Listicle Series: 16 Things That Make Me Feel Pretty

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The world we live in is ROUGH, y’all. Especially because of social media. Day in and day out, we are inundated with verbal and virtual opinions. No matter what we’re doing or not doing, the message is the same: we are either too much or not enough.

“You need to work out more.”
“Don’t lift too much or you’ll look like a man.”
“Your makeup should look flawless.”
“You’re wearing way too much makeup.”
“You should wear more makeup.”
“Stop eating so much or you’ll get fluffy.”
“You eat like a bird, are you anorexic?”
“You should always strive to be better.”
“You should like yourself the way you are.”
“You should be more like ____.”
“Don’t be so emotional.”
“You’re so cold, don’t you have feelings?”
“Make sure you always look pretty and put-together.”
“Stop trying so hard – who are you trying to impress?”
“If you got it, flaunt it!”
“You should cover that up, you look desperate.”
“Take more pictures, people want to see the real you.”
“Too many selfies – obsessed with yourself much?”
“Your style is too boring.”
“Your style is too crazy.”
“Do you even know what your style is?”
“You post on social media too much.”
“You don’t post on social media enough.”
“Don’t post anything too controversial.”
“Don’t you care what other people think?”
“You shouldn’t care what others think.”

Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. I’m pretty sure nobody can ever measure up to all of that.

It’s startling to realize that I’ve spent years – literal years – of my life worrying what other people think. “Do people like me? Do they think I’m funny? Do they think I’m pretty? Do they think I’m weird/a prude/too loud/too honest/a good friend/a bad friend/etc.?” In actuality, most of the time, ‘those people’ probably haven’t been thinking about me at all. And meanwhile, I’ve been making decisions and tailoring my actions based on what ‘those people’ (the ones who aren’t even thinking about me) are supposedly thinking about me.

………uh.

You do the same thing too, though. Right?

Here’s the cold hard truth. You can’t make everyone happy. You are not a jar of Nutella or a basket of puppies. There are even people out there who don’t like Nutella or puppies (although I find that fundamentally strange and will probably never relate to those people because HELLO, Nutella and puppies are everything).

No matter what you do or don’t do, somebody will be able to find something wrong with it. But it’s pretty freeing when you are finally able to just do your thing without being so tied up in what everybody else thinks about it. In light of that, I want to share a list of things that make me feel pretty. Not things that “should” make me or anybody else feel pretty. Not shallow, hollow constructs that I use to hide who I really am. Just…things that make me feel pretty!


THE PRETTY LIST

Good hair days.

Painted toenails.

Neutral colors and jewel tones.

That delicious feeling of crawling between clean sheets after you shave your legs.

Wearing high heels.

Taking professional photos.

Yoga. I don’t ALWAYS feel pretty, but it makes me feel strong. Which is pretty dang close.

Floor-length dresses.

Eating better, exercising, and seeing the difference in the mirror.

Red lipstick.

The way my skin feels after a face mask.

Putting together new outfits from pieces in my closet.

My wedding rings.

Getting my teeth cleaned. Weird, I know, but I seriously feel like I could conquer the world after my dentist appointments.

Wearing perfume. Not body spray; real perfume.

Going out with Daniel or with one of my girl gangs.


I think it’s important to know what things give your heart a little joy, especially if they are things you have control over. Who cares what other people think?? Taking care of yourself in simple ways is important, and just because someone else says something is shallow/lame/weird doesn’t mean that it actually is.  Girl, listen – as long as the things that make you happy are God-glorifying, healthy, legal, and not dangerous to yourself or others……YOU. DO. YOU. ♥

What kinds of things make YOU feel pretty?

Friendsgiving

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We forgot about mashed potatoes.

The rolls weren’t done on time.

There weren’t enough chairs for everyone.

Babies got jealous of each other nursing and cried.

The whipped cream never came out of the fridge.

There was wayyyyy too much leftover ham.

I only took two pictures all night.

But none of that really mattered, because at the end of the night, we were well-fed and happy and warm, and we enjoyed each other’s company like the family we are. It was the most perfectly imperfect night with some of my favorite people. ♥

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere heartspraising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” — Acts 2:42-47

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Small Biz Spotlight: Cromer & Co.

