After a night of driving to Knoxville, TN, waking up early and continuing our drive, we made it safely to Louisville, KY. The road trip consisted of us playing DJ and taking requests, which ultimately resulted in a lot of 80s music that culminated with the very appropo song queued by Trent, “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men (with Kyle narrating in his best bass voice the “Girl, I’m here for you. All those times at night when you just hurt me…” part). Awe, yeah. Because we don’t take anything seriously with that side of the family, it was only appropriate for Kyle to don his blonde wig and a fat suit upon entering the Byers’ home! We spent the afternoon at the pool watching a lot of the guys trying the diving boards and “perfecting” their butterfly strokes. That evening, the entire family convened at Papaw’s new digs for dinner, tour of his place, and just to hang out. It was awesome and he is so incredibly happy there. Our plan when we got home was to put the kids to bed, but the neighborhood had other plans. The evening quickly turned into a cul-de-sac party, followed by silliness and shananigans in the basement bar while wearing various wigs (yes, those are a necessity for any family reunion). The next day, mostly everyone (or in Mom’s words, no one) showed up to walk the Big 4 Bridge and then have lunch on the river at Mike Linnig’s. That evening, all of the grandmas watched all of the kids while the cousins went to Churchill Downs for the night races. It was so cool to see the horses gallop on the grass track that Dadaw’s company built! A whole lot of pride that evening! As always, the weekend was incredible and I adore every single one of my cousins (all 15, plus their spouses). This family is now up to 4 aunts + 1 uncle + 15 first cousins + 14 spouses + 24 second cousins, for a total of 58 peeps! Can’t wait until next year when we venture to the Creeper Trail!
We enjoyed a July 4th pool party and fireworks show with our awesome neighbors back in Charlotte once we returned home. Brayden continued her summer camps, which included dance, gymnastics, games galore, tennis, and Harry Potter acting school. Hanleigh started summer camp as well and loved it! She took neverland, spy, gymnastics, splash, American Girl, magic, cooking, and games galore. She also took swim lessons and earned her green band! This was a big accomplishment! Trent and I went to the Sublime and Dirty Heads concert one evening and had a great time. I was definitely there primarily to see the Dirty Heads (love their music!). We watched Cooper one weekend and attended Wyatt’s second birthday party as well as went to see The Secret Life of Pets. We had a pool party at our friend’s house, I spent a couple days in Raleigh on a work trip, and Brayden’s BFF, Cora, spent the night. Trent and I went on a date night to 300 East during Restaurant Week (best deal twice a year, in my opinion) and capped the night off with cocktails at the new City Lights rooftop bar atop the Le Meridien hotel downtown. The view of Charlotte is absolutely stunning from that place. I can’t wait to go back! We spent a day at Carowinds with Tonya and Kaitlyn, and Brayden was able to continue to check off riding all of the rollercoasters. We concluded the weekend with a fabulous pool party and cookout with Dad & Christel, as we have done for the past three years. The party went by way too fast, but everyone had a great time! Hanleigh even lost her first tooth this month and she was SO excited about it! Yet another rite of passage!
The end of the month wrapped up with Kendall and my 20-year “friend-a-versary” trip to Sonoma wine country! We have been planning this trip since January and it was nothing short of perfect! We flew into San Francisco on a Wednesday morning really early and arrived in Sonoma around 2pm where we proceeded to check into our absolutely adorable bungalow and then have a late lunch which included our first bottle of wine! We were planning on heading back to the bungalow for a little R&R after lunch, but the day took us to a champagne bar called “Sigh”. By then, it was time to get ready for dinner! We went to Girl and the Fig and enjoyed some farm-to-table cuisine.
The next day, we woke up for an all-day wine trolley tour with 15 other people. This was a relaxing way to conquer four wineries with gorgeous, open-air views! Our first stop was Imagery vineyard, which commissioned artists to decorate their gallery…they then choose the paintings to use as labels on their wines. It was delicious and our spending spree began there! Our next stop was Benziger, which was the sister winery to Imagery. We took a little tram up into the hills, saw expansive views, and were able to touch the grapes. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable! He even showed us these incredible machines that sort the grapes by color using a high-resolution camera. Amazing! We then got to tour the wine caves which keep all the barrels cooled without the need for air conditioning. This winery was incredibly green and sustainable, using a method called “biodynamics”. Very impressive! Our third winery was Chateau St. Jean. While this was definitely the most beautiful winery we saw that day (with its Mediterranean flair), this was the only winery on Thursday that we didn’t purchase anything from. We honestly weren’t very impressed with the flavor, plus we didn’t want to buy wine that we could buy in our local grocery stores. Next page! The last winery of the day was VJB. By this time, both Kendall and I had sampled plenty of wines and were feeling pretty silly! Our tour group had the tasting room all to ourselves and at one point, while our sommelier was describing the next wine in detail, neither of us were the least bit interested in hearing about it because we were just chatting away in our own little worlds. At that time, he looks over at us and says, “You two look like you could use a glass of water!” We laughed so hard because it was true. Totally busted! That has now become a phrase we’ll use forever. Thanks, buddy! We wrapped up that tour (five purchased bottles in tow) and headed back to our bungalow to get ready for a once-a-year party that we just randomly happened to stumble upon in the plaza called the Sonoma City Party. It consisted of five bands, food trucks, and yes, more wine! We danced (alongside some very eccentric dancers) and partied there until around 10:00pm and then ventured to a dance club where we quickly learned we were the oldest ones there…so we swiftly exited and hit the sack!
