Tag Archives: vacation

I’m going to Carolina in my mind…well actually in person. (July Travels Part II)


Ok – I am way behind on my summer posts! But better late than never!  (See Part 1 here!)

Trip #2 of July was a 4-night quick trip up to the Charlotte area of NC (and SC too!)  Steven’s headquarters for work are in Fort Mill, SC, so he has been spending some time up there.  AND my brother and sister-in-law just happened to move to the northern Charlotte area – so it seemed like the perfect time and reason to visit!  (See them below – Uncle D and Aunt K!)

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We had beautiful weather, so we spent much of our time outside exploring different parks and neighborhoods around Charlotte.  I was very impressed with how easy the city was to navigate.  Set up similar to Atlanta, with a perimeter around (485 instead of 285), everything was just a little closer.  We stayed on the southwestern side in a corporate/retail area called Ballantyne.  Lots of retail and restaurants.  And home to The Ballantyne Hotel (a fancy resort!)

Here are a few of the places we visited:

Discovery Place Kids

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Perfect museum for kids under 8.  Huge playground, water area, trucks, racecars, planes, boats, vet clinic, mini grocery store, gymnastics area, building area, and so much more!

The spraypark at Latta Park (a cute little intown neighborhood).  This was pretty busy and in the direct sun – so within an hour we checked out 2 water parks for the kiddos (see next one below!)

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The Green.  A little tiny park right in the center of downtown Charlotte.  Virtually deserted when we went, the kids had a blast with these unpredictable fountains, including 4 from the mouth of fish!  Very clean, shaded park.  Perfect for little ones!

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Belle Johnston Park.  On the AM the kids and I left, we decided to try and burn some energy at one last park (which Charlotte is in no short supply of!), so I found this little gem in Pineville, NC.  Very clean, well maintained, and super fun for the kids!

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Baxter Village is a little “town” (planned community) in Fort Mill, SC complete with homes, shops, restaurants, parks, and walking trails.  Such a cute little concept.  The kids spent one morning at Baxter’s Bunch Playhouse (a super nice bounce house).  And then we returned with Uncle D and Aunt K for dinner again later in the week!

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Overall a fun, somewhat relaxing 4 days!  Definitely will go back as we now have family there.  And there is still so much more to do.  On our list (but not limited to):

US National Whitewater Center
Imaginon Museum
Discovery Place
Charlotte Nature Museum
Lazy 5 Ranch

And so many more parks and greenways, sounds like the perfect fall destination (with the pups) for some outdoor adventures.  And bonus, it’s so close (maybe 1.5 hours) from Asheville, NC another favorite fall destination for us!)

Any other Charlotte suggestions?  Thanks for reading!  One more summer fun post to come!

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You went to Arkansas on vacation? (July Travels Part I)

070113 (1)Two of our hosts for the week!

Sorry Les – but that was the reaction I received from most people.  BUT my response is YES and had a blast!  (Minus the stomach bug we all passed around.)  It is true, me and the kids (and later Steven) flew into XNA (Zena I have been told by pilot friends) aka Northwest Arkansas for a week of friends, fun, sun, and memories!

Dear friends of ours, ones I met my sophomore year of college at PSU a few years (13 – ahhh!) ago, moved to Fayetteville, AR a few years back.  People who don’t have the immediate reaction of why? go immediately to “oh – they must work for Walmart!”  BINGO!  But really it is a fun, college town, that I had a blast exploring.  It was filled with little parks, cool restaurants, interesting people-watching (although not many were there during the summer), and just a vibe that made me feel “young and cool” again!

Some of the places we visited were:

Northweat AR Naturals game at Arvest Park.  I’m becoming a big fan of minor league baseball.  Our first experience was at at Chattanooga Lookouts game last August.  Minor league games attract a smaller, yet more family friendly crowd (in my experience.)  Case in point, this night was kids eat free (also for LM that consisted of Doritos dipped in ketchup!)  And to make that even sweeter – kids under a certain age (3 maybe?)  don’t have to buy tickets – so free meals with no tickets – bonus!  A playground in the outfield, lots of shade (still with great views), plenty of entertainment (my favorite was the eyeball race for a local eyecare center), and a Sasquatch & dragon as mascots – I couldn’t have asked for more!