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For years, Christy was one of those photographers I watched from a distance on social media and secretly thought, Man, I reeeeeeeally want her to take our pictures!! I loved her ability to capture genuine smiles and the emotion of a moment, and her candid, comfortable approach toward her sessions was obvious from the photos she posted. I was so excited when we were finally able to use her for the Hendrickson family photo shoot earlier this year, and I couldn’t be happier with the gorgeous pictures she gave us!

I knew when I started my Small Biz Spotlight feature posts that I only wanted to share businesses I could personally advocate for. I’m not getting paid to promote any of these people; I’m just sharing things that I like with you in the hopes that you’ll support those faces behind the businesses too! Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to experience a few of the struggles associated with running your own shenanigans, especially when it comes to marketing and building rapport. And I want to do whatever I can to be a cheerleader for other people like me, and any friends who are working hard on their dream. So, without further ado, say hello to Christy Cromer of Cromer & Co.!


Embracing the Chaos: What made you want to become a photographer? What were you doing before?
Cromer & Co.: “This might sound super cliche but….I’ll say it anyways. Growing up, I always remember my mom having a camera in her hand taking pictures of us. She took pictures of the regular mundane days as well as softball games, dance recitals, birthday parties, Christmas morning, etc. My grandpa also always had a camera in his hand – heck, he even had his own dark room where he developed his own film. So I grew up around it. I remember in high school being interested and taking photos of my friends and activities but it wasn’t until I had my kids that I really became interested. Once those babies were here, I remember this overwhelming since of urgency to capture EVERYTHING! Their tiny feet and hands, their baby mohawks and silly smiles, their giggles and baby fat rolls. I bought my first ‘fancy’ camera when Kasen, my second little one, was about two months old. My obsession with capturing every moment of my kids lives turned into a fun hobby and eventually my side-business.

I was working as a nurse at the Women’s Center in Durant and I had four kids under the age of 6 *I know, I gasped too!* I was working 2-3 shifts per week and I felt like I was missing a lot of time with them. I would leave the house before they were awake and a lot of time I would not get home until late and they were already in bed asleep. I knew I wanted to be available and present for them, more than what I was doing at the time. So I really started working hard to get better with my camera so that I felt comfortable taking pictures of other people. I slowly backed off on my nurse work days and dabbled in photography part-time. Eventually I was able to resign completely and do photography full time.”

ETC: What training/resources/etc. did you use to get started?
C&C: “Honestly, I watched TONS of YouTube videos about my camera. I learned it inside and out so that I could manipulate it and make it do what I wanted it to do. I also studied other photographers’ work. When I became really serious about wanting to do this as my full-time job, I started attending workshops online and in person. The online workshops were mostly all geared towards newborn photography. For the in-person workshops, I found photographers that inspired me and made me want to be better, and the ones who I felt I would connect with the most. They were: Joy Neville’s Tell A Story workshop in Dallas, Kimmy Howard’s Newborn Workshop in Indianapolis, and most recently the Own It Workshop with Wyn Wiley, Ellie Berry & Abbey Moore in Breckenridge, CO.”

ETC: Work-wise, do you consider your business a full-time or part-time gig?
C&C: “This is definitely a full-time gig. To some, it may seem that being photographer is easy, but I spend a LOT of time sitting at the computer either: culling images, editing, responding to emails/texts/Facebook messages, or watching online educational resources. I may only spend one hour with you and your family, but what goes on behind the scenes (aka at my computer desk) is time-consuming. During my busy fall season, I spend almost every available moment at my desk. All of this while still trying to be a mom and wife and friend!”

ETC: Where does your inspiration come from as an artist?
C&C: “I would say it comes from the people in front of my camera. I try to approach each session with the idea that there is no one else like these people in the world. I want to tell a story, whether it’s a couple who are crazy in love and they have a silly way of showing it, a new mom who loves to smell the top of her newborn’s head…maybe it’s the way the grandparents look on as their granddaughter or grandson is saying ‘I do’. I don’t know, I think it is just as important to catch the in-between, unposed moments as it is the posed ones. I honestly believe that a photo of you hugging your grandma at your wedding is going to be way more important to you than the Instagram-worthy posed moment at just the right time during the sunset. Everyone has a story, and it’s important to document each session so that it is a true representation of the people in the images.”

