Tag Archives: indulgences

Before 30 Wish List

I originally wanted to list 30 things to do before I was 30. Either because I am so prematurely accomplished or because I am detestably uncreative, I could only think of 10.

  1. Run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. (So close.)
  2. See college friends. If you think I’m talking about you, I probably am. Football season usually makes this easier since we take advantage of anyone we know still living in Tallahassee willing to put us up for FSU games.
  3. Make a few new friends. Gals of Tampa, get ready for a stammering, inaudible, likely inappropriate greeting comin’ at ya.
  4. Get out of my comfort zone. By accomplishing #3, I will most certainly take care of this one.
  5. Find a recipe to master. My husband should say, “Natalie makes the best [corn dogs, café con leche, pea soup or something equally as awesome and surprising].”
  6. Participate in at least one service project face to face. Writing a check is important, but getting my hands dirty is a must sometimes.
  7. Think of an idea for a novel. Write a chapter or two, solely to say casually, “I’m working on my book” for the next 10 years.
  8. Run another half marathon.
  9. Visit somewhere for the first time. California. Greece. Omaha. I don’t really care where.
  10. Read (or re-read) a couple of classics. Don’t persecute me for this, but I have not read one book by Jane Austen.


Happy birthday to me, suckas.

In pre-baby birthday fashion, I would have been prancing around here for weeks with a fancy countdown plug-in and a detailed wish list with pictures, size/color specifications and links for your shopping convenience. But since my little thunder stealer came along, half the time I forget that it’s even August.

Luckily, my boo didn’t forget. He’d asked what I wanted to do a couple of weeks ago, and the first and only request I made was to sleep in. Like, a sinfully indulgent 10 a.m. I suggested having my parents watch Addison, and I guess the next logical step if we had an Addiesitter was to jet over to the beach for a 36-hour getaway. If that’s where the boy’s mind goes, I’m certainly not going to talk him out of it. Off to the beach we went!

We actually hadn’t been on a proper beach outing this entire summer. We were due for some Vitamin D and subsequent aloe baths.

A little heavy handed hinting with the receptionist scored us two free drinks at the hotel’s restaurant. So, naturally, we started our adventure there. The hotel was right on the Gulf, and our room had a decent view.

hotel view

After a couple of hours out on the restaurant patio looking at the water, we did a quick change for dinner. We’d pushed back our initial reservations a half hour to catch the sunset, but it was really overcast and the show wasn’t all that spectacular. I know, you’re feeling so sorry for us right now. Do you know what is spectacular? Photo editing apps.

Photo attempt by stranger with vampire aesthetics:

C N bday dinner original

C N bday dinner

My brain doesn’t even comprehend that technology.

Dinner restaurant blah blah blah adult food mumble mumble. ICE CREAM!

nat ice cream2

We rented a forklift to get my three scoops back to the hotel while Clayton dripped his mint chocolate chip the entire length of our quarter mile walk. “At least we’ll find our way back if we get lost,” was his positive spin on losing half his dessert. Ice cream on the balcony listening to the waves break did not suck.

At 9:45 this morning, Clayton opened the curtains to a bright, sunny Florida summer day while I was still warm and cozy in a huge hotel bed. Total birthday success, even if I didn’t quite make it to 10 a.m. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel and spent the day on the beach. Despite the warnings inherent in the very concept of “Shark Week,” I did join my husband in the water for awhile. Cautiously. Intensely sensitive to every ripple and nearby squeal. Mostly floating on his lap so that he would be the one to get the gnarly scar on his calf while I could still boast nonchalantly, “I totally survived a shark attack.” It’s my birthday, I can reduce my chances of hemorrhaging in the ocean if I want to.

Can we just collectively freak out here for a second about how the guy on the Shark Week finale died during the filming of that show? Anyone?

Clayton can only lay out in the sun comfortably for 18 seconds before he starts whining like a toddler. Since it was my birthday, he made it to 30 seconds before letting out a guttural disgusted grunt that made it clear I would not be reading the entirety of “Bossypants” while working on my tan for the duration of the afternoon. We went for a leisurely walk that ended up being 2.2 miles. For serious. We logged it on a running app.

rocks beach IG

I had very high Instagrammable hopes of running into a big flock of seagulls, causing them to artistically scatter in the perfect photogenic angles. My first mistake was that the birds were about 200 yards away from us when I started my run. So people had a very long time to watch me and wonder why I up and started sprinting away from my husband. The second mistake was my assumption that seagulls would even care my post-baby hips were coming at them at a daunting 23-minute mile pace. They didn’t. So I finally reached them, anticipating some big spectacle, and they hopped their annoying little feet over six inches. I think maybe one flew away.

nat run beach

Not birthday success.

