Downtown Date + Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?!

IMG_2822Hello and Happy Monday! Clearly this photo was taken last week, because today we’re sitting in a pile of snow. I hate South Carolina snow. It’s not at all pretty. It’s wet and slushy and muddy (at least at our house).

 One morning last week, JP woke up and asked me to take him downtown to walk around and eat lunch. I couldn’t get dressed fast enough! I typically have to drag this kid out of bed and away from his electronics, so I was thrilled.

IMG_2867If given the choice, JP will always pick The Nose Dive on Main Street. I don’t argue, ’cause I love it too. 

IMG_2856Unfortunately, it was way too cold to eat outside.

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IMG_2861I ordered Fish & Chips off of their lunch menu. It was so good. The fish (literally) melted in my mouth.

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IMG_2880We weren’t in the mood to break our ankles, so we opted out of ice skating. Preston’s dying to go. We’ll wait for him. People watching is always fun!

IMG_2882We strolled around M. Judson Bookstore for a bit (one of our favorite past times). I bought a new book that I’m excited about. I’ll share more about that later. We’re stuck indoors, so I hope to begin reading today.

I have one (not so) little announcement to make. If you’re not sitting down, you probably should. We’ve added two new members to our already crazy family! It’s a long story, but Saturday dad and I drove an hour away to pick up German Shepherd puppies for the boys. You may need to re-read that. If you know us, you know we’ve always said “NO” to a house pet. I’m not sure at what point we decided this would be a good idea, but here I sit, a set of furry twins asleep at my feet. They are SO CUTE! I’ll be sharing more about them this week, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Feeling Merry at The Farm

IMG_2732Don’t mind us, we’re just over here gettin’ into the Christmas spirit.

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IMG_2800I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from my Everyday Andrea post about my thoughts on Christmas. You guys are so amazing and supportive. We’ve had a great week so far. I wanted to share these photos just so you will know that we are enjoying ourselves and celebrating the season!

Our church is putting on a Christmas play Friday through Sunday of this week. Preston and I both have small parts (he has one line and I am singing one song) so dress me up as Mary and color me JOLLY!

See, I’m not a total Scrooge! 

Hiking Paris Mountain

IMG_2249My tribe was small last week, but the adventure was large! You may have seen in my Instagram Stories (@acbeam) that my uncle and I went for hike at Paris Mountain(I used this little bag from TR Makers Co to carry my camera in. It worked perfectly!) 

IMG_2226The weather fully cooperated. I didn’t even have to wear a coat. I am glad I wore a t’shirt under my sweatshirt though. When we got to the part of the hike where I thought I was going to die, I had to take it off because I actually got hot.

IMG_2227My uncle is a professional hiker, if there is such a thing. It’s not a full time job, of course, but it runs a close second! Here, he is explaining the different trails and their level of difficulty. We chose a moderate one.

IMG_2229It was moderate for me. For him, and probably most hikers, it was easy. We take the kids hiking all the time, but definitely nothing strenuous. I’ve not really been hiking since I was in college. I was looking forward to a “grown-up” hike and an afternoon away from my world.

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IMG_2273Looking out over downtown Greenville.

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IMG_2237Ahh… the reason we came! Most people are familiar with Lake Placid in Paris Mountain State Park. It’s the lake you find shortly after entering the park where you can swim, rent paddle boats, etc. I’d never seen North Lake, so our plan was to hike around it.

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IMG_2257As you can see, it’s worth the hike to get there – which truly wasn’t bad at all. I could easily take the kids.

IMG_2247We made sure to stop and eat three or four times along the way. Once again, my (or actually, JP’s) Osprey Pack was a lifesaver. It held everything I needed and weighed next to nothing. I couldn’t even tell it was on my back. (Thanks, Mast General!

IMG_2254Once we got to the lake, we decided we would take a longer (more strenuous) trail to the top of the mountain.

IMG_2264Once again, this trail is probably not actually strenuous for someone who is in shape and used to hiking. Having said that, this is also the trail I almost died on. My uncle was so great to slow down and make plenty of stops for me! I slowed him down so much. In my defense, I was wearing the wrong shoes. Before we hit too many trails, I’ll have to hit the store for more appropriate shoes… hello, Mast General Store, maybe you can help a sister out?! 

IMG_2269Through these trees, you can see North Lake. You can’t tell from the photo, but it was a LONG way down!

 

I definitely enjoyed experiencing Paris Mountain State Park in a completely new way. The next time you have a free Saturday, head over and hop on one of the trails. Be sure to visit their site before you go – they often have bike races and other activities going on that could affect your plans.

Everything about the hike was great. More than anything, I cherished the time spent with my uncle. It meant so much to walk and catch up on life. I am already looking forward to our next trip!

Everyday Andrea: My Thoughts on Christmas

IMG_2439I don’t typically publish posts on Thursdays, but here I am.  I’ve been all over the place with my writing. Oh well – just know that I am a work in progress.

Today’s post has nothing to do with these photos, but the sunset was so beautiful this past week. I definitely wanted to share them with you.

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IMG_2442In one direction, the sky was orange and gold. From the other direction, it was painted pink and purple.

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DSC01877Baby, it’s COLD outside!

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DSC01881Whether we like it or not, Christmas is right around the corner. Over the years, I have become increasingly irritated by the holiday. I can hear your gasps!  It’s true. In fact, if I remember correctly, last year we didn’t even put up our tree until December 22. I wouldn’t say everyone in my house shares my disdain, but we are a far cry from Buddy the Elf.