ETC: What do you enjoy most about working as a photographer? The least? Has anything surprised you about being a small business owner?
C&C: “I think what I enjoy most about being a photographer is all of the relationships and connections that have come my way. I have photographed some of my clients for four years in a row now, so seeing them each year is so much fun. Especially when the kids get out of the car and run towards me with the biggest hugs to give. I’ve made a lot of friends through this little business.

The least? EDITING, and all of the hours I sit alone in my house at my computer. It can be a little lonely. I also do not enjoy the ‘business’ side of being a business owner. That’s why I have Cody, he takes care of all of that. I just take care of the people.

I think everyday is a new surprise when you are a small business owner. Honestly, the stress of knowing that this is what provides for my kids and family is stressful. Some days I think ‘Man, I’m really doing great at this whole thing,’ and other days ‘I have to find a new job, this is never going to work out…’ I also tend to overthink everything! That’s why it’s nice to have Cody to help me – he is always talking me off that cliff.”

ETC: Where do you envision your business going?
C&C: “Eventually, I would like for this to be both of our full-time jobs and maybe do some more traveling with it. We also have BIG dreams of opening a venue.”

ETC: What are the top 3 things you’d tell an aspiring photographer?
C&C: “1. SHOOT, SHOOT & SHOOT some more. You will only get better if you practice. 2. Learn your camera inside and out. You should be able to work that thing with your eyes closed in manual mode. 3. Be yourself. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison game (trust me, I know this really well). The thing is, no one else has the vision that you do or will take the same photos you can take. I feel that if you stay true to who you are, it will show in your work.”

ETC: Most importantly…cake, cookies, or pie? 😉
C&C: “THIS IS THE HARDEST QUESTION! Can I say all three? I do the happy dance the morning of every wedding because I know my night ends with cake (and bonus points to the couple if it is Red Velvet). I also LOVE warm chocolate chip cookies and it’s almost Thanksgiving so we cannot forget the pumpkin pie.”


And now that you’ve heard a little about her, here’s a look at her work!

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World’s best humans, ranked:
1. Daniel Hendrickson. ♥

I absolutely loved our little mini moment with Christy during the Hendrickson family photo shoot! The more professional pictures Daniel and I take together, the more convinced I am that we need to do it more often. Big thanks again to Cromer & Co. for the beautifully-preserved memories! You can see more of their work on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Married Monday: Marriage Advice for Dating, Engaged, and Newlywed Couples

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Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, said, “Love is not only ‘the union of two good forgivers,’ but also ‘the union of two good appreciators.'” Can’t say it better than that!

It’s important to remember that marriage is blending the lives of two sinners together. YOU are a sinner. YOU are deeply flawed and selfish. And you are marrying a sinner who is also deeply flawed and selfish. Getting married doesn’t automatically turn you into amazingly perfect, selfless people.

Sometimes, romance doesn’t look like flowers and fancy dates. Maybe it looks like one of you doing the dishes because you know the other one hates doing them. Maybe it’s finding a heart drawn in the fog on the mirror when you get out of the shower. Maybe it’s just putting your phones away for an hour, sitting on the couch, and talking about your week. Your methods of showing affection will deepen in value, and gestures of love take on brand new meaning as seasons of life change.

Never, ever, EVER compare yourself or your marriage to others, especially via social media. You will end up feeling prideful or resentful, and neither is healthy.

Know that for every expectation you have for your spouse, they will have one for you too. You’ll find out really fast how “stuck in your ways” both of you are. But also know that while both of your expectations may be valid, you both need to bend a little. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect your spouse to do all the changing and adjusting in your relationship while you refuse to adapt a little for them.

Your marriage relationship is a picture to the rest of the world about the way God loves His people. Are you displaying an accurate picture?

You will never completely fulfill each other. I know it may be hard to imagine (partially because movies have given us unrealistic expectations for the things our spouse is ‘supposed’ to do and say), but there will always be gaps that no one but the Lord can fill. Ruth Bell Graham also wisely said, “I pity the married couple who expect too much from one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain. The same goes for the man who expects too much from his wife.”

Guard your heart persistently. There are so many things competing for your attention – romance novels, sex-saturated movies, pornography, flirtatious coworkers – and Satan will use as many as he can to steal your affection for your spouse, in obvious ways and scarily subtle ways. Don’t let him. Protect your marriage.

