Disney on Ice Celebrating 100 Years

Disney on Ice is here in Atlanta now through April 28, 2019 and it’s definitely a show you don’t want to miss!

It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult without kids, parents or grandparents Disney has put together a show highlighting some of their most popular characters from the traditions of Mickey Mouse to a shortened version of Elsa & Anna’s story from Frozen on ice which had the crowd (including myself) singing along.

100 Years of Disney Magic on Ice /  Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

The talent among the cast doesn’t disappoint as I heard gasps from the oldest to youngest of children (myself included), and the vibrant costumes, which help tell the character’s stories were on point, as always in the World of Disney.

Songs from your favorite Disney movies are performed as the skaters dance, swirl, twirl and dazzle on the ice in a magical evening the entire family will love!

Dsney on Ice / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Tami and I letting our inner children out as we head into the arena for Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic

Grab your Mickey (or Minnie Ears) and check out Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic at Duluth’s Infinite Energy Arena through the weekend!

Road Trippin’: Itinerary & Photo Journal

Bags are unpacked, laundry is caught up, our young Marine has arrived in Cali, Madeline is back in school, and we are rested after a whirlwind seven day road trip through eight states last week!

Bradley graduated his MOS training and is now a Marine MP. We drove out to Ft Leonard Wood to enjoy time with him before he headed off to his PDS.

The boy did not have as many days off as we did, so we arranged a little mini-vacation around Madeline’s spring break and our travels. I love planning road trips, and this one was no different!

I have never let others plan for us; the goal is always to try to pick activities that fit our interests, see as much as we can to get a feel for so many fabulous things our beautiful nation offers, and we leave plenty of time to be spontaneous.

To begin planning I always put our destination into the GPS and look at all our routes; this time we were shown two distinct ways to travel to Ft Leonard Wood. Our entire little family has a goal of visiting all fifty states (hubby has visited 49 of them; I’m at 29 & it’s become quite a contest between our 4 kiddos), and airports don’t count. With two routes showing Madeline pointed out she could add two new states to her list so we decided to loop this trip.

We would leave Atlanta and head west through Alabama, Mississippi, skirt Tennessee with a pass through Memphis into Arkansas and head up into Missouri as we drove out to see Bradley. Coming home we would go through St Louis into Illinois, Kentucky, back through Nashville, Tennessee and back into Georgia.

With our route chosen we had an idea of places we wanted to see along the way and we set out to see what we could see! I thought our itinerary was a lot of fun, and had a couple of requests from social media to share it, so here we go!  Of course some of this was tailored to visiting Bradley, but you should find plenty of ideas for planning your own trip!

Day one we left about four in the afternoon after Audley had gotten off work. We love driving backroads, especially during rush hour, so we when we left on Thursday afternoon we took 2- lane roads from Cartersville, Georgia into Gadsden, Alabama before hitting I-59 into Birmingham. With spring really starting to show up it was a beautiful drive past farms and flowing rivers and creeks as we’ve been blessed with a lot of rain this year.

img_1553

Our first stop was for supper just outside Birmingham. We chose a quirky little sushi restaurant called Rock-N-Roll Sushi. We absolutely loved the classic rock theme of both the decor & sushi rolls!

img_1560

img_1570

Madonna & Tommy Lee Rolls

img_1565

img_1567-1

Journey & Motely Crue Roll

With our bellies full we drove through downtown Birmingham and headed west on I-22 into Mississippi.  Once in Tupelo we stopped for the night at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Day two began nice and early (7:15 am) as we wanted to make a stop by Elvis Presley’s birthplace (we were in Tupelo after all), which has been made into a public park as well as museum. We stopped by before they opened for a morning stroll through the park. While we didn’t get to see the inside of the home, no crowds and the peacefulness of the early morning was worth the stop. It’s a park that’s been tastefully created and quite lovely.

img_1717

img_1697

img_1606

img_1707

img_1604

We left Tupelo and passed through Memphis where we stopped at Elvis’s Graceland, a last minute decision since we had visited the birthplace early that morning.

img_1627

Graceland has changed a whole lot since I visited 24 years ago which meant we only viewed the house from a distance. We didn’t want extra museums and planes, we only wanted to walk the grounds; see the memorials and the gravesite. We were not paying $70/each to do so!

