North Georgia Thanksgiving

My family frequently gets together for Thanksgiving in North Georgia. We absolutely love the area but especially in Fall. 

This year, as in many past years, instead of spending Thanksgiving Eve waiting in a store, we went for a hike in beautiful Tallulah Gorge. If you haven’t been it’s worth it. Those who know me and many who’ve followed me for awhile know well that I’m not the biggest outdoor girl. Bad luck tends to ensue (insect bites, run in with venomous snakes, etc) but this time was lovely. The Moose and I are proud parents of a seven year old and an 18 month old at this time. We use one of our backpacks from Ireland (Osprey, non-sponsored but just love their products) as our diaper bag and have for about 6 months now. It was perfect for our short hike. When lil bit was Lilo’s age we bought a carrier to be used for hiking and the Moose was thrilled to finally put it to use. The leaves changed later than usual this year so the Gorge was well gorgeous! We spent a few hours and went to Inspiration overlook as well as the North Rim trail (I think). I do recommend Tallulah Falls and the area as a whole. 

Downtown Clayton is full of wonderful little small-business shops and fantastic restaurants. Our favorite food stop this time was The Farmhouse Donuts and Decor (on Facebook as The Farmhouse Clayton). The cow pie and their well all of them really were delicious I just love peanut butter. Their coffee was great with the donuts, very fresh on a particular cool day.

Blue Ridge Toys was an awesome little local toy store with wonderful German and French hard-to-find brands. We got the girls some VERY cool presents for Christmas. The shoppe was wonderfully helpful and even helped us hide the gifts, a worker with elf ears walked with my husband three blocks back to our car carrying a rather heavy wooden kitchen in the cold and then refused to let him tip her. You don’t get costumer service like that many places IN N AMERICA everyday anymore. I hope they do well and we can have the pleasure of buying from them again next year.

Another wonderful, more tourist place we love to go to is Goats on a Roof. It’s a very cute family owned mini-tourist spot with a yummy little cafe and nitro-ice cream. The gift shop inside is fun to look through but toasting marshmallows, drinking hot cocoa and of course feeding the goats is the main attraction. You can also pay a very reasonable fee to get a picture with Santa Claus and a baby goat as well as cocoa and a cup of goat feed. And before you go calling PETA the goats are very well loved and kind of respond to their humans like large house cats. One was roaming around the room visiting with everyone and rubbing up against its Elf trying to get in her lap and have her head scratched.

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Treasure Hunting: Family Adventures

Every year for the past three years at least, our family tries to make our way over at least a few times from Jan-Feb to one of my favorite spots on the GA coast, Jekyll Island. If you are unfamiliar with the island its a small island off the Southern coast of Georgia that was once a vacation spot for big names such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, etc who built “cottages” there and had an exclusive hunting club. The island is now a State Park and home to both historic landmarks and beautiful beaches.

During the cooler months when tourism is down, we find it the best time to partake in the many trails/bike paths all over the island as we don’t have to become food sources for the insect population. It’s also this time of year (Jan 1- Feb 28) when the island hosts its annual treasure hunt!

The treasure hunt is based on a hobby from the 1950s when beach-goers would collect hollow glass balls/floats that fishermen would use to mark their nets when they broke free and drifted on shore.

As you may have read in my New Year’s post, the Moose and I have made a joint decision to disconnect this year and spend more time outdoors with the girls. We took the somewhat warmer day (above freezing) as a sign to do just that. We packed up the girls and dressed them and ourselves warmly and went on an adventure.

We went along the trail leading towards the historic district keeping our eyes out for treasures and stopping along the way to read and discuss some of the historic sites with Little Bit.

We did make it all the way to the historic district but the wind had picked up, the clouds started to come in and the girls were cold. We headed back, walking about 3 miles round trip and having a lot of fun!

While we didn’t find any treasure this weekend we hope to come back soon with better luck!

I’d love to hear from you! What adventures do you like to go on with your kiddos or significant other?

Nighttime crafting: bulletin board for the office

I am fortunate enough to be in my own office and trying to get settled, I am slowly attempting to make it feel like home ( my philosophy is that as much time as I’m there I should make it feel homey!)

I found this cute craft on Pinterest. And decided to use it as inspiration!

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This is the ugly cork board donated to me by a coworker.

The fabric is a heavier duty Chevron print in grey (my office walls are pastel yellow).

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I bought silver upholstery pins from my least favorite store china mart Walmart for a whopping $0.97 per pack (I bought 4 packs of 30 and only used 2 from the last pack) and chose silver because, well there was only two choices and it went best with the fabric.

I began pinning and used my thumb as a measure between tacks.

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I pulled the fabric tight in between and after about 20 mins and two sore thumbs I had this.