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Wilson Park is just a short block away from our friends house.  And is one of the coolest parks I’ve ever seen.  It has a castle!  The kids enjoyed going up to the tower and looking down.  Checking out the fish in the little pond.  Walking over the bridge.  This is such a gem so close to home for them!  The park also has a pool, 2 more large playgrounds, ball fields, and lots of trees and space!  I was told students come and hang hammocks in between the trees to hang out too – how fun!

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Before going to the lake we drove into Bentonville, AR (home to Walmart headquarters) to visit the Bentonville Splash Park in Lawrence Plaza.  This is a quality splash park.  Huge, flat, some shade, plenty of seating, restrooms, they really got it right here.  And as an added bonus a few food trucks set up around there – so for lunch we checked out Crepes Paulette Food Truck and was not disappointed!  I had a turkey reuben crepe.  LM had a blueberry sweet crepe, and I’ve never seen LL eat so well with her ham and cheese sweet crepe!  Great find!

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Next we drove up to Beaver Lake to spend the remainder of our trip.  They have a decked-out, amazing, beautiful lake home, complete with 5 bedrooms and all the toys you could want!  No detail was missed as they have truly made this a home to relax, enjoy, and not worry about anything!

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One day we drove the boat out to eat at JJ’s – a floating restaurant.  Decent food but the highlight was the ginormous fish that the kids enjoyed feeding!  We did have to rush out of there after our LM got sick.  Combo of a nasty tummy bug we all were passing around and motion sickness.

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A few more highlights from the lake included:

Polaris (ATV) for getting down to the docks:

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Pontoon Boat: (I had Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” stuck in my head all week!)  That is me and LM being pulled behind the boat on a raft!  (Also went with LL too!)

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Jetski: (Even LL took a ride on this!)

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Floating Island: (Great for little ones, and to top off just floating off the dock – Steven even got to fill this up with a modified leaf-blower!)

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So thank you to our dear friends and their parents for having us out for a week of fun, sun, memories, and more!  Can’t wait to come back or visit another new place with you again soon!

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As a thank you – we sent them BumFloats.  Basically diapers for adults to float in the water – hands free.  The review was that they worked, just looked funny!


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10,000 Reasons for my heart to find

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
Psalm 103:1 (KJV – Full text at end of post)

Happy Monday!  I’m a day late, but for good reason.  We drove up to NC/SC (Charlotte area) to visit Daddy/Steven.  He’s been working a lot  up there lately and we thought we would save him a round-trip weekend drive and make the 4+ hour trip ourselves.  More to come later this week on that trip.  (And I know I am way behind on our 1st July trip to AR earlier in July – stay tuned for that too!)

We did find a church in Fort Mill, SC to attend on Sunday AM.  (Sad to have missed the contemporary service at New Church)  It said it was a “blended” service, but was a typical traditional Presbyterian service.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that, just not one I connected to.  SO, while we were driving home from exploring and dinner last night in Charlotte, one of my all-time (albeit relatively new) Christian songs came on the radio, one that brings me goosebumps and to tears depending on the day.  It is one we sing often in our house, that even LL knows the words.  She’s been singing it for so long that now LM even hums along and chimes in at “name”.  I haven’t been able to capture that version yet – but I was able to catch her singing along with the radio yesterday while Daddy was driving:

I feel like I’ve been “saving” this song to put on my blog for so long, that this week finally seemed appropriate.  With no message or scripture to tie to from church – I’m on my own and no better way to express myself than through this song.  I am so blessed.  10,000 ways and even more.  This weekend was a small glimpse into that.  We were able to stay in a hotel, eat out, and just not having the usual household chores, let us truly enjoy each other’s company so much.  I am blessed with my loving, hard-working husband, who would do anything for me and the kids.  Two beautiful, smart, flexible, fun-loving kids.  Wonderful friends and family who helped out back home with our amazing furry kids.  Family we hadn’t seen in awhile that we got to spend time with.  Ofcourse food on the table, roof over our heads, clothes on our backs. And most of all a Savior who died for us so that we may live in His glory each and everyday.  It’s hard most days, so I treasure these times to truly appreciate it all.  So “Bless the LORD” I will always “Worship Your Holy Name” and I pray that I can be “singing when the evening comes” each and every day!

