February 2024
2024,  Brayden,  Charlotte,  Family,  February,  Hanleigh

Portugal, Cotillion, Big Sky, & Bussies!

February was such a fun and busy month, filled with all kinds of activities, locally and internationally! Brayden kicked off the month by applying for the National Honor Society, so we are still waiting to hear back about the status. It was a good exercise in her drafting a personal statement and going through her resume of all the activities she’s been involved with at school and otherwise. We enlisted the grandparents to tag team for a week while Trent and I both took separate trips. This is the second year in a row where this has been the case due to his annual guys ski trip and my annual international sales kickoff meeting. 

I flew to Lisbon, Portugal on a Friday night, landed on Saturday morning and was joined by two of my co-workers. We planned this intentionally to get a full 36 hours of fun crammed in before we began the work portion of our trip in Southern Portugal. This was a new country for me, so I was super excited. Regardless of the fact that I didn’t get much sleep at all on the plane, Fani and I landed, got our bags, met up with Laura, went to the Lisboa Pessoa Hotel (where our room was not quite ready), threw our bags down and hit the ground running. It was lunch time, so we went to the Time Out market, which is a humongous and gorgeous food hall full of all kinds of international cuisine. We each went to a different vendor and had the most delicious food and cocktails, and we’re clearly running on adrenaline and excitement for what was to come. We had scheduled a four-hour tuk-tuk tour, which I would recommend to everyone. It took us all around the city to check out archaeological ruins, century-old cathedrals, and plenty of fascist monuments, which our driver, Pedro, could not stand. We loved him! He was so smart and as it turned out, he was actually an archaeologist himself. How lucky were we? He was so knowledgeable and very down to earth. As part of our tour, we tasted the delicious “pastel de nata”, which were created by nuns centuries ago and they are so popular that there is a line out the door at the bakery. After our tour, we had about 30 minutes to somewhat relax at hotel and then we headed out for dinner to Pinoquio to dine al fresco. They brought out a plate of fish for us to choose which one we wanted before they took it back to the kitchen to cook it—super cool. After dinner was over, we were in search of a particular club and ended up apparently on a very popular street, where all the nightlife was. It was so much fun. We randomly stepped into a club where people looked like they were having fun dancing on top of a bench and there was a girl running around with an iPad taking requests. It was pretty dead when we first got in there, but the place filled up quickly. Everyone was in such good moods and dancing like crazy to a lot of amazing European hip hop and EDM mixes. We had such a great time…and still really hadn’t slept in over 24 hours!

The next afternoon, we flew to Faro, which is a coastal city in the Algarve district, a resort town with a gorgeous marina. We stayed at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura Resort and it was absolutely gorgeous! We didn’t have anywhere to be until the next day at 6:00 p.m., so we signed up for a boat tour that took us along the coast to see a bunch of amazing cliffs and caves. It was a chilly morning, but the views were spectacular. Some of the little cities on the coast even reminded me of Greece with the beautiful white buildings cascading down to the water. We went to the famous Benagil Cave, which was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The watercolor was so rich and it was full of these huge jellyfish. We learned that they even have an event called the “cave rave” that takes place sometime in November where there are DJs in the cave and people hang out in their boats. This is in a different cave, though. Boats can’t actually go into the Benagil Cave very easily because of the way the waves crash into the cavern. It makes it especially dangerous. That evening, we had our welcome reception for the sales meeting, so it was nice to see a bunch of my colleagues that I had not seen in a year! Throughout the week, we had general sessions and sales scenario training mixed in with a bit of fun. We had an awesome teambuilding event at an event venue complete with wine tasting, trivia, and dancing. The food in Portugal was also absolutely incredible. Fani and I made our way back to Lisbon toward the end of the trip for one final night, where we landed , quickly through our suitcases in the room (we were at the same hotel and our fabulous Bellman had a bottle of champagne and dessert waiting for us in the room!), and ran down the street to Zara to knock out some 30-minute power shopping, which of course was successful. We went back to the hotel and had dinner at the rooftop restaurant, Mensagem. Our Bellman did not disappoint there, either. He came to our table and asked if we wanted him to bring the champagne up from our room to our table! Seriously!?! Talk about great service!