After our marathon walk, it was time to head out. We grabbed lunch at Gators, adorned from top to bottom in University of Florida garb, and tried not to vomit at the life size cut-out of Tim Tebow at the entrance. The gator wasn’t even that good. And the food wasn’t that great, either. Zing!

Our last stop was my parents’ house to pick up the little lady we’d been missing.

A shadow giraffe

In case you were wondering, no I don’t feel older.

Larger and less attractive, but not older.


Special thanks to my husband for a perfectly unexpected birthday treat. 

Cinco de Noa

Clayton and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past weekend with a little jaunt over to Orlando. It was the first time we’ve ever left Addison overnight, so we decided to go big and really put our (my) willpower to the test and leave for two whole nights. Spoiler: We all made it out alive and without [too many] tears. The photo every hour rule helped tremendously.

But enough about my obsession with hanging out with my kid. Let’s talk about how gloriously indulgent two nights away felt for Clayton and me. I still can’t stop thinking about how awesome this weekend was and what a well timed reminder it became for how perfectly matched the two of us are.

When we came back Sunday, we went straight to a Mothers Day get together where my brother asked me how the trip was. “So much fun!” I answered immediately. He knew we’d only gone to Orlando, which, for Tampa natives doesn’t exactly scream vacation of a lifetime, so he looked at me skeptically and said, “Was it actually fun, or did you make it fun?”

And the best part about this weekend was the simple fact that I couldn’t tell the difference between doing actual “fun things” or just having fun being with my husband. I remembered that there’s never been a difference for us; we have fun going to Costa Rica and we have fun going to Wal-Mart.

Come to think of it, the reason for this trip’s raging success most likely stemmed from the very first stop of Cinco de Noa Weekend: the T-Rex Café. True story.

Clayton had discovered this gem while searching for activities in Orlando that might be appropriate for a baby-less pair of adults. Dinosaur themed restaurant with indoor meteor shower every 15 minutes? Jackpot!

If you are in Orlando, you must go. Cancel that lame dinner at Cinderella’s castle and park yourself next to the woolly mammoth. You’re welcome.

We stayed at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, which is a full sized city in itself. We didn’t plan to go to any theme parks—weird for being in Orlando, I know—but we were within walking distance of Downtown Disney, which had plenty of stores, restaurants and oddly dressed foreigners to keep us occupied and shelling out cash for two days.

After our prehistoric adventure, we almost considered driving back home because clearly nothing was going to top that idyllic lunch. But we stayed because Priceline does not issue refunds. After Clayton napped off his dino excitement, we headed to a late dinner at Crave. Contrary to the photographic implications, I did not shave my head prior to hitting the town.
DSCN2449Crave is supposedly known for their sushi. We can attest that the normal peasant sushi is quite good, but beyond that you’ll have to ask someone else because we refused to pay $18 for one of their fancy rolls. Their Cigar City brown ale is tasty, too.


After dinner we checked out Orlando Brewing because we have always been suckers for breweries stuck randomly in industrial districts. After parking in Tampa, we followed the sounds of live music and college students celebrating the end of finals.

We knew we would be overdressed, but man were we overdressed. I felt like it made us look even older. Then the sight of a newborn being rocked to sleep to the sounds of an off key garage band not three feet from her mother’s cigarette smoke filled my blood with rage, and I knew we were possibly out of our element. I almost grabbed that baby and made a break for it at least three times, but I was wearing heels.

Saturday we did nothing for about four hours for the first time in I-don’t-know-when-we’ve-ever-done-nothing-for-four-hours. And we did our nothing on lounge chairs by the pools on a gorgeous, slightly overcast day. I did take some time to kick Clayton’s competitive butt at a water treading competition, but then I went back to doing nothing. He went back to modeling. Apparently it was photo shoot day at the Hilton.

IMG_3366My model is cuter.

We realized we’d stayed out by the pool about two hours longer than we’d estimated. Then we realized we didn’t care. And then we realized we were starving. A short 90 minutes later, I was finally ready to head to a super late lunch/super early dinner. And where else would we go but another wildly decorated, over-the-top themed restaurant? Rainforest Café, complete with hooting monkeys hanging over my head. Eating at Chili’s is going to be so boring now.