We paid $10 to park; Madeline bought a T-shirt, we walked to the wall by the gates (that looks so trashy since they allow people to draw graffiti all over it), took a few photos and was back on the road in 45 mins. I’m not a tourist trap/circus fan when it comes to historic or cultural locations.

img_1735

img_1724

img_1736

img_1662

img_1630

We crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas where we hit backroads through the Ozark Mountains into Missouri to Mansfield.

img_1669

Y’all, it’s a stunningly beautiful drive, and you never know what unique towns you might pass through.

img_1734

Mansfield was the final home of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was so excited for this planned stop! It’s not a huge tourist trap like Graceland was (thank goodness), but a tastefully done memorial to recall a fascinating life! Admission was $12/each for both the Rock House their daughter designed and had built for them and the Rocky Ridge House, Almanzo constructed. We spent a couple of hours here, and made it our last stop of the day.

Everyone was so knowledgeable, friendly and just lovely to be around!

img_1778

despite the rain, this was such a memorable destination!

img_1789

I’ll share more of this beautiful and historic location in another post!

At the recommendation of one of the girls at the Wilder Museum, we hit the backroads (make sure your gas tank is topped off) out of Mansfield and stopped in a little Amish community for an all-you-can-eat Friday night fried fish and chicken supper.

img_1792

Y’all.

img_1795

Amish peanut butter …. you MUST try it!

It was amazing.

img_1797

And we didn’t eat again until around 1:00pm on day three.

We rolled into St Robert, Missouri around 8:00 and checked into the Hampton Inn on historic Route 66.

Day three allowed us to enjoy a little extra sleep as our Marine and adopted Marine were sleeping in themselves. We picked the boys up from the base and headed west again towards Branson; an hour and a half drive. Lunch at Steak and Shake, shopping at the Tanger outlets was the perfect way to spend an afternoon with teenagers. Branson has so many shows and activities to choose from, We wanted something where we could have fun interacting and savoring time together, so the Branson Murder Mystery dinner theater was definitely the best choice!

b46163bf-27fb-4d87-85f5-1eb0f0f3720e

img_1849

Our kids volunteered for the roles of the James brothers and Kay Marte (the local town gossip). With dinner and an interactive show we had a crazy fun evening filled with a lot of laughs!

img_1832

img_1852

img_1850

Day four we worshiped with a little congregation just off of base in Waynesville. Everyone there was so welcoming, sweet and friendly. We won’t forget our visit anytime soon.

img_1887

After lunch, Bradley let us know he had to return to base earlier since it was Sunday, so he suggested we make a stop at Uranus Fudge Factory, a quirky little tourist stop on Historic Route 66.

img_1884

img_1862

And if the truth be known I probably was not mature enough for this general store and fudge factory, especially when the guy behind the counter at Uranus asked how I wanted my “fudge packed”.

img_1865

Y’all all I have to say is you have to have a warped sense of humor to make this stop which is why Bradley wanted to stop I’m sure.

After we dropped Bradley back off at the base we had plenty of daylight left so we ventured out to drive a little of Route 66. We drove over to Devil’s Elbow Bridge, and stopped by the George M Reed roadside park. Roadside parks were common back when people traveled Route 66 as they made great places for picnics and stretching your legs while on your road trip!

img_1955

img_1956

 

img_2283

Roadside parks would be fabulous now as we travel, but unfortunately we live in a society where people would rather abuse and destroy than appreciate and preserve.

Day five was partially spent on the military base for Family Day as we were given insight to our Marine’s career path and an opportunity to see the kinds of equipment he’s been trained to use.

img_1986

After the ceremonies we took our adopted Marines out for the afternoon for an entertaining lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and an adventure at Ft Wood Escape Room. Thank goodness for my Submariner, because the Marines really struggled with this one!

img_1993

img_1992

We also went bowling. 🎳 Thats all I have to say about that one adventure.

