Naples, Florida Family Vacation July 2014


The real reason I didn’t write any blog posts for 2 weeks is because we left for vacation a couple days after Firefly left and there was a lot to catch up on at home and work when we got back. Jason and I love to vacation in Naples, Florida. I think we’ve gone 4 times in the past 5 years. This was the first time Ali has been there, though. She’s been to the beach before but this time she was old enough to really enjoy it and play in the sand and water. She’s a little fish and the Gulf in South Florida is warm, clear and gentle. We stayed in Foxfire Country Club in a condo that happened to have a bunch of really cool mid-century modern teak furniture. The pool was warm and we usually had it all to ourselves. Ali did awesome on the 12-14 hour car ride both ways. She’s a pro traveler. We used our DVD player for the first time. On the way to Florida she watched Frozen 4.5 times! Once there we saw so much native wildlife, mostly found by or spotted by Jason. He caught 5 large 9-point starfish out in the ocean. He also found 2 live sand dollars. We released all of them after admiring them. We also saw dolphins, manatees, sting rays (I stepped on one that didn’t have a tail. Phew!) and tons of little lizards in the wild. We visited the Everglades Wonder Garden and saw captive alligators, parrots, macaws, turtles and tortoises, butterflies, flamingos and lots of other birds and reptiles. We ate so much good seafood, saw gorgeous sunsets and had lots of time to play and have fun together as a family of three. We had our vacation planned long before Firefly joined our family but God must have known that it’s timing would perfect for our family to escape the painful realities at home and reset.

Ready for the photo overload?

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Emerald Isle, North Carolina


The week before last, we snuck off for a week of family vacation in Emerald Isle, NC. My parents rented a beach house and invited us, my siblings, their spouses and their kids to join them. Here are my awesome, generous parents:

It’s a rare occasion to have us all together, especially for such a long stretch. The house arrangement couldn’t have been better for 6 month old, 9 month old and 1 year old – we were close enough to the beach to come and go at our own pace and the house had a small pool in the back, perfect for floating around in while babies were napping.

We celebrated Precious’ first birthday while we were there and I’ll write a separate post about the party. One of her gifts was a red wagon from my parents. It will be great for trips back and forth from their house to our new house, just down the road. We decided to bring it along to the beach for walks to the ice cream shop and evening strolls on the beach.

The view from the back patio where we spent a lot of time:

I did a really bad job of documenting the adults on vacation (surprise, surprise) so the rest of my photos are centered around the little kiddos. Grandma with my 6-month old nephew Eli:

My 9-month-old niece Iris playing with Precious on the deck:

Somebody got pictures of all three babies together. We also attempted some self-timer portraits of all of us together. Eventually I’ll track those photos down… Here are some shots of Precious exploring the beach. She didn’t mind crawling on the flat sand but the ocean was a little scary:

Hmm, what’s this? Looks like cinnamon…

Doesn’t taste good!


Mother-Daughter Adventure #1


Precious and I went on a big adventure last week. Jason was in Florida for 12 days on tour so we decided we’d join him for a few days in the Tampa area. I’ve flown alone with a toddler once (Ladybug) so that probably took the edge off my fears, but it was still a little scary flying into an unfamiliar airport, renting a car and driving to meet Jason all on my own. Thankfully, Precious is an AHHHMAZING traveler! I didn’t really expect anything different since she’s super easy-going and happy in general, but wow. Not bothered by the pressure in the airplane. (She was sleepy and yawning through both flights and had a bottle as we started descending.) Not bothered by sitting in the Florida heat watching me wrestle with the rental car seat for 20 minutes. Not bothered by sleeping on hotel beds, cribs at random churches, or on the floor of the green room. Not bothered by all the strangers ooohing and ahhhing at her. Not bothered by getting shown off from stage in front of hundreds of people. (I was nervous as heck, though!) Not bothered by missing a nap here and there. Ok, maybe that did bother her a little bit… She had a few, “Hey, I’m freakin’ tired over here!” melt-downs but considering all we did, she did awesome. Best tiny travel companion ever.

Oh, and it’s wasn’t JUST a mother-daughter adventure, of course. We had a great time hanging out with Jason and the guys. Precious and I arrived in Tampa on Saturday and flew back to Nashville on Wednesday. The first three days were show days for the guys so us girls just went along with whatever they were doing and tried to stay out of the way. Tuesday and Wednesday were off days, though, so we all headed south to Sarasota and booked a night at Lido Beach Resort. It was gorgeous! The weather was perfect. Highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, sunny, breezy with lower humidity the whole time we were there. Precious had a nasty first experience at the beach. Right after we sat her down and took a picture, she face-planted into the sand. Sand was in her eyes, nose, mouth, ears. Poor baby girl! I took her into the pool to rinse off and she was happy again. It was her first time at the beach and her first time in the pool. I’m determined to get her swimming unassisted by floatation devices next summer (when she’ll be 2). We’ll be in the pool A LOT this summer since we’ll be living at my parents’ house. Knowing how to swim is a life skill and “waterproofing” is not an option in our family—all kids must learn to swim as soon as possible. Anyway, enough about all that. On with the pictures.

Right after we arrived, watching Daddy set up for sound check:

Representin’ Guy Penrod with the onesie my co-worker made for her:

Packed house at this one…lots of Q-tips

Pretty Spanish moss everywhere. It’s so romantic.

And palm trees everywhere too.

We’re happier than we look…the sun was just so bright!

Bare feet!!! I love Precious’ chubby little toes.

Outside the door of our room at Lido Beach Resort:

Lunch poolside:

First time in the sand at the beach…right before “the incident”…

The pool makes it all better

We ate dinner at the nationally reknown Columbia restaurant. It was as fabulous as everyone said it would be. I found it hilarious that all the guys pulled out their cameras to take a picture of our stone crab appetizer before we started eating it.

We stayed out of the sand the second day and everyone was happy

It was a short trip during a very busy season of our lives…but oh so worth it! Thank you, Lord!

Phone Photo Friday


Naples, Florida Vacation


Not much to report from the ranch this week because we’ve been on vacation in Naples, Florida! Jason and I had a great week with our dear friends Laren and Jeremy. Jason’s great grandfather lived in Naples and he has wonderful memories of visiting there as a boy. He’s been wanting to go back there for years and we finally made it. It’s a really beautiful little beach town that apparently had a housing boom in the 1950s-70s. More on that later. Today, here are some fun vacation pictures.

Dinner at Kelly’s on our first night

Jeremy and Laren are great travel buddies!

Ice cream at Regina’s

Jason is picking up real estate catalogs … are we too young to own a second home at the beach?

Mini golf at Coral Cay

Jason won. He said he can’t remember a time when he didn’t win a mini golf game!

Leading the processional to the beach

When Jason was a boy he remembers finding hermit crabs and starfish and sand dollars and beautiful seashells in Naples. He turned into a little boy again as he was exploring the shoreline. He’s so cute!

Two conch shells with … clams/mussels/conches? inside

We admired them for a while and then Jason tossed them back out to sea.

Some girl found this starfish and shared it with us. It was neat to flip it over and watch it flip itself back.

Waves aren’t very big in Naples. Just calm, clear and warm.

Jason and I wanted a picture to show how clear the water was but I’m not sure if you can really tell here.

We’re already planning our next trip back to Naples!