Don’t forget that you are on the same team! When you face conflict, try to view the situation as “the couple vs. the problem” rather than “the husband vs. the wife.” You are teammates on the same side, not enemies in opposite corners of a boxing ring.

Respect and kindness are gifts. At some point (even if it’s just for one 10-minute argument), your spouse will not deserve them. Give them anyway. They are much easier to give when they are earned, but it is much more powerful to give them when they aren’t.

Learn to pick your battles, because some things just aren’t worth arguing about. Don’t look for reasons to be upset. Instead, think long-term and ask yourself, “Ten years from now, will I be glad I fought for this? How important will it be in a few decades that we didn’t agree about this, or that he did what I wanted?” 

Pride will ruin your relationship. You will become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy very quickly if you are too stubborn to ask for forgiveness, to accept a genuine apology, or to ask for help when you need it.

Physical attraction and sexual compatibility are a really shaky foundation to build your life on. They are like lighter fluid on a relationship: it will burn hot and bright for a short while, but when there is no other substance underneath to fuel it, the flame will inevitably fade and fail.

Make having fun a priority in married life, not just in your dating life. Don’t let  new responsibilities and schedules and busyness dampen your spirit and spontaneity. Marriage can be SO FUN, more fun than anything else you do, so decide that fun is important and make time for it!

Learn your spouse’s love language as early as possible, and look for ways to show your affection in the way that means the most to him or her – acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, or words of affirmation.

So often, when someone has a problem with his or her spouse, they talk to everyone else BUT their spouse about it. Don’t do this. If your husband is frustrating you, talk to HIM about it and deal with it together.

The best time to invest in your marriage is before you’re struggling. Read marriage books together, go to a conference, or plan a weekend getaway somewhere specifically to spend time reconnecting. The time and money you sacrifice will be worth it in the long run.

Pray so hard for your marriage. Never stop praying for each other and with each other. Pray as if your lives depend on it, because they do. 


This post is part of “Married Monday,” a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

Listicle Series: Movies I Never Get Tired of Watching

Want to know how to make me really happy? Gimme a big pile of snacks, plop down on the couch with me, and tell me that we’re going to spend all day watching movies. Some people might see that as a waste of time, but not me. Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time, and watching movies all day would be a day very well spent. There’s something totally delicious about losing yourself in the plot of someone else’s story and getting swept away into their adventure, joy, melancholy, romance, laughter, action, and emotion.

Obviously, it would be impossible to list every movie I love – there are far too many! Instead, here’s a brief list of movies I never get tired of watching, no matter how many times I’ve seen them. Movies I will always stop flipping through channels for, no matter what else is on TV (this is Daniel’s main criteria for a good movie, by the way). Movies I could sit down and thoroughly enjoy at any given moment…….like right now!


My Much-Loved Flicks:

Morning Glory.

The Glass Bottom Boat.

Virtually any Christmas movie.

Inception.

Anne of Green Gables.

Harry Potter.

Singin’ in the Rain.

Mean Girls.

The Dark Knight Rises.

The Sound of Music.

Just Friends.

The Lord of the Rings.

North By Northwest.

Stardust.

Some Like It Hot.

Pretty much all Disney movies. But especially the Hayley Mills version of The Parent Trap, Anastasia, Inside Out, Beauty and the Beast, The Emperor’s New Groove, Swiss Family Robinson, The Princess Diaries, and the Lily James version of Cinderella. And Tangled and Moana and Frozen. And The Absent-Minded Professor. And That Darn Cat.
(Sorry.)


Brb….if you need me, I’ll be curled up on the couch for the rest of the month. ♥

Tell me, what is one of YOUR favorite movies?

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

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In January 2017, Daniel and I started leading a small group (aka ‘foundation group’) for young married couples. Every other week, we met to discuss the books we were reading and go through the corresponding homework, and on the in-between weeks, we just had fun watching movies or bowling or eating meals together. Sometimes we would all stay together, and sometimes the guys and girls would split and do their own thing.

During the very first girls-only night we had, Sheridan made what we now affectionately refer to as “THE chocolate chip cookies.” They were just regular old oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but something – be it coconut oil, fierce sugar cravings, or an act of God – transformed them into warm, gooey pieces of heaven. Some of the best cookies any of us had ever had.