While I was in Portugal, Trent was enjoying his annual guys ski trip to Big Sky, Montana. As always, they cover so much terrain over the course of five days of skiing and snowboarding. I think they end up skiing about 25 mi a day. Incredible. After they are done at the end of each day, they make their way to the brewery and then head back to their rental to relax, make dinner, and have some time in the hot tub. This year, there was a new gondola that took people to the tallest peak of the mountains. The guys rode up that and skied all the way down! They said it was unbelievable (I can only imagine). The pictures are gorgeous and Trent always says that it is a slice of heaven there. I’m sure we will go at some point!

The swimming pool was also filled with water while we were on our trips, which is so exciting. Apparently, they had to go back and fill the truck up with more water. Brayden joined the Environmental Club, took her second ACT test (and she did even better on the math and reading portions, which really helped her super score!), and she celebrated Galentines with her girlfriends. Trent and I both got back from our trips on Saturday evening and then quickly got our house in order for the annual Super Bowl party that we host on Sunday night. It was awesome to have our neighborhood crew and family over to celebrate. I think there were about 40 people there. So much fun! In addition to the betting squares, I invited anyone who wanted to wager on what songs Usher sang as well. Our cute neighbor, Aary, who is six years old, won!

Hanleigh had an orthodontist appointment and we are still waiting for the doctor to tell her when her braces will be coming off. She also had her Valentine’s Cotillion, and that program is slowly coming to an end. I hope she has learned some awesome life skills regarding manners and etiquette. Speaking of Valentine’s, it fell on a weeknight and while we don’t celebrate it as extravagantly as we used to, I did come home from dropping her off to find that Trent had set up a romantic candlelit dinner at the kitchen table for us. Both girls were out of the house, so it was a nice surprise! Another phase of the pool project continued with the delivery of the sod for the backyard and landscaping. I think the only items left to complete at this point now are lighting, repairing the fence, getting the project inspected, and a few other odds and ends.

Trent spent a weekend in Oak Island at a friend’s beach house where many of his F3 buddies ran the half marathon and full marathon. Trent did awesome at the half and they ended up assisting a woman who won the full marathon, but who had been very weak and nearly passed out afterward. Once she finished, they got her some medical help, which was very kind of them to do. They continued the celebrations long into the evening with a beautiful bonfire on the beach. While he was gone, Hanleigh, mom, and I went to lunch with GG and Aunt Patty and had a great time. A couple days later, Brayden and I got in the car and made the four-hour trek to Knoxville to tour the University of Tennessee, but we detoured for an awesome and eye-opening first time experience to Buc-ee’s, or as our family calls it, “Bussies”. We were in awe of how huge it was! I’ve never seen so many gas pumps in my life or so many random things inside of a building before. And it was bustling! There were people everywhere, chefs shouting really loudly “Brisket!”, art for sale on the way to the bathroom, bathing suits, a wall of beef jerky, sweatshirts, cute gifts and jewelry, etc. It was as if a Costco, gift shop, grocery store, and gas station all had a baby and “Bussie’s” was the result. We even made a little vlog about it. Once we got to Knoxville, we settled into our room and then took Aidan and his girlfriend, Amaya, out to dinner to a delicious sushi restaurant. It was so great to see them and pick their brains as they are both students at UT. The next day, we took a tour of the campus with a bunch of other high schoolers and it was great. The campus is definitely sprawling, full of life, and hilly. Both of us enjoyed it there and Brayden will add it to her list of places to apply to this coming fall.

When I returned, I had an impromptu Selfish Club dinner at Geralyn’s house and it was great to see a few of the girls. We have not been that diligent about having monthly get-togethers, but when we do, they are super fun. It’s been great to meet a couple of new friends as well! Nash had a birthday party and Brayden showed up and surprised him on the way to her Sadie Hawkins dinner with her friend group. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Brayden’s friend group does not go to the dance itself. Rather, they get all dressed up and then go out to dinner somewhere. We had a quadruple date night at Little Mama’s in Rea Farms with the Farrells, Whitcombs, and Dunlaps with a quick stop into Bonnie & Clyde’s and then we migrated to Bradshaw’s for our final stop. The eight of us always have the best time when we are all together and there was nothing but laughter the entire time.

I rounded out the month with a trip to Orlando for the annual Distributech conference. This is the industry’s largest event and we have the biggest presence there out of any of our competitors. We spend about six months preparing for this event and the hard work always pays off. Plus, it’s always great to see my fabulous co-workers, amazing marketing team, and my “Scottsdale Girls”!

View Photos | View Video | View Bussie’s Vlog

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