It was bad.

The boys had to be back in the barracks by 1730, so Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 a different direction for some colorfully fun backroad highlights.

img_2004

Once back in St. Robert we stopped in at the Route 66 Diner for burgers and fries. Service was phenomenal, and the food, although simple was delicious!

img_2021

img_2027

img_2025

Day Six started off with MOS graduation. Followed by a tearful goodbye, our Marine boarded a bus headed to the airport.

img_2071

img_2097

img_2102

img_2232

After he left Audley, Madeline and I hit Route 66 towards St. Louis. We passed through Cuba where we had a fabulous lunch at The FOURWAY Diner and drove through this historic little town.

img_2136

img_2126

 

img_2138

Cuba, Missouri is known as Mural City

We arrived in St Louis in time to take the last car up to the top of the Gateway Arch. It was the perfect way to end our Route 66 travels.

img_2214

img_2223

img_2178

img_2170

After supper, and moving on down the interstate we stopped in Mt. Vernon, Illinois for the night at the Doubletree. There we caught the end of my Alma Mater’s basketball game that put them in the NIT finals.

img_2276

img_2279

Day seven we finally made it back home, but not before stopping at at a fantastic little western store in Marion, Illinois (McKinney’s) for some boot and hat shopping.

img_2250

img_2248

img_2277

We also made a swing by Lipscomb University (my alma mater) in Nashville to catch a little basketball fever. So much has changed in that part of the city ( in a positive way), and I enjoyed the pass through off of the interstate. Lipscomb holds a lot of precious memories for me!

img_2282

 

img_2271

My old dorm

 

img_2263

The tradition of the painted mascot continues on…

While this was a lengthy post, I hope you found some inspiration for your own vacation plans as summer is right around the corner! I plan to detail our visit to Mansfield, St. Louis and a little glimpse of our short drive on Route 66! Hope you’ll stop back by!

img_5691

Once Upon a Time….

In 2002 Audley & I packed up our little house in north Alabama and moved to Carrollton, Georgia; a small town just outside Atlanta. We had been married about 7 years, had four kids and just lost access to grandparents and great grandparents for help or just a little break from kids. If you’ve ever moved before, you know just how stressful that can be, but with 3 of our kids under the age of 5 and Audley working 10-hour days I was more than overwhelmed.

This was the Christmas the year before we moved if you want an idea of how young my kiddos were! Weren’t they just the cutest, though?!

The boxes weren’t getting unpacked as quickly as I needed, the house was a mess of toys and half organized rooms; I was exhausted from doing it all, and Audley was exhausted from working so much. It was a crazy time for us and it didn’t take long for stress to creep into our relationship. I was craving adult conversation, especially conversations that didn’t involve potty training, picking up after yourself, Bear in the Big Blue House, Bob the Builder, Rolie Polie Olie, Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire.

Audley was needing to relax from long hours at work, constantly dealing with problems on the safety side of things. We desperately needed some us time, but not knowing anyone in town, and the fact we were on a tight budget, we knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Packed up boxes; a sight all too familiar to us over the years.

One Saturday, after a particularly frazzled day, I was trying to cook supper and it just wasn’t going so well. Audley had managed to leave work early so we had knocked out some of the lingering unpacking, and we were both tired. He asked if I wanted to go out to eat. I looked at him like he had lost his mind because taking the six of us out to dinner was a real luxury at that point in our lives.

Carpet picnics are still my favorite Date Night!  

But then, he did the sweetest thing; something that I’ve never forgotten.

Audley told me to feed the kids, looked at Samantha and told her that he was setting up a movie in her room for her and her two little sisters, then suggested I put Bradley on to bed. Next he told Samantha to take their drinks with them and not to come out until he gave them permission.

No arguments allowed!

 I was really wondering what in the world was going on! Audley slipped off into our bedroom for a few minutes, then told me he would be right back. I later learned he had been rolling coins.