Also, it was probably the *sweetness* of community that made them special…

……………………..eh?

……………see what I did there?

Anyway.

These cookies became, as Kendra so perfectly put it, our foundation group mascot. I think almost all of us have made them at one point or another, and every time I make them, I associate them with friendship and wonderful memories.

However.

Sometimes, you just don’t feel like shaping 37 individual cookies.

So you get lazy and make a bar version.

And they turn out to be flippin’ delicious.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL BARS

Prepare for a seriously emotional eating experience, because these are so good you might cry your guts out. 

PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 20-25 MINUTES
YIELD: 15 BARS

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
2½ cups old-fashioned oats
1½ cups brown sugar
1¼ cups butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
2½ cups chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.
  3. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add old-fashioned oats, then brown sugar.
  4. Melt butter and pour into the bowl. Mix for one minute.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until the dough is well-combined. It may be a little crumbly.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Press dough evenly into the prepared 9×13 pan.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Test by sticking a knife or toothpick in the center. When it comes out clean, the bars are done. They may look a little underdone, but that’s okay – they should! That keeps them nice and moist.
  10. Allow to cool before cutting into bars….or just eat them straight out of the oven. Whatever floats your boat.

Burnt tongue advisory: because you’ll probably eat the whole pan immediately. 

**Original recipe found here at Jamie Cooks It Up!

Listicle Series: 12 Reasons that Fall is My Favorite Season

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Darker nail polish colors.

Apple cider.

The early morning / late night chill in the air.

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Layers, like soft sweaters and leather jackets…yum!

Soup season.

Pumpkins on the front porch.

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Candy corn.

The leaves changing colors.

Bonfires, corn mazes, and hayrides.

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Boots, beanies, and scarves.

Friendsgiving.

The knowledge that there are only 11 Mondays until Christmas. ♥

New Listicle Series + 7 Places to Find Good Eats

In the last decade, the internet (arguably Buzzfeed, more than anyone else) has popularized the “listicle,” or an article that appears in the form of a list. According to research, lists help organize our brains and save us time by breaking information down into bite-size pieces. Plus, to be honest, they are fun to read and share because they are typically more conversational than a traditional “article” or blog post.

To be even more honest, I LOVE LISTS! I have wanted to do a list series for a long time, and I finally decided to just do it! My goal is to share at least two listicles per month through the rest of the year. I thought it might be a fun way to share a little more about myself, and I’d love topic ideas from the audience, so please feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions in the comments. In the meantime, to kick it off, here’s a list of my favorite restaurants (in no particular order) and what I usually order!


Restaurants

  1. Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The Goodnight is usually my go-to burger, but the real hero is the Parmesan Truffle Fries with truffle aioli. I kind of want to cry every time I eat them.
  2. Braum’s. Hands down, my absolute favorite chocolate ice cream to date.
  3. The original Ceviche in Durant. It’s since been bought out and turned into another Mexican place, but the old Ceviche from when Daniel and I first got married was AMAZING. I’m still mourning the fact that I can’t ever have that grilled chicken salad dressing or the chicken + black bean ravioli again. RIP, Ceviche. :(
  4. Torchy’s Tacos. Holy WOW is this place good. I’ve tried several tacos but I love the Trailer Park the most. The chips and green chili queso are BOMB. And the Lil’ Nookies are to die for – fried chocolate chip cookie dough, guys. *drool*
  5. Shake Shack. Their cheese fries and salted caramel shakes give me life.
  6. Roma Italian in Durant. Tbh, I’ve had better pasta other places (like Scarpetta in Las Vegas), but I have had actual cravings for Roma’s Alla Pana sauce. I love to dip their warm rolls in it, and the Chicken Alla Panna Pizza is my current go-to.
  7. Chick Fil A. Don’t roll your eyes; y’all already know this is my place. My order is the same literally every time: #1, no pickles, fries, and a gallon of Chick Fil A sauce. #theLordschicken #itismypleasuretoserveyou

There’s about 112 other places that I also love, ranging from hipster to fancy to kinda trashy (Barrio’s in OKC, Hideaway Pizza, Rick’s Chophouse, Chili’s, Kobe Express, Hula Hut, Chuy’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Asian Gourmet, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle), but I figured I’d better start small with my first list or people might quit reading. ;) More listicles coming soon!

