the trees, dinner, and to watch the big water rafters navigate the rapids. As always, we had a great time together! The Friday before school started, Brayden had her middle school open house. We were able to go with her to navigate through her A/B schedule and meet many of her teachers. It was a bit crazy with that many parents and students in the hallways, but I think our excitement (and hers) masked any chaos. From there, we hopped in the car and the four of us ventured on a fun (yet long) road trip to Nashville, TN for the weekend. We got there, did a bit of exploring and had dinner at the George Jones restaurant. The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast and then went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was SO INCREDIBLE. When we got there, there was a songwriter’s session taking place, so we snuck in the auditorium and listened to this amazing pianist play some of his original songs. He then brought up two very talented singers to join him in a tribute to Aretha Franklin. After that, I was chosen to go on stage (the girls were invited, too, but were too shy) where he sang a song called “In My Daughter’s Eyes”. It was all I could do to keep from crying in front of a couple hundred people (see the video). It was such a cool experience. We then toured the (small) Taylor Swift exhibit and learned a line dance to “Shake it Off”. The next 1-2 hours were spent touring the rest of the hall of fame. We saw everything from Elvis’ car and one of the first bluegrass mandolins to a Little Big Town exhibit and original lyrics on paper for some of the more popular country songs. We spent the last part of the tour recording our own track of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and then made our own album covers. I laughed so hard doing this that tears nearly ran down my leg. So fun! We left the hall of fame and went back to lower Broadway where we found a fun bar and listened to a band. After relaxing at the hotel room for a bit, we got all dolled up and headed to Acme Feed & Seed for drinks and dinner and then walked across the river to Nissan Stadium to see Taylor Swift. It was incredible (of course, I had seen her in NYC so I knew what to expect). The good thing is that we saw both opening acts (Charlie XCX and Camila Cabello); however, the coolest part was when Taylor Swift sang “When You Think Tim McGraw”, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw came on stage. We had spent a good part of the weekend trying to guess who would surprise the crowd since she was in Nashville. So awesome. We walked back through lower Broadway after the concert (I think the girls were in shock at how crazy that street is!) and headed back to the hotel. After another tasty breakfast on Sunday, we began the long trek back to Charlotte. It was a really fun weekend!
Brayden started middle school (6th grade), which is pretty insane considering I feel like it was just yesterday that she was our little girl. She’s growing up right before our eyes and it’s taking some adjusting for me. One thing I have noticed, though, is that her outbursts are less often and she and I have this fun banter now where I can envision how it will be in a few years when she’s my daughter, but also my friend. We have a great time together being silly and just cutting up. She has such a strikingly beautiful soul. She is playing field hockey as well and is loving it. Hanleigh started 2nd grade and is in a mobile unit this year. She is meeting a bunch of new friends and is still as silly as ever. The stuff that comes out of her mouth makes us crack up all the time.
- We were doing yoga at the Whitewater Center when the instructor said, “Next, we will do a backbend” to which she replied, “It’s called a bridge, lady. Geez!!!”
- “Mommy, your yoga mat smells like your car!” (meaning my car smells like sweat)
- We were watching the beginning of Family Feud when Steve Harvey said, “It’s your man, Steve Harvey.” She looked at the TV and said, “He’s not my man.”