IMG_3368Clayton was jazzed because he got to use a coupon. Everyone wins at the Rainforest Café. Except the hostess who asked where we were from and, when we said Tampa, replied with “Oh, so that was a pretty short flight.” We replied with awkward silence. Because it’s a 45 minute drive. IMG_3369After linner (lunch/dinner), we walked the length of the Downtown Disney strip and parked it on a bench to watch the videos my mom sent of Addison. Watch. Re-watch. Repeat. By the time we walked back, the Ghiradelli store was calling out to me. It shows a great deal of restraint that I waited 24 hours after initially seeing it to suggest we stop in. Things got rather scientific when I decided to conduct an experiment testing the feasibility of consuming an ice cream cone equal in weight to my body mass.

Clayton, with all his sports medicine experience, served as my trainer and sat next to me quietly, periodically wiping the chocolate off my chin and giving me back rubs when I started to fade. I’m happy to report that the findings are conclusive: my sweet tooth supersedes all laws of physics and physiology. My husband is so proud of me. At one point he left me in search of a bathroom but came back quickly after catching the picture of me sitting alone on a bench trying to stop the melting drips of cookies ‘n cream with my face. I guess it was sort of a sad sight. Not to me, though. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.

Yep, my cone was the one hunting the weaker one.

We made reservations at one of the nicer restaurants on the strip and headed back to the hotel to get ready. Maybe your experience has or will be different, so I won’t tell you where we went for dinner, but I will tell you that we will not be going back except that late night rendezvous I’m planning to egg the joint. It was awful from beginning to end, from choosing to walk the eight miles from the hotel in heels, to getting seated right in the entrance and continuously forgetting if we had actually been called or if we were still waiting, to our nearly inedible entrees. No bueno.
IMG_3382It tasted exactly like it looks.

We decided neither of us was allowed to mention that dinner ever again. We even went back to the hotel to change out of our Sunday best into our Saturday denim and sandals to really get the stench of that hour off of our bodies. We walked back to Downtown Disney—much more pleasantly in flats—to an Irish pub that had a duo playing music outside. Best anniversary downgrade ever. It was right up our jeans and t-shirt alley. We threw caution and post-partum weight loss to the wind and ordered potato skins at midnight. That’s big time partying right there. We stayed out until after 1 a.m. Look at us being hard core.

Then we had a hard core breakfast at Perkins Sunday morning before heading to my parents’ house to body check any aunts standing in the way of our little nugget. Some serious snuggles were in order, even though Addison didn’t seem to recognize the fact that I’d been out of her life for 48 hours and that she should have been screaming in excitement upon my return. Brat. But I still chewed the crap out of her thighs.

Since Addison’s obviously okay with it, I now fully support weekend trips at least once a month. Just not to Orlando where sushi is $18 and regular coffee is $4.

Happy Cinco de Noa (and matching dino shirts) to us! DSCN2452

On Being Back

Last month was the year anniversary of our very first home purchase. Coincidentally, it also marked the first time my carpal tunnel eased up from all the paperwork we had to sign. Since our family became a trio, I am constantly looking back and comparing where we were a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, to where we are now.

It feels like we lived a lifetime in the past two years. Our time in Virginia seems hazy now, and we honestly don’t keep in touch with anyone we met except for Clayton’s former boss. And that’s only because Sean likes to continually remind Clayton that he has a standing job offer if we ever move back. (Which we will not, Sean.)

What I do remember about working and playing in Virginia is the wide openness of the future. We had never lived outside of Florida, and then all of a sudden, we’d done it. We had all of our sad, college-quality belongings in a tiny apartment with snow piling up right outside our door the first weekend we were there. At least at the beginning, we were hypnotized by the romantic ideas of adventure, escape and newness.


The short list of perks of Newport News included easy access to a whole smorgasbord of intriguing cities and small towns. What I miss about that life is deciding on a Thursday to go away that weekend. I miss planning trips simply because we stumbled on an incredible deal on Priceline. Of course we can still do that here, but there is little that is unknown to me about this place. I know Tampa like an old pair of shoes I can’t bring myself to throw away, the way the soles are worn in deepest under the ball of my foot, where the shoelaces are fraying. We go way back, and while sometimes that comfort is exactly what I love about living here, it’s also the piece that the eternal wanderer in me rebels against.


