Friday, October 16, 2015

Taylor and other things... AGAIN.

Just felt like dropping in and saying hi for no good reason. None at all.

Life has been calm and quiet-ish lately, though we did drive about 24 hours over three days to get to Missouri and back to Texas for Micah's family reunion last weekend. It was about as nuts as it sounds. Grace was sort of a bear on the trip there (which we did in one day) but was an angel on the trip back. And we had fun seeing Micah's aunts and uncles and cousins for the first time in several years. But I am henceforth boycotting any road trips longer than three hours for next six months. My mama heart can't take any more.

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I'd say that Grace is, like, 90% potty-trained, which is kind of insane. Everyone says you have to let kids do it on their own timetable, and that has been very, very true for her. We're still doing Pull-Ups during nap time and at night, but she's sporting her Frozen underwear the rest of the time with very few accidents. Hallelujah and amen.

I'm going to see Taylor Swift in concert this weekend. Again! And I'm as excited as I was the first time around. Even more, actually, because I know how amazing she is live. There will be dancing and singing and red lipstick and fun with my best friend.

Speaking of my best friend. We booked a girls' trip to New York for November, and I am giddy. Like, SO FREAKING EXCITED. She has never been, and I'm always aching for that city. We've started making a "We Must See/Eat These Things" list, and here's what's on it for me.

– St. Patrick's Cathedral (since it was covered in scaffolding the last time I went)
– Stroll through Greenwich Village/Chelsea and eat/shop at Chelsea Market
– Serendipity for frozen hot chocolate (touristy, I know, but I've never tried it)
– Macaroons and/or gourmet donuts
– Spice Market for dinner
– Dinner on a rooftop

I just love that you can always experience something new in New York, no matter how many times you visit. We're staying at New York Palace, and I will very much be imagining myself into Gossip Girl the entire trip. (It's apparently where much of the show was filmed.) So that's exciting.

I'm on Day 12 of another Whole30. Ha. I know I crashed and burned on Whole30 #3, but it feels good this time, and I don't have any events coming up to tempt me. I've been a bit looser with the rules this time but have not had any legitimate, "Screw it all, I'm eating chips and queso today!" moments. And I made Paleo deviled eggs last night, and they are amazing. I'm fairly certain they'll be my go-to breakfast from now on. Which is just so weird.

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So that's what's up.

P.S. Gracie is still cute.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How we survived Destin with a toddler. . .

Man, you guys. If I could pick Dallas up and plop it right down onto the Emerald Coast, I totally would. Before we went there for our most recent vacation, I hadn't been since I was a kid, and I had basically zero memories of our time there. Which was cool because I got to discover it again through Gracie.

Bottom line: we had an amazing trip. Amazing. We went with my mom and stepdad, as well as Micah's parents and his brother's family. It was a big group, but I loved it. And having two sets of grandparents around to help with toddler mayhem was so nice.

The drive:
We did the 11-hour trip from Dallas in two days. (We spent the night in Baton Rouge at the most disgusting La Quinta you could ever imagine, but that's a story for another day...) I stressed so much about the long car ride and spent an obscene amount of money on Amazon and the Target Dollar Spot on things to entertain her. But the portable DVD player and iPad we purchased specifically for the trip were the definite winners. And her Mamaw, who sat in the back with me and entertained her.

Where we stayed:
We rented a beachfront house through VRBO. 

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We opted for a house rather than a condo partially because the group was so big but also because Micah wanted to bring the boat, and parking with a boat can be tricky. It was right on the sand along a great stretch of beach with several other houses and no big condos around, so it was ideal.

The beach:
Speaking of the beach...

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It was incredible. I've never seen so much variation in color in one place.

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(There's Micah! He and his dad drove the boat up the shoreline and came to say hello. It looks so small out there!)

The water was gorgeous, and the sandy was sugary white. The only thing I didn't expect was a strange attack from biting flies one afternoon. They got Gracie pretty bad, and she was very aware of bugs from that moment on. But they left us alone the rest of the time.

What we did: 
Mostly this.

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We spent the majority of our time playing in the sand and waves on the beach. The main source of Grace's entertainment was a huge bag of sand toys that we carted down to the beach every morning. Other than that, she "painted" with her Mamaw and read books. It was surprisingly easy to keep a kid happy at the beach. Who knew?

I slept nearly every day while Grace napped, which was glorious. I also read this book. And we went to the Gulfarium in Fort Walton, which was cool and awful. I just feel so terrible about the way all of the animals are cooped up. I don't know the circumstances of this particular place and where they source their animals from (maybe they're rescues that can't be reintroduced into the ocean for some reason?), and it all looked very humane, but still. Something about it just makes me sad.

We drove over to Seaside one morning and fell in love with the picturesque town (it's where the movie The Truman Show was filmed!). It has a fun, little town center with shops and food trucks and a quick walk to the beach. None of the buildings can be over three stories tall, so everything feels so homey. I'd love to stay there at some point.

At night, we played games together or crashed early from all the fun in the sun. I loved sitting out on the back deck after Grace went to sleep when it was dark to listen to the waves crashing in. And I even slept out there one night!

The rest of the time?

We were eating.

What we ate:

The food was delicious. Overpriced at times, but very very good.

My favorite dinner spot was the Ocean Club near Sandestin. We ordered the special, but EVERYTHING looked good! The restaurant is pretty dated, and it's your typical "fancy" food with steak and fish and other seafood dishes, but it is all executed well. Great for a date night!

We loved the Hog's Breath for lunch. Excellent BBQ and seafood there. I got the fried shrimp, and it was some of the best I've had. AMAZING homemade tartar sauce, too.

Harbor Docks was also really good. Micah and I shared a fried seafood platter and a sushi roll that was good but weird. They have a surprisingly great sushi selection there!

The Back Porch and Louisiana Lagniappe are apparently owned by the same folks, but we found the latter to be much better. Pricier too, but delicious.

We got donuts at The Donut Hole, which were mediocre at best. But the actual breakfast looked AMAZING. We meant to make it back to try something but never did.

In Seaside, we had grilled cheeses from the Meltdown food truck, and they were soooooo good. When we go back, I'm itching to try The Shrimp Shack, which was just across the street from the food trucks. They have lobster rolls there which are basically my love language.

The moral of the story:
We had an incredible trip.

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Just getting to spend time together as a family with the people we adore was wonderful. The beautiful water and sand in the background were really just icing on the cake.

And Gracie did so much better than I expected. The last two days were dicey, as she was way off her routine and extra grumpy. Putting her down for naps and bedtime was significantly more difficult than usual, but I chalk that up to not being in her own bed and the fact that she didn't like missing play time with her cousin and grandparents. Mostly she was a dream.

So we'll definitely be seeing you again soon, Destin! Stay beautiful.
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