Now my upholstery tacks were a bit long and thus escaped through the back of the board. My husband suggested applying a drop of super glue over the ends sticking through.

The final result:

Tralee & County Kerry

Let me just say that I have been fortunate to be in some beautiful places in my life. I even live near a few, but little prepared me for the tug on my heart strings of County Kerry and the town of Tralee. It wasn’t just the sights—even the beautiful pictures can’t exactly do justice to it; the entire vibe and atmosphere just felt like home to me. There are very few places I feel connected to in the way I felt connected to County Kerry, I tend to be more connected with people rather than places; however I could have just stayed there and become an expat—at least until winter.

Tralee is a fairly small coastal city/town? with one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited. The playground was also just fantastic and I wish we had something half as nice near our home. We just so happened to be fortunate enough to be there when the 200th festival was going on and the day after we arrived so did festival stalls, music, and giant semi-scary puppets for the kids.

Down the road a bit further from the park is a museum which was definitely worth a visit. The adults enjoyed the history and scenes set up while the kids enjoyed the dress-up and mini-excavation pits set up inside the museum. Because of the festival, the museum was free I believe but we gave a donation and had the OPK card from Dublin.

We stayed at an absolutely BEAUTIFUL bed and breakfast, The Park Georgian Guest House, owned by a lovely and accommodating couple, Joe being the one who primarly took care of us. Breakfast was insanely delicious and freshly prepared every morning. The few mornings we left early Joe got up early to cook for us. He and my husband bonded over StarWars filming stories and Joe and his wife also own an inn in Dingle which is where a good bit of the crew and cast stayed when filming in Dingle and on Skellig Michael. We also went to Great Blasket Island which is deserving of its own post later and we could see Skellig Michael on the boat trip. Very steep. Not for small children. Joe had recommended for our leisure day (a.k.a. Explore town day/take it easy day) to try Mucross House.

It was worth it. The estate itself is so postcard-perfect but there were more than enough activities to keep my little one entertained who is happy so long as she can roam around outside. We did the “farm tour” and were VERY glad to have brought rain gear and to have worn comfortable hiking style shoes. Some of the pathway was fairly steep but as you can see, totally worth it…

The farm tour was lovely and we would have enjoyed it more had my sister and I not been separated from the Moose and Lil Bit. Apparently they had gone into the first little house which was off to the side of the road which we thought might be a place we weren’t supposed to go. Turns out we missed out on fresh, hand-churns butter and stone ground wheat bread hot out of the wood-burning stove. I also had no idea how large Irish Wolfhounds were, wow!
Overall the getting separated bit was one of the few stressful downsides to the whole trip. Rain in Ireland was far less torrential than what we were expecting as even when it was “heavy” per the locals it was mild compared to GA/FL summer downpours we are accustomed to here. (Sometimes I feel we need an arc)

We ended the beautiful day by driving partially around the Ring. It really is worth it folks although I’d hate to be on a tour bus and the drive seems somewhat treacherous because of them. We saw beautiful Irish Countryside, met some sheep (my Lil Bits happy place), loved the free-spirited Irish cows (they were running y’all, running–no wonder all of the beef there was to die for) and saw some ancient architecture along the way.
If I hadn’t already been in love that day sealed it for me. And we hadn’t even gotten to probably my favorite/soul-moving experience yet…

Mommy and Me Day: Christmas cookie edition 

My little one had her first day of Christmas vacation today for which I happen to be off of work. She kept telling me all day how excited she was to have a “mommy and me play day” and it made my heart sing. We played and talked and went to the grocery store together but the best part was baking cookies. We made my “reindeer poop cookies” as my family and friends have gleefully named them. They are a chocolate crinkle cookie with crushed up peppermints (only the ones made with real peppermint oil do the trick) on top while still hot and they do resemble their name sake. I so loved that she is old enough for us to put on our Christmas aprons, sing Christmas songs into our spatulas, and make some love-filled goodies. 

Yummy products of our Mommy and Lil Bit Day


This tradition is especially important to me this year, my first year without my Nana. Nana baked for the holidays like it was her God-given job. My family on that side is very large with even more extended family and friends flocking to my Nana’s small but ever-welcoming home and arms. For as long as I can remember walking into my Nana’s house in the weeks approaching Christmas meant having your olfactory overloaded with the smell of sweets and treats in the oven. Just as many stayed in old-school Tupperware on a small fold out table, in the back of the dining room as were given out to family, friends, co-workers or someone who just looked a bit peckish. And there was my tiny, bespectacled-Nana, all 5 ft-even of her, with one of an assortment of Christmas aprons on and immediately stopping whatever she was feverishly working on to give you a hug and a kiss. 

