Friday Wrap: Out in the Wild

Hello, my friends!! It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in or shared anything on the blog. I’ve been “out in the wild” with my family and friends soaking up all kinds of interesting and lovely experiences.

A few of my absolute favorites:

{ONE} Turning another year older

I survived another trip around the sun, as they say. This year wasn’t a milestone birthday, so I wasn’t expecting or planning a big “to-do.” It turned out to be such a lovely day, though.

My parents treated me to breakfast, and one of my nieces, Sarah Katherine, surprised me by joining us. {That’s all of us pictured above.}

We sat and enjoyed omelets while my parents retold my birth story. I love when they do this. As the youngest of five kids – and having been born eight years after my closest sibling – many people ask if I was an accident. I’m sure they mean well, simply trying to make a joke, but it can sting a bit. It can also plant seeds of doubt in your mind and heart.

But every time I hear my birth story and see the joy in my parents eyes when they tell it – especially when my dad, who is now a retired Lt. Colonel, gives details about volunteering to fly a nearly broken down C130 home from overseas just to make it in time for my arrival – makes me feel completely loved. I can’t imagine a better birthday gift than this.

This pretty perfect day was topped off with a homemade dinner. B and the kids made “surf and turf” with grilled shrimp and seared steaks. We indulged in cheesecake for dessert, which is kind of a thing for me. That has been my choice of birthday cake since I was like 10 years old.

All of that to say, it was such a magnificent celebration that continued throughout the weekend with our friends…

{TWO} Road tripping to Hot Springs

We headed off to Hot Springs with four other couples. It wasn’t initially a birthday thing. We planned the trip back on New Year’s Eve when we were all together and wanted to take a fun road trip together.

Our group’s social coordinator, Allie, took the reins and planned a fabulous weekend for us!

This was a fun shot of us next to the track at Oaklawn. Brandon is in the back cheering us on. And Seth, on the front right, is the only one with arms long enough to take group selfies without a stick. {We have lots of pictures that look like this. Lol!}

It had been so long since I last visited the races, I wasn’t sure what the heck I was doing. Thank goodness for friends like Danya who gave me a quick primer. B and I ended up doing really well – by breaking even!

Honestly, I found it was best to just bet on horses that had cool names or pretty silks on their back. The one pictured above (and that clearly won the race) wasn’t supposed to. We bet on it, though, because it was named Big E. And that’s what we call our son, Evan, sometimes. See…you never know.

One of the biggest birthday surprises I received on this trip, outside of plenty of Fireball, was showing up to the hotel lobby with ALL of my friends wearing matching shirts – with a hilarious and too-long-of-a-story-to-explain-here kind of picture of me on the front. As soon as I saw them, I turned as red as the shirts. Without a beat, they handed me one to wear as well, and we were out the door for dinner.

These are truly the best troopers (and goofballs) that I’m honored to call my friends.

{THREE} Meeting baby Dottie!!

Next up was a quick trip to Nebraska to meet my new great niece, Dottie. It was love at first sight, and she truly melted my heart. I mean…that precious face.

I remember meeting her mommy, who is my niece Emma, when I was just a freshman in college. I got to hold her just like this. And yes, this makes me feel old, but mostly super special to be part of their lives.

My twins were in heaven with this little bundle. Clara thought it was fun that Dottie had the same kind of headband as her.

She literally slept and cooed at us the entire visit. She is such a relaxed baby girl. I’ll remember this day forever!

{FOUR} Fishing with girl power

The boys were invited to float the Buffalo National River with some friends, so the twins and I decided to have our own version of a girls’ day out – with poles & worms.

We dusted off our fishing rods and headed down to the lake for the first fish of the season!

We only caught a few, like this fairly decent-size bass. My favorite part, though, was sitting still for a bit and catching up with my girls.

{FIVE} Hanging from trees

With the weather finally turning warm around here, we decided to get some hammocks! There’s a park not too far away from our house that’s a prime location for stringing up a reading/napping/chillin’ out sling. And that’s exactly where we headed the moment we left the store.

I have a feeling we’ll be resuming this position as much as we can this spring – and longer.

Thanks for letting me share a bit about my latest adventures. I hope you’ve been up to some fun things, as well.

Until next time, I’m sending you many blessings,

-Kate

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30A Beach Trip Memories

How is it possible that a full week’s vacation felt like it was crammed into a weekend away? Maybe we were having so much fun that time ticked faster than the normal tock? Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting old? Lol. Regardless, it was a much needed getaway with the family, and I could have easily stayed forever.

heart in the sand

We could have all stayed forever!!

As promised, here are a few snaps we took along our journey, which took place along 30A. There’s a stretch of quaint, seaside towns that extends from Destin east to Panama City Beach, FL. The highway that connects these communities is 30A, which is why the area is lovingly called that, or South Walton.