Fifteen minutes later he strolled through the front door to an unusually quiet house with a bag from McDonalds and two sodas. He looked at the badly cleared kitchen table, and grabbed a blanket off of the couch and spread it on the floor. For a blissful hour we sat right in our living room eating our burgers and fries, just talking.

Our tradition of a carpet picnic was born.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed many a carpet picnic, even when we could’ve paid a babysitter, and since the kids have grown older. There were lean times when we had to roll coins; there were times we ordered seafood or sushi from a local hot spot and feasted like kings. Some nights we’ve managed to stay awake to snuggle and watch movies; some nights we fell asleep right on the floor.

Our carpet picnics have been some of my favorite memories in our almost 24 years.

I know Valentine’s Day is over, but the intentional time and effort we put into our marriages shouldn’t be. Parents need a break from parenting every now and then. Husbands and wives need to stay connected to each other and know what’s going on in their lives! I know you only have your kids at home for a short time, but when they get older, move off to college, get married at 20 years old, join the Marines…. it’s just you and your spouse left.

The intentional, mindful time and effort you’ve invested in each other while the kiddos were at home will determine the relationship you will have once the nest is empty.  You don’t want your marriage to be empty as well as the nest.

The relationship you have in your marriage will also play a role in the kinds of relationships your children choose to have.

Take some time for your spouse regularly. I’ve shared several inexpensive ideas all week that don’t even involve leaving the house! Check them out and make plans for you and your spouse together.

Happy Weekend y’all!!

Celebrating Galentine’s Day

Do you remember filling out Valentine’s cards when you were little? You would go through the entire box to find the prettiest cards for your best friends, the least “lovey” card for the annoying boy next to you, and ask your mom to remind you again why you had to even give a card to the meanie who stole your special pencil right off your desk!?!

I think I just dated myself here….

Those were the good old days; the ones when how much you spent or who you were celebrating Valentine’s Day with didn’t matter. It was about friendship, camaraderie, and simple little things that have long passed as our lives grew complicated.

Now our lives are consumed with family, work, and oftentimes loneliness. As adults we’ve twisted what Valentine’s Day was all about and so many made it a day to hate instead of remembering what’s its for….… LOVE!

Not necessarily romantic love, but friendship …. Philia : an affectionate, platonic type of love that makes you crave friendship with someone. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or what stage you are in life, we all need Philia in our lives!

So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with brunch with a sweet girl friend?!

Galentine’s Day, as the social media world refers to it, is a day for celebrating those special friendships; the friends you would sort through the entire card box looking for the best one to give. It’s an intimate time to catch up on life’s hardships and beauties, laugh together, share a meal if you choose, and make a mess while making your own chocolate dipped strawberries!

Earlier this week I enjoyed having my sweet friend, as well as fellow blogger, Tammie (Talking With Tami ), over for a little Galentine’s Day brunch.

It was so relaxing as we made our own dessert together, and caught up on the projects, busyness and even stresses in our lives! We prayed together over our meal which just strengthens bonds with those around you.

It was so fun to set a themed table with the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, and pull together a super easy (but very filling) menu to let Tammie know how special she is and have her feel welcome in our home.

What was on the menu?

Mixed Fruit

A fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing

Quiche

and Chocolate dipped strawberries we made together

That’s it; simple and understated. Quiche is the quintessential brunch dish; you generally have many of the ingredients on hand. I’ll attach the full recipe for you, but you need to gather together eggs, fresh veggies (I used spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic), bacon, heavy cream, cheese, and a pie crust.

Click here for my recipe for Simple Quiche

Believe it or not, quiche pairs well with a salad, and you can’t go wrong with fruit. I think so many times we get caught up in going BIG that we forget the simple things often speak the loudest. The purpose of celebrating girl friends is not to stress us out, but to foster friendship and build stronger relationships!

Take some time out to reconnect with the ladies in your life. Celebrate your uniqueness and embrace your differences! God puts people in our lives for a reason. Embrace them and treasure the simple moments, even when life tries to get in the way.

Happy Galentine’s Day y’all!