Something tugged at Clayton and me, both separately and together, that pulled us away from being safe and expected. That something has stirred at the base of my heart since I was 15 years old, and it still rustles when the scent of adventure wafts across my path. When friends without children plan vacations to Africa. When single girls mention kickball games and staying up way past Conan on a weeknight. When advocates introduce a cause that ignites my hunger to do something that matters. These are the adventures that I see just out of reach for a new mom, a housewife, a work-at-home part-timer.

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I can’t predict what this life will look like five years from now. Will we have one five-year-old or three kids under school-age? Actually, I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be the latter. Maybe I’ll have jetted over the ocean to soak in a Mediterranean sea or to sleep in a tent serving food to starving kids. Or maybe I’ll have joined up to fight a battle against some worldwide monstrous foe like sex trafficking. Or, most likely, I’ll be right here penning taglines during naptime and jetting to the park in the afternoon to elicit some seriously important giggles on a rusty swing.

What I am so, so grateful for today is that any of those scenarios makes me smile. And proud. I know there were some sacrifices we had to make to grow roots in Florida. The Noa’s will probably never make another trip to D.C., despite my love affair with its grayness set against its significance. I may never live within day trip distance of a mountain hike. And my relatives can show up at my door totally unannounced.


But here is home. Maybe not forever. But for our little family right now, this is where our heart is.    



Sometimes, having a new baby can get a little…tense. And you know who gets to bear the brunt of displaced emotions that you won’t direct towards that little peanut? The guy who is responsible for getting you into this mess. And once in awhile the dog who has absolutely no idea what “responsible behavior” means even though you are shouting it at her repeatedly.

In an effort to not exert physical violence on loved ones, I escape. This week, I found time for my favorite drugs.

A good write. Tucked away in a shady parking spot, windows down to let the delicious day float in, while the coffee bean napped in her car seat. For NINETY MINUTES. Followed by a walk through the breeze. Hello, bliss.

maybookA hatAnd a good run. On a crisp, not-cold-once-you-get going, dusk covered night. Hello, clarity.

A joovy

And once those two things are accomplished, I become a likeable person again, one capable of rational conversation and problem-solving as opposed to plate breaking and shin kicking.

Okay fine. These helped, too.


Charlotte, Day 4

After nearly losing our opposable thumbs in a maze of hybrid farm animals and carnivorous predators, we took it down a notch on Saturday and only risked our lives a couple dozen times.

We arrived at the U.S. National Whitewater Center a little before our whitewater rafting reservations at 11 a.m. It was freezing. And by freezing, I obviously mean it was like 50 degrees. But I was shivering enough to rent the inconspicuous, form-fitting splash jacket. They casually made me an offer to join the promotional models for special events, but I humbly declined. It just wouldn’t be fair for the girls who have been dreaming of modeling adventure sports paraphernalia since childhood.


I would like to describe our raft guide to you so that you fully appreciate how radical this dude was. But I know I won’t do him justice. When he stumbled into the pavilion before our safety talk, I thought he was with a group of rafters and had gotten misplaced. He looked lost, physically, mentally, sober-ly. His face was deep brown, weathered from what seemed like too much sun damage than could be possible for his age, and partially hidden by reflective Oakleys. Unwashed hair poked out in every direction from a carelessly worn beanie.

And then, the clock struck 11, and it was this very guy who got up in front of the group and presented the information that would possibly save our lives. It was hard to take him seriously with the surfer dialect and hilarious explanations: “If you fall out of the boat, just lean back on your life jacket, and you’ll have your own little personal raft trip.”

I didn’t want my own personal little raft trip. I wanted a raft trip in a raft with as little contact with water as possible. I pitied the group that got stuck with this guide. They were certainly in for a wild ride.

