Help me pick a dress

As I mentioned last week I am planning to rent a dress from Rent the Runway for an upcoming wedding. The affair is black tie and I cannot wait to get all fancy and dance the night away with Alex sans kiddos! This will be our first time leaving the kids while we take a trip together. I’m equal parts nervous and excited.

(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was not compensated for this post.)

To help me stay more excited than nervous I’ve been spending nap times shopping online for dresses. I decided on Rent the Runway for several reasons. One, I want to look absolutely stunning and saying I’m wearing a Badgley Mischka or a Nicole Miller makes it even better. Also, when will I have another black tie opportunity, and surely if I do I’m not going to wear the same dress twice! So naturally renting the dress makes complete sense. And if we want to go as far to say that it also allows me to stay true to my “small living” motto. Buying a dress I would only wear once seems simply wasteful.

I’m nervous to rent the dress for a few reasons. Fit. Obviously. I’m trying to really hone in on styles and cuts that I know will flatter my short but athletic build. I’m hoping that when I finally choose a dress it will flatter and fit perfectly. Rent the Runway lets you borrow two sizes to assure a perfect fit. It also helps that I can see photos of normal women wearing the dress. Many of them post their height and weight and body type to help other women decide if the dress will work.

I’ve been feeling all this pressure to choose the right dress so I was hoping you might help me decide. Let me know which dress you think works best for me and for a black tie wedding in Lake Tahoe in early October. Thanks!

Rent the Runway

Does A look familiar? That was the dress (<-affiliate link) JoJo wore on the final rose of the Bachelorette. Many of her dresses were from Rent the Runway. Alex’s favorite is B. And I honestly love them all. There were a few others I narrowed out because there weren’t enough real life photos and reviews. And I’m still torn on A and I because they are blush and I am not sure that is appropriate for a wedding. H is absolutely stunning on brunettes so it appeals to me. And G is just so fun but I’m not sure large patterns work on my 5’2  frame. But would small patterns like F because I love the cut? I love all things blue like C and E but really the black and white D is just so stunning and classic. Thoughts?

Have you ever rented a dress/outfit before? Alex is renting a tux so I thought why not? And which dress do you think would be the best fit for the occasion and for me?

As I mentioned above, the links contained in this post are affiliate links meaning I get a cut of any sale they make if you click through. However, I want you to know that my choice to use Rent the Runway was all my own and I am not being compensated for this post in any other way. I am just excited to try the service.

Staycation in Huntersville, NC

My uncle came to town this week for a work training and stayed in Huntersville. We were looking forward to spending quality time with him and getting together for dinners after work but right before he arrived he called with a generous offer. He suggested we stay at the hotel using his points so the girls and I could enjoy swimming in the pool and getting out of the house for a few days. Initially the offer sounded a bit wacky. We only live a few miles up the interstate and we planned to spend plenty of time with him anyway. But then I remembered how much I have been itching to get out of town the past few weeks and I thought it sounded like a bit of random fun for our week.


I quickly discussed with Alex, then packed and arranged for my shifts at boot camp to be covered and we were off for a mini staycation. While Alex and Uncle Joey were at work during the day, the girls and I settled in for plenty of TV watching, vending machine snacking, and swimming in the pool. Because we were in Huntersville we also explored a few new-to-us parks and Birkdale Village.

Monday night we checked in to the hotel and met up with my uncle and we all headed to Smoke Modern BBQ for dinner. We have been talking about checking out this place for a while and jumped at the opportunity. The girls had BBQ chicken plates from the kid’s menu and the three adults shared an order of the ribs and the combo with brisket and sausage. We ordered the corn muffins, bacon wrapped shrimp and burnt ends as appetizers. We had so much food but not many leftovers which meant we all basically waddled out of the restaurant full of all the delicious BBQ. I’m so happy we finally made it there because the food was excellent. And it was half-price wine night!


Tuesday morning the girls and I jumped up and headed downstairs for breakfast. We feasted at the buffet before making our way to Birkdale for coffee and activities. We started at the fountains and I let the girls splash around for about an hour before they changed clothes and we headed to Barnes and Noble for lots of reading.

I may have mentioned it before but I started teaching Eleanor to read and it has been so much fun. She is a great student and I am so amazed and proud to watch her learn letters and sounds and words and sentences. Some of our favorite resources for reading:

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

Now I’m Reading! Level 1: Playful Pals (NIR! Leveled Readers)

Back at the hotel we ate lunch that I packed from home and we all took a glorious three hour nap! I originally tried to get on the computer to work but the internet wouldn’t cooperate so I finally gave in and slept. It was the perfect staycation treat!

After we napped the girls and I went for a swim in the hotel’s outdoor pool and once the men were home from work we ventured out for dinner again. We ate at one of our favorite local places: Duckworth’s. I opted for a simple Caprese Salad for my entree since I filled up on all the appetizers. On our way home we stopped at Whole Foods for dairy free ice cream and wine. I also grabbed a Kombucha and Larabar for breakfast.


