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!!

Out With The Old~Finally

To say the least, blogging in 2018 was rather sporadic at Fiddle Dee Dee.  Honestly, life was different and hard to explain, although it wasn’t a bad year. As old as my kids are, a lot of last year was parenting related and since I’m definitely not a “mommy blogger” didn’t want to focus on these things, all the time. It was also an emotional year as my youngest graduated from high school, leaving Audley & Me, for all practical purposes, empty nesters!

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We made a Marine, and a medical assistant, and a personal trainer, and an interior designer….

While I’ve been absent from the blog, my Instagram and Facebook pages stay active and you may have caught a glimpse of our beautiful holiday season among other fun things!

I would love to have you follow me if you don’t already!

On the technical side of things, blogging has been a challenge as my 7-year-old MacBook needs to be replaced thanks to Apple’s way of doing updates (just like with an iPhone) and I can’t update the latest operating system which has rendered my Photoshop useless and slowed down my laptop to discouraging speeds. Hopefully this will all be corrected soon, and I’ve just decided to do the best I can with what I have for now!

January (all 795 days of it) was a trial month, so to kick off this new year & set the tone for 2019, I thought it would be good to update you on where I am in this season of life. It’s an all new adventure!

While I don’t talk parenting, my family has been a huge part of my blogging lifestyle over the years as we travel, cook, celebrate, go out and share, I wanted to update where they are. They were so young when I began this blog.  Now they are making their mark on the world as productive and disciplined Millennials and GenZ’ers.

I’m very proud for people to know my kids and the influence they share on the world!

One of the very first pics of my kiddos on the blog…. it’s safe to say things have changed.

My little family is all grown up!

Samantha and her husband, Justin celebrated their 6th anniversary in December!

With one of my grand-dogs

 

She’s working for a primary care doctor in Tennessee and Justin was just honored with law enforcement officer of the year for the entire state of Tennessee and will be honored next weekend in Nashville.

County LEO of the year honors in December

Samantha has the DIY bug, and has been doing a lot of work on the little house she and Justin live in. She’s become the unofficial party planner for just about everything at work and pulls together fun events for her co-workers.  Healthcare may be her calling, but she has a gift for decorating and entertaining.  It’s so much fun to see her latest projects and plans!

MacKenzie celebrated her first anniversary with Michael and turned 21 all in the same week. They bought their first house last year as well.

And our other grand-dog

She began her senior year of college, is finishing her major in exercise science, and is a personal trainer in Greenville.

Such an adorable Preacher & Wifey

The Golden Strip Church of Christ where Michael has preached for 3 years, has grown immensely, and they just purchased a new building for their use. It’s an exciting time for these two newlyweds.

Madeline played lacrosse her freshman year at Point University, but decided to change her major to interior design, attend tech school (a very smart move for her creative spirit), and move home for her sophomore to keep her loans and other costs down.

Just hanging around in Missouri

As you know, I’m a firm believer that a 4-year degree isn’t for, or necessary for everyone. Having one definitely does not guarantee a job! She’s doing well and I love her vision board projects she has had to pull together. Ethan Allen furniture at The Mall of Georgia featured one of her holiday table settings during the month of November which was voted on by the public and received the honor of “best in class”. Madeline did a fantastic job!

Ethan Allan tablescape contest

Bradley: Our baby graduated high school and 10 days later left for Parris Island where he earned the title of United States Marine.

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The most handsome Marine serving right now. I am entitled to be prejudiced.

Earned the Title

He’s in his schooling right now to become a MP. Let me tell you, Audley and I are two extremely proud parents!

As for us, Audley & I celebrated 23 years of marriage in August, purchased a much needed new vehicle for all the road trips we make (we have kids in 3 different states now), took an empty nesters cruise to the Bahamas and Cuba that turned into a couple cruise with Samantha and Justin, and went all out for Halloween.

We traveled to Parris Island, I visited Camp Lejeune, and we celebrated Thanksgiving in Missouri with Madeline, Bradley and five other Marines who were also stuck for Thanksgiving.

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Christmas brought our children home which will probably be the last one we celebrate together for a while as Bradley will get his orders for a permanent duty station soon.

Missing Justin as he was on duty… support the Blue y’all; they sacrifice so much.

All together at my parents in Tennessee

This month wraps up two years since we moved to metro Atlanta. It’s not the first time we’ve lived in the Atlanta area since we married, and I grew up here, but it’s not the same.  Atlanta doesn’t feel like home, and I can’t say I enjoy living here. I do love the convenience of a real store for baking supplies (not Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), a really awesome gym, and shopping for virtually anything I need if feeling chill enough to face the traffic, but honesty I do not call Atlanta home.  Atlanta is a cold and lonely place, and while it is in the South, it’s not really a Southern city.