As it turns out, yes, yes we were. As two orphans, we were added to a corporate group who, surprise surprise, landed in Captain Dan’s boat. But Captain Dan? Was totally gnarly. Because the river was manmade, the rafts go through a couple of stretches of the same rapids several times during a trip. Captain Dan was hilarious in his questionable sobriety, unmatched in his ability to guide our raft directly into the biggest rapids creating the hugest splash of your life, and even pretty knowledgeable in helping us feel safe and in good hands. It was hella fun. If you ever go rafting in Charlotte, ride with Captain Dan. Compared to our party boat—seriously, after every run through a rapid, we would high-five with our paddles and yell, “Yay rafting!” It’s the Cap’n’s catchphrsae—all the other rafters looked depressed and envious of our rock star group. (Source)


Included with rafting tickets is access to the rest of the activities at the center. We wobbled and dangled above a ravine on two ropes courses and ziplined through the jungle. Totally average day, whatevs. Oh, and the center rescinded that modeling offer for some reason.

nat clay helmets

nat ropes2

clayton gear

clayton climb3

nat gear

I was exhausted from planning a whole five-day excursion (#firstworldproblems), so I gave the task of finding a restaurant for our last dinner to Clayton.

Fast forward to a few hours later and we are decked out in our fancy pants ensembles and walking up to a sports bar where a couple was exiting wearing sports team sweatshirts, jeans and tennis shoes. We could see the 58 flat-screen televisions through the front door. We pretended like this was what we were expecting and hoping for, but a few steps before going inside, Clayton pulled the plug, and I didn’t stop him.

We made quite a few attempts to find a suitable restaurant that was open. Since we’d taken (another) nap after our Day O’ Adventure, it was late. We went Uptown, thinking places there would be open later. Wrong. It was after 10 p.m. and we still hadn’t found a place to eat and were wandering aimlessly through the city. Not speaking, obvi. We finally settled on Mimosa’s, paid about three times more than we were planning for dinner, decided McFlurry’s were the only thing that could salvage this night, and went to bed.



We headed home on Sunday. I picked Bryson up on Monday and let him take the tour of forbidden upholstery since I felt so guilty for leaving him. And I am still finding food pellets in my car. All in all, exactly what we pictured. Or something.      



Charlotte, Day 3

No one could have predicted where this day would end up. Maybe Tim Burton.

We had to redeem ourselves on the food front, so we began the day with breakfast at Terrace Café. THANK YOU, LESLEY. I had banana pancakes. Swear. But you’ll never know for sure.

terrace plate

nat terrace

terrace sign

They also have a heavenly creation called red velvet waffles, which I am certain would be worth the 11-hour round trip to try.

We were fat and happy heading to uptown Charlotte. Yes, they are too cool to call it Downtown. By the end of the trip, I had finally stopped sputtering, “Let’s go downt—er, upt—dow—UPTOWN!” It was classier than most downtowns I’ve seen, with clean streets and a less-than-average number of vagabonds, so Uptown it is. I love me a long stroll through big city streets. It is the exact opposite of tackling a trail in the woods to the top of a mountain overlook, but no less invigorating for me. I feel alive with energy and motion and purpose. Even though our only purpose was to burn off a few hundred calories from breakfast and remember where we parked.


Beyond that, the day was wide open. For serious, my agenda read “Explore?” So we did. We explored the lobby of Discovery Place to contemplate an Imax movie. When I was in tears just reading about the real-life Lion King-esque flick, we opted out. We explored the front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building, and then we explored ourselves away from it after seeing it would cut out a big chunk of my Oktoberfest fund. We explored Smoothie King, only to spend $10 to realize they did not have a public bathroom. We explored the Epicenter, which is a little like stumbling on a sorority sister on an early Sunday morning trying to get back to her sorority house, stilettos in hand, eyeliner smudged, morals abandoned. I’m sure she looks a lot better in the moonlight, when construction crews aren’t set up in the center and store managers are not screaming for security guards to escort the panhandler out of the area.



Then it was on to bigger and better and smellier fun. Mocking my pumpkin patch suggestion, Clayton went a different direction and scouted out the Lazy 5 Ranch. I don’t even know how to describe the nuttiness and squeals that ensued, so just take a look.




You pay for buckets of food at the front and drive through the ranch feeding the animals. Well, my husband feeds the animals and I shriek and duck and point and hyperventilate.


The birds. The damn angry birds. They were the very first animals that we spotted, they were outrageously ballsy with their deathly sharp beaks all up in my car, completely selfish with the food bucket and thoroughly ruined me for the rest of the drive.


You weren’t supposed to feed anything with horns. Apparently, the Horned Ones didn’t get the FYI.