Tuesday morning we ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, watched PBS Kids and packed our bags. Ruthie had a doctor’s appointment which was conveniently in Huntersville and we stopped at Robbins Park on our way. The girls were brave climbing all over the tree house play structure and I just did my best not to yell out “Careful!” too many times (hashtag helicopter mom).


After a quick stop at a consignment store (where I found a set of the Bob books for $6!) and we were back in Mooresville and our little staycation was over. I honestly thought we would do so much more in the two days we had but barely made it through my list of ideas. If you find yourself in Huntersville with toddlers and time to kill, here are some other great options:

Have you taken your family on a staycation? What fun tourist attractions exist in your area?

disclaimer: affiliate links contained in this post.
Gymboree Sale On Now!

Celebrations Part 2

We had exactly three days at home after Ohio before we jumped back in the car for our trip to Missouri. (I know Ru, I feel your pain)

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(babies first selfie)

My brother also graduated college this semester and it was a BIG DEAL. My grandma flew in from Florida, my mom and aunt drove in from South Carolina and my dad and sisters were all there too. And of course the grandchildren/nieces and nephews. It was the first time my entire immediate family has been together in a very long time and we made use of every minute of quality time.

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But backing up a minute…

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We drove into Missouri mid-afternoon on Thursday and following tradition we swung by my sister Diana’s work to say hi. Next we stopped at Andy’s Frozen Custard for a pick-me-up. Finally we made our way up to my mom’s house for dinner with my sister Stephanie, her boys, my mom and my aunt.

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We made a last minute decision to let my oldest nephew spend the night with us so we could catch up. This meant I got to take him to school on Friday, which also meant that we would be driving right by my favorite place, Hoeckele’s Bakery.

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Taylor had field day on Friday so once the girls went down for naps in the afternoon I snuck out to join him. I got to spend two hours with Taylor playing jump rope, tug of war and eating concession stand candy. We had gorgeous weather all weekend in Missouri and it was glorious! After all that sugar at field day I decided to treat Tay to Sonic before taking him back to my dad’s with me.

Saturday was graduation day. We packed the car and headed to Columbia for the big event. William’s graduation wasn’t until 7pm at night so we started the afternoon at his apartment. I made a sweet video/slideshow for him and he opened his gifts.

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We headed out into the bright beautiful day to take family photos. (Are you ready for an overload of photos?)

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Probably the best part of the day were the children all dressed up in their super hero outfits.

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For Christmas this year my brother sent them each their own super hero shirt. We dressed them up with hair bows and hats and made William’s very own Justice League come to life. We ended up theming the whole day with superheroes and Will loved every bit of it.

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After taking photos we made our way to Booche’s. It’s sort of a Billiards bar but they are known for their burgers. It’s the most unassuming burger you will ever meet, and yet it sets the bar pretty high. My dad went to high school with the owner and he managed to reserve a couple tables for us. We had beers and margaritas, burgers and hot dogs, and I brought a special super hero cake from Hoeckele’s for the occasion.

I made a last minute game-time decision to accompany my dad to the actual graduation ceremony. Originally I had planned to go with Alex and the girls and my sisters to the park and back to the hotel. I wasn’t sorry I went. Although it was long, it was great to spend time with my dad, see my brother cross the stage and head out for a drink with them after.

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My mom also went to the graduation with my aunt and grandma and after William walked they headed home early to relieve the other adults of childcare duties. Soon my sisters and Alex met up with us at a pub. We all enjoyed a late night meal and drinks. It was just my dad and my siblings and my husband (and a handful of my brother’s friends) and we had such an amazing time together. We bounced to another bar and ended up shutting the place down. (I know, we are rockstars!)

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It was such an amazing night just hanging with my tribe. Being with them makes me feel like I belong. Even though we are all so different and live very different lives, there are so many similarities, and regardless, I just feel accepted, no matter what.

Sunday morning was all bitter, no sweet. Saying good bye to William was no fun. We had breakfast and packed and jumped back in the car to drive back to my dad’s. We still had a great night grilling with most of the family but I was sad Will couldn’t join us. The girls and Alex went to bed early to get ready for our big drive home Monday. We made it back in the evening and crashed. And just like that another road trip in the books. My kids are troopers. And so is Alex. And me.

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I am so happy we could be there with my brother to celebrate together with all our family. I am so proud of this guy and excited to see what he chooses next.

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Celebrations Part 1

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As I mentioned in my last post we had some serious travel plans in May. Our niece, Emily, graduated college the first weekend in May so we began our journeys with a drive to Ohio. Now, if you recall, the last time we made this trek back in February our car died in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. This time we were happy to be traveling the road in a newer vehicle but I prayed the whole way that our car would survive the trip, and all subsequent trips. We really don’t need another setback. Fortunately we arrived safe and sound, car and all.

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The day we traveled to Ohio also happened to be Alex’s birthday. He just returned from a work trip and we had to hop right in the car to make it for Emily’s pinning ceremony. It was a long day of travel but I was sure to reward Alex with a delicious cake once we arrived. Also, my friend Angie pitched in by making sure her fridge was stocked with beer for Al. His birthday came and went quite uneventfully so I was happy we celebrated the weekend before in Greenville.

