Durham, NC is simply one of my favorite places in this world. It has things to do, places to go eat, and better yet people to meet. I have many loved ones who live in Durham and this is truly why I love visiting this city. We left for our trip bright and early (early, early, early) on a Tuesday morning and thankfully the flights went smoothly even with a toddler and a baby in tow. We stayed at our friends Brendan and Alissa’s house, and they are among the best people in this world. It was particularly fun to stay with them because they also have two daughters. Both of which are about 3 months older than our own.
It was fun to see the girls whirl instantly into a friendship. The giddiness and girliness that exuded from our oldest girls would be hard to match. As our trip went on our girls would turn into what seemed more like sisters, loving each other perfectly one minute and absolute meltdowns the next. #toddlergirls #momlife. Our days were filled with donuts, PB&Js, museums, parks, gardens, and friends. At night we had quality time with old friends. We ate delicious food, drank perfectly concocted gin drinks, and laughed till our stomaches were sore. While not a restful vacation it was most definitely the perfect trip, and I am so grateful for all of the memories we had this July.
Before I end this recap of Durham I want to write about someone who has been beyond special to me the past 4 years. She will probably try to refute everything I’m about to write, but let me tell you now that it’s all true. My friend Alissa is a vision of what motherhood should be. She is fun, calm, present, wise, and almost unreasonably patience with her girls. She embodies love. And while her girls are adorable, lovely, kind, and smart, neither one of them have been easy. Actually, they have been pretty hard. I know because luckily she has been vulnerable enough to be real and raw with me, and when I was at my lowest of lows I hung onto words she gave me.
The older I get the more I view friendships as a gift from God. That sounds cheesy, and I hate that but I don’t know how else to phrase it. I did not deserve this friendship. I did not expect this friendship to what it has become. But lucky for me I received it, and it has done more good for my soul than I could have ever imagined. And for that I am extraordinarily grateful.
In Isla’s short life, she has traveled MANY places, but even with all that traveling we had yet to go on a family vacation just the three of us. Between visiting family, friends, and our trip to London, Josh didn’t have much vacation to work with, but we still very much wanted to have a special trip. We decided that we either needed to fly somewhere directly (not a ton of options flying out of Wichita) or drive somewhere close (also not many options).
A few times in high school my parents and I spent spring break in Arizona, and I remember really enjoying our time there. My sister and her husband also like to frequent Scottsdale and told us that the last place they went was wonderful. Decision made. We bought tickets to Phoenix and booked ourselves a place to stay at the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale. And then…. Isla came down with a 103 degree temperature two days before we were to leave for our trip. I was sure we were going to have to cancel our first/last family-of-three vacation. The doctor however held out hope that she would make enough of a recovery for us to take our trip. Things got worse before they got better, but we decided that Isla was well enough to travel.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the easiest of trips. She was more fussy than usual, not as good at sleeping, and a bit pickier of an eater, BUT Josh and I both are so glad that we went. The place was lovely, and we got to make special memories with Isla before we welcome another sweet lady into our family. Even though it was RIDICULOUSLY hot we took lots of walks, and BECAUSE it was ridiculously hot we spent most of our time at the pool.
I am so grateful for my time in Scottsdale with my handsome husband and darling Isla. I will remember it fondly.
Early February Josh, myself, Josh’s sister and brother-in-law all made the big trip to visit London. I have always wanted to travel to London; I pictured myself effortlessly fitting in with the locals and being ever so posh. I cannot say that happened, but in many ways it lived up to what I envisioned. You are immediately taken with the history and architecture which is a large part of what I love about traveling. You could eat or drink any kind of food or beverage you wanted (except drip coffee). You could shop any store you wanted (high-end, low-end, antiques, chains). The bummer about our trip was the weather (and desperately missing my darling girl). It was so nasty out: 30+ mile per hour winds and rain equals not fun, especially since Josh and I would walk everywhere we wanted to go if we could. The other bummer was that all the great houses (think Downton) were all closed for the season. I’d really love to go back some day in the spring or summer so that hopefully the weather will be a touch better and that we could see all those huge, gorgeous houses.
As per usual, I brought my camera along. I love hanging pictures from our trips around the house, instant artwork.
Where we stayed was very close to Buckingham Palace. While walking around our first morning, we stumbled upon the Horse Guards Parade… and we heard some brass instruments playing the theme song to Star Wars.
If you guessed the point of interest in this picture was the London Eye, you would be wrong. It would be the bagpipe player playing none-other-than the theme song to Star Wars. We had heard that song played earlier that morning, but there is something special about a bagpipe.
Josh requested I take a picture of this, you’re welcome.
While in Trafalgar Square, we stopped inside St. Martin in the Field. The church was gorgeous, but the best part was the completely unexpected concert we received by a violinist and pianist. It was some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I only assume they were practicing for something, but both Josh and I were so grateful for that unexpected treat. We also went back to this church on Sunday for service, and I loved everything about it.
The clearly mandatory Abbey Road picture… we had to wait in line just to attempt a shot.
Westminster Abbey was more interesting than I possibly would have guessed. We went with a tour guide which I highly recommend, because there is so much you would miss otherwise.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little recap! It’s been a full year of traveling for us, and I am looking forward to slowing down and just hanging at home.
Josh and I took our first vacation sans baby this past November to New York City. It. Was. Perfect. Perfect length of time. Perfect weather. Perfect food. Perfect musical, and I could go on because other than a little hiccup to Brooklyn (not my scene) every little second was perfect. I have learned from past experiences that it really pays off to know someone who knows the place you’re traveling to. My extremely chic, foodie friend Julie gave me 2 pages worth of ideas for our time in NYC, and to no surprise her list was amazing. Our favorites from her suggestions were the meals we had at Buvette for brunch and Public for their “Sunday Supper.” We also had incredible drinks and appetizers at Bobby Flay’s Gato (a suggestion from my sister), and the next time we’re in the city we definitely want to have dinner there.
Hands down, the very best thing about our trip was the musical Hamilton. Words fail me. This show moved me in a way I haven’t been in I don’t even know how long. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius. He’s 35 years old and wrote the music, lyrics, and book for this musical all because he read a book about Alexander Hamilton on vacation! Seriously. Who does that?! And just in case you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s all hip hop/r&b music. Most of it, if not all, is in rhyme! The concept sounds bizarre, but the execution is flawless. So, if you’re in New York, please go see Hamilton. Go. If you don’t, you’re seriously missing out.
From a photography perspective, I wanted to take some pictures while in such a legendary city. Looking through my pictures of Paris transports me back, and I wanted that for this trip, too. Part of me wishes I took some more pictures, but I’m also glad I just enjoyed time hand in hand with my best friend.
Enjoy the pictures!