Audley changed companies last December, leaving the corporate world behind, which has done wonders for his stress levels. The down side is he drives 75 miles one-way to work everyday.  I’m really hoping 2019 brings a move our way!

To where, I have no clue, but I can be packed in a week.

So here we are, the first full week of February throwing out the old and embracing 2019.  I’m focused on keeping our house feeling cozy and warm, engaged on our marriage (a little differently now that the kids are grown), getting back to healthy habits and self-care that has taken a back burner again (making me feel rather slobby and frazzled), and finding out who I am now that I’m no longer a full-time mom (I seemed to forget there was life outside mothering).

It’s amazing how much can change in just a year, but I hope you will be patient with me, and join me as I embrace this new season of life!

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Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Halloween (& a MUCH need vacation to the Caribbean last week) is over and we are snowballing into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays! I don’t know what the weather is where you are, but here in Georgia we have cooled off, the leaves are finally turning colors, and it’s been a wee bit rainy the last two days as we head into Saturday.

Before the rush of the holidays set in, it’s looking like a great weekend for breakfast or brunch in bed and I have a yummy recipe to fit the season and my mood… Pumpkin Spice French Toast!

Pumpkin Spice French Toast/Fiddle Dee Dee

With a little French bread, fresh pumpkin purée, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice you can whip this up in no time and savor a cozy weekend in.

Pumpkin SPice French Toast

Down time is so important for our health, well-being, and our marriages; we need to slow down and enjoy every moment we find together . I wish I had been better at this when my children were young, but honestly it’s always a good time to take better care of yourself and your relationships at home.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast Breakfast in Bed

There is absolutely nothing wrong with preparing a quick breakfast while in your pj’s and hopping right back into bed to share it with your spouse. A slow, flavorful breakfast in bed with your mate is just the perfect way to relax and enjoy time with one another before y’all become caught up in the busyness of the season! Tell the kids to watch cartoons, turn the phones off (unless you are waiting on a call from your Marine who has been in the field) and y’all laugh and talk together. It’s a cheap date worth taking. When you’re finished eating, toss the tray in the floor, allow the dog to lick the syrup of the plate and y’all take a nap!! Cherish a lazy Saturday morning. I know you need it!

Pumpkin Spice French Toast Breakfast in Bed

Click Pumpkin Spice French Toast to get the full printable recipe!

If you want to elevate this simple recipe, add whipped cream and pecans…. Oh yeah, it’s really delicious, and plan your late morning in bed!

Happy weekend y’all!

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Take A Backroad

Audley had a Saturday off work this past weekend, so we tossed some water bottles (and the camera) in our vehicle and hit the backroads through North Georgia for a little autumn adventure. Driving up through Dawsonville and into Ellijay we discovered fall in Georgia, even if it is still 90° outside!!

Take A Backroad /

Y’all, driving the backroads takes an open mind and clear eyes or you will miss so much!

Fausett Farms Sunflower Field / Fiddle Dee Dee

Just outside of Dawsonville, on the Elliott Family Parkway, was nestled a little sunflower farm. If you are cruising along with only one destination on your mind you’ll miss this sweet little stop, but if you’re savoring the beautiful drive towards the mountains you can’t miss it!

Audley pulled off into the small parking lot (paid $10 for our car) and off we strolled through the Fausett Farms Sunflower field.

Fausett Farms Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee Dee

Saturday was just gorgeous, with all the sunflowers opened and turned to worship the sun. We strolled through the readymade trails of the field holding hands and just taking time to enjoy this simple moment. It really was nice to be away from the city and slow down!

Fausett Farms Autumn Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee DeeSunflower Farm /Fiddle Dee Dee

We were not alone, but it seemed that all who were strolling through the field except for the one family with screaming kids who had zero desire to pose for pictures were enjoying the laid back country atmosphere.

Autumn Scenes / Fiddle Dee Deedate day fausett farms / fiddle dee dee

Next to the huge sunflower field was a pole barn where we discovered delicious BBQ sandwiches, homemade ice cream, yummy boiled peanuts and fresh local honey.

Georgia Local Honey / Fiddle Dee Dee

{I’m totally a sucker for local honey}

Now THAT’S a pot of boiled peanuts!!

Fausett Farms isn’t a carnival or a huge tourist attraction, it’s a simple little homegrown sunflower field on a Georgia backroad that begs you to slow down and stop to smell the sunflowers.

Dawsonville Georgia Fausett Farms Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee Dee

Just think, if we drove the backroads like we drive 285 around Atlanta we would have missed all of this beauty and peacefulness.

So often in life we tend to stay on the main roads because it’s easier. We miss so much when we take the easy route. Hitting the backroads reminds us to slow down and take in the heart of our country, and in the process slow down and savor the little moments in our own personal relationships.

Happy Fall Y’all! Slow down and take the time to savor every moment.

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