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Ok, I’m already getting much to wordy for a travel post, so I’m going to try to stick to details so we can get through this.

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(Eleanor Rose dress found on consignment for a steal!)

Friday was Emily’s pinning ceremony followed by lots of family photos and a celebratory dinner at a local BBQ restaurant. It was casual and fun and we got to catch up with family that we love so much. The weather was also gorgeous, as was the graduate.

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Eleanor for real could not get enough of Emily and stuck by her side the entire weekend!

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By the end of Friday we were all tuckered out and headed to bed as early as possible (although I wound up staying up incredibly late chatting with my friend Angie and catching up!)

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Saturday we were up early and dressed for the commencement ceremony. The girls didn’t tolerate sitting still for long so we wound up in a side room with the graduation on a big screen with lots of other children running around. It was basically ideal. Right before Emily walked across the stage we bolted inside for a quick view and then back into our play room.

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After the ceremony ended we headed back to the BBQ place because it was so good. And the little town in Ohio didn’t offer many options. We took it all to go and ate at the hotel. Ruthie and I napped while Eleanor and Alex helped Emily pack at her house. Later we all had ice cream for dinner and Alex took Eleanor swimming in the hotel pool while I hung out with Karina.  The hotel bed was comfortable and we slept great that night. Sometimes its just nice to stay at a hotel.

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Sunday we were once again up early (thank you toddlers) and after breakfast at the hotel we finished helping Emily pack and load her car and then we were headed home. It was Mother’s Day and also quite uneventful. Again, it was a good thing we celebrated the weekend before.

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The coolest thing that happened to me on Mother’s Day was finding out I won a Lily Jade bag from an Instagram giveaway! That was gift enough for my big day. We settled into the drive home, stopping for Panera and Starbucks along the way.

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It was a quick and full weekend. We loved celebrating Emily’s special day with her! She is such a beautiful young woman with such a bright future ahead. She is a shining example of Jesus to everyone she meets. I just hope one day my girls grow up to be half as amazing as Emily is!

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Where the locals go

where the locals go

I don’t expect many of you will be planning your summer vacations to Southeast Missouri anytime soon. However, I feel the need to share my very favorite places when I visit home. These are the type of places you will find the locals like to frequent. A little off the beaten path and perfectly nostalgic. I can’t even guarantee the food is as good as I will recommend. It could be all sweet memories that I am tasting!

Wib’s

Wib's Drive-In

This place is near and dear to my heart. Even when I was vegan for nearly five years I would still sneak a Wib’s sandwich when I visited Missouri. A little off the exit off Highway 55 in Jackson you will find this tiny restaurant with a very small menu. I’m sure it is all wonderful but I simply recommend the combination. And you probably want two or three. Shaved pork, pimento cheese and house BBQ sauce. The more sauce the hotter the sandwich. Enjoy.

Hoeckele’s

Hoeckele's Bakery

In Perryville you will find this establishment right off the interstate as well. In school growing up we would order sandwiches for lunch when we had a field trip, but I’m not here to talk about the sandwiches. You need to go and grab a coffee cake and a couple dozen delicious donuts. By 8am Thursday morning there were only about four options left so get there early. You know this is the place to be when half the tables are taken up by old men and women chatting for hours. The coffee may not be the best but the sweets are spot on.

These local establishments are my favorite and a trip to Southeast Missouri is not complete without a stop to both!

Things I Ate Easter Weekend

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It has been a whirlwind couple days, and somehow it is already Tuesday! Vacation always seems to whiz by. We are enjoying lots of down time with family and wonderful weather and delicious food.

First family:

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Cue the cuteness!

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Friday night the entire family went to watch my mom in the passion play at her church. It was a wonderful production but awfully long. I was so impressed that all the babies seemed to do pretty wonderful.

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Saturday we hung at my mom’s and I got to spend time with my sisters and also several close friends.

friends

Also, I spent nap times searching through old photographs. So much fun.

throwback Easter

Sunday we attended church with my mom and then had dinner with my sisters and some wonderful friends.

EasterThe kids dyed and hunted Easter eggs and made adorable Peeps derby cars…and then devoured them.

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Finally, Monday we relaxed all day at my dad’s. I babysat my nephews while my older sister worked. The kids played on Kolbie’s new swing set and we watched plenty of television.

Swingset Fun

Now food.

Roadtrip foods:

roadtrip foods

Breakfast at the hotel: banana, hard-boiled eggs, sausage

Lunch: egg salad (mixed with avocado) and plantain chips

Snacks: lots of Pirate’s Booty and almonds.

Meals:

Easter Meals

We ate lots of eggs, lots of salads, ham, chicken and sweet potatoes.

And all the Easter goodies:

Easter candy favorites

I did manage to squeeze in one good workout this weekend. My nephew rode his bike alongside as I ran to the school. Together we did a few sprints around the track and ran home. It was a gorgeous day and a wonderful run! Sadly the weather has been pretty gloomy and I haven’t broken a sweat since. I’m not making it a priority this week and I am ok with that. I am going to continue to eat well and only eat the Easter treats moderately, but I don’t want to obsess over it or beat myself up. I would rather just enjoy time with family!