Here is Matt Redman’s Full Version.  And a link to a article about how it came about and full lyrics.

May your week be full of 10,000 reasons (and more) for you to praise our LORD and sing out HIS holy name.  Below is a glimpse into our trip and stay tuned for 2 parts of our July travel, yard sale musings, and a GIVEAWAY of a great book I finished last week!  God Bless, Amen.

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Psalm 103

King James Version (KJV)

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.


Filed under Calling, Celebrations, Children

Have an Indescribable 4th of July!

I’m combining a few things together for a super post to cover the next week+ that I will be on VACATION!  And this time will not be blogging.  I’ll be reading hopefully (see all the way at the bottom for another book giveaway coming soon!), but will be taking a much needed break from screen time!

As I was thinking about vacation time and about sharing a song before I leave (an early Sunday treat!) – I heard one of my FAVORITE songs and it’s one that I always think of when we head to explore a new place or part of the country.  It’s “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin .  As we board an airplane and in a short amount of time cover many many miles, the view from the plane is indescribable (as are the mechanics of flying to me!).  It’s a view down at God’s creation as I like to think He is looking down on us always.   The first line of the song is “From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea, Creation’s revealing Your majesty”.  I look forward to taking in the views with my kids and revealing this view of the world to them for the first time (well LL has flown but it was 2 years ago – so this will be new!).  Looking at mountains, plains, farmland, roads, rivers, lakes, houses, buildings…I just love the different perspective on things (all while praying for a smooth flight as I’m not the greatest flyer!)  God truly is amazing at all He has created and I hope to take some time this week to take in all the beauty He allows us to enjoy.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:26

So where are we headed you ask?  XNA – any trivia buffs (or non-pilots out there)?  Northwest Arkansas.  Maybe not your typical vacation spot – but one that provides GREAT friends and I’m sure GREAT times.  You know who you are – thank you in advance for all the FUN we will have! (Look out for a post in a week or two on planning YOUR vacation to AR!)

As we will be travelling over the 4th of July – I also wanted to wish you all a Happy Independence Day!  How awesome is it to live in a country where we are FREE to live and worship how we choose?  And what a week for many who have fought hard to be free to live out their happiness.  I know it’s a controversial topic but regardless, I know I am encouraged that due to the efforts of many passionate people – freedom was acknowledged.

On a much lighter note, do you like my new short summer haircut?


AND lastly for now, stay tuned in July – my next book review and GIVEAWAY of this nice hardcover book!

Thanks for stopping by.  God Bless, Happy 4th, see you in a week!


Filed under Calling, Celebrations, Chapters, Children, Uncategorized

Hilton Head Island Fun!

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School’s out, vacation time!  I cannot think of a better way to kick off summer than a week at the beach!  After much research (seriously for me to commit to a place is a LONG process) we decided on Hilton Head Island, SC.  I know most GA people swear by the Gulf Coast beaches.  Maybe the Atlantic isn’t as pretty as the Gulf, but let me tell you, I am sold on Hilton Head and plan on returning next year!  Thanks to Sarah (over at Small Town Love) and her hubby Ike – our fur babies were taken care of too – which is always a big plus knowing they are in good hands!

Once the location was picked, accommodations was the next challenge.  After even more research, we decided on a 2-bedroom villa in Harbour Town in the Sea Pines Plantation.  Due to a little bit of last-minute booking, this may not have been my first choice as it was a bottom floor unit with no view.  But the location was great and other than some loud upstairs neighbors and an uncooperative A/C unit, it suited our family well.  I seriously am thinking about looking for next year’s digs very soon!  Amenities of the area included a playground (which the kids loved), pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and a trolley to the beach.