Tell me two of your favorite spots: one local and one chain!

Florida Vacay: Part 2

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From Part 1: When we got back to the beach house, I decided to go take a look at the ocean for the first time on the trip. It was so nice to be so close! We spent the rest of the day cooking, playing games, and watching movies….and prepared our minds for DISNEYWORLD!

I don’t know if I can explain how many dreams came true on this day. The entire time leading up to it – the road trip to the park, waiting in line to get our tickets, riding the ferry, walking down Main Street, U.S.A – it felt surreal. I kept saying, “Is this really happening??” I’ve wanted to go to Disney World since the very first Disney movie I ever watched, and I can’t thank my sweet parents enough for making this amazing trip a reality. ♥

To tell you the truth, we really didn’t take very many pictures. But I don’t even care, because we got the important ones and spent the rest of our time enjoying ourselves!

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Observations:

  1. HOLY CRAP there were so many people, and yet, the park operated very efficiently – we were really impressed!
  2. Even though we had to wait awhile for a couple of rides, the only one that wasn’t exactly worth the wait was the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. But only because it rained while we were in line and they had to close the ride down twice. By the time everything was said and done, we were too invested to just leave the line, so we stuck it out. It was still fun, but not exactly worth 3 hours of waiting…lol. *thumbs down* Other than that, the lines moved relatively quickly, and our second longest wait was for Space Mountain (which was expected, and also the first ride we did).
  3. Dole Whip lived up to the hype! So good!
  4. I literally have no idea how people do multiple parks in one day.
  5. Probably one of the best moments from the entire day was Mom getting to relive her college days and ride Space Mountain again – she never stopped laughing. :)

Funny enough, the place I took the most pictures (besides the castle) was the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse! This movie was a Simma kid favorite when we were growing up, and it was also the first movie Daniel and I watched together, the night we finally confessed that we liked each other. ♥

I know. We’re cute.

We spent the rest of our Florida days playing more games, watching more movies, and laying on the beach. Before Daniel and I flew home, we also got to meet some of Corey’s coworkers, learned how to play Jackbox games (which are awesome!!), and ate some seriously good Cuban food at Mambos Cuban Café. If you’re ever in Jacksonville, you neeeeeed to go there!

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Ready to go back! Just let us know when to take off work next summer, Dad… ;)

Florida Vacay: Part 1

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As of this summer, my first trip to Florida is officially in the books! What a great almost-week spent with my family. ♥ We hadn’t been all together since our group road trip to Colorado last year, so our time together was precious and long-overdue.

We stayed in this CHARMING beach house (which Dad has already said he would like to stay at again…!) that was only two blocks from the beach. My brother Corey moved to Jacksonville last Christmas for a new meteorologist position, and he worked at the station a few times while we were there. But he spent as much time with us as he could, and we filled our days with lots of fun outings, including beach trips, exploring St. Augustine, and a day at Disneyworld!

I really enjoyed our trolley tour of St. Augustine. Corey had taken Mom and Robyn when they visited him earlier in the year, but they both liked it so much that they decided they wanted to go back to show the rest of us. Trolleys stopped at 20+ locations across town, and you could hop on/hop off as many times as you wanted to see the sights (and get some gelato, of course).

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My people.

One particular place my dad wanted to stop and see was the Lightner Museum, a huge historic hotel in downtown St. Augustine. It was filled to the brim with bizarre collections of antiquities – everything from crystal dishes to shaving mugs to musical instruments to pocket watches. The picture above is a cafe now, but when the building was a hotel, it was actually a giant pool!

Daniel, Robyn, and I explored the St. Augustine distillery, which had a very cool atmosphere. We even got to taste-test a few things and try a sip of their bourbon on National Bourbon Day.

We met back up with Corey and my parents at the Castillo de San Marcos – the oldest masonry fort in the continental US. Unfortunately, we were a little too late to go inside, but it was still neat to walk around the outside, and the view of the bay was gorgeous!

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The Shades were reunited after all these years. ;)

When we got back to the beach house, I decided to go take a look at the ocean for the first time on the trip. It was so nice to be so close! We spent the rest of the day cooking, playing games, and watching movies….and prepared our minds for DISNEYWORLD!

Click here to read Part 2!