PA212403 PA212410

The llamas f’ing RAN NEXT TO YOUR CAR chomping out of the bucket.

ranch4 Fri4



And Clayton fed the zebra. Yes, the same mammal prowling around the African Serengeti, with ancestors who have survived attacks from lions and tigers and water buffalo, the virtual horse on exceptional steroids with a much better stylist. That zebra. The one the pamphlet (I am a stickler for pamphlets) said Do. Not. Feed. Or. You. Will. Be. Mauled. And. We. Will. Still. Close. At. 5PM. And. Leave. You. To. Your. Fate.





Boy, was this exciting. And longer than expected. Just when you thought you were heading toward the entrance, the road would loop back around toward some other food-crazed herd of something or other. My bladder was not up for such an afternoon on the brink of death or serious injury to the hands and forearms, especially not squeezed into skinny jeans whilst carbo loading. This story is going to take an awkward turn here. We could not floor it to the end of the tour because some SUV with 13 kids who didn’t even have food buckets were taking their sweet time meandering along the course. That’s when things got real. That’s the moment my husband will visualize any time he sees a farm or llama or bucket of feed pellets. Because our empty bucket turned into a portable bathroom in the backseat of my car smack dab in the middle of the Lazy 5 Ranch. With God and all manner of farm animals watching. Heaven help my husband, I don’t know if there’s a way to get back from that moment.

He will tell you no, there is absolutely no way. I think he’s being a bit dramatic.

Not that you’re interested or still reading or still my friend or claiming me as a family member by this point, but we also embarrassed ourselves on a hay slide and washed our hands a bunch of times after the drive-through petting fiasco was over.




We stopped for dinner when we got back to Charlotte, and Clayton weirdly chose to sit across from me rather than his normal spot next to me. He said it had something to do with cleansing his chi. Should I be worried?


Charlotte, Days 1 and 2


After running the 19 errands we saved for the day of our departure, Clayton and I (sans Mr. Bryson) left for Charlotte Wednesday afternoon. We made the difficult decision to pass on picking up poop for 20% of our vacation. We both agreed that, for some reason, the drive there and the drive home were the longest five and a half hours ever. Trips to Florida have felt shorter. Weird. But the view was fantastic the whole way, with bright pops of fall color itching to burst into a full fiery blaze.

After checking into our hotel, we changed and headed to the North Davidson district, or NoDa if you are in the know. We aren’t. It’s a funky arts district with lots of male skinny jeans and Converse. Sure, I wanted to see some dudes in jeans tighter than mine, but the real ulterior motive was Amelie’s, a 24-hour French bakery and café. I woofed down pizza like an appetizer and cleansed my palate with beer at our dinner restaurant.


For the first time in our entire marriage, Clayton made a better culinary decision than I did. While my coffee something-something was delish, his chocolate blah-blah-blah with chocolate mousse and chocolate cake topped with chocolate was superb.



Good thing he’s a dessert lightweight and I saved my spoon after finishing my piece in 11 seconds. And then we fell into a sugar coma and barely made it back to the hotel.


My initial vision for this seasonal jaunt to Charlotte–admittedly not a huge tourist destination–was to see how many different types of Oktoberfest it would take to outgrow my pants. The activities I trained for were lifting, gulping, repeating. And maybe shopping for new pants.

Our first full day in Charlotte completely turned that plan on its head and set a whole new adventure-themed tone for the trip. I only agreed because the new agenda included naps. Lots and lots of naps. After not grabbing a $9 cup of oatmeal at our hotel (“we serve breakfast” and “we offer complimentary breakfast” are two very different things), we picked up some fuel and headed to Crowder’s Mountain, a little over 30 miles outside the city. I was starting to feel a cold coming on, so I actually made one serious immunity-boosting decision this trip.


The woman stationed at the visitor center had it much worse than I did. I think she was hung over, had the flu and had just broken up with her boyfriend and he was claiming custody of the pick-up truck. Girlfriend was rough. So because she was a little short with us, my husband decided to turn on the charm and make her earn her $5.75 an hour. He asked useless question after question that I could have answered with one glance at the informational pamphlet. Clayton doesn’t really believe in senseless tasks on vacation, like reading signs or spending money. It’s okay, though, because I don’t believe in showering.

After his badgering and the woman’s quitting her job in tears, we set out on our two-mile hike along the Pinnacle Trail, marked with a cute orange circle. This will be important later. The brochure estimated that this hike would take about 40 minutes. If you stop to take 328 pictures, I’d suggest allowing a bit more time.