Welcome!

beach shot_best day

We were greeted with clear water and sunny skies, which made for the perfect introduction to our beach home for the week. <3

Our Beachy Digs

beach house

Speaking of beach home, this is the little rental we found on VRBO. It was darling and had lots of beachy charm. The deck upstairs is off of the master suite – and was the perfect spot for a glass of wine in the evenings.

sign in house

I loved this sign that reminded us how blessed we were to be so close to the shore.

Food for Days

watching Lilly

I won’t go into every detail, but once we were settled into our space, we headed out for some dinner at my favorite restaurant, Great Southern Cafe. (I’m still dreaming about the shrimp and grits.) My niece, Lilly, was diving in the NCAA Championships, so we watched her compete while we ate. You can see the town of Seaside in the background. Lilly did great, by the way! Next up is the Olympic trials for this amazing girl.

la cocina

While we’re on the topic of food…another favorite meal was from La Cocina. It was voted the best Mexican food on 30A, and it lived up to its accolades. I had the fish tacos with mango salsa, which was heavenly. The girls had their first pina colada (non-alcoholic, of course) and their lives changed forever. They asked for one at EVERY place we visited – even at the gas station on the way home. Wish I were kidding.

30A beer

Brandon was almost as excited about this beer as the girls and their pina coladas. This brew is from one of the local towns called Grayton Beach, which made it that much more enjoyable.

donuts at Alys

It’s not a proper trip to 30A without a stop at Charlie’s Donut Truck in Alys Beach! Checkmark.

Beach Time

jumping for joy

I promise we didn’t just eat the whole time. We had tons of great beach time. This was one of the first pics I took once we unpacked all of our sunscreen, snacks, drinks, towels, books, music, buckets, shovels, and nets from our bags. Whew! Thank goodness we had chair service so we didn’t have to schlep those down to the beach, too. Anyway, I loved this picture of Clara dancing in the sand. I totally feel her joy!

surfer girls

The water was fa-ree-zing, but that didn’t stop the girls from boogie-boarding right into that water. My little fish, those two.

girls in the water

This helps demonstrate just how chilly the water was.

best friends at the beach

I adore catching the girls in moments like this. This is what family vacation is about, right?

kate and evan

Meanwhile, Evan and I were usually bundled under blankets having a few chats ourselves. The water (and the wind) could get pretty chilly. We had a few sunny days tucked in there, though. It was all good.

evan's beach style

On the sunny days, Evan created a cozy spot under a tilted umbrella. He was mostly into reading and chillin’ next to me on this trip, which was a welcomed treat. (By the way, B was a trooper and was usually in the water with the girls or behind the camera. He’s such a good historian.)

Sun, Camera, Action!

clara tee

Yes, it is. And we had lots of it.

dolphins

We took a boat ride over to Shell Island one day and part of the trip included a dolphin encounter. There were dolphins EVERYWHERE. A few of the smaller ones came right up to our boat. I was so excited, I fumbled with my phone and didn’t get good pics. This, my friends, is why I’m not a photojournalist. #missedthemoneyshot

seagulls

I did manage to snap this cool shot of seagulls flying next to our boat. The captain gave everyone Cheetos, so we were feeding them as we pulled out of the marina.

collecting shells

This is me in my happy place…walking along the beach looking for shells and any other kind of sea creature that has washed up on shore. I didn’t realize B even took this shot, but I’m glad he did. It pulls me back to that very spot every time I look at it.

beach collections

A few things I discovered on my walks – besides beautiful shells. L to R: sea urchin, driftwood, jellyfish, and a bird hunting for fresh mussels.

coconut friend

Avery discovered a coconut floating in the water. With her creative flair, she quickly made it her friend, named him Sandy, and dressed him up with glasses and sunscreen. It was almost like a scene from Castaway when she had to leave him behind.

kate and kids

This was taken on one of our family walks along the shore.

b and and the kids

“Home is wherever I’m with you.”

shopping art of simple

We did a little shopping while we were there, too. We walked past this store and Clara said, “Ooh, mommy. This place has your name all over it.” It was so cute. Of course we had to step in, and she was so right. I wanted to wrap up the entire store and stick it in my purse. PS. Yes, that is a 32oz mimosa in my hand. Thank goodness we were walking everywhere that day.

kate and kids_dressed up

Back at the beach house, we spent a few moments hanging on the sunporch. This was right before we went to dinner one night.

kate and b

Best buddies for life! <3

bonfire at seacrest beach

Each night, Seacrest Beach had a bonfire and live music in the town square. We spent several nights sitting around the fire enjoying some local tunes. It was such a relaxing way to end the day.

