Keys, Skis, Dancing, Dates, & Destination Naples
We kicked off February with some pretty awesome trips. I scooted off to Key West for a long weekend to celebrate my friend, Julie’s, 50th birthday soiree. I only really knew the guest of honor and was an acquaintance of one of the other girls, but did not know the other two at all. Needless to say, we all had a fabulous time together and shared lots of laughs. We boarded the plane in Charlotte and were already “sush’d” twice by the flight attendant. Even though the flight was earlier in the morning, it was quite wild at least in the back of the plane. Let’s just say that Key West is a leisure destination. All the girls brought swag to give to everyone, such as cups, koozies, and hangover kits. We landed and quickly made our way to have lunch at the Seaside Cafe, followed by a quick stop for groceries and other supplies, before settling in our room. We stayed at the Santa Maria suites and it was absolutely perfect. From the 1950s art deco vibe to the sprawling kitchen and beautiful grounds, it was the perfect setting for the weekend. We had an afternoon dance party where, at one point, we looked out our door only to see a bunch of people watching us and dancing right back. It was hilarious. We went to Hot Tin Roof for dinner and were in awe of the glow-in-the-dark menus, then made our way to the infamous Hog’s Breath Saloon and Sloppy Joe’s for some fun and dancing. And that was just Thursday. The next day, we went to Blue Heaven for brunch and chilled by the pool the rest of the day. We enjoyed an amazing Mediterranean dinner at Azur (where we re-enacted some hilarious stories), followed by dancing at Rick’s and then Eden (let’s just say some people were in their birthday suits, no one from our group, of course). It was pretty eye-opening! We ended up at a karaoke bar to close out the evening. The next day, we laid out at the beach and watched the sunset and street performers at Mallory Square before getting cleaned up and heading over to Louie’s Backyard for dinner. The food was absolutely incredible! We then ventured to 801 Bourbon Bar for their drag show…another eventful experience! Happy birthday, Julie. Another great memory in the books!
While I was in Key West, Trent’s parents came and watched the girls starting from when he flew out to Big Sky, Montana for his annual guys trip on Saturday morning until I got back on Sunday evening. This time, during his week-long trip, the six guys skied a total of four days and snowshoed two of the days. As usual, they had an awesome time skiing about 25 miles each day and exploring the magnificent peaks. They are really good about organizing meals to make each night for dinner and the crew he goes with all really get along very well. They’ve already booked their passes for next year!
While Trent was gone, I gave Brayden a Taylor Swift quilt that I had someone make for her (thank you, Etsy!). It has many of her album covers as well as other photos stitched together in a queen-size bed format. The girls and I enjoyed dinner at Kendall’s house where I gave her a belated Christmas gift of Old Bay earrings. We have an ongoing joke about how much we both can’t stand that spice and never understand why people put it on all kinds of stuff. It’s absolutely disgusting. When Trent returned from his trip, he landed and met me immediately at the Bartley’s Valentine’s Day party in the neighborhood. We had an awesome time getting all dolled up and dancing in their den where they had cleared out all of their furniture to make a dance floor. It was so much fun. The next evening, we had our annual Super Bowl party, complete with gangster rap names (thank you, Hanleigh) for everyone to put on their shirts in honor of the most amazing halftime show ever. While it was fun to watch the game, nothing beats an amazing lineup like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem. Later that week, Alison stop by on her way to Atlanta for another fun evening together.
Trent and I celebrated our second surprise date night of the year at Beef n’ Bottle, which neither of us had ever been to. It is a Charlotte staple and is the oldest steakhouse in the city. We brought a really nice bottle of red wine to enjoy while we were there, feasted on delicious filet and were thoroughly impressed! We can’t wait to go back. We followed that up with a glass of wine at Foxcroft wine bar after dinner. The next day, I enjoyed a massage and pedicure (with my mom) at The Ballantyne Spa, which was another gift Trent gave me for Christmas. After our treatments, Trent met us for a late lunch while we were in our relaxed state. That evening, our family plus Kyle, Cooper, and Cammy went to Abby and Justin’s house for an awesome cousin hang out! We always have so much fun when we all get together. There was no shortage of laughter as well and hilarious conversations that cannot be documented here.
Hanleigh enjoyed a birthday party and sleepover at her friend, Nina’s, house. I enjoyed a fun evening out to dinner with Heather and Tonya at Arooji’s wine bar. Brayden and I also spent a long weekend in Naples with Leslie and Emilia for some much needed girl time. We went to Vanderbilt Beach and had our requisite cocktails at “La Ritz”, follow by a visit to Hampton Social at Mercado, followed by dinner at Bar Tulia. Let’s just say that the bathroom there was absolutely fabulous! The next day, we spent more time at another beach, layed out by their pool, and went to Seed to Table for dinner with the whole Mazzola crew. As always, we have the most perfect time when we are all together and I get so sad when it’s time to leave. This time, it was a bit different, though. Brayden flew back to Charlotte by herself, which was the first time she had ever done that. She did it like a boss, though…always checking in with me to let me know when she had made it through security, to the gate, and on the plane. No surprise here, though, as she has been flying since she was four weeks old, so she’s a seasoned veteran.
After she left, I went to the JW Marriott in Marco Island for the annual planning meeting for our Inspire conference. This was the first time I had been together with co-workers in nearly two years and it was absolutely awesome to see people in 3D and not on a screen! It was great to see our customers and spend time with them in the arcade playing lots of games. While I was gone, Trent did the annual SOBeer run where a bunch of them run from house to house and enjoy beer along the way. There’s one funny picture where it looks like they are crossing a stream and one guy is on his face. I don’t know if that was staged or not!
The girls are doing amazing in school, both getting straight As, so we couldn’t be more proud! Although, Hanleigh doesn’t have much homework, I’m hoping it ramps up just a little bit so middle school isn’t a complete shock to her next year. Brayden is enjoying the start of her second semester and her most demanding class, AP Human Geography, has slowly become one of her favorite.
- While we were in the Charlotte airport headed to Naples, she was looking at all the gates and what cities they are departing to and said, “How come all of these planes are going somewhere lame in the US? Oh wait, this isn’t the international terminal.” OH MY GOODNESS. We’ve created a monster since most of the time she’s at the airport, it’s to fly somewhere out of the country (facepalm). Note to self: keep these kids grounded.
- She relayed to us at dinner one night that she has three fears: 1) that there will be an active shooter at her school, 2) that she won’t be able to pay her bills when she’s older, and 3) that she will start her period while at school. All of these are valid fears, but we’ve talked to her about them a few times and let her know that 1) this is extremely unlikely and her school is very prepared to prevent and handle any situation like this and to not worry about this, 2) as long as she does well in school, gets good grades, stays motivated and driven, she will find a job she likes that rewards her for hard work…and paying bills without concern will work itself out, and 3) this is the most likely, but she is prepared with the supplies she needs and she won’t be the first person to experience this, should it happen at all.