She’d ask about your day in front of your momand then conspiratorially whisper to question if you wanted to help bake–and lick the spatula with a glimmer in her eye after making you wash your hands and pull your hair back. I always thought of her as one of Santa’s helpers as a child as she moved about the kitchen in a magic way. I know Lil Bit will never get these cherished memories with her “Nanny”, but I can give her as close to an experience as possible with all 5’1″ of me, finding some holiday spirit inside and patience which I do not normally have for a special day of cookie-making. I hope we get to do it every year and I hope she looks as forward to it as I did with Nana. And yes, I gave her the spatula to lick. 😉

Nana and I circa pregnant with Maddie so 2011?

Gestation and Christmas Vacation

Sorry I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a bit. I had both lost some enthusiasm and been sick and exhausted from being pregnant, work and my busy 5 yr old. Those two things are definitely not mutually exclusive. It’s also sick season. Cue dramatic music.
We’ve been busy reorganizing our house but I need to get back to writing as it’s both good for my soul and eventually would love it to substitute my income especially when I’m on maternity leave. Let me explain, I ended up on bed rest at 34 weeks due to preeclampsia and preterm labor with our first. The problem lies in the fact that our hospital doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, you have to use FMLA instead which is only 12 weeks. This sounds like a lot if you went full-term and popped the baby out with no issues but if you get put on bed rest it’s not a lot, and it’s unpaid. I have to buy up my Short term but that doesn’t kick in until 15 days after and only covers 6 weeks total (so 4 weeks at 70% of my salary). Better than nothing I suppose and I have PTO (personal time-off) but that is not a large amount either due to running from 2 hurricanes and holidays this year (if office closed we have to use PTO).
I won’t get into how I feel about this being stressful for new moms and I feel is likely correlated to the US having high PPD and low breastfeeding rates (how can moms bond well with their babies when they have to hurry up and get back to work?) but I will say I will be looking for a way to supplement and any suggestions are welcome, preferably something flexible like writing. To be honest, if given the choice I’d stay home for at least 6 months with this one and take a leave of absence. I love my job most days but I missed a lot with our first one between working and grad school and this will be our last one. I’ve even considered taking a part time job at a minute clinic or something for now to have a little less work responsibility so I’ll have more of me to give at home.

Any of you out there know in the medical field somedays you just don’t have a lot of give left when you get home, I also went to school with a few kids whose parents were NPs or docs and they were kinda assholes. Most of them grew up to be ok but they were not exactly little angels behind their working parents’ backs. I’m not saying it’s always this way but having been in high school with these people and working in the hospital system since I was 16, I know how often the parents were stuck at work and I knew the trouble the kids were getting into. I’m not saying I was perfect but I’ve always been an old soul and my parents were around or knew where I was 99% of the time. I am not saying they weren’t good parents but I don’t think they could always put their kids and families first and I DO NOT want to live that way.

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I’ll jump down from my soapbox now. So what’s new on the home front? The holidays have been interesting this year. Despite my hormones raging and my threshold for bursting into tears being pretty low, I have felt more like shopping, wrapping and decorating than I have in the past 3 years. I think it’s because Little Bit gets into it so much now. She’s so excited and it’s contagious. I’ve also taken a lot of pressure off myself. First holiday season without the family matriarch, I’m pregnant and tired…if it gets done it gets done. If not–too bad, so sad. As a result, I’ve been less stress than expected and I’ve looked forward to more things that require that holiday-worker-bee-energy instead of with trepidation.

Due to impending arrival of baby 2, we are not going on traditional Christmas travel we had planned on. I’m saving leave and so is hubby. We are however doing a Christmas gender reveal that my sister is hosting. I’ll post some pics from that exciting event.

Evening Walk

This post was supposed to be a wordless Wednesday but apparently it did not go across as planned so I’ll elaborate a bit.
Moose, Lil Bit, Scarlett (puppy) and I have been taking afternoon walks (late afternoon because it’s so very hot) following dinner each evening. I keep feeling down and restless lately and this has helped. I miss my grandmother a lot lately. I get busy and then think about calling her and realize I can’t. We’ve always done some “back to school” type shopping together this time of year even when I wasn’t in school, even if we didn’t buy anything and just walked, talked and had lunch. This particular evening (2 nights ago) I was particularly down while we were walking and the storm clouds looming in the distance reflected my mood. We decided to turn back and head towards the house. As we did I noticed a rainbow and shared it with my family. My Nana loved Hawaii where she and my Papa had gone a few times and the culture. She had told me about (how she was told) that the rainbow was a pathway to heaven. Now I don’t know how true this is but When I saw it a few days ago it brought me comfort of a kind memory maybe even as a sign from the heavens, however you may take it. Either way it brought me a little peace as we walked home together.