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When I made our reservations, the booking agent asked if we wanted to reserve bikes.  Apparently that is the preferred method of transportation on the island.  I went ahead, still a bit skeptical, but after our first day there, that was a suggestion I am glad we took.  We rented 2 bikes, and Steven’s pulled a kiddie cart, which the kids loved!  The bike paths were very easily accessible and we took them every chance we had to meals, activities, and even just for fun/exercise.  And how did I almost forget the best part – the island is so FLAT – that even someone out-of-shape can manage a few mile bike ride without too much struggle!  It doesn’t hurt that the paths, like the streets, are all lined with big trees and Spanish moss (shaded and beautiful).IMG_3030

The island seems to boast a bunch of little “towns” or harbors, each with their own set of shops, restaurants, and activities.  As mentioned, we stayed in Harbour Town, home to the famous Harbour Town Lighthouse (which we all, even LL, walked 114 steps to the top).  While there we ate at The Crazy Crab, Harbour Town Grill, Lowcountry Produce, Guiseppi’s Pizza, and Harbour Town Bakery & Deli.  We also took an afternoon Dolphin Cruise on the Vagabond.  (Which I was SO excited there was a Living Social Deal for at the time we were there – saved us 50%!)  I also spent a nap-time or two wandering the many shops of Harbour Town and admiring the boats and view!

052213 (40)Aboard the Vagabond

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Top of the Lighthouse

South Beach Marina Village is another little town.  It was a 3.7 mile bike ride down.  Home of The Salty Dog Cafe.  We went down there twice.  The first night we were there, they had a Low Country Boil, live music, face painting, and a special appearance by Jake the Salty Dog, all to celebrate his 25th birthday!   Then we went back later in the week to buy our shirts (I think I saw somewhere this was required – haha!), presents for our pups, and to eat in the actual restaurant.


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The next little “town” we visited was Shelter Cove Harbor, home to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.  I had looked into this for lodging for a few minutes before moving along due to price (seriously like $500/night), I know LL would have loved it, as even seeing the Mickey logo brought a huge smile to her face.  Maybe someday…but this had another group of restaurants and shops and was home to the big Neptune statue.  We ate at Scott’s Fish Market, which was probably my favorite meal of the week.  It had an open-air patio on the harbor and had a guy with a guitar playing many enjoyable classics that had us all dancing and singing along!  As Steven pointed out – it was very fitting that the name was Scott’s (like my father) as the music came straight from his record collection, a nice little reminder/message to discover.

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I cannot forget to mention the beach!  We spent 4 mornings playing on the beach.  It was nice and flat and hard (perfect for riding bikes – which we’ll do next time), and had little shallow wading areas that were perfect for the kids to play in without waves.  Steven got the kite out and the kids really just had a blast digging, building, catching hermit crabs and various sea creatures (ok – maybe that one was me!), and watching for birds and dolphins.

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A few more activities to note were mini-golf.  Maybe not the best idea with a 1 & 3-year-old, as we had to throw our competitiveness out the window, but at least we tried!  The Sandbox: An Interactive Kid’s Museum, cute for the little ones with various sensory activities.  And Lawton Stables, where they had many animals to pet (goats, sheep, pigs, deer, llamas) and LL got to take a pony ride on Romeo the blue-eyed pony!

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We even made it to church on Sunday.  And I have to point out that they have a Publix there, which really makes shopping a pleasure in an unknown place as it feels like home to me!  Sounds silly, but with trying to eat breakfast and lunches in, I like to know and be comfortable with what I am buying and eating!  Speaking of eating, this week was a bit of a break from clean eating, but I am looking forward to jumping back in as I really have felt much better!

So overall – a wonderful week, now back to reality (not without posting a recap and some pictures first though!)  Next year, the dogs are coming along (or at least a few of them).  My research neglected to uncover just how dog-friendly the island is.  But we’ll check this off as a scouting trip and make next year’s even better!

052413 (15)LL bringing the dogs their presents!

Happy Memorial Day weekend and may you have a GREAT summer filled with special memories like ours!

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Filed under Celebrations, Children