2022,  Birthday,  Brayden,  Charlotte,  Family,  Hanleigh,  July,  Vacation

Reunions, Rivers, & a Birthday Bash

We kick off every July with an amazing family reunion with the Spurlin side of the family. And just when we think the family is done growing, another little baby is added to the mix. We had amazing attendance this year with 46 people showing up to the Virginia Creeper Trail cabins and lodge. We had all of them completely rented out this time, so we didn’t haven to worry about sharing accommodations with other families. As usual, we have our very organized meals thought out where families pair up to make something scrumptious for all to enjoy. We broke out some glow-in-the-dark accessories the first evening and the kids got very creative with them and it looked like they were at a rave. It was pretty hilarious! Sitting by the fire pit at night and telling stories and laughing is what we do best. We played a game where everyone had to queue up their favorite guilty pleasure song that may be embarrassing for others to know that they like. Of course, this spawned dancing and sing-alongs. 

The next day, most of us made our way up to the Whitetop station via the 40-minute shuttle ride on the winding, mountainous roads for our trek down the Creeper Trail. As usual, it was super relaxing and gorgeous. However, this time, there were a couple of tumbles. I was behind Izzy when she went over the front of her bike after being a little bit squirrely and then hit a rock. She got dinged up pretty bad, but handled it like a champ. Later in the day, I was riding next to Cammy across a bridge and she tried to avoid hitting the side of it, but her handlebar got caught in the bridge and then she went down as well. What’s crazy is that it was their first time doing the trail, but they both took it in stride and laughed about it later. I’m glad they’re okay! We ended the ride with a cocktail at the Wicked Chicken and then returned back to the cabins for an afternoon of cornhole and the kids playing in the creek. The town of Damascus, while still incredibly small, actually had a couple new places that opened over the past year. There is an adorable boutique, which I visited, of course. There is also now a distillery, which a group of us checked out. It’s awesome to see something like that pop up in such a small town. Then, we had our requisite cousin night out at the Damascus Brewery, which is always a blast. We are so excited to see everyone again next year. I love my aunts and cousins so much and I’m so grateful that there are so many of them to create memories with!

In other news, Abby turned 40, which is incredibly crazy to me because it just makes me realize how fast time has gone by. We watched the July 4th fireworks from the top of a local parking deck, which gave us an amazing view of them. The next weekend, the four of us made our way to Asheville for a quick trip and since we never made it to the beach this summer as a family, we wanted to do something fun. Asheville is only a two-hour drive from Charlotte, which made it super convenient to head up on a Friday and get there in time for dinner at White Duck Taco. After that, we went to High Wire Brewery and then called it a night. The next morning, we gathered up our things and went tubing down the French Broad River for a few hours. This may be one of my new favorite things to do. We did it last summer as well near Charlotte and had a great time, so why not? The river was quite crowded with other tubers, so that added another element of fun. We played some good jams, had some great cocktails and just relaxed and acted silly. We came back to our rental and then headed out again for some shopping in downtown and a quick pit stop to Wicked Weed brewery! After an hour or so back at the house, we got dressed up and headed out to The Grove Park Inn for cocktails on the patio with a gorgeously stunning view and dinner at their outdoor restaurant. It was an amazing day overall, from casual river tubing to a bougie dinner! Asheville is so awesome! We capped off the weekend with lunch at Mills River Brewery and then headed back home. Everyone had a great time!

We met Trent’s parents at Emmett’s Social Table for dinner one evening, I had dinner with Tonya and Heather at 131 Main and we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday with an awesome surprise party that Christel had been organizing for the past year. She did an awesome job and dad had no idea. She arranged it such that his good friends took him to play golf while a bunch of us set everything up at their house. From home-smoked barbecue, brisket, and chicken to catered sides like mac and cheese and vegetables, we had a delicious feast to celebrate his big milestone birthday. When he came in the house, everyone shouted “surprise!” and he was definitely taken aback. He kept telling everybody thank you and couldn’t get the grin off his face. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you so much.

Hanleigh went to her friend’s roller-skating birthday party, I dropped Brayden off in Blowing Rock so she could attend the Appalachian State University field hockey camp for the second summer in a row. Her friend, Maisie, was such a sweetheart and their family hosted her at their beautiful mountain house once again. It was a quick trip up and back to drop her off, and then we met Trent’s parents at Juniper grill for Terry’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday! Hanleigh attended a Taste of Technology theater camp, where she worked as a stage crew. Kristy was in town visiting after dropping her son off at camp, so her and Kendall came over to our house for dinner. It was awesome to spend the evening with them laughing and catching up.

Charlie began weekly doggie training, which she desperately needs. That dog is 100% puppy. I’m really looking forward to the day when she can be walked on a leash and not tug me the whole time. I have literally developed a callus on my pinky finger from wrapping the leash around my hand and getting pulled every morning. Hanleigh had a theater showcase where we got to see all of the really cool stuff she learned about set design, Brayden continued working at her job, and I had dinner with my dear friend, Julie, at Firethorne. We always have such an awesome time together. She’s one of my favorite people.

The next day, we hosted a get together and dinner at our house with some of our closest friends (that happen to be neighbors). Trent woke up at the crack of dawn to begin smoking a delicious Boston Butt and everyone brought a side to share. It was another fabulous evening, as always. Brayden was a volunteer counselor for the second week at the Y during the All Sports camp. She said the little kids, who range in age from kindergarten to fifth grade, drive her crazy. They are either hugging all over her or throwing low blows just to get her attention. I told her they do that because they like her. Hanleigh wrapped up another theater camp called Make a Movie, where they did just that. During the day, they developed a plot, wrote a script and then filmed various locations around the Y to create their movie. On the final day of camp, they welcomed all the parents for a movie screening. It was awesome and we are so proud of them. Their film was 56 minutes long! I can’t imagine editing that, but they did amazing job. The next day, we went to visit Dadaw and Mimi, which is always awesome to see them. Trent took me on a fabulous date night in advance of my birthday. We went to Mizu and it just happened to be during restaurant week, so we got to have a lot of amazing food for a great price. After that, we ventured to Dot Dot Dot for custom-crafted cocktails. The bartenders there are so talented that I just told him characteristics of myself and flavor profiles that I like, and they whipped up something unique just for me. That’s true craftsmanship! We capped off that amazing weekend with my mom coming over to the house and preparing a dinner to celebrate mine and Kyle’s birthdays. The whole crew came over and we had a blast hanging out, playing cards, and laughing as always. 

One day during the month, Hanleigh asked Brayden if they could have a sleepover together, so the next morning, I found her in Brayden’s room all cuddled up together. It was so adorable. These moments are few and far between, but when they happen, my heart is happy.

In really exciting news, Brayden received the score for her AP human geography test and she got a five! This is the highest score you can get and this is the first AP class she took, and now she already has credit when she goes to college. We are so incredibly proud of her!


  • When we were at the Grove Park on the outdoor patio, Hanleigh was sipping on a lavender lemonade and looks out toward the mountains at the beautiful landscape where the hotel meets the hills and says, “I feel rich.” Hilarious!

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