People are forever asking me why I dislike Christmas so much. The truth is, I haven’t always been such a Scrooge. Life happens and things change.

I don’t play the “divorce” card often. Honestly, I don’t use it any time. But if I’m being honest with myself, it has a lot to do with why I’m not Christmas’ #1 fan. When I was married, Christmas came EARLY! It was our favorite time of year. We decorated every inch of the house, listened to all the music, sang all the songs, saw all the lights and drank all the hot chocolate. Christmas Eve was such a special time. Every year, we spent the night with my in laws and woke up to so much JOY. After a big breakfast, we’d head over to my parents’ house and spend the rest of the day with them. Fast forward to the first Christmas I was separated. JP went through a time where he was pretty mad at me. He wanted to spend most of his time with his dad. (And that was totally okay. I’ve always encouraged their relationship.) Having said that, Christmas morning was an absolute nightmare. I was 100% miserable. That was the last time JP spent Christmas morning away from me! Things have improved over the years and we are both in a much better place. Christmas will never be the same, it will be better because I’ve learned what really matters. 

I’ve realized it’s not actually Christmas I’m so turned off by, but all the commercialism that surrounds it. All the expensive presents nobody needs and the time and energy wasted on shopping and Santa (not saying Santa is a bad thing, we still play for Preston) could be better spent with family and friends.

In the beginning, I told you these photos have nothing to do with this post. That’s not so. They have everything to do with Christmas. Rather than gifts this year, I’ve asked for memories. I want to spend time with the people I love. I want an experience, not a tangible goodie I can hold in my hands. These photos are about so much more than a sunset. They represent time spent walking along the beach with Preston. Time is a priceless gift. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

Now you know why I have a hard time clothing myself in Christmas cheer. If you’ll excuse me, I have tickets to see the new GRINCH movie – clearly he and I have a lot in common!

 

 

Keeping It Simple

IMG_2515Well, we got home from the beach late Sunday afternoon and it’s taken me this long to get myself together enough to load pictures and write a post. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not “together” by any means. 

Our week was uneventful and pretty relaxing. We visited a historic site in Charleston and saw the Christmas lights on James Island Tuesday. Other than that, we made absolutely no plans. We definitely Kept It Simple. 

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DSC01914JP and I spent a little time walking on the beach together one afternoon. And by ‘spent a little time walking on the beach together,’ I mean, I forced him outside in an attempt to get him away from his electronics for (even) five minutes. 

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IMG_2545We switched things up a bit this year. Instead of eating our Thanksgiving meal in the campground, our family came to us. Although I will always choose a picnic table and campers over condos, we had a really good time. The food was amazing, as always, and we had a breathtaking view of the ocean from our porch. I’ll never cry over that! 

I’m spending this week getting back into the groove of homeschooling and (reluctantly) decorating the house for Christmas. I still cannot believe we’re talking about Christmas. This year has FLOWN by. I’m completely unprepared – not that, that’s a shock to anyone.

IMG_2553I’ll leave you with the sunset from our last night on the coast. These sunsets will never get old.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams, friends! 

 

 

 

Baseball, the Beach + the Best Days of Your Life

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IMG_2402Preston and Papa spent a few hours throwing the baseball on the beach yesterday. The weather has been absolutely perfect so far and I am being 100% lazy.

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IMG_2437(This photo was not staged, but I am thankful I captured the one and only moment this week Preston was actually still.)

As I was loading these pictures, I was reminded of everything I have to be thankful for. My family is 50 Shades of Dysfunctional, but they make my life rich. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite time of year. Growing up, we camped in our RV and I have the fondest memories of all of us playing football on the beach or in the large field at Stone Mountain.

When Preston is grown, I hope he looks back on this day and recognizes that these are the best days of his life.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

*No one was harmed in the making of this blog. However, Jack has no idea I took so many photos of him so, once he sees this, he may hurt me*

Explore the 47: Sadlers Creek State Park

IMG_2026The trees are so beautiful this time of year. This was my favorite road in the park. I probably drove three miles per hour to the fishing pier because I didn’t want it to end.

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IMG_2029Preston brought his skateboard to ride on the sidewalks. At Sadlers Creek, there are paved walkways everywhere. In addition to skaters (and I use that term loosely) it’s a great park for those who may need wheelchairs or walkers to get around. This park was very accessible to those with physical limitations. You guys know what I mean – a lot of places claim to be “handicap accessible,” but that typically means there’s one over-sized bathroom stall with a handrail. (Sadlers Creek has that too!)

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IMG_2038Once again, here’s a paved trail through the woods. Can you tell I’m impressed? This trail is a half mile long and dumps you out at a playground and a pavilion, suitable for large family gatherings or corporate events.

IMG_2043The leaves are bigger than your head at Sadlers Creek!

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IMG_2046Warning: Your kids might actually get along, so it’s a MAGIC park! 

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IMG_2050Fun fact: How old were you when you learned that Lake Hartwell was named after Nancy Hart, a heroine of the Revolutionary War?! I was today-years-old! 

IMG_2055This will be the first and last time you see a picture of a bathroom on my blog, but it was well worth mentioning. Sadlers Creek has THE CLEANEST bathrooms we’ve found so far on our journey. Parents, (or anyone, really), you might want to make a note of that!

I had never heard of Sadlers Creek before we went. We can’t wait to go back!