On Friday, my awesome co-worker, Joe, and his lovely wife, Whitney, picked Kendall and me up at our bungalow around 9:00am to kick off what would become an absolutely amazing day. We drove to Napa where we met up with another co-worker, Chris, and her fabulous husband, Dan. Our first stop was Goosecross and it was my favorite. We got there around 9:40am (20 minutes before they opened) only to be greeted in the parking lot by Jose, our sommelier for the morning, holding four glasses of a delicious white blend (which I ultimately purchased). Apparently, they were having an employee meeting inside where they were already drinking wine. Awesome. The wine was scrumptious and started our day off perfectly. From there, we ventured to Silverado where Joe was friends with the guy in charge of their operations…so we got a quick behind-the-scenes tour. I even chatted up the owner of the winery as he zipped off in his loaded Porsche. One bottle purchased there, now onto the next. We arrived at Alpha Omega for the most delicious picnic ever! Chris and Dan had put together an Italian-inspired spread complete with hummus, olives, bruschetta, baguettes, prosciutto, and of course, wine! We ate under some lovely trees and did a lot of giggling. After lunch, we went inside to do some more wine tasting. By this point, mind you, we have been drinking wine for four hours. Our sommelier had the personality of a dry rock, so imagine what happened when he honestly looked at all of us while pouring the wine and said (with a straight face), “This wine is so delicious and creamy that it will explode in your mouth and you won’t want to swallow”. It was at this time that I held back all of my laughter until we walked away, started cracking up hysterically, knocked my wine glass on the floor (which shattered everywhere, of course), and proceeded to cut my hand until it bled. Good times. This winery, while having the most stunning landscaping and water features, had muy expensivo wine (“try our special of three bottles for $625”…umm, no thanks) and was a bit uppity. No wine purchased here. Our last winery of the day was Domaine Chandon, which is predominantly known for its “bubbles” (ie, champagne, but they technically can’t call it champagne). By this point in the day, we were getting a bit wild. Apparently, phone calls were made that weren’t necessarily recalled later on. Whew. We wrapped up the day with a delicious dinner in Napa. All in all, we had the best time ever that day (another five bottles purchased)! Granted, my co-workers may not want to hang out with me again outside of work (kidding!), but they said that we were a whole lot of fun. Our tummies definitely hurt from all the laughter! Especially when we gave a classy nickname to Dan! Wow.
Kendall and I packed up our stuff Saturday morning and drove to San Francisco, where we spent the day being total “tourons” (tourist + moron = tourons). We drove down Lombard Street and even flipped the camera around so you could see our view (just watch the video and you’ll see what I mean…such bonheads!), ate lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, watched the sea lions “bark” (I guess that’s what it is called), picked up some Ghirardelli chocolate for the kids, and met up with Alison for dinner that evening. Exhausted doesn’t even do justice to the way we felt by that night. I continued my travels the next day to Spokane for work and that leads us to August.
A quick note about Kendall: this was a huge trip to celebrate our friendship, one that began over 20 years ago. Who knew that 20 years ago this awesome and beautiful person would enter my life and become my instant BFF? From burnt eyebrows and crashing parties to stalking and countless weak bladders, we’ve seen each other through dating, heartbreak, marriage, kids, family drama and amazing adventures! I love you, Red Bone!
- She was singing “I love rock and roll” to which Trent said, “This song was out when I was little.” Hanleigh then replied, “this sounds suspicious.” Huh?
- I overheard a conversation Brayden had with a friend a camp that went like this, “Your mom has purple hair. That’s cool!” to which Brayden said, “Yeah, my mom is awesome like that.” (these comments are as rare as a unicorn, so I try to cherish them)