Heading Home

As all things eventually come to an end, our time at the beach did, as well. I’d like to add, “…for now.” I know we’ll head back when time and budget allows. Until then, thank you 30A for a great family vacation.

avery profile

On our drive home we stopped in a hotel for the night, and I woke up early…to a quiet room. Everyone was still sleeping, but Avery. She was standing in the window contemplating the day, or perhaps savoring all of the experiences and memories she had just made. Here’s to making many more together, my sweetness!

XOXO

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Spring Break Here We Come!

Today’s edition of Friday Wrap is dedicated to the next 9 glorious days of Spring Break!!

Here are the five things I’m most looking forward to on our little family adventure to the beach – in no particular order. It’s all good.

{ONE} Eating as much shrimp as my heart desires.

I’m a little obsessed with shrimp. So the thought of spending this much time near the source of this beautiful and delicious culinary treat is nearly enough to make me cry. I plan to eat shrimp for every meal, and I don’t even care if it turns my skin shades of pink. Get in my belly.

{TWO} Finally reading my next book club book.

My fabulous book club (that mostly drinks wine and sometimes reads books) selected Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s by J.K. Rowling, but written under her new pen name of Robert Galbraith. That brings up lots of discussion for another time. Anyway, the book is our next read. It’s “due” the first week of April, so I need to get crackin’ on my literary consumption. Although, you have no idea how happy I am at the thought of camping out in a beach chair with a good book in hand – and maybe a drink in the other. Bring it.

{THREE} Stopping at random attractions.

We actually do this sort of thing when we can. At times Brandon has to grin and bear it, though, as the kids and I run up to things like life-sized peanuts, cement dinosaurs and Thunderbirds to take pictures. You gotta stop every now and then and make memories along the way. Maybe we’ll catch Stan the Muffler Man or The World’s Largest Office Chair on this adventure? #cheese

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{FOUR} Quality time with my people.

Need I say more? I love my little family, and I can’t wait to put the phone down already and just sit among these amazing humans. <3

family road trip

{Avery is tucked in the back with Mr. Fluffers}

{FIVE} Soaking up these views.

Just a single picture of the beach makes me feel relaxed (and maybe a little hungry for shrimp.) This was a picture taken on our last trip to Seaside. We’ll be close to the same spot, so I’m hoping for a sequel that’s just as good or better than the original. We’ve never been in the spring, so I assume it will be cooler with a splash of rain here and there. I really don’t mind, though. Just look at reasons number 1-4.

seaside florida

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you after Easter, which is next weekend already! That happened fast.

XOXO

-Kate

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The Diary of a Real Housewife

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Friday Wrap: Spring Break!

Spring is in full swing around here. Soccer officially started, more flowers are emerging in the garden, our first wave of storms just passed through town, and this week was spring break!

For this year’s break, we took a short trip to Kansas City and then drove on to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit family. Before we knew it were were pulling back into our driveway. It went entirely too fast. That’s a sure sign of a good time, though, right? Here are some of the highlights of the week.

{ONE} Sporting KC Soccer

Sporting KC Soccer Game

Look at that cute cheering section. And when did Evan get so tall?!

We attended our first Sporting KC soccer game! The kids love the sport, including my biggest kid (Brandon), so everyone was excited. Even though it was a tie game, the experience won us over. We’ll do that again.

{TWO} Bunny Cards

Cards from PaintedBliss

Cute cards from Painted Bliss

While we were in Nebraska, one of my incredibly thoughtful nieces, Mallory, gave me these hand-painted cards. Aren’t they precious? Not quite as precious as Mallory’s triplets, though. They definitely take the cake. I loved my snuggle time with those sweet babies!!!

{THREE} Homemade Dog Treats

Once we got home, we had the pleasure of dog sitting Mr. Frito, who belongs to one of my other nieces. (I have a big family – and I love them all.) Frito is THE most relaxed dog around. I even taught him yoga (proof below). I decided to spoil him a bit and make homemade doggie treats. I think they turned out okay. Frito gave them two paws up as far as I could tell.

Frito

{FOUR} Origami Tulips

With Easter on its way, the girls and I decided to get crafty. Avery bought an Origami book and decided to make paper tulips. They turned out so cute, I put them in vases. I’m thinking anyone could do this for a longer-lasting centerpiece for your Easter table. Or you could make a flower for each person’s place setting. Tissue paper flowers would be gorgeous, too.

{FIVE} Pretty Egg Planters

Speaking of centerpieces, look at this beautiful display using egg shells as planters that contain little succulents and violets. I’ll be doing this project later today.

I’ll post more flower arrangement ideas for Easter on Monday. Be sure to stop back. In the meantime, check out the other great blogs through Five on Friday with April, DarciChristina, and Natasha.

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Cheers to a wonderful weekend, my friends!

-Kate

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