Unsurprisingly, my husband blew right past the “Trail Ends Here, Death Ahead” sign and scurried up the boulders probably meant to discourage scurrying. Verdict? Good call, husband. The view on top of those rocks was stunning, and I could have stood there until it was time to go home on Sunday. The weather was cool and breezy and crystal clear atop acres of fall-ready foliage.  



It sounds so hokey to talk about being rejuvenated by nature. But my goodness nature is so rejuvenating. Standing on top of a mountain drinking in fall air is near medicinal in its heartwarming healing of the mind and soul.


We finally decided to scramble on down to normal life. On our hike back, Clayton and I started discussing some pretty intense topics. Like The Future. The Noa’s horizon is both charged with excitement and steeped with stress. There are lots of question marks looming over a lot of areas of our life. All that to say, I finally looked up from my focused, fast walking to notice the marker on the tree in front of us was a white triangle. We did not want the white triangle. We are hard core orange circle people. So around we turned to find our precious orange circle, bucking that 40 minute timeframe again and ensuring that no, I would not be able to hold my pee until making it back to the visitor center. There was a squatting behind a tree situation because I have a bladder the size of a honey roasted peanut. That is one way to lighten the mood of any heavy conversation, trust me.    

We made a pit stop on the way back at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. It was early, so the place was empty, which we sort of like in our crotchety old age. Plus, we were in mountain hikin’ clothes with quite the accompanying stench. We enjoyed our samplers and, shock of the century, I went with their Oktoberfest. It was a nice cool down from the strenuous hiking, serious convo’ing and public peeing.

OM brew


Then we went back to the hotel and slept for two hours. We should write a how-to book for partying this hard.

In our half-asleep stupor, we ended up at a restaurant for dinner that was terrible and whose fish tacos made me dry heave by smell alone. It’s such a shame considering the three million great eateries in Charlotte, but whaddayagonnado? With no froyo shops open at 11, sleep some more, that’s what.

Charlotte Bound

When Clayton and I were discussing the idea of moving out of Florida, for some reason Charlotte seemed like the ideal location. Neither of us had ever been there, but we were inexplicably drawn to it. Unfortch, Charlotte was not drawn to us and there were no jobs available for a sweet-talking, fresh-faced orthopedic physician assistant. Charlotte’s loss, of course.

But we’re giving the charming gal a second chance, just for a long weekend. The hopes of relocating there have since vanished for the one of us who doesn’t hold a license to dispense painkillers, so we will only be passing through and not house hunting, Clayton.

Thanks to lots of recommendations from a friend, the tentative itinerary that I like to make before a big trip is already chock full. My nerd quotient is similarly through the roof.

I am most looking forward to:

  • Amelie’s, a 24-hour bakery. Yes. I said twenty-four-hour. Should I stop this list here? I could. But I won’t.
  • Whitewater rafting and a whole host of other injury-prone sports during a cold front
  • Subsequent pneumonia
  • Running in a new city. I know, it’s a sickness. Don’t worry, I think I’m weird, too.
  • Spending more than 45 minutes at a time with my husband. Until we find ourselves lost in a strange city. Then it’s going to get hairy.

 And a few other surprises that you’ll just have to sit tight and wait for. This is your chance for redemption, Charlotte. Better step up yo game, gurl.


I have no long narratives to share with you at the moment, so all you get to munch on are snippets. Unless you’d like me to recount in expletive-laden detail about the debacle that was Florida State vs. Wake Forest. I didn’t think so.

I was escorted out of Ross by the security guard for having a smoothie. Apparently they now have a ban on food and drink? Maybe it’s only for drinks that are pretending to be food…? I know, I’m kind of a badass. And Ross really is the epitome of unforgiving high standards.

Why do all athletic shoe designers swear that chicks want pink, purple or pink and purple shoes? We’re not all six years old. I rebelled and shopped in the men’s section. Again, me = badass.

PA042273During the half marathon, I had to fight my shorts from riding up for the last four miles. They were quite stubborn about the whole thing. So I bought my first pair of running tights. That’s alotta spandex on alotta thigh. If you happen to see me plugging along out there, avert your eyes and we’ll both pretend nothing ever happened.

This sort of thing occurs on a daily basis. Please note Bryson’s stray left foot. He is so excited when Clayton gets home that he pretty much tolerates anything. The men in my life are weird. 


And then last week I got a nice dose of Reality Check with a side of Humiliation. One of the reviewers of a brochure draft I wrote left this comment: “This is so wrong I don’t even know where to start.” Well done, me.